Enter the Snowflake's lair... Circulation: 176,283,131 Issue: 350 | 3rd day of Swimming, Y10
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Hey, Hey, Are You Ready?


by nativsis

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“Who are we?” Coach shouted.

     “ROO-EYE-LUND!” we shouted back.

     “Who are we?” the starry Kau repeated, hooves on her hips, one jutting out to the side.

     “ROOOOOOO-EEEEEEEEEYEEEEEEEEE-LUUUUUUUUND!” we screamed, circling our arms and the pompoms in the air, then finally jumping up to the sky. There was a bunch of clops, clatters, and plods as we landed on the ground, hooves, paws, and shoes slapping against the pavement. I panted, and tucked my hair behind my oversized ears. They were sweaty after the two hours of practice and workout—push-ups, jumping jacks, toe-touches, screaming. I wasn't the only one practically killed by the horrors of Workout Wednesday—Qy, a watery-eyed Korbat, collapsed on the ground and moaned. A couple other cheerleaders helped her up, used to the usual Qy routine.

     “Good job, everyone!” Coach bellowed. “Remember to eat a good breakfast and keep hydrated for tomorrow!” She eyed me especially, and I squirmed as the swarm of Roo Island cheerleaders dragged me into the lockers.

     ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     “Mal, you forgot your water bottle again?” I rolled my eyes as I pulled my T-shirt over my head, used to Qy's daily jest. “Silly Xweetok.” She teased, wagging a tiny finger. Gala leaned against a locker and folded her arms, looking at us in mock-condescension. Her wet, stringy red Kyrii hair was tied up in a ponytail, and beads of water dripped down her face. We fell silent, knowing that meant she was about to make an announcement. She slapped her paws down on her knees, her elbows pointing outward.

     “I heard Wendy likes Lilo,” she sang. Five lockers down the freckled purple Wocky's face flushed.

     “Do not!” she protested.

     “You do-ooooo.” Gala giggled. Wendy wrapped her arms around her backpack, which rested on her lap.

     “S-s-so?” she stammered. “Every girl likes Lilo.”

     “Not true.” A tall Ixi named Erin pointed out. “The stupid girls like Gordo, remember?” The entire locker room burst into laughter, and Gala slapped me on the shoulder playfully.

     “Yeah. Girls like Mal.” I giggled at another old joke.

     “And girls like Gala like Clutch.” Anyone who had only snorted at the Gordo joke was on the floor laughing, and whoops bounced off the metal lockers.

     “Do not,” Gala snarled, ending the riot. “Anyway.” She tossed her tote bag over her shoulder, and leaned over. “Mal, you coming?” I glanced up, and nodded absentmindedly. I stood up, and there was a dull ache in my shoulder. Stupid jumping jacks, I thought, cursing whoever invented the dumb exercises. The room began to clear, and Gala, Qy and I exited, again pulled along by the current.

     ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     I picked at my brown rice, flipping my fork like a seesaw. My chin rested lazily on my paw, and my blue Xweetok tail flicked around. Mom sat across from me at the tiny dinner table, which, besides our plates, was crowded with chicken, rice, and vegetables.

     “Tired, Mal?” Mom joked, obviously knowing the answer. Duh I am, I wanted to retort, but my mouth was too worn out from screaming to open. The Xweetok picked up a fork and plopped another hunk of spiced chicken onto my plate. “Eat,” she insisted. “Proteins are the best form of energy.” I sliced off a piece and stuck it in my mouth, chewing slowly. “So. You have a pretty big battle tomorrow.” Mom always referred to the games as battles, seeing as she wasn't that far off. Lilo screaming at the ref and Fenny acting like it was the end of Neopia after last year's miserable defeat from the Lost Desert came to mind.

     “Maraqua versus Roo Island,” I said dully, sticking peas on the tongs of my fork like a shish kabob. “Coach is killing us, I swear.”

     “It could be worse. You could be on the team itself.” There was a witty spark in Mom's eye, and I couldn't help but snicker.

     “Yeah.” We ate the rest of dinner in silence.

     It wasn't like I hated cheerleading. I loved it, a lot. I was probably the first to join the team when the sign-up sheet was hung on the corkboard in the gym. Up to a hundred other girls scribbled their names in, even when the lines could only fit fifty. Signatures were on the border, even inside the huge Os at the top of the paper. Once the deadline came, the gym teacher tore the sheet off the board (we watched through the windows), and went through it with the principal and the Altador Cup Officials, checking for stuff like health records, gym grades, a million things.

     About twenty girls made it onto the roster, and when school let in, everyone rushed to the corkboard. Barely five seconds passed when the chosen twenty burst into screams. The losing eighty-or-so moped across the halls to their next class, some even wept. I didn't care, really. All of my friends had either made the cut or had never taken interest in yooyuball, period.

     Turned out, they'd done it all across Neopia—for the first year ever, the Altador Cup would have cheerleaders. Cheerleaders. I was a cheerleading fanatic since I was little, given my first pleated skirt and pompoms on my third birthday. No doubt, we screamed again when we saw the uniform—red, yellow, green and blue pleated skirt, blue sweater, and the jester's collar, complete with jingle bells. Besides being exhausted from the exercises, by the end of practice, our ears were always ringing, and it took hours for our heads to stop hurting. But it was all worth it. Everything would be worth it, the moment we stepped out onto the concrete of the stadium, and the crowds started roaring.

     ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

     “Who are we?!?” Coach howled at us, clapping her hooves together.

     “ROO-EYE-LUND!” we screamed, and threw our arms down. On the other side of the stadium, the Maraquan cheerleaders glared at us, folding their arms across their navy-and-neon turquoise uniforms.

     “WHO. ARE. WE?” Coach shouted.

     “ROOOOOOO-EEEEEEEEEYEEEEEEEEE-LUUUUUUUUND!” I thought my voice would collapse and give up at the long, drawn-out holler, but we continued, circling our pompoms around each other, my left one circling my right, the right doing the same. When that ended, Coach began the chant, arms folded.

     “A little weewoo in a tree!” she hollered.

     “A LITTLE WEEWOO IN A TREE!” we hollered back.

     “Said something awful true to me!”

     “SAID SOMETHING AWFUL TRUE TO ME!”

     “It said Roo Island was the best!”

     “IT SAID ROO ISLAND WAS THE BEST!”

     “Better tha-an all the rest!”

     “BETTER THA-AN ALL THE REST!” We punched our green-and-red pompoms up to the sky, and “woooooooo”ed. We clapped. We made touchdown cheers. We did the daggers move. As we danced, jumped, and shouted, I side-glanced at the Maraqua cheerleaders. They ignored us, like cheerleaders were supposed to, having started the moment we finished the “Roo Eye-Lund” shout.

     They were loud. Really, really, loud. I didn't know whether or not being underwater made any difference or not, or the seaweed they always ate, but something did. Because we were getting killed. Our team was doing great, really. Lilo, Fenny, Jair, Gordo, and Clutch weren't distracted by the cheers, but they weren't encouraged by them, either. Our voices were downright wimpy. As we began another cheer, I heard Wendy's voice crack. Gala jabbed an elbow into her stomach, and the Wocky muttered something, probably trying to fix it. Erin and I spun around, making the “raise the roof” signal to the crowd.

     “ROOOOOOOOOO!” the masses of neopets roared. A crowd in the front seats held up flags and pennants, with “Rooligans” painted on their T-shirts. Erin and I lifted made the signal stronger. “ROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!” As soon as the stadium was loud enough to make up for our lousy shouting, we spun back around, and kept going with the cheers.

     Maraqua was beating us. When we turned to face the scoreboard, I could see it as bright as Siyana the light faerie—nine to five. Time was running out. Their cheerleaders, all Koi and Flotsams, were ten times better than us. Maybe more. They mimed swimming and formed Ms. Their crowd was louder and wilder, their team faster. Besides that, they had the mutant yooyu. Barit Jowes flung it at the wall, and the yooyu shrieked in delight as it bounced back and forth. One second it was speeding in front of our faces, another it was missing the goalpost by an inch. With the intensity, I wished I was in the crowd, watching the poor cheerleaders be pummeled, maybe painting my face four different colors.

     Suddenly, the Rooligans jumped up and howled, jumping up and down and cheering. Someone had scored! Excitement soared through me, and I found myself dancing. The rest of the squad stared at me as one would an escaped Jelly World believer, but followed suit anyway. I can lead, I thought, a grin creeping across my face. My jingle bells making music as I walked, I made my way in front of the rest of the squad, like I was the leader. Because I was.

     “Hey, Hey!

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?” We clapped in unison, some of us pounding our paws together.

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?

     “Are you ready to take home the gold?

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?

     “Are yoooooou rea-dy to be num-ber one?” We twirled, our skirts looking like rainbow pinwheels, our collars jangling like there was no tomorrow. As I led the song, I watched the scoreboard. I watched as the team racked up the points, the tiles displaying the scores flipping. Six to nine. Seven to nine. Eight. Finally, nine. The Rooligans stared at the scoreboard and the goal with pleading eyes, begging the faeries of yooyuball to gift them with the necessary goal to win the game. I was leading, cheering like there was no tomorrow. I wondered when my mouth would give in, collapse from all the singing, screaming, and smiling. And then—

     Eeeeeeeeeeeee! A yooyu had literally jumped into my paws, and I stared at it like it was insane. It grinned a cheesy grin. My jaw dropped, and the entire stadium turned to look at me. Lilo and Gordo gave me death glares, as if Kreludor would come crashing down onto Neopia if I made a wrong move. Fenny seemed to be praying to Fyora, Clutch just waiting patiently. Jair was squirming. The Maraqua team seemed laid back, as if their minds were set that a cheerleader wouldn't even know who to throw the petpet to.

     “What do I do what do I do what do I do?!” I hissed across the concrete “field”. I could hear Elon snort.

     “Throw it to someone!” Lilo hissed back. I looked down at the yooyu. Then back up.

     “HURRY UP FOR FYORA'S SAKE!” Fenny shrieked, and I immediately flung the yooyu back into the game. The intensity faded, and the roaring of the crowd returned. Boos came from the Maraquan fans, some emptying their smoothies right over us. I didn't flinch, I only kept going.

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?” (Clap clap.)

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?

     “Are yooooooooou rea-dy to beat the e-ne-my?

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?

     “Hey, hey, are you ready?” We chanted faster, and soon the Rooligans behind us joined in.

     “HEY, HEY, ARE YOU READY?

     “HEY, HEY, ARE YOU READY?

     “ARE YOOOOOOOU REA-DY TO TAKE HOME THE GOLD?”

     The Maraquan cheerleaders gaped at us, arms hanging limply in shock and disbelief. A few kept cheering, knowing the usual routine. But they were drowned out by us—after all, we had practically half the stadium with us. Lilo dashed across the field, only a blur of a Blumaroo, the rest of the team and all of Maraqua in his wake.

     And then, the yooyu zoomed into the Maraquan goal. The tie was broken, the game time run out.

     Lights flashed. Pompoms flew up in the air like mortarboards. We all collapsed and laughed, and only stood up for a suffocating group hug.

The End

Fwee! (: *does mini dance* Anyway... good luck to all for the AC III. ^_^ Who knows, maybe they'll have cheerleaders. ;)

 
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