The Battledome Queen
"Bye, Mom!" called Ariel as she ran out the door. The cheerful
Xweetok was on her way to the Training School. From a family of powerful Battledome
warriors, she was looking forward to her first day.
As she ran, she combed her fingers through her
blue fur. She wanted to make a good first impression on Ryshu the Nimmo and
the Techo Master, not to mention her peers.
She arrived early, just as she'd planned. The
Level 12 group was still practicing. Ariel watched, awed, as fists flew and
Neopets sharpened their skills. One battle in particular caught her eye. It
would seem like a one-sided fight, an Acara versus a Kiko, but the Kiko was
holding its ground. Ariel gaped as the tiny, adorable Neopet spun around fiercely,
knocking the Acara to the ground with its paw.
Then the bell sounded. It was time for Ariel's
group. As the other pets poured out, the Level 1s ran in.
Most of the boys found their buddies and started
punching at each other, then spinning away at the last possible second. The
girls chatted away with each other. Ariel realized she was the only person here
who seemed serious about battling.
The Techo Master walked in. He had been observing
them from his meditation room. His apprentice, a red Cybunny, shadowed him.
"Welcome to the Training School," he announced
in a loud, rumbly voice. "I shall warn you. This is not the place for you if
you battle for the glory, or for the trophies, or the respect. This is a place
for those who battle for the love of battling." He paused to let this sink in.
"Many excellent battlers fight only because they love attention. That attitude
will not get you far in here." He paused again. "Inside these walls, legends
were born. Some of the most famous Neopians trained here. I am not saying you
will become a legend. I am saying that this training will help you if it is
your destiny to become great."
Ariel looked around at her fellow students.
Girls were whispering and giggling, boys were doing pathetic karate chops. Nobody
else seemed to care what the Master was saying. Ariel shrugged and turned to
face her new teacher.
The tall Nimmo spoke again. "Inside these walls,
I am Sensei. Outside, you may call me anything you like, although if I am around,
I am sure you will be properly respectful. But now I am Sensei."
He turned to face his apprentice. "Molly, will
you teach them the first lesson? I am tired." The Cybunny nodded silently. "Thank
you, Molly," he said, and entered his meditation room.
Molly turned to face the new pupils. As soon
as the Techo's door was closed, pets began whispering and pointing at her. "We
don't wanna be taught by a GIRL!" yelled a tall Chomby.
Molly's peaceful blue eyes flashed. "All right,
then," she said, in a low voice. "Is this a challenge?"
The Chomby who'd spoken whispered with his buds.
He turned around defiantly. "Yup," he said. "You and me, right here, right now.
You're gonna get beat, girl!"
"Stand back," said the Cybunny. She and the
Chomby circled each other. Suddenly, the Chomby attacked, his mouth ready to
bite. The Cybunny spun away and hopped onto the Chomby's back. As he turned
to snap at her, she leapt off, landing in front of him. She slid directly into
a smooth kick between his front legs, then leapt to punch him lightly between
the eyes. He fell backwards with a thump. Ariel giggled at the sight.
The Chomby knew when he'd been beaten. He stared
angrily at the unflustered Molly sitting on his chest. "All right," she said,
jumping off. "The first lesson begins. If anybody in this room is prejudiced,
be it against females, Kikos, petpets, or mutants, they might as well leave
now. You will fight against every species and every color. Some of you may even
battle Petpets." She glanced around the room, stopping the soft spread of chuckles.
"There is nothing wrong with battling a Petpet. They are as skilled as Neopets,
simply smaller. A small disadvantage, not enough to lose a battle. Prejudice
will bring you down in here, as this Chomby so helpfully displayed. That is
the first lesson you must learn. Your first class is over."
"Aren't we going to learn to fight?" asked a
whiny Aisha. Molly smiled. "In time. But this is the most important of the lessons
taught within these walls."
The bell rang. Ariel hung around to talk to
Molly. As soon as the others were gone, she approached the powerful Cybunny.
"Um, can I have a word, please?" she asked.
Molly nodded. "Better make it quick. The Level
4s are coming in soon."
Ariel took a deep breath. "I thought you were
awesome today, fighting that Chomby."
Molly laughed. "Oh, that? That was nothing.
I wouldn't have wasted my time on him if it hadn't been relevant to my lesson."
Ariel nodded. "Well, see, I was wondering if
maybe you would battle me?" She blushed as the Cybunny laughed.
"Me, battle you? You WANT me to battle you?"
Ariel nodded again. "For training, you know,"
she said quickly. "In the Water Arena? Just a private battle, something for
me to practice. Go easy on me, okay?"
Molly agreed. "See you there," she said, pushing
Ariel out the door.
The next day, at the Water Arena...
Ariel walked in to find Molly already warming
up. "Our battle isn't for half an hour!" she exclaimed. Molly nodded. "I have
to stretch and warm up my muscles every time, even if I'm not fighting my best."
Ariel nodded and started her own warm-up.
Half an hour passed quickly. Before Ariel even
realized it was time, the master's Cybunny apprentice was getting into stance.
Ariel leapt into the stance her mother had taught her before she was old enough
to go to the Training School.
"Begin," said the Krawk who was serving as the
referee. He did not seem very interested in the match.
Ariel began her much-practiced routine: fake
punch to the left, spin away to the right, attack from behind-
"Time out," said Molly. She eyed Ariel suspiciously.
"You've been trained before," she said.
Ariel nodded. "A little," she admitted. "Just
my mom." Molly signaled to the ref. "Time in."
Molly leaped away from Ariel's attack, twisted
to face her, and leapt. Ariel figured she was trying to get behind her and spun
around, ready. Molly landed and kicked up from a low position. Ariel grabbed
her leg, stopping the kick. She spun the Cybunny around before tossing her down.
The Krawk ran forward and shoved Ariel's hand
in the air. "Winner!" he announced grandly, as if there was a huge audience.
He walked away again, bored as ever.
Molly got up, breathing hard. "Good job," she
said. "You belong in Level 7, I think. I'll tell Sensei to move you up."
Ariel smiled at Molly. "Thanks," she said.
About fifty years later...
Ariel smiled, watching her grandchildren entering
the Training School, now taught by her. She had risen above all others in the
Battledome and was nicknamed "The Battledome Queen." As a respected member of
the community, she had added two new Battledome Arenas: the Everyone Arena,
created for those who hated prejudice, and the Joy Arena, for those who battled
for the love of battling. Both of these were dedicated to the Techo Master,
a much-missed member of Neopia. Ariel wiped a sentimental tear from her eye
as she thought of the Sensei.
She remembered the ceremony, called the Crowning
of the New Master. She stood to the side with a line of other Neopians vying
for the spot. It was a tournament entry. She had battled a Koi, two Grundos,
a Zafara and a Warf. She easily dominated the other entries. That week, she
was moved up in Neopia from Respected Citizen to Training Master. They gave
her a certificate and a crown of flowers since she was female. It was a simple
Molly stood up as the Crowner. "We are gathered
here today," she began, "to celebrate another milestone in Battledome History.
The Crowning of the Next Master is a well-known procedure we are forced to do
after the...retirement of a Sensei. Our new Master is Ariel the Xweetok!" Molly
placed the crown upon Ariel's head.
As soon as it touched her, Ariel felt power
surging through her, from her claws to the tips of her tail. "Thank you," she
sobbed, half crying with joy, "thank you!" She blushed as the audience clapped
energetically. The crowd was a giant mixing pot. Haunted Foresters, Tyrannians,
Faeries, Centralers (the pets from Neopia Central), Space-pets, Kreludor pets,
Meridell residents, Brightvalers, and even a few Maraquans. The Techo Master
would have loved the diversity.
Erika, Ariel's youngest granddaughter, entered
the school, looking much like Ariel had on her first day. The aged Xweetok smiled.
Another legend was about to be born.