The Land of Atlasai, Book One: Catnapped! (Part Two)

by Alex Tucker, age 10
The Land of Atlasai, Book One: Catnapped! (Part Two)

“Pierre tried to put his fur down, but it was no use. There was no trying to deny it. To pass into “Calicon” territory, he bribed the guards with his traveling money. (Tuber told him to carry money.) Almost 2,000,000 cafasas! That was the average six-month salary!”

Chapter Ten: Calicon Territory

Pierre tried to put his fur down, but it was no use. There was no trying to deny it. To pass into “Calicon” territory, he bribed the guards with his traveling money. (Tuber told him to carry money.) Almost 2,000,000 cafasas! That was the average six-month salary!

“Calicon” territory (Pierre refused to accept that they had taken it over) looked slightly different now. Before, it had been a lush, green neighborhood, filled with big human-speeders and tall oak trees. The area had smelled of happiness — and money.

Now, the area was less cheerful. The humans seemed the same, but whenever Pierre saw a cat, they had the same haunted eyes, as if they had fought in a terrible war. They were the same eyes that Pierre had had when he returned from service, the horrors of Denvava still shrouded over him.

The area was also crawling with guards, each one with a gun and hawkish eyes. They robotically screened the area, looking for even the slightest bit of resistance.

Pierre ducked behind a wall. This pace would never get him to Salem. He sprinted, taking a shortcut.

***

Some people might have thought it was a game. Pierre thought it was torture.

Finding an area where Salem would logically be kept was impossible! It seemed like there was that infuriating ward leader saying ‘Better find me! Oh, by the way, I can turn invisible.’

Just as he was about to sprint from the old, run-down wall to some other hiding place, he saw it. Eight dogs entered a little, nearly invisible sod hut. They were carrying guns.

Pierre slunk his way to the entrance. He would have to be creative to get into this one. It had one well guarded entrance, with eight trained and armed dogs, and Salem was under lock and key.

Plus, some deafening noise seemed to get closer and closer. It sounds like an army. But why would an army be here?

Although there had been border clashes and fighting, there was no way an army could get this far.

The time was running out. One of the sentries was soon to see him. Pierre struggled. One idea. He needed one idea.

A guard saw him! On top of a rooftop, the guard was about to shout out.

Pierre’s brain raced, looking, looking for anything. The guard was still in shock. Pierre was still in shock. His eyes… They looked like a defector!

AHA!

“DEFECTOR!” Pierre screamed. “DON’T DENY IT, YOU UP THERE, YOU JUST TOOK A POTSHOT AT THE DOG GUARDS! HOW DARE YOU DEFY THE CALICONS!”

Guards surged out of the area! The supposed defector had no chance. And Pierre… had one!

 

Chapter Eleven: Victory Or Death

The tunnel didn’t seem to end. Harrowing and steep, it curled around, lighted by the dreadful torches. Pierre tumbled through, finally reaching a large room.

Salem’s prison.

“There you are,” Pierre breathed.

Salem was still in his cage, with no cat for a guard.

“I’m going to break you out.”

His brain churned with determination. No matter how hard this thing was, no matter how challenging, Salem would go free. He began working on the lock.

Salem’s reply was thin, weak.

“Go fast. I need to be out soon.”

Blood was pounding. The thing that Salem had been dreaming of might just come true. Pierre might get him out, leaping the final hurdle of an impossible journey.

The lock fought, straining the feline’s muscles. An effort from Pierre and the frail Salem made no progress. Then Salem spoke.

“If I survive this, I have something big to tell you.”

But something was happening. The cage was moving, defying laws of physics. Pierre followed it. Its pace picked up. Pierre started to run. His face was showing. He was frightened. Pierre hopped on and began to flip out. He was sweating. The cell accelerated. They were coming to the end of the tunnel.

The cart flew! Careening out of the damp underground, Pierre witnessed a different scene.  A line of soldiers, armed with guns, locked and loaded.

And a ward leader.

 

Chapter Twelve: Final Breaths

Pleasantly surprised, the evil genius strode over to him.

“You see, I told you!” he exclaimed to the crowd. “Poor Pierre! The dimwitted fool had to come after his poor, troubled brother. But now, both can be executed!” He continued on, “Of course I knew the loving idiot would try and rescue him. Why not? But, now we have both of you for execution!”

The rumbling noise grew louder still. Pierre stood calmly. He knew what to do. He started whispering to Salem.

“When the firing squad opens fire, I’ll jump in front of you. But you have to act like you’re already hit so they think you’re dead.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll probably die.”

Pierre turned his attention back to the ward leader, who was still bragging.

“…And now, let it begin! Five… four… what?”

The air was punctured by shouts now. A few cats, far off in the distance, were visible.

Cantercats.

Stunned, the leader of the Calicons turned to one of his deputies.

I thought you said we held the invaders off!

The she-cat shifted her paws.

“Well, not exactly. They swarmed our right flank, and-”

The time was now! Pierre scattered to the ever-enclosing Cantercats, Salem on his heels. A cheer went up! Pierre and Salem were back!

The execution squad and guards formed an army, well-trained and vicious. But the Cantercats had spirit.

The ward leader was ready to kill.

“NO MERCY! AIM FOR PIERRE!”

Pierre took the head. The command on the other side went up.

“Ready… aim…”

Salem was hyperventilating. Why?

“Don’t do this, Pierre. They aren’t all bad-”

“WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR! FIRE!”

Shots rang out, and the battle began.

 

To be continued…

 

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