Such a Snotty Grundo
Xeto sighed as the robot Grundo behind the counted dumped a large amount of unidentifiable grey goop onto his tray. Every day the blue Grundo questioned why he still worked at Virtupets Space Station. Then he would remember the weeks of eating nothing but omelettes and returned to his work with a quiet sigh.
“Hey, look on the bright side, Xeto. They could be serving orders of Grundo Toes again.” There was Arlgo, trying to cheer everybody up as usual. He rarely succeeded.
“I’d rather not remember that, if you don’t mind, Arlgo.”
“Neither would our former friends, I’m sure. Say, did you hear what the job is for today?”
“It’s a bit early for job assignments. After all, we haven’t even eaten breakfast yet.”
“So then you didn’t know about the special guest who’s coming today?”
“Just tell me, Arlgo. The sooner I finish work here, the sooner I can go home and get a real meal.”
“Oh, fine. They’ve got the Lab Ray Scientist himself coming to dine with the Master.”
Xeto nearly choked on his food at this shocking bit of news. Nothing was worse for the maintenance Grundos than when Dr. Sloth had a dinner guest. Two Grundos were forced to serve each time, and were often used by Sloth and his villain friends as target practice. The Scientist was the worst. Last time he came he had turned the charming pink Grundo Lyli into a horrible mutant.
“The Scientist is coming here today? How do you know that?”
“I overheard a couple of those Blumaroo guards talking in the hall. They had no idea I was there, of course. For all they like to brag about how clever they are, they never notice us.”
Xeto began to eat his breakfast with newfound energy. If he finished first and got his name on one of the vent repair lists, there was little chance he would still be here when the guards came to collect the two unlucky Grundos who would serve. Unlike his friend, Arlgo was too busy chattering about the intelligence of Grundos to notice.
“Perhaps we can talk later, Arlgo. I really had hoped to get a place in Tunnel X398 today. I hear it’s less drafty over in that section. I really must go.”
“Less drafty, you say? Well, I’ll just have to see that list for myself then. It’s not as if this mess is worth my time.” They were halfway to the trash receptacle when the clump of heavy boots announced a new arrival. Two heavily armored Blumaroos entered the Grundo cafeteria and looked around with disinterest. One of them noticed Xeto and Arlgo walking across the room and pointed them out.
“You two are to come with us. Your task for the day is to serve the Master. Woe to you if you fail.” From the way they rubbed their metal fingers together, there was little doubt to the seriousness of their words.
Xeto and Arlgo walked to the doorway as slowly as they dared, just barely managing to keep the fear coursing through them from the dull looks on their faces. None who served Sloth dared to show any intelligence.
The walk to the Secret Control Center was a long one. Of course, the everyday citizens who browsed Virtupets had no idea of what was hidden beneath its metal exterior. Deep in the heart of the station was where Dr. Sloth made his secret plans to take over Neopia, in his Mind Control Laboratory.
The bright lights of Virtupets gave way to dim reddish light as they approached a thick metal door. The door slid open slowly when one of the guards put his hand to and identification device. Only Sloth, a few chosen allies, and the unfortunate maintenance Grundos asked to serve there knew the location of this place. The Grundos somehow never found a way to pass this knowledge on to any outsiders.
Sloth and the Scientist could be heard arguing as the group approached. They were nearly to the kitchen now, a very fancy room which held every food ingredient an evil genius could ask for, as well as ingredients that could only be used in transmogrification potions. The nervous Grundos approached the door and stopped as it swung open. An enormous mutated Grundo was the cook there; he handed out the appetizers (Two Freeze-Dried Sprout Soups) to the waiting Grundos with a grunt that could have meant anything. They approached Sloth’s meeting room under the careful watch of their guards.
“You are wasting my time, Scientist! If I wanted some fancy little ray to do all my work, why would I keep handing out these useful little potions?”
“Yes, but think of the possibilities, Sloth! Think of the terror it would create in Neopians. All but the bravest or the most foolish will be afraid to leave their homes! Just look at the terror Boochi causes with his ray gun, and him being just a baby!”
“I do like good, widespread terror. But I’m not agreeing to anything until I see this thing in action. Where are those guards? I told them to bring me servants! We can use one of them as a test subject.” As the petrified Grundos were shoved into the room, they could see the nasty grin spreading on Sloth’s face.
“Ah, here they are. Let’s have that demo, Scientist. Aim for the blue one, will you?”
“It will be my pleasure.”
There was nowhere for Xeto to run, nothing he could do. As a painfully bright bolt of energy aimed itself straight at him, he could only stare ahead at the cruel face that watched him hungrily.
The blast was over as soon as it had started. When he looked down, Xeto could see that his fine blue skin was gone, replaced by a thick, disgusting layer of mucus.
“So it does work. Perhaps I spoke too soon, this could be a great tool for spreading terror. But now this servant is useless to me. Remove him and bring another.”
“No, no, Sloth, don’t you see? He may be terribly ugly, but still quite useful. He can do any work you require, and he will if he ever wants a hope of having all that slime removed.”
The nasty grin was back on Sloth’s face. “Ah, this plan of mine could mean complete domination at last! You there, servants, go and bring our meals. And try not to drip all over my floor if you do not wish to be sent out with the space trash!”
Xeto fled the room as quickly as he could, much to the amusement of the villains. Arlgo reached out a hand as if to pat his friend on the shoulder, but decided against it. “It could have been worse, Xeto. He could have turned you into a pile of sludge, or worse, he could have zapped me!”
“You’re not helping, Arlgo,” Xeto growled in annoyance.
“Maybe you could get a job in Faerieland? I mean, I know you’re disgusting to look at and all, but you’d be the perfect errand runner. Who wants to haggle prices against someone who’s covered in snot? Speaking of which, sorry, but I should keep my distance. I sure wouldn’t want to get sick and miss work.” His comment caused the Blumaroo guards to distance themselves from the pair.
“Arlgo, my friend, you’ve given me an excellent idea.”
* * *
Arlgo took the main dish out to the diners as Xeto prepared a special “surprise” for the villains. The meal was Crown Roast Beef, one of Sloth’s favorites. Xeto entered at a leisurely pace with the desserts. He ignored the jeers on the villain’s faces as he set the final course before them, knowing soon it was he who would be laughing. He had tested his idea on the mutant Grundo cook and on the guards and it had worked just as he had hoped. Now it was time to turn the tables on Sloth.
“Ah, glowing pretzels. It’s been a while since I’ve feasted on one of those,” the Scientist commented as Xeto came forward.
“It is a fitting end to the meal. And here is the experiment come back to serve his masters.”
Xeto set the two pretzels in front of them, careful not to spill a single drop of the goo which lay over the top. When he was finished, he bowed and scurried from the room, keeping the glee from showing on his face. He could hear the villains tearing into their food as if they hadn’t eaten in days.
“Is this a new recipe, Sloth? I seem to remember the goo on these pretzels to be less runny.”
“My cook must have added too much water. It’s not the first time he’s done a terrible job. I knew I should have gotten rid of him last time.”
“Don’t be too hasty; that roast beef was top quality.”
“We shall see. It is hard to find a good cook these days, after all.”
“Yes, I tried to get an assistant once but I found that it was very ha-a-ACHOO!”
“You’ve been around too many of those mangy Neopia Central scum. They always have some sort of disease or anoth-ACHOO!” WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!?”
Xeto had heard enough. He took off for a run, laughing so hard it hurt. The next day, a very confused pharmacy Elephante sold out of magical cookies the moment she opened shop. “It’s usually cases of Doldrums or Spyder Bite in Virtupets. Never in all my years have I seen such an outbreak of Sneezles!”
As for Xeto, he found the job of his dreams in Faerieland, as Arlgo had suggested. Eventually he would save enough to paint himself starry. Staying snot was just too dangerous with so many enraged Blumaroo guards on the search for the snotty Grundo who had mastered their master.