An eerie shadow crept through Neopia. He skidded through the night, dodging every light and sound that might reflect his whereabouts. He knew that the Space Faerie was looking for him. He knew the Space Faerie got what she wanted. He knew the bundle he carried, though, was more important than the Space Faerie's desires.
The shadow was soon only just a Skeith-length away from Dr. Sloth himself. He was called in by a Mutant Grundo, after answering some illegible questions the slave asked. With a wave he was sent in to the dreary room, with little light. All the shadow could see was the big chair the Dr. Sloth was reclining in. The shadow stepped into the light, revealing his true body. The shadow never wished to show himself, but Dr. Sloth ordered him to. "Well," whispered a voice from nowhere, "Did you get it?"
The shadow laid the bundle in front of the chair. "Yes, Master," he replied.
The chair wheeled around and Dr. Sloth inspected the bundle, and then carefully opened it. He gave the shadow a wry smile. "Good," he said, looking into the big pink eyes of a baby Grundo.
Syra looked at the clock. 'Twelve more minutes, just twelve more minutes!' she thought eagerly, glancing quickly at the big metal door and then back at the wall.
The voice of her friend Thyl soon echoed her thoughts. "Syra!" he hissed. "Syra, eleven minutes and we're done!"
Syra nodded happily. The orange Grundo next to her complained, "Why would you want to stop? This is great! You should appreciate the life we get, rather than the easy life taken by some other Neopians!"
"Tukil, how many times must we tell you there's a better life than being a slave! There's freedom and games and best of all, there isn't a Dr. Sloth!" Thyl protested.
"How dare you speak about Dr. Sloth that way! He is the best! And stop calling me Tukil; my name is Number 4359! Dr. Sloth gave it to me himself! Do you know how much food we get-"
"A little less than half of over 97% of the Neopians!" Syra interrupted angrily, her own stomach rumbling at the thought of good food.
"Yeah, but the other three percent are starved! And so many pets are in the pound!" Tukil argued.
Syra didn't know of Neopia. She new it was great, though, with majestic lands, and beautiful underwater cities and interesting islands a plenty. But she imagined herself sticking out in Neopia, a pink Grundo against so many other kinds of pets. She and Thyl always thought of adventures at night, when the work was over and every other slave in their bunk was sleeping. They pretended THEY were going to Neopia, that THEY were to be among the friends, the food, the games, the lands...
Tukil was very rude, but always obeyed the Guard that was watching them and got every chance there was to see Dr. Sloth. Tukil had admired the evil dictator ever since day one, and every single other slave in all of the Virtupets station hated him for that. He always went by his assigned number, which Syra and Thyl despised even more. Syra would never even think of her number, though she could always remember it: 1.
Tukil was jealous of Syra because of her number. He thought HE deserved the number 1, because he was so great and always worked hard. Tukil was one of the rare slaves that knew where his parents were, but he hated them as well. He wished his father was Dr. Sloth.
Syra had spent very long wondering where (and who) her parents were. She knew that something was different with her, because Sloth gave no slave any number short of one thousand. The slaves that were in the one thousands were older, though.
Suddenly the big metal door flew open. A mutant Grundo stepped inside the room. He looked over all the slaves' work, which had been long since finished. He said gruffly, "Go to your bunks. Make no sound; make no communication. Your supper will be brought soon."
He called the young Grundos out by number. Syra dreaded the queasy silence when the short number "1" was said. She got up swiftly and loped out of the room.
When she reached her bunk, Syra lay down immediately. She was more tired than usual, and decided that after she finished her meal (which wouldn't take long) she would go right to bed.
After eating her meal, Thyl asked Syra, "Well, are we heading to Neopia tonight?"
Syra shook her head.
"Awww, come on!" Thyl protested.
Syra shook her head again. "I'm tired," she explained.
Thyl was not convinced. "Now? You're never tired, especially when the chance comes up to go to Neopia!"
Syra shrugged, and pulled her shabby covers over her head. Thyl sighed and went to argue with whatever Tukil might be saying.
Later that night, while everyone, even Dr. Sloth, was sleeping, Syra heard a crash. She sat up in bed, looking around the bunk. Everyone else was still sound asleep. Syra was curious. She jumped out of bed and tiptoed across the bed to the bolted metal entrance door. She and Thyl had long ago stolen one of the many keys to this door, and Syra had always kept it at hand. So, making sure not to make a noise, Syra turned the key and stepped out into the cold, dark hall. She looked left and right, up and down, but didn't see anything except metal.
Suddenly Syra was pulled up to the ceiling. She gave out a shriek of fright but a hand was put over her mouth. Not a Grundo hand, and not a pet hand... something else... a faerie hand!
Syra looked up at the Space Faerie with wide eyes. The tall figure put a finger to her mouth, and carried Syra up against the ceiling until they reached a peculiar exit leading somewhere Syra had never even dreamed of - outside the Space Station.
The Space Faerie soon took Syra into a much prettier and cleaner Space Station. There she talked.
"Syra," she said gently.
"How do you know my name? Who are you? Why did you take me? Wh-"
The Space Faerie cut her off. "I am the Space Faerie. You know that Dr. Sloth is evil?"
"Oh, I knew that!" Syra exclaimed. "Thyl and I, we know he's evil; we wish we were on Neopia instead of being slaves to him!"
"Good, that shall save me a lot of explaining," the Space Faerie replied. "Now then, did you, Syra, know that you're a very special Grundo?"
Syra shrugged. "Well, my number is very DIFFERENT, but I never thought I was special, just, well... just..."
The Space Faerie hushed her. "You are special," she explained, "because you started the big mass stealings of Grundos on Neopia. Dr. Sloth started with you."
"He... he did?" Syra stuttered, suddenly feeling incredibly doubtful about who she was.
The Space Faerie nodded. "When he succeeded with you, he began stealing thousands of Grundos from Neopia. He still does. But the thing is, so many of them were saved by me and my patrols. That's why there's a huge gap between you and the other Grundos in your bunk."
Syra didn't speak.
"Listen, Syra, we need you to help us stop Dr. Sloth. We've selected you. We know you believe in freedom and Neopia. So we need you to help us free the Grundos."
Silence. After what seemed like the whole night, Syra slowly nodded.
The Space Faerie smiled and said with a nod, "Good. So then I'll explain your part, once we get some food into you!"
Syra arrived back at her bunk about five minutes before everyone else woke. As they were going to work, Syra grabbed Thyl by the arm and explained the night before. When she was done, she asked Thyl, "So, will you help me?"
Thyl looked down at the ground. Then he looked back up at Syra. "No."
Syra was shocked. "Don't you want to go to Neopia? To be free?"
All Thyl said was, "You know, Tukil can make some sense."
Syra was even more shocked. "What?! Are you saying you like Dr. Sloth? Thyl, you're the craziest Grundo I've ever met. Even crazier than Tukil. Or do you call him 4359 now? You backed down on me, your best friend. Thanks a lot!" With that, Syra strode to the front of the line, ignoring Thyl's whispers to come back.
Syra was heartbroken. Even so, the plan had to go on. So that night, without saying a word to anyone, Syra set the plan into action.
While everyone was asleep, Syra took a lip gloss out from under her pillow. The Space Faerie said it was a laser, and told her to make an incision in the wall. Syra did so, her eyes warily keeping an eye on each of her roommates. When the incision was complete, the Space Faerie's ship was right outside. The Space Faerie told Syra to plug her nose and not breathe while she sprayed a gas around the room. It put everyone in a deep sleep, she explained, and so Grundos like Tukil wouldn't interfere with the plan. Some of the Space Faerie's followers came into the cramped room, and, surprisingly, didn't make a sound as they lifted the Grundos into the ship. They were almost finished when they reached Tukil and Thyl and Syra stopped them. 'They like Sloth so much,' she thought, 'then they can have him!' The followers obeyed Syra and stepped back into the ship.
Syra took one last look at Tukil and Thyl before stepping into the ship. Her eyes softened on Thyl, but then hardened and she thought of how he'd betrayed her. She shook her head and stepped onto the ship once more.
Soon the gas wore off. The Grundos began to awaken, and were quite surprised. Most were happy, and the rest were a little angry and confused, but knew that the trip was all for the better. The Space Faerie provided all the former-slaves with food and drink. She told Syra that a few other ships were behind them carrying other former slaves. Syra was happy to hear this.
As they were approaching Neopia, the ship gave a sudden turn. The pilot shouted to the Space Faerie, "We're under attack!"
As the Space Faerie rushed to the front of the ship, Syra worried. Had someone told on her? Had Thyl told Tukil about her plan and Tukil had told?
Or even worse - did Thyl himself tell?
Syra never came to know, as the ship took a few more turns but was then still. The Space Faerie told Syra that they had outrun Dr. Sloth, and his ship had been knocked away towards the Space Station. Syra realized with regret that Tukil and Thyl could've been on the ship, and she knew that Thyl was not the greatest traveler.
As soon as they reached Neopia, they were taken to the Neopian Pound, and waited to be adopted. Syra was adopted quickly, because as the Space Faerie explained to her, pets that were "painted" were valued. Syra was happy to be valued.
Her owner was wonderful to her. She had two brothers, a Zafara named Zack and a Wocky named Oliver. Zack was a real goofball, and Syra loved playing with him. Oliver was very smart, but sometimes got on Syra's nerves because of his lack of imagination. I mean, come on, who wouldn't believe in such a great place like Jelly World or the Hidden Tower?
Syra told Zack and Oliver about her adventures as a slave, and they both were amazed.
But Syra knew, no matter what, she would never go back to being a slave. Never.
She was a rebel Grundo.