I Pulled the Lever of Doom 46 Times for Research
There is, upon the Virtupets Space Station, a robot hand. Well, first there is a lever, and then there is the pulling of the lever, and then there is the robot hand. What does it want, this swift robotic hand that brushes mine on its way to my wallet? It wants neopoints, yes, but more than that. It is the Lever of Doom, so they say. Me, I prefer to call it the Lever of Brilliance.
I'll say it up front: I'm something of a philosopher. A deep thinker. A sage (OK, I'll put the thesaurus down). When I observe something strange, something highly unusual , I can't help but speculate. Sometimes I exhaust myself with my desire to know. Progress is what I seek for Neopiankind, not in technology but in thought. And so I deign to speak to the pets everywhere about a certain lever I stumbled upon during a trip to the Virtupets Space Station.
And perhaps a certain deadline for an article is today, and I’m a tiny, tiny bit behind. You see, I’m a writer. An unpublished writer, but a writer all the same. Sure, I may be a Wocky with a big dream, but I am also a regular Neopet. That’s right, readers. Though it pains me to say it, I am one of you. And I hope you’ll do me the service of reading this article, marking it with red pen here and there, and overall prepping it for my local newspaper over here in Sakhmet. Oh, you’re too kind! I need it by midnight.
If you have been keeping up with your Neopian history (might I suggest the simply named History Textbook, the absolute shade that is History of Unwise Neopians, or the surprise Y6 bestseller History of Dirt), you may know that the Virtupets Space Station was central to what may have been the most nefarious plot Dr. Sloth ever undertook. And if you don't know, here are the key bullet points from my notes: Y2, every pet = mutant, Slothy lost! THANK GOODNESS. I mean, there's nothing wrong with mutant pets (extra eyes are a great look on you), but eternal servitude under a giant potato in a cloak? Not for me. Anyway, nowadays you can blast off for a visit at the Space Station any time you like. The future is here, and it's sponsored by Virtupets Tourism Board.
Most pets visit for the Recreation Deck to play games like Spell or Starve or Evil Fuzzles from Beyond the Stars, or to visit the famous Grundo's Cafe, beloved by Neopian foodies everywhere. That's where my friends and I were headed, drawn from Neopia by the smell of Photon Burgers and Rocket Corn on the Cob. Moreover, I wanted to get an interview with Gormball legend Gargarox Isafuhlarg, whose spatula flips the unidentifiable meat, whose ladle scoops the Vegetable Deluxe. My plate was clean, shiny, and ready for the juiciest conversation Gargarox would give me. I would be a hit, finally, in the Neopian Times. My name in lights.
But I got sidetracked. As we arrived in the Hangar and made our way through the Supply Deck, I got distracted. It happens, all right? And who could resist a mysterious lever that reads "DO NOT PULL," one with a lovely cushioned grip and unwavering red lights? I mean, they couldn't be serious, positioning this thing right outside of Typing Terror. Not only that, but the wide, protective eyes of Snoogies and Charnies and Baby Space Fungi watched from across the Station from the petpet shop. Sloth was long-gone from this place. What could go wrong?
So I pulled it. Yeah, I pulled it. As you can imagine, I was hurt and mortified and significantly lighter when that robotic hand reached out and snatched 100 neopoints from my wallet, no more, no less.
As I stood there dumbfounded, a passing Grundo worker called out, "You won't want to be pulling that Lever of Doom there if you can help it."
Lever of Doom. In MY Virtupets Space Station? So many years post-Sloth? It couldn't be. Some Grundo would have torn it from the wall as soon as Slothy had been done away with. I wouldn't have it.
Yet my friends were nowhere to be seen, and that worker who had spoken to me such sage but late advice had disappeared behind the sliding doors leading back to the Hangar. There was no one to stop me from pulling that lever again.
I know what you're thinking. That old "fool me once" mantra. But that second pull, and every pull following, was research, and I stand by that. One pull of the so-called "Lever of Doom" is an anecdote. 46 pulls are data.
I pulled it. I pulled it again. And each time that robotic hand extended from the abyss, glinted in the artificial, Virtupets-sanctioned lighting, and lifted exactly 100 neopoints from my awaiting pocket. Before long I was holding out my wallet for the hand. Better access, I thought, and a chance to peek into the dark crevice in which it dwelled.
The lever must determine by touch the number of neopoints it desires. And a nice even number that is: 100 NP, I counted.
But for what purpose? One can only speculate, and speculation is what I do best. Certainly 100 neopoints adds up, as evidenced by my impulse to pull more and more. (Of course, I should not assume every pet responds the same way. After all, most would not have the firmness of will necessary to record and calculate data in this way.) Again, I ask the question: for what purpose? Funding the Space Station? Surely the ex-servants of Sloth would not swindle visitors like this. First of all, it's rude. Second of all, the Defenders of Neopia would hear about it in a pinch.
Yet there is indeed a level of enjoyment to pulling the lever. The flex of the arm, the swell of anticipation... It was---dare I say it?---fun. The robotic hand, whosoever it belonged to, unleashed a competitive spirit within me. This "Lever of Doom" reached right through my wallet and into my soul.
It was brilliant.
I mentally noted all of this. No time for pen and paper. Pets used to keep histories tucked neatly in their brains for years before writing had been invented by the earlier Tyrannians, or whatever. Anyhow, this was far better than any article I would have written about Gargarox.
And suddenly, the hand gave. It placed---lovingly,
I think---an avatar into mine own paw. I knew, in that moment, it was worth it. All of those 46 pulls were worth it. Though I would later have to ask, sheepishly, for my friends to spot me at Grundo's Cafe when I was mysteriously strapped for cash, it was worth it.
My friends, pull the lever anyway.