Battle Quills... ready! Circulation: 127,792,023 Issue: 260 | 6th day of Collecting, Y8
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Pinky the Brave: Part Two


by ikea_sale

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"0600 hours, everybody up!" yelled Commander Lupus, accompanied by the grating hum of several horns. Emakoke groaned as she slowly opened her eyes, felt the searing heat and the sand in her bed, and remembered where she was. She had been having a wonderful dream where she was back at her Neohome, curled up and sinking into the soft folds of a huge, velvety cushion, right before the horns and the shouting voices blared in her ear, sending her plunging right back to the harsh reality. She moaned again and turned over, pulling the blankets around her.

     "Get a move on, Pinky!" snapped Cicadasan, kicking the side of her bed. Ema rubbed her eyes and squinted up at the yellow Aisha, who was already hastily pulling on her uniform.

     "What time is it?" she muttered in a slurred voice.

     "Just get dressed, Pinky! You don't want to be doing more sit ups," Tiggazin cut in. Reluctantly, Ema dragged herself out of bed and began tugging on her filthy overalls. Then she rolled up her bedding, still yawning with fatigue, and stuffed it into her backpack. It wouldn't fit and was bulging out everywhere--so much that one of the zips suddenly gave in and broke, leaving one of the flaps hanging down behind her uselessly like a tail. She could feel her water flask digging into her back as she pulled the bulky rucksack onto her back. She was the last to emerge from her tent, yawning and fumbling with the buttons on her heavy jacket. Lupus was waiting for her.

     "Please, no sit-ups, Sir," Ema begged, looking up at him with tired, puffy eyes.

     "No, no sit-ups," Lupus replied, sneering. "Press-ups!"

     "But, sir..." Ema protested.

     "Twenty, now!"

     When Ema had finally finished her press-ups, which she found even more unbearable than the sit-ups, Lupus was shouting orders yet again.

     "Everyone sprint to the obstacle course! Last one to get there gets a special treat!" he shouted, a huge, toothy grin spreading across his face as he said the last part. All the other pets shot across the sand, running as fast as they could. Ema stood looking confused for a second, and some of the pets looked round at her and laughed as they set off.

     They think I'm going to get the punishment, don't they? she thought. Well, I won't. I won't. She felt a burst of energy and sprinted along the sand, following the other pets. A blue Wocky in front of her stumbled over a rock, and his huge body weight sent him crashing down into a heap on the floor. That was the good thing about being a 'runt' - you were light and nimble. Ema hopped over the Wocky and carried on running. The other pets turned a corner and she followed. She could see a huge obstacle course with ropes, tires and nets looming up above her. She could feel the Wocky coming up behind her, his huge feet thumping against the sand. I won't lose, she chanted in her head. A last rush of energy and she almost crashed into the huge wooden structure of the obstacle course. She fell onto her knees, waving her paws in the air in a silent cheer. The other pets started to shoot her odd looks.

     "So, the runt didn't come last?" growled commander Lupus, appearing behind her. "Well, seeing as you've never had my special treat before, I'll let you have it this time."

     He grinned and picked up a huge rock at his feet. He dropped in into Ema's arms as she stood gaping, and she fell to the ground with a thump under its weight.

     "This... this isn't fair!" she gasped.

     "Don't ever talk back to me! Now you have to go around the course twice, with the rock!"

     Ema had no choice. Wincing with pain, she lifted up the heavy rock and started to plod towards the assault course.

     "Ahhh. Well, at least Pinky's made one friend!" giggled Tiggazin as she bounded past Ema and scampered up the net nimbly.

     "You'd never survive an hour alone in the desert, runt," scowled Cicadasan as she followed, and scaled the net effortlessly.

     It took Ema over an hour to plod around the course, climbing, swinging and crawling, falling to the ground and dropping the rock several times as she lumbered along. By the time she had finished twice, the others had lapped her several times. They clambered up the poles, swung across the turbid water and scuttled under the nets, hooting with laughter every time they passed her. When she finally reached the end for the second time and fell flat on the floor, dripping with sweat and gasping for air, everyone clapped and cheered sarcastically. As she lay sprawled on the floor Ema felt tears welling up in her eyes, but she gulped and held them back.

     "We'll let Pinky here recover for a second," Commander Lupus said with a note of humour mixed into his gruff voice, "then we will march in order to the pyramids where we will practise our climbing."

     He grabbed Ema by the paw and pulled her to her feet. She stumbled and blinked, feeling slightly woozy.

     "Okay, she's recovered. March!" demanded Lupus. The pets obediently got into order, and they began to march through the desert. Ema was staggering left and right, dizzy and unable to see against the brilliance of the midday sun. Her head was pounding and her mouth was parched. For what seemed like the millionth time in just two days, she wished she were somewhere else. She looked down at her feet and just watched them as she moved along the sand--left, right, left, right. She fell into another daydream and before she knew it she was stirred from it by a shadow falling over her face. She looked up to see a grand pyramid towering above her. It was completely dilapidated and blocks were crumbling and jutting out of the sides. Ema gasped. Surely they weren't going to climb that?

     They stopped and lined up again, Ema stuck onto the end as always, this time facing the pyramid. Ema looked over the fragmented surface and bit her lip. It was far too dangerous to climb, but Lupus didn't seem to care.

     "Climb!" he said. "First one to reach the top gets... well, you won't get anything, but at least you won't suffer the same penalty as Pinky over there."

     All eyes drifted to Ema. She blushed, but because of the sunburn you could hardly tell.

     "GO! Climb!"

     Everyone threw their rucksacks to the ground, rushed towards the pyramid and started to climb. No one wanted to be last.

     "Good luck, Pinky," Cicadasan, who was next to her, snorted cynically. She was already scrambling up the edge, dust and bits of rock rolling down the slope behind her. She placed a foot on a jutting out block, which suddenly fell out of place, sending her rolling back down the side. Ema, who was still standing at the bottom, laughed. Cicadasan returned her an icy glare.

     Ema's thoughts wandered elsewhere as she looked around her at everyone else clambering up the pyramid deftly. She sighed--she really didn't have the energy to climb. Her eyes flickered to the wall in front of her.

     Suddenly an idea flashed through her mind. She was situated right at the end of the pyramid. All she needed to do was slip around the corner, and no one would notice. She could be out of there in five minutes. She looked at the edge, pondering. If she were caught, she would be in massive trouble. And it was likely she would be caught. She turned around to look at Commander Lupus. He was shouting irately at a Mynci who had pushed another boy off the slope; not paying attention at all. Danger blazed in her eyes and before she knew it she had darted around the corner, her back pressed up against the wall. No one had seen her - at least, she thought so.

     "What are you doing?" a voice called frantically. "Are you crazy?"

     Ema's heart lurched as she spun around, ready to plead for forgiveness. Cicadasan was poking her head around the corner, her eyes as wide as saucers.

     "I'm getting out of here," Ema replied boldly. She saw Cicadasan smile slightly. "If you dare snitch on me..."

     Cicadasan's smile developed into a malicious, ear-to-ear grin. In a moment of urgency, Ema rushed forward and grabbed her paw, yanking the startled Aisha around the corner before she could go anywhere or tell anyone. Cicadasan yelped, then slapped her paw over her mouth, realising she could now be in trouble too.

     "Pinky, you idiot!" she hissed. Suddenly they heard footsteps.

     "Quickly, run!"

     Cicadasan hesitated, but on comprehending she had no other choice, ran after Ema. They darted down the other side of the pyramid and round another corner.

     "I... can't... believe you've... got us into this!" Cicadasan panted as she backed up against the wall. Emakoke indicated for her to be quiet, and they listened. It turned out they didn't need to be silent to hear anything.

     "CICADASAN! EMAKOKE!" The bellowing voice of Lupus echoed through the air, and they heard running footsteps. They looked at each other frenetically, and then sprinted off into the open desert, sand flying out behind their pounding feet.

To be continued...

 
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Other Episodes


» Pinky the Brave: Part One
» Pinky the Brave: Part Three



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