Coach Caven walked slowly down the cobblestone street, footsteps echoing in the early morning quiet. The playoff game had been rather uninspiring, with the Wrecking Kru just going through the motions, knowing it was their last time on the professional pitch. The fell to the human side, 2-0, but never really had a chance. The humans must have used some illegal magic, because many of the Kru players fell to seemingly soft hits, while the humans withstood Black Orc hits that would have dropped an Ogre. Definitely had the hands of Goblin Gambling in it. But that was now history. Natasha Kerensky, the all mysterious woman who had contacted him out of the blue, had instructed him to meet her and his new team captain at the Hound’s Breath Inn at daybreak. While still feeling a bit reluctant, he decided to meet with them, and see where his decision had gotten him. There was no turning back now.
As he entered the common room of the Inn, he noticed that it held more people than it should at this early hour. There were several men, scattered around the room, all with the look of military about them. Not uniforms, because they were all dressed casually, but in how they held themselves. He knew immediately that every eye was on him, measuring him, looking for any signs of threat. Natasha sat at a table in the farthest corner with a dark-haired man. Upon approach, the man stood, and Caven got his first full look. He was older than he looked, very tall and an athletic build. Not overly muscular, but the type of strength that could get him out of any situation. He conveyed strength, and indeed, wisdom, with his look. If Caven didn’t know better, and he really didn’t, in truth, he would have pegged the man for royalty.
“Coach Caven, I am Morgan Kell. I am the man in charge of the team that you will be coaching.” He reached out his hand, and Caven took it. The grip was iron, but not intended to intimidate in any way. He, too, radiated the discipline and toughness of a military man. “Glad to finally meet you. Ms. Kerensky has been very…secretive about you and your associates. It was very difficult to get your team entered into the MML without knowing much about them. Rookie teams are not readily accepted into that league. Consider yourself lucky.” Caven told him. Kell nodded, then looked back at Kerensky. “I think you have chosen well, Natasha. He may be able to get us where we need to go.” Caven took the open seat between Kell and Kerensky. He accepted the glass of mead on the table before him, and waited. “No doubt you have many questions, Coach. I will try to answer as many as I can. But, please understand, much of what we are doing is highly classified, and beyond your need to know at this time.” Caven nodded, then spoke. “How about you start with the part about this job can save the human race. It’s just a blood bowl team in the Challenge League of the MML. Hardly anything to threaten humanity.” Kell glanced quickly at Kerensky, and she nodded slightly. A signal? But for what?
“Let me start at the beginning, but be warned, it will be more than you can believe. We wouldn’t believe it, either, if we weren’t currently living it. It all starts a thousand years from now…”
Humanity had won a great war against all the races. Mankind had scored victory over the factions of Orcs, undead, skaven and other vile races, with the help of the Elves and Dwarves. The remnants of the chaos aligned races retreated underground, or to other dimensions, banished by the power of man. The Elves, in their wisdom, fled to another planet or dimension, nobody knows where. Their arcane magic was sometimes incomprehensible. Man took control of earth, and in turn, its history. The other races were eventually relegated to things of myth and legend. Man eventually forgot about them, save for bedtime stories or fantastic stories that were considered make-believe. As is the nature of man, they eventually split up into different nations and warred among themselves. Sometimes these wars lasted days, sometimes years, but man continued to rule. Great cities rose up, greater than any you can imagine, and man continued to reproduce. Then, one day, seemingly out of nowhere, an infection took a foothold in a large population center. The civilians fell at a rapid pace, infecting each other. But it wasn’t a debilitating infection, it was an evil one. The news outlets began calling it the zombie apocalypse, others referred to it as the undead plague. The infected humans began preying upon the uninfected, and soon their numbers grew. The militaries of every nation came together to fight this common foe. We designated the infected as “fuglies”, but today you would call them “nurgle”. Researchers began sifting through ancient texts, thought to be full of nonsense, and discovered that all the ancient races were, indeed, real. The scientists were finally able to pinpoint how the plague started. A museum in one of the largest cities held an artifact, thought to be just a piece of history from a long gone civilization, that had opened a portal from their dimension to ours. The nurgle priest “Scabius” had invoked the correct spell to open it, and the nurgle host began to emerge, changing our world forever. Every effort was made to destroy the artifact, but none could reach it. Nurgle had fortified the museum and protected it, keeping the portal open. We were able to identify the artifact, and even determine its age. Our scientists then developed a way for us to travel back to its origins, in order to destroy it before it could be used against us. Humanity is currently in a war that it might very well lose, unless this artifact is destroyed.
Caven sat, looking incredulously at Kell. “Are you serious? You expect me to believe that? You are from the future?” He laughed, a bit nervously. Kell looked at him for a few minutes, then said “Come with me, I want to show you something.” With that, Kell and Kerensky stood and headed for the door. Caven noticed that three of the men in the room went to the door and out, headed in the same direction. The rest waited for Kell to go through. The exited into the street, still very early in the morning. They rounded the building to the stables, and Caven noticed the three men mounted on horseback, with others saddled and ready for the rest of the group. There was even one for him. They had expected this? Very prepared and calculating. Kell would be worth watching. They rode out of the stables and toward the West, out of the city. They rode for about an hour, heading toward the tail of the Serpent’s Spine mountain range. Those mountains were filled with all manner of beings, from Ogres to Trolls and wolves, dragons and goblins. Not many humans wandered into them alone. They continued, gradually climbing along a small road, finally reaching a large cavern entrance. Kell and his entourage dismounted, so Caven followed. They entered the cave, seeming to be unafraid of what it contained. Upon entering, Caven stopped, eyes not comprehending what he was seeing. There were walls built inside the cavern, but that is not what held his attention. A very large…vessel?…sat in the middle of the cavern. It was metallic, and built at odd angles, but was not meant for the sea. He had never seen anything like it.
“Welcome to our base of operations. That is The Archer, our ship. It was assigned to me by the United Earth Defense Forces. I should properly introduce myself. I am Colonel Morgan Kell, and I am the leader of the Kell Hounds, all the men and women you see before you. We were sent here to perform a mission, and we are enlisting your help. There is no turning back now, Coach Caven.”
…to be continued
*a disclaimer. I grew up playing battletech and was infatuated with the stories and development of the game. The Kell Hounds are a famous mercenary unit from the Battletech universe, and Morgan Kell is their leader. The names of the players are all from battletech, so I do not claim them as mine. The story is mine, but the characters and some of the other elements are borrowed. The story will continue to incorporate people from the battletech universe, so my hope is not to offend anyone, nor try passing any of them off as my own creation. It is just a story, that developed my blood bowl team, and is central to their existence.