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A Day for Siblings at the Altador Cup


by gentle_lil_queen

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The warm morning light shone over the Altador mountains and illuminated the crowds in and outside of the Colosseum. Neopians milled to and fro, chatting about the forthcoming games and what they expected. Just inside the entrance, a Faerie Bori leaned against a wall, tapping her foot impatiently as she took occasional glances outside. She had come on time, but why were the others late? She was lucky the current match-up didn’t hold her interest, but even if she’d rather sit with the rest of her family, she wasn’t going to wait for them during the next round either.

     Halfway through the current game, the Bori heard a familiar shout, and she turned in time to see a Darigan Lupe run towards her.

     “Sorry I’m late, Daydream,” the Lupe panted. “Just…”

     “Just what? Where are the others, Indal?” Daydream asked.

     “They…” Indal sighed. “They’re not coming. Gimmer came down with Sneezles, and Seep offered to take care of her. They’ll watch the game from the lodge. Flower was called away to work at the last minute.”

     Daydream sighed. “That’s too bad for Gimmer. But why can’t Flower just take the day off? Is her-” she briefly brought her voice down to a whisper while miming air quotes: “’secret agent stuff’ really that important?”

     “It… seems like it,” Indal said. “I don’t know the details, except I know that she can’t help it at times.”

     Daydream huffed. “Well, we can argue about it later. You’re missing the first game, but lucky for you, it’s a match we’re not interested in. But Tyrannia vs Terror Mountain is coming up, and I was not missing that.”

     “You could’ve saved a seat,” Indal pointed out.

     “I didn’t know how many of you weren’t coming,” Daydream retorted.

     Indal shrugged. “So Tyrannia vs Terror Mountain, not Faerieland?”

     “Faerieland vs Altador is later. I am looking forward to that, but Tyrannia first.”

     “Tyrannia, not Terror Mountain?”

     “Look, Terror Mountain’s good too, but…” Daydream sighed. “Look, it may be boring, but it was my home for a long time. I support Terror Mountain too, this is just… out of principle.”

     Indal merely nodded as they joined the line for slushies. While Daydream was always vague about her past and insisted that there wasn’t much to talk about, the topic still came up with decent frequency. When they visited, she still navigated the land expertly, and when she could, she made trips into the Tyrannian jungles in hopes to find what could never be found.

     Indal berated themself. It wasn’t the time to think of old pains. Even if half the family couldn’t attend, they could still have some fun. And despite having more allegiance to Terror Mountain, they thought maybe they could cheer for Tyrannia after all.

     “Are you still supporting Lost Desert?” Daydream asked as they made their way to the stands with their slushies.

     “That’s the plan, and that’s what I’m doing,” Indal nodded with a smile.

     “Still, you talked a lot about changing it up. You say it every year.”

     “You’re right, I did. But it’s hard to get invested in any one team.” Indal took a seat. “So I thought that maybe I’ll just support what Gel supported.”

     There was a silence between them. Daydream moved back from taking a sip of her chokato slushie and pressed her mouth shut.

     “Look, I know,” Indal said, setting down their own jumbleberry slushie. “But they were here, and they always supported the Lost Desert. They’ve been coming to mind lately for some reason, so I… wanted to honour them.”

     “...They could’ve honoured us by not leaving us behind,” Daydream huffed. “All that time together, exploring everything. Then less frequently. Just, leaving notes, changing their status, checking a message, soon with years in-between, until they just stopped..."

     “That’s true…” Indal sighed. “And for a while, they checked in for the Altador Cup. So it always reminds me of them. I… kinda miss that dedication.”

     There was a tense silence between them, only shadowed by the roar of the crowd as Kiko Lake scored against Maraqua. Indal didn’t miss Daydream’s furrowed brow. But it soon became clear that the conversation was over.

     Despite the goal from Kiko Lake, the match ended with a win for Maraqua. There was a short recess before the next match, which Daydream and Indal only used to place their slushie cups in the closest bin to later be carried back to the Slush Shop. Before too long, the next players walked onto the field…

     “Go Tyrannia!!” Daydream shouted from her seat, an attempt which was soon drowned out by the much louder Tyrannia fans.

     “Go Tyrannia!!” Indal joined in, hoping to amplify her cheer. Until Team Terror Mountain walked on too and Indal shouted for them instead, adding to the heightened roar.

     Daydream rolled her eyes. “Loyal as ever.” A comment that earned a brief sharp look from Indal. After whispering a quick ‘sorry,’ Daydream slumped into her seat with a sigh as the teams moved toward to shake paws. “How does that Techo do it? Despite all my practice with voice projection and all, I’m always drowned out.”

     “Trust me, you have plenty of volumes,” Indal assured. “It’s just there’s… a lot. No one’s a stand-out, you’re just… part of the roar.”

     “Except for Sir Techo Fanatic,” Daydream scoffed. But her expression still lightened. “So an ensemble chorus then? Got it. Good practice for Faerieland, if nothing else.”

     Indal bit back a quip regarding loyalty as the game began.

     Even though Tyrannia played well, the support for Terror Mountain was deafening. Daydream cheered and twittered with support of varying volumes and sound frequencies, but it was ultimately Terror Mountain who won the crowd. Yet Team Tyrannia was not deterred. In their last decisive play, Prytariel got the ball first, and was able to bring the Yooyu halfway down the field. She aimed her shot, but that was when Barmie rushed her for a tackle. Prytariel’s shot towards the goal was strong, but not so strong that Taggert’s defence couldn’t intercept it. He passed it to Loryche, who proceeded to weave her way across her opponents. Just as she was reaching the end, defender Fitel sidled her, causing her to drop the ball. But Benne was ready, and she scooped up the ball just before Fitel could. Benne took the shot, although the goalkeeper Mitora quickly caught it. She aimed the ball back towards Fitel, but this time Loryche was ready. She intercepted the ball, weaved to the other side of the goal, and before Mitora could get there…

     “GOAL! TYRANNIA WINS, 6-5!”

     “Ha!” Daydream cheered. “Guess it’s not all popularity, huh?!”

     “You know it still kind of is,” Indal laughed. “Terror Mountain is still your home, at least now.”

     “I know,” Daydream said. “But Terror Mountain can deal. I’m cheering for my mom’s sake.”

     Indal nodded knowingly. A quiet moment passed between them, but it vanished when the teams for the next match began. Daydream brightened immediately and donned her Faerieland jersey.

     “Altador’s weak, you gotta win this one this time, Faerieland!” Daydream cheered.

     “You could express a little more confidence,” Indal teased dryly.

     “Oh, I know and they know how they stand,” Daydream said. “They’re still stylish on the field, and I expect a very flashy show!”

     Daydream was not disappointed. The pink and purple wings of Team Faerieland and the gilded outfits of Team Altador shimmered in warring colours in the sunlight as the teams clashed on the field. Team Altador was strong in the sunlight, and their fans were equally unaffected by the summer heat. Still, Team Faerieland’s difficulty with heat only assisted Faerieland’s effort with providing slushies to fans. And in the end, Team Faerieland was able to weave their way across the field, and ultimately won at 5-4.

     “Eeee, that was so worth it, go Team Faerieland!!” Daydream cheered.

     “Where did Worrill learn that pivot to block the steal?” Indal wondered. “I haven’t seen him do that before.”

     “I heard they were taking lessons from Darigan friends,” Daydream commented. “Plus, training in storms does wonders for dexterity!”

     “Ah, I see…” Indal quickly looked back towards the teams.

     “Come to think of it, isn’t Dargian next?” Daydream asked aloud, not looking at Indal. “They’re facing Haunted Woods today. I guess I’ll root for Darigan because of the Faerieland alliance. They have similar weather too, so I bet they have similar training conditions!”

     “Yeah…”

     “...Are you still thinking about it?” Daydream asked as she finally looked at Indal. “The teams are just the teams. And it’s not like they’re facing Meridell today. Even then, they were evenly matched and met peacefully.”

     Indal sighed gruffly. “I know. And that’s good. …I mean, it’s just… Sorry. You’re right, and I should stay in the present.”

     “Is this a bad match for you? Do you wanna take a break?”

     “No, I’m fine. I’m just overthinking it. Besides, like you said, Darigan and Meridell already had their match. And I want to see these two dark-themed places compete.”

     And so they did, with the cursed athletes of Darigan Citadel contrasting with the varied athletes of the Haunted Woods. Both teams were strong and the crowd cheered wildly, far more than Daydream could keep up with. Indal opted not to cheer, and Daydream eventually decided to go easier on the cheering. The round was thus overall peaceful for them until an accident with the overactive crowd led them to leave the stadium before the match was over.

     “Sorry, I needed a break…” Daydream said, still woozy.

     “No, it’s okay, the shouting was getting a bit much for me anyway. Here, lay down,” Indal insisted. “I can get us slushies?”

     “N-no thanks. I’ll be okay, I just need a moment. You’re way more resilient about it. Wish I had the defence to take it.”

     “I do have the dubloons for that if you want to train, but you seemed fine after all your cheering.”

     Daydream laughed. “Please, that’s what I do. Or, well, wanted to do. That’s what I’d been training for. I gotta put it to use somewhere.

     “You’re certainly making some good noise for your teams,” Indal said with a smile. “I’m sure they appreciate that.”

     “Maybe, if they can hear me.”

     “Your projections is there. And if nothing else, I’m sure they’re hearing your trills.”

     Daydream smiled wanly. “My trills may not be the same as when I was a Pteri, but I’m really trying to get it as close as possible.”

     “I can tell; you’re really getting close to your former pitch, and your trill works well. I think you can really do a lot with what you have now.”

     Daydream’s smile deepened. “...I’m really glad to hear that. Thanks.”

     Her mood improved, and when Daydream started rambling about other ways to weave the patterns of her trills and yells, Indal suggested that they return to the stadium. By this point, the round was wrapping up. They returned just in time for Vickles to slam the final goal past Haunted Wood’s Fanetti, leading to a roar of cheers and a victory for Darigan in Yooyuball.

     “Woo, Darigan!!!” Daydream let out a loud trill that Indal knew made it past the din of the crowd. They smiled, staying silent.

     For the next few games, the matches didn’t hold teams of their interest, so the two decided to watch casually. Indal still paid attention to the strategies of the players on the field and listened to the game commentators’ anecdotes. Daydream experimented with her vocal range during matches where she didn’t feel it mattered. This earned her some odd looks when one of her trills peaked after Mirsha scored a goal and then used the same momentum to run to her coach and twirl her in the air.

     “Sorry, I just didn’t expect it!” Daydream commented bashfully.

     Indal chuckled. “That was cute to see… I’m glad they’re as strong as ever, even when she’s a coach now.”

     “I wondered if her becoming a coach would get in the way, but it looks like they’re okay so far,” Daydream added.

     And indeed, Mirsha continued her strong game, and despite Brightvale’s strong defence, Shenkuu triumphed in the match. Indal and Daydream decided to use the break to get another slushie, though they were forced to wait in a very long line.

     “I hope we can get a slushie before the next match,” Indal said. “The next one sounds iconic. Virtupets versus Kreludor.”

     Daydream stopped in her tracks, causing the patron behind her to bump into her on accident.

     “Ah, sorry!” Daydream stepped forward and lowered her voice. “You said that Gimmer was watching this remotely, right? This… isn’t going to be a good match for her…”

     “It’s not the first time Gimmer has watched the games,” Indal assured. “And it’s not like Virtupets is associated with… you know.”

     “But they are,” Daydream whispered harshly. “I’m pretty sure. I heard several rumours that they use Sloth as a symbol of support…”

     “Yeah, they do,” spoke the patron who accidentally stepped into Daydream earlier. The two turned around to see a Checkered Gelert dressed in a Virtupets jersey. “In fact, the team started with Sloth’s support. He’d been building them up in the short years before his new attempt to take over Neopia. Even though he was defeated, he built the foundation, and Team Virtupets never forgot that.”

     “But… that’s horrible!” Daydream said.

     “Is it?” The Virtupets fan raised an eyebrow. “I think if Sloth is serious about ruling Neopia, showing his goodwill by fostering a strong team is the least he can do. Aside from everything else he’s contributed. Besides, if you’re so anti-Sloth, you’ll be happy to hear that the team really doesn’t do anything for world domination.”

     “It’s propaganda,” Daydream argued. “I’m surprised you’re for it. Usually, his brainwashed mutant minions are the ones telling me this.”

     “Sloth just didn’t know the best way to reach us at first,” the fan insisted. “I mean, look at the team. Only one of them is a mutant, and not all mutants are brainwashed anyway. He could’ve given us a team of drones, but doesn’t it tell you something that the team voluntarily chose to help him?”

     “’ Voluntarily,’” Daydream rolled her eyes.

     “The brainwashing thing is overstated.” The fan shrugged. “Root for whoever you want. But Virtupets has trained hard with clever use of anti-gravity. And it’s shown in all the matches. We’ve got this one whether you support us or not. What’s a match without overcoming resistance, right?”

     Daydream found herself at a loss for words, so Indal spoke up instead. “Well, you’ve certainly got a mind for challenging matches. Kreludor’s been doing well too. And these worlds, well… they have history.”

     “Indeed!” The fan agreed. “Like the war all over again, but with fewer stakes. So we’ll see who’s proven the better.”

     Indal put a paw on Daydream’s shoulder to encourage her to turn around and ignore the fan from then on. The rest of their wait was silent until they got their slushies and moved away from the fan.

     “What a simpleminded…” Daydream murmured between drinks of her Chokato Slushie.

     “Daydream, it is just an Altador Cup match,” Indal reminded her.

     “No it’s not. Virtupets support Sloth and Sloth terrorized Kreludor. Matches like these send a message.” She glared at Indal. “Why were you enabling them anyway?”

     “I’m not enabling, I just didn’t want to start a fight with a stranger in a slushie line,” Indal sipped their Zeenana slushie. “And I wanted to hear their perspective. We don’t hear much about Sloth’s side. I’m still rooting for Kreludor, and it’s not just because of you.”

     “This has nothing to do with me. Or did you forget about what happened to Gimmer?” Daydream asked bitterly.

     Indal paused, then sighed. “...I know, I didn’t forget. But their perspective is still important to know. And Gimmer has had time to think and deal with previous matches, hasn’t she? Besides, she’s the oldest.”

     “By a week. And I was adopted first, so I’m effectively the oldest.”

     “I don’t think that’s how it works.”

     “Hah. Whatever, not the point. She…” Daydream huffed. “She doesn’t talk about it much, but she still struggles with it. I know how it affects her, and that it always will. She still goes out of her way to avoid reminders. And I don’t blame her! You weren’t there, Indal. You didn’t see how bad it was.”

     Indal grew quiet. Soon, they had returned to their seats in tie for the teams to begin walking onto the field. Just as the silence was growing awkward, Indal responded.

     “...I guess I didn’t. And I have seen the impact. I’m not trying to defend Sloth… But I sounded that way. I’m sorry, that was callous of me.”

     Daydream paused for a time before letting out a sigh. “Could’ve been worse. I know, it’s pointless to pick fights with strangers. And I know you don’t like to pick sides. Just… these sides are clear.”

     “Well,” Indal smiled. “For Gimmer, let’s be loud for that side.”

     “Yeah, that’s the spirit!”

     The two put their all into cheering, and strengthened their calls when the Kreludor forwards had the Yooyu. Though Virtupets fans were stronger with providing refreshments, Daydream and Indal kept their cheers loud, which encouraged the cheers of the other Kreludor supporters.

     Still, Virtupets had strong game. Keetra Deile was the fast and wily scorer as always, and her cute smile always won cheers of support from Virtupets fans. Jurin T. and Fonnet did their best against the scorers, and when they succeeded in intercepting the Yooyu, they were quick to fling it back to their forwards. The Kreludor forwards moved fiercely and passionately through the match. Still, Goltron Mk II’s OS upgrade proved useful, and several good scores from Kreludor were blocked.

     “Come on, Kreludor! I know you have game, we know it!!” Daydream called out.

     Still, both teams were strong, and this was emphasized even in the Shootouts between rounds. But in the end, between Hawkshanks’ craftiness, Wegg’s reflexes to the goalie’s pivots and Dahy’s passion, Team Kreludor managed to edge out even Deile’s strong quick scores and XL Striker’s energy on the Shootouts.

     It was the final round of play, and the game was close with a tie of 6-6. Even with the Shootout win, Virtupet’s slushies had won over the crowd. What remained was the last round of Yooyuball and the measure of cheers. Daydream and Indal looked to each other.

     “Kre-lu-dor, Kre-lu-dor…” Daydream chanted. Indal quickly followed her lead. Kreludor supporters nearby heard them, and began to join with rhythm and vigour.

     “Kre-lu-DOR, KRE-lu-DOR, KRE-LU-DOR, KRE-LU-DOR!!” The patterned support rippled over the crowd like a wave until all of the Kreludor supporters in the audience had joined them. The Virtupets supporters attempted to break the pattern, but Kreludor’s rhythm was strong, and Daydream shouted and trilled between them in harmony to disguise Virtupet’s attempts. No matter how the match went, they would ensure that Kreludor heard their support!

     Deile wended across the field, pacing herself to the pattern of the cheers. She dived past Fonnet’s tackle and just as quickly flung the faerie Yooyu just past Jurin T.’s otherwise waiting h. The Faerie Yooyu rolled gently into the net, trimming the clock down to zero.

     “VIRTUPETS WINS WITH A SCORE OF 7-6!!”

     Daydream screeched in frustration. When the crowd’s roar dimmed down, she flopped back onto her seat.

     “I’m sorry Gimmer,” she rasped “I tried…”

     “And she heard you, I know she did,” Indal replied. “Kreludor won still had a high number of goals, and they won the audience support. Neopians have to notice that.”

     “I guess… I’ll check in with her after the games. I hope our effort was enough to cheer her up…”

     “I think it will be,” Indal assured. “That support was real. And if nothing else, you can remind Gimmer of your support, then and now. You and Gel worked hard to bring her back, you’re still with her, and now she has the rest of us. Always.”

     Daydream was silent for a moment before giving a small smile. “...Yeah. That’s true.”

     “If she ever forgets, we can show it to her again. Like we did now-”

     “Thank you for all your support!!” Fonnet called from the field, waving to the fans along with the rest of her team, who were cheering right back at the audience. Jurin T. let out a less practised but very evident trill.

     Daydream laughed lightheartedly. “They heard us! They heard me!

     As Daydream grinned and Indal smiled, they both waved back to Team Kreludor, up until the Teams left the field.

     After that game, the two hardly had any energy left, even after they drank their slushies dry. This despite the fact that the next game was another one they looked forward to: Lost Desert vs Roo Island.

     “Ack, I was gonna support them for Gel, but…” Indal smiled sheepishly. “I don’t know if I can follow that last cheer.”

     “Gel would be fine anyway,” Daydream waved a paw dismissively. “They were more for quiet support anyway. Foreshadowing to no support, if you ask me.”

     Indal sighed. “I mean, you’re part right. They’d want me to rest after that anyway.” They held up a large foam paw. “I’ll just wave this!”

     “Ha, if you say so,” Daydream responded.

     Roo Island had been a strong contender in all the previous rounds. And sadly for Indal, it wasn’t a strong year for the Lost Desert. Cayle’s scoring game was as strong as ever, but while Azar was a fair scorer, she was clearly off her game. Meanwhile, Blumario and Tollet were making strong scores, and performed for the crowd after each score. This made it hard for the Lost Desert to get ahead and drum up support from the crowd. In the end…

     “AND THAT’S GAME! ROO ISLAND WINS, 6-5. AND THE CROWD IS WON OVER! THAT’S A SWEEP, EVERYONE, A SWEEP!!”

     Indal let out a long sigh. “Wow, trounced… Gel wouldn’t be happy about that…”

     “Forget Gel, look at the team.” Daydream gestured to Team Lost Desert, huddling in an effort to support each other after their defeat. “Roo Island is doing well in general, but Lost Desert… Something’s bothering them this year. I don’t remember them being so off their game.”

     “It’s been a while since they placed,” Indal commented. “Which is strange, because the players are all individually good. Maybe they still have too much friction…”

     After a silence between them and the Lost Desert Team quickly breaking their huddle, Daydream sighed. “Yeah, maybe…” She got up and stretched. “That’s the last game anyway. I think I’m beat.”

     “Honestly, I was ready to go last round, if not for the Lost Desert.” Indal stood up. “Sorry for our own drama.”

     “Eh, it happens,” Daydream waved off. “At least we can work through it. Anyway, I’m gonna go home and check on Gimmer. If she’s bad off, I’ll skip tomorrow.”

     “Maybe Flower will be available,” Indal said as they walked from their seats. “I can catch her up on all the details. Maybe another day, we can all go together?”

     “At least the finals! I hope so,” Daydream said with a smile. “But still, it was good to go with you.”

     “Yeah… Thank you for the fundamentals of cheering,” Indal grinned.

     “You’ll get there yet!” Daydream teased. “But seriously, thank you. You may not be team-attached, but at least I know I have your support.”

     “Always,” Indal smiled.

     The End.

 
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