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Escape from the Space Station: Part Two


by sois_sage

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I don't know how long I was one of Sloth's minions. I cannot remember much from that time period. My mind was not my own. I followed orders without question, without a single thought as to the destruction I could be doing to myself… or to others.

     Then I was injured while on a mission. I took a blaster shot to the shoulder, and they transported me to the sick bay to recover. As my wound was seen to, I felt something stir inside of me. Some tiny bit of memory. It was like waking up from a very long, heavy sleep that has been filled with foggy and confusing dreams.

     The potion that I had been injected with had begun to wear off. At least the mind control part of it. I guess Sloth hadn't quite perfected it when he used the first batch on me.

     I lay in a bed in the sick bay for hours, staring at the ceiling while I returned to myself. I remembered being stuck with the needle, and then feeling my body change… My stomach clenched.

     Slowly, I raised an arm. Although I still wore the same silvery metal identification bracelet as always, what I saw was not one of the small, brown hands I remembered. Now I had a huge, heavily muscled, green arm with an equally huge green hand on the end, with one less finger than I remembered having.

          I turned to look at my reflection in the steel water jug on the table beside my bed. The face of a Mutant Grundo stared back at me. This was no dream.

      I knew I had to get out of there. Once they realized that I wasn't still under their control, I didn't want to know what they would do to me. The only thing for it was to leave, get off the Space Station, and start fresh somewhere else.

     I waited until the lights went off for the night and the ward nurses made their final rounds. Quietly I got out of the bed and went to the door. It opened automatically, and slid shut behind me. I followed the hallway, knowing exactly where I was going. I dodged patrolling units of mutated Grundos, using side halls when I could. Finally I reached my destination, the supply closet where all of the extra potions were kept.

     I searched the shelves, looking for the bottle of liquid that would turn me back into the Grundo I once was. My eyes fell on the shelf that held the morphing potions. Unfortunately, there where only three sitting there. One was a Mutant Grundo Transmogrification potion, which I definitely didn't want. One was an Orange Grundo Morphing potion. The last was a White Grundo Morphing potion.

     I hesitated. Orange or white? Did it really matter? I stared at the glass bottles for a moment, then grabbed the white one and uncorked it. It had a nice smell to it, a scent that I would later learn was called vanilla. Sloth couldn't have created this. He must have stolen it from somewhere, I decided.

     I drank the potion in a single gulp, and immediately felt my body begin the change. But this time as I shrank and my skin changed hue, there was no shooting pain and my mind remained clear. When the changes stopped, I felt more like my old self, albeit a different color.

     Quickly I left the supply closet, taking the empty bottle with me. I didn't want to leave any trace of my disguise behind.

     "Hey, you!" a voice shouted from my left as I stepped out into the hallway.

     I spun around. A group of Mutant Grundos led by Garoo was coming towards me. So I did the only thing I could think of. I turned and ran.

     "STOP!" bellowed Garoo. He and the mutants took off after me.

     I shot down the hallway, running faster than I had ever run in my life. I didn't know where I was going, and I didn't care. All I could thing about was getting away from Sloth's right hand man. I chanced a glance back as I turned a corner. They were gaining on me. I threw the bottle behind me, and it shattered when it hit the steel floor. I hoped that the broken glass would slow them down a bit.

     The halls twisted and turned, which worked to my advantage. Now that I was smaller than my pursuers, I could turn more easily, without having to slow down as much as they did. The halls began to change. Instead of just blank, metal walls, advertisements hung on them. The lighting became a bit less harsh. And there were more people around. Soon I had to dodge lots crowds. Somehow I had gotten to the part of the Space Station open to the public. Namely, tourists.

     I wove in and out of groups of chattering people and pets, amazed. I'd never seen another species of pet before, let alone a human. But I didn't have time to stop and stare. I could hear Garoo yelling behind me, and I knew that he was still in pursuit.

     My strength was running out, and I felt my legs begin to cramp. Gasping, I turned into a large room, full of tables and booths. A circular table surrounded another room in the very center. A large mutant Grundo in an apron stood behind the table, and he looked up at me as I came in. Afraid that I had been caught, I froze.

     "What'll it be?" he asked.

     "Huh?" That was a strange question for a captor to ask.

     "The special of the day is the Chicken Cordon Bleu, but I'd recommend the Vegetable Deluxe."

     Then I understood. This bloke was not one of Sloth's people.

     "There… are some guys… after me," I gasped, still short of breath. "Could you… help me?"

     "Sloth?" he asked.

     I nodded.

     "This way," he said, lifting a hinged section of the table and leading me into the kitchen. "You can hide in here until they're gone," he said, opening the door to a low cupboard. "I'll be back."

     I climbed into the cupboard, hid behind a sack of potatoes, and closed the door. My heart was still pounding in my chest, and my breathing was still a bit ragged. I sat very still, listening hard. Footsteps crashed into the next room.

     "Where is he, Gargarox?" I heard Garoo demand.

     "Who?" my rescuer asked.

     "The escapee I saw run in here, you dolt," roared Garoo.

     "I don't know what you're talking about," Gargarox replied calmly.

     Garoo cursed at him.

     "I've told you that I have no notion of what you are talking about," Gargarox said. "And if you insist upon using that kind of language, I am going to have to ask that you do it outside of my restaurant."

     "If you don't know what I'm talking about, then I'm sure you won't mind if we have a look around," Garoo said once he had calmed down a bit.

     "Suit yourself, but you won't find anything, except maybe some of last week's leftover Caramalised Blunkabean," Gargarox said as Garoo stormed into the kitchen.

     I sat, frozen in the darkness of the cupboard. I heard other cupboards being flung open, and low voices saying that there was nothing inside. My heart raced as they got closer and closer to my hiding place. Then I heard footsteps right outside my door, and there was a crash from the other side of the room.

     "Now really!" Gargarox exclaimed from somewhere close by. "That's enough! I can tolerate you barging into my restaurant, accusing me of harboring a runaway, cursing, and even going through my kitchen, but when you break my good decanters, I have to draw the line. Now get out!"

     "We aren't done searching," protested Garoo.

     There was another crash.

     "Oh yes you are!" said Gargarox menacingly.

     There was a low whistling sound, as though something heavy had just been swung through the air. Curiosity got the better of me, and I pushed the cupboard door open a crack.

     Grumbling angrily, Garoo lead the troop of Mutant Grundos out of the kitchen. Gargarox watched them go, holding a very heavy looking frying pan. When they were gone, he came over and helped me out of the cupboard.

     "They won't be back today," he told me, motioning for me to sit at a small table in the back of the room. "I gave Garoo a nasty bump on the head once with this. He knows that when I tell him to leave, I mean it."

     He hung the frying pan on the wall near the grill went to the refrigerator.

     "Here," he said, bring over a plate with purple and green lumps on it, and handing me a few green things. "Tear the top off of the capsules to open 'em."

     I did as he said, and found liquid inside. "Uh… What do I do with this?"

     "You drink it," he told me. "It's green tea. Haven't you ever had green tea before?"

     I shook my head, and took a sip. The cool liquid felt wonderful against my dry throat.

     Gargarox motioned to the lumps on the plate in front of me. "And that's cheese manicotti."

     He handed me a fork, and I dug in. It was the best thing I had ever tasted. As I ate, Gargaox fetched a broom from one of the longer cupboards.

     "So, why were you running from them?" he asked as he began to sweep the glass off the floor.

     I'm not sure exactly why, but my whole story spilled out of me then. Gargarox listened attentively, nodding. By the time I had finished, my plate was clean.

     "I need to get off this hunk of metal," I said, frowning. "But I don't know how to do it. Or where to go."

     "Why not go to Neopia?" Gargarox asked. "Shuttles leave every hour or so. All you need is a ticket."

     "How do I get one?" I asked eagerly.

     "I'll get it for you," he said. ""It's not safe for you to wander around here just yet."

     "But I don't have any money to pay you back with… for a ticket or for the food," I said.

     "You don't have to pay me back," Gargarox said, holding up a hand. "You just have to promise me something."

     "What?"

     "Promise me that when you get to Neopia, you won't just wander around on the streets. Find yourself a good family."

     "How do I do that?"

     "Go to the pound in Neopia Central. That's where they help pets find new families. It's not the most pleasant place in the world, but it's better than living on the streets. And you won't be there for long."

     I looked at him. His face was serious. I swallowed hard.

     "I promise."

     "Good. You wait here. I'll go buy your ticket."

      * * *

      Two hours later I had arrived in Neopia Central. After asking for directions on how to get there, I started out for the pound. While I walked, I thought about what Gargarox had said to me before I left.

     "I know that many people say that the pound is a bad place, but it will help you find a good owner, and maybe even a sibling or two."

     I nodded. For whatever reason, I trusted this bloke.

     "Here, take this, for the trip," he had said, handing me a tube of Chocolate Éclair Paste.

     I thanked him, and joined the queue to board the shuttle.

     "Good luck, little castaway," he called after me as the shuttle door closed.

     I got to the pound just as the sun began to set. I stopped outside the double doors to watch for a bit. I had never seen a sunset before.

     Finally I pulled open one of the doors and went inside. The room was small, and sparsely furnished. A couch sat against one wall. A few chairs were scattered about. At the very back of the room was a desk, where two pets were sitting. Slowly I approached them, and saw that one was a Pink Uni, and the other was a scowling Yellow Techo with gray hair wearing a lab coat.

     "I'm here to find a family," I told them.

     The Uni just gave me a sympathetic smile, but the Techo motioned me closer.

     "You should go home, kid," he said gruffly.

     "I don't have one. That's why I'm here. I promised someone that I'd find a good home."

     The Techo sighed and reached into a filing cabinet behind him for a form of some sort.

     "Name?" he asked.

     I stared at him. I didn't have a name, just a number. Instinctively I looked at the identification bracelet on my wrist. I had tried to get it off, but nothing had worked.

     "Well?" an impatient voice interrupted my thoughts. The Techo was still waiting for me to answer, pen poised over the paper.

     I frowned, trying to remember. What was it that Gargarox had called me?

     "Castaway," I said at last. "Cosmic Castaway."

     "That name is already taken," the Techo told me.

     "Put an X in the middle of it, then."

     He shrugged and filled out the form, then handed it to me to sign. Then he filled it in one of the metal cabinets, and beckoned me into the next room.

     The light was a bit dimmer in there, and it took my eyes a moment to adjust. When they did, I got an unpleasant jolt. The walls were lined with cages stacked on top of each other. Except for the lighting and the fact that the cage's occupants were different species, it looked exactly like the room where I had slept for so many years on the Space Station.

     "Come on, kid," the Techo called from further down the row.

      I hesitated, and then remembered that Gargarox had sent me there. He wouldn't steer me wrong. I hurried to catch up.

      * * *

     I was in the pound for a couple of weeks. During that time I learned that Orange Grundos were much sought after pets, and if I had made a different choice, I could have ended up being shuttled from owner to owner, just for the sake of an avatar. I also learned all that I could about Dr. Sloth. He had tried to invade Neopia once before, some of the older pets told me. Rumor had it that he was building up an army, so he could try again. The idea gave me chills. At least I knew what I had almost been a part of.

     Weeks later I was finally adopted by a teenage girl who said her name was Sage. She took me to a large house, full of a bunch of other blokes. She told me that most of them had been adopted from the pound, too. Gradually I settled in, and became a part of the family.

     I still carry the scars of my past with me. For one thing, I can't get that stupid ID bracelet off. Clever, a Split Lenny, said it was probably made from titanium, and that's why it was so strong. I hate it, but at least I don't have to look at it all the time. Stripes, a Bori painted Skunk, gave me a leather wrist cuff to wear over it. Now no one can see it.

     I have a new family now. I've got loads of brothers and an owner who cares about me. But I can't forget what happened to me. What Sloth did to me. So I'll wait until the time is right. And then I'll get my revenge.

The End…?

Author's Note: Hey, thanks for reading Cosmic's story. I hope you enjoyed it. Feel free to neomail me with questions or comments if you have any. I'd be happy to answer them. - Sage

 
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