The Yooyu Caretaker
The soft sound of a broom being swept across a stone floor echoed in the vast chamber. The wielder of the broom was a male, mutant Bori whose great size made the broom look like a child’s toy. Silently and diligently the Bori worked his way around the room, careful to not miss any speck of dust in the course of completing his task. Meet Bo, apprentice janitor currently employed at the Altador Coliseum.
Bo was very fortunate to even have this job. The main reason for him getting it was because his uncle was head janitor. Being born a mutant in the Altador society is never an easy thing. Altador is probably one of the hardest places in Neopia to fit in as a mutant. There is something about a mutant’s hideous features that make finding and keeping a job very difficult in Altador.
So Bo had been hired by the only organization willing to make use of him, the Thieves Guild. Not being cut out to be a thief, it wasn’t long before Bo was caught and put into prison. There he gained a reputation as a dangerous criminal after brutally attacking a cruel guard who had been tormenting a young prisoner.
When he was finally released, Bo found himself without a job, as the guild had cancelled his contract. With his criminal record haunting him, Bo found it hard to find any form of work. In desperation he went to his uncle, whose only reason for hiring him was because of Bo’s special talent. He was good at fixing things. So Bo was placed in charge of repairing the equipment used in the Altador Cup.
His workshop was situated in the basement of the Coliseum. Only a few of the staff even knew that Bo worked there. His uncle worried that if his superiors found out about his nephew’s record he would get into trouble. Many thought that it was Bo’s uncle who saw to the repair of the equipment.
So since the first Altador Cup had started, Bo had been in the background carefully making sure that every piece of equipment served its user well. Today was the day right before the starting of the sixth annual Altador Cup. Bo knew that the Altador Cup committee liked to inspect every inch of the Coliseum before the games began. He was making sure that everything was in its best condition for the inspection.
Bo paused in his sweeping as he came to an entryway at the far end of the large chamber he was working in. This was the entrance to a vast labyrinth that had existed before the Coliseum or even Altador had come to be. Its purpose unknown, the maze had been covered over and the Coliseum built on top of it. Bo never bothered to enter the labyrinth and he doubted the committee would either. So he returned to his work and soon finished the room he was in.
Placing the broom in his workshop, Bo made to leave the Coliseum and return tomorrow once the tournament had started. But as he passed by the entrance to a small side chamber, a sound caused him to pause. A cry of pain had issued from the room housing one of the most essential parts of the Altador Cup. The Yooyu.
Because his workshop was so close to the chamber that housed the petpets, Bo had come to know them very well. His spare time was spent making sure that the little creatures had enough food, water, as well as medical care when an injury was gained from rough play on the field. The Yooyu trusted Bo; he was their friend, their giant protector. Throughout the course of the Altador Cup Bo was always there for them when they needed him. Bo was very protective of the Yooyu, for here were creatures that didn’t care what he looked like or what he had done. They loved him for who he was not what he was.
As Bo approached their cage he noticed that the normal Yooyu was acting strange. It was trying to curl itself into a ball but was unable to do so. Worry for one of his little friends overcame Bo’s urgency to leave before the committee arrived.
“Hello, little one, what is wrong?” he asked softly.
The Yooyu replied with a whimper as it slowly unrolled to show the problem. Bo winced with sympathy as he saw the injury. The Yooyu had been used earlier in practice rounds among the Altador Cup teams and had somehow managed to dislocate one of its limbs. Bo ground his teeth angrily as he fumed over how this obvious injury had been missed. Another whimper brought his attention back to the injured petpet.
“Don’t worry. I’ll get you fixed up,” he whispered gently.
Unlocking the cage door, he reached in and slowly picked up the Yooyu. Careful not to jar its injured limb, he carried it over to a table in the corner of the room. He took a medical kit down from a shelf and removed a splint and some bandages. Turning to the Yooyu, he prepared to move the bone back into place.
“Sorry, but this is going to hurt a lot,” he said.
The Yooyu simply looked up with trusting eyes into Bo’s face. Completely confident that its friend would not fail to end the pain it was feeling. It was soon in great distress as Bo worked quickly to finish the operation. He had pushed the bone back into place and was about to wrap the limb in bandages when a commanding voice behind him rang out.
“Just what do you think you are doing?”
Quickly Bo turned around to see the three members of the Altador Cup committee standing in the doorway. The committee consisted of a Draik, a Skeith, and an Aisha. It was the Draik who had spoken out and his eyes widened as he saw the injured petpet.
“Step away from the valuable Yooyu this instant,” he demanded.
Stunned, Bo watched as the Aisha swept by him to pick up the Yooyu.
“Why, the poor thing is injured,” she exclaimed glaring accusingly at Bo.
“Torturing petpets, are we?” the Draik commented. “Well just wait until the PPL hears about this. I’m going to get the guards. You will most likely go to prison for this! You two keep on eye on him.”
After the Draik had gone, Bo came out of his state of shock. Knowing that the Yooyu still needed treatment, he moved to help it. Mistaking his intent, the Skeith placed himself in Bo’s path.
“Just stop right there pal,” the large Neopet growled warningly, placing a steady hand on the mutant’s shoulder. “You wait there until the guards get here.”
Just then the Yooyu gave out a cry of pain as the Aisha accidentally bumped its injured limb. That sound coupled with the whole injustice of the situation caused a rage to emerge in Bo. Grabbing the Skeith with both hands, the Bori flung the Neopet from him. The Skeith flew through the air until his trip was abruptly halted by a solid, stone pillar. He slumped to the ground, deathly still. The Aisha stared widely at the mutant Bori standing before her.
“What have you done?” she shrieked, hysteria tingeing her voice. “You might have killed him!”
Bo stared in horror at the Skeith’s still form as the rage drained from him. The sudden sound of pounding footsteps alerted him to the return of the Draik along with five guards, one was a Kougra captain and the other four were Grarrls.
“What has happened here?” the Draik demanded taking in the scene at a glance.
Pointing a shaking hand in Bo’s direction, the Aisha exclaimed, “That one attacked our fellow committee member. I don’t know if he is even still alive.”
“That is a serious crime if ever I heard one,” the Kougra captain said. “We will throw this criminal in prison and make sure he stays there for a long time. Get him, boys.”
As the four Grarrls closed in on Bo, he suddenly panicked. The Bori had been in prison before and he didn’t want to go back there. Cut off from the outside world, surrounded by Neopets who actually belonged there, never to see his beloved friends again. It was too much for the poor Bori to handle. Bullying his way past the guards, he ran off into the Coliseum’s basement. Behind him, the Kougra berated his hapless guards as they recovered from Bo’s mad dash through their midst.
“You call yourself Altador guards!” he screamed at them. “You couldn’t even handle one simple Bori between you. Stir yourselves! No criminal escapes from my justice.”
With that the five guards set off after the escaping mutant. When they had departed, the Draik made his way over to the fallen Skeith.
“Is he dead?” the Aisha asked quietly.
“No, just unconscious,” the Draik replied with a relieved sigh. “Here, help me with him. He has got one nasty cut that needs attending to.”
The Aisha carefully placed the Yooyu on the ground before hurrying over to assist her companion. The Yooyu, now left alone, made its way as fast as it could to the Yooyu holding cage. The petpet didn’t completely understand what was going on, but it did understand this much. Bo, the friend who had always been there for them no matter what, was in a whole lot of trouble. He needed help and the Yooyu were going to be the ones to provide it.
Arriving at the cage, it called softly to get the attention of its fellow petpets. The other six crowded at the cage door as the normal Yooyu explained the situation. They all quickly agreed that they needed to help Bo, but were first presented with a problem. How to escape from the cage? The key was hanging far out of reach on a nail in the wall. The injured Yooyu had no way of reaching it.
The dilemma was soon solved by one of the Yooyu walking over to the cage door and curling into a ball. The other Yooyu quickly got out of the way as the clockwork Yooyu began to glow a bright red. What soon followed was a loud explosion that knocked open the cage door and gained the attention of the Aisha and Draik. But by the time the two Neopets discovered what had happened, the Yooyu were long gone on their way to help their friend.
Bo ran blindly through the vast labyrinth that stretched out before him. Pursued by the guards, he had unknowingly entered this maze of darkness and now he had no choice but to run onwards. Tears streamed down the mutant’s face as he tried to escape from a fate he did not desire to face. Having finally found a purpose in life, he was devastated to think that it was now lost to him forever.
For what seemed like an eternity, Bo ran threw the darkness of the labyrinth until he finally reached a dead end. Slumping to the ground against a stone wall, Bo sank into the depths of despair. Knowing that escape was hopeless, Bo sat there sobbing silently into the uncaring darkness.
The five guards had easily tracked Bo through the maze by following the sound of his frantic footsteps. Three of the Grarrls guards held torches that lit up the darkness around them. They arrived at a three-way intersection just as the sound of their quarry stopped.
After listening carefully, the Kougra was able to discern the sound of Bo crying. He also concluded that all three of the paths led to where the mutant was located. Motioning the guards closer, he quietly gave his instructions.
“I want two of you to take the right path and the other two to take the left one. I will cover the middle path myself. Once we arrive where all three paths meet up again, we will have the Bori trapped and will capture him easily.”
The Grarrls nodded and headed off, one of them pausing briefly to hand a torch to his captain.
“Are you sure you should go alone, Captain?” the guard asked. “That mutant looked pretty strong and you might end up meeting him on your own.”
The Kougra glared coldly at the Grarrl. “Don’t worry, I can handle that one better than all four of you put together. Besides, I hope that I do meet this one alone. I know this Bori; I met him in prison where he attacked me just because I was being a little rough with one of his fellow prisoners. It’s high time I paid that mutant back for the injuries he gave me that day.”
The Grarrl nodded swiftly and backed away noticing the dangerous gleam in his captain’s eyes. He ran quickly to catch up with his companion who had headed down the left path. The Kougra meanwhile hastened down the middle path eager to reach his prey.
A few moments later the crossway had some new visitors. The seven Yooyu huddled together in order to discuss what to do next. As the leader of the group, the normal Yooyu informed the others of a plan that it had come up with. Their course of action agreed upon, the Yooyu headed off, each to do its own part of the plan.
The Grarrl who had given the Kougra his torch was getting more uneasy about the darkness around him. Keeping close to his fellow guard and their single torch, he began to imagine that he could see things moving around in the darkness.
“Did you see that?” he asked his companion fearfully.
“There is nothing there. It’s just your imagination,” the other Grarrl replied, keeping his gaze on the path ahead.
The next instant, the torch suddenly went out as something flew by it.
“Hey! Why did you put out the light?” the first Grarrl cried out.
When no answer came, he stepped forward hesitantly, calling out, “Are you there?”
In the darkness ahead a pair of red glowing eyes appeared and a low angry growl issued forth. The Grarrl turned to run, but found to his horror that another pair of red eyes had appeared behind him as well. The guard gave a moan of despair as the Darigan and mutant Yooyu closed in.
The two guards who had went along the right path found a red, glowing ball. The explosion effectively knocked them out cold.
The Kougra captain made his way down the middle path, all the while gleefully contemplating all the horrible punishments that would be awaiting the mutant Bori back in prison. He would make sure that he would be the sole deliver of those punishments. For then he would finally get back at the Neopet who had humiliated him all those years ago.
Perhaps it was instinct that made the Kougra duck just then. For when he did, a sudden icy cold and burning hot wind blew over his head as the fire and ice Yooyu flew by.
Drawing his sword, the Kougra was suddenly attacked by a flurry of glitter as the Faerie Yooyu flew at his face. He swung his sword and caught the attacking Yooyu a blow with the flat of his blade. The petpet fell to the ground and the Kougra stabbed downwards with his sword, intent on impaling the Yooyu.
But before the blade could do any damage, the Kougra’s arm was assaulted by the mutant and Darigan Yooyu who had just arrived from the left path. Forced to drop his sword, the captain went at his attackers with the torch, swinging it back and forth in an attempt to drive them away. This left his back exposed to a joint attack by the fire and ice Yooyu. Both petpets used their elements to both burn and freeze their opponent.
The Kougra was not finished, though. Despite his evil nature, he was in fact an excellent fighter and he was not about to allow himself to be beaten by a bunch of petpets. Throwing all his strength into attacking, he managed to beat his mini oppressors into a corner.
Raising the torch above his head, the Kougra gave a mad cry of triumph. This was followed by a cry of pain and shock as the normal Yooyu bit his tail down to the bone. The torch fell from his hands as he turned on the remaining petpet.
With a thrust of his tail the Kougra flung the normal Yooyu from him. Advancing on the petpet with an insane glint in his eyes, the Kougra grabbed the nearest object he could reach and held it above his head intending to crush the Yooyu with it.
“Now I will get rid of you, then your pals, and finally that mutant Bori. I have won!” he exclaimed.
Expecting to see fear on his victim’s face he was surprised to find that it was grinning instead.
“What are you smiling about?” he cried. “You are beaten!”
But the normal Yooyu only grinned wider as it nodded at the object in the Kougra’s hand.
The clockwork Yooyu sighed; it really didn’t want to blow up again. It had already blown up twice today and it didn’t want to have to do it again. Blowing up does get tiring after a while. Oh well, it seemed as though, once again, it had no choice.
The Kougra slowly turned his head as the side of his face was bathed in a bright, red light.
“Oh sweet Fyora,” he managed to murmur before the clockwork Yooyu exploded directly in his face.
Bo went on crying for a while, expecting the guards to arrive any minute to take him away to prison. But when the sound of someone approaching reached his ears, it was not the guards that greeted his gaze, but his little friends the Yooyu.
Noticing his tears, all seven petpets were quick to comfort the Bori. Giving Bo hugs and patting his head, they assured him that they would always be there for him. Silently Bo drifted off to sleep, surrounded by his faithful companions.
This was the sight that greeted the Altador Cup committee as they arrived at the dead end. Accompanied by the four Grarrls who had recovered from their encounters with the Yooyu, they stared silently at the quiet scene.
“So the head janitor was right. He really does care for the Yooyu and they care for him,” the Aisha finally commented.
“Indeed and before when it seemed like he was trying to attack us, all he really wanted to do was help his friend,” the Skeith replied.
The Draik said nothing he simply stared for a while at the sleeping figures. The normal Yooyu suddenly woke from its slumber. Noticing the audience, it glared threateningly at them.
“Don’t worry, little one; your friend is safe now,” the Draik reassured it with a small smile.
“Let’s head back now,” he said to his companions.
Turning to leave, he found his way blocked by the Kougra captain. The Neopet was a terrible sight to behold. Some of his fur was still smoldering from the fire Yooyu’s attack, while spikes from the mutant Yooyu were dotted all over his body. His face was entirely black and his mouth was devoid off all but a few of his teeth.
He glared at the Draik as he shouted in a crazed voice. “What do you mean that he is safe now? That Bori is a dangerous criminal! You can’t just let him go free!”
The Draik calmly wiped spit from his own face as he replied, “On the contrary, this Neopet has done nothing wrong in this instance. He has already paid for his past crimes and I see no reason to send him back to prison. You, on the other hand, are in far more trouble than this Bori. I have just received word that a recent investigation into your past career has led to evidence of criminal activity on your part. Instances of accepting bribes as well as intense prisoner cruelty among other things will guarantee you a long prison sentence. Now would you gentlemen be so kind as to arrest this criminal?”
This last statement was directed at the four Grarrls who were quick to march the Kougra away. He was never a very popular captain. The committee members waited a while before turning to leave as well.
Before they left, the Aisha turned back for a moment. “Should we wake him and tell him what has transpired?”
The Draik thought for a moment, then shook his head. “We can leave a note at his workshop, informing him that he is now the official Yooyu caretaker of the Altador Cup.”
As they left, his final words echoed in the darkness of the labyrinth. “Bo the mutant Bori will continue to care for the Yooyu. Just as they today took care of him.”