Sloth's Time Machine: Part One
Also by jamesuk2
Virtupets Prisoner Containment Center, Level 7-B, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:
Krule was hunched over on a bench, glaring at his feet. The mutant Grundo had been stripped of his Commander badge and was left with nothing but anger. He should never have returned to Virtupets, he thought. But how was he to know that Sloth would’ve been so upset with his failure? He didn’t expect that he’d be demoted and thrown in the Virtupets prison.
A sharp rapping on the bars brought Krule back to his senses. He looked up to see that a Lenny was standing outside the cell.
“Lieutenant Zoland. What do you want?” Krule asked with dislike as he reluctantly gave a salute.
“I have an order from the Boss,” Zoland replied. “He wants to speak with you.”
Krule’s green skin paled. “With me? Why?”
“I never question his demands,” Zoland said as he unlocked the cell. “I just follow them. And you must follow me to his office.”
“Very well,” Krule said resignedly, as he left his prison. “I hope he isn’t going to punish me further.”
“A punishment?” Zoland grinned. “It depends on how you look at it.”
Command Center, Resistance Headquarters, Kreludor:
The headquarters of the Resistance was quiet. With most of Sloth’s minions gone from Kreludor, the Resistance had nothing to do anymore. The command center was empty apart from a royal Lupe who was winding up a Dr. Sloth toy, watching it fall off a table, picking it up, and then winding it again in boredom. Retep sighed. Since peace had come to Kreludor, the Resistance had been waiting for Sloth’s troops to return. Only Virtupets kept its distance, and the Grundo colonies were left with freedom while the Resistance began to disband.
Retep suddenly looked up; someone was knocking on the door. He unbolted it to see a shadow Kyrii and a fire Grundo standing in the hallway.
“Anything new?” he asked.
“Nothing really,” the Kyrii replied. “But Oen has a bit of news,” she added as they entered the conference room.”
“It isn’t exactly news,” the fire Grundo said slowly. “It’s just a concern I have.”
“What it is?” Retep picked up the fallen Sloth toy and wound it up once more.
“Well, you know how I have a few spies at the main space station?”
“They’ve all stopped reporting to me. Or, at least, none of them have contacted me recently. It might just be a coincidence, but I’m a bit worried,” Oen frowned.
“Think something happened to them?” the royal Lupe asked, watching the Sloth toy dent as it hit the floor again.
“It’s possible... but I really don’t know.”
“They could’ve been caught,” Zara, the Kyrii, said. “That would explain why they haven’t replied to your messages.”
“I’ve been thinking of that. So, I want to go to the space station and just check on things... and find out what’s been going on.” Oen looked at Retep. “It could be nothing, but maybe they have been caught.”
“Alright then,” Retep said. “But be careful in case something is going on.”
Laboratory 3-14, Restricted Area, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:
Dr. Sloth adjusted the cuffs of his laboratory coat, nodded to one of his assistants, and then pulled a giant metal lever. Immediately an electrical buzz reverberated through the air. Across the laboratory, a ring of robots suddenly stirred and jerked upright.
“Excellent,” Sloth said softly. “I was beginning to think that they’d never be fixed after that last anti hit them with a frying pan.” He turned to a Shoyru that was standing nearby with empty eyes. “You’re lucky I let you off so easily,” Sloth snapped. “Attempt to destroy my prior-bots one more time, and I’ll have them do more than brainwash you.”
“Yes, my lord Sloth,” the Shoyru bowed its head in devotion. “You are most generous.”
“Generous? More like genius,” Sloth smiled as he strode over to his robots. “I have now devised the perfect method of dealing with enemies like you. Anti-Sloths no longer have to be destroyed,” he said as he stroked one of the robots. “They can now be brainwashed and transformed into loyal obedient servants. It’s brilliant. My enemies will be turned into my followers and my legions of minions will grow with every victory. Just as you have joined me unwillingly.”
“Yes, my master,” the Shoyru said. “I am grateful for the opportunity to serve you.”
“Of course you are,” Sloth said absently as he removed his lab coat and goggles. He strode over to a lab bench and collected an armful of blueprints. “Now, get out of here. I have two unfortunate employees to speak with.”
Imperial Office, Restricted Area, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:
Krule was waiting nervously, his hands twitching behind his back. The last time he’d come face to face with Dr. Sloth, he had been lucky to survive. His defeat on Kreludor still hung around his head and he knew that if Sloth wanted to speak to him now, it would not be a good thing.
Beside Krule, Lieutenant Zoland was standing calmly as if meeting the boss was something he did on a regular basis.
“You know, Krule,” the Lenny said smirking, “I am rather surprised that Sloth’s been so lenient with you. I heard what happened on Kreludor...”
Krule grunted. There was no Virtupets officer he disliked more than Zoland.
The Lenny continued, “Heard that you were attacked by a band of antis and lost an entire moon base to them.”
“They were well equipped,” Krule mumbled, curling his hands into fists. “I didn’t expect it.”
“Ah, right... I always had the impression that the Resistance wasn’t capable of invading and conquering a Virtupets base.”
“It isn’t my fault!” Krule snarled at the lieutenant. “I was betrayed an-”
At that moment the door swung open and Dr. Sloth glided into the room. The Doctor dropped a pile of blueprints onto his desk, seated himself in a tall winged chair, and regarded Krule through his folded hands.
“Good afternoon, Lieutenant Zoland,” Sloth said softly. “And Krule.”
Krule felt weak at the knees. “S-sir... p-please... I can...”
“Silence,” Sloth snapped. “Your incompetence cost me Kreludor. In the past few months the Resistance has overtaken many more of my moon bases, they’ve shut down seven kreludite mines, and they've turned all of the civilians against me! I have sent small groups of Virtutroopers down to destroy the Resistance forces, but the antis have become far too strong. I have lost Kreludor. All because of you!” Sloth’s red eyes gleamed with anger.
Krule felt like he was about to faint. “I-I’m s-s-sorry... I-”
Sloth took a slow breath. “I wasted time sending out ships to capture you instead of securing the moon. I underestimated the strength of the Resistance before, but I shall not do so again.
“I have evaluated the situation, and I could not possibly go to war against the antis without alerting others of what I was up to. If I am not careful, then the space faerie will get involved.” Sloth’s eyes narrowed. “Therefore, I have come up with a new plan. Things on Kreludor began to go wrong when Base 32 was overtaken by antis and abandoned by you, Krule. Instead of trying to fix the present, I have decided that I will regain power on Kreludor by changing the past.”
Krule suddenly began to feel more worried. How can you change the past? What’s done is done... unless...
“Is that possible, sir?” Lieutenant Zoland was also sceptical.
Sloth reached for the stack of blueprints and smoothed them out over his desk. “You see this? This is an ingenious plan for a time machine designed by me. You will return to Kreludor and build the time machine. You will then go back in time and prevent the Resistance from winning their first battle. Simple. By changing the past, the present should change in accordance and I will have control over Kreludor. Once that happens, I will round up any remaining members of the Resistance and brainwash them. Kreludor will be completely under my power again.”
“You’re giving me a second chance then?” Krule asked weakly.
“Yes, if you should make a mistake this time, you will not be so fortunate,” Sloth said coldly. “Zoland will go with you and make sure things go smoothly. I want you to set up the time machine somewhere safe and secure... there is an old kreludite mine in sector 9-P that will do.” Sloth rolled up the plans and pushed them towards Krule. “You have all the time in Neopia, but I expect this to be done as soon as possible. Do not fail me again.”
Reception Area, Virtupets Spaceport, Virtupets Space Station Orbital #4:
Oen pushed through the crowds of tourists and made his way steadily to the Space Station’s mall. There were several antis working there that had reported to him in the past, but recently all of his agents had just stopped sending him messages. He tried contacting them but they did not reply. Something had to be wrong.
Oen threaded his way though the crowds and headed over to the Space Weaponry shop. He approached the yellow Grundo who worked there and called quietly under his breath, “Yazit!”
Yazit spun around and smiled. “Hello and welcome to- wait a minute... Oen?” the yellow Grundo’s face shifted slightly. “What are you doing here?”
“Came to find out why you and the others haven’t been responding to my messages. Is something wrong?” Oen asked.
“No, nothing at all,” Yazit said slowly, glancing around.
Oen frowned. “But then why-”
Suddenly a shout echoed from the front of the shop. “Virtupets Security! Stay where you are!”
Oen turned to see two guards running towards him. Panic shot through his mind and he reached for his laser gun, but at that moment, he felt something resting against his head.
“Don’t move, Oen, or I’ll stun you,” Yazit said. “The days of the Resistance are over.”
“How can you do this?”
“I am a minion of Sloth now,” Yazit said slowly with empty eyes. “It is my duty to remove his enemies. You will join us.”
To be continued...