The inside scoop on Jelly W-argh! *choke* Circulation: 182,656,530 Issue: 231 | 16th day of Running, Y8
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Deserts and Desserts: A Gargarox Isafuhlarg Story - Part One

by darkerstrife


"This is terrible!" pouted Gargarox. "Where did all these things come from?"

      The Grundo Chef carefully examined the counter of his cafe. Dozens of tiny dot-like creatures were crawling around on its surface. Gargarox slammed his giant green hand on the counter only to discover that the microscopic pests had hopped out of the way. No matter what the big Grundo did, they always managed to avoid him.

      "I haven't had an infestation this bad since that blunkabean scare over two years ago..." Gargarox wiped his forehead in exhaustion. "Looks like I have no choice... I'll have to call an exterminator."

      Gargarox pulled a communication device out from under the counter. He pushed a series of numbers on its surface and pressed the device against his ear, waiting for a response.

      "Thank you for calling Virtupets Exterminators - where the only good bug is a flat bug," announced a fuzzy robotic voice. "How may we help you?"

      "Yeah, umm, this is the owner of Grundos CafĂ©," replied Gargarox, trying to wipe some of the tiny invaders off of his apron. "I'm having an infestation problem down here, and I need help getting rid of these little buggers. Could you send an exterminator to the Market District, Virtupets Orbital Space Station #4?"

      "Of course, sir. We should be there at approximately 11:00 Neopian Standard Time."

      "Thanks!" Gargarox turned off the device and placed it back under the counter. He huffed, and briefly scanned the empty cafe around him. Everything was pretty quiet apart from the low humming noise of the heating systems.

      Just then, the Grundo chef heard a shuffling noise behind him. He turned his head to see if somebody was there, but saw nothing- just a few empty tables.

      "Hello?" he asked to nobody in particular. Several seconds passed without a response. "Hmph, that was strange..."

      Suddenly, without warning, the sound of a metal pan dropping onto the floor echoed across the cafe. Gargarox's body stiffened. His ears traced the source of the noise to the back kitchen. He grabbed a giant, metal spatula from the counter (just in case) and headed towards the kitchen.

      Gargarox's head crept around the corner of the door. He noticed the familiar surroundings of his kitchen; pots, pans, a fusion stove, and a dish-washing machine- all covered under a blanket of darkness, as the kitchen lights were not turned on at the moment.

      Even amidst the absence of light, the keen Grundo noticed a tall, dark figure at the opposite end of the room. The figure was wearing what appeared to be a long, dark cloak, and his head was a pale green color. His back was turned against the wall, and he seemed to be fiddling around with a remote device of some sort.

      "Hey, you!" Gargarox shouted, as he stepped into the kitchen to confront this mysterious man. He pointed his spatula in the stranger's direction.

      The dark figure shuddered a bit, and immediately turned around. His eyes were glowing a deep red color. Gargarox walked backwards a few steps in shock, and pressed himself against the wall.

      "Doctor... Dr. Sloth?!" he yelped.

      "Indeed, you fool," the man replied, in a deep, almost robotic voice. This surprised Gargarox, and he quickly flicked a switch mounted on the wall. The kitchen was engulfed in light, and he noticed several strange things about Sloth. First of all, his skin appeared to be made out of metal, and his jaw was shaped like a square. Furthermore, a steel plate was embedded into his chest and engraved on its surface was the number '320'.

      "Wait... you're not Sloth," Gargarox concluded. "You're one of his clones. What are you doing in my kitchen?!" he threatened, waving his spatula around.

      The evil Sloth clone let out a monotonous chuckle. "Do you really think you can harm me with that toy of yours?" he questioned. His jaw dropped open after every word. "My business does not concern you, Grundo. Leave me alone, and you MIGHT spare yourself from a world of torture and agony."

      "You can't just waltz in here without my permission! I'm going to deactivate you and take you to the proper authorities."

      Gargarox plucked a hose from the wall. Assuming that robots were vulnerable to water, he squeezed the handle of the hose and drenched the Sloth clone. The clone raised his arms in front of his face as his body was gradually pushed backwards. Water flew all over the place and soaked the floor.

      Suddenly, Gargarox felt a sharp sting in his arm. The clone had quickly fired a thin, red laser beam in his direction. The hose flew out of Gargarox's hand and onto the floor.

      "Argh... Why does every evil robot in existence have to be water-proof?" Gargarox mumbled to himself.

      "Very well," said the Sloth clone coldly. "You can't be allowed to escape. Prepare to meet your doom!"

      The clone pulled out a silver remote control with a sharp, red tip. The end of the remote pulsed with a sinister, crimson colour. The clone pushed the giant red button on its surface, and Gargarox's body was surrounded by a blinding light.

      The helpless Grundo twitched uncontrollably. He felt like he was rapidly losing weight. He couldn't see anything but a white light for several seconds.

     * * *

      When the white light vanished, Gargarox was laying face-first on the ground. Yet it didn't feel like the marble floor of his kitchen. It was rather... rough.

      Using his arms, he pushed himself off the ground, and began to survey the land around him. He immediately realized that he was no longer in Grundos Cafe. It was a completely different place... a completely different world... or so it seemed...

      The ground was orange-colored, and tiny craters dotted the landscape. His first thought was of Kreludor, but didn't Kreludor have grey-colored rocks? This couldn't be Neopia's moon. It had to be... something else.

      Gargarox also noticed something strange about the sky on this mysterious world. He looked up, placing his hand on his forehead. The sky was a dark, blurry mess of lines and colors. He couldn't figure out what the shapes were, as his vision didn't reach that far.

      There was nothing he could do right now except try to find some form of civilization among this "orange planet". The Grundo Chef marched across the barren landscape, spatula in hand, leaving behind a trail of footprints as he did so.

      As Gargarox walked across the orange surface of the planet, thoughts constantly flooded his mind. What was this place? Why did that evil Sloth clone transport him here instead of killing him? Most importantly, why was that hunk of junk in his kitchen in the first place? He tried desperately to search for a possible explanation. Perhaps that clone was a part of Dr. Sloth's plans to conquer Neopia... but what did his kitchen have to do with it?

      Gargarox stopped pondering as he spotted something in the distance. Something moving. He squinted his eyes, trying to figure out who, or what, it was.

      It appeared to be a small group of multi-colored Grundos. At first, Gargarox thought he was hallucinating, but at that moment, he also noticed a blanket of footprints on the ground in front of him. They WERE Grundos. But what were they doing here? He decided to ask them...

      "Hey! Yoohoo!" shouted Gargarox, waving his spatula in the air. The distant Grundos turned around and began to jog towards him. Gargarox did the same. Within a few seconds, he was standing face to face with the little guys... Well, more like face to waist, as he was a lot taller and more muscular.

      "Hiya!" said a purple Grundo.

      "How did you get here?" asked a yellow Grundo.

      "I'm not sure, exactly..." Gargarox rubbed the back of his neck. "One of Dr. Sloth's robots transported me here, I think."

      "Lousy Sloth..." added a green Grundo.

      "Gargarox Isafuhlarg?" asked a red Grundo, anxiously stepping towards him. "I was eating at your cafe only a few hours ago!"

      "Oh yeah! I remember you, Rexen." Gargarox smiled a bit. "How was that Nova Fruit Ice Cream with Eclair Paste frosting?"

      "It was filling, but delicious nonetheless," said Rexen, smiling back.

      "I'm Poyo!" said the purple Grundo. "I was sending a neomail in Neopia Central when I was surrounded by a BIG light!"

      "I'm Grondule," said the Green Grundo. "I was captured by one of Sloth's soldiers, and when I refused to join him, he teleported me here."

      "And I'm Yazer," said the yellow Grundo. "I was sleeping in the comfort of my Neohome when it happened."

      "How long have you fellas been here?" Gargarox asked.

      "I'd say a few hours or so," replied Rexen, shrugging his shoulders. "We're just as clueless as you are."

      "Well, there has to be a way out of here somewhere..." Gargarox tapped his chin. "Which direction were you guys going in?"

      "We were heading... north, I believe," said Grondule.

     * * *

      "My legs hurt..." groaned Poyo.

      "We have to keep moving," said Rexen. "We might find something."

      "I hope we find water soon, because I'm starting to get thirsty," said Grondule.

      "I could go for a nice cold Galaxy Milkshake myself..." said Gargarox.

      "Me too..." added Yazer.

      Gargarox and his four companions had been walking across the surface of the orange desert for hours, or so it seemed. They hadn't found anything but craters, orange dirt, and, if they were lucky, more craters.

      Other than a short tale from Gargarox about a recent trip to Mystery Island, and some lame jokes from Poyo about the colour orange, there wasn't a lot to talk about. The Grundos were beginning to lose all hope of finding a way home, when unexpectedly, Yazer noticed something peculiar.

      "Wait a minute... what's that?" said Yazer, pointing to something in front of them. Gargarox and the other three Grundos stared into the distance.

      It was a tall, rocky orange wall that lined the entire horizon. Yazer was pointing at a small opening in the wall.

      "Do you think that's the exit?" asked Yazer, looking up at Gargarox.

      "There's only one way to find out..." concluded the Grundo Chef. He immediately darted towards the opening, the rest of the Grundos were following closely behind him. There was still hope.

      When they approached the opening in the wall, Gargarox leaned forward, trying to see if he could spot anything inside it.

      "It looks like some sort of... tunnel..." he said, "but I can't see anything in it. We won't know what's inside until we go in ourselves."

      "Let's do it!" said Poyo. He stepped forward eagerly, and he would have jumped into the tunnel if Grondule's arm wasn't blocking his path.

      "Hold on a minute..." replied Grondule, his eyes filled with suspicion as he glanced at the dark tunnel. "We don't know what's in there. It could be a trap."

      "But this could be our only way of escaping this world," said Rexen. "I think we should take the risk."

      "Me too," agreed Yazer.

      Grondule didn't know what to think. Of course he had his doubts... but really, he wasn't in a position to argue.

      "Well... all right," he decided.

      "I'll go in first," said Gargarox. He pounded his chest with his fist. "You guys follow me."

      Gargarox rubbed his hands together, and marched inside the dark tunnel. Yet as soon as he had entered the tunnel completely, the force of gravity pulled him downward; he was falling.

      Gargarox took a nose-dive, frantically swinging his arms and legs. Eventually, he landed on his back with a loud thud, and a sharp pain ran through his body.

      "Ow..." moaned Gargarox. He couldn't move. He simply rested on the ground, staring up into the abyss. After all, years of working in a cafeteria can really take a toll on someone's physical endurance, eh?

      The first thing Gargarox noticed, was that this tunnel wasn't a tunnel at all. In fact, this strange place was unusually bright. High above, he could see a pattern of white tiles... like a ceiling of some sort.

      A few seconds later, he felt something land lightly on his stomach. He raised his head, and noticed that his puffy, white chef hat had fallen onto his lap. He grabbed it and placed it back on his head, and continued to lie on the ground and stare at the ceiling.

      Moments later, he spotted four objects falling from the sky. His eyes widened. They were his four Grundo companions, rapidly descending towards him.

      One by one, the Grundos landed softly on Gargarox, who let out a yelp every time they hit his stomach.







      And Poyo...


      The Grundos lifted themselves off the ground, wiping the dust off their bodies.

      "Gargarox, are you okay?" asked a concerned Rexen. He motioned to the other Grundos to come over and help him.

      "Yeah... I think I'm fine..." moaned Gargarox as the Grundos lifted him to his feet. As soon as he was able to stand on his own, Gargarox took a good look at the environment around him. His jaw dropped open like an anvil.

      "What's wrong?" asked Poyo.

      Gargarox didn't reply. He only stood there, frozen in shock. The floor he was standing on was made of a grey, marble material, just like the marble used for kitchen counters. In the distance, he saw tables and chairs, but they were so huge, they looked like mountains.

      Gargarox turned around, and looked towards the sky. There was no sky. Instead, it was a giant white ceiling high above. Furthermore, the "tunnel" he had just passed through looked like a hole... in a giant orange pie.

      "Don't you see what's going on here?" Gargarox asked the Grundos. "That orange 'planet' we were just on... it wasn't a planet. It was the Kreludan Moon Pie I baked this morning!"

      "What?" shouted all four Grundos at the same time.

      "Look around you!" Gargarox waved his arms at the jumbo-sized cafe surrounding them. Upon realizing this themselves, all four of the Grundos became shocked with the truth.

      How were the Grundos shrunk to such a small size? And more importantly, why? The cluster of confused Neopets stood in silence, trying to figure out a possible explanation. Nonetheless, they had a feeling they'd be stuck like this for a long time...

To be continued...

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