Hover-Polo

Hover-polo wasn’t a sport that anyone who didn’t play hover-polo gave much thought to. Few could say why exactly they had no interest but it might have had something to do with the overly complex rules which governed the sport that were more than a little off-putting to the uninitiated. The rules of hover-polo relied on a variety of factors which were completely external to the actual gameplay of hover-polo but still immensely important to the beings who enforced those rules. Rules like those which dictated the amount of players allowed on each team. How many players could take the field depended on the phase of Qwark’s three moons, whether it was a day or night match, if the captain of the team had eaten a rich or savoury breakfast two days prior, and how many players were the fifth son of a third daughter. The rules of gameplay were no less intricate or seemingly nonsensical. A standard hover-polo match took place high above the land within a stadium constructed of solid cloud. At each end of the arena within the stadium were goalposts, although no one was sure why. Hover-polo didn’t centre around scoring goals and according to Phocidi legend, none had been scored in over a four hundred standard sun-cycles. But within the rules it stated that a hover-polo arena must have goalposts at each end to be a hover-polo arena and so they did. Within the centre of the arena, several solid cumulus clouds were weaved into smooth ramps from which the leapers leaped. While the number of players changed every match, there was always one leaper per team whose function was to leap. There was no purpose for the leaping that anyone could determine but all agreed that leaping had been a vital part of hover-polo for generations and couldn’t be removed if the integrity of the sport was to be maintained. While the leaper could only leap from cloud ramp to cloud ramp, every other player was outfitted with omni-hover gear which allowed them to float across the arena with ease. And incredibly slowly. Although vast advancements in hover-technology had been made, the Hover-Polo League had refused to apply those advancements in kind. A hover-polo player’s gear emitted a jet of small bubbles which popped softly behind them, despite the fact this was completely ineffectual and actually slowed down the gear. Depending on how many players were permitted on the field for a particular match, there could upwards of a dozen players with omni-hover gear on each team occupying four positions. There was a goalie who hovered menacingly by the goals on the off-chance that one of the scorers managed to get near enough to the goalposts with the aerodynamic polo-disc. However the scorers would need to get passed the midfielders whose job it was to keep the polo-disc away from the scorers at all costs short of murder. All of which might have made for an exciting sport if it wasn’t for the endgamers. Like with leapers, each team had to have an endgamer, a position which most considered the most egregious aspect of hover-polo’s exceedingly dull gameplay. As their name suggests, the first endgamer to make their way across the field immediately wins the game for their team, rendering all other aspects of the match null and void. Since other players aren’t allowed to impend the progress of the opposite team’s endgamer in any way, most matches consist of the midfielders passing the polo-disc among themselves, taunting the scorers while everyone waits for one of the endgamers to end the game so they could all go home. Because of this hover-polo was considered by many to be the most pointless and dull sport in the known universe.

 

Midalyn was one of those who shared that opinion and she visibly shook with rage after hearing Fhil’s confession. She was sure the off-worlders could see her fur stand on end but she didn’t care. Her nose twitched in anger, her whiskers flicking with disgust. Her thoughts raced. It can’t be, there must be some mistake. I had to wait and wait until I was sure I found off-worlders who could help rid Qwark of the fraudulent marketing plague. Now here I am and I just can’t. How could all of ir have been for something so, something so...

“Stupid!”, she yelled, her voice no longer a whisper but no less harsh than usual. “I mean, of all the things! Of all the reasons.” She glared at Fhil, her coal black eyes ablaze. “Why hover-polo?  Nobody even likes it!”

Fhil cowered behind his desk. If Midalyn had come alone, he would have simply given her a re-education coupon without disclosing anything and that would have been it. However, with the stunned off-worlders in the room and the secret revealed he was at a lost for what to do. He opened and closed his mouth a couple of times before stammering, “The directive came from the Qwark Royal Family themselves. To promote the sport and get people to fill the cloud stadiums. The league is doing quite well this year and it, it’s our national pastime after all, the beautiful game, and, and…” His voice peppered out under Midalyn’s glare.

“Our national pastime?!” she repeated with utter disbelief. “I’ve seen snail races more exciting,” she snorted. The disgust in her voice was so palpable that Kara and Zo were almost glad to be sidelined during the exchange. However, Midalyn noticed with some surprise that Fhil’s back  pricked up slightly at her dismissive comments about hover-polo despite his cowering. I suppose he must actually be a sports fan, she thought with sympathetic disdain. In the lull following her outburst, she collected her thoughts which had scattered like a wildfire in her rage. Bringing them down to a slow simmer. She accessed the reality of the situation she found herself in. She couldn’t believe that the cause of all her planet’s PR woes were because of a sport she didn’t think twice about if she thought about it all. Which she didn’t.  

 

Zo cleared his throat suggestively and she realised that the lull had turned into a couple moments of silence as they were all waiting for her to continue. She sighed. This was all so stupid. All this effort for lehhting hover-polo. Her thoughts were well and truly collected now. She turned her attention back to Fhil who was waiting with open apprehension.

“Consider a formal complaint issued,” she stated simply as she turned and left the room. She soldiered past the young receptionist and through the waiting room. It was only once she was outside the building that she remembered to wait for Zo and Kara and she stopped. They shortly caught up to her, obvious confusion on their faces. There was a silence as they caught their breath and it was Zo who spoke first.

“Was that it?” he asked incredulously. “Somehow I expected, I dunno, something more.”

Midalyn cocked her head happily at the confused Turian. “Sometimes life is anticlimactic but that’s only because it keeps going when we expected things to stop when something was accomplished.”

“And was something accomplished?” Kara asked. “We kinda just blasted out of there...”

“Due to a quirk in Qwark Consumer Rights Law, formal complaints from off-worlders require immediate investigate with a public apology to be issued,” Midalyn explained. “Once everyone knows that the reason is hover-polo of all things, I doubt the holo-brochures could be so loose with the truth, but maybe that’s optimistic.”

Just then her whiskers pricked up as she smiled adorably at the off-worlders. “You know, I’ve never been off-world and I hear you two have a spaceship.”