World Cup 87 - RP Thread

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Democratic Socialists

Postby Valanora » Tue Feb 23, 2021 9:05 am

In a match that would seem more apt to be featured in the World Cup of Hockey rather than the (Football) World Cup, the teams from the Eternal Empire and Kelssek decided to put up a scoreline that also seemed more likely to occur in an ice hockey game than that of a football match, unless maybe you are Farfadillis or Bettia. There were nine goals scored between the two teams, as any sense of a cohesive defense effort by either team went completely out of the window with the show that these two put out on the field here in Ethane. It is baffling that a pair of defense that had been so stellar leading up to this point in the competition would then go on to contrive to have such a porous output, while the other game in Ethane featuring the ultra attacking Farfadillis team would be the match that would end with no goals through a hundred and twenty minutes. Clearly there was something peculair in the air this night in Ethane, as four teams were whittled down to two as a pair of outsiders looked to topple to giants of the game and of Atlantian Oceania in the form of the Eternal Empire and Farfadillis.

In the King Edward IV Stadium in Ethane, the very familiar tune of March of the Elves had just concluded and the two sides were lining up to start the match, Kelssek getting the opening kick. The Marauders were decked on in their blue and white home kit, having been designated as the home side for the fixture, while Kelssek was in their gray and red change kit to avoid a kit color clash. It was a rematch of the qualifying, where both times the Marauders had been able to get one over on Kelssek, the fact that they were now in their third game in two years was a tad worrying for Didrik Gjedrem. Beating a team once was fortunate, beating a team twice was good, but trying to beat an elite caliber three times was asking for everything to go right and for your team to find the ability with their own desires to overcome that foe who had been quite familar with you by now and was out to take out a bit of revenge to get their own back for the losses that they had suffered so soon to your squad. While it was not an impossible challenge, it was a difficult one, and Didrik would be proven right with how the game began to unfold.

Kelssek looked to capitalize on the obvious flaw in the Vanorian formation, the three at the back that required the wingers to play completely up and down the pitch and the two outside centerbacks to drift to the outside to help provide cover on the wing. It is a common strategy for teams playing against the Marauders to try and switch to a wing play system, to try and pull apart the center of defense and midfield, while attempting to tire out the wingers with their need to get back. That can only truly be done well by sides that have the talent to keep the Marauders from applying their possession based game or able to withstand the pressure of their counter press up the pitch. Two of their front four play in the Premiership and eight minutes into the match, they combined to get the opening goal, with McDonald racing down the flanks before putting in an inch perfect cross to Wylten and the Hondo FC striker put head to ball cleanly. They were not satisfied with the goal though and on the half hour mark, McDonald once again turned provider, this time their cross meeting fellow winger Ó Tuathail who slammed it home on the half volley. The Marauders had been pressing well but Kelssek was finding ways out of the press and into the attack while keeping the side at bay on their own attacks. A poor pass from Larsen was intercepted by Taleb and was quickly sent through for Wylten who was able to beat Miljeteig low at the near post, leading to the shocking three to nil advantage for Kelssek after forty-one minutes, a lead that would stay safe for the rest of the half.

This was the most difficult situation that Didrik had found himself in since becoming the manager of the Marauders, three nil down at the half and without any major criticisms of the team to point out where it was going wrong. Kelssek was taking what the Marauders were giving to them and making the most of their opportunities, three goals from five shots on target and six in total. The last goal was preventable if Larsen had not made the poor pass but the other two goals there was not much that could have been done to prevent them. The manager knew that he needed to find a way to start to tilt the field back against their foes if the side had any chance of pulling out a result. Söderström was brought out for Jaimes Ybarra and Nergård was replaced by Marco Grunewald, as Hawk was going to be dropped back into the center of the park and Grunewald to play in the role of the attacking midfield. With two tower presences in the center of the midfield and the tireless legs of Ybarra, Didrik was rolling the dice that the team would be able to start to stop the Kelssek attack and get their own kickstarted.

It took only forty-two seconds into the second half for the Marauders to claw one back, a goal that quickly was something that they had desperately needed to make the comeback more realistic. Saxstrom had taken the kick off and pushed it back to Grunewald who sent it wide to Veliz, the winger putting in a one touch pass through the Kelssek defense and Ludwig was on it. Taking two strides to get into the box, he unleashed a shot high to the far post that snuck beneath the underside of the crossbar to give the side a life line. Not five minutes later in the fifty-first, Ybarra had been taken down just outside the box on the left hand side. Hawk calmly stepped up to take the free kick and with the expertise that had been practiced for decades, put in a perfect shot that looped over the wall and curled into the upper corner where Poirier could not get a hand to it. Kelssek was on the back foot now and struggling to cope with a Marauders side in the ascendency, Saxstrom breaking through a Liadon challenge and getting on goal with her pace, putting another past the Kelssek keeper in the sixty-second minute. In just seventeen minutes the Marauders had erased the Kelssek advantage and now looked the more likely to grab a winner. When Lozic was deemed to have played a handball from a Ybarra cross inside the area, there was a sense of expectancy when Saxstrom stepped up to the penalty spot and sent Poirier the wrong way, finishing off the spotkick as calm as you'd like just six minutes after her opening goal.

The minutes were winding down and Kelssek was pushing hard against the Marauders midfield that had suffocated the attack well with the switch of personnel at halftime. There was desperation now, as there was less than ten minutes and added time left to be played if they wished to break through the Marauders and force at least extra time. Ó Tuathail was up to the task and made a masterful run up the lefthand side, cutting past a tiring Veliz, and was able to get in the cross before Løvland could cut off the angle. Wylten was there once again but instead of putting the header on net, put a flick on that Taleb was waiting for and able to tap it home, the sides level at four a piece in the eighty-first. Hawk found Ludwig as time crossed into injury time and the young striker put in a hard effort to try to grab a late winner at the death of the match, but Poirier was able to get down quick enough to bring the ball into their chest and smother it, not letting the waiting Saxstrom a chance to put in a rebound. The save sealed the game's fate and the two sides were heading to extra time, both teams looking a little labored in their breathing after such a high intensity ninety minutes.

Taking advantage of the extra substitute that came with the extra half hour, Didrik decided to gamble, bringing Saxstrom off and inserting Iman Reinholdtsen to play leftback and moving Vårin Løvland to play rightback, meaning the side was now playing a 4-4-1-1 with a traditional four at the back. While Veliz looked a little spent, Didrik was gambling that without the need to cover the whole pitch, he and Ybarra would have the attacking impetus to put Kelssek to the sword, while Ludwig looked like they could go another ninety if he had to. Both sides were looking like they wanted to just take the game to the penalty shootout in the first half of extra time, each step seemed slower and decision made with a bit of hesitation. However in moments like these, you need but one spark to change it all, and it was Ybarra finally getting one over on Ó Tuathail, dispossessing the Galactico and scampering up field, a through ball cut between the defenders and there was Ludwig to collect, move the ball onto his more favored left foot and volley that bent hard to the far post, curving away from the diving Poirier and into the net. With but four minutes to hold onto their late lead, the Marauders clamped hard but Wylten tried to play the hero with a powerful shot only to have Julius catch and hold onto the ball in the dying seconds. The Marauders were through to the semifinals.

Tired handshakes were exchanged, twenty-two players who looked exhausted out on the pitch, but eleven of them had a wry smile or were laughing slightly, knowing that all the work had been worth it. The Marauders were at long last once again in the semifinals of the World Cup, there was two games left for them to play. While they might have tired legs now, they would be ready in a few days time for the match against Ko-oren, a side that had gotten into the knockouts with a very unsportsmanlike action. It was the sort of behavior that would not sit well with the Marauders, much like the gamesmanship that the Audioslavs attempted to employ against them. There was never any need for extra motivation in a World Cup semifinal, yet for a team like the Marauders that played a clean game, it would add that extra edge to try and defeat what they saw as villains to the beautiful game that everyone had come so much to enjoy. The Pit would be an apt name for such an encounter, with the desire to put such villains back into a pit from where they came.
World Cup 40, 42, 43, 52, & 61 Champions
WC 47, 51 (2nd), WC 34, 38, 39, 41, 44, 45, 53, 60, 67 (3rd), WC 49, 58 (Semifinalist), WC 33, 35-37, 46, 48, 54, 55, 62, 63, 65, 72, 83 (Quarterfinalist)
WCoH VII, VIII, XVII, XXVIII, XXX, XXXII (1st), WCoH I, XXXI, XL (2nd), WCoH II, XXIX (3rd), WCoH XII (4th)
AOCAF 44, 46, 51, & 53 Champions, AOCAF 39 & 43 Runners Up
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Alasdair I Frosticus
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Alasdair I Frosticus » Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:06 pm

OOC - premise provided by Almuzahara; the year 1517 was specifically stated, and I assume is supposed to be more or less the same as its AD 1517 RL equivalent...

The quarterfinal against Poafmersia had been a game for the ages - the The Red Panjias racing to a 3-1 halftime lead after some particularly dodgy Tzimisces goalkeeping before the other Juans had clawed the Empire back with three excellent second-half goals. And so the semifinals for the first time since World Cup 80... traditionalists - those 200 subjective years old and more - would likely be hoping for a Valanora-Holy Empire final, a match between two of the most established teams in the multiverse; everyone else would likely be hoping for Nephara and Ko-oren to win through. Whatever the outcome, Juan Tzimisces was satisfied. He had proven he could compete at the highest level, even if simultaneously playing 11 different positions; somehow he was reminded of some inscriptions in the dense and impenetrable jungles of the little-known Sonnel-based nation of Almuzahara....

Almuzahara, 1517

The Expedition Journals of Yahya Leonidas del Toro

Day 15
For 15 days now we have been searching for the mysterious Fountain of Un-aging. I give thanks daily that the Caliph chose me to lead this expedition, but frustrations grow. The natives are proving difficult to contact, and without their guidance I am not sure that there is a way through this jungle. Each day we seem to be going round in circles; food is beginning to run low - and while the local wild boar are proving tasty when roasted, we are unsure of which berries and other vegetation we can eat - and the frequent rainstorms often put out the cooking fires. Tomorrow I shall try a different plan to engage the local savages.

Day 17
The plan was successful, and we are now in one of the native encampments. Oumar and Hassan were not pleased with my order, but stripping out of our armour seems to have proved to the natives that we are but men, not gods or demons, and they are now eager to engage us. They have also shown us some fruits that grow wild in the jungle, and are most delicious to eat; this has been a boon after a steady diet of dried and cooked wild boar meat.

Day 20
We have made some strides in communicating with the natives. One of their number - I call him Amr, though his real name is, I believe, something like 'Lamochattee' - was once captured by a previous expedition, and speaks some of our language. I have been able to explain that we seek the Fountain of Un-aging. This was met by silence from the village elders once Amr repeated our goal. I am not sure if this is because they do not understand, they have misgivings, or because Amr was unable to explain what we seek. I need more time to think.

Day 22
A most difficult couple of days. Both Oumar Bennani and Hassan Saqat came to me to say that we should not treat with mere savages who have never heard the Holy Quran or the Hadith of the Prophet (Peace be Upon Him), but instead that we should impose the rule of the Caliph by force, seizing these lands so that we may control the Fountain of Un-aging - once found, as it surely must be. I asserted that without the help of the natives we would never find the Fountain, and that showing them kindness would surely be more successful in establishing our rule in the future. They scoffed at me, though Abdel Simon offered me welcome support. Still, Oumar and Hassan would not let the topic go. They have begun taking the native women to satisfy their lusts, and Amr tells me that this cannot continue.

Day 24
Oumar and Hassan are dead. I shot them. I do not wish to write more on these events. I will only say that the Caliph would surely never tolerate the violation of virgins, especially when they are the daughters of hosts who have shown us many kindnesses.

Day 25
The natives have been far more inclined to offer us support since yesterday's tragic events. Amr tells me that the local chiefs were worried that we would desecrate the Fountain; yet the deaths of Oumar and Hassan have proven that we will punish wrongdoers; tomorrow they will take me and Abdel to the lost city where the Fountain is said to be located.

Day 27
I have now seen many wonders. Yesterday Abdel were taken to the Fountain of Un-aging. It lay in a rectangular clearing in the centre of the ruins, in a centre circle delineated by white chalk. At each end of the clearing another rectangle had been drawn in chalk, and posts had been set up that contained nets. The strange, cyclopean ruins seemed to obey no ordinary rules of human geometry. I asked Amr who had built this place, and he showed me glyphs inscribed on a wall. I could not decipher these, but the neighbouring fresco featured a man clad in gold and red, and offering a white and black sphere to twenty two city dwellers who kicked the ball around the clearing where the Fountain is now located. I asked Amr the name of this man, and I could swear that it was pronounced 'Juan'; but how could a name from fair Andalusia have reached this dense and impenetrable jungle? Amr says that the glyphs describe how this man not only helped build the city, but also ordered the field - which he says is for something called 'futbol' - to be laid out to precise dimensions. It is now the site of a ritual involving two teams of eleven, who play each other every four years to gain access to the Fountain of Un-aging. Amr says we are the first outsiders to reach this place; but that he trusts myself and Abdel.

Day 30
Abdel and I have spoken, and we agree. No others must find this place, this sacred City of Futbol, and the Fountain of Un-aging. We shall return to Andalusia, but we shall speak to no others of what we have seen here; and if my journals are one day found, they shall, I hope and pray, be dismissed as the ravings of a madman. We have sworn a solemn oath on the Holy Quran that we shall take our secret to the grave. Let the people of this land, that I now believe is called 'Almuzahara' find their own path; but I believe it is a path that shall somehow involve the strange pagan ritual from the City of Futbol.
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Postby Taeshan » Tue Feb 23, 2021 6:09 pm

Do I have the Cutoff you need?
Champions - Copa Rushmori 22, Cup of Harmony 35, Di Bradini Cup 19, World Baseball Classic 13, Gridiron World Championships (World Bowl 0), World Bowl 34, World Lacrosse Championship 2

World Cup Qualifications-41, 44, 46, 59, 61(RoS), 62(Quarterfinals), 63 (RoS), 64 (Quarterfinals), 83, 84 (RoS), 85, 87

Hosts-Cup of Harmony 55, Copa Rushmori 14, Sporting World Cup 10,
Quidditch World Cup 10, World Cup of Hockey 41, World Cup 87

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Democratic Socialists

Postby Ko-oren » Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:50 am

Am I dreaming right now?

The words heard most around the archipelago (in various languages, mind you) will keep on being heard for a few more days. After a 1-0 win over Valanora (we can't believe it either) the Dragonflies will now face Nephara in the World Cup Final. This is it. We've complained about Juliasterinthen never getting this team past the second round, or about there not being a clear captain or superstar on this team, and we're wrong on both accounts. Juliasterinthen remains a masterful coach who can prepare a team for any one challenge, as we've seen with some AOCAF games where the squad rose up above itself when it was needed. As for the players, in absence of Van Schelven or Lampshire we have seen Gicquel play the part of unbeatable man-on-man defender, Aiamara as the indefatigable fullback, and Breukelaar as the player to watch for the next few years - his career took him to Timuria for now, but you never know where he might end up later. The defence couldn't have done it with the repeated appearances from Ardouin and Parrott off the bench, and Lampshire, in his few minutes on the pitch, has chipped in as well.

But we all knew that defence was going to be good regardless of who plays. It's the midfield that saw the biggest overhaul. From the 'classic' and wildly ineffective DM-CM-AM configuration (Yokota-Janoreirinthen-Longchambon) that had to be taken apart after Yokota's retirement to a more modern 3-players-on-a-line LM-CM-RM set, with Janoreirinthen still reigning supreme as the temporary (though now probably permanent) captain, alongside Batchelor, and either Ensaunden as attacking option or Watanuki as a more holding solution. Longchambon, the crown prince of Ko-orenite football (in absence of a king), has played a tiny role in the team's ascent to the biggest stage - so it'll be revenge or bust for him. The team can win (sometimes quite convincingly) without him after all... And let's not forget Harold Batchelor, long time player of Maynard AFC but since moved to Blacklake Blues and coming very close to playing the final in his backyard, who became the player he was long rumoured to be in the space of about a month.

There will be trouble brewing for Maethoru SC. The capital club have one of the better scouting and contract departments of any Top League outfit, finding and holding on to talent. They employ four starters, and with the Ko-orenite league growing but not yet one of the multiverse's primary competitions, will likely receive dozens of e-mails asking for the services of the four. They're Janoreirinthen and Ensaunden from the midfield, but also Vaugrenard in attack, as well as goalkeeper Theshendan. The latter has been solid after his sudden slip from the job in World Cup 86 and has more than earned his spot back. Vaugrenard can't do it all by himself in attack, but has found a fantastic striking partner in Aenemere Erisia - and let's be honest, it's the latter's knack for scoring that has kept Ko-oren in this Cup. The Aminey CS striker will have several options after his contract runs out in the next transfer period, and with how he's held up, clubs will be lining up for his signature as well. Cilistro Bugarin is a good backup who can close out games as well as decide them - just ask Felswyr of Chromatika - but it's Erisia's lethal form that just cannot be surpassed at the moment.

And that's the team. Janoreirinthen is the star of the squad. Erisia has the potential to become an almost Kylxian striker if he keeps his development going. Everyone in the defence is at least as good as whatever opponent they face.

But who are these opponents going to be?

Of course, it's going to be the Cormorants. On their third consecutive final, it came as little surprise that they would once again reach the biggest stage. One of many big stages they've found themselves on: a Cup of Harmony, a World Cup, and three Copa Rushmoris, their trophy cabinet is sizeable, but it's their sheer tenacity and consistency in getting to big games that is what this team is about. Previous to this final, they've lost to Banija in World Cup 86 (sending Banija to the hall of fame over us) and to the Free Republics in World Cup 85 (who had kicked us out in, you guessed it, the Round of 16). For the Nepharim, the third time's the charm. Head coach Triffid Ramsey inherited this team (quite literally, as the daughter of Gethin Ramsey) after the last World Cup as Strauss couldn't get the Cormorants over the hump for the second time in their history. Ramsey has one clear job: get that trophy. It'll be a slight of epic proportions if, after three finals, this team ends up with nothing to show for it. Let's hope that in the tournament that finally saw us break our curse, Nephara don't break theirs. But can you really say a team that once already won it all is 'cursed'?

The Nepharan XI looks to get possession and then keep it. As we've seen in previous games, Ko-oren is a team well equipped to deal with that, even if Nephara aren't as ruthlessly attacking as some of our previous opponents. We should see a physical game (from the Cormorants' side) with a lot of possession for them, that's even less likely to get caught out by a counterattack than Farfadillis or Valanora. Ko-oren, meanwhile, will sit back and repel attacks. Given the circumstances, we wouldn't be surprised if Janoreirinthen et al. won't try to keep the ball for a while, even if it's just to surprise (and annoy) the Nepharim. Ko-oren are defensive, but far from a dirty team, but we will use any other means necessary to attain our goals. It's never our brawn, but our brain that catches opponents off guard. At worst, this game will be between the cynical fouls of Nephara and the cynical tactics of Ko-oren. At best, it's the free flowing passes and efficiency of the Cormorants versus the impregnable wall and rapid counterattacks of the Dragonflies. Hopefully the Dragonflies can pull some extra support from the local fans, who are used to seeing the exact same kind of play.

The Connections: Striker Kondrad Lovelace and defender Roxelana Thorn play for Eura's Revolutionaries alongside Maximilien Longchambon. And while there are several Ko-orenites employed by clubs in Nephara, only Dennis Lampshire made the roster - as a player on Raven River, a team that's...

... let me see...

... well, not competing for prizes in the Premiership...

... or midtable, or near the bottom at all...

... here they are! Eighth place in the First Division.

No Cormorants earn their crust in Ko-oren, that's for sure.

Meanwhile, Anselm Koerner and Minne van Schelven both play for 1830 Cathair, if it weren't for the fact that Van Schelven isn't called up to the team for this cycle, somehow. Atole Kaplan is called up to the team, but hasn't played a single minute in the tournament, and is a teammate of Lothaire Cromwell.

All that's left now is to take out your classic/retro Dragonflies jerseys and wait for kickoff...

I know I did. (Warning, large image)
Last edited by Ko-oren on Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
Trigramme: KOR - Demonym: Ko-orenite - Population: 27.270.096
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South Newlandia
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby South Newlandia » Wed Feb 24, 2021 1:42 pm

Yeah, uh, I’m super late on this, but I wanted to get it out anyway. The final hasn’t happened yet, so I’m not feeling too guilty about it.

When South Newlandia went to play their last game, everyone knew that Brenecia was not taking this too seriously. There was nothing on the line for them, nothing whatsoever. They had secured first place already. Similarly, there was nothing on the line for South Newlandia either, with last place already certain, but the Elephants had no further games to rest guys for. Wolverine would be sending out the top squad; facing up against a Brenecian team with six player changes compared to their win over Taeshan, the team the Elephants lost four-nil to.

With the Brenecian team not close to full strength, South Newlandia held even through much of the first half. Their Esportivan friends, one of just two Esportivan teams still in the running at this point alongside Ethane, struggled to get through the defense, and while the Elephants didn’t do much of anything either, the game went into the half tied scoreless.

Slowly, the Elephants begun to understand that they had a shot today, and that the Patriots would probably not even put up a lot of resistance if they tried. After all, not going out of the game with any injured players was their only real goal. Of course, they didn’t want to lose, no team wants to lose, but the win was worthless. It meant nothing. Whether the game would end in a win or a draw had no real implications for anything at all. It was as meaningless as it could get.

The Elephants came out well into the second half. Taking over the control, at least a little bit, they started to put Scathach Wright, one of the few players not rotated, one of the best goalkeepers in the game,
perhaps even in history, under some pressure. She had to fight off more than a few threatening shots, but held on. The game was still scoreless after an hour had elapsed.

It was Finnley Wallis who broke the tie in the 65th minute. He had received the ball in the middle, somehow got past Leona Ford, and put the ball in the net, no chance for the goalie. South Newlandia was up, somehow; taking a surprising lead over a team that didn't mind too much, probably.

At this point, Brenecia substituted some of the regular starters back in, but the Elephants were in control now. At least they felt like they were. After few interesting moments in the next few minutes, the Patriots started to play more and more offensively. This, as always, left open room for the Elephants.

Corban Green took a ball away from Mathgamain Fife, saw some space up front, and McCabe and Irving had room with only two defenders. McCabe gave it to Irving at the last moment possible, and Irving managed to put it just under the goalkeepers arm, with only two minutes and stoppage time left. There was only one minute of the latter; it had been one of the fairest games of the tournament. The non-existent stakes certainly played a part in that.

South Newlandia had won a game at the World Cup. Not one that mattered, but regardless; many accomplished nations with long histories have never done that. South Newlandia had done it after only five years of participation in international sports;
only five years and change after their first game ever, in Delaclava, winning over Havynwilde in the 72nd Baptism of Fire, an event that still feels like it was just last week.

When the team arrived back at Elephant Valley Airport, the entire place was packed with fans; everything in green, yellow, and blue. They welcomed back their team, cheering. They kept going. They were celebrating the Elephants like they’d just won the World Cup; a team that hadn’t even made it out of the groups, a team that hadn’t gained a point in games taken seriously by both sides. They were celebrating the team, its players, and its coaches, with results taking a back seat. This was their moment. The Elephants had made history.

Not a native speaker, but you probably noticed that already
NS Stats apply (except for population) | Trigramme: SNL | Nickname: Elephants | Proud member of Esportiva
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Alasdair I Frosticus
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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Alasdair I Frosticus » Wed Feb 24, 2021 2:14 pm

All things must pass.

Singlehandedly taking the 11th-ranked team in the multiverse to the semifinals of the World Cup had been no mean feat for Juan Tzimisces. Only his inability to solve the goalkeeping problem - that he was merely a professional-level goalkeeper rather than an international-class goalkeeper - had held him back. It was a weakness that had been ruthlessly exposed by Nephara; but he had no regrets. If you had to lose, then lose to the best.

What was it the mundies said? "There are fates worse than death"? Well-intentioned though the sentiment no-doubt was, Tzimisces knew they had it the wrong way round. To an immortal, there are deaths worse than fate.

All the same, he had time; he had all of time.

What's a single loss in the semifinals when you have all the time - and all the space - that the multiverse can provide?
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Inoffensive Centrist Democracy

Postby PotatoFarmers » Wed Feb 24, 2021 3:37 pm

Previous RP [Chapter 4 Part 8]

RP Series: Getting to the top
Chapter 4: Can we finally get a different ending?
Part 9: The Finish

The miracle run came to an end. Of course, not without a fight.

Against one of the few teams we have never beaten in multiple attempts, the Red Panjias fought to the end, attempting to pull off yet another performance and slay that winless streak against The Holy Empire. At the team fought very wildly. After falling behind in 6 minutes to solid gameplay from the Empire, 2 from Shakira Handris and Joel Haodao took Poafmersia 3-1 up. But the team still went down with Tzimisces, Tzimisces and- whatever, scoring 3 goals to make up for Tzimisces' mistakes. The Holy Empire held on with their slim lead to progress to the final 4, while the Red Panjias' failing to make it through. It was an achievement considering that this Juan Tzimisces' best form showed up. Anyways, who is this Tzimisces? It shall be left for a different story, told maybe when we meet The Holy Empire and this "player" is still part of the team.

Poafmersia will end the cycle on a record-high 26th in the world, barely behind fellow BoF debutants Trolleborg, and yet ahead of many other nations such as World Cup hosts Taeshan and Ethane, West Pacific powerhouses Reçueçn, and former world champions Equestria. That ranking increase would be an achievement preciously unthought of many years back, when Poafmersia started out.

Remember 9 years ago, when Adnan first announced, on behalf of PFFA that Poafmersia would be establishing a national team for international representation? Back then, the target was for Poafmersia to first attain World Cup qualification in 5 tries. Not only has Poafmersia done it in 4, the team has also completed a really nice report card for their first appearance in the multiverse's most prestigious football tournament. The team gave themselves a really high bar to overcome, breaking into the Quarters, doing better than past Cup of Harmony performances, and then, managing to pull off 2 wins and a couple of close matches.

Adnan could probably retire here and call it a day. His goals have been met, and it has been a really nice 10 years since he first took the position of setting the team up from scratch. But during the post-match press conference, Adnan has said that the time is not up for him yet, and he expects to stay for quite some time. "The building process has just got more exciting. The pioneer batch of players will slowly give way to younger players - we have seen the changes in the backline, and slowly younger players are being given opportunities to move forward. For instance, the frontline won't be short of options when Joel, Shakira, Hansel and Pete retire. Iulianus is the poacher, the player that will be there at the right time to tap in a goal or find someone to do it for him. Makana is the creative player, the player that finds the weirdest of ways to score goals, but he also gets the job done. Aleka Dufour is the fast paced player who runs past backlines and make others chase me. We have a large variety of players that we will slowly integrate into the team, and show others that the best of Poafmersia is yet to come."

This is the end of a 4 year journey, detailing Poafmersia's highs and lows on their path towards glory. But the end of this journey is the start of another one, the start of the journey where the team will aim to keep their performance running. This new era will start with the title defence at the IAC.
The Holy Empire 4
Juan Tzimisces 6', 53', 64', 79' (not necessarily the same player)

Poafmersia 3
Shakira Handris 17' (assist by Nero Wood), 29' (assist by Innocenti)
Joel Haodao 42' (assist by Arnold Shwentin)

Lineup for Poafmersia (3-4-3): Sandi Jaliaha; Mitchel Rosales, Hollis Stephenson, Alex Hoboson; Dargis Walshor, Gisiik Moonar, Daas Taisg, Aubrey Mayer; Joel Haodao, Iulianus Innocenti, Shakira Handris (c),
Substitutes: Gisiik Moonar (Wood 62'); Simone Gori (Stephenson 77'); Makana Tuft (Haodao 85')
Last edited by PotatoFarmers on Thu Feb 25, 2021 7:24 am, edited 1 time in total.
IC Name: The People's Republic of Poafmersia (Trigram: PFA)
IC Flag: Refer to my flag with my IC nation Poafmersia, though that nation's RP will be done with this account.
Citizen of The North Pacific (and also other regions)
Ambassador of The North Pacific to Europe and Thalassia
Minister of Communications, The North Pacific

Sportswire. Achievements: BoF 71 Bronze; IAC X and IAC XI Champions
WCC Football (Pre-WC87) - 48th, KPB=17.74, Style: +2.781

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Founded: Antiquity
Corporate Police State

WC87 Extra

Postby Squornshelous » Wed Feb 24, 2021 4:02 pm

OOC: Don't mind me, just pushing this narrative forward to the point where I can put a pin in it until regionals without getting too timey-wimey.
Coincidence, Part 13
TW: gun violence
Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12

When Andreas and the others arrived, the fireworks had already gotten under way. Out in front of the clandestine detention center that was their target, another cell had been tasked with creating a distraction. Not so large as to draw out the tacticals, but something to draw attention. Andreas wasn't sure exactly what they'd come up with, but at a glance, it seemed to involve a vehicle fire, and a large enough crowd to hamper emergency response. They parked their van a block over, and slipped between storefronts to the rear fence. By that time Fingers had looped the security cams, and as Kij set to cutting the fence, all was quiet.

Andreas found himself revisiting his orders from the Ministry.

Directive commences: You will accompany the NewCon cell as they infiltrate the North Brantevik Security Center.

He ducked through the opening in the fence, and the needlegun bounced against his chest. He cinched the shoulder strap a bit tighter. With Tetro rounds loaded, you couldn't be too careful. The last thing he needed was to shoot neurotoxin into his foot. They moved quickly. The crunch of gravel under their boots seemed as loud as crashing cymbals. They made their entry through a loading dock. A few seconds with a plasma cutter made short work of the locks, and they were in. As expected, the hallway was empty.

Once the cell has entered the facility, you must take an opportunity to extricate yourself from them. You will rendezvous with a Ministry agent in storeroom 2 to complete your extraction. A site plan highlighting this location is enclosed. Your departure from the cell should be unnoticed, or otherwise plausible if at all practicable.

The cell's objective was the prisoner control room. There, they'd be able to locate and release their main targets: a dozen odd captured NewCon members. Depending on how many other people were also held here, they would determine whether to make a covert exit with the rescued prisoners, or call in standby cells for a larger scale breakout.

This had always been the point of his orders that had worried him the most. Unless something drastic happened, there was little chance of escaping from the group unnoticed. The only opportunity that might come would be after they were prepared to release prisoners, but the Ministry was concerned waiting until that point would result in escapes, either by cell members, or by prisoners. They'd chosen to ambush the cell tonight supposedly to give him an opportunity to avoid blowing his cover, but their plan of action didn't give him much of a chance to do that. To be honest, it seemed pretty likely to get him killed.

Security personnel from the Ministry and other agencies will be present to take as many NewCon operatives into custody as possible. Be advised that security personnel on site will not be aware of your identity. Use of lethal force is authorized.

Andreas was only dimly aware of Viktor, Fixer, and Fingers working at the control room computers. He and the others were tasked with watching all the possible approaches to the control room. It didn't appear any alarms had been triggered. Their entry had been textbook, with all both controllers, and the pair of security guards dispatched within a couple seconds of the door opening. Use of lethal force is authorized. He reminded himself. It was a frighteningly open-ended statement. Sure, he might be questioned about his actions later on, but the simple fact that the Ministry was willing to accept that he might kill other Ministry personnel in the course of his duty tonight. It was a lot to consider.

The Primary consideration of this operation is the capture of NewCon members Viktor Almstedt and Agnessa Oliynick, alias Fingers. Secondary objectives: capture of NewCon members Alexandra Kozlov, Zladko Matkovic, Jesper Mogilniy alias Fixer, and Kijsa Naess; preservation of cover identity Andreas Jalkanen for potential reinsertion.

Andreas was distinctly aware that the preservation of his identity was the final objective listed, and that the preservation of his life had not been included on the list. Someone had probably thought it went without saying that he would try to stay alive, and they would try to keep him alive, but it would've been nice to have it officially notated that his survival was important to the Ministry.

He shook his head to clear it. Start daydreaming and you will get yourself killed. Tactical Response had arrived just as the decision had been made for a limited breakout, but they had only approached from one of the four possible directions. Fixer and Shura had remained to keep the Tacs' heads down, while the rest of them split up to round up their escapees. He was now following Kij down a hallway at a half jog. Whether deliberately planned by the Ministry, or just lucky, he now had the perfect opportunity to slip away to the storeroom. They came to his turn, and he stopped.

"Movement down this hallway Kij, I'll clear it, could be a prisoner who made a break, or more tacs."

"I'll cover you."

"No time, someone has to go on to the prisoners."

Kij sighed heavily. "You're right. Be smart, stay safe. See you on the way out."

He nodded, watched as she turned and ran down the hallway. He took a more measured pace, walking slowly, checking his corners. No point getting gunned down by some overzealous Tac when he was so close. Two more minutes brought him to the storeroom door. He took a deep breath and stepped through. Something just inside the door tangled in his feet, and he fell heavily, clutching the needlegun against his chest.

The man in front of him was a caricature of every spy stereotype rolled into one. Long black trenchcoat, short black hair plastered to his skull. In his extended hand, a massive Sosunov automatic. The opening of the barrel was so wide Andreas almost felt he could see the bullet waiting inside. Probably explosive rounds. If you're going to carry a ridiculous gun like that, why stop at hollow points?

"Orderd, you understand. Nothing personal." The man shrugged. Andreas pushed himself to his knees, scrabbling to bring the needlegun up, and got a boot to the small of his back for his trouble. All the air left his lungs, dragging a pained moan with it. The next sound he heard was the thrum of the ancient needler spitting flechettes, the percussive noise of each discharge followed by the next so rapidly that it created a continuous sound. In the corner of his eye, the man in front of him stiffened. A gasp was cut off as the Tetro went to work. Someone could function for a few moments with a paralyzed respiratory system, living off the residual oxygen in their blood, but that was all.

The man collapsed, wide eyed, and the Sosunov clattered across the ground. Ignoring the scream of ribs that were almost certainly broken, Andreas closed his hand over the pistol, rolled, and fired. Silence. A faint, high pitched whine. Somewhere behind him, the needlegun had tired of its rampage. Andreas stumbled to it, letting the Sosunov fall from a hand that ached with its recoil. He worked his jaw around, but the whine persisted. He scooped up the needlegun, cradling it to his chest, and turned for the storeroom door.

Coincidence will continue at IAC 12
Last edited by Squornshelous on Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The Imperium of Squornshelous
Rightful Overlord of the Rogue Provinces of West Squornshelous
Trigram: SQU
KPB Ranking: 22.41 (32nd)
World Cup 31 Champions
Runners Up: WC15 & WC38
Third Place: WC20, WC25
Semifinalist: WC18, WC27
Quarterfinalist: WC5, WC11, WC12, CoH6, WC22, WC30, WC32, WC33, WC34, WC40, CoH77
Second Round: WC6, WC7, WC9, WC16, WC21, WC23, WC24, WC28, WC36, WC37, WC39
Group Stage: WC8, WC10, WC13, WC17, WC19, WC26, WC29, WC35, WC41, CoH76
Worst Day of My Life: WC14
Other days that were not the absolute worst, but when we also didn't qualify: WC84, WC85, WC86

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Posts: 4875
Founded: Aug 11, 2007
New York Times Democracy

Postby Taeshan » Wed Feb 24, 2021 6:14 pm

It's time for the third place match I guess.
Champions - Copa Rushmori 22, Cup of Harmony 35, Di Bradini Cup 19, World Baseball Classic 13, Gridiron World Championships (World Bowl 0), World Bowl 34, World Lacrosse Championship 2

World Cup Qualifications-41, 44, 46, 59, 61(RoS), 62(Quarterfinals), 63 (RoS), 64 (Quarterfinals), 83, 84 (RoS), 85, 87

Hosts-Cup of Harmony 55, Copa Rushmori 14, Sporting World Cup 10,
Quidditch World Cup 10, World Cup of Hockey 41, World Cup 87

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Independent Athletes from Quebec
Posts: 112
Founded: Mar 20, 2020
Left-Leaning College State

Postby Independent Athletes from Quebec » Thu Feb 25, 2021 1:25 am

OOC: A bonus chapter to complete Season 4 of The Wanderer's Guide To Somewhere. It contains a wall-bending essay, a parody of Tolstoy's 'Epilogue To The Kreutzer Sonata', about what constitutes as a good IC (and OOC, to lesser extent) reader of the most recent. This was written with a couple of people in mind, who failed to grasp the values of punishment, atonement and past tragedies, over the course of this cycle.


OOC Note 2: Well, it was a particularly emotional season for me and I'm glad to have completed it. I would like to thank Banija, Commonwealth of Baker Park, Ethane, Ko-oren, Krytenia, Savigliane/Yuezhou, San Ortelio, Schottia, Siovanija and Teusland, Tequilo, Tikariot, Tumbra, and Zeta Reka and Hugeltaldom, as well as everybody else out there for reading it over at various points this series, as well as other supporters of the series.

Thirty IC years later...

The distinguished members of the Quebec and Shingoryeo Narrative Society had gathered at a small house located on the farther reaches of Silverhills Estate in Saint-John-Upon-Battersea, to hold its annual meeting and to possibly communicate with 'The Narrator', who was delighted to talk to his creations for once while typing his words in middle of some Canadian city.

On the main table, the spirits of Jacques IX, Kim Sang-Doh and the late Lord Lundrigan joined the Narrator, who was feeling the very wind of the thirties on the other side of the portal. 104-year old Sir. Lionel Mah, Riley Jeon-Keane, and the Conavacio couple were joined by the Society's eminent chair, Dr. Heo Dong-Soo. Dr. Heo, now in his eighties, a former sabreur of fame, and a father of two Quebecois sporting legends, was still at his finest intellectual and mental shape. These days he's been particularly missing his late wife, late Maureen Turner, even though he's been a widower for almost forty years.

On the other tables, there were just as much activity going on with a match of football happening right beside the screening of the legendary World Cup 99 team's heroics, even though none of the national team players were able to make it due to the accidental scheduling conflict with a qualifier match for World Cup 102. Some guests, aware of the eccentricities that go on these spaces, embraced those challenges while others, like a couple members of the infamous 'The Bubonic Plague' supporters group, found themselves dizzy and hazy after a couple of boops to the head.

Photos were taken, buffets were eaten, streakers chased and Trepaks danced. Now-deceased Lord Lundrigan, gone but not forgotten in his properties and papers, engaged in conversations about the narratives in history. Then, the Narrator, amazed with the work done by his denizens on the other side of the fence, smiled and chatted with his creations. And then an essay were sent away to all those concerned...

The Explanation, or What a man should atone by?
Also titled as The Epilogue to I Run To You'

We have received many enquiries from all, both strangers and beloved ones, asking us to explain what we think of the latest season of The Wanderer's Guide To Somewhere titled 'I Run To You'. While we are far from certain that any response, however short or long, would be enough, we will do our best to cover what would be essential to the late Earl and Countess's story, and what we should be looking for as we approach the conclusion.

We wanted to start by regretfully pointing out, that many readers of the series, but especially on its most recent season, that among our readership there has been particular interest in the matters both lewd and wild, to the point where all they see, even in the most heartbreaking lines, is a decadent thought. This problem has become such a plague that the ability to read between the lines, and identify the internal struggles, have become the litmus test to determine a good reader and a bad reader of the late Earl's journeys. Young people, whose sexual deprivation and inability to understand the beauty of days long past are far too evident, establish the opening episodes of debauchery as an acceptable setup to enact their wildest fantasies, while others have misunderstood the late Earl and the Countess's endless love because of the former's mistakes.

We would like to point that this is not good, because it is never right that one man's self-imposed purgatory, first begun by his tragic March break vacation and the subsequent time spent in hell to keep his beloved safe from his fears, should be replicated in any shape or form by others. This applies especially to many of so-called emulators, whose behaviour on their mouseholes would be no less of bastardisation to to our ancestors’ Notes from the Underground.

The simplest conclusion from this, of course, is that it is to simply not fall into those temptations that late Earl Lundrigan had fallen into. It is never about that to start with, and a good reader would know that too.And in order to avoid facing said issues, it is important to recognise yourself as a naturally moral being, whose ways may have been led astray, but always has a plan to return to where it belongs. Whether the eventual destination be in the arms of their lover, walking their nephews and grandchildren to school on a Monday morning, or the duty that calls upon the sound of Bugle, does not matter. It never did, it never does, and it never will.

But, in order to be committed, a good reader of late Earl's life must be aware of his surroundings, apologise with no fear, and ultimately be brave with what his heart thinks is right. They must always think ahead with their plans, be courteous to those who deserve respect, and be confident when it comes to women. They must remember the threads of childhood and inspirations that will guide their lives all along, especially as they attempt to make their way back home.

Any good reader of his storied life and his works, would find in every page dozens of proofs that would agree with said statement.

Secondly, in the contemporary society, especially in terms of the life of debauchery as not only an acceptable element of the elite's functioning, but to be encouraged by the camaraderie in both workplace and in our schools, we may have come to underappreciated the importance of the faithfulness essential in the daily lives of lovers.

It is not a good sign, and our basic morals would tell us that they would be considered unacceptable in the society. But, in order to understand our self-disgust at said immoral practices practiced by our neighbours and friends, it is necessary to view the situation with a punishment as a necessary device. The guilty party should be punished through the series of emotional and mental trials assigned by their beloved ones, not through their betrayals or abandonments but through stern reminders and familial embargoes. It is necessary that the violation of the lover's duties, expected of a man either through the natural expectations of his faithfulness or the contractual agreement of mariage de convenance, be punished with his emotional suffering through the strains placed upon said relationship. It is necessary that such punishments, through the aide of Senex and Grace, be public in practice, and that the continued awareness of such consequences be presented through means of art, as have reflected as such on late Earl's novels.

Thirdly, in Quebecois society, due to our sheer love of tragedies and how fate subscribes to said genre, many have criticised how Asher Lundrigan and Eileen de Ramaut did not break up for good after the so-called Smurfgate on the fourth episode. The issue, to those concerned, may have been that the inability for them to break apart for good, instead of helping them mend the relations, may have done both parties harm and contributed to the late Earl's death.

We assume that is not good. It is not good to desire a permanent coda in mere hopes of the Quebecois replication of Pascal Quignard's Terrasse à Rome, because the hopes of a rehabilitation by his nightingale is what has saved the late Earl from suicide in his twenties, and because it comes eerily close to killing the hopes of many dying children out there. The Visions of Gideon, which he always held in hopes, even under the presence of a charming woman who eventually became Her Majesty Christine the Second of Quebec, were what kept his hopes and ambitions going, and such sentiments were taken the other way for the Countess and his beloved ones when their reconciliation occurred back in Seasons 1 and 2. From the moment he was transported back to her Montreal flat, that was a prerogative that the late Earl knew he couldn't ignore and while he has come extremely close to cut their ties and commit himself to suicide, he has kept true to the accords as well. The conclusion that we can bring from here is that a loose reader's desires do not match what a true reader should be feeling at the very pit of his heart.

In the end, what this short epilogue attempts to state is simple. It is not right as a reader, with the moralistic works of late Earl Lundrigan in mind, to act as if we are immune from the undertones of punishment and atonement, and to just seek earthly pleasures that mean nothing. The heightened understanding of the suffering and the self-pilgrimage are perhaps the only ways one can truly earn the key measures. We must not substitute the arduous but necessary task for what's more tempting, and follow it to our daily lives.

Of course, such is easier said than done. But that too is expected. No one is immune from the experiences that make us human after all. But a time does come for us, to navigate the rocky waters with the help of a determined self and a compass. That is where a good reader will be able to distinguish himself from the society of bad readers.


Heo Dong-Soo, Chair, Quebec and Shingoryeo Narrative Society | Jacques IX Professor of History and Comparative Literature, Universite St. Croix
Arsene-Pierre Pineau Kim, Member, Quebec and Shingoryeo Narrative Society | 47th Prime Minister of Quebec and Shingoryeo, 1st Baron Kim of Reneegrad
Emilie Gramsci-Hannigan, Member, Quebec and Shingoryeo Narrative Society | Chair, Royal Quebecois Society of Literature
Last edited by Independent Athletes from Quebec on Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:47 am, edited 3 times in total.

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Alasdair I Frosticus
Posts: 1290
Founded: Antiquity
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Alasdair I Frosticus » Thu Feb 25, 2021 2:22 am

OOC - foreshadowing for WC 88...

"More tea, Mr. Phocaso?"

"Why yes, thank you. This is an excellent blend."

"It's from Bostopia; I believe it's the Emperor Boston's favourite. I have it shipped below the ocean waves specially. Sugar?"

"No thank you. As to my proposition...."

"Ah yes - that I join this 'football team' of yours..."

"Yes, well, our coach - Juan Tzimisces.."

"I'm familiar with Mr Tzimisces; we've met. A slice of lemon drizzle cake, perhaps?"

"Thank you. Well, Juan has singlehandedly taken the Holy Empire back into third place in the tournament following an extra time win over perennial respected rivals Valanora in the third place playoff. It's only our second top-three placing since we last won the tournament in WC69, and we feel it's the right time to build on those achievements."

"Yes, but am I the right cosmic entity? I mean, I seem to be really misunderstood by ordinary mortals following those .... terrible literary slanders. <sniff> I'm sorry; I still feel so emotionally vulnerable when I think about it. Just let me get another box of tissues."

"Well, you'll have to shrink to human size...."

"That won't be a problem for ol' Nyarly, will it; he can just take on the form of one of his avatars. But what about the way I look? Won't that be a problem?"

"Mr Tzimisces feels that it'll be useful to field a visually intimidating team."

"But I don't feel intimidating. Is it my fault that ordinary mortals often go mad when they see me? I feel so sensitive about the way they react... It just doesn't make me feel body-positive."

"Mr Tzimisces feels we can manage expectations in this regard."

"And the screaming cultists across the multiverse who carry out dread deeds in my name?"

"The Holy Empire Football Association is prepared to carry out an extensive PR campaign on this point; it's not your fault you're so misunderstood."

"You're right. It isn't. And I am misunderstood; all of us are - terribly misunderstood. All right, I'll do it! I'll leave R'lyeh! It's time to show the rest of reality that Cthulhu and his merry chums aren't so bad after all! It's time to show the multiverse that that Cthulhu is downright cuddly - a gentlebeing among cosmic entities - if you just give me a chance!"
Τί ἐστιν ἀλήθεια?

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Posts: 1528
Founded: Jun 06, 2014
Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Nephara » Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:39 am

The Holy Empire 0 - 3 Nephara
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 2 - Stride, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin; 4 - Shone, 8 - Cromwell (17 - Mueller 77'); 23 - Mrdja, 21 - Moxham (14 - Fletcher 77'), 11 - Considine (13 - Belgrade 64'); 9 - Bastable
Goals: Mrdja 19', Clevinger 74', Fletcher 81'

It was weird. Whenever Triffid Ramsey tried to think too hard about what actually was going on, her head ached sharply and tugged her train of thought in a less existential direction.
Tzimisces had just come on for Tzimisces don't dwell on it after Clevinger had made it 2-0. Ramsey was disappointed at first - the corner could have been a goal, had Tzimisces not come sliding in to account for Tzimisces' slack positioning and blocked Bastable's shot, but it turned out okay in the end. Perhaps a more experienced goalkeeper than Tzimisces might have come for Moxham's corner, but as it stood, he dithered as Tzimisces was beaten in the air by the towering half-satyr.
They were just lucky Tzimisces had uncharacteristically fluffed his lines at the other end...
Still. Exene Fletcher came off the bench to drive home a deft cutback from fellow substitute Belgrade and put the game to rest, a convincing performance that surely put the Cormorants in good stead going into... Christ, yet another final. The whistle blew not long after. A slightly harsh scoreline on the Holy Empire, perhaps, but once Traudl Mrdja had gashed them on the break early on it was always going to be an uphill struggle not to overstretch Tzimisces and Tz-- their midfielders.
She turned to her left and extended her hand, praying not to be met with another instance of Juan bloody Tzimisces, and sighing quietly under her breath when it was. This was the chance to shake hands with an undoubted World Cup legend, but it had to be said, the past two hours had given her some degree of overexposure.

"Referee signals one minute-- just one minute of injury time, here! Strauss lets off a string of curses on the touchline. One minute for what has been an..."
"What has been an attritional affair, thank you, Alyssa, and here now is Arsanukayev with the ball. Plays in Peltola-- and that's a crunching challenge from Ilyana Brosch, and predictably the--- and the-- anyway, she's gone down heavily, but the referee this time has no sympathy. Brosch sprays the ball down the left. Deventer is there. Now it's to her fellow substitute, Chalk. Close. Deventer again. Moxham, tucking in-- Free Republics playing it safe, jockeying-- ah, but that's an inch-perfect long ball over the top, and Saroszi can--"
"-- cut across the face and THAT'S A GOAL! IN INJURY TIME OF THE WORLD CUP FINAL, KURTIS BASTABLE HAS FOUND THE... the leveller for... and the flag is..."
"It's offside? That's fucking offside?"
"... and Bastable's going straight to the linesman, and Strauss and Herrick are in the ear of the fourth official, but that's... well, that's never made a damn difference in overturning a call and that isn't changing now..."
"This is a fucking outrage!"
"Well, here's the replay..."
"Yeah, maybe a fucking ankle. At most. But it's little secret who's had most of the fifty-fifty calls here tonight, Gareth. Rule Theriault is there on the touchline, rubbing his bloody hands with glee."
"But time's ticking on, and-- yes, the final whistle blows, not even time for a restart-- and that's-- oh. Oh, that isn't good. The passion of the occasion has spilled over, and the Nepharan bench is clearing, there's not going to be a graceful defeat tonight. An ugly end to an ugly match is upon us."
"Fucking get the cunts. Fucking rip them limb from limb."
"Thank you, Alyssa..."

Triffid Ramsey pinched the bridge of her nose, and tried not to think.
Different reasons, this time. The game against the Holy Empire, well, that was in the past now. It was all about what Sunday held, now. End of the road.
Sedgwick had suggested to her earlier she might want to go consult the Godhead for advice. Ramsey snorted on her vodka and cola, causing a rather bad case of reflux. "The Godhead?" she'd sputtered after recovering. "That's just a scam, an explotiative bloody scam. I'd be better served praying to the physios that they get Koerner able to start the Final."
"You're sitting on it now," Sedgwick had pointed out. This was true. This remained true. Ramsey had blown an insolent smoke-ring then as she did now, and told Sedgwick to head back home and get some sleep.
She tapped the Godhead's brow with her heel. "So how about it, old man? Any ghosts sparking around in there, huh? Yeah, thought not. You wouldn't waste time with all that, would you. It'd be right into God's own boozer, off to hit on all the girls..."
Although in fairness he never really had. He'd always been faithful to Andrea, even to the significantly more puritan standards of faithfulness expected by foreign nations. Still, if your wife was a beautiful model fifteen years your junior...
Ramsey shrugged, and lit another cigarette.
"You know what, though. You fucking know what. This is the end for you." Was she drunk? Perhaps a trifle. She heel-kicked the boulder again. "If we do this, nobody's ever gonna be able to say I'm taking your name again. Nah, it'll be you taking mine. Ramsey will mean Triff Ramsey, my name, my... stupid, fucking name, that you gave me. But it'll be mine, mine, mine, mine, mine. People will say 'Ramsey' and it'll be me, the World Cup winner, the fucking champion of the world!"
Unsteadily, unwisely, she tried to clamber to her feet on the top of the boulder. It wasn't a smooth surface, and she was wearing heels; as a result, she rather unceremoniously fell flat back on her arse. It was the kind of humbling fall after a moment of hubris that made one sniff, and take perspective back.
"Still miss you, though," she said quietly, and patted the rock beneath her.

"... five minutes have been played, Mercator screams at the ball-boy, haven't ever seen her so emotive. Okay, here we go."
"One last attack."
"Saved a penalty in a World Cup Final and unless something happens it's not going to be enough, for Nephara. Sprays the ball out to the right. Belgrade. ... Moxham. Back to Belgrade, but Kawesa's still chasing, and it is... it is not natural, the man is in his mid-thirties but he's been the heart ad soul of this team tonight. Ten men behind the ball for Banija. Stride takes the ball on the overlap but there's fifteen seconds left."
"Come on. Come on."
"No time for anything but the cross. She lashes it in--"
"... and Bultum heads clear, uh. Referee's putting the whistle to his lips, will there be time for one last shot--"
"And it's..."
"High and wide from Moxham, and. And yes, Banija are your champions of World Cup 86. It's."
"Fuck me. Again."
"Yes, Alyssa, it's been a hard-fought affair. One where you can't begrudge the first-time winners, and you can see... of course you can see how much it means. Nobody's shaking hands or swapping shirts here, Banijans and Nepharim both are sprawled out on the turf for opposite reasons, and..."
"I'm sorry, I-- this shit doesn't fucking HAPPEN to us. Jesus fucking Christ."
"And... yes, it's an emotional night here at Tundra Falls, where they say the dead still speak... tears in Kahara's eyes...

Roxelana Thorn was well past curfew, and well past caring about curfew. Curfew was for the kids who couldn't be trusted not to go out on the lash 'til the small hours of the morning. Curfew was... for her, a decade ago. She'd outgrown that now.
Besides. She had a message.
She drew her hood up high and scanned the roads. You could generally tell Nepharim in a crowd because they walked at a manic stride and shoulder-charged their way through foreigners.
Oh, it also helped if they were making no fucking effort to go incognito, and were just strutting over in a tank-top that bared their tattoos to the world. "Hey," said Ilyana lightly. "You came early, huh? When I said 11, I actually bloody meant 11."
"How aren't you freezing your tits off? This cold is fucking Biblical."
"It's fine. Unlike you and your globe-trotting, I stuck around back home and stayed used to the cold, remember?"
"Yeah? You sure it's not your natural insulation?" Thorn prodded Ilyana in the midriff, and found just the slightest give. "Seriously, you're meant to wait 'til retirement to let yourself go."
"It's the off-season, Ro. Though I guess you haven't had one of those in like a decade." Ilyana shrugged. "If you're so concerned, though, you can help me walk it off, can't you?"
"In the freezing cold, in the middle of the night, where no number of journalists are probably camped out in the bushes."
"Yeah, why not? Don't tell me you're embarrassed about being seen next to me." Ilyana grinned, with that little tilt of the head that made her so punchable and so impossible to want to punch at the same time. A 5'11", 180-pound juggernaut with a neck tattoo should not be able to look coquettish.
"Sure," said Thorn. "Let's go."
They meandered through unfamiliar streets under unfamiliar stars, braving the billowing gusts. At some point, at a homicidal-looking crossing - though no cars were in sight - Thorn instinctively took Ilyana's hand. She did not release it, and Ilyana leaned in a little closer after that.
"You have any idea where we're going?" Thorn asked, after a while.
"None at all. Figured maybe we walked far enough, we'd stumble into a landmark or something pretty. Maybe a cocktail bar. You can watch me drink and live vicariously or something."
Thorn snorted. "You're an idiot. Sweet, but dumb."
It took some time for Ilyana to break the silence. "How are you feeling?" Some of the natural levity had deserted her.
"I'm the idiot? No, about the Final, jackass."
Thorn licked her lips. The moisture almost froze on her mouth. Ugh. "It feels different."
"Probably a good thing, hey?"
"Yeah, like... against the Free Republics, I figured we were like. After we'd had that godawful start, this was like, we were inevitably gonna swing it back and win the lot. Like that's how the story would end. Then it was Banija, We'd just been disappointed, but momentum still seemed in our favour, and it was like... yeah, okay, so now the story becomes that we redeem ourselves and go one better." She paused for thought. "Now it's like... I don't know, anymore. Yeah, I think we'll win, but it's different this time. Like I'm more aware that there ain't no destiny. Just... football. And the football will go however it wants to go, on the day."
"Fatalism's your coping mechanism, huh?"
"Ahh, shut up."
"At least you found one." Ilyana's smile did not reach her eyes. "I just... couldn't bring myself back, after what happened. Like I felt I'd... it just felt like the end," she finished, lamely. "I look at my silver medals and I know I should be proud, but it's hard, innit?"
"Mine are gathering dust in a cabinet somewhere. Next to, like, my birth certificate." Thorn shrugged. "I'm just... I don't know. I don't want what's next to define my life."
"It probably will, anyway."
"I know."
They kept walking. Thorn glanced across, saw Ilyana looking right back up at her, and glanced away. She'd probably have blushed, if the climate had let her complexion into the warm tones.
"I'm glad you called," said Ilyana.
"A few nights back, remember? I know I came across angry."
"You were angry."
"Sure. Still, I'm sorry, it... might have been early as hell, but it was still good to hear your voice. Around this time of year, too, you know." And Thorn had to admit there was something to it. So many tournaments in each others' company, and suddenly split apart?
She cleared her throat. "Hey."
"Mm?" Ilyana looked up. That bloody head-tilt again. Made her look like a seagull expecting a chip.
"I meant it, when I said I missed you." Thorn's heart skipped a beat. Of course it was a leading question. Only one place it could go.
"I'm glad." Ilyana chuckled, softly. "But I know what you really meant by it. At least... what I'm hoping."
Thorn blinked at her, stupidly. Watched her breath turn to a chill in the air. "Huh?"
"I meant it when i said I loved you, too." And Ilyana leaned across, threw her spare arm over Thorn's broad shoulder, dragged her hood out of her eyes and kissed her with the bottled passion only possible after years apart. After a moment to take stock, Thorn pressed back against Ilyana, drawing in whatever she could breathe of her, knuckles white clutching Ilyana's forgotten hand.
Eventually, inevitably, far too soon, Ilyana drifted away. It was not the moment, or the place, where they could truly lay bare their passions. It was enough time, however, to confirm everything, and steep for just long enough in the others' validation, for Ilyana to stare into Thorn's cold, grey eyes, for Thorn to run her thumb idly across Ilyana's fingers. They shared... enough, enough to keep moving with an eye on what came after.
It was Ilyana who broke the spell first. "You should probably get back."
"Yeah, I... I should." Thorn cleared her throat, and pulled her hand free. "I should."
"Win it all tomorrow, okay?" Ilyana managed a brave smile, crooked, off-balance. "Then we can talk about the future."
"Yeah." Thorn started to smile, ever so faintly. "Our future."

The Book of Roxelana Thorn ends tonight.
It's time. No matter what happens tomorrow, it will be time. My legs can go on, they've got years left in them. But my heart can only take so much.
If we lose a third straight, I won't have it in me. I can see now why Strauss quit the job. The idea of going through all that again. I'll be burned out.
But, God, if I can let myself picture it. How it would feel to lift that goddamn trophy. And then there couldn't be any argument, anymore; we would be the greatest team Nephara had ever produced. We would be the dynasty everyone always tried and failed to build. Strauss did it. Ramsey can finish it.
I've told Lothaire everything. He knows what to do. And Marcin's told me what to do with his.
Lukas Strongnesse is buried in a tasteful little plot in east Sabrefell, where the bald bastard spent basically his entire life. He came in way before Nepharan footballers got to be billionaires. He was a great Premiership defender who could maybe have been an okay defender in, like, the Polar Islandstates. But when Nephara walked out onstage for the first time, the first guy to walk out on a WCC-sanctioned match... that was him. God only knows how many came after, but he got to be first.
See, everyone talks about Gethin Ramsey, the first manager in the Baptism of Fire. Nobody talks about the captain. When they do, it's all about the Strongnesse Trophy, the grudge match between us and Saintland, sparked off by an outrageously violent tackle he made. Even that, people are starting to forget.
That apparently was out of character for him, even. He was this steadfast leader, this really honourable guy who everyone loved. The respectful face of the team. And he was 36 when the Baptism went on, like... this last link to the primitive old age. He deserves respect, Marcin figured. Maybe he'll know, somehow, that those baby steps really did lead to something big.
So I'll go to his place in the dead of night with a fucking shovel. And these Annals, and one of those vault things that doesn't degrade. Dig down to his coffin, plant my vault on top, and bury it over again. And really I'll be burying myself with it, my time with the Cormorants. My time as captain.
Ilyana said she'd come with me.
They say history is written by the victors. Well, I've written mine. Tomorrow, I guess we get to find out.
Last edited by Nephara on Thu Feb 25, 2021 4:45 am, edited 2 times in total.
WCC Grand Slam champion.
Accidental Gridiron Championship Silver Belt holders for six cycles??

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New York Times Democracy

Postby Taeshan » Thu Feb 25, 2021 6:30 pm

[url-]Let's Go[/url]
Champions - Copa Rushmori 22, Cup of Harmony 35, Di Bradini Cup 19, World Baseball Classic 13, Gridiron World Championships (World Bowl 0), World Bowl 34, World Lacrosse Championship 2

World Cup Qualifications-41, 44, 46, 59, 61(RoS), 62(Quarterfinals), 63 (RoS), 64 (Quarterfinals), 83, 84 (RoS), 85, 87

Hosts-Cup of Harmony 55, Copa Rushmori 14, Sporting World Cup 10,
Quidditch World Cup 10, World Cup of Hockey 41, World Cup 87

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Civil Rights Lovefest

Postby Nephara » Sun Mar 07, 2021 4:12 am

1. Call to Adventure
First, days were left. Chalked off calendars between sleepless nights, before the big day circled and underlined a thousand times.
Then it was hours. Do you feel the nerves begin to set in? Good. Let them - better now than during the game. The veterans tell the young guns to get over it. Last meal. It's brown rice and skinless chicken, same as bloody always. Everyone gets on the bus.
Minutes. The walk down to the dressing room seems to drag on for miles. The boss says a few words, keeps it simple. The tactics, those were done way back. Everyone knows what they have to do, they just have to keep their heads around doing it. So she keeps it simple, then throws to the room. The room means Ro Thorn, because she always has something to add.
"Yeah, I got a few words. Ballard, Christener, Katskalidis." Thorn took a deep breath, and looked her charges in the eyes. "Scharner, Vyntra. Szalai, Rainsford, Ashdown, Vesper. Covenant, Amokachi. They were here, 26 years ago, now, and they did what we're gonna do tonight. Before most of you were born and, hell, I only barely remember myself. But we remembered the names. People got tattoos of those names, named their kids after 'em. They're legends. Always will be. But tonight we join 'em."
Walk out onto the pitch. In the booths, the commenttors are gossiping over the details. Bastable stays in the team and Belgrade slots into it, contrary to expectations. Belgrade's easy; reports are, Koerner might be back in full training but still isn't at 100%, and with options like Ramsey has, you don't take that risk. As for Bastable, he has the experience at this level, they figure, and Lovelace's pace advantage will be less decisive against a side that defends deeper than most any other.
Ramsey and Juliasterinthen shake hands.
Neither Aranea Provost nor Larut Theshendan have conceded a goal so far in the knockouts. As soon as the twii-sphere twigs onto that, a flood of bets pour in for a game under 2.5 goals. The bookies adjust their prices, leading to a flood of bets pouring in for a game over 2.5 goals.
Thorn always guesses heads. Tonight, she's wrong. Ko-oren will play the first half with a gentle wind at their backs.

2. Threshold
You could hear the crunch on the broadcast.
Not for the first time this match. Not even the first time between Stride and Janoreininthen, for that matter, so turnabout was fair play. The physio on the sidelines got to his feet, then sat back down with a grunt as he saw Stride haul herself up without complaint. A free kick, no action. This referee needed to be a sure hand, not someone eager to be the star.
Fifteen minutes had passed, but not yet a shot on target. Only two shots total, both optimistic efforts from distance. One of those was from Rashica Horvath - would've been some way to open her international scoring account if the shot had gone, say, five metres lower. And so far it was playing out as one would expect. The Cormorants had a lot of the ball and little space to put it, and unlike some teams, weren't about to risk getting gashed on the counter trying to flood forward. Too many teams had made that mistake, and the Dragonflies had made them pay every. Single. Time.
Curious newcomers to the sport were just starting to sigh for the first time. Their mates who promised that football was a really good and entertaining sport, right, honest to God, were starting to sweat. Stride takes the free kick to Horvath. Horvath to Moxham. Moxham holding... holding... holding...
Ah, that was why. Tentatively, fataly, Gicquel stepped forward. Moxham flicked the ball over his head and darted forward. Gicquel held her off but it didn't matter, Bastable was already crashing through the lines, turning as his massive leg pulled back and struck the ball, sweetly...
... but from an angle that was ever so narrow. Straight down Theshendan's throat. The Maethoru goalkeeper took a deep breath, looked up and hurled the ball down the left. Shit! Belgrade pursued, but Munarring already got it to Janoreininthen, who stopped in their tracks to gather themself, look up, and sweep a long ball down the right. Erisia was there, Muscadin in pursuit, outpacing, Clevinger moving to cover. There was little to do but shoot and hope, low and hard, and Provost got down sharply to palm the ball away, stagger to her feet and fall on the rebound just as Vaugrenard came in and had to vault over the 'keeper.
Deep breaths. A shot on target on each side in the space of twenty seconds, basketball pace.
The early sparring was over. Game on.

3. Ordeals
Kendra Considine knew, deep down, this was her moment.
Failure? That was something others had experienced. Rowena Strongbow, intimately, agonisingly, against the Free Republics. Morena Deventer against Banija. A legacy of not winning World Cup finals that Considine had zero fucking connection to.
New era. They were going to win this and destiny felt on her side.
From time to time, her eyes flicked to the stands behind the Ko-oren goal. The Godhead was there, not quite swallowed in the mob of raucous green shirts. And green flares, for that matter. Stadium security generally did not like the Nepharan active support much.
Anyway, the stony stare of her adoptive grandfather seemed... almost warm, tonight. Was it just her imagination playing tricks? Oh, shit--
Big switch coming in from the other wing, Belgrade sending a beautiful long ball straight into Considine's boot, but distracted, she miscontrolled and almost sent it spinning out for a throw. Desperately, she stretched and kept it in play, getting to her feet just as Aiamara came over to cover. Shit, one moment of her mind drifting and the opening was gone.
"Focus!" screamed her mother from the touchline. "Focus, focus, focus, focus!"
Yes! Fuck! She got it! Anyway, all there was to do was slide it to Muscadin on the overlap, who rounded Aiamara and got free to take a cross, but a slight mishit made it easy for Pott to head clear, Batchelor to win the aerial in midfield... and head it further forward, where Thorn cut it out before it could get to its intended target.
The captain looked up for a second before floating another big switch down. The right, this time. Considine sighed under her breath as she ran forward, passing Muscadin coming the other way, resisting the instinct for a high-five. Time now to glide forward and join the attack, Muscadin picking up any runners behind. Glance to her right, Horvath in position, okay, so she was clear, looking up, Belgrade has the ball, Belgrade drives it-- back?? From that position? Considine bit her lip to try and stop hurling profanities across the pitch, particularly with the Cormorants still in possession, because there was method to the madness, the defence was being pulled out of position, Cromwell to Moxham, Moxham to Bastable but Pott and Breukelaar both on him, it's a dead-end pass but Considine runs regardless as Bastable looks up... and slides the ball to her feet.
And she's through. Ghosting in as if from nowhere, nobody's picked her up, it's just her and Theshandan and the rest of the world seems to fade from focus. It's the World Cup final. Her mother in the technical area. Her adopted homeland praying for her. Her actual homeland so, so far away, perhaps damning her a traitor, perhaps taking what victories they could, and all she has to do is drive it low, with power and force, dragging it agonisingly past Theshandan, left fist instinctively pumping, and pumping, as she watches the ball roll...
... and clank dimly against the far post.
Considine slows. The rest of the world speeds up to catch up. Gicquel sends the ball into the stands, and it's a corner that will come to nothing, but that moment will haunt her.

4. Abyss
Triffid Ramsey cracked her knuckles. Not all in one motion, but slowly, methodically, pushing them down one by one.
Crack-crack-crack. Crack-crack-crack. Crack.
"Hope you're not looking to me for any inspirational words," she muttered, knowing full well they were. Sedgwick handed her a bottle of water, which she unfastened with her teeth and swallowed half of on the spot. Twenty-three pairs of eyes watched it go down her throat. Ulp-ulp-ulp...
Ramsey wiped her mouth and put the bottle down on the nearest table. "It's going to plan, is what I'd say. Would I prefer to be here 4-0 up, breezing it? Yeah, 'course. But that was never going to happen, they were never going to let that happen to them. The plan is working. We haven't let them carve us open, we... have a couple times had chances, but mostly, what we're doing is pulling them apart. They're still making the same runs, they're still attentive and running hard, and it can't last. It's not gonna last.
"I've only been running the show like fourteen, fifteen matches. Isn't that crazy to think about? But already, I think, I've learned a lot about you. Maybe even, I daresay, about this country. We're not perfect, huh? Not anybody in this room can say they are. We let things slip, we stumble. But what we don't do is fall. So go out there, give them twenty minutes of hell. Push them to the very edge. Then I pick three heroes off the bench and we deliver the coup de grace."
That was all. No big speech. Nothing for any of the individuals. It's what Strauss had done... but it's also what Strauss had done. Instead, the veterans simply watched as Ramsey leaned back against the wall, languidly picked her water bottle back up, and sipped it idly like nothing was going on. Like it was just another game.

5. Rebirth
Twenty minutes of hell had been called for and received.
Nobody was happy about this. Ysabet Belgrade least of all, the first sacrifice made after an hour of tireless running, endless crosses and often brutal professional fouls. Mrdja came on. At the same time, Viera hustled on for the weary Batchelor, freshening up the midfield, while Longchambon started to warm up on the sidelines; he'd come on for Ensaunden five minutes later.
It had been a punishing five minutes. By now, the pressure was starting to leave cracks. The Cormorants were becoming ever so slightly more ragged - an overhit pass from Moxham to somewhere Considine might have been able to reach given the ability to stop time, a missed challenge from Cromwell that nearly spelled disaster were it not for Horvath sprinting to cover - but more and more it was Theshendan starting to pay the price. A scuffed clearance from Nott gave Mrdja the chance at a snap-shot with her first touch, and she dragged a low shot hard towards the corner, barely able to be tipped around the post by the 'keeper.
More and more green shirts were being sent forward. Too many. Ramsey was starting to scream at them to get back, but, some things you just knew better on the pitch.
Mrdja knew it. Her entire career had been spent battling against the odds. Training as a kid in Rochford only to be picked up by... AFC Rochford? The whole time with a chip on her shoulder because Brinemouth hadn't come taken a look at her, snapped her up, ha. Making her way up with them, taking them as far as they could go, landing in Vermillion. Midtable expectations, but she dragged them kicking and screaming to the Champions League. She'd become a key squad Cormorant for her versatility, except that Strauss had eventually decided to move on past her. But Mrdja had outlasted the old boss, and proved herself to Ramsey, too. Even so, she arrived as an understudy... and then Koerner pulled up and she'd taken her chance. Perhaps a game early, as Ramsey wanted to rest her for the final... but only to inject her now, at what she hoped she could make the decisive moment.
"Never fucking count me out," she muttered under her breath. A quick scan of the field revealed her time might be now. Cromwell had the ball under little pressure, and was scanning his options, so Mrdja paced in towards the midfield to make herself available. Cromwell took the option; her pace slowed, she glanced over her shoulder. Munarring was here. That meant there'd be space behind... space she couldn't exploit.
She passed back to Cromwell, who immediately passed straight by her. Stride had moved into the space, but so had Breukelaar, the Dragonflies' defence shuffling wearily to combat the threat. Mrdja and Munarring both turned and hustled back to relevance... Stride just ignored both, swinging in a cross. A fair option, always a threat with Bastable there, and a dangerous height. But Theshendan was out in a flash, bear-clawing the ball out to safety.
It came out to Horvath, who anticipated it that little bit better than Longchambon and was able to chest it down and run into space. Still, this wasn't her wheelhouse. She passed it off to Moxham. Passed Longchambon off to Moxham, too, but she had time, time to consider and reject the shot. Time to cut back inside and lay off to Cromwell coming the other way. Longchambon was starting to feel a little ill-used. Bastable was marked down, and Cromwell couldn't reach Considine. He cut back outside, drove out to Mrdja. Mrdja back to Horvath, down the left to Muscadin. The Ko-orenite defence shuffled, shuffled, shuffled.
Ready for anything except what came.
Muscadin saw the opening. The potential overload, one marker sharing two players, the luckless Breukelaar shouting for cover, Theshendan shouting for others to cover Breukelaar, the cross needed to come now...
She drove a vicious diagonal straight towards Mrdja.
Moxham leapt like a salmon to chest the ball down, and suddenly everyone was fucking confused. Muscadin stared. Nott had tried to shift to support Breukelaar, Gicquel to support Nott, Aiamara to support Gicquel, and now Nephara's most dangerous player had the ball in the box. Gicquel went for her, so did Nott, and Breukelaar dithered.
The gap widened. Moxham allowed herself a little smile before guiding the camel through the eye of the needle.
Mrdja sprinted to it, dragging Breukelaar with her... and then shifted, letting her momentum misdirect Breukelaar. Too late, he saw what was happening, swung out a boot to nowhere, fell, tumbled. Theshendan, twice deceived, scrambled to cover his angles.
The furthest Cormorant forward was Rovena Stride. The rightback.
Time stood still. The ball clicked against her studs, all too casually, as she arrested her momentum, righted herself, tried to bury her emotions deep down.
All she allowed herself to see was a little target, a sliver of goalmouth at Theshendan's exposed near post. All she had to do was find it.
It was an ugly strike, pulled more than she intended, a defender's finish. But power more than made up for placement. Theshendan's fingertips scraped against it, and nearly snapped in half.
Stride's momentum slowed. Her heart caught up. And then Bastable was around her, and Considine was there, Mrdja, Moxham, everyone. All she could smell were her comrades. All she could hear was the crowd. All she could feel was her heartbeat, thumping to a pulse of 1-0, 1-0, 1-0.

6. Answer to the Main Dramatic Question
Things got ugly after that. Of course they did. The Cormorants wanted to win and the jaws were locked on the throat. They bit into tackles with hunger, mistreated their opponents like they were despised in-laws, snapped and clamped and tasted blood. Lovelace came on in the 74th minute, straight after the goal, in theory to take advantage of a ragged and stretched Ko-oren, in practice getting a 79th-minute yellow card for tripping Breukelaar. Muscadin was booked for time-wasting in the 81st, taking approximately an aeon to take a throw-in; Provost in the 84th for an eternal goal-kick, Cromwell for persistent fouls. Horvath for the same thing, then getting substituted off for Shone, who immediately picked up her own caution for a brutal reducer on Longchambon that could have been red.
The game became frantic, scrappy. Ko-orenites lashed back, how could they not? Bugarin raced on for Erisia, sprinting from the start rather than taking as long as Shone had to saunter into position.
Clevinger mopped her brow. Let something slip now and she'd never forgive herself. "Come on, come on!" she bellowed to nobody in particular, words that meant nothing but a voice that reassured, brought some of the second wind back to tattered sails. Others began to raise their voices, too. Cries to action, bellowing to their comrades, profanity. Before long, the Nepharan lines began to resemble a cascade of clamouring voices, a wall of noise too deep to punch through, ten green shirts that seemed to resemble twelve, fifteen. Clevinger blocking Bugarin here then sliding to get in the way of a shot on the other side of the box scarce seconds after. Cromwell beaten for pace by Viera only to somehow chase him down and scuff the ball out from under his feet. Every second, neutrals wanted Ko-oren to find a way back that little more. Every second, that became more remote a possibility.
And only seconds remained.
Ten. The ball at Vaugrenard's feet. Eyes darting.
Nine. No immediate options.
Eight. Too late, she hands it off to Janorerinthen.
Seven. To Longchambon. He has some space. He scans his choices. But everywhere there seems to be a green shirt, and--
Six. Shone's hand on his shoulder.
Five. He shoots a pass out, under pressure.
Four. Clevinger cuts it out and, without a second to breathe or thing, lamps it down the wing. Already, Bugarin sinks to his knees. He knows...
Three. Two. One...
The bliss of the whistle. Thorn heard a muffled, despairing "No..." from somewhere to her left. All around her, people sank to the ground. She'd tuned out the crowd long ago, and could only hear the sighs and slumps around her, and those three shrill blasts.
She closed her eyes, and her own legs gave way.

7. Denouement
One by one, they stood and took their medals.
In truth, they resembled nothing so much as shambling corpse-men, staggering up onto the dais to take their medals from the suits. Sure, there was the President. And the vice-President, or, possibly vice versa. Or were they Chairmen, instead? Was the Margravine there? No - in a corporate box up there, Raluca Garamond spotted and pointed.
They went through their paces. It all still felt... numb. The raw emotion of the pitch just couldn't be recaptured after the release of the final whistle. All they were left with was the realisation there was no next match, that their task was done.
They'd done the job.
She mutely thanked the suits in turn. The medal felt weightless around her neck, and she forgot it was there within seconds. Upon reflection, she'd been on the dais twice before, this time to receive a silver medal. She remembered nothing of either ceremony, and she wouldn't want the memories if offered.
Four years ago, the NFA had printed out 23 green shirts reading CHAMPIONS - 85. Two years ago, the NFA had printed out 23 green shirts reading CHAMPIONS - 86. Now forty-six homeless guys had shirts. No such tempting of fate this time around, so all that was left was to be guided to the photo opportunity. Time to reflect on every step that had brought them there, as her eyes alighted at last on the trophy. Their prize.
Images flashed through her head, not of dull suits and ceremonies, but things that were real.

Astograth 0 - 0 Nephara
(4-2-3-1 -> 4-4-2) 1 - Provost; 18 - Rostock, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin; 15 - Horvath (4 - Shone 60'), 8 - Cromwell; 7 - Koerner, 21 - Moxham (23 - Mrdja 71'), 11 - Considine; 10 - Lovelace (9 - Bastable 79')

Blood-stained studs, a stalemate, a day remembered for Rospide far more than anything else, and yet the beginning of their own staunch defence.

Nephara 5 - 4 Drawkland
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 2 - Stride, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin; 15 - Horvath (4 - Shone 78'), 8 - Cromwell; 7 - Koerner, 14 - Fletcher (21 - Moxham 54'), 11 - Considine; 10 - Lovelace (9 - Bastable 62')
Goals: Considine 13', Lovelace 19', Clevinger 41', Moxham 67', Bastable 71'

The anomaly. Chaos reigning, a decisive tag-team of strikers, the decisive and massive forehead of Reniira Clevinger on a day her defensive work gave much to be desired.

Tikariot 1 - 1 Nephara
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 2 - Stride (18 - Rostock 82'), 6 - Clevinger, 19 - Brabanzon, 22 - Lind; 15 - Horvath, 17 - Mueller; 23 - Mrdja, 14 - Fletcher, 11 - Considine (13 - Belgrade 63'); 9 - Bastable (16 - Basilisk 72')
Goal: Basilisk 84'

The continuation of a faerie-tale, not the Cormorants' own. A tough battle, the back rank stepping up, Latona Basilisk's return to glory.

Chromatika 0 - 1 Nephara
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 2 - Stride, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin; 15 - Horvath (4 - Shone 64'), 8 - Cromwell; 7 - Koerner, 21 - Moxham (14 - Fletcher 78'), 11 - Considine (13 - Belgrade 78'); 10 - Lovelace
Goal: Moxham 57'

The first clean sheet, a resolute team performance, veteran former Galacticos going head-to-head and a decisive save.

Pasarga 0 - 1 Nephara
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 18 - Rostock, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin (22 - Lind 59'); 15 - Horvath, 17 - Mueller; 7 - Koerner (23 - Mrdja 19'), 21 - Moxham, 13 - Belgrade; 10 - Lovelace (9 - Bastable 70')
Goal: Lovelace 63'

A clash of greens, another foe outlasted, Traudl Mrdja stepping up and making herself known, the decisive influence of Ilia Mueller.

The Holy Empire 0 - 3 Nephara
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 2 - Stride, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin; 4 - Shone, 8 - Cromwell (17 - Mueller 77'); 23 - Mrdja, 21 - Moxham (14 - Fletcher 77'), 11 - Considine (13 - Belgrade 64'); 9 - Bastable
Goals: Mrdja 19', Clevinger 74', Fletcher 81'

Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces, Juan Tzimesces.

Nephara 1 - 0 Ko-oren
(4-2-3-1) 1 - Provost; 2 - Stride, 5 - Thorn (c), 6 - Clevinger, 3 - Muscadin; 15 - Horvath (4 - Shone 80'), 8 - Cromwell; 13 - Belgrade (23 - Mrdja 58'), 21 - Moxham, 11 - Considine; 9 - Bastable (10 - Lovelace 74')
Goal: Stride 71'

A tragic end against the Free Republics. Time running out against Banija. She could put that to rest, now - already had, in ninety minutes on the pitch, but the era wasn't over yet. The Cormorants weren't champions yet.
Deep breath. Her fingers flexed and cracked in the cold Taeshani breeze. Were the cameras ready? Her comrades clustered around either shoulder. The teenager Radeka Lind was crying, and she'd barely had anything to do with it. Kurtis Bastable had an arm around her slim shoulders, a stoic man called for. Kendra Considine vibrated with anticipation, while Aranea Provost had relaxed into the smug, self-satisfied, cat-like manner of someone who felt this was an inevitable consequence of her own brilliance. Clevinger kept chuckling and huffing softly under her breath, Horvath shivered, Muscadin shifted from foot to foot. They were all waiting for her.
She clenched around the base of the trophy. At first, it felt like the weight of the world in her hands, and then...
It rose.
WCC Grand Slam champion.
Accidental Gridiron Championship Silver Belt holders for six cycles??

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