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Subscribe to this thread The Fallguard Affair created by ilvos01 on June 11, 2013

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ilvos016/11/13 1:27am
>The Fallguard Affair<

>Chapter One<

In Dak's life, the game was everything. He trained, he worked, he talked with his friends, all about the game. The game was the center and the focus of everything he did.

The game was called Fallguard. And Dak was very, very good at it.

Presently, he was preparing for another match of Fallguard, in the Norvondire Stadium.

Presently, he was tying his shoes.


Dak jumped, flailing his arms as he fell backwards, off of the bench he was sitting on.

Bree, sticking her head in from the door, bit back a laugh. "Spirits, Dak, you are jumpy."

"Oh, Bree!" Dak fumed. "I was tying my shoes!"

Bree blazenly strolled into the men's lockers, leaning against a wall. "Cripes. I swear, Dak, nobody in Anduruna is as weird as you are about your shoes. They don't even cover your feet!"

Dak spared a glance at his paws. Clawed toes, uncovered, wiggled back at him. "So? They help me with my running." He reclaimed the laces, weaving them expertly through the ringlets embedded in the canvas. "I [i]like[/i] my shoes."

Bree shook her head. "Well, hurry it up, anyway. You still need to organize the plays. The Whirlwinds made this into a Fourer."

Dak nearly fell off of his bench again. "Fourer?! Blimey, Bree, this is only the semifinals! It should be at least a Sixer!"

"I know, it's Nekushit. But the refs says they can do it." She gave an exasperated shrug.

Angrily, Dak finished his laces, knotting the strings with an angry tug. "And you know, you just [i]know[/i] they're gonna put Markward up in front. We are going to be [i]annihilated[/i]."

"Hey, don't talk like that!" Bree conked him on the head, playfully. "You're faster than that sandy asshole any day. You just gotta remember to weave."

Dak buried his face in his hands and groaned.

"Well, we gotta be up at the tunnel in five. You ready to go?"

He sighed. "Yeah, let's go."

"And we're gonna kick some [i]ass![/i]" Bree goaded.

"Yeah, we're gonna kick some-"

"LOUDER, dammit. You're team captain, you need to be more into this! We're gonna kick some [i]ass![/i] Say it with me."

"We're gonna kick some [i]ass![/i]" Dak conceded. Bree always managed to make him feel better. "Alright, you optimistic psycho. We're gonna win us some Fallguard."

The pair strode out of the locker room, and up to the tunnel entrance.

* * *

"Alright, boys and girls, let's not lose optimism out there," Dak encouraged.

Dak was nervous. But his team was counting on him, so he gave the typical spiel. "I know those Whirlwinds jipped us out of a fair game by cutting out two players, but that doesn't matter. Do you hear me? It doesn't matter. Because we are better and faster than them."

The rest of the team nodded. Dak looked over his teammates, once again bemoaning the loss of their fifth and sixth position players. Him, Bree, Mike and Warren, only a half of their full number, and each of them bore a mix of anticipation and determination on their faces.

"The air is always tense as the number of players goes down. But remember, they're down to four, too. One-to-one. This is no different than any other game, or any other practice."

They were nodding, numbly, as Dak's words glided over them. He gave the same words before every game, so it was nothing new, but Dak knew that hearing it again couldn't hurt. And convincing himself couldn't hurt, either.

"So let's go out there and kick some Whirlwind ass! Ballistics on three! [i]One-two-three-![/i]"

"[i]-BALLISTICS!!![/i]" The chorus rang through the tunnel, as the Talocan Ballistics all raised their hands in the air with a rousing cheer. Still cheering, they turned and proceeded down the tunnel, as the announcer's voice could be heard from above.

As Dak ascended the concrete pathway, the distant cries of the cheering fans began to grow louder and louder. The bright daylight at the end of the tunnel began to grow brighter, and soon the cheers were so loud that Dak could not hear his own thoughts.

Being the captain, he was first.

Dak squinted as his eyes adjusted to the intense glow of the daylight, as he stepped into the view of the crowd. A wild roar of cheering could be heard, much to his bemusement. His fanbase was not small.


Dak gave a small wave, as the throngs cheered out his name. A smaller group of enthusiasts towards the front of the crowd had even painted green stripes under their eyes, to emulate his own fur.

Chuckling, he began to walk down the small set of stairs to the field. As he did, he noticed some new additions to the Norvondire Stadium. Large pillars, still in-construction, holding up the framework for what would soon be more seating, towering over the field. [i]Just more Norvondire extravagancy[/i], he thought.

Shaking his head, Dak continued down the field to his starting position. He turned as he walked, to watch his fellow teammates come out, and cheer them on alongside the crowd.


Bree smiled broadly to the crowd as they cheered, waving her arms enthusiastically. She practically jumped into her own starting position, nearly vibrating with energy.

She made eye contact with Dak and winked, grinning. Dak just shook his head, again chuckling.

Mike and Warren were announced with equal enthusiasm, though with perhaps less cheering and less theatrics. Mike was always amazed when his name was called, like he still couldn't believe he was a professional Fallguard player.

After they had all taken their appropriate positions, the announcer turned to the home team.


More cheering. Dak frowned, as Markward stepped out of the tunnel, awaiting his name to be called.


The crowd positively erupted into applause, deafening the entire stadium. As they cheered, advertisements and endorsements blared across the Megaviewer, portraying Markward in various professional photographs, using expensive equipment, next to the live feed of the man himself as he strolled down the field. While Dak did not exactly envy the commercialism, it would have been nice to be a bit more recognizable by the general public.

He fumed silently to himself as the sand-colored dreamkeeper settled on the opposite side of the field, directly across from him, not thirty feet away.

[i]Relax, Dak, [/i]he thought to himself. [i]He's no better than you. Don't give in to his jeering. Just play the game right, and you'll beat that smug bastard. And most important, move quickly.[/i]

The rest of the Whirlwinds were announced, and took their respective places upon the field. Eight people to fill up seventy yards.


The Megaviewer lit up with an easy-to-see countdown, beginning from seventeen.

The Ballistics darted to their starting positions. As did the Whirlwinds. As Dak and the rest of his team expected, the Whirlwinds took a defensive stance, spreading positions one through three towards the pits further back.

The countdown rung at fourteen.

Dak expertly jumped to his own position, a forward stance just barely skirmishing the half line. Bree pulled up alongside him, and Mike and Warren held a combative flanking position, topping a cluster of pits at the quarter-line of the field.

The countdown rung at nine.

Dak braced himself on the ground, placing his pad-covered hands in the dirt. He looked up at Markward. The other first-position player was still smiling, but not making eye contact.

[i]What is he up to...[/i] Dak thought. The Whirlwinds had a few set positions, but Dak couldn't effectively counter them all. But this one, he could.

The Megaviewer flashed again. The countdown was at five.

Abrutply, the Whirlwinds darted to different positions, blaring across the field as fast as they could manage. Dak watched with horror as the Norvondire team switched seamlessly into an offensive position, formulated to combat their own.


They were going to be absolutely destroyed.


Instantly, Dak darted forward, rushing Markward's position. His paws scraped against the dirt as his arms pumped by his sides, tearing through the air at remarkable speeds. His rival did the same, rushing him towards the center of the field.

Before one second of the game was over, they met.

Dak made a motion to duck, sliding under Markward. The Whirlwind player mirrored him, meaning to block his actions and send him spiraling towards the pits.

At the last second, Dak pushed upwards, hurtling over Markward in a graceful lunge. He ducked in his arms, preparing to roll across the ground.

But Markward had anticipated this. One of his arms stuck into the air, colliding with Dak's leg and interrupting his hurdle.

The entire exchange took less than a second.

Dak tumbled into the dirt, crying out as the impact jarred his bones. He turned his head to see Markward continue pressing into his court, further into the field, and straight for their goal.


The crowd erupted into applause. Dak hauled himself to his feet, and towards the center of the field.

Bree was furious. "What the hell was that?!"

Dak grunted. "I went for a fake and hurtle, but he knocked my leg out and sent me to the dirt."

"Dak, you're the frigging [i]captain![/i] Don't hurtle, [i]weave![/i] You are fast but you still need to [i]dodge.[/i]"

"Alright, alright." Dak waved his arms. "They're going offensive. I think position nine is our best bet."

The team nodded, and they returned to new positions on the field. The Whirlwinds took the same position as before, and the timer wound down from three.


Again, Dak rushed his opponent. Markward went in for the collision, bracing his padded hand to knock into Dak's side.

Dak continued forward, and spun aside at the last possible instant. Markward's fist went into the air, and Dak countered him with a sharp jab to the hip, sending him tumbling into a pit with a startled cry. The wet splash of mud echoed from the hole.


Dak went hurtling forward, rushing towards the other side of the field. The Whirlwind third position, a short, wiry dreamkeeper, made to stop him, but Bree kept him occupied from falling into a cluster of pits towards the corner of the field.

Dak darted onto the goal line, breathing a sigh of relief as he ran upon the home team goal field.


Dak returned to his side of the field, meeting up with his team. He watched with a giddy expression as Markward was hauled out of the pit and hosed down, the first pitted player of the game.

"Told ya, dolt!" Bree complemented. "Dodging! It'll get ya places!"

Dak nodded, then turned towards Mike and Warren. "Guys, what was going on out there? I saw Bree pressing forward, and didn't hear any pit-points coming from you two. What's up?"

"The other players keep faking us out," Mike intoned. He was a large, burly sort, very soft-spoken. Fast enough to play a good defense. "They make to cross the field, then run back. They're not going anywhere."

"The third position tried to pummel me before you got that goal," Warren added, "but I stopped him. Was about to knock him in a nice hole, too, but then the round ended."

Dak nodded. "Okay. Okay. These rounds are going by pretty quick. Warren, your guy is pretty slow. So if he tries to fake you out, I want you to go for it anyway. Keep him occupied, and maybe we'll get a few pit points out of it. Otherwise, let's just keep with position nine."

Just then, the wind picked up. Dust blew off of the field and into the eyes of all of the players, making it hard to see. The new stadium structures, towering over their heads, swayed ominously in the breeze.

Dak and the team ran to their starting positions.

It was going to be a long game.

* * *

There were eight seconds left on the clock.

Dak looked at the large clock displayed on the Megaviewer, grimacing. Two hours of play time had flown by. They were six points under, and only enough time left for one more round.

It had been a neck and neck game, the entire way through. The breakneck pacing of Fallguard could make a winning game into a losing game in the blink of an eye, and back almost as quickly.

The wind had not died down, and the metal framework pillars towering over their heads swayed heavily over the field. It made Dak a little uneasy, but he tried not to let it bother him. Why would they build something like that if it was just going to fall down?

Currently, he was braced on the ground, ready to sprint into action for the final play. Glancing backwards, he could see Bree making eye contact.

The timer rung down and the play began.

Dak shot forward, and immediately occupied himself with Markward, who was more than happy to have a turnaround duel at the brink of two back-center pits. He could see Bree, out of the corner of his eye, making a beeline for the enemy goalfield while Mike rushed alongside her, jabbing the other second-position player with his gloved hands as Bree dove over him.

Dak dodged his head sideways as Markward made a reckless shot, jabbing his left arm straight at Dak's face. Dak slapped a glove onto his opponent's back, then shoved the sand-colored dreamkeeper sideways, teetering on the edge of a muddy pit.

Markward leaned forward, pushing his balance away from the hole, knowing well enough to keep the needed point from the Ballistics, but leaving himself very open to attack.

Dak happily sent him flying into the mud with a kick, knocking their score up another point. He looked up at the field with hope in his eyes. [i]If Bree clears before the timer runs out, we win![/i]

He caught sight of Bree, and then he heard the groaning. Like metal, straining. Breaking.

Like a film in slow motion, Dak watched in horror as the unfinished construction job broke free of its supports, and came hurtling down directly on top of Bree, as she ran for the opponent finish line.

She was going to be killed.

And then

[i]And then everything slowed down, and everything made sense.[/i]

[i]Dak began running, towards Bree. He could tell the descending construction was moving, and Bree, and everything else, but that didn't really matter. Bree was there and she was going to die and he just couldn't stand there and let that happen, now could he?[/i]

[i]Running was easy. Running was nice. He [b]liked[/b] running.[/i]

[i]The noise of the stadium and the audience sounded curiously distant, but he didn't really care.[/i]

[i]Not a moment later, he was only a few feet away from Bree. The descending monolith had hardly moved since he began his running, but that was fine. He deftly maneuvered beneath it, ducking his head to the side as he ran.[/i]

[i]Bree was there, not moving very fast either. Her hands were up, in small reflex of self-protection. [/i]

[i]Dak grabbed her into his arms and continued running.[/i]

[i]Then he was out of the shadow of the falling load of concrete and metal (though it wasn't falling very fast) and running, just running, because he had started running and he continued running and he was glad he was fast enough to-[/i]

Reality came rushing back to Dak as he slammed into a wall, Bree in his arms. He cired out and gasped, panting, as he crumpled onto the dirt, the audience behind the wall all clamoring to get a good look at him.

He gasped for air. [i]What just happened? It was so... serene.[/i] He looked around, confused, as the audience was yelling, and everyone on the field was looking at him.

Dak looked down at Bree, who was also looking at him, as stunned and confused as he was. "Bree, what's going on?"

Bree just blinked, not taking her eyes off of him. Slowly, she pointed to the Megaviewer.

Dak looked. There, in instant replay, was a shot of the field. It showed Dak, where he had knocked Markward into the pit, and Bree, underneath the falling stadium.

In horrifyingly slow motion, they showed Dak, as he was a few moments ago. A shining halo, bright green, shimmered to life above his head. It showed him bracing and pushing off of the ground, like he was starting a play.

The viewer had trouble keeping up with him then, as he ran faster than any springer-shot ever could, directly across the stadium, leaving a green-tinged light trail, behind him.

And then, they were both where they were, slumped against a stadium wall. The neon halo flickered out of existence and Dak began talking.

Then they showed it again.

Dak blinked.

Bree managed to get out a word between breaths. "Dak... Dak... you were... you..."

The clamoring of the crowd grew louder, as some foolish dreamkeeper in charge of the Megaviwer displayed Dak using his power, his power, to save Bree's life, over and over and over.

Realization hit Dak like a ton of bricks.


* * *

(Will continue sometime! Not soon though because of schoolwork!)
(I never re-registered for the new forums, so everything's a little odd to me. -_- Let me know if the italics work or not!)
(Also it's good to be back!)

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ilvos016/11/13 1:37am
I guess they don't. :/ In your mind, you must imagine the italics. [i]Envision[/i] the italics. Use the power of your mind to bring the italics into being.

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CalvinCopyright6/15/13 11:45am
Wow, this is really sweet. I can't wait to see more of this!

...You are writing more, right?

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AriaOutlander9/13/13 3:06pm
wow, read this while i was creeping the forums-- this is INSANEly good and I would highly recommend you introduce yourself to the RP board-- a fallguard RP would be HIGHLY appreciated among them.

(aka you necromanced me just for this comment-- that means that's r. good.)
honestly i don't know if you have or not, so if you have, cool.

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ilvos014/11/14 2:12am
The Fallguard Affair - Chapter 2

Realization hit Dak like a ton of bricks.


Bree turned her head to stare at him. After a moment, she jumped out of his arms, pushing him upright. “Run!”

Dak, still in a daze, looked at her. “Wha...?”

Bree was growing angry, Dak could see it in her eyes. “RUN! Run, you fucking idiot! Get the hell out of here!”

The clamoring crowd, in the stadium, had turned to a low murmuring, and there was a commotion towards the far side of the field, near the pits.

Dak shook his head. “No, Bree, I’m sorry I-“

“I don’t care about [i]me[/i], you fucking moron!” She pushed him again. “[i]You![/i] You’re never going to be heard from again unless you [i]get the hell out of here![/i]”

Further down the field, there was a scream. A sizable force of shock-troopers were pouring into the field, headed towards them. Mike and Warren tried to stop and talk to them, but the troopers knocked the two athletes aside.

“They’re going to lock you up, or banish you, or something. [i]Now go![/i]” Bree shouted.

“No, Bree.” Dak looked at her with a stern expression. “If I run, they’ll just try to shoot at me, and then they’ll [i]know[/i] I’m untrustworthy. If I just go with them, everything will work itself out. I mean, it was strenuous circumstances, right?”

The troopers were nearly halfway across the field.

Bree frowned. Behind her angry shouts, her eyes were glossy. “Dammit, Dak! You... You don’t know anything, do you?”

Dak just smiled, and slowly got to his knees, putting his hands in the air. The troopers were upon them now, their synchronous footsteps echoing against the field. “I’ll see you later, Bree.”

Bree was pulled aside, forcefully, by the gloved hands of several troopers. She didn’t struggle, as she knew they were liable to do more than just move her. “Dak...” she cried.

More springer rifles than Dak had ever seen were now leveled at his head. He just kept on his knees, hands in the air, and looked at the ground. Throngs of troopers surrounded him, covering every possible exit.

He could no longer see Bree. He didn’t try to move. One of the troopers checked in via radio. “Subject secure, no resistance.”

“I’m ready to come willingly,” Dak said aloud, still not looking up. “I’m-“

“Prepare subject for transportation.”

“I’m not resisting! See? I’m not-“

A trooper came up behind Dak, and rammed his head with the stock of his rifle. Dak grunted, and crumpled to the ground. His face in the dirt, the voices grew distant, and his vision began to fade.

* * *


Dak was swimming through an endless void. It took him a moment, but he eventually realized he, well, was. That the blackness was not nothing, but instead a void, in which he seemed to be floating.

It was very peculiar. He distinctly remembered being knocked unconscious. Had they dragged him here? Put him into this... whatever it was? Was that the punishment that awaited those who used their powers?

He tried calling out. “Hello? Is anyone there?”

In response, the silent void began to hum, with a low, faint frequency, that resonated like a bass.

“Hello?! I-I don’t know where I am, could someone-“

The humming changed. It zipped up the hertz until it was at a high squeal, before vanishing into the range above dreamkeeper hearing. Dak waited a moment, confused, before the sound came down again, the humming squeal bouncing around at an audible range.

“What is that? Who are you?”

The humming stabilized at a bearable pitch, before changing to an odd buzz, that also began to fluctuate incomprehensibly.

It was then Dak realized what the sound was. “Hello? Is that... Is that a radio?”

For indeed, the odd sound was identical to the tuning of an old-style radio. There were no radio stations anymore, and no one used such an old method of transmission, at least officially. But Dak had still heard comm channels and the occasional illegal music station, and the sound was identical.

The buzzing the sound had acquired began to take on an audible sound, like a very deep-pitched voice, but was still too off to hear. “Hello! Yes!” Dak yelled. “I’m here! Hello!”

The voice wavered in pitch, from too low to too high, and still buzzed occasionally. But Dak could make out a few words.

“####-ajoran, th-#### #### ######## ## ### ####-uard player? B## #### ### ###-rough #### ###### ###-an hear unt-#####”

Dak blinked. “Ajoran? Are you saying Majoran? Yes, that’s me! Hello! Can you hear me?!”

“### ## ###### # #### ### ### #-eally? That’s rather q-##### ### ### ### #### #-ut he seem# ########## #### # ## ### #-tly.”


“### ## #ear u# ####”

“### ###”

They were ignoring him. “...hello?”

Suddenly, instead of floating through the endless black void, Dak was falling. He screamed, but nothing came out of his mouth. He flailed his limbs, but he didn’t have any limbs, or a torso, nothing but his eyes and mind as he fell to his-

* * *

Dak jolted awake with a jolt. Startled, he stumbled off of his cot, hitting the cold, hard concrete with a thud. He stayed there for a moment, clutching his chest, trying to process what had happened.

After managing to calm down, he looked around. He was in a tiny room, with every side made of concrete. The cot he had fallen off of was a tiny metal one, with scratchy sheets. There was a metal toilet in the corner, and for some reason, a desk. A featureless metal door was across from him, and a tiny, inset phosphorescent light above.

He blinked, remembering what had happened at the stadium. “...Um.”

Okay, so they had thrown him in prison. Which, he supposed, made sense. Using a power would do that. [i]I just have to explain to them that it was an accident, and that I’m never going to do it again. Right? I mean, there were strenuous circumstances. Right?[/i]

[i]At least Bree is safe.[/i]

He blinked, righting himself on the ground, until he was sitting properly He still had his shoes, tightly laced to his feet, which gave him some measure of reassurance. He loved his shoes. [i]...But what was that thing while I was sleeping?[/i]

[i]Was I thinking... while unconscious?[/i]

That sounded impossible, but Dak knew better. Usually, when he went to sleep, there was nothing. His entire existence was paused until the instant he woke up. But several scientists had theorized, that it was possible to think and perform thought processes, while unconscious.

It just never happened. Well, not outside of science fiction.

Was that what had happened just now? Was someone trying to talk to him, when he wasn’t even there?


Dak glanced upwards. There was a security camera, in the corner, shrouded in shadow. It displayed a tiny red light, which remained constant.

He watched it for a moment. After another minute, the camera beeped again, and it swiveled a few degrees, towards the direction of the other corner of the room.


Dak stood up, taking a moment to gratefully stretch his stiff limbs. Peering closely at the camera, he tried holding up a hand and waving. “Hello? Can anyone hear me?” He waved for several moments more. “Anyone?”

No response. Tail twitching agitatedly, Dak grunted, taking a seat on the cot.

This wasn’t what he had expected. Dak had never shown any indication of powers before, and was of the common mindset that powers were dangerous, too dangerous to be used. But he had heard rumors of the occasional outburst, or a criminal being caught using. The well-worn phrase ‘strenuous circumstances’ was thrown around a lot wherever the rumors happened to go. Dak clung to the phrase, his only glimmer of hope.

“Strenuous circumstances.... Had to save Bree. Those are strenuous circumstances....” He took a deep breath, leaning his head against the wall behind the cot. “Strenuous-“

[i]Does this make me a cheater?[/i]

Dak’s eyes shot open, hair standing on end. [i]Oh spirits, oh spirits spirits spirits.[/i]

He had never [i]cheated[/i] in his life. Had he?

Dak had always loved running. From the time he was just a kid, he loved pushing his muscles, the burning sensation, and most of all the rush of the world rushing past him as he sped through the streets of the Talocan District. But if his power [i]was[/i] running, running fast, maybe that’s why he loved it so much? How did he know he’d never used it, even a little?

And more importantly, how did the [i]government[/i] know he never used it?

Dak’s heart began racing. Strenuous circumstances? Out the window. Dak Majoran wasn’t being tried for [i]one[/i] use, but a [i]lifetime[/i] of use.

It was with this thought in mind that the door to his cell let out a loud ‘clunk’, and was pushed open. Behind it was a very oily-looking dreamkeeper, in a poorly-fitted suit. A smug smile graced his features.

“Hello, Mr. Majoran. My name is Tucker. Care for a chat?”

* * *

Bree McCoroti was safe.

Well, safe as could be expected.

She had been held at the local Guard station, put into a small room with a table and a one-way mirror. [i]Seriously, who even falls for the mirror?[/i] She thought. [i]Everyone knows it’s a fucking window.[/i]

A guard, a somewhat fat one, had questioned her at-length about Dak. Where he was born, what he was like, how much she knew him. Typical stuff. But it grated on her nerves every time the fat bastard referred to Dak like he was already convicted.

“And Ms. McCoroti, how do you think the perp hid his power while using it on-field? Did you ever see-“

“Now wait just a [i]spirits damned minute![/i]” Bree slammed her fist on the table, shocking the fat asshole enough to drop his pen. “I don’t know about powers or rules or anything, but Dak Majoran is [i]not[/i] a cheater. Dak is my teammate, my captain, and my [i]friend[/i]. He may have saved my life, but he would never [i]cheat.[/i]”

The other dreamkeeper looked very nervous. “Oh, um, well, th-thank you, Ms. McCoroti.” He stumbled out of his chair and towards the door. “Those are all the questions. You should be free to go very soon.”

‘Very soon’ turned out to be another hour, before she was unceremoniously shuffled out of the Guard station and onto the street.

It was nighttime in the busiest section of Norvondire, in a square with many large, important-looking stone structures. Dreamkeepers jostled each other left and right, not paying mind to the frustrated woman who had just been shoved out of the Guard station.

Bree had no idea what to do. The game was obviously canceled, whether from government involvement or the fact that the stadium was still destroyed by shoddy architecture. [i]And even if it wasn’t,[/i] Bree thought, [i]our team is nothing without our captain, and we all know it. We need Dak.[/i]

Dak. He had risked, and most likely lost, [i]everything[/i] to save her life. Where was he? Bree didn’t know, but it made her worried. She had heard of a few instances of power usage, but never something so [i]public.[/i] If there were any allowances made for the context of the usage (the phrase ‘strenuous circumstances’ popped into her mind) they were only rumors, nothing more.

[i]And if they think he’s been using them to win games...[/i]

“...Shit.” Bree pounded her fists on her head. Trying to keep herself from screaming in rage. “Shit shit shit shit shit!!!”

“McCoroti!” A pleading voice came from behind her, inside the Guard station. Bree whirled around to see who might be the one dreamkeeper in all the world she didn’t want to.

“Markward!” She snarled. “Get lost. I don’t need your gloating. Save it for when you win the finals.”

Jamal Markward, captain of the Norvondire Whirlwinds, wasn’t very tall. Thick, sand-colored fur spread over his wiry frame, and his long ears poked out of his head expressively. Now, however, those ears were attentive, not aggressive. Markward seemed almost relieved to see her. “Bree, please, I’ve been waiting to speak with you for the last hour.”

“Out with it, Markward.”

He inhaled. “Bree–Can I call you Bree?–I’m not your enemy, here. I’m your opponent, but I wouldn’t wish anything like this on Dak, you know that.”

Tapping her foot, Bree begrudgingly nodded. “Fine, fine. I can accept that. Now what do you want.”

He nodded. “Listen, um, how well do you know Dak? How close are you two, I guess.”

“What do you mean, Markward.”

“Jamal, please. And I mean, well, you two. There are rumors, of course,” Jamal snorted, in an attempt to lighten the conversation. Bree didn’t smile. “I mean, nevermind the rumors. What I’m saying is, if Dak were in trouble, how far would you go to help him? I need to know if you’re willing to risk your own safety, and the life you know, to help him.”

Bree paused. This wasn’t the cocky, footsure captain on all the Datascroll ads. Markward was trying to be honest with her, and it was kind of weirding her out. But his honesty had the desired effect–she actually considered his words.

[i]How far would you go to help Dak, Bree?[/i] She had known him for years. They often got drunk together.

They were friends. Were they more?

Bree leveled her stare back at Jamal, who shrunk visibly. “Markward, Dak is never going to play Fallguard again, never be [i]seen[/i] again, because he saved [i]my life.[/i]” She reached forward and placed a hand on his shoulder, gripping tightly. It was not a comforting hand, gripping Jamal painfully.

“I can happily say I would do the same.”

Jamal exhaled, nodding quickly. “Well, good, because you will.”

* * *

(Keeping it in the 2000-something range, here's a bleated chapter two.)
(More to come)
(Italics still in useless brackets. Better than nothing, I guess.)
(Sorry to disappoint those who thought this would be a Sports fic. It's not.)
(Well sorta)

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