The Love of Fans
Adrenaline pumped through not just her team but the entire audience, "Dinsky" Colliridge, Centre Forward of the Krawk Island Altador Cup team, could feel it surging from every direction. Each team fought for the Yooyuball, desperate to be the one to come out on top. Kreludor was being a far tougher match than she anticipated. Each side scored three goals and the timer didn’t have much time left. She bounced with nervous energy from one foot to the other. This was it! If they didn’t score another goal, they were tied. No one ever remembers ties, not even exciting ones.
She glanced over at her teammates, their faces hard with concentration. They were a good team to have at one’s back, especially in tight spots like this. Confidence swelled her chest, they could pull off another goal. Well, they had to. To fail was to be lost in the sea of Altador Cup losers, and she was NOT a loser.
The Yooyuball platform doors slid open. Her breath catch in her throat with anticipation. Please be a Fire Yooyuball or a normal one, those are the best for a quick goal. The Yooyuball rose into sight, and her hopes dashed violently to the ground. The Mutant Yooyuball zipped into the air and curved wickedly into a ball, its spikes promising a good time for the one who dared to hold it. Dinsky cursed under her breath, Mutant balls were horrible to have on the field. They were infamous for doing exactly what you didn’t want them to do, curving when they should go straight, going straight when they should curve. It was one of the worse balls to have if one was in a pinch, and Dinsky was definitely in a pinch.
The whistle blew and she didn’t have any more time to consider her bad luck. She dove for the Yooyuball and managed to snag it before Zenor Kevix, the Kreludor’s right forward, grabbed it. Ignoring the panting Grundo smacking at her heels, she raced towards the goal. Her vision tunneled on the net in front of her. Uttering a quick, wordless prayer, she chucked the Yooyuball at the goal. A collective gasp exhaled from the audience. For just a moment, silence descended upon all as the fate of the Yooyuball hung in question, then it curved away at the last minute and bounced off the goal post.
A growl of disappointment rumbled in her throat, echoed by those not cheering in the crowd. Not daring to give her opponents a chance to get the Yooyuball, she streaked after it while begging it to quit moving towards the opposite team. Derlyn Fonnet, the captain of the Kreludor team, scooped it up and passed it to one of her teammates. But just like luck wasn’t on Dasher’s side, it apparently wasn’t on hers either, for it took off in the exact opposite direction she threw it… which happened to be right to Dinsky.
Not daring to think about it too much, she snatched it up and spun back in the direction of the goal. Hoping against hope that this time she scored, she slammed the Yooyuball towards the dancing Ruki goalie. The Mutant Yooyuball still had a mind of its own, and spun off in the opposite direction. Dinsky swore she heard it snickering at her frustration. And, she was getting seriously frustrated.
Chasing the Yooyuball yet again, she glanced up at the timer. Only twelve seconds left. She didn’t have time to be playing these kinds of games. If she was going to wrap up the game, it had to be within the next few seconds or not at all. One of her opponents grabbed the Yooyuball, but did a blind toss. It spun towards Kreludor’s goal, where none of their teammates, save the goalie, was now located.
Dinsky took advantage of the rogue throw, and banked hard after the Yooyuball. A dull roar of adrenaline pounded in her ears. She couldn’t tie this match, she couldn’t fail her team. She was going to get that Yooyuball in the goal, even if it was the last thing she did. Barely bending down, she snagged the Yooyuball and aimed at the goalie. Somehow, she needed to convince this annoying spiteful little Yooyuball it wanted to do what she wanted it to do.
Time seemed to freeze. She glanced around the coliseum, at the screaming masses of fans, their faces twisted with the hunger for victory. They were so voracious that she could practically feel their hunger in the air, heavy like an electrical current. Fists pounded on laps and mouths stretched wide with shrieks of hope and protest. It was really more frightening than encouraging, but gazing at the rabid fans, an idea came to her.
Leaning in close so the Mutant Yooyuball could hear her loud and clear, she hissed, "You will go straight or else I’ll give you to those fans as a souvenir. Listen to them, listen to the blood lust in their screams, they will tear you apart in their eagerness to get just a piece of such a great game. Go straight or become food for our starving audience." Under normal circumstances, Dinsky did not threaten or condone violence, but under these circumstances, she didn’t even second guess her actions. Hoping the Yooyuball took her words to heart, she squeezed her eyes shut. Then she opened them again, and slammed the ball with all her might towards the goal.
It shot off as if it were a burning Fire Yooyuball, instead of an obstinate Mutant. The Ruki goalie’s eyes widened, and he dove to block the Yooyuball, but the creature had speed that no mere mortal Neopet could stop. It sailed unchallenged past the goalie’s outstretched gloves and tore through the netting at the back of the goal. It dented the wall behind it and bounced off in another direction, still with enough speed that Dinsky half expected to see smoke billowing from its curled form.
The timer buzzed, sounding the end of the game. The crowd went wild, so loud it would have hurt Dinsky’s ears had she heard. But, she didn’t hear. Se dropped to her knees, staring open mouthed at the net, stunned by the viciousness of the Mutant Yooyuball’s flight. She’d won the final match with Kreludor. There would be no tie, no drifting into the oblivion of forgotten history, she had done it! She had really done it!
Distantly, she felt her teammates lifting her up, patting her and cheering her. Drooped shoulders of the defeated Kreludians drifted away from their celebration, only registering on her radar because of how stunned she was over the last goal. Her threat worked, the Mutant Yooyuball understood her words, and now they were the winners. Slowly, she took stock of the screams of their fans, the radiant faces, the dances of victory, and her eyes lit up.
The Mutant Yooyuball had gone straight because it knew, as she did, that if she had tossed it to the audience, it would have been multiple Yooyuballs. A flare of guilt flickered up, but she remembered the zigs and zags the Mutant Yooyuball threw out, zipping in the opposite direction anyone wanted it to go. The guilt slipped away, replaced by a huge ear to ear grin.
Just goes to show, even the most obstinate of Yooyuballs can be tamed with the right word.
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Altador is a place of many, many wonderful things. See some fantastic architecture, browse some long-buried ancient knowledge, sample some fine foods...you simply haven't lived until you've experienced your chef fry up an Altadorian cheese platter for you at your table! The inside of the cheese gets delightfully warm and melted, and don't get me started on the hummus. Mm-mm.
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