Expedition NFT.NYC (Full Episode)

This story was shared in a live lore format in Discord (#smol-stories). Authors: n8amis and J.

Days on the moon passed slowly.

Smols and swols, without the collective purpose of mining, and with no home to return to, floated idly through their days hoping the radiation levels in the crater would subside.

A few stubborn swols hooked on the exercise of hard work, and a scattering of smols whose curiosity was even greater than their IQ, had remained in the mines despite the risks to their health. Among the majority who had safely left, many swols were content to simply stack their plates. But they worried for their friends. Many smols, in their boredom, had resorted to bickering to occupy their minds. The community felt split, their positivity challenged, and fun almost forgotten. Suffice it to say, the moon was a bit of a mess.

It felt like the world was on fire, perhaps because it quite literally was. Einstein and Wiz would take turns spending hours on end looking back at Smol Earth through the telescope. Hopelessly they searched for some new discovery within the flames, any glimmer of a place to which they could return.

Bubbles, with nowhere else to direct her outstanding intelligence, had taken to designing a superior chewing gum that would be fit for her Swol friends’ powerful lungs and superior jaw muscles. Blondie was her guinea pig whenever she could be dragged away from the gym.

The gossip mill had started turning as well. Ever since she got the new pink mask, Champ had taken a liking to Mittens. Who (along with half the gym), was too busy staring at HBL to notice. That’s Hunk of Burnin’ Love over there–you know, the one competing with the fireball of Earth for “brightest object seen from the moon.”

Bethany, meanwhile, was so worried that she refused to go back to school. Which she really should have, her mother made clear, “at least until her brain size was level five like most of her classmates please dear you’re embarrassing me.” Instead, she spent her days rearranging the cone-marked paths outside the mines in hopes it would attract the remaining miners to retreat.

Pinky with his smol smol brain couldn’t imagine why no one else felt like playing, and kept getting into trouble pulling pranks on the others. Which was all fun and games until he got mistaken for the latest batch of Bubbles’ gum and almost had his fur chewed off by an eager swol friend.

Just as Wiz was about to pack it up for the day, another uneventful Smol Earth viewing done, his eyes seemed to blur. “That’s odd,” he said aloud, rubbed his eyes and peered again through the scope. He blinked hard twice, but the blur remained. “Ah of course, my glasses must be fogging as the evening cool sets in,” he said in his usual habit of offering unrequested scientific explanations. Yet, again peering through the scope, the blur remained.

“Hey, hey Einstein, do you see this?” he called, but no one responded. “Hey Einstein, where are–” Wiz turned to find his friend, only to discover a crowd had formed at the window, Einstein among them. All stood stunned with curiosity.

Following their gaze, he saw some fifty meters beyond the safety of the dome a land sink had formed. A collapsed mine shaft. And above it, a strange shimmering portal had appeared. “Oh,” and he had no explanation with which to follow.

The pile of rubble where the mine shaft collapsed shifted slightly. The faint sound of groaning could be heard below where the rubble moved. Everyone strained to look as the pile shifted more causing several rocks to topple. The groaning grew louder and louder before a swol, hulking, bruised, dirty…and laughing pushed his way from the rock exclaiming nearly unintelligible words of pure joy.

“Finally ze Alien thingy eez mine! Take your moon rocks and stuffs them up your stinky keister Fleshberg. I telled you I would find one and see for yourself, nothing bad even happened you overgrown eggplant!”

He held something green and pulsating in a giant hand above his head in victory as he stood fully upright, brushing rubble from his leotard with his free hand.

Strange noises, like a toy ray gun, began emitting from the portal. At the same time, the object in the big swol’s hand began to pulse intensely. Confused, the giant looked above his head, saw the portal, shouted something that sounded a whole lot like “mommy” and was sucked like a piece of dust in a hoover inside the portal. His giant body spun like a gymnast performing a tumbling routine growing smaller and smaller before he disappeared entirely.

The crowd froze, No one said a word. They stare into the portal with expressions of surprise, shock and fear on the faces of all.

[Smol disclaimer: No Alien relics were harmed in the making of this story, and for you degens out there, The use of alien relics in this story in no way indicates anything being a fictional story telling device, so don’t read into too much. We know how your minds work…]

There were a lot of snarky comments from a minority of smol brains insulting swol intelligence, and much lamenting about how it was really inevitable that a swol would do something like collapse the moon mine and get sucked into a portal to another dimension all at the same time, but at the end of the day, they all decided to go. It’s not like there was anything else going on, and who could resist; I mean, it’s a giant portal.

Three of the bravest and strongest swols were chosen, plus HBL, who wasn’t particularly brave, but was added to the team on account that he was made of fire, which the swols felt would almost certainly come in handy. Five smol brains, chosen for a particular skill set the biggest brains of the group felt would be really important while risking life and limb and diving into a giant as of yet unknown and mysterious portal, were selected to go along as well.

Hugs, kisses, and encouragement were thrown around in abundance. A collective EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE! rose from the group of bystanders as the brave, smart, and strong team (followed closely by one guy made of fire) linked arms, leapt through the portal and subsequently into one smol adventure.

Give us your best EEEEEEE!

They spun round and round, centrifugal force pulling them apart from one another as they careened through the portal. They bounced off the walls of the portal and tumbled inside the vortex for what felt like at least five minutes or something, definitely at least three, before scores of windows began popping up, levitating in the void before them. Each window was shut with closed curtains depicting cows, sheep, or pigs grazing in a field before a large red barn, obscuring the view beyond.

As they passed the windows, the same woman's voice called out from behind five windows, “June bug, time to come inside dear.”

The windows with the voice were thrown open wide, wind blowing the curtains aside as the woman with ruby red lips leaned out, wearing an apron and white plastic beaded necklace, to place a freshly baked apple pie on the window sill. Beyond her was a kitchen table set for a meal with four plates, silverware, a glass jar of orange juice, and a man seated in a chair with a hat on quietly reading a newspaper.

As the adventurers drew nearer the open windows, the kitchen faded away, replaced by scenes of five different paintings. The first painting depicted a mighty river which would have been beautiful if not for the large flat boat piled high with heaps of trash floating near the shoreline. Another showed a long gray building with a rusty chimney, white milky smoke billowing from the top. A third was full of nothing but brightly lit, towering buildings, the likes of which they had never seen. The fourth painting was full of a canopy of green trees. The fifth and final painting was of a unicorn in a meadow with a double rainbow in the backdrop. The unicorn had a ribbon about its neck with the word “paradise” written in golden glitter. Something about the unicorn beckoned to the adventurers, especially Pinky, but no sooner had they noticed the painting, when the woman drew the curtains and shut the window with a snap muttering good naturedly to herself, “Now how did this get here?” A loud popping noise echoed from the walls of the portal, followed by a red neon sign flickering to life in front of the four open windows: EXIT here.

The stalwart adventurers tumbled from the portal rolling down a grassy hill. Swol arms and smol legs tangled together as they came to rest in a jumbled pile at the base of a large tree.

Blondie noticed Pinky squished unceremoniously underneath HBL, and carefully pulled the big Swol off with fire retardant gloves she kept on hand for times just like this.

Pinky slowly got to his hands and knees looking dazed. Smoke rose like fog from singed hair all over his smol body.

“Umm Pinky” Einstein remarked, “your tail seems to be on fire.”

Pinky screamed, leapt to his feet and ran erratically about the forest attempting to grab his tail and blow the fire out. Wiz whipped out his wand and took careful aim at Pinky:

“Abra aquaticus. H20 on the gobro!”

The air above Pinky shimmered as a large green watering pail materialized above his head. The pail tipped over dousing the fire at the end of his tail with a gentle water shower. Wiz, smug smile on face, glanced around at the others seeking approval and lost focus, causing the watering pail to fall from the air hitting Pinky squarely on the forehead. The poor little monkey collapsed to the ground unconscious.

Moments later, Pinky groaned, opened his eyes, and looked up in confusion at the faces staring down at him.

“What happened?”

“HBL set you on fire and Wiz knocked you out,'' offered Bethany.

“Oh.” said Pinky.

“Want some gum?” Bubbles asked, holding a piece out to him in her hand.

“Yeah, I love gum!” Pinky exclaimed. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief and agreed that a giant crisis had narrowly been averted. Things it seemed were off to a great start they decided.

Always one to think of the bigger picture, Einstein chimed in:

“Well, we should probably get going, Swolstachio could be anywhere by now. He’s not terribly bright, you know, even for a Swol.”

Everyone, even the other swols, agreed this to be true and began combing the forest for signs of the hulking Swolstachio.

After short order, Champ found Swolstachio’s bandana stuck on a tree limb. They follow his large footprints down the trail from there looking for more clues. Mittens found a white tank top that looked as if it had been chewed up by a lawn mower, and a short distance away, Bubbles found a pair of gym shoes that looked like they went through a wood chipper.

“That looks not too good I think.” HBL declared.

“Shhh,” Bethany said, “I hear something. It sounds….like crying. Over there.” She pointed towards the trees to their left. As they cautiously approached, they saw Swolstachio wearing nothing but a pair of leopard print briefs with his back against a tree muttering something about a giant squirrel to himself through bouts of sobbing.

Swolstachio heard them approaching, looked up and said:

“I just wanted to give it a candy. It stole my relic and ran up z tree. Then it got huge. It ate all my clothes, but still is hungry.”

Crashing sounds and snapping tree branches approach the group from behind Swolstachio as a giant, pot bellied Squirrel appeared through the foliage, pushing its way through the trees, breaking some in half while pulling others from the ground and tossing them, roots flinging dirt cascading across the sky as they tumbled through the air in front of the beast.

It screamed a terrifying sound half way between a roar and blood curdling scream when it saw them, foam dripping from the corners of its mouth. One of Swolstachio’s shoes dangled by a shoelace like a piece of floss between the creature's two gigantic bucked teeth.

The thing crossed into the clearing in front of them, and with nothing in between them, went down on all four legs and charged directly at them.

Eager swols, too impatient for a group decision, had already engaged the monster.

“SWOLLLLLLL SMASH!!” HBL yelled out as his body flared up with fiery strength, and charged toward the giant creature charging toward them. They clashed in the middle with a loud thunk that vibrated the ground. The creature pressed on, slowly sliding HBL back on his feet.

“EEEEEEEEEEE!” Pinky screeched as he rolled around, encircling the battle and ping-ponging small attacks at the creature’s haunches. Swolstachio and Mittens leaped behind the squirrel and grabbed onto its bushy tail, pulling it back to weaken the charge against HBL. Still, the creature persisted. It thrashed its tail, sending Swolstachio and Mittens flying. With a fear-inducing shriek it chomped down on HBL’s shoulder despite the flames.

“Wait, WAIT! It seems attacking is no use!” Einstein called, “We must outsmart the thing. Pull back!” The swols detached and the group distanced themselves quickly.

“Alright, here’s what we’ll do,” Wiz spoke to the group in their impromptu huddle. “We know no one can resist all those beautiful swol arms. And I’ll bet our squirrel friend is no exception. It was already chasing after, ‘Stachio after all,” he looked around at the swols of the group.

“So, ‘Stachio, Blondie, Mittens, and HBL. You all stand here and give your best picture pose,” Wiz pointed to a spot he was drawing in the dirt with a stick.

“Champ, not sure you’ve been stacking enough plates for this particular job, no offense. Grab Pinky and go wait with Einstein over here. Not the right time for playful distractions either.”

“Right. And Wiz, Bethany, and I will run around behind it, here,” Bubbles picked up on the plan. “Then, as that thing gets closer to our beautiful friends over here, we’ll stop it in its–EEEEEwwww!” Bubbles cut herself as a warm blob of giant squirrel saliva dropped down on the ground in the middle of the group.

They all looked up, bewildered, as the creature towered above them. “Ahhh I guess no time to explain the rest, go go go!” yelled Wiz.

As the swols flexed their impossibly beautiful muscles, the creature continued after them. Left behind to plot, the smol trio quickly gathered all of Bethany’s cones and all of Bubbles’ gum into a pile, until it became one massive ball of sticky caution.

The creature inched closer to their friends. “Okayyyyy that’s close enough, buddy,” Bubbles taunted the wild creature. “Let’s see how you do when your world turns pink! Do it, Wiz!”

Wiz, standing with his spellbook, uttered the words, “smolgardium levioswol!” and with that, he lifted the massive bundle of sticky cones high into the air. The rapid squirrel, caught in its shadow, turned to see what was going on. The bundled hurled toward it, smacking it full on in the chest and face. The swols quickly jumped out of the way as the creature was knocked to the ground. Knocked out, and covered in immobilizing stickiness from the specialized gum, it lay helpless and defeated.

“EEEEEEEEEE! Lights out, buddy,” Bethany jumped and spun. She, Wiz, and Bubbles turned and fled toward their friends, and the whole crew responded with an “EEEEEEEEEEEEEE!”

“Alright, quick, let’s get out of here, EEEEEEEE!” even Einstein rejoiced with smolful glee. Each swol pulled a smol up onto their large shoulders, and toward an open patch on the other side of the trees.

Having rescued Swolstachio, and defeated their odd opponent, our smol squad looked around for where they might seek answers. And food. Need food.

Pulling out the telescope, Einstein pointed it toward some glowing signs in the distance that Pinky seemed excited about. Through the lens he could see some advertisements, odd but still familiar. The shapes and placements, yes. They seemed to be…

“But, but, but this couldn’t be! After all, EEEEEEEEE = mc2 and our beloved Smol Apple was burning with the rest of Smol Earth,” he continued to yell and mutter as the others frantically tried to understand what he had seen.

“Einstein, you okay?” asked Swolstachio, still worried from the day’s events.

He paced around frantically, “Yes, yes I thought this so-called forest seemed familiar too,” he looked around. “That man over there on a bench, the pigeons, the statue… This isn’t a forest at all.”

“Einstein, tell us!” Bethany implored, and others chimed in. “Yeah, out with it brainiac!” teased Champ.

“Friends, it appears to me… it appears to be… Smol Times Square!”

“It’s amaaazing!” exclaimed Pinky, as he bounced around in joy, bumping into strangers offering angry scowls. The group had made their way to the center of Smol Times Square, and the bustle had them all excited.

On top of the usual lights and sounds, it seemed like there was some kind of event going on, and all sorts of odd characters had come for it. Everywhere they looked, groups gathered for interesting activities. Over here, a bear offering free hugs and honey. Over there, an artistic frame to pose with.

Across the street, an area had been blocked off with barricades. Within the space, a friendly looking fellow in a wizard robe had set up many wide canvases. Above it, a sign read “Banner Making Contest.” Bethany, ever the builder, ran off to investigate.

The swols’ broad shoulders seemed to keep a bubble of space around the group as they moved. But some of the crowd began to take notice as they passed, exchanging whispers and sideways glances, and sneaking not-so-hidden selfies.

“Hey, ‘Stachio, I think they like your undies!” Mittens joked with a giggle, “I guess we should have stopped to get you some clothes after that squirrel chewed ‘em up.”

“No, no,” Einstein interjected impatiently. “It’s not that at all. See where they’re looking,” he pointed up high amidst the various billboards and flashing screens that displayed all kinds of art and characters.

“Hey, that’s me… with real swol muscles, EEEEEEE!” chimed Champ with delight.

Sure enough, as they all looked on, they could see that, right in the center of all the noise, there was a billboard image of them and all their Smolverse friends.

“Hey, are we… famous or something?” Blondie posed the question the others were too stunned to voice.

Recovering from his daze, Wiz added, “What IS going on here? Even with his magic, he had no explanation.

“Guess we have to find out, c’mon!” Mittens prodded the group, and they continued to push their way ahead.

Edging deeper into the crowd, the confused adventurers saw various buildings with long lines running out onto the streets. Along a fancy red carpet, some large apes with silly faces were doing their best to look proper, but really just seemed to look a bit bored. One of them called out, challenging Swolstachio to a flexing contest, but was suddenly bumped from behind. The culprit zoomed by on a skateboard, her skin pale and blue and glowing, and a funny looking red blob sat on her shoulder. Soon, a whole group came rolling by, and Champ had to restrain Pinky from eagerly tagging along.

They rounded a corner, and Blondie almost lost her balance dodging a large owl flying low. A sign stood out from the building on the right, and read “Moon Lounge,” and a whole bunch of owls stood around outside in suits (which really weren’t suited to owls at all).

On the left, an outdoor party seemed to have formed. Wild pastel colors flew through the air while the participants explored some kind of playground. The smol expedition carefully stepped over some strangely happy looking puke that had stained the ground nearby.

Each group in turn seemed preoccupied with their own affairs as the smols and swols and other onlookers passed by.

Just then, a friendly-looking orc with a shiny camera strapped around its neck approached the group. “Hey, I just saw you guys up on the billboard! I can’t believe it’s you... can I get a picture?! Seriously, it’s amazing what you’ve done.”

HBL, finally getting some attention again, eagerly obliged, “Hey, yeah sure, how’s this?” He struck a pose with one arm in the air.

“Oh, you’re okay with photos?” another voice, emboldened by the fiery swol’s friendliness, asked Wiz. “May I?”

And soon, another fan called out. And another. Quickly, a small paparazzi had formed as well, no longer asking but snapping away.

The adventuring Smols and Swols, wanting to spread positivity and fun, did their best to pose for each camera, but were starting to get overwhelmed. Einstein, of course, had an idea. “Wiz, can you conjure some more smol selfies for us to hand out to our good friends here?”

The mood of the small crowd had transformed, happy to connect with the members of the expedition and with each other. Pinky was passed like a ball, hopping from head to head. The swols took a few fans onto their shoulders and spun them around. Bubbles started passing out gum.

One young donkey passed them a photo matching the billboard, and asked for signatures. “My brother would just be thrilled to have your signatures, can you help me out?”

After collecting all the autographs, Champ handed back the photo to their fan. “Amazing! Gee, he’ll love it. It's more than I could have imagined. Thanks so much,” and off they trotted off with a “Heehaw!”

Meanwhile, one of the reporters had made their way to the group, and shoved a mic in front of Wiz. “We’ve been following your journey to the moon and can’t believe you’ve come back! What’s going on? Anything you want to say to us?”

Wiz, always one to enjoy the limelight, but not necessarily very gifted with words gladly stepped up to the microphone and promptly lost his train of thought. He stared blankly at the camera fumbling for words.

“Well, Uh, you know. I can do magic, and uh, I uh. Maybe I can show you a trick?”

The reporters looked confused, making Wiz even more uncomfortable. He shuffled around on his feet awkwardly until Champ sauntered up next to him, slapped him on the back and said:

“Why don’t you tell them about our journey, Fren?”

Wiz seemed to get a grip on himself then, like his big brain lodged back into its proper place when Champ smacked him. He looked at her and the rest of his friends all laughing and enjoying themselves and said:

“Ah yes, you would like to know what we’ve been doing. Life hasn’t been easy on the moon if you really want to know. It’s hard to leave the only home you’ve ever known and journey into an unknown land. Mining for treasure was a good enough distraction from everything, but when the mining became dangerous we were left to face the reality that our home was gone and our community was struggling. There was still plenty of IQ to be gained…”

“And muscles to grow!” Champ interjected flexing.

“Yes, and that,” Wiz agreed, “but there were arguments and dissatisfaction in general. Even with our growing IQ…and muscles. Well, I guess we learned head, or arm size isn’t everything." Wiz realized his eyes had begun to well up with tears. He rubbed at them and saw through blurry vision that the rest of the adventure crew had gathered around him arm in arm. Champ placed a meaty arm on his shoulder, and the wizard’s face changed from one of sadness to resolve as he felt Bethany take his hand in her own on his other side.

“Well, yes, as I was saying. This journey through the portal has taught me.”

“Taught us.” Einstein said.

“Yes, taught all of us.” Bubbles smiled.

“I can learn, my friends help me!” Swolstachio bellowed.

“What Wiz is trying to say”, said Pinky, “Is we learned that no matter where we are or what we do, our community is our home. We have each other and when Smols and Swols unite, we can do anything anywhere no matter what!”

As Pinky finished speaking his head grew three sizes. Swolstachio scooped Pinky up into his arms and threw him on top of his shoulders as the whole crowd cheered for the little pink monkey with the (newly) oversized head.

Repeated flashing came from the edge of the crowd as a cameraman snapped a series of photos of Swolstachio and Pinky. “Oh my GOD that pink is simply stunning, our publishers are going to eat this up. We’ll have a new luxury line out in no time,” a voice behind a camera cut in. “And look at the physique of that absolute Greek God. See how his thighs ripple as he walks? And that mustache, why it’s fantastic. I can’t even stand it. And you love, with the cone, just magnificent.”

Wiz handed the microphone back to the reporter and said: “Anyway, that’s what we’d like you to know I guess. I’m going to join my friends now.”

The crew was having a blast. They greeted and spoke to fans and many strange and wonderful people and characters. They recounted their story of the mine collapsing, Swolstachio disappearing through the portal, their heroic fight with the giant squirrel, and even Pinky being set on fire.

The crowd around them continued to grow larger. Excited onlookers from the back pressed in to get a better view of what was happening. One overzealous fanboy towards the back lost his marbles at the sight of HBL doing one handed push ups while Pinky, Wiz, and Champ roasted marshmallows over his back flames. He rushed headlong into the crowd shouting:

“I have chocolate, we can make s’mores!”

As he pushed his way towards them, the whole crowd of people collectively lurched forward. The jostling bodies and excited shouting caught the adventurers off guard. Suddenly feeling claustrophobic and scared, they huddled together hugging one another as the crowd seemed as if it would swallow them whole.

HBL was quite helpful in holding the crowd off from trampling them, but he was made of flames and Blondie was worried he’d set everyone on fire. Not knowing what else to do, she reached into her fanny pack searching through her smol treasures for something to distract the crowd with before it was too late to make a hasty exit.

Blondie held the Stardust in her meaty paw and tossed it high in the air. Time seemed to slow as it flipped end over end seeming to touch the very clouds themselves before running out of upward momentum. The crowd moved in unison, everyone’s heads turning skyward as the object fell back out of the sky towards them, arms outstretched ready to claim the falling treasure for their own.

As it fell, Stardust finally began to scatter and reach the outstretched hands of the crowd, small bits dusting each person in turn. Still, a big clump held together, and it bounced off someone's finger tips, sending it spiraling off someone else’s bald head back into the air before falling into a woman's purse.

Everyone looked at the woman, who was staring at her purse. She looked up, saw the crowd, and promptly ran down the road screaming:


As this was playing out the Smols and Swols made a run for it. They weaved their way through and away from the crowd losing sight of one another in the chaos.

The whole scene in Smolyork started to get weird. Streets and sidewalks shook and buckled. Several cars disappeared into a giant sinkhole appearing from out of nowhere. Dozens of small portals opened, shimmering from holes or cracks in the ground.

Einstein saw Mittens from the corner of his eye and shouted, “Too much chaos. It’s causing the portal to fragment. We need to get out of here!”

Mittens shouted at Swolstachio as he rounded a corner. “We must tell the others. We have to go!”

Swolstachio grinned, teeth showing beneath his impeccable mustache, one gold tooth gleaming in the street light. You see, since Swolstachio was a wee ‘stachio, he’d been obsessed with developing a training plan for lungs and vocal chords. The other Swols ridiculed him, taunting him for wasting time training muscles that weren’t even visible. His very own flesh and blood, his father, had called him a fool claiming it was more shameful than training one’s legs. He forced Swolstachio to give up his training, focus more on the bench press, or live with his crazy Aunty. So it was with a heavy heart that Swolstachio had to continue training his diaphragm in secret for all these years. Now finally, on the grandest stage he could imagine, he would show everyone who he really was.

He stopped mid run, stood to his full, impressive height, breathed in three deep breaths, cupped his hands, and bellowed in the most lovely baritone you ever heard. The sound was incredible. It echoed through all of Smolyork like a mighty rushing wind, even ripping the pants from an unsuspecting bystander as it reached the ears of each and every Smol and Swol.

“Into ze portals we go frens, is now or never!”

One by one they all found a portal to escape through, except for Pinky, who, attracted to the bright lights and laughter coming from an open air bar promptly forgot the warning. He sauntered over, hopped up on one of the barstools, asked the bartender for a drink and proceeded to talk and laugh with his new friends for the next couple of hours without a care in the world as Smolyork continued to collapse all around them.

“You know,” he said at one point. “It’s really great to get together with like-minded people from all over the world in a real place all at the same time for fun and comradery. This would be a great thing to do on occasion even as just a quick break from the daily grind of life, responsibilities, and pressures that wear us down.”

Everyone at the bar nodded in agreement, and raised a toast: “To community!” They said just as a portal opened beneath the floor of the stool pinky was perched on. A large beefy arm reached out from the portal, grabbed the little monkey and pulled him, bar stool and all, back into the portal.

Two Weeks Later

Back home on the moon where the brave expedition had started its journey, their frens had been worried at first. Shortly after the ten of them leapt into the portal, it disappeared just as suddenly as it had appeared. No one could follow, or know where they had gone. More swols and smols made their way out of the clearly dangerous mines, and continued to wait.

Something about the incident, though, had changed the mood on the moon too. The brave ones that leapt through the portal to save Swolstachio reminded everyone that they were there for each other. Trusting that the adventurers would some day return, or if not, would be out there somewhere sharing what it means to be smol.

And so the Smols and Swols and Pets, with their cars and cycles and coconuts, began to play again. Pink Smols bounced and rolled across the moon. Swols zoomed around on their new muscled rides, racing each other across the craters with a need for speed. Smols put down the books and turned to making all sorts of new trinkets and toys. They even revived the candy lab and named a line of gum “Bubbles’ Bubbles.”

Arrchie the pirate Smol was out bouncing around the surface of the moon, playing catch with his dino pet Browser and her favorite coconut. He tossed the coconut far, and it rolled behind a rock. As she waddled after it, a loud SWOOSH! came from above, and a strange object came drifting down from the sky. It zipped and zoomed and zigged and zagged through the air, in a wild pattern.

As it grew closer to the ground, Arrchie could see that it was a smol box. Two propellers like swol arms extended from the top to give it flight, and gradually their spinning slowed and its path steadied. It plopped down just in front of Browser and she stopped in her tracks.

Arrchie ran to check it out. The arms had retracted and so it sat, just a metal box of yellow and steel. It seemed completely sealed. But on the back he found a graphic of a smol brain, below which was written “For our frens, press for fun!”. *”We like fun,” he thought to himself, and Arrchie pressed the Smol Brain image.

“EEEEEEEEEEEEE!” A chorus of smol glee erupted from the box with colorful smoke and the container disappeared. As the air cleared, three smol objects remained instead: a Smol t-shirt, a photograph of a glamorous looking smol, and a sign that read simply #WeAreSmol.

Looking up toward the sky in wonder, Arrchie caught a spaceship flying away, its package delivered and its passengers joyful. He grabbed Browser and the gifts, and went running back to share with the smol community. As they went, their “EEEEEEEEEEEE!” echoed across the moon.

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