*narrator sits on tree stump in woods near a roaring campfire, uses grizzled, battle-hardened, and generally epic story narration voice. The flames crackle and send embers fluttering skyward as they intermittently illuminate the listeners (that's you fine folk) gathered in a respectfully hushed semi-circle*
Have you ever heard the epic tragedy known as the twentyten Cowboys season? Despite it's cold, bitter end, it is a compelling tale of perseverance in the face of a lost cause. I assume since you are still seated here among way too many people to hear the sound of a single human voice with no amplification whatsoever, you want to hear it (you know, since no Cowboys fans will waste money on this season's summary DVD...most sales will be to 'Boys haters looking for a quick headrush). However, if that is your wish, I can recount the story as if it just ended yesterday...gather close and give heed:
Since time immemorial, one of the greatest honors bestowed on any denizen of the kingdom of the National Football League was to bear the Star. Bearing the Star was a step towards becoming a legend, spoken of in reverent tones in conversations, chatrooms and NFL Films Presentations until the end of days. Bearing the Star was a true source of pride...the Star itself a geometric representation of the mystical orbs of silvery fire that peirce our night sky as our own bright sun, a star itself, lights our days. Association with this symbol is indicative of greatness, superiority and special note since Brett Favre was in 3rd grade, long before football was even invented...however, only such a symbol is a worthy crest for a member of one of the greatest members of the NFL society: the Dallas Cowboys.
Well, historically, anyway. Despite the storied past of the franchise, it had fallen upon hard times as of late. The legendary leaders of yesteryear had given way to porcine and incompetent generals, such as the current holder of the position, Coach Wadeius. Wadeius was a once very skilled builder of armor behind the front lines. He invented RushWare, an impenetrable defensive armor that left the wearer's speed and agility intact, and RatMail, which was stout, dynamic and protected the midsection from harm. His armors were designed to demoralize the opponent with invinicbility as well as smash him with pure brawn..but he was not without weakness. He lacked the true fighter's spirit and often appeared baffled during wartime duress. He would have run an armor forge that any team would be proud to own, but he was not a soul for battle. An excellent blacksmith he was...but he was not a leader of men.
As a result, the once-proud forces he was in charge of were lax, unfocused and in disarray...a complete embarrassment to everything the Star stood for. As a result, at midpoint the season was all but lost. They had lost 7 battles, and the hopes of surviving to defending Playoff Mountain, which was right outside the Palace at Arlington this year, were growing slimmer by the week. Wadeius saw this and was disheartened...he saw his demise near, and as he had no vested interest in the success of his warriors, the quality of his armor slipped. Opponents began to overwhelm the poorly defensed Cowboys, but he and his army slowly became a doormat in the kingdom...a pale shadow of its former self.
However, Wadeius was not the only officer who saw the circumstances the Cowboys now found themselves in...it did not escape the eyes of one of the top liutenants in the army, the bold warlord Jasonidas. Jasonidas was a master offensive strategist. At his peak, he and his great sword, Romomentous IX, along with elite warriors such as Wi'ten, Fe-Lix, Dezzalonian, and Austintatious led one of the most powerful and deadly offensive assaults in the NFL. However, the power this provided the team was hampered by weak shields, cheaply made from scrap metal drafted in the later rounds. (Such shields caused a warrior to have to block with other items, like a full-back brace...this makeshift protection led to the eventual breaking of Jasonidas' sword at the hilt in a clash with a Giant). Jasonidas, for all his efforts, could do little to improve the army with the bumbling Wadeius in charge of things...and this is where we pick up our story, with Coach Wadeius and Jasonidas discussing strategy inside the Palace at Arlington.
Wadeius: Aw, shucks...we're 1-7 and that darn Giant from Contemporary York is heading this way. You know what happened when last those guys came to town...Romomentous IX was destroyed and we were defeated.
Jasonidas: Yes, I'm well aware. When last we saw him, we had the upper hand until my main sword was halved in battle. I still had my kitnablade, and once we were able to adjust, the attack I coordinated was sufficient for victory...but thanks to the shoddy workmanship in the armor you built, we were handily beaten. My warriors are brave and strong, but if they are not defensed properly they will be defeated each time.
Wadeius: Welp, that's all true...but jeepers, what the heck do we do about it? Dadgummit, I think we're sunk...we don't stand a chance. Maybe we should just give up...
Jasonidas: Give up? It is forbidden through Cowboy law. No retreat, no surrender! What cowardices do you speak of?
Wadeius: Well, we tried to do better last week against those wild Jaguars after we stunk it up the week before against that army from Wisconsin. We did some good things, but honestly, it wasn't enough. I don't even know what to do now.
Jasonidas: I tell you what you do...we will do what we were born to do. We will fight! We will be great today! We will stack good days on top of each other, and we will show the entire league that the Cowboys are no homecoming opponent!
Wadeius: Oh, be serious. We've lost 7 battles of the 8 this year. It's over Jasonidas...let's just go get a beer or something. I think "Real Housewives" comes on at 8. Let's choose our next plans wisely...they could be our last as coaches.
Jasonidas: Have you no spine? You fold in the face of an enemy while wearing the Star? Unfathomable! You are a traitor to us all!
Wadeius: Heck, you call me a traitor, I say I'm playing the odds. Don't you know the dog-king Vixses sets his sights on our palace as we speak? Vixses is the elite of the elites. He cannot be defeated. He and his army are the class of the NFC, and he takes into his control all that he sees. He is universally loved and feared, and this is why many armies have chosen to align with him. He and his personal guard, the Phillymortals, will climb Playoff Mountain and claim the Lombardi Grail. It is hopeless...we are completely outmatched against him.
Jasonidas: Vixses is no more an authority over me than you are, you sniveling, soft-bellied pantywaist. Everyone, from messenger to king, is responsible for the words of their own voice. How dare you speak such blasphemies?!
Wadeius: Sheesh, I really just don't know what else to do.
Jasonidas seethed with rage at his general's lost demeanor in the face of crisis. Wadeius saw this, put on a confused look and wandered aimlessly over near a previously unseen and conveniently placed bottomless pit for no real reason.
Wadeius: Don't be like that. It's not so bad. We have no shot at keeping Playoff Mountain from being scaled by the forces of Vixses by season's end...why bother? I mean...it's madness.
Jasonidas: *scoffs* Madness?
Wadeius: I know what you're feeling...it's natural. You'll get over it once you shake off that dumb little pride thing. I'm the general for now, this is my team and I say it's just not a good idea. Let's just quietly lay down until the end of the season...that early late afternoon pre-dinner meal is making me sleepy anyway.
Jasonidas: You're the coach for now...hmm... Perhaps you are on to something. Indeed, it is you who should have chosen your plans more wisely! THIS...IS...MY JOB!
Jasonidas then drew his leg back and spartan-kicked Wadeius forcefully down the bottomless pit. Wadeius' fleshy frame initially got stuck in the pit, but then he began to sweat a little and eventually lubed himself up enough to fall smoothly. Jasonidas, after making a mental note to have a fat peoples' bottomless pit of death installed, reflected on his situation. Having killed Wadeius, and in so doing, becoming interim coach of the Cowboys, he saw a chance to cement his place as their leader: to fight valiantly to the death, not for playoff seeding, or for draft picks...but for glory. He would assemble his army and set off in search of the dog-king Vixses to defend Playoff Mountain and the Palace at Arlington from his control.
He and his small band of warriors would stand against the combined forces of the remaining schedule...as well as Vixses. This was the only way Jasonidas knew...to fight until the end. He called a meeting for his Cowboys to discuss the new direction they would take under his management. There was a new Garrett in town. Jasonidas stood in an open field, his Cowboys, some with bows and arrows, all with sword and shield, standing in rank before him, ready to be addressed.
Jasonidas: Cowboys! Many of you have grown accustomed to the leadership of Wadeius...
Assorted background Cowboys mumbled their agreement.
Jasonidas: ...and every last one of you sad bunch can rot in Hades. This is my team now. I'm changing the culture around here. From now on, we look like winners, practice like contenders, and fight like champions. Cowboys have a reputation to uphold. San Francisco does battle training in full pads, and if that bunch of scholars and...boy lovers...can manage that, then Cowboys ought to be able to do at least that much. Anybody lacking confidence in their ability to do just that, I suggest you kill yourself now and save me the trouble.
At this point, Cowboys Brooking the Loud, Olshanskus, Alan Balzac and Alexander of Barron committed ritualistic suicide.
Jasonidas: Fine, anyone else?
The remaining Cowboys stood nervously at attention.
Jasonidas: Very well, you've made your choice. Let's go. Onward! *points into distance with kitnablade, starts off*
Before long, Jasonidas spotted an immense humanoid silhouette in the distance. It almost resembled a man...but no man stood 60 feet tall or had four helmeted heads that sort of looked like Peyton Manning's, but all 'tarded. As it slowly approached with thunderous footfalls that shook the earth with each step, it came into focus...it was the very beast that had shattered Jasonidas' first sword, the Giant of Contemporary York!
Thick, acrid smoke fumed from it's 8 nostrils as it bellowed fire from it's hellish bowels and roared. It continued to stumble toward the Cowboys, alternately beating its chest and its back with both of its left arms. This was especially odd since it only had 2 arms that were on opposite sides of its body. As it came forth, the band of soldiers that accompanied it marched into view. Adorned with garb tinted the color of the purest sea trimmed with blood red, many of them had around their wrists a chain that was handcuffed to the Giant (It was the only way to keep the team together past December).
Jasonidas: Cowboys! Be at your ready!
He drew his kitnablade, and muttered under his breath.
Jasonidas: Let's hope this goes better than last time...I lost Romomentus IX to these godless fiends...we were unprepared to adjust at the time, but I believe we can defeat it...
He then turned off his inside voice and talked to his team.
Jasonidas: Give them NOTHING...but take from them...EVERYTHING!
They all assumed a fighting stance.
Jasonidas: We can do this, boys! We can take him down! Let's be great today!
The Giant continued to approach clumsily, belching flames and embers. The other men stayed close by his side, the attached brandishing spiked clubs in their free hands. Clearly, this was a smash-mouth, grinding, hard nosed, ground game, blah blah blah group that would give Jasonidas and his army an utter pounding should they prove insufficient to the task.
Jasonidas: All right, Cowboys! Here it comes!
The Giant and his escorts were now less than 50 feet from the Cowboys. The Cowboys stood strong, ready for almost anything the Giant might have in store. Although Jasonidas and his Cowboys may have taken a grave loss last time they met, they had come close to besting the Giant until the mighty weapon Romomentous IX was lost mid-battle, demoralizing the entire team and dooming them to failure.
Jasonidas then took a second to examine the kitnablade he now held in his hand. It was an older model sword, rusty...shorter range than his main sword...slightly cumbersome and unbalanced...but still a capable sword in the right system. Just as Jasonidas fleetingly wondered if the idea that he could conquer the Giant and its warriors with a slightly inferior sword was madness indeed, the Giant suddenly stopped in his tracks and looked wildly about, bewildered. The Giant's escort stopped marching and regarded it with concerned gazes. Many Cowboys were confused by this, but Austintatious was the first to ask.
Austintatious: What's happening, Interim Coach Jasonidas? What should we do?
Jasonidas: Steady, boy...let's just watch.
The Giant raised one of its massive left fists in the air with a roar, shook it...and punched itself in the face.
Jasonidas: What the fail?
The Giant staggered backwards, stunned from its own blow. It then looked at its hand angrily and bellowed a roaring jet of flames directly at it, causing the offending hand to catch ablaze. It then hopped around in agony, stomping many of its own men in the process.
Random Giant escort: Oh, no...it's going Eli!
The Giant now was in a cyclical frenzy of self-inflicted pain that only got worse as time went on. Jasonidas heard the resulting lamentations of the Giant's escort, and suddenly he knew...
Jasonidas: Cowboys! Take heart! Victory is ours, our opponent is finished!
His Cowboys regarded him with disbelief. Surely he couldn't be talking about the same Giant who had handed them defeat just 5 weeks prior and destroyed their current coach's prize weapon? Victory was possible...but not before the battle had begun...right? Perhaps not...
Jasonidas: You see, the Giant is near unstoppable most of the time, but for some reason, the Giant's compusure wanes drastically. Sometimes, for no reason, the Giant will do something people from his land call "going Eli". It enters a wild, unstable state and generally wrecks things up, mostly its own. It's unpredictable...but that is the nature of such a brute beast.
The raving-mad Giant continued to seize and convulse wildly as it belched embers and flames haphazardly from each of its four mouths. The members of its escort who were fortunate enough not to be chained to it fled for their lives as their comrades still attached to the Giant were trampled underfoot like grapes in Rome. So quick were the men to flee the unruly Giant that they inadvertently sped toward a cliff, where they fell off and died...you know, like every year. The four-headed Giant put a really dumb look on his faces, let loose one final crazed howl and pursued its own guardsmen to the jagged rocks hundreds of feet below, leaving a trail of black smog. The Giant had been done in by its own hand, but the Cowboys would apologize for no victory. Today, victory was theirs.
Jasonidas: Men, we did it...kinda...well, we showed up. Sometimes, that's all a warrior need do against an opponent as inconsistent yet predictably self-destructive as the Giant. Celebrate...but get some rest, men. Vixses forces are close at hand, and we must put every ounce of spare energy into defeating him and his forces.
Jasonidas' Cowboys ate and drank heartily that night. Songs were sung, and cacophonous revelry echoed through nearby hills. Some, like marginal Cowboy Roytu, even got so drunk as to speculate that the one win was their ticket to a run at Playoff Mountain, despite the still near-insurmountable odds they faced. Indeed, many Cowboys were giddy about the new hope that lay ahead. Only one among them kept his leader's compusure...only one...Interim Coach Jasonidas. By the morning, it seemed a new day had dawned for the Cowboys. Jasonidas opened his eyes to the peircing sunlight, and immediately heard trumpets in the distance. War trumpets. He dispatched young Dezzalonian for a quick scouting mission, who quickly returned with a full report.
Dezzalonian: Interim Coach Jasonidas, I saw the source of the trumpets in the distance from the top of that hill over there...it appeared to be a small mounted cavalry, maybe 5 strong...only they weren't on horseback. Whatever they were riding looked...weird.
Jasonidas: Weird? Perhaps you'd better go back for another look...remember, boy, success is in the details. Have a great scouting mission.
Dezzalonian sped back to his scouting perch. He wasn't long before he rushed back full speed, concern plastered across his face.
Dezzalonian: Sir...sir! The approaching party were not riding horses, but oddly colored lions....and it seems they're not cavalry at all...they're bandits!
Jasonidas: Bandits, eh? We'll see if we have something for them.
The 5 bandits rode into view on their strange, Avatar-blue jungle cats. They were mercenaries and soldiers of misfortune currently under Vixses employ. Bandits are not and never were known for their fighting skill, but an unsuspecting team could easily get a win stolen from them should they cross a bandit's path unaware. Jasonidas and his Cowboys could ill-afford to suffer another loss...these lion-riding bandits must not be taken lightly. The leader of the pack of bandits rode his steed to just outside striking range of the Cowboys.
Bandit Chief: Cowboys! I do not come to take your wins...I come to deliver a message from the dog-king Vixses himself. He has seen your battle with the Giant on YouTube, and he is not impressed. His top warriors, Mac-lon, D'Shon and Shadium, form an offense so fast, it can run across water. This offense is so fine-tuned and delicate, it can't even be used in the snow.
Jasonidas: How is that last part intimidating? Seems a bit wussy to me.
Bandit Chief: You're right...scrap that part. Forget I said that. Anyway, you think you stand a chance in the face of Vixses and his armies? His is an explosive, big play offense...number 1 in the kingdom! With all the deep passes, the outlines of flying pigskins in the sky will blot out the sun!
Jasonidas cocked an eyebrow and prepared to explain a complicated counter strategy, until one of his men, Marionon, put it far more succinctly.
Marionon: Then we will play in the shade, fool!
Many fellow Cowboys laughed. Bandit Chief took exception to his cool dismissal of his tough-guy line, which he had clearly stayed up all night thinking of.
Bandit Chief: You...insolent fool! You will pay for your...Barber-isms! Do you think your plans will do anything but crumble like a heap of dry leaves in the face of the unstoppable armies of Vixses? You and your Cowboys are dead--urgkkhh!--
The Bandit Chief's unnecessarily long monologue was cut off by an well-aimed halfback option arrow fired from Marionon's bow. It struck his face with driving force, turning most of the front of his head into a chunky red mist. The other bandits froze in shock at seeing their leader felled so easily.
Marionon: Couldn't stand listening to that dude any more...that pun made my dreads hurt.
Jasonidas: A fine shot, Marionon...I wish I could get my hands on the guy who wrote that joke for him.
Jasonidas, apparently unaware that he could be written out of this story at any time, then turned to the remaining bandits and addressed them.
Jasonidas: Now, bandits...anyone who threatens our mission will suffer the same fate as your leader! Go and tell your Vixses our message, before we decide to make it just a little bit longer.
The bandits looked at each other, confused. They then decided that they were not equipped to tangle with the Cowboys' forces unbacked by Vixses. They turned lion tail and fled back to his protection. As the Cowboys continued on their collision course with Vixses, Cowboy Roytu had ideas about how his coach should implement him into his battle strategy.
Roytu: Interim Coach Jasonidas, I wish to have an audience with you.
Jasonidas: Very well, Roytu...what is it you want to discuss with me...
Roytu: Well, we've been doing a good job the past couple battles...I know I'm not your number 1 soldier, but I feel as though my performance is worthy of more responsibility in the offense. I'm a talented attacker...why don't you use me more?
Jasonidas: Well, Roytu...you are talented, I'll give you that...however, you lack concentration. Your form is weak, and you don't run routes very well. You do have a good battle from time to time, your war acumen has never been questioned. If I may speak frankly and as a friend, your biggest weakness lies beneath that helmet of yours.
Roytu: I know, Interim Coach Jasonidas...but I can be better! I can become a hero, achieve glory, and finally bring pride to my family, the Longhorn Clan.
Jasonidas: You seem to really want this. I admire that. Fine, we will see if your focus has improved. Dezzalonian!
Dezzalonian, the youngest of the Cowboy soldiers, broke off his nearby conversation with Fe-lix, ran to his coach's side and stood at attention.
Dezzalonian: Yes, Interim Coach Jasonidas, sir!
Jasonidas: At ease, lad. Now, could you go fetch a football for Roytu? We're doing a battle readiness test.
Dezzalonian: Permission to speak freely, sir?
Jasonidas: Granted...but keep it brief.
Dezzalonian: With all due respect, Interim Coach Jasonidas, that is an order I cannot, in good faith, execute. I'm here to claim the Lombardi Grail, not fetch footballs. Let that scrub grab his own balls...it will be a rare treat to see him hold on to one.
Roytu: You dare...you DARE?!
Roytu charged Dezzalonian in a rage at Dezzalonian's completely justified and accurate words, but was held back by Jasonidas. He could have no dissent in his ranks.
Jasonidas: Roytu! You forget yourself. Stand down.
Jasonidas: Ass. Stand down.
Roytu took a glance at the commanding glare in Jasonidas' almost glowing viridian eyes and knew that challenging his authority would be a grave error in judgement. He cooled his fury and complied with Jasonidas' order.
Jasonidas: Now, Dezzalonian...you have had your words heard. True as they may be, you are out of line as a rookie...you will purchase dinner for the entire army at your expense.
Dezzalonian: Yes, sir.
Roytu: And I'm charging you up, rook! By night's end, your purse will be 50,000 Jerry coins lighter.
Jasonidas: Enough, Roytu. Dezzalonian, the ball.
Dezzalonian gave a dutiful salute then went off to get a football. After receiving one from Austintatious, he returned to his coach and handed him the ball.
Dezzalonian: The ball, sir!
Jasonidas: Very good, son. That will be all. Dismissed.
Roytu shot Dezzalonian a glare as he went back over to join Fe-Lix, Wi'ten and the rest of his teammates. He knew that the young phenom had abilities he had never possessed at his peak and would soon have his spot in the charging lineup, if he didn't already.
Jasonidas: Roytu! Look here. If you want to be a focal point in my offense, you must demonstrate skill with your hands. Go 15 paces, turn around, stop and put your hands out.
Roytu did as requested. Jasonidas took the leathery missile he now held and fired it directly at Roytu's chest. Roytu was able to trap it against his body for a clean catch.
Jasonidas: A fine catch. Now, throw it back, take 10 more paces, and turn around.
Roytu: Yes sir!
Roytu again followed orders, but this time, Jasonidas intentionally threw it a bit high, almost over Roytu's head. Roytu reached up and grunted with effort as he tried to catch the slightly off target, but still very catchable pass...but he was only able to tip it into the arms of a passing nomad with his sandstone hands. H
Roytu: But sir...that throw was high!
Jasonidas: This is exactly what I was talking about, Roytu. Not everything will be easy. Sometimes you will have to use your own abilities to turn a less than ideal situation in your favor. Now, get that ball back, give it to me, take 20 more paces and turn around.
Roytu once again did as his coach asked, and turned to face him with a silly, ill-timed grin on his face. By this time, every member of the Cowboy army had seen the spectacle and gathered near Jasonidas to watch. Jasonidas reached deep and fired a long and beautiful spiral pass. The white laces whipped audibly in the breeze as the ball sailed in its perfect arc through the strangely orange sky.
Jasonidas: Go get it Roytu! You can do this!
Roytu sprinted after the still lofting spheroid. Somehow, he was able to get under it in good position to catch it in stride.
Roytu: I got this, Interim Coach!
Roytu ran free with nothing in front of him but endless desolate wasteland. The ball got bigger as it dove like a torpedo towards the scorched earth. The ball appeared to be right on target, and it was...it landed right in his hands.
Roytu: Check it out! I actually caught the--oop--
Roytu bobbled the seemingly caught ball. It bounced in his shaky grasp 5 times before anticlimactically dropping in the dust. Roytu lost his footing, and fell face first to the ground. The Cowboys reacted with a mix of laughter, disgust and pity. Jasonidas merely shook his head, and walked over to where Roytu was still laying in a frustrated heap. He kneeled and put a caring hand on Roytu's shoulder.
Jasonidas: Roytu, you are a decent role warrior. Your capabilities are what they are, and I appreciate them. I would appreciate them more had I not given away so much to obtain your services, but you are an appropriately valued member of this team. However, the fact is you have your limits, I cannot use you.
Roytu: No...you're making a mistake...no! I can do this!
Jasonidas: Roytu, it is what it is. You should be happy you are compensated so well for your mediocre talents. Do you know Dezzalonian makes an eighth of your salary for 4 times your battle production?
Roytu: No...NO! You were wrong, Detroit! I'm not a number one reciever! AHHHHHH! My Longhorn clan...I've shamed them...
Roytu went on with his whole victim thing, but nobody really cared enough to stand around and listen. Jasonidas had more important things to attend to...like the marauders currently heading in their direction.
Austintatious: Maurauders! Currently headed in our direction!
Thank you, Austintatious. Anyway, these marauders came quickly, the horses pulling their chariots leaving a plume of dust in their wake. From a distance, their horned helmets could be seen. The blades of their battle axes sparkled under the desert sun, and their Tyrian purple capes with weird yellow and white striping patterns that kind of make them look like an Arena Football army fluttered in the wind. Every time they came 10 yards closer, one of the marauders sounded some kind of feasting horn for no apparent reason. Before long, they pulled their chariots up to Jasonidas and crew. Then the leader spoke.
Berzerker Webb: Greetings. I am Berzerker Webb and we are the berzerkers from a faraway land known as Minnesota. We come in peace, but only because we do not even have the resources to wage war any more. First, our most powerful warrior, Mossome, was banished for blasphemies against out king 3 days after he returned to us from exile. Then our home was destroyed in a fierce blizzard, so we were forced from where we live to roam the earth. Then our gray-haired leader was killed by the Giant while attempting to draw a lewd cave painting of himself. Bottom line is, we're sort of screwed.
Jasonidas: Well, we're kind of in the same boat...far from home, our homeland in danger, sort of screwed...why don't you and your men join us in our fight against the dog-king Vixses?
Berzerker Webb: Vixses? Yes, he attempts to control the entire NFL kingdom with his power. Do you know he commands an offense so--
Jasonidas: Yeah, yeah...I heard the sales pitch earlier. You in or out?
Berzerker Webb: Ah, screw it...we're not doing anything else. Come on, boys, let's go kill Vixses!
With a final blast of that annoying horn, the marauders saddled up and rode off, not to be seen again until the plot required them. As Jasonidas watched them ride into the sunset, he wondered what the next day would bring. The Cowboys slumbered, and were awoken in the morning by the sound of deep battle drums. The pounding was accompanied by a rumbling of the earth itself...tremors that vibrated the entire desert. Was it an earthquake or...
The grand amalgamated army of Vixses approached. It was instantly apparent who it was...he rode in on a giant green bandwagon carried by slaves. Even in the distance, his menagerie could be seen, but as it came closer the magnitude of the upcoming challenge became apparent. He and his own personal guard, the Phillymortals, presented a full days work on their own...but his army was flanked by his auxilary forces from far-flung corners of his kingdom like Indianapolis and New Orleans.
Jasonidas: Vixses is coming! Cowboys! At arms!
The Cowboys gathered their weapons and prepared for what could be the hardest day of the war so far. The great and powerful dog-king Vixses...and 2 of the greatest armies in the land! How would the Cowboys survive this challenge? Jasonidas pondered whether he was leading his team to slaughter, then Vixses' procession stopped a distance away. Most of his soldiers, and everyone not carrying his bandwagon stayed behind. Only he, the slaves and his 3 top liutenants, D'Shon, Shadium, and Maclon escorted him further.
Jasonidas: Cowboys! Hold your guard!
Wi'ten: That's not enough for an attack...maybe they just want to talk things out.
Jasonidas: We shall soon see.
Jasonidas watched as the big green bandwagon rolled slowly up to him and his men. It stopped a short distance away from the Cowboys, then Vixses slowly stepped down off of it on the backs of his slaves. Here, in person, was the dog-king Vixses. His crowned Anubis mask with a goatee left little doubt to his identity. He wore a spiked gold dog collar and shiny golden jewelry which dangled on his brown skin. He descended, and approached Jasonidas, only to be cut off by an eager Cowboy soldier, Tashardius.
Tashardius: Hey, Vixses...big fan, man...can I get your autograph?
Vixses: Anything for a fan.
Vixses then snapped his fingers, and a spear flew in from somewhere in Vixses escort and impaled Tashardius through the face. This caused all the Cowboys to immediately enter defense mode.
Jasonidas: What the--
Vixses: Do not be so rash. I have given him what he asked for. Look closely.
Jasonidas peered closer at the spear now sticking point-first out the back of Tashardius' head. Indeed, there was Vixses autograph, right on the shaft.
Jasonidas: Well, I'll be damned. Guess he did bring that on himself. Anyway...
Vixses: Jasonidas. I have heard much about you. You and your Cowboys. You have traveled far to protect your homeland. Been through some rough times. I can sympathize. I respect your efforts...and that is why I am willing to reward you.
Jasonidas: A reward, eh? Let's hear it.
Vixses: You fight to defend your Palace at Arlington. Keep it. We only want to march through it to climb Playoff Mountain and claim Lombardi's Grail, after that you can have it back. It is pointless to resist. Why stand in my way? Jasonidas, listen to reason...all you and your men have to do is kneel.
Jasonidas: Kneel, eh? Well, that's gonna be hard. You see, my men are going to have cricks in their knees from kicking your ass...so kneeling...gonna be kind of impossible.
Vixses: You insolent--I am the dog-king Vixses! I command an offense so powerful, it can score 4 touchdowns in 8 minutes! I am a redemption story so compelling, I will be spoken of for all time. You think there will be glory in your defeat? Even if you beat me here, you'll never make it back to Playoff Mountain. Why, why...even to speak the name of the twentyten Cowboys will become a crime, punishable by ridicule! Do you see the forces I command?
Jasonidas looked over Vixses shoulder and saw his warriors. Along with his Phillymortals and bandwagon carriers, he was also accompanied by a blue and white squadron led by a large-foreheaded general who kind of looked like the Giant, but in more commercials...it was the famed General Peytonian! On the other side of Vixses' guard, there were a black and gold-suited group of paladins. The leader of that regiment wore a golden 9 emblem front and center on his robe to distinguish him (the birthmark on his face would have been identification enough, but Jasonidas can't see that far) ...general of the holy warriors, General Breesus, the last man to seize the Lombardi Grail! They also brought strange beasts...hogs of an odd burgundy hue with yellow manes and phoenixes risen from Arizona. Truly, Vixses had amassed a terrifying collection of opponents for a struggling army.
Vixses: Can you not see that you are helpless in the face of my unstoppable power? Please...use your reason. Accept my generous offer.
Jasonidas: Well, Vixses...you are as generous as you are...unstoppable. I'm gonna have to decline, though.
Vixses: Foolish bravado. Have it your way, Jasonidas. D'shon! Go send word to my armies to prepare for battle!
D'shon: Yeah, I'm on it...and I'm gonna do it in an unordinary way!
D'Shon, instead of simply walking over, did some kind of elaborate forward rain dance as a method of locomotion. Vixses turned to look at him and shook his head.
Vixses: Is that really necessary, D'Shon?
D'Shon: Hell yeah! Damn, look at me! I got that ill swag.
Vixses: Today, D'Shon.
D'Shon: Yeah, yeah, I'm on it.
D'Shon, around Running Man/dice roll/pop lock #15, was about three-fourths of the way there, which would have been okay if it weren't 10 minutes later.
D'Shon: Okay-kay-kay, I'm almost there...now for the big finish!
D'Shon took a stance like an Olympic gymnast and prepared for his grand finale. Pretty much everyone else, including Vixses, just rolled their eyes. He then took a running start and launched into a series of ærial flips...
D'Shon: Yeah! I'm a mofo monster! I can't be stopped, I can't be contained, I can't be--
...until his rain dance worked better than he expected. D'Shon was struck by a bolt of lightning midair and reduced to a pile of showboating ashes.
D'Shon's ashes: Damn...that stung my ass.
Vixses: Enough of this...my forces, ATTACK!
Vixses' forces, which were apparently in earshot the entire time, charged as one. The warriors on coltback, holy warriors and Phillymortals all rushed at the Cowboys with the intention of ending their season. It was a lot to deal with alone...Jasonidas, however, had one trump card in his sleeve.
Jasonidas: Berzerkers! NOW!
The berzerkers, hidden in the cliffs until they were needed, charged out into the fray, they ignored all others on the field of battle...they had a single target in mind.
Berzerker Webb: Now, my fellow Berzerkers...show the Cowboys what we can do!
The Berzerkers all made a beeline for Vixses himself. Mac-lon and Shadium tried desperately to cut off the vicious assault, but to no avail. All three were theroughly beaten by an unexpected oppenent. As he picked himself off the ground for what seemed like the 13th time, Vixses, a man who fancies himself a god (if he listens to ESPN) felt a very human limp travel up his leg. He rolled over on the ground in time to see his army clash with Jasonidas' Cowboys...and see Berserker Jarrulius Allen pop up and do his little jig after landing on him yet again. Jasonidas saw the combined forces of Vixses army bearing down on him and knew there was little hope...but surrender was never an option.
Jasonidas: For glory!
Jasonidas: For our fans!
Jasonidas: So everyone can stop calling me "Interim Coach Jasonidas!
Jasonidas led his army into battle against the Phillymortals and Vixses auxilary forces. The brutal struggle raged for days. Jasonidas was outmanned and outgunned, but tried to hold up anyway. Some Cowboys were lost...they were few, but each lost was a brother, a cousin, or a star rookie reciever on a kickoff return. (See you next year, Dezzalonian) The bold Cowboys held their own against some of the most elite forces the NFL kingdom had to offer...but fatigue was setting in.
Jasonidas: PUSH! We can hold them here! All you have, boys!
Jasonidas could sense the will in his team to win, but the forces of Vixses were simply too much. The Cowboys could hold them little longer. At one point, Jasonidas' kitnablade, that served him so well after Romomentous IX was destroyed, met a similar fate. Finally, Roytu fumbled his shield and the phalanx was broken. Before Jasonidas even had a chance to berate him, he was gutted like an overrated fish by Jen-kong, a holy warrior under General Breesus. It was a critical error...now the Cowboys could never reach Playoff Mountain.
Jasonidas: You see why you're not starting? You can't make a play to save your life! Let's have a great day today, men...for tonight...we dine...in OFFSEASON HELL!
All plans shattered, the Cowboys simply fought until they perished in battle, one by one. Austintatious, Dezzalonian, Fe-Lix...all were lost. Vixses' ranks dropped in number as well, but he was safe in the locker room after being rescued from the Berzerkers' thrashing by his top advisor, Papyrus Reid. He would make it safely to Playoff Mountain...but that day he learned...even a dog-king can bleed. The Cowboys suffered grave losses that day, but gave as well as they took...finally, only the reserves for the Phillymortals, Jasonidas, and Wi'ten were left to fight. Bold Jasonidas and Wi'ten held off the Phillymortals scrubs...they were winning the battle, but the war was lost. Vixses had used the time they were fighting to summon all the other pilgrims to Playoff Mountain, who now stood, hundreds strong, on a cliff face surrounding and overlooking the battle scene. Every member of all 12 armied had bows and arrows cocked and loaded (the Aegean Seahawk Army used Nerf arrows, but it's the thought that counts).
Vixses: Jasonidas! I will give you one last chance...lay down your season and let my backups go!
Jasonidas: Vixses! Come and get them!
Jasonidas punctuated his sentence with a slit of a prisoner's throat with his emergency weapon, the Dagger of McGee. Vixses was incensed. This man had dared to defy him again and again. This was unacceptable. He must be made example of. He shook his head at Jasonidas' brazenness, but had to stop...he was still kind of woozy from the beating he had taken. He regained his composure and gave the order to fire. All at once, a fusillade of razor sharp arrowheads (and a few foam rubber ones) burst forth from their weapons and soared through the air, momentarity blocking the sun before plummeting towards their targets.
And so Jasonidas, his Cowboys, and their season died that day..but they played like warriors and laid down for no opponent, Colt nor Saint, Giant nor Eagle. As the bold warriors sprits faced the mighty, erupting flames, toruturous playoff games that don't involve them, endless mock drafts and incessant, pointless speculation by ESPN that make up the necessary torments of banishment to Offseason Hell, the Cowboys knew that despite the lost season, the true fighting spirit they showed in the later battles would serve them well when they were resurrected for new life in the coming season.
They would be rejuvenated...stronger...vivified with newfound strength that will doubtless be found under the competent guidance of Jasonidas, the reforging of Romomentuous IX, and a new resolve alloyed stronger than Spartan shields by a season of humbling adversity (the 9th pick in the draft won't hurt either). The twentyleven Cowboys would truly be a force to be reckoned with...and so, I implore you all...true Cowboys supporters in all corners of the country, those who ensure that each piece of the internet they touch will run deepest blue with their own fanatical blood, 1-15 OR Super Bowl...every diehard member of the Blue Star Brigade on every inch of Landry's green earth...hold your heads high this day! Put on that Star, raise your fists to the heavens, and bellow the immortal war cry that has echoed in the highest mountaintops and deepest crevasse of the world since the dawn of 1960...GO COWBOYS!