From Highgarden to Jurassic Park

My name is Loriz Tyrell. I grew up in Isla Nublar, on the southern side of the island. Since I was a young hatchling, I loved books. My parents, Maze & Alerize, encouraged this affinity, and they even commissioned a library to be built at Highgarden, our family estate. The library was so vast that if I read an entire book every day for the rest of my life, I still would have left unread too many of its books to count. And I would have gladly sat in that library for the rest of my life and devoured them, but for my best friend, Prince Rogers Nelskink.

I met Prince when I was reading under a tree one day, and I heard the most beautiful tune coming from over the next hill. As I traversed the peak and looked down upon the next valley, I saw Prince, strumming a harp for an audience of 20 female skinks, sauri, and even a couple of kroxigors. I recognized most of them from school, even if they had no idea who I was. These were the cool kids, and I had never seen them so transfixed by anything. Prince’s fingers worked the harp strings so deftly and sensually, while his body undulated against its wood, that various audience members let out audible gasps of delight. When his performance was over, they erupted into applause and engulfed him in a wave of hugs and kisses. I retreated to my tree, content to have witnessed an event that was usually out of my social league.

As I once again opened the pages of “Tom Saurus,” ready to learn what hilarious trouble he and his best friend Hucklescary Fin were going to get into next, my line of sight was obstructed by a single claw, outstretched across my pages, pushing the book downward. I looked up into the most beautiful eyes I’d ever seen. “I’ve noticed you around school. You’re quiet, but you’re observant. You read deep books while others gossip about their classmates’ outfits. I’m happy you liked my music.”

“H-how did you know I liked it?” I stammered.

“Your face lit up like it does when it’s in one of your books,” he replied. “You and I will be friends from now on.” And we were. Prince introduced me to new worlds, both musically and socially. I, in turn, regaled him with tales from my most entertaining books, as he often declared, “I’m bored, LT. Tell me a story.”

It wasn’t long before he got his big musical break, with the help of a state-of-the-art demo that I had convinced my parents to fund. Prince broke the news to me in his usual matter-of-fact tone: “I’ve been offered a big gig, LT. We’re moving to Dark City.”

“We?” I replied.

“You’re a part of The Revolution now, LT. I won’t do it without you.” So we moved to Dark City, home to neverending nightlife and packed theatres of obsessive musical fans. All of The Revolution put together didn’t possess half of Prince’s talent as a musician, but the shows were really about him.  We just needed to look good and stay out of his way onstage. I took satisfaction in helping him write a clever lyric every once in a while.  Over a very short period of time, I witnessed Prince start to flourish as a musical god…but the demons were creeping up on him.

You see, Prince had a very “active” stage show, and a couple of injuries during some enthusiastic performances had resulted in prescriptions for the best painkillers that money can buy…and when his injuries had healed, he didn’t let up on those painkillers. One time I voiced my concern to him, and my oldest friend shot me a glare and snapped at me in a hostile tone that he had never used toward me before. He told me he needed them to get into the right mindset for his shows. He had never admitted to needing anything before…and he had always referred to them as “our” shows.

The painkillers made Prince feel invincible. He was always bored, and he was always looking for the next big thrill, from street fights to unprotected orgies…he even built a casketball court in his dungeon basement. So, on that fateful night, when we spotted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Lizards and their entourage partying in Thugz Paradise after their match against the Thugz of Weldrake, which had taken place at the nearby Black Stronghold, Prince found a way to supply the only 2 things that he had grown (or tailspun) to love more than music: Thrills and Pills.

That night, he challenged the best Pro team in the Wicked Forest Conference to a match of casketball. I don’t think any of us actually expected to win. These were some of the best athletes in the world. We were just hoping to survive. But Prince was magnificent. He played with no fear. They couldn’t stop him. So when Coach Jest demanded that he join TMNL in their next Blood Bowl match, as a replacement for Torpedoraptor, who he had injured in the casketball game, Prince didn’t need very much convincing. A thrilling, death-defying, violent game, with access to all of the painkillers that one’s overstressed heart could desire; what was there to consider?

Prince instantly put our music career on hold that night, and the next morning, he was being introduced at a Jurassic Park press conference as the newest member of TMNL. Of course, he declared that I had to come along with him. Some personnel shuffling was negotiated, and I became the team’s new ballboy. It wasn’t a glamorous job, and it didn’t pay well, but I had a better-than-front-row view of every game, and I got to watch my best friend and personal hero practice or play every day.

Unfortunately, Prince did not excel on the Blood Bowl pitch the way that he did onstage; he was just average. I guess that all of the natural athleticism in the world only gets you so far. He was playing against others that had dedicated themselves to the sport; they had been playing since they could barely hold a ball. He, in turn, seemed more interested in the medicine used to recover from games than actually playing them.

Still, Prince’s creativity was unencumbered. He was a publicity mastermind. He gave Coach Jest the idea for Concedegate, in which TMNL fooled the League into thinking they were going to concede to the Green Tide Titans in Week 7, since they had already practically clinched the WFC Championship and a Playoff berth. But not only did TMNL play that match, they fought hard. It was a classic slugfest. Unfortunately, the Titans had more than a few players skilled in Mai-Tee-Blo, and Killmono Dragon’s skull was fractured. Torpedoraptor got injured again, too, suffering a smashed collarbone. TMNL lost that match on an-end-of-the-game turnover with ensuing full-field sprint by the dodgiest orcs in the League. It was only their second loss of the season.

The next day at practice, people were pretty testy. Spermadactyl, our team captain, got mad at me because he said I overinflated his ball, so he chased me up and down the pitch trying to make me eat it. He couldn’t catch me. Coach Jest called me over and told me I was trading in my ball pump for a helmet and pads.

I was introduced to the press as Homer. Smashceratops thought it up. He said it totally fit because I liked to read so much and because I thought up the bit about the Trojan Horse in Concedegate…and because I’m gay. Some of my teammates are always boasting about how “politically incorrect” they are; I just think that means they’re big a$$holes.

We won the Wicked Forest Conference Championship last season, even though we lost my first game to the White Owlz in Week 8. It was a very close match, and some of the media (even a few players, behind closed doors), grumbled that the Owlz only won because Killmono and Torpedo were out. But soon after, that roster change became permanent. Torpedoraptor was kidnapped and eaten, his bones found under a bridge; and Killmono was killed on the pitch in the first round of the Playoffs by the eventual S3 Champions, the Wrecking kru.

Killmono was the first TMNL player ever to die on a Pro pitch. Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement, MML teams are responsible for funding the funerals of their players who are killed in games, with such funerals to be carried out according to the wishes of the dead players, if they left wills, or according to the wishes of their next of kin, if they did not leave a will. However, TMNL’s owners (whom we have never met, but are rumored to be a couple of brothers who mostly dwell in a cave somewhere, drinking and watching movies) also volunteered to take care of Torpedo’s funeral, as they felt that his murder was Blood Bowl-related.

Killmono didn’t leave a will, but in keeping with his North Nublarian heritage, Killmono’s adoptive father, Killip Drummond, and his brother Raarnold, chose to give him a warrior’s funeral. His body was set out to the sea from the Northernmost shore of Isla Nublar, on a pyre stacked high with wood from a dead treeman. The witch Melizandra lit him up with a fireball that covered 16 spaces. It took her almost 2 full days of undisturbed meditation and fasting to achieve the feat, which would be impossible on a Blood Bowl pitch, we all probably calculated in our minds.

Unsurprisingly, Torpedoraptor wanted to have his ashes launched into the sky as far as they would go. Coach ReznorRulesYou, who was the announcer during Torpedoraptor’s last match, and whose team Stop Rolling Ones!!! would soon win the Challenge League Championship, volunteered his treeman, Fluffy, to throw the urn so far up that Melizandra could barely still see it before she disintegrated it with a lightning bolt.

I had never had someone close to me die before (even all of my grandparents were still living), or even seen a real live dead body, for that matter. I couldn’t get the image of Killmono’s lifeless eyes out of my head for…well, I still can’t. His massive, powerful frame laying prone on the pitch, blood trickling onto the grass as dirty orcs stepped over him like they would so much as a doormat.

But time heals, I guess. We had an offseason to recover as a team. Through group reinforcement and a constantly repeated mantra that our teammates had died in glory, any last shred of sadness was sharpened into pure hate for opposing teams (especially orcs). By the time I took the field again for our first S4 match against the White Owlz at Jurassic Park, the deaths of Killmono and Torpedoraptor felt like distant memories; I was invincible again.

I looked across the field at my best friend as Maimonychus kicked the ball to the Owlz. We were both front men on the wings. Defensive starters. I sighed out loud, beaming at how far we’d come since hanging out at Highgarden as kids. He winked at me. He was high on painkillers and ready to go. Thrills and Pills.

And then Mylm’nor came across the line and snapped Prince’s neck with a flying back roundhouse kick. All of a sudden, everything went in slow motion, and I couldn’t hear anything anymore. I looked to our sideline. Coach Jest was pacing frantically up and down the sideline. I could see his lips forming the full version of “WTF!” Our apothecary, Dr. Omaulu, grabbed his bag, but I saw Coach Jest grab his arm and slowly shake his head. Our coach was going to let the most amazing person in this world die. I screamed at him from the sideline, pleading for my best friend’s life, until That’sila ran over and sucker-kicked me to the ground. I was so angry that I got up and ran right up to the Owlz’s treeman, White Tree, and started wailing on him until Frau Farhissina, our replacement for Killmono, knocked him to the ground.

The rest of the match was a blur. I don’t remember most of it. My teammates tell me that I began running around the pitch with reckless abandonment until Dilgaliel knocked me out. I didn’t return until the second half.

In T16, the ball dropped into my hands when Mylm’nor leapt into our cage and knocked Spermadactyl down. ReznorRulesYou, who was announcing the match, joked that I appeared to have been jolted out of writing in my pad. He was implying that I wasn’t paying attention to my surroundings. He was right. I was still in shock. I looked up at the two wood elves glaring down at me, coveting the stupid ball I was holding. My teammates were frantically laying blocks for me while Coach Jest signaled for me to dodge toward the opposite sideline, but none of this mattered anymore. I took a lumbering step in an empty-hearted dodge attempt, but Belarithra kicked me like a piece of trash in the street, knocking the ball through Smashceratops’s arms, and right into Thunden’s nimble hands. The latter elusive wood elf immediately dodged out of Smash’s grasp, cackling all the way into the end zone.

I don’t really remember everything that Coach Jest said to me after the game. It did stick in my memory that he tried to argue that he was justified in stopping Dr. Omaulu from treating Prince because Blood Bowl apothecaries are only allowed sufficient medical supplies to treat one player per game, and saving those supplies allowed Dr. Omaulu to fix Ornithop0wna’s broken neck a couple of plays later. But I would break Ornithop0wna’s neck myself if I could have one more day with my sweet Prince.

TMNL is now 1-2 against the White Owlz, but I don’t really care. This game has lost its taste for me. I will only continue to play it so that I can unleash vengeance upon those who have hurt my comrades. I long for the day that I step on a field with the White Owlz next. I pray to Nuffle that Mylm’nor is still on their roster by then. I have nothing left to lose now, but I have a world full of joy to take from my opponents.

I conclude this chapter of my life story as I finish a glass of wine at my best friends’ funeral. Prince’s wish was that his “celebration of his eternal life,” as he put it, be the most extravagant party anyone has ever seen, that his teammates put sunglasses on his corpse and carry him around the celebration as if he was still alive, and that everyone “party like it’s 2599.” It is the most eccentric, gaudy, and exciting funeral that anyone has ever witnessed…and it is absolutely perfect, my dear brother. Rest in peace.

*TMNL v. White Owlz (S4 Wk 1) is available at: https://youtu.be/nyj90oY099o*