Chapter 127:

The perfect shot

Elyon - Gods among us

Menrva jumped as high as she could, but was easily surpassed by her rival, a man who was nearly two meters tall.

The rival hit the ball with his right elbow, sending it backward to his teammates. However, before the two even landed on the court, the man elbowed Menrva in the face. The goddess fell to the ground headfirst, spitting blood from the powerful blow. As she fell, she hit the back of her head against the earthen ground beneath her.

—Foul!— Tul shouted in Nahuatl at the referee furiously, but he pretended not to understand the language of the rabbit goddess.

The ball landed on another man's hips, who, along with his teammates, ran while bouncing the ball down the narrow corridor where Freyja stood in their way. The Norse goddess tried to steal the ball from her opponent, but one of them brutally kneed her in the stomach, causing her to fall to the ground, clutching her stomach in pain.

—These people are cheating!— Tania shouted angrily from the stands.

—I think it was obvious they wouldn't play fair— Huitzilopochtli commented somewhat annoyed.

—It's not fair!— Ana shouted. But when she turned to look at Xólotl with a defiant look, the god simply ignored her.

—Let's see how the game continues— Huitzilopochtli said, trying to calm the two goddesses, while Epona hugged her knees and became nervous again. Rodrigo tried to reassure her.

The two men ran towards where Tul was, and the rabbit goddess, with a swift hip movement, snatched the ball away. However, the man who had elbowed Menrva quickly hip-checked Tul, causing her to violently crash into the stone wall, thereby stealing the ball.

The player passed the ball to his teammates, who faced Loki. One of these men hit the ball so hard with his knee that they broke the Norse god's hand when he tried to stop it, just as the ball collided with the wall the god was defending.

—Two points for the home team!— the referee shouted.

—Are you okay?— Menrva asked Tul, who was still hurting from being slammed into the wall.

—Curses! This game is sacred! How dare they tarnish it?!— Tul continued to shout as she recovered, but no one paid her any mind.

—Don't worry, Tul— Freyja commented, having already risen from her fall. —Now it's our turn to counterattack—

Loki adjusted his hand to put it back in place. —I'm fine, thanks for caring— he shouted to his teammates.

—Now it's our turn to retaliate— Anpiel said, still hopeful things could turn around.

The referee threw the ball to Team Orniskem, which Tul caught with her right hip. The goddess, along with Menrva, began to bounce the ball until they reached the narrow corridor where three of their rivals awaited. But the rabbit goddess jumped over them, tossing the ball skyward. Landing, Tul caught it with her knee and slammed it against the wall with a supremely elegant move.

The men then tried to crush Menrva, realizing that Tul was going to pass the ball to her since she had bounced it three times. But the Etruscan goddess, knowing their dirty tactics, slid on the ground and caught the ball thrown by Tul with her elbow.

Tul caught the ball again and gracefully threw it against the wall beside the third opponent. The ball rebounded behind the player, and Tul immediately ran along the wall to reach it. She then shot it towards the enemy's goal.

However, to everyone's surprise, the goalkeeper took a huge board and blocked Tul's shot with it. The shot was directed straight at Menrva's face, which hit her devastatingly, causing the goddess to lose the ball and fall to the ground.

The referee shouted: —She lost the ball, it's a point for the home team—

—In this game mode, paddles aren't used!— Tul shouted angrily, but the referee again pretended not to hear her.

—Don't lose your cool, Tul— Freyja said as she approached the Mayan goddess. —Not long ago, I was in a similar situation, with a game completely stacked against our favor, and yet, we overcame it— she commented.

—But this game represents the sacred movement of the stars... and these people couldn't care less— the rabbit goddess said, almost in tears, biting her lips in frustration.

—Excuse me, Lord Xólotl— Huitzilopochtli commented in Nahuatl to the Zacateco king, —I believe the cheating from the local team is too evident, and it breaks the sacred protocol of this game—

Xólotl chuckled discreetly, and with his arm, pointed to the Zacateco crowd, which was loudly and passionately supporting the local team.

—If they agree with the outcome, why should it be illegal?— said the Zacateco god.

Indeed, everyone in the stands continued to support the Zacateco players, and every time they attacked the goddesses, the crowd cheered joyfully.

—I'm sorry, he's not listening to reason— the hummingbird god commented to Rodrigo and the others.

—This always happens to us because we try to be diplomatic— Susanoo grumbled.

—It's not like we can do much with these bracelets that diminish our power— Anpiel replied frustratedly.

—But how can people not see that the game is rigged and support their players' cheating?— Epona asked in frustration.

—Some time ago— Anpiel commented, —in the city of Byzantium of the Eastern Roman Empire, there was a civil uprising just because the team the emperor supported cheated in a chariot race. The rival teams understood the rigging of the games and took up arms—

—Yes, Anpiel, I know that story— Epona replied.

—What I'm trying to say, mare— Anpiel continued, —is that people always get passionate about the team they feel represents them. No matter how dirty and wrong they play, they will defend them. It's the nature of both humans and us gods—

—And Xólotl knows that. He knows how to give bread and circuses to his people— Ana added.

—So we're just entertainment for all these people?— Rodrigo asked.

—Well, they might not sacrifice you because you resemble that guy— Epona commented.

—Stop whining, mina-san!— Susanoo shouted angrily. —If we lose, we will all fight to the end, no matter what happens—

—We won't lose— Ana calmly remarked.

—How can you be so sure?— Tania asked irritably.

—Loki. Loki will make us win, you'll see!— the Irish goddess excitedly replied. She quickly became embarrassed when everyone gave her a look of disappointment and surprise.

—Also, don't worry— the hummingbird god added. —Trust your elder brother Huitzilopochtli. I will help you get out of here if you lose—

Meanwhile, the third round had begun, and the referee threw the ball to the local team. They quickly brought the ball down with their hips, and two of them started advancing down the narrow playing area, where Menrva and Freyja were set to stop them.

However, one of the men spanked Freyja's buttocks with a lustful expression. Furious, the goddess punched the man.

—Foul!— the referee shouted, pointing at Freyja. —One more, and you're out of the game—

—Wait, I did it in self-defense!— Freyja shouted in frustration, but since she could only speak the divine language, the referee ignored her.

While the game paused, the man spanked Freyja again. She was so angry she wanted to kill the man right there, but Menrva held her back.

—Wait until the end of the game, Freyja— she said.

The game continued. Tul tried to take the ball from the men again, but suddenly felt a dart embedded in her left arm. The goddess felt numb as the two men pinned her to the left wall of the narrow corridor.

Freyja looked up at the stands and saw that one of the men had shot the dart with a blowgun. She clenched her fists so tightly that they almost bled.

The men ran toward Loki, bouncing the ball, but the Norse god couldn't do much as they threw the ball so hard it hit him in the face, knocking out a tooth. The ball scored again.

—Two points for the home team. They have five in total— the referee shouted.

Menrva went to check on Tul, who was badly hurt from the men's tackle. The rabbit goddess was covered in blood with tears in her eyes.

—I've never... felt so much hatred, not even when they locked me in Cahokia with all that poop— Tul said, looking at the Etruscan goddess.

Freyja approached Tul and pulled the dart out of her arm. —Moreover, they're using tactics like this against us— the Norse goddess commented, pointing to the man in the stands who had attacked the rabbit goddess.

The men threw the ball back to the referee and returned to their zone, not before spanking the three goddesses and mocking them.

—These beasts think they can mock us just because they've awakened their divine power— Freyja said furiously.

—And as long as the referee and the crowd are against us, there's nothing we can do— Menrva replied.

However, Tul looked at Loki, who had simply cleaned his face, showing no signs of frustration or annoyance.

—Why is he so calm?— she wondered.

The game restarted. With the constant cheating of the local team, they managed to score a total of nine points, just one point away from victory. And despite the evident cheating, the crowd kept enthusiastically supporting the local team.

—We're doomed— Epona said in frustration.

At that moment, Huitzilopochtli, furious, rose from his seat. The evening sky made him glow in a muted orange hue. He had a look full of frustration and anger.

—Zacateco people, are you truly not ashamed of these cowardly acts against such a sacred game?— the god shouted in Nahuatl to the crowd, but they only booed him, telling him to leave their kingdom.

Xólotl then started to laugh. —Tell me, Hutzil. Don't you think it's time for you to leave my kingdom?— he said to the hummingbird god.

—Out! Go! Foreigner!— the crowd began shouting at Huitzilopochtli. The god said no more and sat back down, but his gaze still showed signs of frustration.

—Only a miracle can save us— Ana said with a sad expression, looking at Loki, hoping the god would do something.

Then, Loki took off his goalkeeper's headdress and shouted: —I quit!—

His teammates looked at him uncertainly.

—Are you crazy?— Menrva asked angrily.

—I knew you were scum!— Tania shouted from the stands, and Ana and Rodrigo had to restrain her to prevent the goddess from descending to attack him.

—Yuum Loki, I understand your frustration... I feel the same way— Tul said, —but I can't give up yet—

The goddess had red eyes from crying so much, not only because of the failure of losing in such a manner, but also because the Zacateco people had defiled a sport she herself considered sacred.

—Do whatever you want, Loki— Freyja responded. —You'll never change in the end, you selfish bastard—

At that moment, Loki handed the goalkeeper's headdress to Freyja.

—Listen, boob brain, if I'm quitting, it's because I have a plan to win, but I need you to be the goalkeeper for that— Loki said annoyedly while looking with disappointment at the Norse goddess.

—It's impossible! We're down by nine points!— Freyja replied, frustrated.

Loki then pointed to the hoop.

—If we score a perfect shot in that hoop, we will unquestionably win the game— said the Norse god.

—Are you joking? If we miss that shot, we'll lose points and they'll make our rivals win— Menrva replied.

—Yuum Loki, without our divine powers, it will be nearly impossible for us to make such a perfect shot— Tul countered. —Scoring through that hoop is as rare an event as an eclipse—

—Do you think I was just standing there taking hits from that rubber ball?— Loki asked with a smug look. —I've calculated how to make that shot, and that's where I need the three of you to work as a team— he said.

Menrva looked at him, intrigued.

—Alright, Loki. Spill the strategy— she said.

Loki approached the goddesses and whispered his plan to them. They blushed and shook their heads in denial.

—You're sick!— Menrva exclaimed, frustrated.

—How can you come up with something like that?— Freyja asked, annoyed. —What do you think I am? Just a walking sex object?—

—Well, that's essentially what a fertility goddess does— Loki replied cynically.

—Well... I think we don't have many options, ch'úupalob Menrva and Freyja— said Tul, her voice tinged with sadness. —It sounds bad, but I'm willing to do anything right now—

—Alright, Loki; we'll do it— Menrva replied.

—But I remind you of one thing, if you fail, I will behead you myself before those people— she warned.

—Very well, Etruscan beauty— replied the Nordic god, as he jumped out of the playing field. The audience then mocked him and called him a coward, although the god did not understand their language.

—Is that even legal?— Freyja asked Tul, puzzled.

—Yes, it is, but playing like that is a huge risk because you leave your area unprotected— Tul replied.

Freyja then put on the blue headdress and said: —Let's go, then—

The three goddesses took their positions again, as the referee threw the ball to them since it was their turn.

Tul and Menrva then advanced, bouncing the ball until they reached the narrow part of the playing field.

—You must position yourself precisely here, Etruscan beauty— Menrva recalled Loki's instructions, and she stood still right at the entrance to the narrow area, while Tul continued to advance with the ball.

Two men lunged at the rabbit goddess, but she jumped over the wall of the stage, avoiding them, while she threw the ball high into the sky with her knee.

The men then tried to look for the ball when suddenly, Freyja exposed her breasts. The men couldn't help but lose concentration at that moment, including the referee. Using the brief distraction of the players and the exact brightness of the sun, Tul bounced the ball with her hip and threw it to Menrva, who caught it with her knee and bounced it back. The men, unable to see where the ball was, became furious and tried to attack the Etruscan goddess.

But Freyja, who had run right behind the Etruscan goddess, jumped over the men, and with her breasts, hit the ball with all her strength, right where Menrva was positioned. A perfectly elliptical shot emerged from her attack, and like a comet, it went straight into the hoop.

—That hurt!— shouted Freyja, frustrated as she clutched her breasts. However, despite the Nordic goddess's nudity, no one could say anything when they all saw that the perfect shot had ended the game. Orniskem had won.

The people were dumbfounded to see their players lose to three goddesses who had everything stacked against them.

The referee, still in shock from witnessing a shot that was never made, quickly tried to declare the group losers. —The ball hit the hoop, so you lose two points!— he shouted.

But the people continued in ecstasy, having seen something that never happens and that only gods were supposed to do. Yet these goddesses had their powers contained, and their shots were as simple as any human's.

—No, Mr. Referee, the victory belongs to the three goddesses!— shouted Huitzilopochtli, rising from his seat once more.

At that moment, the people began to applaud the goddesses. They had won in a way that hadn't been seen for centuries.

—Don't you dare give them the victory!— Xólotl shouted angrily at the referee, but the people kept cheering for the three goddesses, as Freyja covered her breasts with the bandage again.

Loki had given them the points where they had to position themselves, the force they had to use, the amount of time they had to take for each shot. The god had calculated the entire strategy with his knowledge of mathematics and physics. And there wasn't a shot that couldn't comply with the rules of science.

Seeing the enthusiasm of the people for the three goddesses who gave their all, Xólotl hung his head in a gesture of defeat.

At that moment, Freyja jumped and struck the man who had slapped her buttocks in the face, knocking two of his teeth out with the blow.

—You damned son of a bitch, didn't they teach you to respect women? Degenerate!— the goddess shouted as the other three men approached to defend their friend.

—If you confront Freyja, you confront all of us as well— Menrva remarked as Tul stood by her side. The men backed down and retreated from the goddesses.

—The winners are the foreign gods!— the referee finally shouted.

—I knew it, I knew Loki would win this game!— Ana shouted excitedly, while the other gods felt a sense of relief.

Loki eventually made his way to where everyone was seated and greeted them with a smug look.

—Could you have devised a plan where Freyja didn't expose her breasts? Pervert— Tania asked, still annoyed.

—But beauty of ebony skin, her breasts had the perfect structure to execute an elliptical shot—Loki remarked.

—That's why I gave her the role of goalkeeper, so she could use her chest in the attack— he continued explaining.

—And I suppose you realized that the goalkeepers hardly moved and didn't expect the goalkeeper to be the one to score that final shot, right?— Huitzilopochtli excitedly inquired about such a strategy.

—Indeed, although I have no idea who you are— Loki replied.

—I'm an admirer of you!— exclaimed the hummingbird god.

Xólotl then stood up and looked disdainfully at the members of Orniskem. However, walking by, he passed them and positioned himself on the edge of the box, locking eyes with the three goddesses.

—Well, foreign goddesses, you've achieved something that has been impossible for centuries in these games— Xólotl said in Nahuatl, looking at the three goddesses. —So, I declare you the winners of this ball game— he finally proclaimed.

After Tul translated the words of the Zacateco god, she jumped with joy and hugged Menrva and Freyja. The two goddesses were also smiling brightly.

—As winners, I will give you the following options— the Zacateco god said in the divine language:

—You are free to continue your journey, but your companions in the stands and your opponents die in sacrifice—

—Your companions survive and leave this realm, but the three of you and your opponents will be sacrificed—

—Your opponents live, but both you and your companions are sacrificed—

All the members of Orniskem were disgusted by these conditions. Without a doubt, Menrva looked into the jackal-masked eyes of Xólotl and shouted with all her might: —All three options are crap!—

—Then you have chosen death— Xólotl calmly remarked and raised his hand. Soldiers began entering the stadium, causing the people to flee, while they surrounded the members of Orniskem and the three goddesses on the playing field.

—You're a disgrace of a leader— Huitzilopochtli shouted as he stared at the jackal-masked god.

The gods then began arguing in Nahuatl, a language none of the gods in the stands understood. Tul was too far away to hear what they were discussing.

Huitzilopochtli then stood up and turned around. —It was a pleasure to meet you, but I must go now— the god told the members of Orniskem. —Don't worry, I've negotiated with that guy to let you live— he added.

—Thank you for everything— Tania replied, to which the god gave them a thumbs-up sign and started flying away.

The god floated toward where the three goddesses were still on the field. —It was a magnificent game; I congratulate you— he said and then flew off into the horizon, disappearing into the dark sky of Chicomóztoc.

—If he can fly, he must be a powerful god— Rodrigo remarked, surprised.

—But still, he has withdrawn— a nervous Epona added as she watched Xólotl turn to look at them with a frustrated expression.

—That foreigner has prevented me from taking your lives; you should be grateful— Xólotl commented, irritated, as he once again made his hands emanate energy.

—I gave you the opportunity to have an honorable death with the ball game, but you dare to mock me, right in front of my people— the god continued, furious. —Although I can't kill you, it doesn't mean you'll leave here in one piece— he warned.

—We can't fight with these divine restraints on— Tania said in frustration.

—Wait, Xólotl-sama— Susanoo shouted as he stood up. —If you're going to fight us, do it after you remove these anti-divinity restraints— he demanded.

—Why should I care about that stupid request?— the god replied with an almost maniacal voice.

—I believe then that only I can save you— a male voice was heard.

The members of Orniskem began to search for the source of the voice, but when they looked at Xólotl, they realized the god was trembling.

—You! I knew you were here!— the jackal-masked god shouted angrily.

—I've always been here; I am this young man's guardian— the voice continued.

At that moment, the totema that Rodrigo carried flew into the sky and transformed into a mysterious man with long green hair, floating in the air. He was wearing the totema that Rodrigo had been carrying.

—Ehécatl!— Xólotl shouted furiously as dark lightning emanated from his body.

—Indeed, I have come to take this young man to Cholollan, to my lord's temple— Ehécatl commented as he descended to where Xólotl was.

—And neither you nor anyone else is going to stop me— he said.