Taking Sides: Part Two
AnyettaRosalita trotted majestically out onto the playing field, emerald green cloak billowing at around her ankles, her golden mane and tail waving like flags in the wind. She took her mark at the centre point and stood still as a statue; determination blazing in her focused stare.
Skittles swooped low over Anza and Tehama, who were now sat at the sidelines spectating. Tehama gave a short squeal and Anza ducked as the Pteri narrowly missed their heads. He had removed his furry white boots to optimise his mobility in flight. Grinning, he curved gracefully on one lap around the pitch before taking his post at the centre point opposite his Uni sister.
“Ready?” Sheep asked, waiting to toss the inflatable Yooyuball into the air.
“Ready,” Anyetta said brusquely.
“Ready and raring to go!” Skittles chirped.
“Four minutes are on the clock once more... Begin!”
Skittles flapped into the air, but Anyetta was too fast. In the time it took for the Pteri to sort out his wings, the Uni had reared up and head-butted the ball across the pitch. Chasing after it, she knocked the ball into the back of his net before anyone could process the match had even begun.
“Oh. OH! Wow, looks like AnyettaRosalita’s stolen a very quick lead for Brightvale with her amazing agility!” Sheep reported, barely realising the first goal had already been scored. She ran to re-toss the ball, Tehama and Anza applauding politely as she went. They too were a little caught off guard and were stunted in their reaction.
Skittles waited for Anyetta to header the ball once more, which she did. This time the Pteri fell back and caught it in mid-flight. He sped across to his sister’s goal, clutching the Yooyu in a single, firm wing. Flying one-winged proved to be a challenge, but the Pteri managed it with great finesse. With his sister gaining on him, the Pteri took a shot at the goal. His aim proved to be too wide, though, as the ball sailed past the side post.
“Corner!” shouted Sheep, on the ball this time, “The Yooyu goes to Brightvale for a free shot!”
Anyetta ran to take her shot from the side-lines. Positioning carefully - knowing all too well the clock was still running – she stylishly booted the ball across court. In the time it took for Skittles to turn after it, Anyetta was already half-way down the pitch and rapidly gaining on the curving Yooyu. Taking a slight jump, she knocked it with her knee just enough to send it soaring into the top left hand corner of her opponent's net.
“Two-Nil with two minutes left on the timer!” their owner declared. Anza and Tehama cheered whole-heartedly this time. Skittles, however, was losing his enthusiasm. With a fixed frown on his feathery face, the Pteri took his post at the centre point. As soon as the ball left Sheep’s palm, he was up in the air and gripping it between his feet. Slightly fazed, Anyetta hesitated to pursue. Skittles flew furiously down the field, judging all the while how close he could cut it...
Closer and closer he got to Anyetta’s net. He was too high up in the air for even the tall Uni to reach. She leapt in vain, trying to knock the ball from his claws. But Skittles didn’t stop flapping his frantic wings until he was just a few feet away from the goal. Letting the Yooyu go and sharply turning upwards in once swift move, he sent the ball rocketing into the middle of the goal and fell into an impressive mid-air back-flip.
“Well said, Tehama!” Sheep gasped. “A perfectly timed and well performed goal by the fast-feathered Skittles! He’s closing the gap on the scoreboard, bringing it up to two-one. This is going to be one close game!” their owner rambled in awe as she jogged to re-throw the ball yet again. The Wocky and Lupe at the sidelines exchanged looks of wonder, Anza’s jaw loosely open.
Skittles got first possession of the ball again, although it seemed Anyetta had planned it that way. As he went to fly past her, the Uni carefully ducked under his body. Before the Pteri could pull upwards, she had hooked her petite horn behind the ball he grasped and plucked it from his unwieldy wing. Turning elegantly, she dribbled it back up the field. Skittles dived from the air to snatch it from her blurred hooves, but Anyetta dodged skillfully and kept on track. She kicked the Yooyu side-on and sent it spinning into the corner of the net.
“Anyetta pulls comfortably ahead again; her fancy footwork certainly not letting her down! Man is she glad I forced her to take dance lessons as a foal!” Beaming, Sheep looked to Anza who was time-keeping.
“Not much point re-throwing; there’s only four seconds left,” the Lupe informed them, looking at the pocket watch his owner had entrusted him with. “It’ll take you that long to just jog over there.” Sheep nodded.
“And that’s it, folks!” she hollered across the pitch to her Uni and Pteri who were eagerly waiting at the centre of the court. “The match is over! With a three-one victory to Brightvale, AnyettaRosalita will be going head-to-head with Krawker; Anza Bandanna in the finals of the family’s Altador Cup tournament!”
Anyetta allowed herself a smile. Trotting across to their owner alongside Skittles, she nudged her youngest brother. The Pteri looked up from the floor, which had been on the receiving end of his miserable stare.
“You had me scared then, you know,” the Uni said.
“What?” Skittles exclaimed, recoiling in surprise. “But you won!”
“Indeed I did, but you showed some very impressive game play. Had there been more than four minutes on the clock, I dare say you would have come out victorious!”
“R-Really?” the Pteri stammered. Anyetta nodded seriously, then gave him a warm smile. They reached their other siblings, Skittles beaming again.
“You two were a blur out there!” Tehama gasped, running to greet them. “Anyetta, I swore your feet were gonna catch fire, and I wouldn’t have been surprised if you had broken the sound barrier, Skittles! You were flying like there was no tomorrow!” Skittles beamed up at his Wocky sister. Anyetta was surprised – normally they fought like Kad and Dog!
“So...” Anza grinned, eyeing up Anyetta. “It’s just you and me; the pretty one and the pirate.” The Uni couldn’t withhold a laugh.
“Oh, please! Don’t think flattery will make me go easy on you!”
“Don’t think I need you to go easy on me!” the Lupe retorted.
“Settle down, children,” Sheep mocked, “Save it for the field. We’ll take a ten minute tea-break to give Anyetta time to rest up. Come on, I’ll pop the kettle on.”
“I don’t think it’s your colour,” joked Tehama.
“Ha. Ha.” Sheep rolled her eyes. “I meant put it on the stove – not on me!”
* * * *
After everyone had fuelled up on tea and hot cakes, the family made their way back into their stadium garden. Tehama brought out her Petpet – a Cobrall imaginatively named Spitty – to bask in the sun. He was coiled around her shoulders as she strolled out, and was flicking his tongue at the mug of Tchea Tea she held in her paws.
Skittles skipped out wafting two home-made flags in the air. One was red and black with a Krawk skull drawn on in black marker, the other, gold, green and white bearing a crudely drawn Brightvale emblem on the front. Both were made out of tea-towels and wooden spoons he’d salvaged from the kitchen (much to Sheep’s disapproval). When questioned why he needed flags for both teams, the Pteri replied that he didn’t actually care who won; it was the spirit of it. And it was a good excuse to do something creative.
Anza and Anyetta took their positions in the centre for the last match. The decider of who would choose the team the family would support... They gave one another sly smiles.
“You know the drill. Four minutes of play, etcetera... Anza, you’re shooting left and Anyetta’s shooting right. I believe I can trust you to both play fair, Anza?”
“What?” the Lupe protested, “I didn’t do anything!”
“Keep it that way.” Their owner eyed them warily. “All set? Good. Now, Begin!”
Both players were quick to leap for the Inflatable Yooyu. Anza was the one to gain contact with it first, but not before he caught his palm on Anyetta’s sharp horn. Cursing under his breath, the Lupe dodged around his sister to grab the ball that he had knocked behind her, not having the luxury to waste time nursing his wound.
Anyetta didn’t hesitate to react, kicking the ball out of his reach with her back leg. This only played to the Lupe’s advantage, though, as she sent it skidding down towards her own goal. A flash of horror crossing her face, she sped to catch the Yooyu. The Uni easily over took Anza, and diverted the ball from flying off court. She quickly began dribbling it back up the field.
“Spitty, NO!” the Uni heard a distant cry from her sister. Confused, she turned back to see the Wocky leaping from her seat. Tehama wore a look of sheer dread, and was pointing in Anyetta’s direction. Anza had halted as his Uni sister continued to run madly across court. Anyetta looked down just in time to see the flash of green and red slither in front of her beating hooves. Terrified and shocked, she lost grip of the Yooyu as she jumped to avoid the kamikaze Cobrall.
“TehamaTeho!” the Uni screamed in fury, landing heavily. “Yooyuball pitches are NOT a playground for Petpets!” She turned to see the Desert Wocky hurtling across the garden to collect her pet. Anyetta greeted her with a scowl. “I demand an apology!”
“Me?! You almost did away with my petpet!” the Wocky shrieked, scooping Spitty up in her shaking arms. “YOU owe ME an apology!”
“Oi!” Anza bellowed, running up behind his sisters and standing between them. “Gerroff it, you two! We’re still mid-match, goldey-locks,” he nodded to Anyetta, “and you can put yer Petpet out’a harm way iffen you don’t want him getting pulverised,” he yelled to Tehama. “An’ I mean pulverised by me!”
The Wocky scowled and retreated inside with her Petpet (who was none the worse from his little escapade). Sheep came to re-throw the ball and the game continued.
Anza grabbed the Yooyu without injury this time. He skidded past Anyetta and tore across the playing field. Anyetta pursued quickly after him with fresh fierceness, keeping alongside the Lupe. She went to knock the ball from his paws, but he had already launched it. It sailed merrily straight into the back of her net.
“After a shaky start, Anza claims the first goal of the match!” proclaimed Sheep, dashing out on to the pitch once more having barely just made it back to the side-lines. “You’re keeping me on my toes, aren’t you?” she gasped. Sheep threw the ball up as high as she could manage and turned to run off court. Anyetta was quickest on the draw as she sprang spectacularly to header the Yooyu...
An ear-piercing scream shattered the air as Anyetta reared back in terror. Anza flinched as the Inflatable Fire Yooyuball caught his sister’s horn and promptly popped. The noise echoed throughout the garden and everyone froze. Anyetta stood stark-still, panting in utter fear, her sapphire eyes wide with horror.
Then Anza, Sheep and Skittles burst out laughing. Tehama skidded out of the back door to see what all the commotion was about. She soon joined in the chorus of laughter as she realised what had happened.
“It’s not the least bit funny!” Anyetta wailed, shaking her head in an attempt to dislodge the deflated ball from her horn. “Stop laughing!!”
Her family took no notice, and continued to howl with mirth. Anza had doubled over, and was struggling to keep himself standing. Sheep and Skittles allowed themselves to roll about the ground in fits of giggles as Tehama tumbled to her knees in the door frame. They each gasped for air.
Anyetta finally managed to flick the ball off her head. Sheep stumbled over to her; still crippled with laughter. The Uni gave her owner a disgusted look.
“Are-Are-Are you alright?” Sheep managed to stammer between gasps for air.
“NO!” her pet whinnied. Anza stumbled over to join them, picking up the flat Yooyu as he passed it.
“Whadda we gonna do now?” he chuckled, spinning the ball around one of his claws, “We cer’ainly can’t play with this now! Got any spare, Sheep?”
His owner shook her head; mouth clenched shut as she tried to stop herself sniggering.
“I guess that makes Anza the winner by default!” Skittles said, flying over to the middle of the pitch with Tehama running beneath him.
“That’s not fair!” sulked Anyetta, now receiving a much needed hug from Sheep.
“Sorry, sweetie,” she comforted, stroking the Uni’s mane and still trying to resist laughing. “We can’t do much else about it.” Anyetta pulled a sour face. “Besides,” her owner continued, “You did choose last year.”
“Fine,” the Uni grumbled. Her Lupe brother beamed, not realising Tehama’s gaze on his paw.
“Anza, what happened?” the Wocky asked in concern, grabbing his paw and turning it palm-up. The gash he had received was raw and red.
“Oh aye...” he said, as if only remembering it was there. “Anyetta’s horn isn’t only good fer destroyin’ Yooyus, it seems. I caught it when we were jumping fer th’ ball. Lethal weapon you got on yer noggin there, sis.”
Anyetta stuck out her tongue. “Serves you right for winning.”
“Heh, speakin’ of which, get yer cannons at the ready crew!” Anza bellowed triumphantly, “’cause it’s Krawk Island we’ll be supportin’ fer the Cup!”