After ACX: Part Four
After AC X: Part Four - Normal
The door was forced open, and yet another Yooyu was plonked onto the floor. The room was heaving, bursting at the seams, but somehow everyone shuffled to make room for the newcomer.
Unlike the previous however many times, the Ball Pet lingers, waiting until she has everyone’s attention.
“The games are all over. Well done everyone, you’ll be on your way soon.” She smiles and leaves, edging the door closed carefully behind her.
The second the door is fully closed, there is a swell of noise, relief and excitement as everyone chatters delightedly to their neighbours.
He shifted a little closer to the Snow Yooyu sat in front of him.
“So, what happens next?” he asked him tentatively, trying to make himself heard over the hubbub. He turns, and leans in to be heard clearly.
“Once the stadium is cleared, they’ll come and get us. They’ll take us”, he indicates the painted Yooyus that make up the most of the room, “back for some food, then to our enclosures. You,” gesturing to the Normals gathered behind the Snow camp, “will be taken back under the pitch for the extra games.”
“Thanks” he muttered, and rolled backwards again. He desperately wanted to know more, but the Snow gave off a definite Don’t Talk To Me vibe. Besides, who wants to be a n00b?
The painted Yooyus rolled and bounced, their conversations filling the crowded space with noise. By contrast, the new Normals had shrunk and gotten quieter. While the announcement of the end of play had been a reprise for all the older Yooyus, the news reminded the youngest in the room that the day was not yet over for them.
The extra games always took place after every Yooyuball match had finished, and would go on long into the night. The idea behind it being that as the Normals were the youngest, they would have the most energy to be able to handle the fans enthusiastic hurling.
Another Normal, who looked even younger, sidled up to him.
“No one told me what we’re going to be doing, do you know?” the young one whispered, in a voice so small it was nearly missed.
The Normal puffed out his chest, pleased to know the answer in a room that had made it abundantly clear that he was the lowest on the totem pole.
“Well, obviously, we have our work cut out for us now,” he stated confidently, aware that a couple of other Normals were listening in.
“We’ll be going back under the stadium, and then they will assign us to the extra games.” Another Normal raised a limb, trying to attract his attention, but he ignored the questioning look until he was quite finished.
“Yes?” he eventually deigned to ask. “What is it you don’t understand?”
“What ARE the Extra Games?” asked the other Normal, rather impudently, he thought.
He sighed. “Well, OBVIOUSLY, they set up Slushie Slinger, and Make Some Noise for the fans. I mean, really” he added in an undertone to a nearby Normal with a neutral expression. “What do you expect when they don’t pay attention in Orientation?” He snorted derisively, and turned back to the gathered Normals.
“Now, IF you’ll excuse me-” he proclaimed, starting to make his way through the group.
“Hang on!” cried the Normal who had asked a question already.
“Yes?” he asked, quite pleased with the amount of irritation he managed to squeeze into the one syllable word. With his back to the questioning Normal, he failed to see the eyebrows raising sardonically in surprise at his rudeness.
“We aren’t used in Slushie Slinger. Or Make Some Noise, so what exactly is the point of telling us not very much about things that don’t concern us at all?”
He almost screamed at the impertinent tone of voice.
“Well!” he huffed, puffing his chest out. How dare you question me like that, he thought angrily, desperately searching for the right words to put the young one in their place. He glowered, trying to think quickly.
It had completely slipped his mind that less than two minutes ago, he had not known what was going to happen to them either. To him, it was irrelevant that he didn’t know what the third game that they played was. All that mattered was that this arrogant young Normal was questioning him- him! And implying that he didn’t know what was going to happen! Really, it was almost too much.
Finally, the perfect words came to him. He opened his mouth, but didn’t have a chance to explode. With a bang, the door flew open, and the pink Peophin from selection appeared in the doorway.
“Paints, you’re free, first right, second left, first left, third right and up the stairs bear left and out, well done today, thank you, your service is valued, enjoy the sun.” The words tripped out of the Peophins’ mouth on autopilot, the Neopet looked almost as exhausted as the Mutants struggling to sit up and prepare themselves to leave. The Normal Yooyu watched him as he drew in a deep breath and continued, raising his voice to be heard over the rumble of Yooyus bouncing past him.
“If you’re interested, today’s winners will be posted on the board before your exit, bear right instead to see them, couple of shockers in there today!” The Peophin grabbed onto the door frame to stay in place, as the force of the Yooyus streaming past him threatened to carry him with them.
“Normals, STAY!” he bellowed, all patience appearing to leave him. Finally, the Snows started to move, as the flood of petpets thinned out. They rolled over to the door and joined the straggling Fires in their escape. Of course, the Darigans had delighted in flowing off their platform and dominating the first rush out the door. The Mutants had rolled up defensively to avoid being trampled, and the Fires had squashed back out of the way.
“I said STAY” the Pink Neopet growled, his tail whipping out to block a Normal who had mistakenly followed the Snow they had been chatting to. The poor little thing looked terrified, clearly hadn’t listened at all, the Normal Yooyu smirked to himself, carefully placing himself at the front of the Normals.
“Finally” grumbled the tall Pet, as the last Snow Yooyu ambled out leisurely. “Right you lot, with me, let’s go, quick sharp now!” He barked at them over his shoulder, already moving down the corridor
It didn’t take long for them to arrive back at one of the pitches, but it didn’t look anything like it had earlier during the games. A large net that obscured almost all view was draped along the centre line, halving the pitch into two playing areas. A number of troughs had appeared, carefully placed a little back from the goal enclosure. There wasn’t another soul in sight.
The Normal Yooyu decided that now would be a good time to make a magnanimous retreat. He gingerly edged back into the crowd, aiming for the doorway they had just spilled out of. He could feel his colleagues shifting and shuffling without thought out of his way, the slightest pressure causing them to instinctively move asides.
And then one didn’t. That’s odd, he thought, and slid to the right, hoping to shiver past them without an issue. It didn’t work, and, weird, I’m still moving past them, this one’s a big one. Huh. He risked a quick glance up, and saw the Pink Peophin grinning evilly down at him.
For one insane moment he was reminded of the Maraquan Grarrl that had come to the Isle a few months back, recklessly ignoring the Keep Out signs firmly planted around the coast. She had had the same greedy, wicked look in her eyes, too. He opened his mouth to excuse himself, but didn’t get a chance.
“Look fellas, a volunteer!” Quick as a whip, he was thrown up in the air and soaring high.
“Well? What are you waiting for? INTO THE TROUGH, THEY’RE COMING! ALL OF YOU, NOW!”
He thumped down into the trough, but didn’t have a chance to right himself before another four Yooyus followed him, bumping and jostling until they were all settled, right way up. It was a rather snug fit, but bearable. He was stuck in at one end, every time one of them shifted position, they all were moved too. They were working out the mechanics of only one Yooyu turning, when a wall of noise hit them.
As one, all the Yooyus in each of the troughs strained the heads up over the sides to see where the commotion was coming from. Lined up against the opposite wall was a queue of fans, almost all of them completely covered in team gear, some of them even painted in their teams colours. Marshalling the queue were the Ball Pets, and two Jelly Goalies had appeared from nowhere, their faces impassive.
The Ball Pets stepped towards his trough, and he had a momentary thrill of fear. Despite all his posturing earlier, he still had no idea of what was about to happen, and the thought terrified him into paralysis.
The Fae Grundo squeezed him out of the trough, placed him on the line, whispered “Good luck!” to his curled and quivering form, and stepped away. He peeked through his limbs, and could see a fan painted in the brown and blue of Maraqua approaching.
He was picked up, snatched a quick breathe in, and was flung towards the goal with no warning. One second in the arms, next in the net, struggling to breathe in again. The Fae Grundo collected him, and placed him gently in an empty trough.
Welcome to Shootout Showdown, he thought. “That’s not so bad!“ and he propped himself up casually on the side of the trough to watch the rest of the game.
To be continued…