The Day Doctor Sloth Took a Holiday
"I can't believe this! It's outrageous!" Dr. Frank Sloth, Overlord of the Grundos, Master of the Virtupets Space Station, Rightful Dictator of Neopia and all Neopets (in his opinion), Sworn Enemy of the Space Faerie shouted.
At once, a cowering Orange Grundo came to greet him. "Yes, m'lord? What is it that troubles you?"
Dr. Sloth sighed. This Grundo, who had obviously spent quite some time in Meridell, probably working for some lord, was otherwise like every other Grundo who waited upon Sloth's whim: Frightened, and uncertain how long it would be before he was zapped into oblivion.
"These Neopians! These pathetic creatures irritate me beyond belief. They no longer fear me. They think that I'm sort of a joke. Even that Space Faerie is beginning to get lax now. I mean, I am the greatest mind in this entire galaxy, no, scratch that, this entire universe, and also the most evil. I believe I deserve some respect," Dr. Sloth raged to the roof, as if there was some audience there. He had almost forgotten about the Grundo cowering pathetically beside him.
"Sometimes, I feel like I should just disappear," Dr. Sloth said. Then, he paused in mid-speech, with an expression that clearly said that he had thought of some dastardly clever act.
"How clever of me," Dr. Sloth said. "I must be the greatest genius in history. I mean, sometimes even I surprise myself with how smart I am."
"What- I mean, of course, Lord," the Grundo said, clearly choosing the best possible and wisest course of action, though he had no idea what Dr. Sloth was about to do. He didn't even have to ask, as Dr. Sloth kept muttering his plan to himself. Maybe, the Grundo thought, that was why all of his plans went awry. Because everyone got to know about them.
"Yes, I'll disappear. I'll leave the Space Station and go far away where no one can see me. I'll still monitor Neopia and the Space Station though. It's decided, I'm leaving the instant that day breaks over current Faerieland. Clearly, those Neopians will begin to realize just how important I am once I'm gone." The Doctor left to begin his plan, with the Grundo still cowering, completely forgotten. Once the Doctor was gone, the Grundo shook his head. Maybe he should have stuck with working at the Meridell Rubbish Dump....
The next day (in Faerieland terms) everyone was surprised to find that Dr. Sloth had gone missing without a trace. There was no note, no further orders. Of course, the first thing that everyone did was cheer, before the realized that it was probably a ruse and that Dr. Sloth was probably lurking somewhere, ready to catch them unawares.
So, they then resumed their normal work, only several functions of the Space Station remained blocked without Dr. Sloth. This included the emergency weapons, and several shuttles that ran from the Space Station to parts of Neopia. Including the one the Grundo Chef used to send food to certain people.
Lord Darigan was very irritated. His meal had not arrived from the Space Station yet. It had been a very tiring time, even though the war was all but ancient history. The one thing though, that he could always count on, was his lunch from the Space Station. He had an unusual liking for the Grundo Chef's food. It would be a slightly different meal every time. It was the one part of the day that he always looked forward to. Sometimes it was only the thought of savoring that rich food that got him through the morning without smiting someone with his sorcerous powers.
And now there was nothing. He hadn't even had breakfast today because he had been busy with some Meridellian Diplomats. And now no lunch. It was extremely depressing. Apparently, there had been some problem with the shuttles because Dr. Sloth wasn't there anymore.
Lord Darigan immediately sent a page to bear the message to the Virtupets Space Station stating that they should give him some lunch by some other suitable means before he lost his temper. It was a bit more rude than he intended, but he was rather depressed today. After all, he had paid well in advance for ten years' worth of lunches.
However, unbeknownst to Lord Darigan, as Dr. Sloth was absent, the Virtupets Communications weren't working properly, so his message ended up with King Skarl instead.
King Skarl was munching on some finest-quality bread when the message came. From Virtupets, he thought to himself. Most unusual. His eye widened as he read the message.
"Guards! Get ready, we attack the Citadel immediately! The nerve of the Lord Darigan fellow, ordering lunch from me?"
Lord Darigan got a reply from King Skarl soon. He thought that it must have been a reply to the peace treaty that he had sent by herald yesterday. That's surprising, he thought, it should have taken longer to reach King Skarl. He read the neomail, which was slightly fuzzy due to some glitches in the Virtupets Communications system. His eyes widened. It was an invitation to war, and a very rude one at that, with King Skarl making rather weird comments regarding food that Lord Darigan didn't get. Lord Darigan might have responded with a more level temperament at some better time, but this wasn't a very good day for him.
It soon exploded into something close to a war. But that wasn't the worst of it.
The Space Faerie was irritated. Sloth was missing, and she knew that he couldn't be up to any good. She had spent several hours searching for him, and was now exhausted, tired, and covered in galactic dust and galactic mud, which was much harder to remove from clothes than normal mud.
She sighed. She couldn't find Sloth anywhere after ten hours of searching. She sent a message to Queen Fyora to tell her that there was no sign of Sloth nor any sign of a plan of his to take over Neopia.
As it so happened, the day before this the Virtupets Laboratories had been experimenting with magic. Nothing serious, just some things relating to the transmission of magical messages that the Faeries had been using for centuries. It was a useful experiment, even if the Space Station's communication satellites were broken, they could still transmit orders by this magical system, and the Faeries would be none the wiser. Unfortunately, they had gotten it wrong and all the field did was distort signals. Sloth was supposed to cancel the project that day, but he had taken a leave.
Anyway, the Space Faerie's message had been:
Sloth is unaccounted for. There is no trace of his plan. Preparing to leave for Faerieland, but just taking a look at this Darigan-Meridell war that has seemed to pop up.
What reached Queen Fyora was a fragmented message:
She was clearly shocked. Since the message was fragmented, it clearly meant that she didn't have a lot of time to write it. What could that mean? Did Sloth get her? Anyway, she knew she had to act immediately.
"Prepare Faerieland for war!" she ordered.
The news of all of this spread. First, the news about the looming Darigan-Meridell war that seemed to be inevitable, and of Faerieland's new defenses. Everyone assumed that whatever the Faeries were doing was in some way related to this new war that was about to break. Soon, Brightvale had joined in, and before you knew it so did almost every single land in Neopia.
Sloth, meanwhile, was relaxing in his private shuttle, too far away from Neopia and the Space Station to be detected. He watched as events on Neopia unfolded with amazement.
"Genius," he said to himself. "Look at all the destruction I can cause without even being there. My plan has clearly been successful."
The Orange Grundo who had been forced to accompany Sloth grimaced. Even he could figure out that Sloth's plan succeeding was just a result of dumb luck.
"Of course. That was the epitome of evil brilliance," he said, lying through his teeth. For hours, he had been forced to serve Sloth, who had repeatedly told him that he should think himself lucky that there was only one Grundo in the shuttle, and Sloth needed him to serve him and so would not vaporize him for minor infractions like not addressing him properly. The Grundo had decided he was going back to the Rubbish Dump as soon as all of this was over.
Dr. Sloth decided to return to Neopia. He checked his clock. Only twelve hours, not even a full day, and Neopia was already on the brink of disaster. Time for him to return and show everyone that he's boss.
They returned, and everything returned to normal in the Space Station. The Space Faerie was able to clear things out with Lord Darigan and King Skarl, and there was no more war. Not to mention that the magical transmitter project had been dropped by Sloth (who didn't know that it was capable of hindering Faerie transmission). Faerieland had been recalled from emergency status as soon as the Space Faerie had landed there and sorted everything out. Not only that, the Meridell Rubbish Dump was better than before because it had finally found itself a worker (surprisingly, when the former worker had left, few were eager to sign up, and the Dump had remained abandoned).
Strangely, Neopia was now a better place with Sloth there. Sloth gazed up at the stars, to see the Space Faerie rocketing towards him.
"Yes," he said to himself. "I see that vanishing was not enough to eliminate the years of mutual respect that the Space Faerie and I have had for each other. Ready the cannons." Sloth grinned. Really, there was no place like home.