As Kreludite Falls
The factory was spectacular.
Everywhere one looked, it seemed to be teeming with life - from the whirring machines with their delicate parts that kept everything running smoothly, to the brightly coloured toys as they made their way down the conveyor belt.
Everything moved with a synchronized unity - each motion carefully choreographed. Each gentle thud as a toy fell onto the conveyor seemed to be tuned a steady rhythm, as if to the factory’s own heartbeat.
He was here to disrupt it.
Few people knew the dark truth about Krelufun Industries. To the residents of Kreludor, it was no secret who the owner of the factory was. Yet most of Neopia remained blissfully oblivious to the fact that their favourite figurine factory was a wholly owned subsidiary of Virtupets, Inc – the corporate arm of Dr. Sloth’s Empire.
Most were under the impression that it was a harmless little factory, owned by a brilliant tycoon with a rather extravagant taste in factory locations.
They couldn’t be further from the truth.
The cute little figurines that had fascinated Neopians of all ages for years were not all they appeared to be. From the hands of wondering children to the shelves of serious collectors, the Krelufun figurines had managed to work their way into the homes of Neopians on all corners of the map – and yet no one had ever suspected their dark origins. They were much more powerful and valuable than anyone had imagined. They were the pride and joy of their creator; the one and only Dr. Frank Sloth.
And that’s why he was here to steal them.
Lurking in the shadows beneath a large stack of packing crates, the thief surveyed the daily factory operations as they unfolded before him.
Dressed completely in black, the Grundo blended exceptionally well into his surroundings. From this distance none of the workers operating the machinery above would be able to spot him. Not that they ever bothered to try anyway; they were much too busy scrambling about to get the day’s orders done.
Dr. Sloth had once again managed to sell more figurines than the factory could produce. Although the workers had doubled their staff, they were only barely managing to fulfill them, even when running at maximum efficiency.
Scanning the room, the thief waited for his opportunity – when the workers were distracted, he would approach the conveyor and swipe the tiny figurines before they made it out to shipping.
Above his head, balls of molten kreludite were being transported along, controlled by a group of workers who would then manually release them into the vats below. The slightest slip of a hand could cause one of the brightly coloured vats to overflow, completely jeopardizing the entire operation.
It was tedious, wearisome work. The Grundo thief knew exactly how much effort was put into the little toys that he was now preparing to steal. From extracting and transporting the highly unstable kreludite, to manoeuvring it into the proper vats and managing the conveyor belt – all while keeping to the schedule of a demanding and short-tempered boss, it was almost cruel of him to cause them any more trouble by swiping the little figurines before they even made it off the conveyor.
And yet, the black-clad Grundo felt no remorse.
Every thief had their own reasons for choosing the lifestyles they lived. His few brushes with the Thieves Guild had only born witness to that.
Many were in it for the adventure. For the thrill that came along with sneaking about and hosting secret meetings, away from the prying eyes of the rest of the world. Some were in it for the immense profits that could be illegitimately made overnight. Others still were in it only for the title, for the sense of pride and accomplishment that were a result of belonging to the most secret of guilds. For some, it had been the only life they had ever known.
But the rather bold young Grundo was here for an entirely different reason. It was more personal than that.
Although most of the Grundo population had managed to escape from Kreludor many years ago, not all Grundos had gained their independence. Sloth still employed thousands of them in his factories, forcing the humble Grundos to serve to his every whim.
According to Sloth, the only purpose a Grundo had was to live and serve his master. That Grundos were inferior, unworthy of freedom, of choices, of being able to decide their own fates.
Fortunately, many Grundos had found their way out of Sloth’s clutches, and escaped out into Neopia. Those who did were now able to live ordinary lives, free as any neopet to decide their own course in life.
The Grundo thief had not been so lucky. While others had managed to break away, he’d remained stranded on the moon’s surface.
Those who had been left behind had been left with only two choices – continue to work for Sloth, or completely break away from the Grundo’s society.
Not willing to conform like most of his species, he had formed his own option; he’d joined the resistance. It had been a rather small organisation, filled with others who were in a similar situation. The band of rogues had taken refuge in Kreludor’s underground caves, plotting to one day overthrow Sloth’s leadership.
The sector he’d been in had eventually been disbanded. Although the group still existed today, they rarely came into contact anymore. He’d broken off, refusing to take part in a war that could not be won.
Though he had long ago abandoned the group, he still carried their message in his heart. They had stood for freedom, for non-conformity, for absolute rebellion where none was said to be possible.
That message had stayed with him.
He continued to live his life in rebellion the only way he knew how – by becoming a thief.
The toy figurines that Sloth created were his pride and joy. He sent them out into the world, hoping to one day use them to take over Neopia. They were a symbol of his absolute and unshakable power.
Stealing them did not sabotage Sloth’s plan. It didn’t hinder his efforts to get them out into the world, although it did significantly slow the process down sometimes. As far as the thief was concerned, Sloth didn’t even know he existed; the timid factory workers didn’t dare mention to their leader that they were being foiled by a petty thief.
No, stealing the figurines was more of a symbolic gesture. To him it was a symbol of non-conformity, of disobedience, of the absolute rebellion he’d once dreamed of.
While the rest of his species had chosen to conform to the demands of an all-powerful leader, he alone was one of the few that would not be converted. Instead of working for Sloth, he was working against him.
Although his small acts of thievery were rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things, for him they were enough. He had chosen to how to live his life, just as the members of the Thieves Guild had chosen theirs.
It was a life that he could be happy with, and in the end, it was all that really mattered.
High above his head, the kreludite continued to fall.