ONCE UPON A TIME there was an undefeated MML Pro Necro team. They were hosting the #2 team in both their conference and their playpool. They were playing in their newly upgraded fancy stadium, Cloud Nine. It was a lovely day. The Hopeless Necromantics were doing what they did best: kicking ass.

Sure, the score was 1-0 in favor of the Princes of Arioch in Turn 13, but 2 high elves were injured, 1 was ejected for a failed foul, and 5 others were knocked out! The Romantics had all of their players on the field. Moreover, they still had on call the wizard that they had hired for this match! Chasing Papi stood 4 meters from the Arioch end zone, looking back at Coach Serious Jest for the go-ahead to score, but Coach Jest held him up. He wanted to press the attrition advantage before Papi trotted in at the end of the turn.

So Coach Jest watched as Shawn Michaels floored the helf journeyman, Talnorlerren Talaneth. Talaneth’s armour wasn’t broken, but Coach Jest gleefully took a swig of the Basil Hayden he was now drinking in pre-celebration and waited for the inevitable injury that would come when the werewolf with Mai-Tee-Blo claws piled on to the poor loner. Coach Jest’s smile quickly faded into disgust when he failed to hear the crunch of armour breaking, however. Another swig, and Coach Jest was directing Papi to move laterally, closer to the pile surrounding the stunned helf catcher, Rackhir, who had been instrumental in stopping an all-but-sure Romantics touchdown at the end of the 1st half.

This was normally the time when Papi’s voice of reason as the team captain was instrumental. He wanted to tell his coach that they should just score; that even if they scored now, they’d only have 3 more turns to have their wizard pop the ball loose, to press their stark numbers advantage on the Princes and regain possession, and to score again for the win. But as soon as Papi began to protest, Coach Jest flashed him a look that reminded him of the first day he had met the coach, when Jest and the man with the chainsaw for a hand had showed up in his dimension and made an example of those that would not follow. So he took his place where he was told, and watched as the rest of his team surrounded Rackhir while Tom Bonez stomped on the helf’s prone body. Coach Jest spit out his bourbon along with profanity as the foul merely resulted in a stun. The stubborn elf just wouldn’t die. His physical strength was matched only by his indomitable will.

“Again!” Yelled Coach Jest. It was now Turn 14. The loner was still stunned on the grass, and the other remaining Prince was all the way by the other end zone, afraid to run back and help out. Papi thought, “Coach must plan to finish off Rackhir, then greenlight me to score. But what if…” Papi’s fears were confirmed by the sound of the referee’s whistle, which would eject Tom Bonez for another stun-inducing foul, but more importantly, would also prevent Papi from running into the end zone in Turn 14.

Coach Jest was now furious! His mouth was dry from all of the profanity-filled yelling, and he was drinking bourbon like it was water. “AGAIN!” he yelled, obsessed with injuring Rackhir above all. Without hesistation, Say Anything brought his bony foot down onto the bloody and bruised sack of flesh that was Rackhir. Still, the helf continued to cry out unintelligible gibberish, still clearly stunned, his heady bloody, but unbowed. “For F’orc’s sake, SCORE!” Coach Jest yelled at Papi, with such vehemence that Papi complied right away without realizing that this was perhaps the worst coaching decision that Coach Jest had ever made in a Pro setting. It was now Turn 15, and the Princes would have 2 turns to score, while the Hopeless Necromantics would have only 1 to get the ball back and score. The Romantics would have been better off delaying their score and settling for the tie rather than giving the ball back to the Princes with a bunch of options. Papi threw the ball on the ground in disgust and clawed to death the annoying fellow who was pointing a camera in his face .

“It’s okay,” thought Papi, “We’ve still got a wizard and they’ve only got 3 players left stand—OH , C’MON!!” 3 of the 5 unconscious helves, including their fastest catcher, Chardros, woke up and joined the rest of their team in their huddle. To make matters worse, Coach Jest was drunkenly shouting what he thought was advice, but was actually gibberish at his players, distracting them long enough so that the Princes were able to get an extra step on the Romantics on the kickoff, allowing the helves to easily chain push Chardros even further downfield for a 1-turn touchdown.

The home crowd fell silent. The shock of the 1TTD was enough to even sober up Coach Jest for a second. With steel resolve, he declared, “We’ll 1-turn them right back!” After all, the Romantics had the numbers, their Princess Bride was just as fast as Chardros, and Papi had the passing ability to get her the ball. It was a realistic plan.

The team set up to receive the kickoff, but Coach Jest was at it again, drinking more and shouting advice at them while they were trying to concentrate on executing the play. Yet another Prince had woken up before this kickoff, and they took advantage of the Romantic’s own coach distracting them by blitzing. Rackhir positioned himself in front of the lineman that needed to get pushed to put the Princess Bride in scoring position. His strength and sidestep ability threatened to disrupt the scoring play the same as he had done at the end of the 1st half. But the Princes had forgotten about the wizard. The wizard, who was now sharing the bottle of bourbon with Coach Jest, got up, raised his hand in the air, and dropped it in the direction of Rackhir. A lightning bolt knocked the elf to the ground. But, once again, Rackhir continued to show signs of life on the grass, unwilling to come off the field. Still, it was enough to clear a path for Shawn Michaels to chain push his girlfriend into scoring position. Yes, she was marked by Chardros, but she was an experienced dodger, and she had been putting in extra training this week to make sure that she could catch a ball under difficult conditions. It wasn’t a sure thing, but this was as good of a chance as the Romantics were going to get to tie this match up. Papi steeled himself to pick up the ball and pass it to the Princess.

And then Coach Jest had another “brilliant” idea. Through blurred vision, he yelled at Something About Mary to move into position for another chain push. No one else saw any helpful chain push available, and a sober Coach Jest would later be unable to identify the chain push opportunity he had formerly been so adamant about. But he commanded Mary to dodge away from the elf that was marking her and to move into “chain push position.” Now, Mary is not the nimblest of flesh golems, and she almost tripped making the dodge, but she had done some extra training that week jumping rope, so she was able to make the dodge and run next to the Princess, confused as to how this helped the situation. Coach Jest, finally realizing that no “brilliant chain push” existed, finally commanded Papi to make the pass.

Papi picked up the ball deftly, he ran as close to the Princess as he could, and he let fly a beautiful spiral, which the Princess caught as if there wasn’t a speedy and sneaky elven catcher on her back. Then she nimbly dodged away from him, as if all of the elven blood she had recently devoured was powering her agility. It was a beautiful sight. She was moving so fast, even for her! She had cleared 20 meters and was about to go 22 for the score! But the wolf wasn’t used to running this fast. She tripped and fell right in front of the end zone, just short of the touchdown. The ball rolled into the stands, and the fans threw it to the elves in disgust. The vile elves used the extra turn they had to attempt a foul on Michaels.

The Romantics had suffered their first defeat. Some of the players couldn’t help but feel that the karma spent on keeping Mary standing during her needless dodge could have helped the Princess cross the end zone with the ball.

The Romantics, who went into the match as favorites to win the conference and the play pool, are now fighting to keep their playoff hopes alive as they take on a dangerous lizard team. Coach Jest has historically faired worst against lizards.



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