The Truth Behind the Angry Techo
Plushies in Person: The Angry Techo
“You show ‘em, Dasher! Wooo!”
I wince as my sister yells her support directly in my ear. Her banner waves wildly, catching me in the face. I blow at it irritably and return my attention to the game. Who doesn’t love Yooyuball? It’s the favorite sport of almost every Neopian, and the Altador Cup is the be-all-end-all event of the year. The slushies, the sportsmanship of Neopets from across the world showing up to support their favorite teams, and of course... Neopia’s biggest sports fanatic...
A wordless scream of rage directs my attention to the Techo three seats down. Yes, the Angry Techo. If you’ve ever been to a Yooyuball game, you know who I’m talking about. Even in the nosebleed seats you can hear him bellow and watch his eyes bug out. I dig in my backpack for my lucky Cup plushies. One Altador Cup Referee (I smile fondly at this one), and one Angry Techo. As long as I bring these plushies to the game, Krawk Island never loses. I pause, and stare down at the plushies in my bag. I pull out the Angry Techo plushie, and grin. It gives me an idea.
Down on the field, the referee calls a time-out. I surreptitiously slide out of my seat and go to sit next to the Techo. He’s still bellowing, of course. I can’t understand most of it, but it has something to do with the referee and what training school he went to. I poke him once in the shoulder and smile. He whirls, eyes bloodshot and huge. I quickly hand him the last half of my Chokato Slushie as a distraction, and he snatches it from my paws and sucks on it so hard the straw collapses.
“Hi,” I say cheerfully, extending a paw, which he shakes, looking bewildered. “My name’s Sqearull Whyyn. You might know me. I’m a reporter for the Neopian Times?”
He blinks. I guess no one has ever taken the time to talk to him. I go on, “You know, I write the column, 'Plushies in Person', where I interview the models of everyone’s favorite plushies?”
“I only read the Times during Cup season,” he croaks, returning my empty slushie cup.
“That’s all right,” I reply amicably. “Not everyone I interview reads the Times. Anyway, as you might have guessed, I’d like to ask you a few questions.”
Krawk Island and Darigan Citadel return to the field, and the Techo turns back to the game.
“Not now,” he says. “I have to watch the game.”
I smile and settle into my seat. “That’s okay. I can wait.”
The whistle blows, and the Yooyu is released. Krawk Island gets possession, and the game resumes. I watch the game, half-listening to the Techo beside me. He’s not actually cheering for either team, and doesn’t seem to be making much sense. Most of what he shouts doesn’t mean anything at all. The whistle blows again, a foul this time. The robot Yooyu has exploded, nothing too spectacular, but Tormo Frein has taken the opportunity to tackle Ealyn Hawkshanks into the dirt. The Terror is a lot bigger than Ealyn, and the Quiggle looks woozy. Medics rush to the field, and Darigan Citadel’s captain starts lecturing The Terror on team ethics.
“So...” I begin again as the Techo howls his outrage, “who’s your favorite team?”
He stops mid-screech and turns to me. “Favorite team?”
“Well, yeah. I mean, everyone knows you go to all the games, but do you have a favorite? Who do you want to win the Cup this year?”
He looks at me suspiciously. “Why are you talking to me, little Xweetok girl?”
I hold up my Angry Techo plushie. “Remember? Sqearull Whyyn, plushie reporter? You’re a plushie? We had this conversation already.”
“Let me see that,” he says, and I reluctantly hand him the plushie. To my horror, he chucks it over the rail and on to the field. I sigh in relief as Garven Hale snatches the plushie as it falls and tosses it back to me with a wink.
“Now look here, you,” I say angrily to the Techo, prodding him in the chest. “I realize you’re the Angry Techo, but that was uncalled for. I paid 350k for that plushie. Seriously, you’ve got a lot of loyal fans out there that would love to hear your story, as angry as it may be. So you’re going to answer some questions whether you like it or not.”
By now some of the fans are watching us, since the game is still in timeout. I can tell some of the Neopets and their owners recognize me, since my picture is sometimes published in the paper. My sisters are shaking their heads in embarrassment, although by now they’re used to my antics. My brother, Flame, gives me an encouraging thumbs-up. I sit back down, clutching the plushie tightly, in case the Techo tries that stunt again.
“What’s your name?” I ask, trying to calm down. “I feel bad calling you the Angry Techo from the Altador Cup.”
“My name’s Arthur,” he answers, chagrined.
“All right, Arthur,” I say. “I’ll make this quick, since we both want to watch the game. I refer to my previous question. Who’s your favorite team?”
“Don’t have one,” he says shortly. “Just like to watch the game.”
I find myself losing my patience again. “Arthur, this would be easier if you would cooperate. I’ve interviewed tougher people than you. There has to be a reason you come to every single Yooyuball game, every year, rain or shine.”
“I play. The game, I mean. Yooyuball.”
I wait, sensing he might actually open up.
“I wanted to play for Brightvale,” he goes on, staring blankly at the field. “But I couldn’t. Can’t.” He points at his left foot, and instead of three toes, he only has two. “I can play practice games, but not professional. I don’t have the balance.” He sighs, and the referee announces that Ealyn is okay, and play will resume in two minutes.
As always with my interviews, my subject has surprised me. Who would have thought there was such depth to this raging fan?
“Are you done?” he asks, and I nod. I thank him, and return to my seat. I watch the game, thinking more about Arthur the Techo, yelling his head off again, than about the Yooyuball game. A great roar goes up, and I look up. Krawk Island scores the winning goal with two seconds on the clock. The crowd goes wild, the Techo loudest of all, and I realize what I want to do.
“You’ve got that look in your eyes, Sqearull,” Kaynue, my sister, says. “That look you get when you’re going to do something that probably will get you in trouble.”
I grin at her. “I don’t think I’ll get arrested this time, sis,” I say. “Tell Catt not to wait for me. I’ll find my way home later. I’ve got to go talk to someone.” I dash for the stairs. As I leave, I hear her say, “You’ve always got someone to talk to.”
Deep under the Colosseum I find who I’m looking for.
“Hey! What’s up, Plush?” Dasher Soley greets me as I enter the locker room. I’d gotten a chance to meet the team while visiting Krawk Island for another story. I wasn’t sure why, but they’d taken to me, even giving me my own nickname.
“Dasher! Great game, scallywag,” I reply, trying my best at the complicated handshake the team has. He laughs and puts an arm around my shoulders.
“What can us humble Yoo’ball players do for you today?” he asks.
“Funny you should ask. I need a favor,” I say hesitantly.
“You want us to steal somethin’?” Garven asks. I laugh, but realize he was only half joking. They are pirates eleven months out of the year, after all.
“No, nothing like that. Let me tell you a story...”
They listen patiently, and agree readily to my plan when I’m finished. They separate, heading toward the other locker rooms to spread the word to the other teams. As Dasher leaves, I say hesitantly, “Dash, could I ask you one more favor?” I worry, because this is a personal favor, not one for my story.
He cuffs me lightly on the shoulder. “Whatever it is, Plush, it’s no problem. Consider it done.”
Again, I tell him my idea. This time, he gets a huge kick out of it, and says yes immediately. I hear him chortling all the way down the hall. I seem to have a gift for making Dasher Soley laugh.
When I finally get home late that night, Catt is waiting up for me. “I hope the story is good. You’ve been gone for hours.”
I smile. “I did my good deed for the day,” I tell her, but say nothing more about what I did.
“You want to share the secret you’re practically bursting with?” she presses.
“This is too good to share,” I reply. “Don’t worry. You won’t have to wait long. We are going to the game tomorrow, right?”
She pauses. “I guess we are.”
The following day, the Yooyuball game begins as usual. The teams, Shenkuu against Darigan Citadel this time, enter the field to tumultuous applause. Then, instead of the quick release of the Yooyu, the two captains take the center of the field.
“Before we begin today’s game,” Mirsha, Shenkuu’s captain, begins, “Layton and I, as well as the other team captains, would like to recognize the tournament’s biggest fan. Arthur?”
Layton Vickles brings Arthur out on to the field. I don’t know if anyone else noticed, but Arthur looked terrified. I don’t know if that was because of stage fright, or because of Layton, Darigan’s team captain.
“Arthur Techo, by unanimous decision of the sixteen Yooyuball teams and the Altador Cup Committee, we name you the Sixth Player of the Altador Cup teams. We present you with this one-of-a-kind jersey.” She slips the yellow jersey over Arty’s head. Featured on the front was the official crest of the Cup; on the back, “Arthur Techo” and a large number six.
“Enough of this ceremony stuff,” Layton says, “I say it’s time to play some Yooyuball!”
The crowd roars in approval for Arthur, and for the game. The game begins, and Arthur is back in his usual seat, cheering his head off. Catt turns to me and says, “Your good deed, huh?”
I smile and brush imaginary dirt from my shoulder. “I do what I can.”
She snorts and replies, “At least this time you didn’t get thrown in a dungeon.”
I sigh. I will never live that down. I settle in with my slushie to watch the game. Little does she know that the fun isn’t over yet.
Darigan Citadel wins the game, but barely. My family returns home in good spirits. Catt goes off to the kitchen to make dinner, and my siblings and I go about setting the table. I try to be sneaky, but Kaynue notices the extra five plates I get out of the cupboard.
“Sqearull, what are you doing?” she asks suspiciously.
“Oh, I just have this feeling we might have guests for dinner,” I answer innocently. Kaynue doesn’t buy it, but stays silent. Then, the doorbell rings.
“I’ll get it!” my other sister, Twitt, calls. Of all of us, she is the biggest Yooyuball fan, and in the highest spirits. She bounces out of the kitchen and I hear her pull open the front door. Utter silence from the foyer, and then she shrieks.
Catt comes running, and Kaynue and Flame close behind her. I smile secretly, and amble into the living room. Twitt is standing stock-still in front of the open door, which frames the Krawk Island team. Dasher is grinning madly, and when he sees me, he winks.
“I don’t suppose you might have some vittles for hungry pirates?” he asks. “We heard a rumor there are friendly folks here, and we seem to have skipped dinner.”
Twitt sputters, and faints flat out on the floor. Yes, another good deed accomplished for the day. But the gears in my head begin to grind again....