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Save the Slorgs!

by nut862


"Why are all the games in Meridell so weird?" I asked, looking around in distaste.

     "Games in Meridell are not weird," my sister Floater, a blue Flotsam, protested, looking up from where she was sitting on Sinsi's red and white checked blanket. "They're great! I love Meridell!" Floater had hardly left the Shapeshifter area since we had arrived in Meridell. She had been puzzling over one level for an hour.

     "Meridell games are fun!" said Quiggler, with a big grin on his face. He's my brother, a very happy Rainbow Quiggle, and he loves practically everything (except slime, for some weird reason; slime is wonderful!), so this was no surprise.

     "I second Lulu," announced Sparkler. I looked at my sister, a blue Shoyru, with relief. At least someone agreed with me. "Mystery Island is so much better than Meridell!"

     "Oh, come on. I'm having fun. Why don't you spoilsports go try to wake up the Turmaculus or something?" Floater asked.

     I was shocked that she would even suggest such a thing! "Never!" I cried in horror, hugging my darling Blue Slorg with all of my Striped Kiko might. "I could never do that to Slugger! He could get…get…EATEN!" I finally dared to pronounce the horrid word, and then squeezed Slugger tighter as if my saying it might cause something to eat him right this moment. Slugger just grinned at me cutely. I love my Slorg, and I would never, ever let anything happen to him!

     Floater rolled her eyes. "Obsessed with your Slorg as always, Lulu. So the Turmaculus isn't such a great idea, but surely you can find something to do other than hanging around pestering me. I am trying to solve this puzzle. Why don't you go help Nut play games or something?" she asked, referring to our owner.

     It was the anniversary of the Discovery of Meridell, and as part of the celebration, all of the games located in Meridell were giving out double Neopoints. Of course, that meant that our owner was running around playing all the games that she could get her hands on. The last we had seen of Nut, she had been running off to play Turmac Roll.

     "Well, do you want to go find her?" I asked Sparkler. Personally, I wasn't too excited about the idea of helping Nut do something like count potatoes. The games in Meridell really are weird. And there are hazards for poor hapless Petpets everywhere! If I weren't holding onto Slugger all the time to make sure he stayed safe, he would probably fall down a Symol Hole or get snapped up by an oversize Turmac in no time! A horrid land this is, with no sign of the Petpet Protection League anywhere, even when they're needed most!

     Sparkler shrugged. "If you want to find Nut, then…well, we don't have anything better to do."

     Quiggler grinned. "Games sound like fun! We could have a contest to see who scores highest. Let's find Nut!"

     So the three of us left Floater to puzzle over Shapeshifter, walking quickly over the rolling hills and through the fields of Meridell. I clutched onto Slugger all the way. I wasn't about to let anything happen to him in this dangerous place. I was surprised at Sparkler, who didn't even seem to be watching her Angelpuss as she flitted alongside the blue Shoyru. She isn't too concerned about the ever-present dangers for Petpets. But I am, especially in Meridell. The Turmaculus, the Symol Hole, and Turdle Races were only a few ways of abusing Petpets that these Meridellians had.

     Nut wasn't playing Turmac Roll, or Ultimate Bullseye, or Extreme Potato Counter, or Escape from Meridell Castle. I was beginning to wonder if we would ever find her, when we finally spotted her standing at the edge of a large field. Her attention was locked on a red Yurble who was operating a scary-looking mechanical gun of sorts. The gun was aimed at the field, though I couldn't tell why. The field was bursting with bushes ripe with luscious-looking berries.

     Quiggler and I hurried up to her, with Sparkler trailing behind. "Nut! What are you doing?"

     Nut turned around. She smiled. "Oh, hi, guys. This Yurble is just showing me how his game is played."

     "Game?" I stared out at the field curiously. And then I gasped with delight.

     Across the field were crawling…Slorgs. There were dozens of Slorgs, in all different colors. Brown ones and green ones and gray ones and red ones and pink ones, and even blue ones like Slugger, made their way across the field. They came from the forest, pushing forward with their cute slimy little bodies, inching their way across the field in a most adorable way. They looked so happy there together. I saw one Slorg pluck a berry off of a bush and chew it. I watched with delight as all those Slorgs came closer.

     Quiggler gulped, his usual smile gone from his face, and he quickly turned away from the field. He doesn't like slime. I don't understand why. The sight of the Slorgs transfixed me.

     "Look at all the Slorgs!" I breathed. "There are so many Slorgs!"

     Slugger squirmed in my grasp, grinning eagerly. I smiled at him. "Yes, Slugger, they're all Slorgs, just like you! You want to get out there and play with them, don't you?" I was of half a mind to release him and allow him to go out there in the field and make friends with the wild Slorgs, but in the next moment, I was glad I hadn't let go of him.

     That was because the red Yurble said, to an eagerly watching Nut, "Now you see all those Slorgs out there? They want to eat my crops, and devour every last berry. But they won't get a chance to, if you simply aim the gun at a couple of matching Slorgs, and…" He wheeled the gun around to point at a pair of simply adorable pink Slorgs, and pressed the trigger.

     A ball of gooey pink stuff launched out of the gun. It flew across the field and hit the two pink Slorgs. And, with no further warning, the Slorgs vanished, as if they had evaporated into thin air. I gasped.

     On either side of the pink Slorgs, three blue Slorgs came together to take the pink Slorgs' place. But when they touched, they vanished, too! I expected the brown Slorgs and green Slorgs to disappear when they fell into place, but to my relief, they stayed in the field.

     "So you see, that's how you earn points," the Yurble was telling Nut. "Want to try?"

     Nut nodded and stepped up to the gun. I turned anxiously to the Yurble and asked, "Where did the Slorgs go? Were they transported?"

     "Oh, no," the Yurble said. "They're gone. I Slorgerised them."

     My heart dropped. "You…what?" I squeaked. I'd never heard anyone use the word "Slorgerised" before, but I knew all too well what the suffix meant.

     "Slorgerised them," the Yurble repeated proudly. "I invented this machine, the Slorgeriser-X4, to get these pesky Slorgs out of my crops for good."

     I felt weak. "You…killed them?" I asked faintly.

     "Well, not exactly," the Yurble said hesitantly. "I sort of…vaporized them. But it's all right. They're probably happier wherever they are than on Neopia, anyway."

     My thoughts reeled. Not on Neopia. Vaporized. Or Slorgerised; it didn't make much of a difference. The Slorgeriser-X4. It all added up to one thing: hundreds of perfectly innocent, perfectly adorable Slorgs were being unnecessarily destroyed! I couldn't let this go on!

     "Um, Lulu, are you all right?" Sparkler asked, breaking into my thoughts. "You look pale. Maybe we should go somewhere else."

     I regained my senses and looked around wildly. Nut. She was…what was she doing! She was aiming that horrible Slorgeriser-X4 at a group of unwary green Slorgs, and she was about to pull the trigger! I never thought my owner had it in her!

     I ran up to her and cried, "Nut, STOP!" I pushed my owner in a last effort to save the helpless Slorgs, and Nut fell over (really, her balance seems to fluctuate sometimes). The Slorgeriser-X4 spun on its tripod, and I was relieved to see that it hadn't fired. The green Slorgs were happily munching on some berries.

     Nut got up quickly. "What are you doing, Lulu?"

     "You can't play this game!" I declared firmly. I'm sure my face clearly displayed the intense horror that I felt. I squeezed Slugger tighter.

     "But Lulu, the payout is doubled for today only! This is a once-in-a-year chance! I have to play all the Meridell games!" Nut protested.

     I shook my head. "This is not a game," I said. "This is cruel maltreatment of innocent Slorgs. I thought you knew better than this, Nut. You are always saying that you're for good and against evil. Well, this is evil. Killing, or Slorgerising, all of these Slorgs can't be anything but evil as far as I'm concerned!" I finished vehemently.

     "Oh, brother…" Sparkler mumbled. "Lulu, it's just a game."

     The Yurble farmer looked slightly annoyed. "Look here, miss, these Slorgs are attacking my crops. I wouldn't call them innocent. If I don't get rid of them, I won't have anything to eat next year, or to sell. I'd be ruined, and so would the rest of Meridell. No one would have any food. So you see, I have to do this, for Meridell's own good."

     Nut hesitated, but she stepped down from the gun-firing platform. I was relieved to see that she had given up on this horrible idea of destroying all the Slorgs, but it was even more horrifying to see how many people had queued up behind us while I'd been talking. It seemed that all of Meridell wanted to have a turn shooting some poor hapless Slorgs. Did none of them realize what a heinous act was being committed by the seemingly harmless playing of this "game"?

     "Come on," Sparkler said, grabbing my fin and dragging me away from the field. "Let's get you away from here, Lulu. You're going to embarrass us all if you keep ranting."

     Quiggler nodded quickly. "Let's go." He gave the rows of Slorgs an uneasy glance and then started hurrying away.

     Nut followed us. "That was the last game anyway. I guess I earned a decent enough amount of Neopoints from Discovery of Meridell Day."

     But I refused to simply walk away and leave the situation as it stood. "I have to do something to save those poor Slorgs!" I announced. "It isn't right for this to go on. It's wrong, not to mention mean, cruel, awful…"

     "We get the idea, Lulu," Sparkler said.

     I was hurt by her disinterest. Was I the only one who cared about the fate of those Slorgs?

     "Look, even if it is a little cruel, you can't really do anything about it," Sparkler said. "The farmer has to protect his crops. It's true; if he lets the Slorgs take over, Meridell won't have any food. What's worse, a few Slorgs being vaporized, or having a whole country starve?"

     "Not a few Slorgs; hundreds!" I said in dismay. I couldn't bear to think of all those wonderful Slorgs being eliminated. Then an idea occurred to me. "But if the Slorgs leave, the farmer won't have to get rid of them. They'll be safe. So all we have to do is move them to a new home, where they can eat berries that don't belong to anyone." The thought cheered me a bit. It also set a task for me. And when I have a mission that involves Slorgs, I am very determined to succeed. I love Slorgs, and I would do anything to protect them.

     I ran back up to the Yurble farmer, trying not to watch as an Aisha, oblivious to the harm he was doing, shot a couple of green Slorgs, and asked him, "Where do the Slorgs come from?"

     The Yurble pointed to an expanse of trees in back of the field. "The forest. They all come from there. There seems to be no end to them," he said with annoyance.

     "Did they always live in the forest?" I asked.

     "I think so. For years, they stayed in the forest and kept to themselves. No one bothered them, and they didn't bother anyone. It was just recently that they started attacking Meridell's crops."

     "Why did they start doing that all of a sudden?" I asked.

     The Yurble shrugged. "Who knows? You can't really understand what a Slorg is thinking."

     I disagreed, though I didn't say anything. I understood exactly what Slugger was thinking. The way his mouth was hanging open right now clearly showed his amazement at the farmer's ignorance. However, the farmer had given me some good information to work on. The Slorgs had lived in the forest all their life, and clearly they must have food in the forest, or else they wouldn't have been able to live there for years, so now why were they eating the crops?

     I had to investigate the forest. Maybe I would find my answer there. Quickly I crossed the field, with my mission uppermost in my mind. I held on tight to Slugger so that he wouldn't be mistaken for one of the invading Slorgs. I shuddered to think of what might happen if he slipped out of my grasp.

     The forest was cool and dark inside. Bushes and trees abounded everywhere. And a steady stream of Slorgs was filing down the forest paths, all leaving the forest. They wanted to eat the good berries of Meridell's fields. I was sorry to think of the fate that awaited them out in the bountiful land that they were so eager to enter.

     "You're better off in the forest," I took the time to say to a passing Slorg. "Don't leave. It's dangerous out there. You'll be Slorgerised."

     The Slorg didn't even pay attention to me, just kept on moving along with all the others. Reasoning wasn't going to work, especially when most Slorgs don't even understand me. I had to lure them to a safe place with a different method.

     I "followed" the line of Slorgs, that is to say, I walked alongside them. But instead of going to the place that I knew was dangerous for them, a fact that they were sadly unaware of, I was going towards the place from which the Slorgs had come.

     The flow of Slorgs never seemed to stop, and I went deeper and deeper into the forest. I took the time to observe the plants around me on my way. I was surprised to find that they were all stripped bare. Most of their leaves had been torn off, and whatever fruits they may have had were all gone. Something had been eating them.

     After quite a while, I came to a clearing. Berry bushes lined the clearing. Some of them were stripped like the other plants I'd seen, but many of the bushes were blooming with ripe, juicy berries. And in the clearing, a small, jolly-looking Turmac was happily tearing berries and leaves off of a bush and popping them into its mouth.

     Some Slorgs were clustered around a berry bush, trying to eat the berries, but the Turmac swatted them away with a large paw. The Turmac pulled a few berries off of a nearby bush and chewed them, then closed its eyes with a contented sigh. I had no doubt in that this Turmac was the cause of the Slorgs' evacuation. It was eating all of their food.

     The Turmac rumbled contentedly, but the Slorgs stared in dismay and then started moving away with all the other Slorgs. The Turmac was the problem. If the Turmac was gone, the Slorgs would come back, and would leave the farmers' crops alone. But how to get the Turmac out of the forest? It would probably leave once all the Slorgs were gone, but by that time it would be too late. Besides, there were enough Slorgs to supply that Yurble farmer with targets for weeks.

     "What should we do, Slugger?" I consulted my Slorg. He stared at me, thinking hard.

     We needed some professional help. I turned around and went back out of the forest the way I'd come, passing by bare berryless bushes as I went. No wonder the Slorgs were leaving; they had nothing to eat here, and a gluttonous Turmac was guarding what food remained.

     When we at last exited the forest and found ourselves back in the fields of Meridell, I headed straight towards the only place I could think of that might know what to do about the Turmac.

     The Meridell Petpets Shopkeeper was just walking away when I entered his shop. He was carrying some empty cages. "Sorry, we're all sold out," he told me. "I'm on my way to get some more Petpets to sell."

     "I know of a place where you can find a wild Turmac to sell," I told him.

     The Ixi perked up his ears. "Really? Those always sell for a pretty nice amount, though I don't find many of them. Where?"

     "In the forest near the farm over there." I pointed.

     The shopkeeper wrinkled his nose. "Not the place that's always crawling with Slorgs?"

     "Yes," I said. "But I know there's a Turmac in there. Not only that, but it's eating all the berries in the forest, and causing hundreds of Slorgs to leave the forest and meet their doom."

     "Might be worthwhile anyway," the Ixi muttered. "All right, I'll see if I can catch that Turmac. Thanks for the tip."

     I watched him go hopefully. Maybe now everything would be solved, and the farmers wouldn't have to worry about the Slorgs attacking their crops anymore.

     Eight minutes later, the Meridell Petpets Shopkeeper returned to his shop with a smile on his face. His cages were full of Meridellian Petpets, and in one of them was the very Turmac that had been eating all the berries earlier. I smiled with relief. Now the Slorgs' food supply would not be in danger, and the Slorgs wouldn't need the farmers' crops.

     I returned to the farm where that horrible machine, the Slorgeriser-X4, was at work. To my dismay, there were as many Slorgs as ever in the fields, and as many Slorgs as ever were being Slorgerised each moment. The Turmac was gone now, but they didn't know that. How long would it take them to figure it out?

     Suddenly, Slugger slipped out of my grasp. "Slugger!" I cried in horror as my beloved Blue Slorg wiggled quickly into the field and over to a group of green Slorgs just as a green ball of Slorgeriser stuff was heading towards them. I ran over to protect him, but it turned out that he didn't need my help. He slid in between the two green Slorgs, and the ball of goo did nothing to any of them.

     "Slugger! You naughty boy!" I scolded, half-relieved and half-astonished at my Slorg's behavior. I reached down to pick him up, but as I did, Slugger looked at the two green Slorgs and gestured with his body importantly.

     The two green Slorgs looked at each other. Then they turned around and started moving back the way they came, away from the crops. The other Slorgs went with them. They were all leaving. They were going back to the forest.

     A Kacheek who was standing in front of the Slorgeriser-X4 looked surprised. "Hey, that's not supposed to happen in this game! And what's that Kiko doing there? Will I get extra points for shooting the Kiko?"

     The Yurble farmer looked too surprised to reply, but I hurried away from the field quickly before the Kacheek got any more ideas about Slugger or me. I watched with satisfaction as all of the Slorgs left the field.

     Slowly, they all went back to the forest and vanished among the trees. They had returned to their old grazing grounds. The Turmac was gone, and now they had the forest to themselves. They didn't need the farmers' crops anymore. And now the Slorgeriser-X4 was no longer needed. No more Slorgs would fall victim to that horrid invention. I smiled at the thought.


     I turned at the sound of the voice. My siblings and my owner were all hurrying towards me. Sparkler looked at me impatiently. "Do you realize that you held us up for an hour here? Nut was ready to leave long ago. What were you doing in the forest, anyway?"

     Quiggler stared out at the empty berry field. He grinned. "Wow! Lulu, did you make all those Slorgs go away by yourself? That's amazing!"

     "Well, not quite all by myself," I said, smiling at Slugger. He was the one who had given the message to those two green Slorgs.

     Sparkler stared out at the empty field. "Is that the same place where all those Slorgs were this morning?" Her eyes widened in disbelief. "How did you do that, Lulu?"

     "I'll tell you on the way home." I smiled, feeling good inside. My mission had succeeded. I had saved the Slorgs.

The End

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