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Week 509
You are on Week 510
Week 511

Every week we will be starting a new Story Telling competition - with great prizes! The current prize is 2000 NP, plus a rare item!!! This is how it works...

We start a story and you have to write the next few paragraphs. We will select the best submissions every day and put it on the site, and then you have to write the next one, all the way until the story finishes. Got it? Well, submit your paragraphs below!

Story Five Hundred Ten Ends Friday, June 10th

Henry's eyes were so very heavy. The Kacheek rubbed his face softly, hoping to rouse himself, but to no avail. Henry's head slowly drifted back to rest upon the back of the wooden chair he was perched on. The Yooyus chattered softly in their cage. Dawn was just beginning to crack over the horizon, and a bright new day was beginning at the Altador Cup.

Henry had been the caretaker of the Yooyus since the Altador Cup began. He had always been fond of Yooyus since he was just a lad. He was very vigilant at his job, making sure all the Yooyus were well cared for. Yooyuball was not an easy game, and each Yooyu used in the game needed to be feed and tended to after each goal. The Kacheek took his job to heart and was known as the best caretaker in all of Altador.

A huge thunderstorm had raged the night before. The Yooyus had been in a tizzy all night long, and Henry had done his best to calm them. It had been a very exhausting night, for both Henry and the Yooyus. Sleep was beginning to overtake the Kacheek, his perfect record of never sleeping on the job starting to wane.

One more piteous yawn escaped Henry's lips as the Kacheek dozed off into a deep and ill-timed sleep. The chattering Yooyus could not even wake Henry as a strange and dark form approached the Yooyu cage. The stranger's eyes roamed over Henry, but seeing that the Kacheek did not even stir, the stranger proceeded into his task.

Nimble fingers unlatched the lock on the Yooyu cage. The Petpets inside cowered back, as they could feel that this was not a kind and caring force, like Henry. Something much darker still was outside those metal bindings. The stranger produced a small, round object, which was then dropped inside the Yooyu cage. After replacing the holdings, the stranger disappeared from the Yooyu pen, just as fast as they had appeared.

The Yooyus' chittering began to erupt again, as many tiny eyes peered upon the abandoned object. It was when the round object uncurled itself and peered back at them that the sound of the Yooyu pen became so loud, it could've wakened anyone.

The sound that woke Henry up. The Kacheek turned his eyes back to the distraught bunch of Yooyus and gasped out loud when he saw...

Author: Filter
Date: Jun 6th
...a small clockwork Yooyu, about half the size of the other Petpets. He had never seen one so small before; where the other Yooyus were an armful, this one would fit in the palm of his hand. And its eyes... it had red eyes. How had it gotten in with his Yooyus? The pen was always latched with a tricky mechanism (it had to be a tricky one -- the Petpets were simply too smart for a regular latch); it couldn't have just wandered in by itself.

He paused, confused. Didn't clockwork Yooyus have green eyes? All of the ones he cared for did. And why was this one so small?

In their pen, the Yooyus were chittering discordantly, almost angrily... and only Henry, who had worked with them for as long as he had, could hear the under-note of fear in the yips and squeals coming from them. Frowning, he got to his feet and strode quickly toward the pen. With an ease that spoke of familiarity, he opened the finicky latch and deftly picked up the tiny clockwork Yooyu. It stared curiously at him, its crimson eyes wide and guileless. There was something entrancing about the little creature, and Henry found he didn't want to look away.

As he stared, a burst of brilliant scarlet light filled the room, searing his retinas and then fading as if it had never been; with a start, Henry wondered why he had taken the diminutive Yooyu out of its pen. Shaking his head, he put it back with the others and relatched the cage.

Muttering to himself, he decided he must be tired; it had been a long night, after all. Settling back into his chair, he smiled, looking at the Yooyus curled up in their pen. The sun was pretty high on the horizon; his assistant would be there soon, and he could grab a quick nap then, before the next Yooyuball match started.

***

As Henry returned to the stadium, he stifled another yawn, but this time it was the kind of yawn that followed a restful sleep rather than alerting one to their own need to go to bed. He couldn't help but grin; he loved this time of year. And as strenuous as it was, the Yooyus loved it too.

When he finally made it back to the Yooyu room, he paused as he stuck his head in. His assistant, Keeriani, was hugging one of the Yooyus. The little clockwork one, if he didn't miss his guess, but the Blumaroo's back was turned to him, so he couldn't tell for sure.

Doing his best to suppress a smile, he coughed lightly to get her attention. She jumped guiltily, but he noted the clean cage and fresh food and water for the Petpets. She had done her job, so he couldn't fault her for giving the Yooyus some affection. He often did, after all.

As she headed sheepishly toward him, he gave a mental nod as he noted the little clockwork fella in her arms. That one was a charmer, all right!

"Morning, boss," Keeri told him, shuffling her feet.

"Mornin', Keeri!" he said, grinning. "Looks like you had a good morning with our charges. They ready for the game? It's Krawk Island against Virtupets today; it'll be a tough match, and they'll need everything we give them."

She looked up at him and beamed, the smile lighting up her face. "They're ready!"

"Then let's go get them set up for the game," he told her, still smiling.

***

The rest of the morning passed uneventfully; the Yooyus seemed eager to get out on the field. Before he knew it, the teams were running onto the pitch to the cheers of the crowd. As Dinksy, Hawshanks, Sufhaux, and Cassale ran out he wanted to cheer too, but he kept his tongue and cheered internally; stadium employees were neutral by contract, of course. There was no home team for the Cup, so employees were expected to be neutral as well, so no one could argue match interference. He was a good employee and would never do anything to jeopardise his work with the Yooyus -- but that didn't mean he couldn't cheer his team on his head.

And then it was time -- the moment he had been waiting for. It was time for the first Yooyu to hit the field. Gently but purposefully, he loaded the Petpet -- a regular Yooyu, as tradition dictated -- into the mechanism to bring it to the field, and off it went. The Yooyu that came next was up to the other Petpets; whichever Yooyu came out of the cage first was the next to hit the field. That way Keepers couldn't be biased if they knew a team was better or worse with one type of Yooyu: the Keeper didn't pick, the Yooyus did.

Job finished for the moment, Henry began to wait.

The life of a Yooyu keeper wasn't exactly exciting; he couldn't, of course, watch the match. He had to stay below with the other Yooyus as the game played out, because he might need to send off another at a moment's notice; once a goal was scored, he had only 10-12 seconds before the next one was needed. Sometimes a new Yooyu was needed immediately, and sometimes he had minutes -- but he had to be ready.

So he waited.

And kept waiting.

In their pen, the Yooyus seemed antsy. Even the little clockwork one was anxious; its eyes almost seemed to strobe at times. Absently, he reached through the bars to stroke it, though it didn't seem comforted by the petting.

But the signal for the next Yooyu still didn't come.

Breathless, Keeri finally burst into the room. "Henry, something's wrong!" she panted, gesturing for him to follow. Without asking questions, he followed her to the field.

There was an air of bewilderment in the stadium; on the field, the players looked confused, although the Kacheek couldn't immediately ascertain why. "What is it?" he asked Keeri, demanding an explanation for why she had dragged him away from where he was needed.

"Just watch," she said, nodding to the field. Frowning, he gazed back onto the field.

Dinksy had the Yooyu; Henry groaned because he realised immediately she had an opportunity to score. Goltron was on the other end of the goal, and there was no way he'd be back in time to block her; the Kacheek watched as she launched the Yooyu straight at the net -- and he gasped.

Dinksy was staring at the Yooyu in consternation. It should have been safely inside the goal right now; there was no way she could have missed that shot. But instead...

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Jun 6th
...the Yooyu swerved to the left of the goal and straight into the audience. Pets of all shapes and sizes jumped out of their seats and ran. Many scampered to the various exits situated at the top of the stadium, and before long, a stampede had formed. Others, in a state of sheer panic, weaved their way through seats and other Neopets, until they were gridlocked, unable to move even if they wanted to. Hotdogs, burgers, sandwiches, jacket potatoes, and a plethora of other foods went flying into the air and onto the faces of some of the more unfortunate pets as the crowds bombed past the food vendor. The Yooyu weaved in and out, in a zig-zag pattern, whizzing around the stadium and causing a wave of upheaval as it went.

"There appears to be a problem with one of the Yooyus today," boomed the commentator. He had a distinct tremor in his voice. "I urge everyone to stay calm. Please remain in your seats while we try to rectify the problem."

His words seemed to have gone unheard, for the Yooyu had now gained some company, and the crowds were pushed back further into a deeper state of terror. Not one, not two, not three, but four more rogue Yooyus had shot out of the firing mechanism and were now careening through the entire audience like wrecking balls. The whole stadium was in an uproar as the ever-growing panic amongst the pets rose to alarming levels. There was a crash in the northern sector of the audience and a wallop to the east. Neopets were screaming and shouting as the Yooyus continued to circle the stadium in their mad frenzy.

Another Yooyu shot itself out into the field and soon enough, another one followed it out. They whizzed past Henry and Keeri with such force that they were both knocked off their feet by the sudden gush of air each Yooyu had created in its wake. Henry jumped back up and helped the Blumaroo up. They could only watch in horror as the two Yooyus knocked the players off their feet.

Dinsky was the first to go. A Yooyu slammed into her, causing her to spin in the air so fast that for a second she was merely a blur. The second Yooyu had rammed into the captain of the Virtupets team, Keetra. She landed on her tail and yelped in both pain and utter confusion. Sela raced toward her fallen captain, but she was pushed backward as a Yooyu shoved into her midriff. Weldar too had been knocked from his feet.

Soon enough, not one player was left standing. Another Yooyu was fired onto the field. This one pummelled Weldar a second time before grinding across the ground and gouging deep grooves into the playing field, ruining it.

It's like the Yooyus are playing with US, thought Henry in disbelief. The cage is locked. And how are they even able to fire themselves onto the pitch without my help? He turned to Keeri. The Blumaroo looked bewildered.

"We need to get back to the pen!" he yelled to her, raising his voice to a loud enough pitch that it could be heard over the deafening sound of the ruckus all around them. She nodded in agreement. Dodging another Yooyu as it flew out, they raced indoors, not knowing what to expect. So many horrible images flashed through Henry's head: the pen in ruins, the entire group of Yooyus fighting viciously amongst each other, the weird clockwork Yooyu succumbing to some sort of mania, all sorts of things you'd expect to see only in nightmares.

Henry gasped when he entered the room. All of his thoughts, bar one, had materialised in front of his eyes. The pen was in a shambles. The cage itself had been dented and twisted. There was a hole at the side of the cage, Yooyu-shaped. As a ball, a Yooyu packed a mighty punch. That was evident out there in the stadium. Food was scattered and smushed over the floor, and there were puddles of water everywhere. Henry knew Yooyus well. They were dignified. He'd never met one who ate his food or lapped his water off the floor. For such a big game, they needed nourishment. Yooyus as a whole were also a friendly type of Petpet, loving their own kind as if they were all a big happy family. Now, they were squabbling with each other, hissing and screeching and emitting a sound Henry had never even heard before -- an anguished howling, fairly high-pitched but very chilling.

The tiny clockwork Yooyu seemed fairly docile compared to the others. It swaggered through the cage, its eyes darting left, right, straight ahead and back again, as if it was surveying the group of frenzied Yooyus. Suddenly, a familiar burst of bright light filled the entire room, so intense that Henry's eyes forced themselves shut. A piercing pain shot through his retinas, and Keeri screamed next to him, having suffered the same fate.

Swiftly, the pen exploded with noise. The Yooyus had gone even crazier, hissing and howling, running into each other and crashing into the cage walls at top speed. As if in a trance, a Yooyu squeezed itself out of the gap in the cage and bolted over to the firing mechanism. It was able to fire itself into the stadium with such ease that anyone who didn't know a Yooyu would have presumed it had been born with the talent. Another Yooyu saw Henry and clicked its tongue angrily at him, regarding him not with love, but contempt. A shudder rippled down his spine. Outside, the crowd grew even wilder. Henry didn't even want to think about what that Yooyu had just done out there. He turned to the clockwork Yooyu with a reviled look.

"It's a bad thing," muttered Henry. "Like a bad apple. It's spoiling the others. Keeri, we have to get rid of that thing, while there's still a stadium left to save..."

Author: ginger23456
Date: Jun 7th
"What do I do with it?" Keeri screamed, ducking as an angry fire Yooyu zoomed over her head toward the launching mechanism. She reached out to grab it and calm it down, as she often did when Yooyus became a little too excited, but screeched as it scorched her paw.

"We've got to shut down the firing mechanism!" Henry decided, advancing toward the large piece of machinery. The fire Yooyu had already seated itself and was reaching for the lever that would send it into the chaos above ground. Henry threw himself onto the device, trying to find a way to shut it down.

Suddenly, something grabbed onto his tail and pulled him away. He spun around and found a small mob of the Petpets charging toward him. Several of them had found delight in chewing on his feet.

"Keeri!" he hollered, swatting the unruly Petpets away. The Yooyus were beginning to overpower their keeper. He was being pulled down to the floor, forced to helplessly watch as the creatures lined up to use the firing device and terrorise all the fans above.

The young Blumaroo stumbled forward, reaching out toward Henry. She tripped over a growling ball and fell forward. The Yooyus were everywhere, clawing, biting, and scratching. The last thing Henry saw was the calm clockwork Yooyu, overseeing the whole ordeal, before another blinding flash caused him to lose his concentration, and he was brought down under the swarming Petpets.

A dark shape was suddenly looming over the pair. He blinked at the tiny clockwork Yooyu. "Take them away..."

Author: ortstadt
Date: Jun 7th
And the Yooyus did, with dozens holding onto Henry's limbs to ensure that he could not escape. The same was done to Keeri, who struggled against the Petpets' hold but could not break free...

Before long, the Yooyus had the two of them trapped in the very pens that had been used to hold the Yooyus themselves. The cramped conditions made Henry's neck hurt, and Keeri didn't look too pleased either, though the shadowy figure seemed to take pity on her.

"Free the Blumaroo," he instructed, voice low and grim. "She can stay outside."

"What about me?" yelled Henry, trying to move. "Let me out too!"

His only response was a Yooyu biting his finger through the bars.

"Well, then," the shadow continued. "Now that we have the Yooyu keeper -- and his lovely assistant -- under our control, it should be easy to get the rest of those pesky idiots in these pens as well..."

"What? All you want is for--"

"SILENCE!" boomed the shadow.

Henry shut up immediately.

"Thanks to your kind, Yooyus receive absolutely no respect. Flung around like ordinary toys, shut up in pens for hours on end... well, it's time for things to change!" yelled the shadow.

He peered around the room, Yooyus everywhere staring up at him with a reverent expression.

Finally, the shadow spoke again. "We'll put our plan into action at the next Yooyuball game..."

Author: chocolate_lover67
Date: Jun 8th
As the shadow spoke, an announcer boomed out news that sent Henry's heart sinking.

"Ladies and gentlepets... now that the stadium has been cleaned up from the unfortunate incident of fans rushing the field" -- Henry blinked, astonished, because that wasn't at all what had happened! Had the world gone mad or was the announcer on the shadow's side? -- "the match has been rescheduled and will commence in 30 minutes."

A quiet, menacing laugh filled the room, and the Yooyus stared at the shadow calmly, still reverently. "Excellent," the voice said, and the figure turned back to Henry. Though he couldn't see the shadow's face, he imagined he was being frowned at, though he couldn't have explained why.

"Hmmm. If this is going to work... we need a keeper to make an appearance, don't we? Perhaps the Kacheek..." the shadow mused aloud, sending ice through Henry's veins.

The shadow stared at Henry a moment more, and then the edges of the figure rippled. Idly, his mind identified the ripple; the shadow was wearing a cloak, and the edges of the dark hood had moved as the seeming-apparition had moved with it. The figure had shaken its head, he realised.

"No... no," said the voice with a touch of regret, and the shadow turned to the Yooyus, "bring the Blumaroo."

"No!" Henry yelled, the word bursting from his lips before he could stop himself. The shadow flicked a glance at him but said nothing.

Within moments, a struggling Keeri was brought before the shadow. A surprisingly deft and tapered hand darted out from beneath the shadowy, billowing cloak and gestured at the small clockwork Yooyu; the red light flared again, this time aimed at Keeri. She yelped but fell silent almost immediately, staring blankly ahead of her.

"Go to the field; tell them the Keeper is indisposed, but that the match is ready to proceed," instructed the shadow, the voice cold but polished. For some reason it made Henry think of obsidian polished mirror-bright -- perfect, bright, and yet darker than dark.

With another gesture from the shadow, the Yooyus fell back, and Keeri calmly exited the room. Henry felt the blood drain from his face; if he hadn't known better, he would have thought she was completely normal... she looked like the same Blumaroo he had known for two years now, the same Blumaroo who diligently cared for the Yooyus alongside him. Did Keeri even know she was following orders that hadn't come from her own mind?

No... he was sure she didn't.

But stuck in this cage, there was nothing -- nothing -- he could do about it.

***

Time passed both swiftly and slowly; the moments dragged as his muscles grew more cramped in his tiny quarters, but all too soon the announcer's voice rang throughout the stadium, announcing the players... again. Idly, he wondered if anyone but him realised how the match had truly ended earlier. Somehow, he doubted it. That clockwork Yooyu's flash did strange things to the mind.

And then the signal rang in the Keeper's quarters, the signal he usually couldn't wait for but dreaded this time. It was time for the first Yooyu to hit the field.

"Quietly this time," the shadow instructed as the Yooyu jumped forward. "Remember the plan; you must take them out, but the fans must not yet know."

And then the Yooyu was gone -- and Henry felt heartsick. These were not his Yooyus.

Sounds rang throughout the stadium, sounds that were normally familiar and comforting. The match had started.

"Pretore is down!" the announcer cried, horror in his voice.

Henry's breath caught in his throat; somehow, he didn't think that player was going to the medic. His suspicions were confirmed when minutes later Keeri walked the injured Xweetok into the room; the player froze at the scene within, but the clockwork Yooyu flashed immediately, and a blank look quickly replaced the confusion expression.

Quietly, too quietly for Henry to hear, the shadow gave Sela Pretore instructions. The Xweetok's expression cleared, and she, too, looked completely normal. Without a backward glance, she left the room, leaving Henry to wonder with a heavy heart what mischief was brewing this time. He had to stop it, but he despaired of figuring out how.

"Who are you?" he breathed. If he could just learn that...

The shadow flicked another glance at him, and this time Henry imagined the face within the shadows was amused. Again, he could not say why.

"I suppose it wouldn't hurt to say," the shadow mused. "After all, I can simply have the Yooyu wipe your memory if I choose." Henry started at the confirmation of what the pseudo-Yooyu could do. He had suspected as much, and yet hearing the words spoken made them infinitely more real somehow.

The shadow moved as if to lower the hood of the cloak; as the cloak billowed with the motion, a tiny pin -- or was it a badge? -- flared and caught the light. Henry could barely suppress a groan. He should have known. Oh, how could he not have expected it? He knew that emblem. Everyone did.

Beneath the cloak, the face of a darkly amused Hissi came to light. "You can call me Agent 99."

"Whose agent?" Henry asked, a heavy feeling in the pit of his stomach.

"Ah, but you've already guessed, haven't you?" she asked, a cynical smile playing across her lips as the hood fell around her shoulders.

And he had, though he willed it to be untrue, for if it was this was rather embarrassing.

With a sigh, he answered. "You're from the PPL, aren't you?" His voice was flat in his own ears.

But before the cloaked Hissi could answer, the oddest sound began to echo through the stadium...

Author: agedbeauty
Date: Jun 8th
It was the soft ticking of a timer. Whispers echoed from the crowds throughout the stadium. Panic soon replaced confusion as they slowly realised what was happening. A scream sounded above the soft whispers of the crowd, and suddenly chaos struck. Footsteps could be heard hurrying around the stadium, paws banging on closed doors.

The Hissi turned to look in the direction of all the noise. "What's going on out there?"

At least Henry knew that this time it wasn't the fault of the Hissi. Although, somehow that didn't seem all that comforting at that moment. Henry glanced at the gap between the Hissi and the exit. What he could see was limited, but he saw enough to realise the cause of all the panic. The ticking sound of a timer was coming from a place Henry would never have suspected.

There, in the middle of the field, was an out-of-control clockwork Yooyu. Why was it out there and what had happened to it? Henry couldn't help but wonder and worry about it. The Yooyu shook as if it was malfunctioning. Sparks flew, and the red light flashed multiple times until it burned itself out. Everyone who was controlled by that Yooyu gasped as their eyes glazed over. After a moment, they regained themselves, no longer under the clockwork Yooyu's control, but still paralysed with shock and fear.

"No! The clockwork Yooyu, it's going to explode!" The Hissi dashed out, heading for the pitch, but immediately got carried along in the crowds. As if she were trapped in a current she couldn't escape, the Hissi was pulled to the exit along with the stampede of Neopets. Meanwhile, Henry's eyes darted from left to right, witnessing the true chaos going on in the stadium.

Keeri appeared by his side, half-smiling and half-panicked. She released him from his little prison and started to speak. "Come on, Henry. Let's go, we've got to get all these fans out of here." With a nod, Henry went with Keeri to calm the crowds.

"Now, the Yooyu seems to be counting down! The brave players stay on the field; they're trying to stop the wild Yooyu!" Henry burst into the play-by-play announcer's booth, and the announcer stopped speaking.

"How can you make your announcements at a time like this? Hurry, let's get out of here!" Henry hurriedly ushered the announcer out of the room. As soon as the announcers were out of sight, Keeri appeared again. "Henry, everyone's out of the stadium safely. Now we just need to stop that clockwork Yooyu!"

Henry stared out at the field where the players were desperately trying to stop the malfunctioning Yooyu. He was scared of the explosion, but he knew what he had to do.

"We have to get out there and help them. I think I know what we can do!"

Keeri and Henry quickly spun around and headed in the direction of the field. But just as they took the first step on the field, they caught sight of something. Their eyes widened as they realised...

Author: de_francais
Date: Jun 9th
Clockwork Yooyus began to appear from all sides of the stadium. Soft but pained beeps were emitting from the malfunctioning Yooyu in the middle of the field. The sound was drawing its fellow mechanical Yooyus into the arena.

The cloaked Hissi grunted loudly as she forced herself through the exiting crowd, back toward the field. Her eyes were bright with horror as she watched the event begin to unfold. Noticing the Henry and Keeri, Agent 99 quickly slithered over to them.

"It wasn't supposed to be like this," she spoke loudly, panic dripping off every word.

The other Yooyus not affected by the Clockwork Yooyu's beeps began to surround their dedicated keeper. Their returned self-control gave Henry little comfort as the many agitated Clockwork Yooyus began to group up.

Keeri shook her head angrily. "It shouldn't have been like anything! Why would you do something like this, and what IS that Yooyu that you brought here?"

The Hissi swallowed hard as she watched the other Clockwork Yooyus circle the defective one.

"It's not a real Yooyu," Agent 99 said. "It's a device we created down at headquarters. We were supposed to ruin the Altador Cup and destroy the arena so that the Yooyus could finally be free. Something went wrong; no one was supposed to be in the arena when it blew up. It's attracting Clockwork Yooyus now. If they all explode, it could take down way more than this stadium..."

Henry gasped loudly, his hand reaching out to grasp Keeri's arm as she was engaged in her own horror. The Yooyus surrounding them began to chitter as well, as if they too could understand what heinous act was about to happen.

The Kacheek shook his head, looking at the Hissi. "Well, can't you stop it? Turn it off?"

Agent 99 shook her head. "It's malfunctioning now; it's out of my control. With all those other Clockwork Yooyus around it, I don't think there's any hope for us to stop it. We must get the Yooyus out of here before they blow up!"

Her last words caught in her throat as small motions drew her eyes to the ground. The other Yooyus not affected by the mechanical one's enticement were making their way toward the errant device.

The Hissi lunged to grasp a fire Yooyu before it was out of her reach, but a quick singe of the Hissi's scales caused her to jump back and let the fire Yooyu follow its brethren out onto the field.

"What are they doing?!" yelled Keeri. The Blumaroo stared in disbelief as the Yooyus began to circle the clockwork ones.

The Hissi shook her head as she began to back up, repeating again, "Something went wrong..." With that, she turned tail and ran out toward the exit, leaving Henry and Keeri alone in the stadium with the volatile Yooyus.

"If we can't stop it, we have to get the Yooyus out, right now!" Henry said, pulling on Keeri's arm. "Think of something! What's the best way to get a Yooyu's attention?"

Keeri shook her head. "I... I don't know. But why are the other Yooyus going onto the field? The device is broken and not hypnotising anymore; what is drawing them in now?"

Henry dropped her arm and took off toward the announcer's booth. He had an idea how to distract the Yooyus. Hopefully Keeri could think of how to get them away from the Clockwork Yooyus without any explosions taking place. One single Clockwork Yooyu exploding would set off a terrifying chain reaction, and as the Hissi said, way more than just the arena would be taken out.

The Kacheek always had a small disdain for the mechanical Yooyus, so temperamental, and they exploded! Why would anyone want to play with something that just exploded like that? Henry was dedicated to his job, though, and he cared for the Clockwork Yooyus like he did any other.

As he reached the announcer's booth, Henry gasped out loud. Spotting her through the large glass window, Henry could see Keeri clearly.

What happened next, he never expected...

Author: filter
Date: Jun 9th
The Yooyus surrounded one of the explosive clockwork Yooyus and started to sing to it. Even in the announcer's booth, Henry could hear the melodious tune emanating from the mouths of the Petpets that had been in his care for so long. He was bemused, if not also proud of them. He had no idea they had been born with such a talent. But why were they doing it? What purpose did it hold? Before he knew it, his question had been answered.

The clockwork Yooyu slowly changed. Its shiny body rippled and then faded as metal became flesh and sinew. Its red eyes lost their powerful, mesmerising glow and eventually turned to a cool blue hue that was as calm as an ocean on a breezeless day. Henry couldn't tell if the ticking had stopped because the sound of that awful noise still echoed throughout the stadium, a constant reminder that the stadium hadn't been saved yet and that time was running short. It was a normal Yooyu now; it didn't have the power to explode anymore. Did it? Henry could not reassure himself, not when he had just witnessed the transformation from clockwork to living thing by such an act as singing.

The group of Yooyus pressed on, moving toward another clockwork Yooyu, the one who had been transformed joining in with the group like it had always been a part of it. They surrounded the ticking Yooyu and sang to it. This one changed too. In the space of ten minutes, the ticking grew softer and softer until it was completely drowned out by the beautiful chorus. Each Yooyu sang their notes in a different pitch, producing a beautiful harmony that made Henry's eyes prick with tears. He never knew.

When it stopped, the Kacheek expected a buzzing silence to greet his ears, but instead came the unmistakable sound of ticking. It wasn't very loud, which meant that it must have belonged to a lone clockwork Yooyu, but it was definitely there. He wasn't hearing things. His heart began to thud. Either the power of the Yooyus song had lost some of its power, or one of the clockwork ones had become immune to the power of the vocal cords.

He scanned the field and located Keeri holding her paws out, a horrified look on her face. She was holding away from her face a bright red clockwork Yooyu. Its entire body was shaking as if only seconds remained before it exploded.

"Drop the Yooyu!" Henry shouted over the intercom. He couldn't contain the fear in his voice, and it came out wobbly and distorted. He hoped his plea had been decipherable. He shot his gaze back toward the Blumaroo. She'd heard him. Instead of merely dropped it and running, however, she lobbed the offending Yooyu high over the stadium. It careened through the air with a whoosh and for a moment, it looked like it was going to go straight over the stands and explode in the sky. Then, it corrected itself in thin air, turned itself around and plummeted straight into the direction of the Yooyus...

Author: ginger23456
Date: Jun 10th
There was no time to think -- only to react. Henry raced out of the announcer box and around the corner into the Keeper's room. The Yooyu had been high in the air, but he had only seconds before it impacted -- and if it did, something told him this explosion would be worse than any of the normal small-term explosions the clockworks gave if the players failed to score in time. And he simply couldn't bear to see the Yooyus and Keeri hurt in the resultant explosion. He had searched for a way to solve the problem the Hissi had engineered -- and now he had one.

Without time to second-guess himself, he threw himself -- curled as tightly as he could -- into the launching mechanism and without preamble launched himself at the pitch. The ride was fast and terrifying, and yet Henry never doubted his safety as he shot into the stadium; his Yooyus did this all the time. If they could do it, he could.

Only a second later, the Kacheek emerged from the launcher but immediately realised his weight -- so much larger than even the heaviest Yooyu -- had thrown off the device; instead of a quick hop onto the pitch, he was flying through the air. Paralysed for a millisecond at the unexpected result, he recovered quickly and threw all his weight toward the ominously flashing Yooyu. Stretching his body as far as he could, he reached through the air for the malfunctioning device, finally grasping it and clutching it tightly to his chest. The warmth throbbed an ominous note against his chest, pulsing its dire warning...

...and then he was falling, the Yooyu trying ineffectively to escape his grasp as they plummeted fast and hard to the earth. He tried to curl himself around the Yooyu as the ground rushed faster and faster toward him, thinking only that if he could shield the other Yooyus from the blast...

Finally, mercifully, as the ground came ever closer, he knew only darkness, his last fleeting thoughts the vague hopes that others would not be hurt for his lack of diligence in protecting the Petpets he loved.

***

Henry's head pounded like a drum; his eyelids felt so heavy as he tried to lift them. A bright light pierced his gaze, his sore arm not strong enough to make it to shield him from the glare.

"Henry? Henry!" Keeri yelled, jumping up from her seat next to Henry's hospital bed and softly grabbing the Kacheek's hand. "I'm so glad you're OK!"

"Wha... what happened?" asked Henry, his voice weak and scratchy. "Where am I?"

Keeri squeezed Henry's hand tightly, patting his arm gently. "You're in the hospital. You were so brave, trying to stop that clockwork Yooyu. So very brave."

Henry could only manage the slightest movement to shake his head in disbelief. "How did I survive? And the stadium... is it OK?"

The Blumaroo swelled up with pride as she spoke. "It was the Yooyus, all of them. When you were falling, when you fell, they all rushed to you. The Yooyus gathered up and caught you and separated you from the device you grabbed. They shielded you from the explosion, and they saved the stadium too!"

"But why? If they're so abused, as that Hissi said, why would they save the stadium?" Henry questioned.

Keeri grinned. "They're not abused. I could hear it in their song, when they sang. So close to that sound, I felt it inside myself. They love the games; they love the stadium. They're not abused at all. That stadium is their home, and they love every inch of it! And they love you too Henry -- that's why they saved you."

A tear started forming in the corner of Henry's eye. Henry had loved those Yooyus every single day that he had worked for the stadium. He didn't want to let Agent 99's words of abuse poison his mind. He had always known those Yooyus were happy, they were as happy as they made him.

"What about Agent 99?" he queried, still squinting as the light made his head throb.

His Blumaroo friend frowned. "Who?"

"The Hissi," he told her, wincing at the pain in his head.

Keeri shrugged. "The Defenders never found her. She got away, I guess..." she trailed off, unsure.

He frowned. He had a feeling they hadn't seen the last of Agent 99... but there was nothing he could do about it now. Judging from the aches in his back, arms, and legs, not to mention his head, it would be a bit before he got to tend his Yooyus again, too.

Fortunately, due to the quick shielding of the Yooyus, Henry's injuries healed up quickly. His fur was still singed, but it was a rather distinguishing mark now, one that no one would forget how he received. Henry never fell asleep on the job again, nor would the Yooyus even let him. They kept their silent vow to watch over him, as he watched over them.

The End

Author: Filter & Agedbeauty
Date: Jun 10th



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