Life in the Habitarium: Part Two
The next day, Snirty went to the storage building to find out what he would be doing. He was determined to improve on his first day and be the best worker he could be.
Ol' Gringox had been thinking about it and said to Snirty, "I tell you what, normally I send new Petpetpets to collect food resources, but I am beginning to think you are more suited at collecting building resources. Go out to the trees, they are the tall brown things with green bits on the end, and collect wood," he sighed and added, "Please be careful."
Snirty left the storage, looked around and managed to find the trees. His good friend Podic was there. "Hello," Snirty said, "can you show me how to collect wood please?"
"Hello Snirty," Podic replied, "of course I can." Podic used his claws to pull off some of the wood and put it into a pile. "Once you have a pile, just take it to the storage building. I have enough wood for two piles now so why don't you take one and we can work together. It will be more fun that way."
They took the wood back. Ol' Gringox watched them suspiciously but didn't say anything. Once they returned to the tree, they started pulling off some wood. Snirty not wanting to cause any more damage worked very carefully and slowly. Podic had already made his pile of wood, so he decided to be nice and added some to Snirty's pile as well. When they had two piles, Snirty thanked Podic for his help and they took the wood back together.
"Snirty!" exclaimed Ol' Gringox. "Why must you cause so much trouble?"
Snirty was shocked; he was certain he had been careful not to damage the tree. "I didn't hurt the tree," he protested. "I was so careful."
"I am talking about the fact you are slowing down Podic. He would have been back twice already if it wasn't for you. Work carefully, yes, but not slowly. Podic, I would have expected better from you as well."
The two workers went back to the tree to collect some more wood. Snirty worked faster this time, but he was still only half done when Podic was ready. "Go on," Snirty told him, "I don't want to get you in trouble again."
Podic nodded and took his wood to the storage building. A short time later he came back and had just started collecting more wood when Snirty had collected enough himself. "Good luck," Podic whispered. "Ol' Gringox looked pretty mad when I was in there."
Snirty carried his wood to the storage building and sure enough Ol' Gringox was still not happy with Snirty's work rate and told him he had to work even faster.
This time Snirty concentrated very hard one breaking off bits of wood, he worked very fast. He focused completely on collecting wood and didn't allow himself to be distracted. At one point he thought he heard someone say his name, but he decided he wanted to be a good worker and not get in any more trouble so he ignored it. He went to pull off another piece of wood but his arms flailed in the air. He looked around and wondered what the tree was doing behind him, when he should have been facing it. It took him a few moments to realise he had dug a hole straight through the tree. Then he spotted all the shocked faces, the scariest of which belonged to Ol' Gringox who had left the storage building when he had heard what was happening.
"Never, in all my years," Ol' Gringox sputtered out, "have I seen a Petpetpet dig a hole all the way through a tree."
"Oh come on, old guy," said Podic, defending his friend. "This tree is fine and will be around longer than us." Podic gave the tree a hard pat to demonstrate just how strong it was; unfortunately it turned out that the tree wasn't very strong at all, and with a loud creak and even louder crash it fell to the ground, smashing a couple of houses as well as Ol' Gringox's beloved storage building in the process. Luckily all the buildings were empty at the time and no-one was hurt.
Snirty did not know that Mootix could turn red, but Ol' Gringox managed to do so. "You two hooligans," he bellowed, "you are in so much trouble now and will be getting suitably punished! First you need to go find some soldiers and bring them back here. They will repair these buildings, and you two will help them." He walked off muttering to himself.
"Silly old fool," said Snirty who was quite cross because he was only trying to work fast like Ol' Gringox had told him to, and Snirty thought it was that what had caused the accident. "I bet he lived in that storage building."
"No," replied Podic, trying not to giggle but failing to do so, "he lived there," pointing at one of the houses that had been squashed by the tree.
"Oops!" Snirty said putting his hands over his mouth, but the two friends then started laughing.
"Come on, I'll show you where the soldiers are."
It turned out the soldiers were all gathered in one corner of the Habitarium.
"Why are you all in this corner?" Snirty asked them.
The soldiers exchanged looks before one of them replied "Sorry that's classified. Need to know basis only, and only soldiers need to know." He smiled thinking he was being clever, which of course he wasn't.
"There was an erm... accident and we need your help repairing some buildings."
"Righto, how many of us do you think we will need?"
Snirty thought back to the devastated buildings and sighed, "You'd better all come."
Back at the disaster site the two workers and all the soldiers first moved the tree out of the way and then started to repair the buildings. Snirty grew excited as this was the first job he was good at. The buildings grew surprisingly quickly and soon they were all as good as new, even Ol' Gringox seemed satisfied with the results, "Of course" the old guy couldn't help to point out, "if it wasn't for you two, they wouldn't have been destroyed in the first place, but you did at least do a good job of repairing them. Now for that punishment I mentioned."
"But wasn't that the punishment?" asked a startled Podic, who thought that building work was hard.
"No, that was just fixing your mistake. Now you get to be punished, I think you two should spend the rest of the day collecting mud."
Snirty thought about how he had damaged the tree, meaning he was strong, and how good he was at repairing the buildings, he thought this would mean he would make a good soldier. He was certain this was what he should do, but he didn't want to make Ol' Gringox angry again so didn't say anything.
"Mud is messy," Podic explained, "it is very unpleasant collecting it as you are always getting dirty and it takes forever to get clean again. Could be worse though, we could be collecting rock, which is the hardest job there is."
Podic was right, collecting mud was very messy, and soon both of them were covered in mud. Fortunately Snirty discovered that collecting mud was something he was good at. He would pretend he was fighting the pests while collecting it and that made him collect it quickly. Both he and Podic brought back mud faster than any of the other workers. Snirty didn't mind getting dirty; he would pretend that he had gotten filthy fighting off an invasion. The thought of all this made him smile each time he went pass Ol' Gringox, who seemed a little annoyed that the boys were enjoying their punishment, but he didn't say anything to them.
Rushing back after another successful trip, Snirty didn't see a small patch of mud that someone had dropped on their way to the storage building. He skidded towards the bog, collecting another Mootix as he went and they both fell with a splat into the bog. Snirty couldn't help giggling at the silliness of it all, he looked at the Mootix who he had collected on his trip, he thought she was pretty despite the mud, and noticed she had a small crown on her head, the look of this made him giggle even more. "Oops, sorry," he chuckled, extending his hand to shake, "my name is Snirty."
She looked at his hand in disgust, looked at his face with even more revulsion. "And I," she said in a very regal voice, "am Princess Magnolia."
Snirty's heart sank and thought he was probably in even more trouble than he had been already.
Snirty stood in the throne room in front of the king who was sitting on a large stone throne. It had soft padding on it. The king had some grey to his complexion, but didn't look anywhere near as old as Ol' Gringox. He also had a yellow and green bushy beard that Snirty thought looked good. The princess sat glowering at Snirty, she was in a smaller throne than her father, it had been painted pink and the padding was fluffy. She had had a bath since the 'incident' and had also changed her clothes. Ol' Gringox stood next to Snirty looking down at the ground, having explained to the king what had happened.
"Has this worker given you much trouble before?" the king asked.
Ol' Gringox shuffled his feet before replying, "Well, he only hatched yesterday. He is very enthusiastic and sometimes gets carried away with his work. He also doesn't realise his own strength and sometimes that can make him do a little too much as well."
Snirty was surprised and relieved that Ol' Gringox hadn't told the king about the various accidents he'd had. Perhaps the oldie wasn't so bad after all. He thought very hard before saying, "Your majesty, I find the jobs of a worker to have a different set of skills to what I naturally possess. I am very good at building and I am very strong. I think I would make a better soldier than I would a worker."
The king actually laughed, "Oh my, you are a brave one I'll give you that. But don't you know that Mootix are workers or nesters, but never are they soldiers."
Princess Magnolia squealed, "Daddy, this is NOT a laughing matter. I want to see him punished!"
"Now, now my sweet daughter, settle down," the king said in a soothing tone. "I am sure that Snirty didn't mean to do what he did"
Snirty agreed with the king enthusiastically, but the princess was not impressed.
"But Daddy, he ruined my dress!" she complained, and crossed her arms.
The king thought for a moment. "Perhaps you should do something more suited to your skill set," the king announced. For a moment Snirty grew excited as he thought he was about to become a soldier, but instead the king told him, "I think you should try your hand at collecting rock."
Collecting rock was very hard work. Snirty found hauling the rocks around exhausting, but it was something he was good at. His strength allowed him to break off pieces faster than any of the other Petpetpets, his eagerness kept him distracted from the aches and pains that the others complained about, and his speed made him move the stone fast. Best of all, as this was just a rock it didn't matter if he broke off too much or hit it too hard; it wasn't like it was going to grow back.
He arrived back at the rock after another successful trip and noticed that none of the other workers were there; they were all still carrying stone back to the storage. Pleased that he was doing so well Snirty set about breaking up some more of the rock. All of a sudden the alarms that signaled an invasion of pests went off. He looked around but couldn't see anyone. Then he heard someone calling out for help, he thought about going to get some soldiers, but he knew that the place where they all gathered was on the other side of the Habitarium, so by the time he went and got them it might be too late for whoever was in trouble.
Heading in the direction of the cries for help, Snirty found a group of three pests, one of them was carrying Princess Magnolia, and they were heading away as fast as they could go. Having been told so many times that he couldn't be a soldier, he wasn't sure if there was much he could do, but he decided that he would do what he could. The thought that the princess was so mean to him didn't cross Snirty's mind, he knew trying to rescue her was the right thing to do.
Snirty was still holding a piece of rock that he had broken away, so he threw it as hard as he could at one of the pests. The stone hit it squarely on the back of the head and the creature stumbled to the ground stunned.
The other two pests turned to see who was attacking them; at first they looked fearful until they saw Snirty. "It's just some worker kid," one of them snarled. "Let's sort him out then get away with our prize. The boss is gonna be so happy when we show him her," the pest finished pointing at the princess.
They set her down, Snirty saw her legs had been tied up so she wouldn't be able to run away or help in a fight. The two pests advanced on Snirty snapping their jaws threateningly. Snirty dodged the bites, landing some punches when he could, because he was a strong Mootix, the punches were having a great effect on the pests.
Snirty jumped on to one of the pest's tail and started to hit it on the back. The other pest tried to sneak up on Snirty, with the intent of biting him. Snirty was clever though, and was watching the pest out of the corner of his eye. Just before it bit him Snirty jumped high in the air, and the pest instead bit its companion's tail. The bitten pest gave a yelp and run away.
Snirty dodged a few more bites from the beast, then remembering what he saw Percy the Larnikin Soldier do, Snirty slid to one side punched the pest in one eye, dodged to the other side and punched the other eye. The pest had had enough and ran away in the same direction as its companion.
"Impressive for a worker," said a menacing voice, "but I think that's quite enough from you."
Snirty turned and saw that the pest he had stunned with the rock had recovered and was now holding Princess Magnolia. "Let her go!" demanded Snirty.
"I don't think so," the pest growled. "In fact you are just leaving, or there will be trouble." With that the pest opened its mouth wide threatening the princess with it.
"I'm sorry about this," said Snirty to Princess Magnolia and turned around with his shoulders slumped. The pest had a triumphant look, but kept his mouth open just in case. Suddenly Snirty span around and threw some mud at the pest, most of it went into the pest's mouth but some of it splattered over Princess Magnolia's dress. The pest dropped her and started desperately trying to spit out the mud.
Snirty gave a war cry and charged at the pest, he kicked it away from the princess before it could threaten her again. Battered, bruised and with a mouth full of mud the pest decided that it had had enough and run off spitting out mud the whole time.
Snirty started to untie the princess, as he did so he noticed the mud that he had gotten over her and he remembered how mad she was last time she had gotten dirty because of him. "I am really sorry about your dress," he offered.
She stared at him with a look of annoyance on her face, but then she broke into a pretty smile and hugged him. "You rescued me!" she squealed. "You are my hero."
Snirty stood in the throne room once again, but this time it was a very different circumstance. He stood proudly, the whole colony was there and they were all smiling.
"You have done us a great service," the king said regally, "and have demonstrated great bravery, strength and wiliness to do the right thing. As such I will be appointing you Snirty, to be the first ever Mootix soldier." All around the throne room Petpetpets clapped, which in the case of the Pinchits was a very curious noise. The king held his hand up for silence. "In addition, under the request of my daughter, Princess Magnolia, I will be appointing you as a royal guard, charged with defending the princess should the need arise." The Petpetpets clapped again, Snirty was even more surprised and looked at the princess who smiled at him. She was still wearing her mud stained dress, but seemed proud of the markings now.
"Thank you, your highness, I will be honoured to defend both the princess and the whole Habitarium," Snirty said confidently and once again the Petpetpets cheered and applauded.