In the immediate aftermath of the bid, rumours of potential coups began popping up around the station. Three months into the season and these had died a death. As too had two of NVC’s major competitors – embroiled in unrelated scandals. Allardyce would have felt vindicated had she believed the bid to be a gamble, but she didn’t and it hadn’t.
For all their bluster, and talk of fine education, Allardyce’s opposite numbers at the nation’s three biggest networks were idiots. She’d all but founded The League; lead it through its infancy, and while no longer a board member was privy to discussion and insight on any and all forthcoming developments.
So to doubt Robin Allardyce in anything relating to The League was a fool’s errand. Television executives, it seemed, were prone to gross acts of stupidity from time to time.
Following the first truly global conflict in 2019, the world experienced united uprisings among its three eight billion populace. A concerted effort, powered of course by the ever-more insidious social media had lead to the public executions of 62 heads of state. The remaining 134 had managed to take their own lives before the crowds at their gates quite literally tore them to pieces.
This united horde restructured civilisation, with national borders firmly removed. The passport office shut down overnight. It was to be a liberal utopia, founded on the sadistic execution of 62 people. Sadism though is just as insidious as Twitter. And it grew in the populace like a malignant tumour. Utopia lasted just one season.
There have been those that do, and those that sit by and watch. Usually the latter are worse, they exploit the stupidity of their contemporaries. At the Colosseum in Rome, was it the gladiators fighting for their lives or the emperors ordering the fight that were the sadists? Often, it was a little of both, but the gladiator wouldn’t be there without imperial orders.
Allardyce was of course beautiful, even in the latter half of the 21st century, women without beauty rarely got anywhere in showbiz. But this beauty was not one she cared to share. While her colleagues were out hooking up here, there and everywhere with one another, she was to be found burrowing away to some perverted acts of sexual callousness taking place on the screen in front of her.
Sixty years after the great utopian vision died, the world was back where it had been. Though war was more prevalent. The 20th Century had in truth been a good decade for humanity, its successor, not so much. However, people can learn new tricks from time to time. Nuclear proliferation in the 1900s followed by wholesale nuclear use in the war of 2019 had taught them a lesson that wherever the next conflict was fought, they wanted to be nowhere near it.
Coming to you live, live, live, it’s Saturday Night Touchdown. Touchdown, Touchdown, Touchhhhhdowwwnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn.”
God, I knew I should have sacked this arse, Allardyce said to herself as the screen in front of her broadcast MLK68 touching down on the Alphonsus Crater.
“Robin, figures are up this week. We’ve got a 88 per cent audience share.”
Her eyes stayed fixed as men and women alike began pouring out of the ship. Their eyes boggled in their heads, and below bags of red hung. The flesh of her thumb was pinched between her teeth and she gnawed at the epidermal layers of skin. Never taking enough to draw blood, or it seem inflict any great quantity of pain. She was precise with each nibble.
“The Brits are sending up Eustace White tomorrow night…” said Allardyce, pausing as she tried to relieve her thumb of a particularly stubborn clump of hardened skin before turning to face Patrick Yorke – her assistant and, unbeknownst to be her, stalker. “Tell the Greeks that you have something for them, but only on the proviso that that something is met with a Ghauri XVII. And make sure they do it in such a way that we get walking wounded.”
Yorke stared at her.
“Patrick, now. Okay. I want this thing set up tonight. And Patrick, 88 per cent?”
“Yes, mam, 88 per cent.”
“What are we losing out to?”
“Errr, Real Necros of Daewoo County.”
“That has the remaining 12 per cent?”
“No, um, it has seven per cent, with the remaining five per cent split up among a few bits here and there.”
“There’s 13 minutes of this half left. Get the German coach on the phone; I want to be pushing 90 per cent by the break. Then we’ll unveil the hostage situation during half time.”
Louis Gotz had a strong working relationship with Allardyce. He knew that her help was entirely conditional on ratings, and his ability to field not only a strong, but engaging team. Gotz also had faith that he could continue to adapt and meet these needs. He personally inspected every man, woman and child that sought to sign up.
His youngest, the six-year-old Mario Essien had won player of the year two years running, and looked set to make it a hat trick this year. Essien had gained recognition after chewing through 15 feet of dirt, hands tied and legs bound to sever two wires through which ran power to his captors compound. His actions had allowed the German forces to overrun and capture the base. In recognition of his feat, Essien was given the privilege of executing his former captors.
After Essien’s second win, Allardyce had tried shanghaiing Gotz. She wanted his star performer to force through a sale that would see Essien become the most expensive soldier in the history of the game, but Gotz held firm – and Britain failed to land the kid that could haul them out of the relegation zone.
In a fleeting moment of rage, Allardyce had called the German foreign office. Her intention being the sacking of Gotz, but when the call was picked up she hung up. Gotz had served her well. Without the German raids on Malapert Massif and Rima Bode, this year’s season wouldn’t have got off to the flying start that silenced her detractors. So she said Essien could claim his hat trick as a German player, but also warned Gotz that he better be seeking a replacement as next year Essien was off.
Robin, what’s up?”
“Louis, you know I don’t like to interfere with tactics. Tactics, they’re the manager’s shout. But have you got anything up your sleeve. We’re at 88 per cent. Really want to hit 90 before the break. Anything at all?”
“I’ve got something, but it’s risky.”
“Look, Robin. I’m under immense pressure.”
“Germany’s flying, what sort of pressure you under.”
“They want me to employ less of the park-the-bus approach against the top teams. To do that, I need my best men fit and working. Can we be happy with 88 today, except that if we get 90…”
“I let you keep that little deranged shit, Louis. I want 90 before the break. You don’t want to fail me on this, really. Especially not with the mid-season transfer window coming up. Especially not with me finding space in the schedule for the German team’s hearing in January as opposed to… any other fucking time.”