Chapter 12 - Escape!
They crept quietly along a small track hidden between two sand hills. Somewhere ahead lay the Great Saltpan. Binni knew they would have to skirt around the edge of this strange, dried sea. It was too dangerous to cross. Even a small animal might break through its thick, salt crust and be trapped in the sticky clay beneath.
Binni gave a shiver of fear as they left the safety of the path and set out across the mulga plain. He knew their friends were hiding nearby, hoping to help if the rabbits attacked. But the plain was scattered with trees and filled with secret dips and hollows. There were many places the rabbit army could ambush them.
They travelled on for what seemed like a very long time. Finally, Binni smelled the Saltpan in the distance. Soon they would be safely across the plain.
Suddenly, a great roar shattered the air. Binni's heart froze. It was the war cry of the rabbit army.
"Remember our plan!" cried Burra Nimu, as the rabbits streamed out of a hollow and surged around them.
Lepus sprang onto a nearby rock and raised a paw. His troops fell silent.
"I win, Burra Nimu!" he sneered. "Soon I shall I be rid of you and have the eggs!" He stared down in triumph and Binni could see the gleam of hate in his eyes.
"You are wrong, Lepus" said Burra Nimu quietly. "You will never win. The creatures of the land will never give up. You cannot destroy their will to survive."
Lepus snarled. "But you have nothing left to fight with!"
And his troops began to drum their hind legs on the ground in victory.
Burra Nimu smiled mysteriously. "There is always the magic of the bush. Look, it is all around you!"
For a long moment nothing happened. Then swooping out of the sky, silent and black, came Gatar. He sped over the rabbit soldiers to where Lepus sat.
"Now, Gatar, now!" cried Burra Nimu.
The great bird ruffled his feathers and the night sky began to fill with hundreds of strange, shimmering lights. They swarmed around Lepus, buzzing before his eyes.
Lepus pawed the air angrily, screaming at his troops for assistance. But they did not move, they were too scared.
Binni watched in wonder. To him, the dancing lights were beautiful.
"What are they, Father?" he whispered.
"Fireflies," smiled Burra Nimu. "Keela collected them in the forest. They are harmless, but they will give us a chance to escape.
"Be ready, Binni. When Gatar returns, we must run."
As Binni nodded, hundreds more lights began to appear, filling the air around the rabbit soldiers.
"It's time!" cried Burra Nimu.
And they began to run: through the rabbits, through the dancing lights, towards the Great Saltpan.