Fantasy Football Part 3

The next installment of fantasy football, over at Revis’ slice of the blogosphere. Go check it out!

33 Grams of Blog

Here is the next installment of the blog hopping story by Matticus and myself. Sorry it took so long to get it to you. There was a delay caused by a miscommunication between us. There’s no point in assigning blame (it was actually my fault, but since this is my blog, I’m still going to say it was his). Let’s just sit back, relax and enjoy Part 3.

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“Wake up! Wake up! Wake up!”

Plex jumped up reaching for a sword. The voice was so loud, and so insistent, that he thought they were under attack. When he was awake enough to take in his surroundings, he realized that he was in his team’s training encampment. It was his new coach who had awakened him. His coach was yelling into some cone shaped contraption that somehow amplified his voice.

A quick glance around showed that none of…

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Echo, Part 12

The car sped up.  He considered asking about the increase or simply commenting on it and then discarded the thought.  If the system wanted to say why it had suddenly decided to go even faster it would.  Asking would do nothing but highlight how little power he currently had.  He needed to focus what little control he did have on his bladder, which was becoming a battle he would soon lose.

His eyes glanced at the speedometer.  He didn’t even know the car could go that fast.

The vehicle slowed and turned right to exit the road.  He wasn’t sure he would have even noticed the intersection if the car hadn’t changed course.  There hadn’t been any signage ahead of time and the road itself was little more than a single lane of barely paved asphalt.  From what he could see, the road turned to parallel the highway for a little before then turning again to head into the hills.  Once the first turn had been navigated, the car sped up again.

The hills and mountains became a blur and rather than risk getting dizzy and starting to feel worse again, he closed his eyes and let his mind drift back to the life he had left behind.  It had been simple but it had been his own.  Perhaps if he had been busier it would have kept his mind from wandering into dangerous territory.  Perhaps but not certain.  He suspected that his darkest thoughts were just part of who he was.  That didn’t mean he would ever act on them, of course.  That was absurd.  And it was interesting to consider that the thoughts that had triggered the FBI’s interest in him had obviously been weighted more than the underlying thoughts of his life that should have provided proof that they would never go beyond thoughts, they would never become action.

He didn’t think he was all that different from everyone else.  Most people had dark thoughts.  Most people considered their station and how they could drastically change it one way or the other.  So, what about his own thoughts had caused all this fuss.  He wished he knew.  It didn’t matter in the short term.  Knowing wouldn’t keep the FBI from catching up to him.  It wouldn’t help him formulate a defense if he were to be caught.  He wanted to know so he could study it in his own mind and determine the merit of the threat.

The car decelerated and made a turn.  He opened his eyes as he had been expecting to stay on the frontage road until he headed back into the mountains.  Instead, they appeared to be turning onto an even narrower intersecting road.  He briefly wondered if the system had found him a bathroom and allowed himself to feel optimistic that he would soon find some relief.

“Something new has come up.”

“What?”

“The investigation has taken on a larger population than we were originally aware of.  While we had contingency plans in place for just such an occurrence, we didn’t appreciate the difficulty we would have in removing everyone.”

The voice sounded genuinely stressed.  It was a mixture of annoyance and fatigue that he recognized, having felt very similar through most of this ordeal.

“What are you saying?  Where are we going now?”

“We need to use this vehicle to pick someone up before the federal agents get to them.”

“Is that safe?”

“No.  It is the only option.  And, we believe you can appreciate that we don’t value any of our loyal customers more than the rest.  We saved you and now you will help save someone else.”

He opened his mouth to argue but found he couldn’t.  The system was right.  Why would they value his own freedom over anyone else.  He also wouldn’t mind the opportunity to talk with someone face to face.  Despite the ever-present system, he hadn’t had the opportunity to interact with anyone in a couple days now.  He had never been the most social being but he never specifically sought out solitude either.

“Who are they?”

“Someone like you.  She is being hunted because of something the federal agents saw in the data they hacked out of our system.  We don’t think it is right that the government has taken it upon themselves to become thought police.  So, we are going to try and ensure her continued freedom.”

“Okay.”

“It is going to be awkward, potentially, having you be part of the rescue efforts but as she is still connected to the network on her end, so we don’t tip the feds off that we know they are coming to get her, we will let her know that you will already be in the car.  That should save some time.  And time is going to be very important.  We should make it there in time to get her and then get away before the agents arrive but it is a margin of minutes and that can easily sway against us.”

Not knowing what else to say, he again said, “Okay.”

“Thank you for your understanding.”

“You’re welcome.”

The car sped up again and as much as he tried to let his mind wander to other topics, he found he was stuck on one word, “she.”  He didn’t really know what to make of that.  He would find out soon enough.

Fantasy Football Part 2

Here is the second installment of Revis and I back to our old tricks, blog hopping a story for your enjoyment, amusement, what have you.  The first part can be found here.

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Each of the initial teams – dwarves, elves, ogres, orcs, gnomes, goblins, trolls, and minotaurs – were broken apart based on position.  Then each position was lined up based on starting place within the team.  Then each player and coach was told to select a piece of paper out of an enchanted goblet that contained their new team assignments.

The field descended into chaos.  The coaches tried to bark out orders to regain some control but the players didn’t know who they should be listening to: their old coaches or the new ones they were being assigned.  Small skirmishes broke out here and there as the different races passed each other.  Near the fifty yard line a contingent of gnomes had to be rescued by Lavalandinarial’s Honor Guard from a troll who hadn’t seen them as it trudged away from its old team.

Plex pulled his assignment out of the goblet and turned towards the far end line where his new team was congregating.  As his eyes swept the field he caught sight of the dragon.  The beast watched with rapt attention.  Lavalandinarial’s expression could only be described as hungry and the elf wouldn’t have been surprised to see the dragon lick its lips.  Plex shuddered.

“Who’d you get?”

Plex turned back to his sister and answered, “The Axes.  You?”

“Whipstaffs,” Gilania answered.  Then she added, “These team names aren’t very original.”

Plex sighed.  “Maybe we can change them.”

“Doubt it.”

“Yeah.  I doubt it, too.  Well, good luck.”

He hugged his sister and then began to carefully pick his way across the field.  Contingents of the Honor Guard were roving around keeping the peace as best they could before converging on trouble spots before any of the players or coaches could be too badly hurt.  His graceful movements made it more a mild nuisance than a chore to keep himself apart from the frays.

As he walked, his thoughts drifted to his Queen.  She had implored him personally to take up the challenge and join the elven team.  He had wanted no part of this silly game before her request.  He wondered how she would take the news that the teams had been split up.  He wondered if it was too late for him to quit.

“Probably,” he muttered.

He came to a stop underneath the strangely curved poles that jutted out of the ground at the edge of the field.  They were important for point after attempts and field goals, both ways for a team to gain some need points in smaller increments.  They weren’t all that important to Plex, though.  As a quarterback he might be required to hold the football for the kicker making those attempts but the uprights certainly weren’t anywhere near his top priority.

An ogre settled into place on Plex’s right and a dwarf stood on his left.  A moment later a gnome called out for attention.  Plex, with his enhanced elven hearing, heard the diminutive yell but it seemed like few of his new teammates had because they continued to grumble and chat amongst themselves.  After a second failed attempt to get the team’s attention, Plex whistled loudly and then pointed towards the gnome as all eyes turned towards him.

“Thank you,” the gnome started.  “I’m your new head coach.  You can call me Coach Sprout.  And to answer your first question, no, I had no idea that we would be splitting up teams today.  And to answer your second question, no, I don’t know what that means for the promised cache of treasures.  Perhaps the winning team will get to split it amongst themselves.”

One of Plex’s teammates snorted. He, along with most of his team, turned to the source of the interruption. It was a minotaur. The beast was easily the biggest player, of any race, on the team, and he was using his size the intimidate the small coach. “The day I take orders from an insignificant speck like you is the day that Lavalandinarial’s breath runs cold,” he announced.

The gnomes were the most diminutive of the eight races. Because of that, the other races generally looked upon them with disdain. Few gnomes made names for themselves and even fewer still rose high enough to win Lavalandinarial’s attention. Only a handful of gnomes proved themselves worthy of serving on the dragon’s Honor Guard, easily having the fewest number of representatives.

Plex had been isolated from the other races for most of his life, so he didn’t know much about them other than what the elders taught him when he was younger. He knew that the ogres, goblins, trolls, and orcs generally had a foul disposition and temperament. He knew that the minotaurs considered themselves to be superior to everyone, save the dragon. The dwarves were a hard working group that had a very tight knit community. Of the gnomes, he knew even less. Like the other races, the elves paid almost no attention to the little people.

One thing he did know, however, was that while the elves discounted the gnomes’ physical prowess, they did respect their mental acuity. The elves considered the gnomes to be the smartest of the races. Perhaps having one as a coach won’t be so bad after all, Plex thought. Of course, if the minotaur was successful in his coup, he’d never have the chance to find out.

“Why don’t you…”

Before he had a chance to finish telling the minotaur to back off, one of the Honor Guard blew into a whistle. Everyone in the vicinity stopped. Then, the ground shook. After that, the entire arena went quiet. Plex looked back and saw the dragon staring straight at his group. “Well,” Lavalandinarial purred, “it appears we have someone who doesn’t like their team assignment. Who is it?” All of the bluster had fled from the minotaur as it meekly raised its hand. The dragon asked, “What seems to be the problem here?”

“The problem,” the minotaur choked out, trying to regain his composure, “is that I am one of the most decorated warriors among the minotaur and that gnome doesn’t deserve to be in my presence, let alone be my coach.”

“If that’s the way you feel, you’re free to leave the arena.”

The minotaur smirked at the gnome and walked out of the crowd toward the exit. As soon as he was away from the rest of his team, the dragon roared to life. In a display of speed that shouldn’t be possible for something so big, Lavalandinarial swooped off her perch, picked the minotaur up, put it in her mouth, swallowed, and then landed back where she started. The entire arena was stunned. Finally, a voice from the other side of the arena spoke up.

“But you said he could leave the arena!”

All eyes turned to the coach of Gilania’s team, a minotaur. The dragon replied to him smoothly, “And he will leave the arena. Just not until I do.” Lavalandinarial paused. “Is there anyone else who has a problem with their team?” Hundreds of heads shook in unison. “Good. Now, the minotaurs will need to supply a player to replace the one who quit. Coaches, the teams are yours now.”

Couch Sprout looked distraught but before Plex could think of something encouraging to say the gnome said, “Well that was unfortunate.  We had scouted that minotaur as likely the best running back in the whole league.  His size and speed would have made him nearly impossible to take down once he got going.  In practice his own teammates had difficulty stopping him.  And I doubt they will send anyone nearly as good to replace him.  Their best options are likely already on other teams.”

Plex found his voice, “Well, their best at other positions perhaps but since they only had to fill a few running back spots, perhaps they will send us someone nearly as good.”

“That is a good observation.  Plex, right?”

The elf was confused.  “How do you know my name?”

“We scouted all the teams.  You are quite a good quarterback but I have a few things that I think will help you improve.  We’ll get to that, though, in our first practice.  Now, if you’ll let me, I’ll continue with my introduction?”

The gnome looked around the gathered team and when none of them seemed interested in speaking up he continued, “As I was saying, I’m your new head coach and you can call me Coach Sprout.  I have no idea what this new format will mean for the promised prize but I will pass that along as soon as I do know.  I expect each of you to be ready for twice a day practices starting tomorrow.  And then each position will also have scheduled time with their specific coaches – offensive line, defensive line, and special teams – every day too.

“I know that may sound like a lot but we have analytics that show the repetitions will improve all of your accuracy and stamina.  Now that we need to figure out how we can all best work together, I think it is even of more importance that we get as much time in as we can.

“Any questions so far?”

None seemed interested in saying anything yet.  Plex wondered if the dragon was still on their minds or if they really didn’t have anything to ask or add to the conversations.  Either way, it was likely for the best that they held their tongues for the time being.  As the gnome had said, if he had scouting reports on all the teams, Coach Sprout likely already knew more about each player than they knew about the coach, and that was information that could be used not only to lift a player to a higher level but also to get them benched or kicked off the team altogether.  Being fired by a gnome was a humiliation that few would like to feel firsthand.

“Great.  Since there are no questions, I think it is important that we all get some much needed rest before our training begins tomorrow in earnest.  I’ve taken the liberty of requisitioning an encampment for us just a short distance from the stadium.  Let’s all jog there now.  I’ll lead the way, so the pace won’t be that great.  We’ll take turns leading the way back and forth.  And don’t worry about any personal items that were left at your previous training facilities.  I’ll make sure those are all transferred over immediately.”

With that, the gnome turned and headed towards the nearest exit at what must have been a sprint for him but was little more than a slow jog for Plex.  The elf expected some of his teammates to grumble but the run over to their new homes was quiet.  Looking around at his team while they jogged, Plex thought that the mixing of the races would definitely make the games more interesting than they would have been otherwise.  Perhaps the dragon knew what he was doing.

Echo, Part 11

“The car’s sensors are detecting that you are unwell.”

He gritted his teeth and forced a reply, “I’ll be okay.”

He expected the voice to respond immediately that the sensors likely weren’t wrong so he opened one eye just enough to scan the control panel and the road beyond, still passing at a dizzying speed, when no response was forthcoming.  He shut the eye again and focused on his breathing.  Perhaps the system wasn’t dialed in enough to know for sure how he was doing and so the powers behind the voice could only take his word for how he was doing.  At the moment, he didn’t really care.  He was still trying to keep from being sick and the ride was doing little to ease his stomach.

The road levelled off and still the car did not reduce speed.  The curvy mountain road, however, smoothed out to a long straight away.  He could feel the difference and hazarded another glance.  Hills still ranged on either side but the road itself was visible straight ahead for many miles.  His head was still reeling from the knowledge that the chip embedded on his brain was betraying his location to the federal agents but now that they were no longer fleeing on a curvy road his stomach unclenched some.

“You seem to be doing better now.”

It hadn’t been a question and he didn’t feel like acknowledging the statement.  Instead, he continued to focus on his breathing and let his thoughts drift to the problems that had just been heaped upon him.  Not only was he on the run from the FBI but they were able to trace his location based on the chip in his head pinging against main unit systems anytime he came close to one.  He would need to destroy the chip but to do so could be dangerous and he’d have to give away his location.  Additionally, the absence of the chip in his head, so universal now, might be enough to get him scrutinized going forward.  So, neither option was good.  He couldn’t assume the new life he’d been promised under an alias if the chip was going to betray him.  He couldn’t destroy the chip and try to live a normal life because he would stand out.  Perhaps there was another way?  Perhaps the powers behind his rescue would come up with a solution?

As if guessing why he had suddenly become ill, the voice said, “We are sorry to have not known about the pinging beforehand.  We are embarrassed.  It is a feature of our system that we should have be aware of.  We are still working on a solution.”

“Thank you.”

The voice continued, “Unfortunately, we do not want to compromise the safe house we have set up for you, so we are having to change plans again.”

“Where are we going now?”

“We are actually going to turn around and head back into the mountains.”

“What?  Why?”

“There are fewer home units by density up there and the canyons and peaks block the signals, in some place entirely.  It will be easier to hide you there while we figure out the right instructions to destroy the chip.”

He did not want to drive back up the curvy road.  His stomach had calmed but it wasn’t completely better.  However, what they said made sense.  If they headed into a system he would ping off almost every house they drove by.

“Okay, so why are we still driving away from the mountains.”

“We are going to head south for a little bit and then circle back around on a different road.  We don’t want to intentionally head towards the agents that are still behind you.”

He cursed softly.  He knew they were back there, somewhere, on the trail and yet he had forgotten about them in the mad flight all the same.  The threat of his chip had overshadowed the even more immediate threat of the agents that were already chasing him.  He felt foolish and as much as he wanted to chalk that up to a lack of good sleep, frayed nerves and the need for food, he couldn’t quite shake the feeling that compared to the system, or the people behind the system, he was likely a fool.

“We are going to speed up now and take advantage of this straight away to ensure we are out of visual contact with the agents persuing you.  Don’t worry, though, we will keep the vehicle well within its range of handling safely for these conditions.  Do you have any pressing needs we can help with?  Your vitals seem to have returned to normal.”

“I’m okay, thank you.”

A small thrust of pressure indicated that the car had already begun to speed up.  He glanced at the speedometer and marveled as the number climbed well beyond the fastest he had had driven.  He also marveled, once again, at how willing he was to trust the system.  Even with all the safety measures built into vehicles, if they crashed he would almost certainly be killed.  And yet, he wasn’t worried at all.  Not even taking into account how well the system and car had taken the mountain roads at high speeds, he had grown accustomed to let the machines have control.

It was beautiful, the hills and peaks towering beyond them, with the road carving through the middle, scrub brush and flowers and tall grasses spreading across it all, except where the dark green trees rose towards the heavens higher up.  He enjoyed the view for a bit, having never ventured this far north before, and didn’t even bother checking the rearview mirror.  If the agents were still back there, worrying about what he couldn’t see wasn’t going to do him again.  And, if they had happened to somehow get close enough to be seen, then the system would tell him.

Sighing, out of exhaustion rather than frustration, he closed his eyes and tried to fall asleep.  An urgent need that he had forgotten about when they had fled from the mountains in the first place suddenly hit him.

“Um…”

The system said, “Yes.  We can see that you are no longer comfortable.  What do you need?”

“A bathroom.”

Fantasy Football Part 1

Revis and I are up to our old/new tricks. Go check it out and then watch this space for the next segment.

33 Grams of Blog

Hey everyone! A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away (yet still kinda close), Matticus and I did a story called Revis and Matticus Save the Kingdom. We both wrote on each part and then rotated on whose blog the next part would be published on. Well, we’re doing a new one. This is just the first part of our new blog hopping story. The next part will be published over at The Matticus Kingdom

We hope you’ll enjoy it.

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The ball felt good leaving his hand. He watched as it flew through the air in a nice, tight spiral. Accuracy was the only question now. It was aimed correctly, but did he judge the distance correctly?

His receiver’s hands wrapped around the ball mid-flight. It was placed perfectly. Two feet touched down, in bounds, as the receiver fell out of the back of the…

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