Sloth's New Plan
Also by extreme_fj0rd
"Where is my battle plan?!"
Sloth sorted through piles of paper furiously, trying to find the sheet of paper that held his plans. The Grundo soldiers were due to arrive in a few hours for their briefing. Sloth certainly wasn't going to lower himself to speaking personally to the troops, but he had to have a copy of their orders to give to the leaders.
He glanced at each paper and then threw it carelessly. White papers flew across his office with letters, orders, and receipts on them. Soon his desk was spotless, and there was a heap of papers around his chair.
Sloth sighed, leaning back in his chair. The plan had to be somewhere. He knew he had had it just a few weeks ago.
Maybe, he thought suddenly, it was in storage, in one of the boxes of papers he periodically had the Grundos bundle up and put away. Sloth stood up. That was it. He would go look in storage.
Grundos were useless, Sloth thought as he entered the storage room. Boxes were thrown without organization, wherever it was easiest. The boxes had not been closed properly and papers had slipped out of some. Some boxes had been knocked over entirely. Someone would have to be reprimanded for this. It would take ages to find the plans, and he needed them as soon as possible. But there was nothing for it but to start looking.
Sloth sorted through boxes upon boxes. He was moving boxes when an odd paper slipped out of one of them. All the other papers had long amounts of writing on them, but this paper had color. He picked it up. Who had put this here? It was a childish drawing of a smiling green boy in a spaceship, back-dropped by the night sky.
"Mommy! Mommy! I finished my drawing." The woman wiped her hands on her apron and took the sheet of paper from her son.
"That is quite a beautiful spaceship you have there, Frank,” she said. "Do you want to hang this one up in your room too?" Frank nodded enthusiastically.
He ran ahead of her to his room. His mother followed with the tape and his drawing. "Now, where do you want to put it?"
"There!" Frank said, pointing to an empty spot. She smiled and reached up to fasten the paper to the wall.
"Is that good?"
"Yeah," he said. She left, but he didn't pay any attention. Instead he was staring up at the wall of drawings, rocket ships and spaceships with flames blasting out of the ends as they soared up into the sky.
He looked away from his drawings and went over to his bookcase, pulling out a comic. Jumping up on the bed, Frank opened it to his favorite spaceship, one with three fins and a gleaming white exterior. He stared at the picture, and dreamed.
"Frank's drawing spaceships again," the Meerca taunted. "You gonna grow up to be a supervillain, Frank?"
"No. Why would I be a super villain?"
"Because, stupid, villains are the only people who have spaceships. Because, what normal person would want to live up in the sky?" The Meerca walked away sneering, and Frank hid the spaceship drawing under his other papers. He started his math homework. Maybe if he finished it now he could finish the drawing later.
As he was drawing at home, Frank thought about what the Meerca had said. Surely not everyone thought that only villains used spaceships. They were innocent; a way to explore new lands and to find new things. Someone with a spaceship could see places that had never been seen by any Neopian.
Frank knew that he was right. Spaceships weren't just for the evil people of this world, and he would prove it by making his own.
"I see," the blue Ogrin said, looking over the carefully drawn blueprint plans for the spaceship. "Well, that's certainly an... original idea for a final project. The school won't be able to provide any materials or money for you, though." He took off his spectacles, folding them absently and setting them on top of the plans. "So you'll have to get all of that yourself. It would be an enormous undertaking. I don't even know if all of these equations would work out."
"They do," Frank said quickly. "I double-checked them, and then I asked one of the math professors, just to be sure. And the dimensions are revisable, but I think I'll be able to find the material for it."
"Building it will take..."
"A year, by my plans. With fifteen volunteers, each working a two-hour shift twice a week. I've made up a design for a poster--" Frank fumbled through a folder of papers and pulled one out. He put it on the desk next to his plans. It had a picture of a spaceship and the words, in block letters, WANT TO HELP EXPLORE THE NEW FRONTIER? "I'm going to put it up in all the dining halls, and on all the bulletin boards around campus."
"I see." The Ogrin unfolded his spectacles to look at it. "Well. I suppose that's... all in order, then." He pulled over a form, wrote something on it and then signed it at the bottom. "You'll be starting work...?"
"Next week. Thank you, sir." Frank gathered his plans and papers and left quickly, before his advisor could take back his decision.
A month passed by and one by one fourteen volunteers showed up. Many of them were not quite what Frank was expecting. It seemed he had pulled the lowlife out of the school, and grouped them around his project.
"So this spaceship we're building, we're going to blow up Neopia with it, right?" asked a shadow Tonu that Frank had never seen before. His wild eyes shifted crazily back and forth.
"No," snapped Frank. "It's not for evil purposes. We're just going to explore space."
"Well, that's rather dull. I don't want to explore. I want to blow things up. I'm leaving."
"Wait!" said Frank. He had barely had enough volunteers as it was, and he needed as many as he could get. "The plan is revisable. We'll talk about it after we get the ship built." So the Tonu stayed. But the rest of the volunteers had the same expectations. They all assumed a spaceship was evil, and the only way to make them stay was to tell them it might be used for treachery. Frank knew he could talk them into changing the plan back to exploring later. And anyways, once it was built he only needed one person to drive it.
Six months went on with no problems. Everything was working out perfectly. That is, until one day the school administrator came up to Frank with a stern look on his face. The blue Ogrin told Frank that they needed to meet in his office.
When they reached the office the Ogrin said, "Frank, I have heard rather stern rumors about your final project being a subtle plan to cause harm."
"Frank!" the administrator cut him off. "These rumors go as far as to say you want to blow up Neopia. This is unacceptable, and quite frankly--"
"You don't understand. You have to listen--"
"I would appreciate it if you didn't interrupt me. I am removing my approval from your project and I assume you will stop all volunteer work on it immediately."
"Sir, it's not fair--"
"You insolent child! I told you not to interrupt me. Now as this is completely unacceptable, we are expelling you from the school. What you have done is completely intolerable."
Frank stared at the Ogrin in shock.
Frank wandered out onto the street, his mind numb. What would he do now? The months building the spaceship had been a dream--a dream interrupted sometimes by people who wanted to blow things up, true, but a dream nevertheless.
Now it was just... gone.
He jumped and turned around to see the shadow Tonu standing behind him.
"Where have you been? By our schedule, work started half an hour ago, and we need those plans you have for the next stage of construction. I thought you said you would be there." The Tonu frowned at him.
"I..." Frank couldn't tell him. "I got held up, sorry. An old friend... wanted to talk." The Ogrin couldn't just kick him out like that, could he? There had to be people he could appeal to, forms he could fill out. "I just got free."
The Tonu gave him a suspicious look. "Well, anyway. Do you have the plans?"
Frank looked down. He had them under his arm. He had forgotten all about them. "Yeah," he said, holding them up.
"Great. Let's get started!" The Tonu hurried off. "I can't wait until we blow up Neopia!"
Sloth looked over the paper he held in his hand. How that childish love had changed to an obsession he was willing to give his life over to. After he had been expelled, things had continued on as planned, although under the table. Actually, things had gone much better than planned. Sloth's helpers had become convinced that not only a spaceship was needed, but a space station was too.
When they were finally done and ready to go into space, he had announced the launch to a Neopian Times writer who agreed to write an article about it for the next day. Sloth reminisced about that feeling of pure bliss of achievement.
Then he scowled, remembering how, the next day, he had come out of his home to see a disaster.
"Extra! Extra! Read all about it! Evil supervillain propels base into space!"
Frank stopped on the sidewalk and turned around to face the paperboy, a small blue Kacheek. "What did you say?"
"Want to buy a paper, mister? Only ten Neopoints. Fresh off the presses," the Kacheek wheedled.
"Uh... sure." He dug in his pocket for a ten-NP coin and gave it to the paperboy, who passed him a copy and went down the street past him, continuing to yell about the day's news.
Frank skimmed the front page. There he was, in full color, posed before his spaceship and station with the crew he'd assembled. They were all there.
The headline above it read, in bold, SPACE SUPERVILLAIN THREATENS NEOPIA.
He flipped it over and started reading. Two paragraphs in, he gave up and tossed it in a trashcan by the side of the road.
"Fyora is consulting with her advisors on how to respond to this new threat," he whispered, remembering the last sentences he'd read. "Hopes are high, but no official statement has been issued."
Sloth remembered how he had immediately rushed over to the launch site and made the executive decision to take off earlier than planned. He had gone and explored space. He explored lands never before seen. He had even found the Grundos. But no one believed that Dr. Frank Sloth, the Terror from the Skies, was capable of saving the poor things. No, he was "enslaving them".
Every week, a news feed brought Sloth the Neopian Times and most weeks there was some article on how to prepare for the attack from space, or Fyora's latest decision on the "Sloth Issue". A lifetime's worth of achievement and honor was ignored; the pitiful Neopians would rather read some made up garbage about an attack no one had planned.
Sloth threw down the newspaper. "Who writes this garbage!" he screamed.
"N-not me," said a terrified Grundo.
"Well of course it's not you. Why would you write this? Now OUT!" Sloth called for the shadow Tonu. "Every week it's the same. Taking over Neopia, Blowing up Neopia, blah blah BLAH! How do I make this stop?"
"Well," said the Tonu, "you could do the easy thing and just attack Neopia. There's no way you'll be remembered as a peaceful person anyways by now."
"I...” Sloth sat down in his chair slowly. "I couldn't do that. There are other ways to make them stop, I'm sure there are. Better ways. More peaceful."
He was resting his head in his hands and didn't even notice the Tonu slipping out.
Sloth hadn't seen the next part, but he had put it together later. After leaving his office, the Tonu had ordered an immediate attack on Neopia, in Sloth's name. The Grundos, who had never been to Neopia and who were totally loyal to Sloth, carried out the order quickly and efficiently.
When Sloth found out about it, it was too late to do anything but watch. He had hidden in his office for weeks, fearing Neopia's response. Would they attack? They didn't; at least not right away. They panicked and screamed.
He had thought, Those fools. They don't deserve someone like me doing them good. Just look at them! They're pathetic.
He emerged from his office the next day with a deliberately plotted battle plan and an objective—to destroy Neopia. His first act, however, was to fire the Tonu.
So he did what he needed to do. He punished the Neopian fools, for all the long years of hurt and the false rumors. He created battle plan after battle plan. He had become famous. Adoring fans had knelt at his feet, telling him what a horrible person he was and how they wanted to be just like him.
Most of the time he just smiled and nodded. Smile and nod. Accept what life has given you. Make the lemonade.
Sloth looked down at the child's drawing in his hand. He had never liked those fans. He didn't want to be adored for his evilness.
"Master.” A Grundo had slipped into the storage room without Sloth noticing. "Master, I was looking everywhere for you. The troops are waiting for their battle plan."
The battle plan! He had totally forgotten.
"Uh, one second, Minion." Sloth started rummaging furiously through the boxes, but then he got an idea. "I need to rewrite some parts of it," he said. "I'm postponing the troop meeting until two hours from now."
Sloth ran through the hallways back to his control desk. Grabbing maps from their holders he unrolled them, franticly looking for the right one. Finally he found it.
Two hours later, a high-ranking Grundo stood on a podium looking out at a crowd. He unrolled the paper in his hands. On the paper was Sloth’s battle plan. The Grundo started reading,
"Dear Minions. Our next mission will involve the entry deeper into space in order to explore, learn and discover. Let me explain..."