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SCIAG

Call of Sport 2205: World at War

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I sprinted for dear life, not looking back. I knew they were after me, and I knew they were faster than me. Sweat poured down my face. I had not had a huge head start, but I had the element of surprise, and I probably knew the area better. On the other hand, they had guns, and I didn’t.

I rounded a corner, heading round the back of the derelict primary school. The learning chips had rendered it useless; why get educated when all it takes is a £50 brain upgrade and a thirty second scan every three months? My Grandfather had been one of the last to be educated the old fashioned way.

“They don’t know how good they’ve got it, the youth of today,” he used to say. “If they’re hungry, they just chew gum. If they want to know something, they just ask for it in their head. We used to have to use old Wikipedia. We’d use the search function for minutes on end, trying to find an article related to what we had to research. And they don’t have to do research at all, because they don’t have schools. And they don’t have to use their imaginations, because of that new fangled brain-wave book technology. Aye, they’ve got it easy alright.”

Yeah, so easy, Grandpa. Did you have to run from constabulary in your time?

A voice in my head answered my question for me. “Aloysius Derby was chased by law enforcers on two separate occasions. The former was on charges of hover board theft, the second on charges of Chip Sabotage.”

I reached the school gates. I leaped over them in a single stride. The entrance to the Underground was in front of me; I allowed myself to float into it. A bullet roared over my head. It was the wake up call I needed. They were even closer than I thought they were.

I was at the bottom of the entrance. I sprinted forwards, dodging the members of the public. It was possible my pursuers had my DNA. If they didn’t, I knew I was safe now. If they did, they might open fire. Then I would be in mortal peril once again.

I stepped through the barrier to the platform, the machine automatically taking the fee out of my bank account. The train pulled up with perfect timing, which had never been more convenient. I stepped on as the doors slid open. Everyone on the platform stepped onto the train, and there were no remaining requests to leave the train from the passengers already on it, so it started up less than fifteen seconds after pulling into the station.

I was free.

Then a bullet smashed the window in front of me, like a snowball hurled at an icy spider’s web.

There were screams of hysteria from my fellow passengers, but the train entered the safe darkness of the tunnel and I was away from them. For now. I knew that all the stations on the line would be heavily guarded within minutes, and truth be told I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had shown up at the next station and hauled me off the train there and then.

However, when we arrived at the next station, I left the train with no difficulty at all.

I stepped forward casually. In the large crowd, the cameras wouldn’t capture my face unless I was acting suspiciously- the government had passed a law calling CCTV cameras “intrusive” some seven years beforehand, and banned them from retaining their footage for more than a few seconds unless they showed details of illegal activities.

I was out of the station and back into the open. A pigeon flew in front of me- why did one of the few remaining wild animal species have to also be the stupidest?

I soon found out why the gormless bird had flapped in my path.

Behind me, over one hundred law enforcement officers, armed to the teeth with guns that even the army didn’t have access to, swarmed into the station. The crowd threatened to burst into a monsoon of panic. I heard the screams and bolted for it. Five or fifty bullets zipped past me, followed by a ton of pigeons. They were enough of a distraction for me to make a get away. More sprinting, this time to my left, away from the station, allowed me some safety, though my sides told me I should have given up. Nearly a kilometre later, I turned left again, down a dark alleyway. I crouched behind a set of stone steps, my only defence against my chasers. They’d have back up from the air arriving, this hiding place wouldn’t be any good for long. They’d scour ever inch of the city on foot and with their helicopters, every building would be invaded in the hope of catching me, every dustbin turned inside out, and then they’d turn their attention to the derelict sewers. There would be heat scans, my footprints would be found, and I would, eventually, be thrown before the merciless Supreme Judge.

I could hear the rush of traffic on the road. There were no sirens, however, and no whirling helicopter blades. Just streams of cars and buses, driving past at fifty or so. Then, I heard the distinct sound of one pulling up at the end of the alley. Was it an undercover law enforcement squadron? I held my breath, making myself as small as possible behind the steps. There was the sound of the car door opening and shutting again. Then, I heard the one voice I most longed to hear in the world.

“Danny, get in the car.”

It was Roy. I came out from my hiding place, stood up, and faced him. He stood outside his battered old Porsche, cigarette in his mouth, his six foot of pure bulk towering over me. He was risking as much as I was in the open, if not more, and, from past experience, I would have been surprised if he hadn’t. The more astounding thing was that he hadn’t set off a hand grenade to alert the law enforcers to our location. Without question, I stepped towards his vehicle. A hundred years ago, this would have been one of the nicest cars on the market. However, since the collapse of Formula 1, the motor industry had changed completely, and Porsche went bankrupt. Their remaining cars were no longer the height of fashion; quite the opposite, which explained why Roy had bought one. Nevertheless, they were now old enough to be considered retro, and they were increasing seen on the streets.

I bent inside the car. Roy opened his door, turned the key in the ignition, and drove off, his door still flapping wildly. I groan silently. Roy may have been my friend, but if he wasn’t careful he’d get us killed.

Though, come to mention it, that was a bit hypocritical, considering my lifestyle choice.

Our lifestyle choice.

The lifestyle choice that made us two of the most wanted men on the face of the Earth. We’d mostly got away with it, until now. I’d been careless, and I had got every friend I had ever had into trouble. Fortunately, it seemed that they had all escaped unharmed. Just to be on the safe side, however...

“How are the others?”

Roy’s dark brown eyes pierced me from the rear view mirror with a look I will never forget.

“They scattered. Most of ‘em got away fine. The officers followed you, except for three of them. They noticed Mike’s limp and went after him. I couldn’t just let them ‘aul ‘im away. I smashed one of ‘em up, picked up Mike and legged it.”

Articulation was not Roy’s strong point, but bravery was. We called him “The Lumberjack”.

“The two who were left didn’t give up, and eventually they got us cornered. I put Mike down and faced ‘em. There was a stray metal bin. I rolled it towards ‘em. One cleared it, the other didn’t and ‘e went flying back into the wall with a crack.”

“That left just the one. He opened fire. I leapt back, and the bullet hit Mike square in the chest. Right on ‘is ‘eart. He collapsed limp on the floor.”

“The guy kept firing, but ‘e couldn’t ‘it me. One of the bullets when flying into one of ‘em electric box things and the ‘ole place blew up. I went flying, Mike’s body went flying, and everything was zipping round the air. The enforcer got ‘it by something big. I ran for it, I even forgot Mike’s body.”

I was in shock. He’s not dead, Roy’s ‘aving, I mean, having, you on, said a voice in my head.

The chip lodged in my brain would be no good. It only updated with solid fact, and Mike’s death wouldn’t become fact until he was identified- which, as his birth hadn’t been registered, would take a while- and it was decided that such information would be safe. There were no current events, either, and it had to be just the right question, or you’d get a blank return.

“Danny, he’s dead. That’s the simple truth. There was nothing I could do. At least now he doesn’t have to live in fear.”

I could tell from the tone of his voice that he was telling the truth. It was just too much.

“This is my fault. I caught their attention; I risked all our lives...”

“We were all risking our lives just being there. We’re constantly risking our lives. Anyway, Mike would have got away if he didn’t have that limp. The limp I gave him last week.”

“Roy, you didn’t mean to injure him...” I said, trying to comfort my friend.

“And you didn’t mean to give us away. It just happened. Neither of us is to blame for Mike’s death, Danny. Remember that.”

He stopped.

“We’re here.”

We waited for over two minutes, checking for any surveillance. When we were sure we weren’t being watched, we left the vehicle.

We were round the back of an abandoned shopping centre. It was surrounded by vacant office blocks that weren’t going to get new clients any time soon. The shopping centre was the perfect hide out from the law enforcers.

Roy went first. There was a small fire exit concealed behind the ivy that had naturally grown up over it. He brushed it aside, and smote on the door with vigour.

It opened a crack, and a familiar pair of eyes was revealed behind the crack. The eyes fixed themselves on first Roy, and then me. They then glanced back at Roy.

“Are you alone?” asked the owner of the voice, in an upper-class English accent.

“Yes, Jeremy, we wouldn’t be stupid enough to lead the cops here, would we?” Roy responded.

The door slammed shut, and then opened again almost instantaneously.

In front of us stood Jeremy English, one of the men I had accidentally betrayed the same day. He was about six foot tall, but not very strong. He was the only one of my... friends who shaved regularly. He’d had a good life waiting for him with his family, but he’d thrown the money, comfort, and safety away to be with us. He was supposed to be handsome, having been engaged to a beautiful woman, but with our routine, he wasn’t likely to stay that way.

For Roy, Jeremy, our teammates and I, were all criminals.

Some fifty years previously, a man was killed in a park by another man.

The murder was avenging his son.

The victim was a referee who had just sent off the man’s child in the middle of a game of football.

As a great man once said, football is much more than a matter of life or death.

This incident led to international outrage. It was just the last in a long series of events that had caused large amounts of controversy. All had taken place in the British Isles, all had involved football. Glasgow was the epicentre, where fans of the cities two major clubs regularly faced off against each other, with terminal results. The East End of London, Moss-side in Manchester and the most northern section of the Republic of Ireland were also the place of several fatalities.

The number of cases where football was the cause of the losses was going through the roof. Experts estimated it at approximately 200 football-related deaths a year, and rising. Parliament was under masses of pressure. And, like all good governments do, it gave into it. Football in all its forms was outlawed nationwide. The rest of Britain’s governments soon followed suit, as did those of many other countries. Within a year, all the EU members had the sport outlawed, as did the whole of the Orient and even parts of South America, notably Brazil. The USA did likewise with the minimum of fuss, the sport never really reaching popularity on the other side of the lake. Canada followed the example of its neighbours, citing similar reasons. Very few countries remained where playing the sport was legal. All professional football clubs disabandoned, and UEFA was quickly forced to follow due to having no members. FIFA was severely weakened without three quarters of its members, and it gradually faded out of existence with the years.

In Britain, however, many still held a huge passion for the game. And whilst most were put off by the threat of capital punishment, there were a few who risked it. They set up amateur football sides, who played in secret locations, continually changing, so as to avoid the detection of the police, or, as they were now called, the Law Enforcement Force Troops. Colloquially known as LEFT, for short, they received more taxpayers’ money than any other worthy source, and had the latest state-of-the-art technology made available to them. They carried guns that could fire homing bullets that tracked a person’s DNA. They had large Sikorsky helicopters armed with heavy firepower. They could scan whole cities for sources of heat, thus discovering a delinquent hiding in a broom cupboard; however, they needed licenses for this, and these would normally take a long time to be handed out. This was the only thing stopping them from finding the hiding places of the new football sides. Without sufficient suspicion that the actually hideouts were actually home to the outlaws, they couldn’t run the scans.

That was why I had been chased and shot at. It was why Mike Aldridge was dead. It was why we lived our lives in constant fear of them being cut short at any second.

And it was worth it.

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Wow.

Actually, I had an idea which was a little too similar to this. Scratch that :(

Great start though!

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This looks more of a book than a story written by amateurs in a Football Forum!

Great start, hope to see more. This could be in for an award next year.

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This could be in for an award next year.

Hold your horses, he's only just started and you're predicting he might win an award!

Edit: It is very good though :D

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They had large Sigorsky helicopters armed with heavy firepower.

This is a tremendous start. But, God help me, I can't resist .. it's "Sikorsky" :D

You proof my footballers and I'll proof your helicopters. Will be following closely!

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Tremendous first post, SCIAG - it'll be a cracking story if you can maintain that standard. :thup:

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I couldn't resist the title... :p

Great start, although I think my brain is fully in holiday mode cause I was getting a bit confused as to what was going on, but it's really well written and certainly interesting enough to grab your attention!

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Cracking start - looks like being a good one

Thanks Bob, actually went out the way to make it longer than the OPs of When the Belfast Celts sing again and An American Pilgrimage. I thought that even if it was utter toss, there would be a lot of it.

Great start mate. Been looking forward to this one.

Tah bcu.

Wow.

Actually, I had an idea which was a little too similar to this. Scratch that

Great start though!

No real reason why they can't run together.

brilliant opening post there, looks good

Thanks Paul.

This looks more of a book than a story written by amateurs in a Football Forum!

Great start, hope to see more. This could be in for an award next year.

You calling us amateurs? I had an article published once, and got a slice of pizza in return (no joke)!

Hold your horses, he's only just started and you're predicting he might win an award!

Edit: It is very good though

You're right, I don't think a single post is enough to base such an assumption on. I have to bypass Copper and 10-3 to be in with a chance. Thanks for the praise though.

This is a tremendous start. But, God help me, I can't resist .. it's "Sikorsky"

You proof my footballers and I'll proof your helicopters. Will be following closely!

Corrected, thanks. I blame Microsoft for having the incorrect spelling in their spell checker.

There were a few typos actually. But I let them slip on account of sheer brilliance.

Neither I nor my spell checker could find them. Please point them out to me? Note: nothing Roy says is ever a typo.

Anyway, both of you, thanks for the praise.

Brilliant start

Again, thanks.

Top notch , but we wouldn't expect anything else from you

Flattery, Mark. Thanks.

Love the start youve made SCIAG.

I sound like a broken record... thanks!

Tremendous first post, SCIAG - it'll be a cracking story if you can maintain that standard.

Maintain the standard? I'll try my best.

This is excellent (not that I'd expect anything less)!

More flattery. Merci.

Apart from possibly the most groan making title ever, this story is absolutely brilliant.

Danke schon. Thought long and hard about the title, quite liked this option.

I couldn't resist the title...

Great start, although I think my brain is fully in holiday mode cause I was getting a bit confused as to what was going on, but it's really well written and certainly interesting enough to grab your attention!

The idea was to make the title hard to resist. The opening had to be fast paced, so really it helps if you read every word, because skipping or not absorbing a single word can change the direction of the story completely (just ask JK).

Rancer, thanks. Just refreshed and saw your comment.

Anyway, here comes part two!

The squad consisted of players from all over the world, even if the spine was primarily British.

My name was Danny Derby, attacking midfielder. I was known for my long shots, passing, and especially free kicks. I was born and raised in Hampshire, before escaping to play football for The Cockney Mafia, as the side were called. I was entering my third year with the club, despite only being 21.

Roy “Lumberjack” Davies was the team’s captain and my best mate. He was the son of Argon Davies, founding member of The Cockney Mafia. He’d spent his life knowing he would follow in his father’s footsteps. However, Argon had shared his son’s recklessness, and had been killed when Roy was 16. Roy immediately agreed to start playing full time for the club, taking the captain’s armband after a year. He was now 25 and entering his testimonial year, a remarkable achievement, especially considering his unruliness. He played centre back, leading from the defence.

One of the other relative veterans was Jeremy English. He was 23, and already the scorer of more than 100 goals for the club. He played up front, and although he stood six foot tall, was better with the ball at his feet than in the air.

The final Englishman was another Cockney, Ryan Di Gaulto, goalkeeper. As his name suggested, his father was an Italian. He came from the poor southern half of the country, but his passion for the sport had been great, as had Ryan’s English mother. Mr Di Gaulto abandoned his country of birth in an attempt to get Ryan into the more structured football set up in Britain. Since then, the unofficial Genoa Calcio Serie had been set up, but it was nowhere near the level of the British League. That was why Lucas Volman, the Italian/Dutch striker, had signed for The Mafia.

The club’s other British players were Welsh defender David Lewis, who could play anywhere in the back line, and Glenn Fitzpatrick, an Irish left winger who qualified as British under new laws. Lewis’ mother was a daughter of a Welsh international, but Fitzpatrick had no footballing background. He had simply been spotted by a scout from Cork United, the only Irish team in the British League, playing football with his mates. It was his first time, and he’d outclassed the others, dribbling past them with ease. Fitzpatrick was genetically lucky- his parents had won the lottery before he was born, and although the amounts were much smaller than they had been in the 21st century, they had enough to live comfortably.

The club’s other winger was Ramiro Cruz. The Mexican stood 5’10, and was extremely agile. Mexico had been one of the last countries to outlaw football, which meant Cruz was the only international in the squad. His best friend was Carlos Mysterious, a Peruvian midfielder who was capable in several positions. Mysterious was better known as The Stig by his team mates, as, with the exception of Cruz, none of them had ever heard him speak, some even presuming him dumb.

The other Spanish speaker in the squad was Brazilian Haowan, the final striker. Raised by Spanish parents, he’d honed his skills on the streets of Rio. The sort of striker that liked to drop deep, he was a stereotypical Brazilian footballer, with lots of flair and goals. Brazil had outlawed football, but the law was not enforced, and great amounts of amateur-level soccer and joga bonito were still played on the streets and beaches.

Edgar von Billerwagner was a Dutch central midfielder with an eye for a pass. However, when the going got tough, he wasn’t afraid to put in a tackle. Von Billerwagner was, as far as he knew, the only Dutchman playing football, worldwide. The rest of his country had accepted the law, albeit grudgingly in some cases. Holland’s police force had claimed the life of Edgar’s best friend only two years beforehand, claiming him “the last rebel”. They had no idea about von Billerwagner’s continued defiance.

The club’s second choice goalkeeper was Greek Benjas, who had an unpronounceable surname that wouldn’t fit on the back of his shirt. Like in Brazil, football still had a strong following in Greece, where the police didn’t bother stopping football. In fact, it was even tolerated, with what had been the country’s second league still running (Olympiakos Volou being the ten-time reigning champions).

Torsten Erdberren stood 6’6, the tallest member of the side. Erdberren played centre half, the height to go with Roy’s aggression. Unfortuanately, he stood out in a crowd just a smidgen, endangering the entire team on every away trip.

Finally, there was the only non-outlaw in the squad, New Zealand born and bred Rangi Henare. Henare played defensive midfield, though he looked more like a rugby lock. A man mountain of Māori descent, he stood 6’4 and the same wide. Henare had turned down the All Blacks to play for The Cockney Mafia, knowing that football meant more to him than rugby, and that juggling both would be impossible.

Then there was the manager, Scotsman Andy McMorton. McMorton had played with both Roy and his father, and was said to be a carbon copy of both of them. A tough tackling right back, he’d retired at the end of the previous season, knowing that his career was only going one way. He had been inspirational at times, making up for Roy’s concentration errors with last-gasp tackles. It would be hard for him to get a job away from football, so he had to continue lying low from the law with the squad.

Then there had been Michael, a left back of some promise. The youngest member of the squad at 16. Now he was dead, and the squad, which had been thin on the ground anyway, was now thoroughly depleted. We had a starting eleven and three subs. That wouldn’t be enough to last the season, considering that most teams had a player or two like Roy, the sort who wouldn’t be allowed near a pitch in the 21st century.

Players were hard to come by at the time. The majority of people valued their lives higher than the pleasure they received from playing the beautiful game. It would be unfair to persuade someone who was unwilling, and next to impossible to find someone who was willing. In any case, considering the bounty placed on the head of any footballer, we couldn’t exactly hand out leaflets on the streets.

With thanks to members of the CSE forum for helping me with names. tomsmith1989, Haowan, Romanista1994, Fitzaay, blowcrapup, PaulHartman71, O'Hara fan, ssestig, Benjaminoo, Lower Leagues Rule, Greasy Chip Butty and evry1sfavedave. The rest of the players will make it in at a future date. Also, I've had to remove smilies from the quoted extracts as I can only post 4 images. Mad.

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Aw, I don't want to waste a comment finding typos... Too enjoyable for that!

Loving it still.

Hm. One I noticed was hypercritical which I assumed was meant to be hypocritical, but on second thoughts could easily be either. I think hypocritical works better, but whatever works for you.

"Fatilities" instead of fatalities in the paragraph beginning "This incident led to international outrage" or whatever.

That's it, I think.

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Slice of pizza? You lucky dog you...

I've not received anything other than a pat on a back and praise from the priest at my local church for writing an article for the monthly church newspaper...

Still, your story is absorbing and fast-paced defitnely, but you've paused and laid out the characters, not something I would do(if you've read my stories, I jump straight into the action).

However, a Brazillian named Haowan?

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With the amount of brazilians that play in China and Japan, id hazard a guess hes a half and half. But im usually wrong ;) Keep it up SCIAG.

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However, a Brazillian named Haowan?

Haha yes! I originally named him Madridstas Haowan the Spanish striker but it was changed to Brazilian for the sake of the story.

Great start SCIAG! I hope it continues.

KUTGW!

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With the amount of brazilians that play in China and Japan, id hazard a guess hes a half and half. But im usually wrong ;) Keep it up SCIAG.

Right as well!

I AM half chinese (or Hong Kong-nese) in real life =D

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Still loving it. Plus I get credit for naming the only Dutch player left in the world. KUTGW!

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Guest roberto922

Another fantastic post, looking forward to this one :)

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Awesome stuff SCIAG I can't wait to see where you take this. Did you do a whole bunch of database editing to set this up, or are you just using nicknames and your imagination?

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I curse myself for missing this the first time as it's bloody brilliant - excellent work SCIAG :)

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Right as well!

I AM half chinese (or Hong Kong-nese) in real life =D

Hey I am half-Chinese too! (technically HK-nese too) :D

I'm Canadian born Chinese :)

KUTGW SCIAG :thup:

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Guest roberto922

So you're half French and half Hong Kongese rancer? ;)

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SCIAG this a fantastic start. If the rest of the story carries on like the start then you will please and delight many readers of this forum. KUTGW!

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So you're half French and half Hong Kongese rancer? ;)

French? What's French? Je ne parle pas francais! ;)

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Thanks for the continuing praise guys!

Nationalities- to be fair Haowan, you did ask for four nationalities, none of which were Chinese. :) Rancer, you're charecter's role has been decided, and you don't need to worry about him being French.

Relatively short update this time guys, but the next few are even better than the first one.

McMorton approached Roy.

“Davies, where the blazes is Aldridge?” he asked, fuming.

Roy hesitated nervously, something I never thought I’d see from him.

“Look, lad, I know he went off with you, I just don’t know what happened after that. I was slightly engaged with the thought of my own survival, y’know?”

“Gaffer...” Roy began, anxiously. “He’s dead. They shot him. I got away, though.”

McMorton paused, stunned. Then he turned away, scratching the back of his head as he did so.

“Gold medal for stating the bloomin’ obvious, Davies. See, if you didn’t get away, you wouldn’t be here now, would you? Great. That really limits our defensive options. You, Lewis and Erdbeeren. That’s it. And we’ve got Theale Tigers next week. They’ll play us off the park if we can’t defend.” Then he cupped his hands to his mouth and bellowed out to the supermarket. “Emergency team meeting, over here, NOW!”

The team scuttled over like trained ants. The ball Fitzpatrick had been juggling was still bouncing as they gathered around their manager.

“Sit.” It was an order, not a request. I felt my legs following it, and all of us touched the ground at the same time.

“Lads, I’m afraid to tell you that they’ve killed Mike. The squad was looking a bit patchy before this, so to be down another man is not good news.” He said this as if the loss of a player was more important than the loss of Mike’s life. “Therefore, I’m going to need to shuffle the pack a bit. The Stig is going to play left wing, and Fitzpatrick, you’ll be at left back.”

I knew Glenn would be dissappointed at this news. He wasn’t a defender, and to be honest I actually thought we’d be better off using two left wingers and no left back. If the Irishman felt upset, he didn’t show it, not want to convey any weakness over to McMorton.

“I think I may as well take this oppurtunity to announce the rest of the side. Di Gaulto, you’ll be between the sticks. We’ll have a back line of Lewis, Davies, Erdberren and Fitzpatrick. The central midfield pairing will be von Billerwagner and Henare, with The Stig and Cruz on the flanks. Finally, I’ll go with Haowan and English up front.”

My heart fell. I hadn’t made the team.

“That leaves a bench of Benjas, Derby and Volman. Tactically, we need to defend in numbers and then counter attack, the Tigers won’t let us win any other way. Get the ball wide, and then whip it in for Jeremy’s head. Dismissed.”

It was back to ball juggling and 3 a side matches for the others. However, as Benjas followed them, I grabbed his arm.

“Fancy trying to save some free kicks?” I joked.

The Greek grinned. “Bring it on.”

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Guest roberto922

Good once again :thup: Out of interest, have you taken any inspiration at all from Fallout 3? It just seems to remind me of it for some reason. KUTGW.

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Haven't played Fallout, any of them, so no. Though I am partly inspired by COD4, come to mention it. That will become apparent in a few updates.

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Haven't played Fallout, any of them, so no. Though I am partly inspired by COD4, come to mention it. That will become apparent in a few updates.

Did you ever play COD4 online? Xbox? PS3?

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Did you ever play COD4 online? Xbox? PS3?

I've played it offline on both platforms, and online on the PS3. Never played single player though.

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I should make it clear that COD was not the sole inspiration for the story, simply for a certain part of it that will appear in a few chapters time.

5th September 2205

It was the day of our game against the Tigers. We set off early, at seven, for a three o’clock kick off. We trudged through a gap between two of the office blocks. Then we reached the main road. Here we split into four groups. The gaffer took Fitzpatrick, Di Gaulto and Volman off to find a taxi. Roy headed off with Benjas, Ramiro Cruz and Henare to find another one. The next group, lead by Jeremy English, contained Lewis, von Billerwagner and Haowan. Finally,I was in a group lead by Erberren. With us was Carlos Mysterious, who has wearing a pair of over-sized sunglasses. We were taking the biomass fuelled bus, and would pay using old fashioned cash rather than our chips.

A bus pulled up at the bus stop after several minutes. Torsten gave the bus driver the money, along with the excuse that “I vill not risk having my money in digital vorm, he’s broke and he’s Peruvian.” The poor driver seemed to accept this, and we sat down near the front of the bus.

Half an hour later, we reached our stop. I nudged the Stig, and he followed us off. We didn’t make eye contact with the driver, as doing so would help him recall our faces (though he’d struggle to recall the Stig’s anyway).

I spotted Roy waiting with his group on a street corner a good twenty metres away. It was the meeting point. We had to make our meeting look as casual as possible. Roy had positioned them by a cinema, as if waiting for a friend.

Jeremy English’s group rounded the corner and walked past the others. It was deliberate. They’d catch up with us later. However, we had to get to our team mates. Torsten gestured for us to follow him. We did so, though we showed no sign of acknowledgement.

We approached the group at the corner. None of us so much as looked at each other, until Torsten greeted Roy like an old friend he hadn’t seen for a while. Carlos and I followed suit, welcoming Rangi, Ramiro and Benjas back into our lives as if we hadn’t had contact with them for several years. Then our car pulled up. We all knew exactly what to do. We opened the doors and got in, squeezing up to make room for Henare and Erdberren. The car was designed for seven people, not nine and two man mountains. McMorton was behind the wheel, with his group already squashed in. He set off. Not a word had been exchanged between any two players since we entered the car, and in the dark of the vehicle, none of us felt like doing so. The blacked out windows didn’t allow us to see the outside world. None of us, apart from the manager, had the foggiest where we were.

The car turned abruptly, and I was sent into the hulking mass of Rangi Henare. I felt Volman’s black, shoulder length hair brush against my face. Then, just as everyone had upright themselves, McMorton slammed on the brakes. We were all thrown forward once more. Somebody was now sitting on me- I heard a muffled apology, which I presumed was from Ryan due to his accent- and my eyes were burnt by the sudden influx of sunlight. The doors were opening. The team scrambled out as quickly as they could. The weight off my back, I followed, still dazed from the bright light.

We walked as one towards the white van-cum-lorry that would be the next leg of our journey. English’s group had already got there, and were waiting in the back for us to join them.

This time, we could see light from inside our hiding place. Ryan Di Gaulto would be driving- it had been decided that he was the one who looked most like a HGV driver- and Andy would take the passenger seat. The rest of us sat on benches in the back of the van.

After around an hour, we stopped. Di Gaulto was not a good driver. He hadn’t actually past his test, and we were using expertly forged documents (or, at least, von Billerwagner had claimed they were) to pass for a license, insurance, and tax disk.

We were in a park. An open field. To one side stood a lake, which had a large growth of shrubbery on the far shore. To the other stood a row of ancient oak trees. Their leaves would provide some shelter. At the other end of the pitch was an embankment, which was sandwiched between the pitch and a railway line. We had come through the only gate in the wall that lined our end of the pitch. My fears eased. The space was not as open as I had feared; instead, we were relatively safe and covered.

The Tigers waited at the other end of what would be our pitch. Silently, they moved forward, and set up the two poles we would use as goal posts, and attached another, horizontal beam that would serve as a cross bar. We set up a similar goal at our end, though it was Benjas and Ryan alone who set it up, so as to avoid any fingerprints getting on the goal. We were ready to start the match. We just needed one thing.

A thickly dressed man strolled between two of the oak trees, with a greyhound by his side. We ducked for cover as a unit. However, the man ignored us. He bent down to let the dog off its lead. It trotted away onto the other side of the trees. Then the man pulled off his sweatshirt. Underneath it was a black t-shirt, and around his neck was a whistle. He was our referee.

I jogged over to the side of the pitch with Benjas and Lucas Volman. The three of us kept ourselves warm- the other two in a game of 1-on-1, I by jogging up and down the line.

We kicked off. The match started slowly, with neither side wanting to risk giving away an early goal.

Our first chance came after twelve minutes. Von Billerwagner slid the ball out to Cruz, who beat his man and crossed low. Haowan just missed the target.

The Tigers pushed us hard, with Roy and Torsten resorting to some real last gasp defending. They threw their bodies in the way of shots, climbed higher than the opposition strikers to head clear, and risked serious injury. Rangi was almost playing as a third centre half.

After several minutes of bombardment, Erdberren managed to get the ball out to Fitzpatrick. The Irishman played the ball up the line, and Mysterious got onto it. He came inside his man, onto his stronger right foot. He was harassed by the opposing central midfielders, but he skipped past them. As he reached the centre of the pitch, he slid a pass through. Haowan got on the end of it, forcing a good save from the Tigers’ goalkeeper. Jonny pounced on the rebound, but the keeper was too quick, getting a hand on his shot before smothering the ball altogether.

Next it was the turn of the Tigers to come close. Fitzpatrick was caught out of position, but their striker made a mess of the chance given to him by their right winger. Fitzpatrick breathed a sigh of relief. He was off the hook.

It was a return to the norm now, with The Stig the only threat when The Mafia went forward. The Peruvian won a free kick on the edge of the area. I was disappointed not to be on the pitch. This was right in my range.

Glenn and Edgar stood over the ball. It was Edgar who struck it, bringing back memories of Dutch free kick takers from Koeman to Sneijder to Poldervaart. However, his shot flew a good five yards over the bar.

It was back to last gasp defending for the remainder of the half, with David Lewis saving the skins of his fellow defenders with a saving tackle. The lack of depth in the squad was plain for anyone to see. Both full backs were not in their preferred positions. The opposition wingers were having a great time, especially the one on the right flank, who was beating Fitzpatrick every time he got on the ball. However, he was having no joy with his crossing, though one of their substitutes informed me that he’d set up the majority of their twenty three goals that season.

The ref blew for half time, allowing the gaffer to make some alterations. Well, one alteration. I came on for Von Billerwagner, who had taken a knock.

It took seven minutes for me to get my first touch, but it was a beauty. I received a pass at knee height, and scooped it forward for Haowan. The Brazilian ran away with the ball, before knocking it into the path of Jonny English, who tapped it away for an easy goal. He went wild, knocking over the corner flag in celebration.

The Tigers responded in the only way they knew. Their central midfielder beat Haowan and then dribbled around me, before hitting a sweet shot from a good thirty five yards out. It looked destined to fly into the top corner, but Di Gaulto stopped it with a flying save which earned applause from the opposition.

The Stig was the next player to get a chance. Receiving the ball on the left again, he cut inside once more before letting rip. The opposition goalkeeper was beaten, but the ball hit the post before bouncing away for a goal kick. Now we had the upper hand, Rangi testing the goalkeeper with one of his trademark piledrivers (he just hit them really hard and hoped they hit the target. It wasn’t that successful). Roy nearly scored a header from a corner, and Fitzpatrick found his way into the box with a surging run before putting it wide. Haowan crossed from deep, but English couldn’t direct his header past the opposition goalkeeper. The last chance of the match fell to me. Lucas Volman, newly on for Haowan, laid the ball off to me. I hit it first time, and for the second time that match, the woodwork came to the rescue for the Tigers.

With a mere ten minutes remaining, the ref’s greyhound ran onto the pitch. We all knew what this meant. Both sides looked to the touchlines, but the ref assured our worries.

“He’d be barking his head off if we were in imminent danger. Just make sure you get away quickly at the end of the match, okay?”

We played on, but neither side could really concentrate on the match itself now. McMorton subbed off Ryan Di Gaulto for Benjas as a precautionary measure, and the half Italian turned on the engine of our vehicle to aid any emergency escape.

Then the dog went crazy. In the distance, I heard the distinctive sound of helicopter blades.

They were coming.

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Guest roberto922

Another great update, KUTGW

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Still loving this. I had the shrinking problem as well. I think its something to do with writing in word then copy and pasting it. (Thats what did it for me)

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I had the shrinking problem as well. I think its something to do with writing in word then copy and pasting it. (Thats what did it for me)

I thought that was for dramatic effect! :D

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