After ACX: Part Two
After AC X: Part Two - Faerie
The Faerie Yooyu rolled around the Faerie pen impatiently. So far, there had been nine yooyus called up to the pitch, and not one of them had been Faerie. Come on, he thought, moving restlessly back and forth. This would have been a problem in last year’s pen, but apparently, the constant need to move was a ‘Fae’ thing, as opposed to just a ‘him’ thing. He realised that, seen from above, their pen would look like a pool of water, constantly moving pink and blue, as he and his friends shuffled and bumped their way up and down the confined space.
It felt like more than a year since the last time he had been here, penned in and humming with anticipation. It felt like he had been Faerie forever, as opposed to just the last eleven months. Those first few weeks after the last Cup, getting used to his new form back home on the Isle, that had been an amazing time.
He grinned, and flipped upside down as he bumped along, remembering the day he had circled the Isle for the first time, the new wings altering his flight path and the constant adjustments that had to be made to ensure he didn’t slam directly into one of the ancient trees.
The Faerie Yooyus started juddering, as the pedestal inched its way down into the pit. Together, they flowed forward and pressed up to watch the pink Peophin’s decision. The last Yooyu had been Darigan, the teams would be tired after that. If the pink Neopet was feeling nice, he would pick a Normal or a Fire, to make it easy for the players. But he wasn’t looking like he was in a particularly good mood, and he turned with purpose to the Faerie pen.
As luck would have it, the Faerie Yooyu was at the top of the mob at just the right moment, and found himself unceremoniously dumped on the pedestal in the middle of all the pens. For one, glorious, moment, he felt the eyes of every Yooyu there on him, and he revelled in their attention, puffing himself up proudly as the pedestal started the return journey to the surface.
The Yooyu curled up as tight as he could, pressing his small form closer and closer as the light got brighter and brighter, ready to make the best first show he possibly could. He was almost vibrating with tension as the pedestal clunked into place underneath him. He flung his limbs out wide and soaked up the roars of appreciation from the fans. He knew he was a favourite, with his soft pastel colours, and predictable yet difficult flying pattern.
The whistle shrieked, and he snapped into position, letting himself fall to the ground.
He hadn’t had a chance to register who had shoved their sling out to intercept him, before he was hurtling towards the air. Whoever it was hadn’t taken the time to aim, and certainly hadn’t taken into account the difference the wings would make, he realised, as he smashed into the wall of the pitch and fell to the ground, gasping.
Into another player’s sling before he could have had the chance to collect himself, and now they were running, charging towards, or presumably towards, the goal. The Faerie Yooyuball clenched his teeth to stop from gasping in pain as he was thumped between the sling and body of the determined player. He felt muscles clench beneath him, and just had time to pull his wings in before-
The shortest fly through the air ended abruptly, with the goalie swarming up, eyes narrowed in concentration to snatch from his exit.
“Gotcha!” muttered the player, as she jogged forwards, bouncing the Yooyuball in her sling carefully. The Yooyu peered out, trying to guess where he would be aimed next. He felt her slow her breathing, shift her balance and focus, and he realised where he was going.
I can do this, he told himself. The goalie whipped her sling back and forced it forwards, letting out a grunt of exertion, and he soared through the air. Just avoid the other team, and I’m out of here, in glory - watch out!
He pulled his limbs in tighter, and allowed his wings to curve his flight path. A sling scraped underneath him and he gasped. He kept his eyes on the prize, the player the goalie had aimed him at. If he could just reach that one team member, it was just a short journey onwards into the goal and into fame.
The winning team always thanked the difficult Yooyuballs, the Faerie, the Darigan, the Mutant, for giving them an unexpected victory. Everyone knew that the appearance of a tricky ball could make or break a game. A team could be so close to winning, but if a Darigan and a Faerie bounced in with seconds to spare, triumph could be snatched from their paws at the last minute.
A Grarrl grunted and leapt into the air, sling stretched high, but he just missed it. He pulled one wing in a little, and curved sharply, just missing the Kyrii charging at him from the right.
Rolling over and over in the air, he closed his eyes tightly, pulled himself in closer than he ever had before and hoped against hope that this goal would be spectacular.
THUD! And the crowd roared! He squinted, and realised that the goalie had caught him. She carried him to the front of her goal, and he could just hear the rest of the players jockeying for position in front of her, blocking and attempting to ignore their opponent as they waited for her to make her move.
Curled in her sling, he could feel her readying herself. “Okay,” she muttered. “Straight down the line, but you’re Faerie, so that’ll mean you actually avoid the wing attack and centre, and hopefully towards their goal.” Not realising that he was being addressed, he wasn’t really paying attention, focusing instead on the tiny reflection of himself in her shoulder guards.
“Hey!” she hissed down at him. “Did you hear me?”
“Sure!” What? He wondered, but knew that was the wrong thing to say.
“Okay, here - we - GO!” and he was flying through the air, just as she had predicted, curling off to the left, players charging both towards and away from him, still going forwards, closing in on the goal, the opposing goalie racing towards him, reaching up, and he curled in tighter and just bumped into the goal, millimetres above the goalies desperate reach. Yes!
Grinning, he uncurled himself and sprang to attention, so the crowd could see his victorious form, floating half way up the goal, as the despondent goalie slumped against a post.
The screams of approval died down, and the players composed themselves. One team, beaming and bouncing, made their way back down the pitch, while their opponents shuffled together, whispering words of encouragement to each other.
The Ball Pets had a momentary silent discussion from their posts in each corner of the pitch, and one peeled away from her spot and sprinted towards the goal. The Faerie Grundo carefully settled the Faerie Yooyu into her sling, and ran towards the exit. As they passed through the door, she slapped the paw of a passing Ball Pet, who charged to take her place.
The Faerie Yooyu stretched carefully in the sling, listening to the noise of the stadium disappear behind them, as they turned corners in the never ending corridor under the seats.
Eventually, they arrived at their destination. Although it had an innocuous name after a prolific Maraqua Team scorer, amongst the Yooyus it was known as the Used Room. The Grundo gently lowered her sling and let the Yooyu roll out. He smiled gratefully at her, as she turned and closed the door behind her.
The Yooyu yawned, and rolled towards an empty bean bag, noting that he was the only Faerie there. In one corner there was a pile of three or four Fire Yooyus, completely out of it after their energetic turns around the pitch. In the opposite corner sat a Snow Yooyu, staring into the middle distance, with a look of ennui and boredom on their face. As the most senior Yooyu there, they were settled in the most comfortable spot. No one counted the mangled remains of a Robot Yooyu, especially as they rarely appeared in the Used Room.
The Faerie Yooyu yawned again, and started to preen, combing through and checking his wings. That’s it for today, he thought to himself, as he admired the sheen of his wings. I definitely did them proud.
He flexed, turning from side to side to check every inch of his shining body was perfect. He shivered his wings out to their full reach, straining to look even bigger and more glorious, then carefully folded them back in, admiring how impressive they looked when tucked neatly into him.
Another yawn and he was asleep, smiling a little smugly as his head drooped.
To be continued…