On the bridge of his flagship, Slaughter of Stillwater, stood Darth Visor, the galaxy’s most feared offensive mind. He gestured to a technician via the bridge's main viewscreen to begin transmission.
As the viewscreen came to life, it revealed the men charged with planning the Empire’s defensive strategies – Bill Young and Glenn Spencer. Both men looked up from their defensive holograms and crisply saluted. "Lord Visor," said Young, "how can we be of service?"
"You can begin by telling me what to expect from your defense, Admiral."
"My Lord, we believe the defense will be strong to…quite strong?" Young felt a pang of nervousness as he continued – he had justified last season’s performance more than once, and yet the Dark Lord kept asking questions.
"We believe our defensive line will be a major strength. Both Calvin Barnett and James Castleman should clog up the middle nicely while providing some interior pass rush, and our defensive ends have plenty of speed to harass the quarterback. We’ve got all of our linebackers returning from last season, and Shaun Lewis should be particularly disruptive on the strong side."
"So," Lord Visor intoned, "these starters will actually STOP someone this year? I found your lack of yardage prevention…disturbing."
Young swallowed, and forced his voice to remain calm as he continued. "My Lord, as you know our defense finished in the 20’s in most advanced metrics like S&P and Adjusted Yards per Play. In a conference like the Big XII, no one can put up the kind of raw numbers you demanded." Young knew he was treading a dangerous edge of defiance, but he pressed on. "We think our safety play with a star like Daytowion Lowe can be among the conference’s best, and our corners will prevent the kind of deep balls that…"
"And why," Visor interrupted, "do the corners play so far off?"
Young’s heart began to hammer in his chest. We’ve been over this before, he thought, why is he bringing this damn topic up again? "My Lord," Young replied, "as we’ve discussed, we just haven’t had the talent to play press-man coverage on the offenses in this conference. I felt caution was wiser..."
Visor raised a black-and-orange gauntlet and cut him off mid-sentence. "You are as clumsy as you are stupid. Commander Spencer!"
Spencer, who had been stealing a glance at his linebackers’ depth chart, immediately snapped to attention and addressed the viewscreen. "Yes, my Lord?" Though the helmet made it difficult to tell precisely where Visor was looking, Spencer imagined those long-concealed eyes searching his very soul.
"Can you deploy our defensive personnel in a more…aggressive fashion than your predecessor?"
The question stunned Spencer, but he quickly began to stammer a reply. "My…my Lord, of course I have ideas, but I’m not certain that I…did you say predecessor?" As the last word left his lips, Spencer focused on Visor’s gauntlet – still raised, with its fingers contracting in an all-too-familiar clench. At the same moment, a choking gasp rattled from behind his right shoulder. Though he was terrified at the prospect of turning his gaze from the Dark Lord, Spencer’s eyes darted involuntarily rightward. In that instant he saw Admiral Young, fingers scrabbling futilely at his collar as his face deepened from red to purple.
Clarity subdued terror. "Of course, my Lord," Spencer replied with a confidence he barely felt, "we will begin preparations at once."
"See that you do. You are in command now, Admiral Spencer."
Without a further word, Visor ended the transmission and the viewscreen snapped to black. Spencer’s knees nearly buckled with involuntary relief, but he startled straight up at the loud thunk behind him. Turning, he saw Admiral…well, retired Admiral Young’s lifeless body splayed on the deck, his features frozen in a rictus of terror that, for a moment, also seemed to carry a measure of accusation.
Spencer banished that notion from his mind. Young was old and weak, he thought, and deserved everything he got. I’LL be the one to lead our Empire to glory. He gestured to a pair of deckhands standing at attention in front of the bulkhead. "Get…that…out of here at once. And bring me the defensive backs coach!"
Turning on his heel, Lord Visor strode from the bridge and took a turbolift to the main hangar. There, Moff Yurcich had the Empire’s offense lined up for review. As the Dark Lord strode between the ranks of assembled players, Yurcich fell into step with him and begin to speak.
"My Lord, our offense is fully operational and ready for your command. The schemes I've devised should prove devastatingly effective…thanks to your overall strategic guidance of course."
"Our offensive line should be among the conference's best, as usual. Commander Wickline has done his normal outstanding work - we only return 37 career starts along the front, but they all have years in the system and their zone-blocking technique is impeccable. Running behind Brandon Webb at guard should be a guaranteed first down."
Visor turned his gaze towards Wickline, who was squatting on the deck fussing with one of his linemen's knee braces. Wickline managed a brief wave in acknowledgement of the Dark Lord's presence. Visor would not tolerate such insolence from any other underling, but Wickline was simply too valuable to kill out of hand.
Yurchich continued as they strode between the offensive ranks. "We return a strong stable of running backs - Jeremy Smith and Desmond Roland will give us a strong one-two punch. We won't miss Joseph Randle at all."
Had pure evil not scoured the mirth from his being long ago, Visor would have had to stifle a chuckle at those who thought the loss of any individual back - let alone a straight line-running fifth round draft choice - would hinder his mighty offensive machine.
"Our receiver corps doesn't have a dominator like Blackmon or Dez Bryant, it's true," Yurcich said, "but our returning guys have over 230 career catches between them. Josh Stewart will move the chains for us, and Blake Jackson and Tracy Moore should win plenty of deep balls down the sidelines." "Of course, the entire offense should function even better as our quarterbacks return with more experience. Clint Chelf should have all the time he needs to distribute the ball, and J.W. Walsh can provide an excellent change of pace with his rollouts and scrambling. All in all, we like our chances to…"
Visor’s voice cut him short. "The quarterbacks…where is Wes Lunt?"
Yurcich’s stride, confident up until that question, missed a step. I forwarded this status report days ago, he thought, does Lord Visor even READ those things? "My Lord, in our new depth chart Lunt was only third string. He elected to transfer to another program, and since he wasn’t going to see any playing time there was no reason to…"
"Silence!" Visor thundered. "NO ONE escapes my grasp so easily. Assemble the galaxy’s finest bounty hunters at once."
Darth Visor strode through the darkened corridors of Cloud City's lowest levels. Somewhere in the darkness ahead, he could sense Lunt's presence, as well as the sour scent of Lunt's fear.
It hadn't taken the bounty hunters long to track him down. Fett had brought word that Lunt had gone to ground in Cloud City, likely planning to use the facility's long-distance transmission relays to contact Forde or Whitlock or another one of the galactic media's bleeding hearts in an effort to raise sympathy for his plight.
When Visor had confronted him in the facility's Carbon Freezing chamber, Lunt had put on a brave show and demonstrated considerable skill with a lightsaber. But the massive power disparity between player and coach had predictably proved too much to overcome, particularly when the coach was imbued with the power of the Dark Side. Now broken and battered, Lunt stepped out from behind some crates and began edging backwards towards a platform that overlooked the facility's central support shaft.
Visor stalked implacably forward. "You are beaten - it is useless to resist."
The words seemed to spark a final defiance in Lunt, who lunged forward with a flurry of blows. Visor parried them easily, and began to force Lunt backwards onto the narrow platform.
"You can't block my transfer to every school," Lunt gasped between ragged breaths, "that's impossible."
"I am a coach, you young fool. NOTHING is impossible."
"But why? Why would you ruin my future just out of spite?" "Why?" Visor replied, "because I CAN!" With impossible speed, Visor surged forward and brought his lightsaber down in a sweeping arc. It severed Lunt's arm at the wrist, his hand and lightsaber tumbling into the depths of the shaft.
Let's see you play quarterback NOW, Visor thought.
Screaming in agony, Lunt staggered onto the platform, his ruined arm clutched to his chest. He edged backwards until there was nowhere left to go, clinging to a support with his remaining hand and staring at Visor with hate in his eyes.
Visor considered Lunt's fate, then held out a beseeching hand. "Wes, it's not too late. Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Bill Young did. Join me, and together we can rule the conference as coach and third-string quarterback."
Lunt tried to block out the agony and considered his options. Before him was the chance to play major-college football, learn from a great offensive mind and possibly get another crack at starting. Below him was a yawning, bottomless pit…oblivion…Illinois.
Lunt glanced back at Visor. With one look into those dead eyes, the decision became simple. Lunt released his grip on the platform and tumbled silently into the abyss.
Darth Visor stepped out of the shuttle onto the deck of Slaughter of Stillwater's main hangar. No sooner had he stepped foot on the deck than an aide informed him that the Emperor commanded him to make contact at once.
Standing in his private chambers, Visor activated his personal holographic transmitter and dropped to one knee as the Emperor's fearsome visage winked into existence before him.
"What is thy bidding, my master?"
"My bidding? What do you think my bidding is, shitbird – win the damn Big Twelve! I could have spent my billions on a new clone, or at least some juvenat drugs, but did I? No! Look at me – my face is more wrinkled than Betty White’s asshole! I’m gonna be one of those blue Force ghosts in five years, tops, and I don’t know if the Dark Side even GETS to be Force ghosts! I could just turn into a glowing blue fireball or some shit.
No, I spent my billions on facilities and salaries and everything you should need to do your damned job and bring me another title while I’m still alive! That chinless chucklefuck in Norman is letting his program slide right into the shitter. And Mack Brown is rebuilding Texas? Horseshit! Red Tails is gonna rebuild George Lucas’ reputation faster than that butter-toothed glad-handler will rebuild Texas. This conference is ours, shitbird. And just because I spent some coin to doll you up like a goddamn Erector Set, don’t you go getting ideas. If you can’t win it, I’ll Force-lightning fricassee your ass faster than a skeeter in back-porch bug zapper.
The towering hologram dissolved into blackness, and after a few moments Visor’s mechanical breathing resumed its normal pace. He knew the Emperor wasn't making an idle threat – after he’d let Texas come back from 16 points down in 2005, his master's wrath had known no bounds. The lightning had seared his skin and burned away every strand of his gorgeous hair, forcing him to replace it with the spiky metallic monstrosity that now sat atop his helmet.
But what the Emperor had taken from him was as nothing compared to the gift he had bestowed, for the Emperor had taught him the true meaning of the Dark Side. He felt shame at the cloying memory of years past, when his voice had choked with emotion while coming to the defense of one of his players. Players, assistants – he’d been a fool to spare a second thought on inconsequential notions like their feelings or their careers. They were grist for the mill, cogs in the machine, ants marching in the service of his great Empire, with no other purpose but to bring him glory.
And now, it was time to show the conference - and the galaxy - the power of the Dark Side.
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