Most Neopets are created by caring, sweet owners who groom them and take them to Neoschool. A few others are adopted at a young age and raised by their kind new family. Less fortunate ones are sent to the Lab Ray, but end up having fun there with unexpected changes.
However, our story is about one of the very few Neopets who were not raised by a loving family; instead, he was born in the Case 15-A of Laboratory #8 and his homeland was the Virtupets Research Centre.
His name was Experiment GR-12.
He was not the only one there, though; many other Neopets and strange creatures also lived at the Research Centre. GR-12 was a Grundo, created as the successful result of a series of experiments with the sole purpose of having a Neopet who would be able to revive dead plants.
GR-12 never knew why he had been given such powers and to which purpose would they serve in the future. Indeed, it is always unclear what Sloth’s next plan will be. For the research facility was run and funded by no one other than the infamous Dr. Frank Sloth.
GR-12 had a very cheerful personality, which made it possible for him to make many friends in the laboratory, even under the strict regulations they were subject to. GR-12 was not your regular green Grundo. Instead, he was a mix between shades of green and brown and his antennae looked like plants. With this design, it was a lot easier for the scientists to know about the powers he was given.
All the experiments had to wear dark blue jumpers, they would have two meals a day in a gloomy-looking cafeteria under lock and key and were required to return to their cases (which were just a little better than cages) at the same time everyday.
Surprisingly, the experiments in Lab #8 did not look like robots. So GR-12’s best friends, MA-17 and SC-29 were respectively a yellow Wocky and a blue Mynci. They were like any other Neopets, despite the fact that they had been born in a research facility.
And so, the three friends spent their first few years in Virtupets, having the same routine every single day and without knowing that there was a whole world to be explored outside. One could say they were happy; they knew how to smile and to enjoy themselves.
But there always comes that day when we lose our innocence and naiveté. And this day also came to the three friends. In one Tuesday morning in the Month of Running, SC-29 was sweeping up a large corridor as part of her chores when she got to the farthest window opposite to the entrance.
SC-29 could not help herself as she looked out of the window. In addition to the starry sky which she was so used to, she saw a spaceship with some Neopets and strange creatures controlling it. Her special hearing abilities made it possible for her to understand everything they were saying.
‘’Look Cassie! Isn’t that the Space Station? Virtupets?’’ said a baby Bruce, pointing to SC-29. Then a strange creature with red hair and a ponytail approached the spaceship’s window until her eyes locked with SC-29’s.
‘’Yes, it is. But I think that this part of Virtupets is not known in Neopia. I couldn’t find enough information in the Altadorian Archives, but one of my sources said that this is a research facility...’’
‘’Look at that Mynci, Cassie! Why is it staring at us like that? Tell me why!’’ the Bruce interrupted and started poking the creature. Cassie now seemed to be angry at the Bruce. ‘’It’s rude to point to people, June! And I already told you multiple times that you can’t refer to someone by ‘it’!’’ Then Cassie stopped calling the Bruce’s attention to look at SC-29 more closely.
‘’Poor thing’’, she said aloud. ‘’She is probably an experiment, a neopet created in a laboratory to serve whatever dark purposes Sloth may have. She doesn’t even know that there is a whole world outside of the station...’’ Upon hearing these words, SC-29 went wide with shock and she sprinted out of the corridor, leaving her cleaning equipment and everything else behind.
She ran and ran until she bumped into GR-12, so hard that he fell on the metal floor. SC-29 was so shocked with what had just happened that she told him everything about the spaceship and the strange red-haired creature inside. GR-12 was also suprised when he heard about all of that, but while SC-29 was scared and wished she could immediately forget what she’d seen, the Grundo was eager and anxious to see that new world.
As several months passed, the news about what SC-29 had seen ended up spreading so much that all the other experiments born in Lab #8 now knew about that strange place called Neopia. However, soon the scientists and their superiors also were aware that their experiments had dicovered the existence of Neopia.
And so they took extreme measures. Now they would all have their meals inside their cases and would not be allowed to leave Lab #8, not even to do their assignments. GR-12 knew that these were not the normal procedures and he had just learned that they’d never be allowed to leave the station.
So even though he was not the rebellious nor the adventurous type of Neopet, that seemed to spark something inside him. GR-12 was a very intelligent Grundo and so he started making plans to escape. He wished that he could take all his friends and other experiments with him, but he already knew that this would not be possible.
There was room for just one in the spaceship that he was going to use to run away.
He only told his plan to MA-17 and SC-29 about it; MA-17 really wanted to accompany him, but was very disappointed when she heard that the two of them would not fit in the spaceship. SC-29, on the other hand, remained silent about it.
After what seemed like forever, the 20th of the Month of Hiding finally arrived. This was the day when the Grundo had decided to put his plan in action. ‘’All set’’, whispered MA-17, giving him a thumbs up, when she returned from her assignment in the repair office. It was located just one floor below the Lab #8, so it was possible for GR-12 to go there without drawing too much attention.
GR-12 nodded and adjusted the small rucksack he had on his back. Inside there was his only belonging: a blanket that he’d use to sleep inside his case. ‘’It’s so painful for me to leave you all here. I wish we could all go together. But I can’t stay trapped here anymore, now that I know there’s a whole world in outer space and that we are nothing but dispensable science experiments.’’
MA-17 approached and wiped the tears from the corners of his big eyes. Hers were also teary. ‘’It will be painful for all of us. We’ll all miss you a lot, and I really wanted to go with you and leave this horrible place forever.’’ She shook her head. ‘’But there’s no use. If only one of us can go, then it must be you. You are the cleverest among all of us and you can also handle yourself. And who knows... one day, you might be able to come back here to pick us up and take us to have better lives in that planet called Neopia. We will be waiting for you. Now. You must remain strong. You must go to the repair office now and prepare yourself. Everything is ready there.’’
GR-12 felt surer of what he wanted after hearing his friend’s sincere words. They shared a big, tear-filled goodbye hug and after that GR-12 looked around.
‘’Where’s SC-29? Didn’t she say she would be here?’’
‘’She told me she doesn’t like goodbyes. You will have to leave without saying goodbye to her.’’ She then looked at the clock on the wall. ‘’It is almost time! Off you go!’’
GR-12 nodded and took the stairs as quickly as he could, while the yellow Wocky went the opposite way to create a distraction for the guards and scientists, as had been agreed.
The Grundo ran as fast as his legs would carry him downstairs, trying his best not to look guilty. He could not let his emotions get the best of him. He had to do this.
‘’This is the only opportunity I will get. I must be courageous’’ that was what he kept telling himself.
GR-12 got to the repair office in a heartbeat and got into the small spaceship after climbing up a pile of dead, big plants. He had just closed the lid and was almost finished adjusting his seatbelt when he heard it.
At that moment, GR-12 heard an alarm: ‘’DANGER! EXPERIMENT GR-12 IS TRYING TO ESCAPE! ALL SUBJECTS RETURN TO YOUR CASES AND ALL STAFF GO DOWN TO THE REPAIR OFFICE!’’ it was loud enough to wake up everyone. A red light started to flash all over the Virtupets Research Centre, calling everyone’s attention.
GR-12 would have panicked had he not been in total control of his emotions. He took a deep breath and started the engine. He had only a few minutes, maybe seconds, to escape before the guards came to lock him up.
The fuel was starting to get in the motor... the exit lid was opening... He started hearing footsteps nearby. It seemed like there were many people arriving. He steadied himself in his seat and kept staring at the exit lid, which was opening little by little. Almost there... only a few more minutes...
‘’SUBJECT GR-12 IS ESCAPING ON ‘GRELLAN’ AIRCRAFT!’’ the alarm kept sounding, so loud that it made his ears ring. But he did not care about it. His only goal was escaping. Suddenly, the door to the office burst open, and the Grundo was astonished to find his friend SC-29 being followed by many guards and scientists. ‘’I told you, here he is’’. She said, sounding unnaturally serious.
‘’SUBJECT GR-12! STOP NOW!’’ Shouted one of the guards who had a megaphone in her mouth. The Grundo was almost giving in to diziness and shock when he saw that there were only some seconds left for the lid to finish opening. For some reason, the guards did not manage to stop it from opening.
‘’NO!’’ could that be MA-17’s voice? Indeed it was! She was hanging on to the controllers so that no one was able to shut the opening mechanism down. She could not use her powers when two guards grabbed her and restrained her, holding her arms to her back. But her action had come at the right time, because now the lid was finally open.
While the guards were still shouting for GR-12 to stop, two of them grabbed SC-29 and restrained her just like they were doing to MA-17. ‘’Forgive me, GR-12! Your escape plan was too dangerous, so I thought I had to warn them! I am so sorry!’’
GR-12 looked at her sadly. ‘’You will have a lot of time to think about it in prison. Even though you spilled the beans to us, you are still a traitor’’, said the guard who had the megaphone. The guards held the Mynci even tighter. ‘’As for you, little Wocky’’ she said, turning to MA-17 ‘’You will spend your days in the solitary. Let’s see if you’ll still have the same nerve if you ever get out’’.
‘’GR-12! GO NOW!’’ MA-17 tried to ignore the guard and her impending fate, still doing everything she could so that her friend could escape. Now the guards were approaching the ‘’Grellan’’ spaceship and GR-12 did not have time to think. Why did it have to take so long for the ship to take off?
Suddenly, the Grundo’s hands started shining and all the dead plants who were under the spaceship were revived. They were not regular plants, though; instead, they got up, like people, and started the fighting the guards who were near ‘’Grellan’’, enabling GR-12 to escape.
‘’SC-29, WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?’’ MA-17 screamed as they put chains in her wrists.
With a heavy heart and worried about his friends, he pressed the red button and the ‘’Grellan’’ spaceship finally took off.
He did not know how much time had passed – days, months? – until he finally landed in Neopia. He was in some kind of square. It was a crowded place, with many strange creatures and Neopets passing by, and he could also see some weird buildings, which he assumed were shops: there was a hamburger-shaped building, a book-shaped one, a pencil-one and so on. He could also see a big tree on the distance and a rainbow emerging from a pool.
He saw that many people were gathering around his spaceship, curious too see who or what was inside. GR-12 stepped out of the spaceship carefully and looked around restlessly. There were so many faces and people, while he was used to see pets wearing blue jumpers and people in black uniforms or in white lab coats.
‘’Hey!’’ shouted a tiny Hissi with purple skin and big eyes. GR-12 had to look down to see him. ‘’What is it that a big Woodland Grundo like yourself is doing here in the middle of the Neopia Central, sir?’’ He was eating ice cream and had a big book under his left wing.
‘’Why are you so small? And what did you call me?’’ GR-12 asked curiously. He tried to asbsorb the surroundings of that place called ‘Neopia Central’. Would it be his new home?
‘’My name is Puloopie, sir! I am a baby Hissi! And you’re big because you are a Wood... Woodland Grundo!’’ he said. ‘Woodland’ Grundo... GR-12 thought, looking at his hands ‘I think I like that.’
‘’And what would your name be, sir? Do you want to go eat ice cream with me?’’
GR-12 looked back at where his spaceship had stopped, and then looked again at the small Hissi, while the wind blew in his plant-like antennae. ‘’My name is Grellan’’.