Tony yawned as he opened his locker, chosing from a row of identical jerseys and drearily inspecting his worn, battered helmet. He was bored already. The prospect of another 2-1 grind made him wince. He turned to observe his teammates, they made him wince too. He saw them only as cage corners. He was the playmaker, the ball handler, the blitzer. He carried this team single handedly and where did it get him? Payment in Bugman’s and a room over the pie shop. He deserved more, but how? He hated to admit it but he was old for a Blood Bowl player, hell he was old for a citizen of the Empire, and that didn’t exactly make him a prime candidate for transfer. On top of that, his coach was about as incompetent as his teammates, and probably didn’t even realise there was a market.
Suddenly it was time to play. Tony wasn’t in front of his locker anymore, he was stumbling out of the tunnel on to the pitch. He looked up. It was a gloomy, cloudy day but the sun felt hot, burning. He had to look back at the floor. He took his place behind the line of scrimmage, ready for the same old hit and run blitz he had performed a hundred times, but he was distracted. He found himself staring at a dark figure in the crowd, who was that? This team never attracted new fans, he should have known every face out there, but this was someone new and… different. Tony shook his head and focussed back on the pitch. He watched as the referee blew his whistle, the linos squared up and the punching began and… blood. There was blood. Dripping. Splattering. Flowing. All else was immediately rendered totally irrelevant to the point of non-existence. He needed it. It was his. If they wouldn’t let him have it someone else would. He charged into the crowd, no longer in control of his thoughts or actions.
“I’m glad to see my little experiment worked”. It was the dark figure, still somehow wreathed in shadow under the locker room lamps. Tony blinked. There was something in his mouth. He raised a hand to find two huge razor sharp canines awkwardly prodding his gums. The rest of the team were there too but at the same time they… weren’t. There was no banter, no infighting, they all sat and stared at him as if waiting for orders. The coach, too, standing with his clipboard, staring lovingly.
“You’ll learn to control it, and to… recruit… more members to your band, in time”.
Tony stared back. They weren’t players any more. They were fodder. Meat. Just another resource, in thrall to his will. The coach, boss no longer. This was Tony’s team now.