Now with 50% more useless text Circulation: 104,800,928 Issue: 204 | 18th day of Hiding, Y7
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"I'll Have the Tofu Bowl, Please."

by peachifruit


"Look at this."

    The dark room was quiet and still, save one tall silhouetted figure pacing back and forth. His head tilted down, hands limp at his sides, he stood at one side of the room for a while, then quickly turned on one heel to face his shadowy audience. "Look at this place! The Virtupets Space Station, huh...? An absolute atrocity; everywhere you look, there's some insipid 'Buy-Me' sign or a tourist trap... This place isn't my evil lair anymore-- It's a tourist attraction!"

    The sudden shouting made the audience start. For a second, light flickered as it reflected off their armored forms. They all gave the leader their complete attention. Satisfied, he continued his speech. "Me, I've had enough of it. I long for the old days of this place... terror around every corner... horrible slave labor... not some lever that takes your chump change every time you pull it."

    "I was gonna buy some soda with that mo--"

    "SHUT UP!" The entire room jumped at this, and the lone complainer was immediately silenced. "I think it's time this entire station underwent some... reform! Change! And, oh... the Space Faerie..." He stopped, choking up. "Why... why don't you ever come here anymore...?" He buried his dark face in his hands, bawling.

    "...dude, is he crying?" someone whispered.

    "Dude, he's seriously crying," another answered, then the comments ended quickly as their leader gained his composure, wanting to continue his pep talk.

    "Anyway," he coughed, "like I was saying, it's time for a change around this place. And I know the perfect place to start: with you! It's time for this place to really turn back into the Virtupets Space Station I remember! It's time to take back what's mine! ...Ours, I meant!"

    At this, the crowd burst into applause and cheering. A light turned on, revealing the leader's contorted face. It was Dr. Sloth, (formerly) feared and hated the world over. Now he was just... hated. Since his embarrassing failure to carry out his dastardly plans, Sloth was regarded as more of a pitiful shell of what he used to be. Cheering him on was his faithful league of mutant Grundos-- the ones that still respected him somewhat. Sloth himself looked relieved to see his plans met with such overwhelming receptiveness. It really was time for a change at the old space station, but what he'd overlooked was that the biggest change was needed... a little closer to home.

    "YEAH!" some overenthusiastic soldier screamed. It was a... a girl. Hands raised, a starry Ruki came flying to the front of the crowd. "WOW! Mr. Sloth, I respect you, sir! That was an amazing speech, sir! I can't wait to see your plans put into action, sir!" She spun around on one leg. "And I promise you that I, Java B. Ean, will follow you to the ends of the earth! When I spot anyone who gets in your way, I'll do everything I can to stop them! I'll put my life on the line, not even kidding!" She stared at Sloth with wide, bright eyes. "Let's change this station back to the way it was...TOGETHER!"

    Sloth was horrified. He stared back at Java, seething with contempt for her. He didn't even remember how she managed to get into his League of Faithful Minions, but he wished she hadn't. He only remembered the first instance that she'd run up to him and cried "Mr. Sloth, sir! Let's conquer the world together, sir!" And after that, there was no getting rid of her.

    "Java...don't you think you'd be better off doing something else?" moaned Sloth, evil, brooding hands in his evil, brooding pockets. "I mean, don't you like... uh... Usukis like girls your age do?" His voice sounded strained as he tried to drive her away.

    Java simply cackled. "OH-SOU-KAYS?! HA!" The crowd flinched at her horrible mispronunciation. "I laugh at the doofus that plays with those, sir!" One of the mutated Grundo soldiers started, then shoved something in his pocket without the slightest bit of hesitation. Sloth looked disappointed.

    "But, Java..." he began, "You're... you're mistaken. You see, this evil regime is for... well, evil. Java, you're not necessarily evil. I mean, in fact, you're..."

    "A girl?" Java shot back, staring him in the face with a fire in her eyes. "A girl?! I know I'm a girl, but I'm as good a soldier as an--"

    "That's not... what I meant." Sloth paused, waiting for Java to settle down. "You're energetic and capable and all of that, but..." He sighed, wondering how to put this. He decided on the blunt approach. "You're not a Grundo, Java."

    "Wh...what?!" Java gave him a look of shock, gasped when she saw his stone-cold face, then turned around to face the other soldiers. She stared at them all through tear-blurred eyes, then fell to the floor dramatically with a long, overdramatic "NOOOOOOO!" As she hit the ground on her knees, she reached for her head and found two antennae, where they'd always been. Completely satisfied, she immediately stopped crying and got up to look at Sloth with an "I-know-you" kind of smile. "That was mean, sir. But look, I've got antennae like a Grundo, so... I'm not that gullible." The entire room seemed to sigh.

    Sloth, on the other hand, was expecting this. She always said it to him when he tried to convince her that she wasn't a Grundo. She didn't seem to know what a Ruki was, really. "What do you mean, 'why do I have four legs?'" she would ask. "I've got two, just like any self-respecting Grundo, sir." And when he'd ask her to count, it would always come, with a bit of cheating on her part, out to two.

    "All right, Java. I've got a mission for you. If you can prove to me that you're a Grundo capable of staying on the team, I'll give you some candy," Sloth murmured.

    She gazed at him with what seemed to be stars in her eyes. "R-really?! Oh, I knew you'd let me prove myself, sir! You're wonderful, Mr. Sloth, sir! Excellent! Fantastic! YAY! ... But, what do I have to do...?"

    "That's the fun part, Java!" Sloth exclaimed, sounding more frightening than endearing. Everyone in the room except the clueless Ruki backed away. "What I want you to do is undergo some... top secret training! Doesn't that sound like great fun?"

    "Y-YOU BET!" Java shrieked, inciting a little more fear in the quiet audience. "What do I gotta do? Just say the word, sir!"

    Sloth coughed. "Oh, I'll say it, all right..."


    The setting was Neopia Central at noon. The sun was high in the sky, and the Space Station was clearly visible from the ground where Java stood. Standing on all four two legs, she held a booklet entitled, De Dictionary of Dastardly Deeds to be Done. Flipping through its pages, she sighed. "Aha, so my training starts! Sloth told me to do ten dastardly deeds in this book, but I can't find any good ones," said the Ruki to herself. "And geeze, this book is, like, Neo-College level or something! I mean, these words! What the heck is What the heck is that, anyway?!"

    Java flipped to the back of the book, looking for a better deed. "If I do a really big one, it'll count for, like, four!" she shouted. "Okay, here! Eenie-meenie-miney-mo, catch a Kougra by the-- oh, this one's good!" Not bothering to finish her rhyme, she landed her finger on Dastardly Deed No. 5,943 and began to read it aloud. "B... No, that's a 'D'... N...igh...opa... Ugh, this book is too hard!" She tossed it aside. "I'll come up with my own deed of pure evil!"


    At Toys Galore toy shop, colorful dolls, balls, wands, cars and many other enchanting playthings lined the shelves. A red Lupe sat at the counter, bored to tears. There were tens of annoying children all around the shop, pointing out the pretty toys they wanted, but no one actually came to the counter. A crossword puzzle she hadn't finished lay in front of her, but she had no incentive to pick it up again. She hated days like these.

    And then everything changed.

    SLAM! "BA-DAAAAAAAAAAAN! The lovely evil JAVA has arrived!" Some crazy starry Ruki came waltzing through the door with her own fanfare and imaginary entourage. "Hello, pitiful Neopian scum! Welcome to... to..." She looked lost for a second, then started counting on her fingers. She frowned. "... HELLO, PITIFUL NEOPIAN SCUM!"

    The Lupe was worried for the first time since she'd opened the shop. "Who... who are you?" she began, standing. The crowd inside the toy shop turned around to look at the scene.

    "Why, I'm only..." The Ruki grabbed a nearby piece of chalk and ran awkwardly over to the play chalkboard near the counter. She began to scribble something. The letters were large and wobbly, and some people began to whisper to each other. "A... B... No, A... C... ugh!"

    She paused, realizing everyone was staring. A few more scribbles and she backed away to reveal "G-E-B-A" on the board. "JAVA!"

    "Ge... ba...?" The Lupe was confused. She stared at Java, then back at the board. "...Geba... is your... name...?"

    "What? Didn't I just say Java? Java! JAVA!" the Ruki screamed, tossing the chalk back into its basket. "Do I have to spell it out for you or-- wait..."

    "That doesn't spell Java, hon," said a bystander. "It's 'Geba.'"

    Java clutched her head and began to scream, "Why...WHY ARE YOU ALL GANGING UP ON ME?! LEAVE ME ALONE! IT'S JAVA! JAVA!" There was a sudden awkward silence as Java looked around the room, then ran over to a keychain and took it. She then pointed at the shopkeeper suspiciously. "Yeah, I'm taking this! And... and no following me, ya hear?! NO FOLLOWING ME!" She ran out the door.


    "It...It was awful, sir!"

    Java wept, burying her head in her hands. "Neopia Central's toy shop is an evil among evils! They made fun of me because I... can't spell!" She wept harder, sinking to the floor. The Grundo audience let out a unanimous "Aww..."

    Sloth was unamused. He held the keychain that Java had stolen in his hands, staring at the picture of some disco Aisha secret agent on it. "Well, you failed to do what I asked, anyway. Java. So I'm going to have to let you go." He knew this wouldn't work, but...

    Java sighed despondently. "Ahh... Yeah. I know, I kind of let you down, didn't I?" She stood up, dried her eyes with the back of her hand and looked at him, trying to be as pathetic as possible. "I... I'M SO SORRY!" She ran off, wailing, to the transporter room.

    Sloth, stung by guilt, began to call after her but dismissed the idea before he did so. Instead, he let out a stolid, "Anyway, let's go eat lunch or something." The crowd, easily amused, completely forgot Java and cheered wildly. They probably forgot Sloth's plan for reform as well.


At Grundo's cafe, there was a table for roughly a hundred, occupied by Sloth and his minions. They were all poring over their menus deciding on something cheap. "The chicken platter sounds nice, but a little fattening. I'm trying to cut calories, you know," said Sloth. The table stared at him blankly. "... For health, you idiots." There was a silent "mm-hmm, sure" from across the table.

    "Who said that?!" Sloth roared. "I'll have you know I'm VERY concerned about my cholesterol level!" He stood up, banging his menu on the table. "THAT'S IT! TOFU BOWLS ALL AROUND!" The group groaned painfully.

    "A hundred tofu bowls? Excellent choice, sir!" A familiar voice broke through all the groaning and shouting from the Grundos. Sloth looked up slowly at the waitress who'd come to the table. "What? Oh, Mr. Sloth, sir! How nice to see you here!" It was Java.

    Sloth shouted and backed away, almost knocking himself out of his own chair. "What... what are you doing here?! Harrassing someone when they're trying to have lunch!"

    "Wh... oh, silly. I work here!" she exclaimed happily. "I figured, if I couldn't take over Neopia from your base, I'd just do it from this restaurant!" She gave him a sly look. "I'll just slip poison into all the food and destroy Neopia one by JUST KIDDING! So, seriously, what can I get you guys?"

    The table was dead silent.

    "...You guys?"

The End...?

    "Wait, so this means I'm hired again, right, sir?!"

Definitely Not The End.

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