It’s just outside Huffines tennis center at 8:00 on Friday morning. Freeman stands with his inner circle surveying the soon to be bloodied battlefield, keeping a wary eye on the massing horde from Corpus Christi. In the distance a headless rider approaches. Seeing the slain envoy from the Houston ranks, one of Freeman’s cadre is dismayed. “People should know when they are conquered.” Freeman stares into the distance, “Would you, Waters? Would you?” There is nothing to do now but begin the onslaught as Freeman rallies his legions. “At my signal, unleash hell!”
And so it begins. These battles have raged for generations. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither will it be destroyed so quickly. Indeed, progress has been made on different fronts, but the Houston Empire remains intact. The warring Dallas tribes have yet to unite to defeat the Empire, but they will now be attacking from three different flights at once.
To the north the forces of Dallas, Wild Dallas and Dallas West have made camp in three different facilities. Pickett addresses his troops, “An hour from now I will be drinking my beer. Imagine where you will be, and it will be so. Hold the net! Stay with me! If you find yourself alone, playing on red clay with the sun on your face, do not be troubled. For you are at Roland Garros and you are already dead!”
Rossouw makes his final preparations as well. Studying his endless roster he asks a trusted advisor, “Can any of them play?” The advisor surveys the roster as well, “some are good for playing, others for dying. You need both I think.” Reiman relaxes with his troops in the comforting shade of SpringPark. Soon he too will be engulfed in the melee. For now, he scans his roster, adjusting his battle plan for those who are now encamped elsewhere. Much is yet to be decided. The hill tribes from Austin, the river people of San Antonio, and the desert nomads of West Texas all have significant roles to play in the battle to come.
Rusty Aurelius stands atop a hill reflecting on the battles of his youth and anticipating the struggle below. “I like Pickett’s chances,” he says to no one. For in Pickett, he saw something of himself. “Fear and wonder, a powerful combination. I think he knows what USTA sectionals is. It is the mob. Conjure magic for them and they’ll be distracted. Take away their chance to play on Sunday and they’ll still roar. The beating heart of sectionals is not the glow of the champion’s plate, it’s the sand of the coliseum. He’ll bring them death – and they will love him for it.” “Besides,” he mused, “You know I’m not picking Houston.”
Are you not entertained?