Story:Banding Together

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Banding Together
Written by Darkwolf, JTigerclaw and Wendingo

This story takes place after game one of the playoffs. It was written before game two.

As the Dakota Bikers headed back to the visitor’s locker room, an odd vibe began to emanate from the crowd of players. As the Bikers entered, some players began to joke a bit at their lockers. Others, like Dylan Redfield, say quietly in their uniforms. A few of the inactive players walked around in suits. And then there was Cassidy Whitelatch. The large collie stormed into the room and smacked his locker with big hand in frustration. He had played like garbage and he knew it. But as he looked around the room, no one said a word. He even saw some of his teammates laughing in the corner. He expected one of the veterans, heck, at the very least the Red Curtain would speak up. Coach Jack Wayans sat in a chair, rubbing his head as he knew exactly what had just happened. He looked more worn out then any game he played the previous year. Finally, Whitelatch could take it no longer. He was always an emotional player and at Braylor, he was the heart and soul of the team. Out of place or not for a rookie, he spoke.

“The hell is wrong with us guys?”

No one turned to look at him. The players continued to go about their business as Cass walked to the center of the room.

“Hey, knock it off!” he yelled at a select few, but still, no one paid the rookie much attention.

“Since when did we get in the habit of acting like losing was no big thing huh?”

A couple players grumbled while Redfield folded his arms.

“We were up 20. 20! And we blew it!” Cass started to walk in a circle, making eye contact with each player as he did.

“That ain’t Biker basketball. That first half? That was Biker basketball.” Whitelatch huffed, still gassed from the ga me. Griff Rasputin, the long time veteran who at this time last year was on his way to a title with the Tennessee Moonshiners, spoke up in his thick Russian accent.

“Listen collie. I am not to be disagreeing with you. But is important to remember…” Rasputin barely finished the sentence before Whitelatch turned and yelled.

“How can you guys not care about this! This is Texas. You guys hate Texas! We already pissed away a division title to them. Now they’ve embarrassed us on national television. What more do they have to do to make us give a shit?”

The fired up collie looked around the room again as coach Wayans let a little smile crack across his place. He knew C-Train was on thin ice, but he admired that someone stepped up, especially him.

“The whole world hates us guys. We’re the evil empire that always wins. But doesn’t that fire you up? Don’t you wanna win anyway? To make them suffer through more Biker victories? Somethin’s gotta drive us. We’re all different, but no matter what, we can’t play like we did in the second half. Find whatever it is that fuels you. Use it. Bring it to game two.” Cassidy smacked his locker again as he moved back into the center of the room. “I played like trash. It’s embarrassing. I’m too damn proud to wear this uniform to play like that again.”

His rant continued as he passionately tried to rally the troops.

“We need to play like we did in the first half. Tough, physical defense. They don’t want to bang with us. They know they can’t beat us. They wanna muck up the game, get out and run, shoot quick threes and avoid the paint. We can’t let them control the game or get in our heads.”

Finally, Redfield stood up and got in Cass’s face. “Sit down rook.”

Cassidy’s eyes were wide. He didn’t understand why it was so out of place for a rookie to speak, especially on a veteran team like the Bikers. All he knew was someone had to say something and he was stunned Redfield would stop him.

“Why? How can you…”

Dylan grabbed Cass’s jersey. “Sit. Down. Rookie.”

Whitelatch pushed Dylan’s hand aside and marched back to his locker. All the while, Ryan Malone sat fuming at his locker. But the collie’s words and Dylan’s actions had caught his attention.

"Both of you can it!" the agitated kangaroo piped up as the scene unfolded before him. He didn't even get up off the locker room bench, but when Ryan Malone spoke up, the others listened, even if begrudgingly.

"This right here is why we're blowing 20 point leads to Texas. This whole team is a bunch of fucking divas." Malone looked around the locker room at every player to see if that got a reaction. Most players were looking at either the wall or the floor. Dylan, however, was looking right at Ryan, a sneer plastered on his face, which got the roo to return the glare and focus on the deer.

"What did the rook say that was wrong, huh?" Malone continued, directing his words mostly at Dylan. "Did we play like garbage? Other than me, yeah, we did. Did we not let them back in it after building a 20 point lead? Did we not crumble like tissue paper down the stretch? Did we not just choke against a team that every damn one of us would give anything to beat?!"

‘Like chucking up 30 shots every time we play Texas?’ is exactly what Redfield wanted to say. But he, like every player, knew their retorts would do no good against the ranting roo. Not to mention Dylan was coming off a horrendous game and he knew it. Rather then challenge the kangaroo, Redfield just seethed near his locker.

"Y'all are sitting there feeling sorry for yourselves, blowin' off Cassidy cause he's a damn know-nothin' rookie. But he at least recognizes there's a problem. But y'all don't wanna hear that from him, right? Of course not. Y'all don't wanna hear that from anyone."

More aimless stares, no responses. Like a child being scolded by their parents.

"Look, nobody wants to beat Texas more than me, ok? I went in focused and put it all out there. Put up a stat line like it's 2008. Put the clamps on Redding. But after all that we can't stop Marcus fucking Knight?! Goddammit, we're BETTER than this! And it ain't because we don't want it or don't got the motivation. It's all mental!"

“Really Malone. Really?!” Redfield fired back. “When exactly did Texas come back? When you knocked Redding on his ass! It wasn’t even subtle. You just fuckin’ mauled him because you don’t know when to leave well enough alone. It’s always about Redding with you. Send a message to Redding. Stop Redding. Well guess what Ryan? Redding didn’t do shit tonight and we still lost, starting with your dumbass foul!”

Malone glared at Redfield, the two squaring off at opposite ends of the room. The two had been through hell and back together. Ryan had always worked Dylan to the bone, maybe because he saw something great in the deer, or maybe because he was just too suborn to quit. The two were always the first to practice, and always the last to leave. And like all great teammates, as much as they quarreled, there was respect in the ultimate goal. Winning.

Jack Wayans, the seasoned vet and assistant coach, rose to his feet. “Hey. Both you boys cool it. Now.” Blackjack didn't need to shout at all and the room went almost silent. “Ya’ll got somethin’ to say, say it. But I ain’t about to have none’uh that nonsense and finger pointin’ in this locker room. Got it?”

Both men nodded and took deep breaths. Truth be told, No one was more respected in the Biker's organization then Wayans. No one controlled a locker room like he did. Heck, many internally thought that bringing Wayans on as a coach might have saved the Bikers season from the now 'epic' collapse. At the very least, it had provided some much needed stability in the post Vicki Turner/ Fenwatcher Era. After dealing with the Big Bad Bikers of the past, handling an aging Malone and the young buck Redfield was almost child’s play.

Ryan tapped his temple repeatedly with his forefinger trying to figure out how to drive his point home. That gave the Wayans a chance to speak.

"How are we supposed to work together to beat another FBA team in the playoffs when we can't even put on our damn pants on without arguing with each other? How can we trust each other out on the court when we shut each other out in the locker room? Someone got an answer?" The black lab looked around again, imploring someone to speak up.

"We can't!" barked Cassidy Whitelatch, his confidence beaming as he backed his fellow canine. "We gotta play hard and trust in each other. Like I said before, no one wants us to win! No one outside this locker room gives us a chance in hell to win. And ya know what? Screw’em. We can’t buy into that hype. We know how good we can be. We’re the best defense team in the league. But if all we got is each other, then damn it, let’s fight for each other."

Malone didn't look over at the collie, but his ears pivoted to listen. And then a grin emerged on the roo's usually stony face.

"Did y'all hear that?" Malone quipped. "Now doesn't that sound like a real reasonable answer? And you guys don't want to listen to this guy?"

Grumbles rumbled low in the locker room. A huff escaped from Dylan's nostrils, though the roo chose to ignore that, instead standing up to put his bag in his locker. Cassidy meanwhile was panting hard. His impassioned words were being backed by Biker legends Ryan Malone and Jack Wayans. He knew Malone hated rookies and barely liked most of his teammates on any given night and Wayans had backed him all year. He would be lying if he said he wasn’t honored and a little taken back by their support. But he dare not let it show now.

"We win together, or we don't win," Malone growled as he slammed his locker door, startling some of the players. "Now I hope you're as pissed as I am about this game. Let's bring that attitude to Game 2. I want to see aggression and defense like your lives depend on it. We gotta take this personal. We can't let them embarrass us again. We're Bikers, dammit. That means all of us. You too, Redfield." He glanced again at Dylan, who returned the stare.

“Now bring it in.”

Ryan put his paw out towards the middle of the locker room. Cassidy was right behind him, looking around at the rest of the team. Wayans eased up out of his seat and put a hand on top of Cassidy’s. The big Russian bear was next, followed by a few more of the Bikers. Before long, everyone but Dylan had their hand in the circle as they all stared at him.

Redfield glared at Malone, Cassidy and Wayans, the triplets leading the charge for unity. It was a scene he had witnessed before, but for the life of him he couldn’t ignore their arguments. Above all else, Dylan was a competitor. He put his hand on top of the pile and gave a reassuring nod to Malone. Even at their worst, there was still a baseline respect between the past and present of the Biker’s organization.

"1, 2, 3 Bikers!" they all chanted with various levels of enthusiasm. As everyone turned and headed back to their lockers, Malone extended his hand to Redfield, who in turn shook it firmly. The two gave each other a nod and smiled. The roo turned to walk towards Cassidy, who was still grinning smugly.

"And take that ego down a notch, rook. You still played like shit," he said, smirking slightly at the collie as he walked past.

“Yeah I did. But it ain’t happening again. Someone’s gotta help you out old man.” He chuckled, but a few members of the team turned to catch Ryan’s reaction. Oddly enough, he patted Whitelatch on the shoulder, keeping the smirk on his face. His lack of a comment and the seemingly meaningless gesture was probably the biggest compliment Malone had ever given to a rookie. But even Cass knew when to shut up as Malone walked back to his area. The team moral was up as coach Wayans scanned the room. He knew Texas would get a different Bikers team come game 2. And he couldn't be more proud of his team captain and their rookie center.

Featured Characters

Ryan Malone Cassidy Whitelatch Dylan Redfield Jack Wayans Griff Rasputin

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Darkwolf, JTigerclaw and Wendingo