Mundo The Grundo vs The Alien Aishas
Up in the Virtupets Space Station, not much malicious happens these days. Especially with Dr. Sloth barely being present, except to drop off some Transmogrification Potions hoping to grow his futile army, there is not a lot of drama that strikes down on the local Grundo population living in orbit around Neopia. As such, the newer generation has gotten pretty skittish.
You see, they have grown up with all the stories of the space station’s upsetting past. They heard about all the terrible experiments Dr. Sloth did up there, they learned all about the tragedy that was Neopets V2, and they have heard the all too common story of a rogue Grundo getting sucked out into the atmosphere, disappearing into a black hole and never to be heard from again.
There is a lot of scary lore striking fear into these young Grundos...they spend their days wondering what will be the folly of their generation, what is the next wave of bad news to come and will it strike them or wait for another few generations...
This fear lives especially strong in the head of Mundo, a Green Grundo who was born and raised on the Virtupets Space Station. His parents had a bit of an unusual method of rearing him, where they thought the way to make him behave and do his best was to strike fear into the depths of his heart. Sure, he behaves and he is a perfect picture of what an upright citizen should be...but he also faces severe anxiety, the tiniest Mootix can send him into a frenzy.
Mundo is your normal teenager living in space. He wakes up every morning in his assigned compartment, conjoined into a small apartment with his parents and younger sister. He presses a few buttons, buttons far too complicated for us land-walkers (a term of affection from some living in the space station for those living on the planet Neopia), and it gets him dressed and ready for school. He heads out to meet his parents for breakfast where he grabs a slice of Space Toast, baked locally on the ship by a cousin of the famous Grundo Chef, and rushes out to his bus-pod. Getting around Virtupets Space Station is similar to how we get around here on Neopia, but everything is done in a pod. His bus-pod transports him along a route, picking up all his classmates and friends, and sorts them all into their respective classes when they arrive at school.
Mundo really enjoys school, and he excels at it. He has a particular aptitude for chemistry and food science, learning the molecular structure of anything and everything edible. On the space station you are specialized into specific fields, fields that will help the station continue running in the future, so most of Mundo’s day is spent in the lab synthesizing things. For his last year of high school, he is working on a project where he zaps all of the negative aspects out of desserts and replaces them with healthy, nutritious additives that won’t affect the taste. Basically, he is taking all the unhealthy fats and sugars out of cake and replacing them with things our body needs, such as calcium, proteins, macrobiotics, things found in healthier foods like salad...without having to sacrifice the delicious, sweet taste of a big slice of chocolate fudge cake!
Today, he is working on some big advancements on his major project. This is the project that will count a lot in determining if he will graduate at the top of his class, or end up in the middle tier, doomed to fade into obscurity. If he is able to successfully pull it off, he could be launched right into a career as a food scientist; working with the best of the best on the space station. Oh, and there is a lot of money in it too! Mundo has set his whole display up, a plate of cake sits next to a plate of leafy greens, and there are two contraptions on either side of the plates. They look almost like two miniature lab rays, each standing about one foot tall with large round tips. The idea is that when he presses the button, the leafy greens will be zapped up into microscopic powder and infused into the layers of the cake. Simultaneously, the unhealthy aspects of the cake will be zapped out and disintegrated, but the flavor profile of those things will remain. It’s time for Mundo to press the button...
A loud zapping noise crashes through the room. Smoke erupts everywhere, soot covers Mundo and his space suit, and a burning smell fills the air. Mundo starts waving his hands back and forth in an attempt to clear the smoke, to see if his experiment worked...even if it was a bit of a sloppy attempt, not bad for the first try, nothing is on fire! As the smoke clears, Mundo takes a look at the two plates and sees that the leafy greens have disappeared!! And the cake is sitting there, beautiful as ever!!! IT MAY HAVE WORKED!!!
Eager, Mundo picks up his fork and takes in a mouthful of cake. In that instant, you can see the regret washing over his face. His skin starts to turn pale and the realization hits that the experiment didn’t work, and that the cake was infused with the greens, the flavor of the greens, and also with a lot of soot. He spits it out and starts to drink some fizzy neocola to try to get the taste of his disgusting creation out of his mouth.
"Ick, YUCK," he sputters while spitting out more chunks of cake. "Close, but this was DEFINITELY NOT what I wanted to achieve." He grabs the plate and tosses it into the compostable space trash receptacle, a bin that is a direct link between the station and space. Basically, he launched the nasty cake into the atmosphere and it will never be seen again....or will it...
And that was the end of life as he knew it...
Mundo finished up at the lab, cleaning his mess and writing up some reports on what he learned today. Hoping to sleep on it and wake up inspired, he packed his bag and got on the bus-pod home. It was a mostly quiet ride, his classmates chatting softly around him about various aspects of their days, but Mundo was lost deep in his thoughts over his experiment. What exactly went wrong? What can he do to fix it? He’s so close, he was able to infuse to greens into the cake...but how does he zap the flavor out of it while still retaining the flavor of the cake? He wasn’t too frustrated though, he was quite proud of his achievement and of making it this far. He still had plenty of time left before it was due, so he knew he’d be able to work out all the kinks with a little more tinkering.
When he arrived home though, things were not as they should have been. His parents were both sitting on the couch, with frowns on their faces. Unusual as they both tend to work pretty late, why were they home now?
"Come and sit, son," Mundo’s father spoke with a solemn tone. "There was just an emergency report on the news. We need to talk."
Mundo’s anxiety kicked up into high gear...he was already on a bit of an adrenaline rush from his day at school, and now that is mixing with the fear of what his father will say next.
"There are reports of some unidentified flying objects circling around the space station, the news has not confirmed what they could possibly be. Your mother and I think that the control center might not have the technology to see inside these objects."
"They don’t have the technology??" Mundo asked frantically. "What does that mean?? We are the most advanced life form in space."
"It seems," his father spoke slowly, with a lot of thought being put into each word. "It seems that we may be being visited by something beyond our capabilities. Something not even my generation has seen before. We wanted to be the ones to tell you this, before you saw it on the news and started to panic."
"Panicking from the news!? I’m panicking now!!" Mundo was starting to sweat heavily, panic was surely setting in, you could see it clear as day across his face.
"Now honey, remember we are prepared for something like this. It might not even be anything malicious, but if it is an attack we have a well trained team," Mundo’s mother said. She worked in the defense force on the station and was well versed in the technologies offered. "Nothing bad is going to ha—"
Before she could finish her sentence, she was cut off by an alarm sound and their TV flashing on.
"BREAKING NEWS," the news reported spoke sternly from the television. "Virtupets Space Station is now in a state of emergency. DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PODS FOR ANY REASON. I REPEAT, DO NOT LEAVE YOUR PODS FOR ANY REASON. We are now on lockdown. Stay tuned for more updates."
To be continued…