ALL HAIL SLOTH
Mira sat up and rubbed her eyes. The room was dark and her eyes weren’t adjusting normally. Her arms felt heavy and cramped and her wrists were cold. She shook her arms out and realized she was wearing cuffs on each of her wrists. She walked around the room and noticed the walls were cold and hard, but not made of stone.
Mira heard mumbled chanting coming from above her. She barely had time to process the sound before she was being dragged to the center of the room and a tube came down over her. She was swept up by a gust of air into the artificial lights of a space station. She gazed around and saw Grundos. Grundos everywhere. Mira glanced up and saw a small blue being on a big screen. As her eyes adjusted she realized that dejected, filthy creature was her. A figure waltzed onto the big platform and tapped his microphone. The room burst into applause.
“SLOTH! SLOTH! SLOTH!” the deformed Grundos chanted.
“As you can see.. The Space Faerie can no longer protect Neopia as she is a little under the weather. So from now on I am the ruler of the Neopian universe,” Sloth said. Without any further word he dropped the mic and walked out.
Mira was lowered back into her containment cell and she sank to her knees.
“How did this happen? I can’t let Neopia be ruled by someone as evil as Dr. Frank Sloth!”
A little section of her cell slid back and a small monitor took it’s place.
“For your enjoyment,” the note said.
She turned the monitor on and stood back in horror.
The screen flashed static before turning into harsh clarity. She recognized the style of buildings immediately — Faerieland. However, the saturated pinks and purples and blues of her homeland were wiped away into dull greys, blacks, and browns. The beautiful cobblestone patterned streets were broken and cracked into nothing but pebbles. A thin but constant fog replaced the regular sunlight the land was normally basked in.
There were creatures marching around, in and out of buildings with signs that read things like “Sloth Employment Agency” and “Sloth Bubbles”. She squinted in the darkness, trying to make them out. Then it hit her. Grundos, faerie Grundos, to be fair, but with weeping wings. Where were the Faeries?
The screen changed suddenly. The sounds of constant ringing filled the room, followed by a polite, “Thank you for calling the Sloth Employment Agency, how can I help you?” But, those voices…she recognized them. The video feed casually strolled through the aisles of cubicles before stopping and peering into one. Naia! The beloved Fountain Faerie, sat in a cold metal chair, answering phone call after phone call. Her long blonde hair was cut short, the ends choppy and unclean, her elegant mermaid tail covered by an ugly potato sack with Sloth’s patch on it.
“We have the perfect job for you,” Naia said. Mira couldn’t believe how happy her voice sounded despite the lack of color in her face. “It’s called ‘Jelly Bean Counter’. You see, our dear Sloth wants to win the prize at the Sloth Borovan Coffee Shop, so he needs a dedicated Neopian like you to count the exact number of Jelly Beans in the jar. The reward for this job is a limited edition Sloth keychain!”
The Haunted Woods was the same at least.. Except for the big massive advertisements for Sloth products or Anti-Faerie spray in between the broken and rotting trees. The screen flickered to the Fairgrounds and she began to weep. The Test Your Strength game was now run by a Mutant Grundo and featured a mallet hitting her face! The Coconut Shy was hosted by a Robot Lenny and you threw rocks to knock over coconuts painted to look like various faeries! She gasped. To win the grand prize of a Dr. Sloth plushie you had to knock over the ‘Space Faerie’ coconut.
“I’ve failed Neopia. I couldn’t protect them when they needed me most” Mira cried. Helplessness washed over her. Her thoughts raced to all the innocent Neopets, even the poor petpets and petpetpets, crying out her name! Crying out for help, mercy from Sloth’s evil!
More static and a horrible screeching sound. Then clarity again. Terror Mountain this time — the sight living up to its name, but Happy Valley was nothing but. The fluffy pure white snow was melted and covered in dirt and trash. The stained glass windows of the cheery shops were broken, cracked and shattered. She found a brief glimmer of hope when she saw Bruces skating in circles on Rink Runner, until she saw a Snow Grundo pop out of the shadows and push one over. The Bruce cried, while the Grundo cackled and exclaimed, “For Sloth!”
The monitor then switched to a drab street with a sludge pool and a wilted tree. A team of Robot Grundos were walking around distributing something small and green to each house. The screen zoomed in. The paper read ‘The Virtupets Times - All Hail our Glorious Leader’ with articles such as ‘A History of Dr. Frank Sloth’ and ‘Why you will adopt a Grundo’.
Mira just gaped in horror. What had happened to the funny comics? The intriguing articles written by dedicated Neopians?
There was garbage everywhere and the citizens were all wearing grey garbs with numbers on them. The streets were being patrolled by Mutant Grundos. One of them had a white uniform. He must have been a commander.
“Curfew is at 8pm. Everyone inside. NOW!” one of the commanders ordered.
The grey figures marched to their houses and took the papers inside. Just like that the streets were empty and silent. Not even the wind blew.
Mira stopped. “Is that...Neopia Central?”
As if activated by her words, the monitor beeped and quickly slid back into the wall to leave Mira alone with her thoughts. “Where are all the other faeries? How could Queen Fyora let this happen?” she cried. She backed herself against the cold walls of her cell, ready to give up.
The monitor slid out of the wall again.
“I’m glad you asked,” the note said, answering her question. The screen flickered and showed an envoy delivering a message to Faerieland. The Robot handed the message to Queen Fyora.
“We have Mira. Come alone and we can talk about terms - S.”
Fyora was outraged. She immediately gathered the faeries for an emergency rescue mission.
“We need to rescue her!” Marina exclaimed.
“Queen Fyora, we can’t leave her there! Who knows what Sloth could be doing to her!” Nira shouted.
After some deliberation, Queen Fyora spoke.
“I must go alone. Take care of Faerieland for me,” she decided. She took off for the Virtupets Space Station.
As she approached the Space Station the outer gate opened slowly. She walked through the inner gate and into the middle of the room when an armed Robot Grundos stepped out of the shadows.
“Got you now Queenie,” Sloth grinned.
“Not quite,” a fire faerie said as she melted the inner door.
A whole army of Faeries flew into the room.
“Thank you for making this so much easier Fyora. I thought I was going to have to send my minions to get your crew,” Sloth said as he pressed a button.
A bright yellow force field appeared around all the faeries. They began to beat against their prison but began to get very sleepy. Queen Fyora looked around as her friends collapsed to the floor.
“You know you won’t get away with this Sloth...” Fyora said slowly as she closed her eyes.
Mira watched the Robot Grundos step into the forcefield and put cuffs on all the faeries. She felt her heart sink. All of this was her fault. If she didn’t get caught the other faeries would have been able to defend Neopia from Sloth’s forces. But how did she get caught? Why couldn’t she remember.
Mira began to pace her cell and suddenly she was falling. Falling down into the darkness of the bowels of the Space Station.
Mira gasped for breath as she sat up quickly, straining her neck. She sighed and rubbed the sore muscle as she looked around. There was her favourite red and blue suit and her fuzzy blue slippers. Her alarm clock buzzed next to her, reading promptly 6:00 A.M.
“A dream….?” she whispered to herself. She plopped down into her warm sheets in relief. A dream! Thank Fyora It was all just a terrible dream! As she got herself ready for the day, she stretched out her hands and took a deep breath. She felt the familiar thrum of space dust flowing through her and the heat of a supernova. She swore to herself that her beloved Neopia would never, ever, fall into Dr. Sloth’s evil hands again -- not even in her dreams!