The Pre-Season Prankster
"Hey, Kep!" A voice rang throughout the Darigan Citadel team's locker room, surprising Left Defender Kep Bonnefie, "Better get out here! The interviewers are going to be here soon, and Layton wants you back at the team's place now!"
Within a few minutes, Tormo Frein came running towards her locker. He was panting, a clear sign that he hadn't been following his training schedule. Kep just sighed.
It was just a couple of weeks until Altador Cup VII was to start, and Kep hated this time of year. After the media had said unfavorable things about her back before the first Altador Cup, she always avoided these sort of things and never spoke to interviewers.
"Did you hear me? We have to go, now!" Tormo was still trying to catch his breath. Kep looked at him skeptically, and shook her head.
"Have you been practicing Yooyuball at all?" she asked. Tormo laughed, and sat down next to her on the locker room bench.
"Why practice when we're already the best?" He grinned. "Besides, the rest of you are just going to wear yourselves out with your constant training sessions. You remember what happened to that one guy on Mystery Island back in the second AC- he was injured during the season, remember? He had to be replaced! I'm not going to let that happen to me, so I'm taking it easy until the tournament."
"Yeah, what a great idea," she replied sarcastically. "I'm sure Roo Island, Meridell, and even the Haunted Woods are worried about straining themselves, too. I bet they're just sitting around, relaxing, and saying things like 'Oh, we don't need to practice, we're already the BEST!'."
Kep knew she had hit a nerve- Tormo, who was usually more happy-go-lucky, was giving her the famous Darigan sneer. Mentioning the team's biggest rivals like that may have been harsh, but her words seemed to knock Tormo from the pedestal that most of the Citadel team Players set themselves upon. She hated how arrogant the others could be sometimes.
"Fine, I'll get onto practicing after these interviews, okay? In the meantime, let's get these interviews over with. I'm not really looking forward to them myself, since I've been banned from playing any of my jokes. Can you believe that?" Kep ignored him, and started to walk out of the locker room. Tormo scurried to catch up to her, and they walked the short distance to the team's place in silence.
The first thing that they noticed when they stepped inside was their Team Captain, Layton Vickles, running around and straightening up one of the rooms. When he looked up and saw Tormo and Kep, he sighed from relief and slithered up to them.
"Thank goodness you both are here! Now, I have some very specific instructions from our interviewers before they arrive. First of all, they've requested that 'The Terror' be as far away from them as possible."
"What!?" Tormo blurted out. Layton held up one of his wings to silence the angry Bruce.
"The second thing," Layton continued, "is that they have requested that we serve tea to them while they are visiting us. Kep, I'm going to leave you in charge of making it. I know how much you hate these events. Tandrak and Reshar want to be involved in the interview, and I can't trust Tormo with that responsibility. Can you do that for me?"
"Yes, sir." Kep nodded. "I'll get to that right away."
"Wait a second!" Tormo shouted. "What do you mean you don't trust me? What could I possibly do to a cup of tea?"
"Oh, you could ruin it in many ways. Knowing you and your tricks, however, I'd assume that your methods of ruining the tea would involve dung or other disgusting substances. Now, Kep- I've left the ingredients for the tea in the kitchen, so you can get started on that right away. Tormo- go somewhere out of sight so that our interviewers don't get nervous during our little chat."
"Yes, sir." Tormo's shoulders were slumped, and he headed up the stairs. It was clear to Kep that Layton was not convinced that The Terror would be on his best behavior, for their team captain still looked upset. He turned towards his remaining Defender.
"Kep, keep a very close eye on him. Pretend you're playing against Haunted Woods, and that Tormo's their star forward. Block him the same that you would block Zo Junior, okay?" Even Kep had to smile at that one, and she nodded.
"Good. Our guests should be arriving shortly, so I'll go and watch the door. Oh, and make sure to use the right flavoring for the tea, otherwise it will be putrid. I've separated the good ingredients from the bad ones, but still make sure that you're careful while preparing the tea."
"Of course," she replied. "Good luck with your interview." But Layton had already hurried out of the room to get ready to greet the interviewers.
Kep walked into the kitchen and spotted the ingredients laid out, just as Layton had told her. One by one, she followed the instructions and put in the mix together- until it was time to put in the sweetener. She almost tossed it into the mix, but then something occured to her.
Layton never said that I was banned from playing tricks.
Kep grinned evilly. She crept over towards the fridge, slowly opened it- and found exactly the flavor she was looking for. Someone (most likely Tormo) had left a tomato in there for too long, and it was beginning to smell foul. She glanced over her shoulder to make sure that nobody else was around, and then she quickly grabbed the fruit from the fridge and squeezed the juice into the boiling water.
"Perfect." Kep put the pitcher on a tray and started to carry it out, but then she heard footsteps coming her way.
"That better not be Tormo," she muttered to herself, putting the tray down and heading towards the closed door. To her surprise, it was Reshar Collifey who walked into the kitchen.
"Hey, Kep? Layton's wanting to know about that tea- is it done yet? The interviewers just got here."
"Um- Um, of course!" she stammered, glancing at the tray from the corner of her eye. Suddenly, an idea occured to her.
"Hey, Reshar? Will you do me a huge favor?"
"What is it?"
"Would you take the tray out to them for me? I've been practicing on the field a lot today, and I just want to have a nap."
"And you don't like the media, either, I know." Reshar laughed, "Sure, I'll get the tray for you- but you owe me an easy job this season, got it? I don't want any team to score against us, so make sure that extra practicing makes that possible."
"Yes, of course. I won't let them anywhere near our goal."
"Good. Have a nice rest, Kep. See you after the interview." Reshar grabbed the tray and walked out. Kep could hardly stifle her laughter- she put her hand over her mouth as she climbed up the stairs to where Tormo was sitting. Once she saw him, she exploded laughing.
"What's so funny?" He eyed her suspiciously. Kep motioned for him to follow her, and the tiptoed down the stairs to a hidden spot under a table. They could only see Layton, Tandrak, and Reshar, but they could hear the guests.
"This tea is rancid!" an unfamiliar voice cried out."What's in this?" Layton looked stunned at first, but then cleared his throat and regained his composure.
"Our apologies- I think whoever made the tea accidentally mixed up the ingredients. Is it really that bad?" He took a sip of the tea himself, but spat it back out and started to cough. Tormo snorted from trying not to laugh, but Kep elbowed him in the side to quiet him down.
"We haven't seen 'The Terror' around since we got here. Is he around anywhere?" the same voice asked.
"Oh, don't worry," Tandrak Shaye said hastily. "We've told him that he is not allowed to play tricks while guests are here. You don't need to worry about him." Kep heard someone mumbling.
"Anyhow," Layton interrupted, "let's go back to discussing our former topic- our strategies for the upcoming season..."
Kep and Tormo ran back up the stairs, laughing their heads off. Neither of them were able to speak for several minutes, until finally Tormo broke the silence.
"Did you see the look Layton's face when he drank that tea, Kep? Oh, wow... I've not seen him that grossed out since we went to the Deserted Fairground. What did you DO?"
"Oh, nothing," Kep said airly. "I just happened to find a rotten tomato in the fridge and 'accidentally' put that in instead of the flavoring that Layton left out." Tormo fell over, clutching his stomach.
"I didn't think you had it in you, Bonnefie- what a surprise!"
"I'm not done yet- do you still have any of those Clockwork Yooyus leftover from last year's tournament?"
After the tournament in Year 13, Tormo had asked the referee and the Altador Cup committee if he could keep one or two inactive Clockwork Yooyus, just as soveneirs. To his surprise, they agreed- as long as he took the ones that weren't set to explode. Tormo had asked one of the members of the Virtupets team to help him find one that would explode, and he took them and was saving them for later. Layton had found out, and confiscated a large amount from Tormo, but Kep suspected that he had hidden some of them.
"Yeah, I've got a lot of them- why do you ask?" he said, confirming Kep's suspicion.
"Could I use them? I have another idea in mind, but we'll need to open the windows." Tormo seemed confused at first, but then he grinned and started snickering.
"I think I know what you're thinking. I'll be back with the Yooyus shortly." He went into his room and came back out with a bag.
"Now we just need to wait."
After what seemed like hours, Layton and the interviewers stepped outside. Kep leaned over the windowsill- and smirked. The ones who came to interview them were wearing hats, which made the plan even better. She turned towards Tormo.
"Start winding the Yooyus!" she whispered to him. One by one, Kep counted the interviewers as they left the house, and she told Tormo exactly how many Yooyus he needed to wind up. Once he'd done that, Kep dropped one onto each hat, until all of the wound up Yooyus were all out the window.
"Do you think your team has a good chance of taking home the Cup, despite coming in seventh place last year?" someone asked. Kep and Tormo watched as Layton nodded.
"With our new strategy and new teamwork, we're going to show the other teams just what we're made of. We're not messing around this time."
The Clockwork Yooyus all exploded at the same time, disintegrating the hats into ashes. Reshar and Tandrak stared in shock at the interviewers, who were trying to shake what was left of their hats. Layton groaned, and hid his face with his wing, shaking his head slowly. Kep and Tormo roared in laughter as the poor victims left the Citadel's base without another word.
Once they were gone, Reshar and Tandrak walked glumly back into the building, but Layton remained outside. He looked up towards the window and saw Kep with tears streaming down her face from chortling so hard. It was apparent that she couldn't see him at all. He resisted a smile, and he followed Tandrak and Reshar back inside.
"What in Neopia just happened out there?" Tandrak asked angrily, "Who was responsible for this?!" Layton was silent. Reshar and Tandrak were waiting for an explanation. Finally, the exhausted Hissi just started laughing.
"Let's just say we've got another 'Terror' on our hands, boys."