The Slushie Slinger
Kayennah the Krawk couldn't believe her luck! Ever since she was a little Krawk, she had eagerly looked forward to the Altador Cup every year but, being so young, she'd had to content herself with sitting outside the stadiums, straining to hear above the frenzied crowds in an effort to decipher what might have been happening on the pitch. She had been in a rush to grow to an age where she could finally enter the stadium and watch the matches from the stands, cheering on her beloved team Meridell. However, she had given little thought to how she would be able to afford match tickets. In fact, this small detail hadn't even occurred to her! So the start of the Altador Cup XI had been marred with disappointment that had come with the realisation that match tickets were most definitely out of her price range, given her paltry student budget. But Kayennah the Krawk was not a quitter and some ingenious quick thinking had found her enquiring at one of the Slushie stands if they needed any extra help over the Cup season. And miracle of miracles, Kayennah was hired! Yes, Kayenneh couldn't believe her luck! Not only was she going to be able to watch the matches, she was even going to get paid for it too! All she had to do was serve the odd slushie here and there. What could be easier than that?
On her first day, Kayennah could hardly contain her excitement. She was one of many new trainees and, as she stood in line waiting for her new uniform to be handed out to her, she turned to the Neopet behind her. "Isn't this a dream come true?" she enthused. "Isn't the Altador Cup just the most exciting event in the whole Neopian calendar?"
The Shadow Mynci she was gushing to didn't seem to share Kayennah's enthusiasm. He looked at her disdainfully. "Personally I couldn't care less about the Altador Cup," he replied coolly. "I'm just here for the neopoints I'll earn. Really? Grown Neopians racing around after a yooyuball? Where's the sense in that?"
Kayennah was shocked. She had never met anyone with so little interest in the Cup before. Until now, she had believed that the whole of Neopia had Altador Cup fever! There were so many things she wanted to say to this Mynci - like how great it was to support a team and feel a real sense of camaraderie and solidarity with your fellow team supporters, or how exciting it was not knowing which yooyuball would make an appearance, or how cheering your team on during a match and making lots of noise in support of the players could actually help your team win! - but the Mynci had already turned away from her. Instead, Kayennah turned her attention to the Red Tuskaninny with the friendly smile who was handing out the uniforms.
"I'm the one who's going to be showing you the ropes today," the Tuskaninny announced, and Kayennah absorbed herself for the next hour in a lengthy explanation of what being a "Slushie Slinger" would involve. Overall, it didn't sound too daunting. There were only three flavours of slushie served at the stands: zeenana, jumbleberry, and chokato, and they all came in one regular size. All the slushie slingers had to do was serve the correct flavour to each customer, then collect the empty cup once the customer had finished. And, according to the Red Tuskaninny, it didn't even matter too much if they messed the flavours up. Granted, they wouldn't receive as much for serving the wrong slushie, but ANY slushie was better than NO slushie. The Tuskaninny stressed this point several times. Kayennah beamed broadly. This was going to be so much fun! Most Neopians would be too busy watching the match anyway, Kayennah told herself, to be bothered with queueing for slushies and possibly missing seeing an important goal being scored!
Once she had dressed herself in her new uniform - an Altadorian-style white toga which she absolutely loved - Kayennah found herself standing next to the Shadow Mynci once more. "I really feel like I belong here!" Kayennah couldn't help but blurt out. She was truly in awe of the grand stadium and was finding it extremely difficult not to shout out with joy at finally being here on a match day, and when her favourite team Meridell were playing too! The Mynci merely curled his lip at her contemptuously.
"Team?" the Red Tuskaninny asked the pair of them.
Kayennah squealed. "Meridell!"
The Tuskaninny handed her a Meridell pin badge, which Kayennah proudly pinned to her uniform.
"Team?" the Tuskaninny repeated to the Mynci who shrugged.
"Does it matter?" he grumbled. "I'm not here to support a team. I just need the work. I don't care who wins or loses. It's all the same to me. Look, give me a Meridell badge too. But really it makes no difference."
The Tuskaninny frowned, her friendly smile disappearing for a moment. "The harder you work for your chosen team," she said knowingly, "the better the chances are of your team winning! Work hard at keeping your supporters refreshed, and they'll work harder at cheering your team on, and your team will repay you by playing better than ever!"
"I can't wait! I can't wait!" Kayennah beamed her huge Krawk grin and the Red Tuskaninny beamed back at her.
"That's the spirit!"
The Mynci pinned the Meridell badge to his uniform. "Let's just get to work," he muttered irritably.
"Indeed!" cried out the Tuskaninny. "Slushie slingers, you now know what to do! Let's sling some slushies!"
Kayennah took her place at one of the Meridell slushie stands. How proud she felt to be standing there, wearing her badge of honour. "This is the best day of my life!" she exclaimed out loud. Neopians were entering the stadium. Kayennah served her first slushie, then her second, then her third. It was fairly slow paced, and Kayennah was able to watch as the stands started to fill up with Altador Cup supporters, Meridell fans in one half, and Mystery Island fans in the other. The atmosphere was electric and Kayennah felt giddy with excitement. From her slushie stand, she craned her neck, hoping she'd be able to catch a glimpse of the players - in particular the Meridell players - run out onto the pitch. To her delight, she found she had an excellent view of from where they should emerge! She would be able to see everything!
"Er, Miss, zeenana please!"
"What?" Kayennah snapped out of her reverie. "Oh yes, yes, of course!" She quickly turned her attention to slushie slinging.
And that is where her attention sadly remained. Kayennah had severely underestimated the sweltering heat of the Altadorian sun, and the thirst of her over-excited Meridell supporters. What had begun as a small trickle of customers soon swelled into a seemingly never-ending frenzy of fans all gasping for a refreshing slushie. Kayennah had never worked so hard in all her life! All around her the crowd roared and yelled and screamed, and poor Kayennah was oblivious to it all. All she could focus on was slinging those slushies and catching the empty cups, racing from one customer to the next, from one counter to another.
Eventually, the Red Tuskaninny tapped her on her shoulder. "Great work, Kayennah! You've earned yourself a break! I'll get someone to take over here for a while."
Feeling incredibly relieved and extremely hot, Kayenneh made herself a jumbleberry slushie and headed towards the pitch, intending to watch the match for a few minutes. The score was 3-2 to Meridell! Sipping on her cold slushie, Kayenneh was full of admiration for the Meridell players on the pitch, and she felt proud of all the supporters making so much noise in encouragement. It was little wonder they needed so many slushies, the din they were making! Despite the hot day, she shivered with excitement, loving the gleeful atmosphere.
Then a different kind of noise grabbed Kayennah's attention. An angry noise. It seemed to be coming from one of the Meridell slushie stands. She weaved her way through the crowd to see what the fuss was, and was surprised to find the Shadow Mynci surrounded by annoyed customers, shouting insults. "You're the worst slushie slinger ever!" "I've been waiting ages to be served!" "You can't even catch the cups!"
Wide-eyed, Kayennah watched as the Mynci missed order after order. The floor was littered with empty slushie cups. "I'll have to help him!" the Krawk thought to herself. Even though the Mynci had been rude, she felt a bit sorry for him.
All of a sudden a huge cheer filled the air. Oh no! Mystery Island had scored a goal and the score was now 3-3! The Meridell supporters yelling at the Mynci would be even angrier now! Kayennah rushed over to help, hoping the Mynci wouldn't be too upset because of all the fans yelling at him furiously. All he had wanted to do was work! Bizarrely, the Mynci didn't look upset at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. Why, he was grinning!
Kayennah was filled with confusion then it hit her! The Mynci was grinning because Mystery Island had scored! The Mynci wasn't indifferent to the Altador Cup at all! The Mynci was a Mystery Island supporter! He had purposely chosen to work on a Meridell stand so he could make such a mess of slushie slinging, thereby ensuring lots of Meridell fans wouldn't be able to cheer on their team, giving Mystery Island a better chance of winning the match!
Kayenneh was stunned. "Well, of all the devious ..." She didn't bother to finish her sentence. Instead she shoved past the Mynci and started filling orders, slinging slushies for all she was worth! From the corner of her eye, she saw the Red Tuskaninny appear and take the Meridell pin from the Mynci's uniform. "You're a disgrace to the Altador Cup and your team will be ashamed of you!" she overheard the Tuskaninny exclaim in disgust, before marching the Mynci away.
The slushie orders kept coming in and Kayennah concentrated on keeping her customers happy. It didn't matter anymore than she didn't have time to watch what was happening on the pitch or that she was too busy to cheer her team on. Every Altador Cup supporter had an important role to play, she realised, and hers was to keep the fans happy and refreshed, so they could in turn help their team to win. Whatever the outcome, whatever the result, Kayennah knew she'd played her part in being a good Altador Cup supporter by being hard-working and dilligent and honest, and that was what the Altador Cup was all about.