The two purple Grundos sat nervously on cold plastic
stools, sharing a few Cosmic Cheese Stars. They looked around the quiet café.
An elderly yellow Chia sat four stools away from them, licking Green Tea pills.
A group of rowdy young pets sat behind them, doing homework and bragging who
could scarf down the most Intergalactic Spiced Beans without water. In a table
to their left, a pair of fire Wockies chatted about the Stock Market. There
was no one who looked like they might be an evil Villain.
"Glarsh nff ashtok?" whispered one of the purple
Grundos to the other, which translates to something like, 'do you think he is
The other Grundo shrugged and whispered back,
"Anuuk. Fnark anuuk sa lmmpkl dur ashtig," which translates to, 'Maybe. Or maybe
he is one of these pets.'
The first Grundo opened his mouth to reply, but
then elbowed his partner and nodded his head towards a female Draik that had
just entered. The Draik was wearing a heavy, thick black cloak with the concealing
black hood drawn up on her head; maybe the cloak was to hide the shriveled blackish-green
wings, and maybe the hood was for covering the withered, cut-up ears that indicated
the Draik was a mutant.
The Draik sat down and quietly ordered a glass
of water. Gargarox Isafuhlarg, the owner of the small café, didn't even flinch
when he looked at her face. He filled a glass cup with water indifferently,
set it on the counter and mumbled deeply, "10 neopoints."
The two Grundos went up to her clumsily, each
trying to push the other in front. The Draik acted as if she didn't notice their
squabbling. Finally one of the Grundos stepped forward tentatively and squeaked,
"Midsh ankku liu?"
The Draik half turned, so that they could see
part of her face. One bulbous orange eye with black slits for pupils came to
rest on the Grundo who had stepped forward, and she smirked. The Grundo drew
back uncertainly. "I don't speak your language," rasped the Draik.
The purple Grundo paused, trying to find the
right words. "Denriada?" he asked slowly.
The Draik nonchalantly took a sip of water and
said, "I am Denriada."
The purple Grundo took another step up to her.
"We Sloth slave. Take you to ship." He waited to see if the new villain understood.
Denriada stood up wordlessly and tugged her black
cloak even tighter around herself.
The two Grundos piped something to each other
quickly, and then they scurried off. The first Grundo said to Denriada, "fast
The Draik smirked again and padded off behind
Happiness watched cheerfully as the Grundo brought
his massive arm down to pick her up and carry her to Faerieland where he would
probably treat her to yummy Faerie food. What a nice Grundo.
The Grundos giant hand was only inches away from
the nuisances head when a white blur swooped down and shot away with the Cybunny
tucked safely in her arms. The Grundo bellowed as his fist pummeled the ground,
causing it to shake and tremble.
"Hi, Neoangel!" greeted Happiness, but the Zafara
didn't reply. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Neofaerie sinking his sharp
teeth into the rocket-fire blasters. She still had a job to do. The Zafara flew
through the air, slowly, so that the Grundos wouldn't give up on chasing her.
Every time they got close she put on a sudden burst of speed. She had to lead
the Grundos as far away from Neofaerie as possible.
It worked. The lead Grundo watched Neoangel with
beady eyes for a second, and then roared and ran off after her, the rest of
the troop right behind. Not having to worry about making too much noise anymore,
Neofaerie pounced against the gadget, crashing into it and tearing anything
that he could.
Neoangel whipped around in the air and called
back to her brother, "let's go!" The Kougra grinned, and raced off past the
Grundos, who stood there looking dumbfounded for a second, before shouting and
thundering off after him. But they were too slow, and soon they fell behind,
cursing, as Neofaerie, Neoangel and Happiness whirled through the door to the
main Virtupets Space Station.
"Whew," said Neofaerie, taking deep breaths,
"that was fun. So what are we gonna do about NSQ?"
Happiness squirmed out of Neoangels arms and
hopped onto the steel floor, gazing curiously around the giant spacecraft and
taking it all in. Neoangel said, "I can't go back right away. I think I should
be at full magical energy when I go in, so I'll have to rest a while. NSQ should
be fine in the meantime."
"You make it sound as if we aren't coming with
you," said Neofaerie, raising an eyebrow suspiciously.
Neoangel met Neofaeries eyes and said firmly,
The Kougra opened his mouth to protest but Neoangel
said quietly, "don't argue, Neofaerie. It takes too much energy out of me. We'll
wait until the time comes, to make the final decision."
Without waiting for his answer, the Zafara made
her way past a few empty tables and sat down at on a stool that, judging by
the way the seat was still warm, had been recently vacated.
Happiness leaped up onto the seat beside her
and brightly asked Gargarox for a Chocolate Éclair Paste. Defeated, Neofaerie
shambled over and sat down on the ground behind Happiness's high stool.
Neoangel closed her eyes, concentrating hard,
her brow slightly furrowed. She sensed that some dark magic had just been used
in the vicinity, or someone who used dark magic had been there. Who had it been?
Did this have some connection to Sloth? Neoangel found herself subconsciously
rubbing her thumb over the amulet again, wondering if somewhere behind the closed
doors of Sloth's spaceship, NSQ was in danger.
The two purple Grundos ran up to the large silver door, checked once more to
see that the cloaked Draik was still behind them, and quickly pressed a black
button beside a set of sleek sliding doors. The doors slid open to let them
"Ahh," came a voice out of the shadows, "Denriada,
how nice is it to see you. Come in, come in." Sloth greeted her as if they were
The Grundos ushered Denriada into the room, and
the doors closed behind them. "Now," said Sloth pleasantly, "remove your cloak
and let's talk business."
The Draik paused, and then slowly, she pulled
off her heavy black cloak and threw it to one of the purple Grundos. There was
a sharp intake of breath from Sloth.
The Draiks dark, olive green skin was mottled,
loose and stretched. Her scaly underbelly was covered in long scratches and
scars. Her wings were torn, bits of them hanging off, waiting to fall, and her
huge tail lay limp on the ground. Yet something about her, although Sloth couldn't
quite put his finger on it, made him think that she might have once been beautiful.
Sloth quickly recovered from the slight shock
(he had, after all, seen many mutants before) and set a smile back on his lips.
"Well," he said, "let's get cracking. My neopoints first, please," he said,
holding out his hand calmly as he tried not to look too eager.
Denriada glanced around the room and said coolly,
"That's odd, I don't see your half of the bargain anywhere."
Sloths lip curled, but he gave a curt order to
the Grundos to fetch the prisoners. They darted out awkwardly, leaving Sloth
and Denriada to glare at each other from opposite sides of the room.
A few minutes later the Grundos returned, squealing
rapidly in their odd language. Sloth stood up from his chair, glaring down at
them. "What do you mean? I had ordered them to be caught! How could they escape?"
Denriadas eyes narrowed. "Something wrong, Sloth?"
"Oh no, nothing wrong at all!" said Sloth nervously,
turning to her and laughing in an oddly high-pitched way. "I'll go get the prisoners
myself, actually," he said. "Umm, wait here." He shot the Grundos one more icy
glare and left the room. The Draik turned her creepy orange eyes on the Grundos,
and they gulped and hid behind Sloth's desk.
Denriada balled her hands into fists. "If she's
not here… no," she said angrily, "I've waited too long for this. I've come too
close to give up because of this petty villain's blunder."
The Grundos, hiding behind Sloth's desk, had
no idea what she was talking about. They also wondered how powerful she really
was, if she was able to call their fearsome master a 'petty villain.'
NSQ was lying in her cell, humming vaguely and trying to figure out what the
cracks in the stone ceiling looked like when the bars clanged open and Sloth
stepped in, looking furious.
"Where are the other two prisoners?" he roared,
making NSQ jump.
Immediately, NSQ said, "They fell out the window
and couldn't get back in, and then a giant Pterii swooped by and offered to
fly them up to the roof where they could get in, but it turned out there was
no hole in the roof, so they had to go to Meridell to buy some very hot gruel
to pour on the roof so that it would burn, and then there would be a hole in
the roof so they could drop back in." She had recited it to herself over 8 times.
She smiled at Sloth. "They should be back in an hour."
Sloth screamed something in another language
and pounded the wall with his fist. NSQ shrank back, her knees drawn up to her
chest as she watched Sloth rage, half scared, half amused.
"I can't believe this," fumed Sloth, "I leave
my mutant slaves to take care of 3 measly pets, such an easy job for them, and
they let me down! How is this possible?"
"3?" asked NSQ curiously. "Who was the third
Sloth looked at her as if he had only just noticed
her. "The Draik seemed particularly interested in that new Zafara," he muttered
to himself, "but maybe I can give her this girl for now…" He walked over and
grabbed by the arm. "Come on," he grumbled.
"Draik?" NSQ asked blankly, "you mean the third
pet was a Draik? I don't think I know any Draiks… maybe they ran off with a
stranger. Did you say a Zafara too? But that makes 4. Or did Happiness run off?
Oh wait, I have a Zafara!" She said suddenly, catching on. While she babbled,
Sloth had dragged her back up to his office. The sliding doors opened, and he
shoved the girl inside.
Denriadas huge eyes narrowed considerably. "Only
this human? Where are the others?"
"They're coming," said Sloth, "don't worry, we'll
find them. While you're waiting, though, take this girl. I'm terribly sorry
about the delay with the others, but-"
"It's a package deal," hissed Denriada, "I want
all 3 pets here as well."
"I assure you that you will receive everything
you are paying for."
NSQ stayed silent, not trusting herself to speak.
Clearly, Sloth was trying to make some sort of trade with the Draik, and she
was included. Sloth had said something about 4 pets. Here was the Draik, so
that must mean that Neoangel had found the others. So where were they now? From
what Sloth had said, they had managed to escape from the mutant Grundos, but
what were they planning?
Meanwhile, Denriada seemed to be thinking hard
as well. "Fine," she said suddenly, as if struck by a sudden thought, "I'll
take the girl for now. When you find the others, you will call me through the
villain communicator. Until I have all of the prisoners in my possession, you
will receive no pay."
"Come now," said Sloth, "be reasonable-"
"I am being reasonable," said Denriada coldly.
She hauled NSQ over to a section of the wall, and it crumbled before her, leaving
a wide passageway. Sloth raised no objections to the destruction of his office.
Denriada wrapped her sharp claws around NSQ's wrist, ignoring the girl's shudders,
and with a flap of her ripped wings, she soared out into the sky.
Sloth waited until she was gone, and then sat
back down at his desk with a sigh. "All I wanted was a few neopoints," he complained.
Under the desk, trying to stay away from Sloth's smelly feet, the purple Grundos
squeaked in sympathy.
To be continued...