Game Three: Downend Dynamos
It’s the third day of Season 22 of the WIBBL, and Bumford is studying Yaverslann’d’s next opponent: The Downend Dynamos; a Skaven team that’s been enjoying success so far in the league. They’re the only team that have won both their starting games in this division. Bumford is in the stands above their dugout, watching them warm up before the match.
“They’re a nasty bunch to be sure, no doubt,” he says to the hunched figure next to him.
The figure shifts uncomfortably. “You do know I’m their coach?”
Bumford turns to regard the pale ratman next to him. “So?”
“Ssso… Well, never mind. I’ve come to assssk you to bugger off, as, you know, this is ssssort of cheating.”
“Nothin’ wrong with sizing up the competition.”
“Well, that’sss quite right, but I think the line is drawn at pelting them with rocksss.”
Bumford grunts and lets fly with another stone the size of a potato. It hits a rat square in the face. Bumford whoops with joy.
The Skaven coach sighs and walks off.
Bumford waits until he leaves, then turns and shouts towards his own team. Within a few moments Lottabottol is padding up to him.
“Coach!” he says, standing to attention.
“Hold these a second.” says the dwarf, shoving a few rocks into the frog’s webbed hands.
“Good stuff, now I’ll be right back. Don’t move.”
A few minutes pass, and within a few moments the Skaven coach returns with several Ogres in referee’s striped regalia. He points towards the Slann. The largest Ogre jogs over to him.
“Ah, good morning gentlem-urk!”
“No Lottabottol today, squeezlings. To be honest, his sportsmanship and general ethics are not at all what I expected, really lowering the tone of the game,” he sniffs.
“Anyway, ratmen today. They’re almost as mutated and disgusting as you lot are. Off you go then!”
As the team leave, a shambling undead representative from the League Commissioner’s Office sidles in, clipboard in hand.
“Good morning. We have received a complaint that you’ve been cheating, and that you’ve framed so-called ‘star player’, eh,” he looks at this clipboard “Lottabooter. Ridiculous name. Is this true?”
Bumford scoffs. “How dare you, questioning my integrity. I would never dream of actin’ in such an underhanded way.”
The zombie nods. “I thought so. Well, bye.”
He shuffles out. Bumford waves at a small procession that walks past the door after the zombie, two Ogres clamping Lottabottol’s arms behind him. His eyes are a mixture of anger and trepidation. Bumford waves.
He turns and chuckles.
“Heh heh. Frog marching.”
The teams file out onto the pitch. Boggy Bee stubs his toe and almost trips on a rock.
“You think they’d comb the pitch croak for rocks before the match starts.”
A monstrously large rat called Norvegicus scampers heavily towards the line of frogs as they enter formation. The frogs instinctively take a few steps back in fear. The Rat Ogre charges towards them.
It skids to a stop inches from the nearest frog, flecking them with mud, and stands up straight. It sticks out a meaty paw, big as a paving slab, and it’s gigantic maw splits into a smile.
“Terribly pleased to meet you, charmed, charmed.”
Wasteyenot, the closest Slann, hesitates before shaking the huge arm politely. “Er, likewise croak.”
The rest of the Skaven team are similarly well mannered, shaking hands and wishing luck. There is even a polite chuckle after Tiomanicus, a Gutter Runner with three arms, manages to shake hands with three frogs at once.
Norvegicus speaks up again.
“Beautiful day, hmm? Looking forward to getting stuck in, what. After, perhaps you would all like to join us in a little post-match wine tasting evening? The exercise really loosens the palette. Well, speak soon.”
The ball is punted overhead deep into the Slann’s backfield, and Norvegicus instantly roars like a dragon and rips into the line of frogs amidst croaks and screams, knocking Snippy Slip Slapper out cold with a single backhanded blow.
Flicker Dee grabs the ball and he, along with a swathe of frogs, dart to the south to sweep around the ratmen.
They fend off the lightning-fast advances of the Dynamos, first from the north then the east. The Ogre is far away, having lost himself to mindless fury, and is chasing down Stretchy Pete, who is running for his life.
The Slann play conservatively, screening off their offence. It’s all going well until Norvegicus’s head snaps round, and he charges towards Flicker like a steam tank. It’s all the frogmen can do to keep his murderous rampage at bay long enough to score. The moment the ball passes the touchdown line, he stops slavering and frothing and claps his hands together.
“Well played, chap. I’ll get you next time, har!”
The frogs are unnerved.
The teams set up for another drive, and the rats have plenty of time to score again. However, it’s not as easy as that.
As the Slann kick the ball, an argument breaks out on the Line of Scrimmage. Norvegicus and Everetti, the Skaven Blitzer, were apparently discussing philosophy prior to the drive.
They are falling out over whether the fundamental nature of the soul is one of balance despite adversity or adversity despite balance, and perhaps you should read more about it before debating with the big boys, and perhaps your face needs balancing, and you so on and so on.
The rest of the Skaven team try to calm them down.
“Hurry up! Go get the ball, green idiots! The clock is running!” yells Bumford.
The Slann, unsure of the etiquette here, jog around the scrum and pick the ball up before walking slowly towards the touchdown line.
With barely a few seconds left on the clock, the teams set up again.
The Slann form a defensive wall, though they’re not worried. What team can score that quickly, with ten seconds left?
The Skaven team are fast.
It takes seconds for the ball to be swept up, then it’s sailing through the air.
Tiomanicus swipes it from the air, and is streaming towards the touchdown line.
It looks like he’s going to make it!
The Slann defense charges to meet him. Tiomanicus avoids them easily. The Blitzer Swish is the last hope. Tiomanicus, perhaps in a display of ability, decides to go over him instead of around him. He jumps, and plants both feet on the Blitzer’s head, intending on gracefully jumping off of him like a footstool for the score. Sadly, Tiomanicus didn’t take into consideration just how sticky a Slann’s head is, and instead slaps wetly against Swish’s back.
The whistle blows for the second half.
Back in the changing room, Yaverslann’d are feeling pretty good. They’ve not had a lead line this before. They’re all alive. They’re feeling confident.
Snippy Slip Slapper is still out for the count. Bumford takes this valuable coaching time to draw on his face. In pencil.
The second half begins, and the slaughter finally arrives, much to Bumford’s delight! No less than three players die within minutes of each other, two Skaven and one Slann. Miraculously, the doctor (despite angry bellows of questionable ethics from Bumford) revives Stretchy Pete from the brink of death. One of the other deaths is Tiomanicus. (He’d tried to escape the slimy fists of Flicker, but his feet stuck to the floor at the wrong moment and… Well, suffice to say his running days are over.)
The Dynamos manage to perform a blisteringly fast roundabout passing play, scoring early on in the half. But, due in part to their ongoing felicitations and, er, otherwise about various vagaries of philosophical this and metaphysical that, and the often violent confrontations within the team about exactly which path to inner peace was most direct, the Dynamos were severely disadvantaged in numbers.
They had looked like they were about to rally together, having finally unified on their beliefs (for now), when Bumford leaps up onto his chair and yells about how inner peace is wholly selfish, for what great act of self-interest can one pursue than the ultimate fulfilment of the personal soul, and they all started off again.
Making the most of this, the frogs swamp them with bodies, holding them back long enough to score a third time.
3-1 to Yaverslann’d!
“Nice one swamplettes! You’re getting a decent record. Course, it’s only against teams that wear practically nothing, so no wonder. Once you have to fight some real armour, you’re really going to suffer. Especially if it’s covered in spikes. And maybe poison. Oooh, I can’t wait, the suspense is killing me…”
He timidly peels back the top page of his clipboard, and reads.
“Ahar! Dark Elves! All those blades, all them spikes, and those lady elfs… Oh my.”
He sits down.
His team exchange worried looks.
There is a poster on the wall. It bears the portrait of Lottabottol. There is some very severe looking red writing beneath it.