It's that time again. Streaming live to you from the Entertainment and Sports Brain Network, this is your only source for real fantasy football, the annual Ultra Bowl game highlights. This year's matchup is one of the starkest contrasts in playing style in Ultra Bowl history, with the New York Ninjas versus the Alaska Yetis. This year the game was held in the brand new Tesla Memorial Stadium in Colorado (Interestingly, the stadium was not built specifically for the Colorado C'thulus, who will be moving instead to a new home stadium in R'yleh. The project is due for completion sometime in mid to late 2011.). After some of the temporal and spacial problems caused by the malfunction of a local inter-dimensional transporter unit, it was thought that the field would be unusable. However, thanks to deft, and according to some, slightly illegal, deals with local safety officials, the field was cleared for use right on schedule. Fans marveled at the shiny weather-proof force field and luxurious ultra-modern anti-gravity seating, with most figuring out how to use said seating after sustaining only minor injuries.
- The Yetis, in characteristic fashion, arrived on the field loudly. The din from the arrival of the team was clearly taken as a challenge by the Yeti cheerleaders, who responded by jumping up and down and yelling back even louder. The sight of an angry, strategically shaved female yeti cheerleader is indescribable, but even if we could, for legal reasons, we wouldn't. No one is entirely certain when the Ninjas arrived. The referees eventually had to ask where they were, whereupon they materialized from various hiding places around the field, including one player who was disguised,ironically, as a referee.
- The coin toss went to the Ninjas, who communicated their desire to receive through secret pieces of microfilm hidden in various places on each of the referees. One of the referees petitioned to have the Ninjas barred from the game on the grounds that “a man's underwear is private”, but the writers of the Ultra Bowl rulebook (now revised twice a year, to be on the safe side), apparently hadn't thought of that one yet. One of the Yetis, upset by the coin flip, thoroughly smashed the coin with a fist before plodding off to their end of the field.
- The Yetis offered a magnificent kickoff, which made it the 70 yard mark. Ninja receiver Arnold Itsimoru caught the kickoff with a magnificent triple somersault and began to run up-field. In an unanticipated move, with Yeti defenders closing in, Itsimoru threw a smoke pellet into the ground, and continued running as the bewildered Yetis collided behind him. The confusion allowed Itsimoru to get an unheard-of touchdown on the return.
- The Yetis bounced back quickly, unmercifully using their aptitude for snow and ice spells to literally freeze the Ninjas in their tracks. At this point it became clear that even a Ninja is not especially agile when suffering from severe frostbite. Counteracted by strategic and agile defense by the Ninjas, the Yetis made a hard-won struggle for dominance of the field, scoring a goal but failing the conversion thanks to a deftly handled Katana by Ninja defender Jordan Faraday. The teams were stalemated for the remainder of the first quarter.
- In the second quarter, Snowfang, quarterback for the Yetis, threw a high arc long bomb just out of the reach of the Ninjas to Windchill, a young yeti whose relatively small size (standing just seven feet, four inches), and uncharacteristic agility have made him a favorite for the MVP spot three years running. Although the ball was intercepted by Daniel Lee of the Ninjas, the speed lost in intercepting the ball allowed Windchill to catch him. A personal foul was called on Windchill, however, for proceeding to hold Lee upside-down and shake him until smoke pellets and throwing stars dropped from his uniform like confetti.
- The Ninjas managed to wrest control of the ball back from Yetis soon after, scoring a touchdown in quarter two. The Yeti line did not realize until it was too late that they had one additional player, Ninja tight-end Barry Wader, who had cleverly disguised himself as one of the Yetis, and who, upon catching a thrown bomb, proceeded to run the opposite direction at speed. The Yetis made a point of counting their players before each play from this point on.
- The Ninjas also scored via the brilliant tactic of using the imposing yetis as ladders before they could cast spells. Though not always successful, it was enough to put severe pressure on the Yeti linebackers and seriously disrupt their play style. Complemented by a variety of fascinating pyrotechnic abilities which counteracted the Yetis' snow casts, the ninjas began to reclaim dominance of the field. Experts near the field began to pass comment about the effects of the spells on the fabric of reality, and asked that measuring equipment be brought in.
- Preservering, the yetis also scored a goal when Snowfang grabbed the ball, wrapped it tightly in his arms, and charged directly though the line of much-smaller ninjas. To the disappointment of Yeti fans, additional points were not counted for the three Ninjas and one Yeti Lineman kicked through the uprights by Pinecrusher on his mighty conversion kick, which ended the first half.
- The halftime show was provided by Pterodactylysis , a symphonic electronica band with strong big-band influences. The crowd thrilled to “Trilobyte Rhythm” which has enjoyed a three week run in the top ten on the pop charts. A brand-new, undebuted cover of the song “Ode to a Martian Girl” also made an appearance, the cool, thin harmonics striking a haunting and nostalgic feel in the air. But the mood quickly picked back up with “Towerfall” and finished with a spectacular rendition of “Heart of Krakatoa”, including taking advantage of recently perfected virtual reality technology in Tesla stadium, which finished the halftime show with a fully immersive simulation of a volcanic eruption. To say that the audience was surprised would be something of an understatement. Paramedics were called to deal with the results of the stampede.
- In an ironic note, therefore, the second half began with an opening play by the Yetis designed to even the field, wherein Snowfang cast a spell that deep-chilled the entire stadium, turning the supercooled grass into thousands of tiny spikes. The Ninja's kicker nevertheless made an almost impossible leap off the goalpost to deliver a very respectable kick which was intercepted by the Yetis via throwing Windchill into the air. Fans scrambled to get out of the way as he tumbled from thirty feet in the air and plowed to earth, knocking over the goalpost and leaving a swathe of destruction through the stands, scoring a definitive return touchdown and moral victory for the Yetis.
- At this point, officials in the stands started to pick up some worrying signals as the increasing levels of magic usage weakened the already damaged fabric of reality in the immediate vicinity of the stadium. After the goalpost was put back, the Ninjas took possession. Responding to the aggressive Yeti tactics, they summoning a full-sized dragon made of fire, which burnt craters into the ground and set yeti defender Winterbranch's hair on fire. The fire dragon is a perfectly normal cast by the Ninjas in the late game, but in the circumstances it also mysteriously turned all the seats in the stadium into giant rubber ducks. It was generally agreed, however, that this made them far more useable.
- Not to be outdone, the Yetis called on the favorite Ultra Bowl tactic of tampering with the weather, encouraging a storm of freezing rain so aggressive that it shorted the weather-proof paneling on the forcefields (giving semi-serious electrical shocks to some of the fans), and seriously cooled off the dragon that had assisted the Ninjas in fighting their way up-field. Their ace lost, the Ninjas nevertheless scored an additional touchdown while they had the advantage of field position, Ninja Quarterback Francis Pretori spinning deftly down the field while touching the spiky turf only with a pair of knives. Two would-be tacklers on the Yeti side withstained superficial wounds while attempting to stop his advance up the field. In a related event, several of the vendors found that their wares had turned into horrible tentacled creatures with far too many eyes. Through a twist of good fortune, however, it was discovered that the creatures were delicious when wrapped in bacon or when dipped in chocolate. A major ice-cream company has since expressed interest in using them to expand their product line.
- The Ninjas began to move from their more defense-oriented stance, traditional for ninjitsu, to a more magic-heavy stance, casting an impenetrable haze of black smoke over the field to give themselves cover to maneuver. The Yetis, however, adapted to a very harsh environment often prone to conditions of limited visibility, soon proved that they were perfectly capable of detecting the ninjas through other means, swatting them away with suprising ease. The attack was finally ended entirely by a well-aimed freezing tornado that sucked up the smoke, four Ninja linemen, two jumboscreens and a chocolate-covered-otherworldly-creature-o
n-a-stick vending cart.
- To gain the upper hand, the Yetis strategically adjusted their weather spell into a thick downpour of snow. The Yetis managed to wail on the Ninjas through the tactic of magically packing on thick layers of snow and ice that both protected them against blows and increased their size and strength (an innate ability that gained yetis the name “abominable snowman”). Opposed only by the occasional well placed bomb, which would blow a lineman apart in an avalanche of snow, the Yetis proceeded to recoup two touchdowns with more relative ease than any team that has yet gone against the Ninjas, evening the score by the end of the third quarter. Key structural supports in parts of the stadium turned variously into glass, cookie dough, and a giant llama, but fans were evacuated quickly and no fatalities occurred. The llama, however, is still at large.
- As the fourth quarter opened, with everything still to play for, the Ninjas opted for a spell that caused giant, red-hot steel blades to pop suddenly out of the field without any apparent pattern. This is a rarely used spell for the Ninjas, but their superior training gives them an advantage that their opponents do not have, and it showed. The spell made the oversized, snow-packed Yetis too encumbered and slow to react sufficiently in their environment, and the Ninjas pressed forward for all they were worth, battling the Yetis to within ten yards of their goal line. In an unorthodox move, the Yetis used a desperate last minute spell to bury everyone, including themselves, in seven feet of snow. With their massive snowshoe-esque feet allowing them to tread over the top of the buried blades, the halfback, Iceclaw, pushed the ball back 40 yards, before dropping into a crevasse that had been melted in the snow by a blade. After a short consultation with the doctors, then with a necromancer, Iceclaw returned to play with only a slight lingering craving for brains.
- At this point, due to the ongoing magic usage, the traditional rules of gravity began to wear a little thin. Dense balls of snow and huge sections of ground hovered around the stadium according to local gravitational effects. Fans continued to cheer from the stands, some sitting on any available comfortable spot on the ceiling or wall, some having fastened themselves somehow to their rubber ducks, and in a few unsettling cases, some having used the seat-belts that the ducks appeared with in the first place. A confusing scrum started on the bottom of one of the larger snowballs which drifted slowly towards the Ninja side as the players fought for control of the ball. Most plays, however, involved the player in possession of the ball leaping from patch to patch, occasionally lurching sideways and falling into the bleachers or experiencing the dreaded fall-into-the-sky (at least until they left the vicinity of the stadium, whereupon they generally would fall back down). This allowed for some interesting ambush plays by Ninjas, who would often sneak up on Yetis from underneath to steal the ball (often to have a yeti smash the entire globe they were standing on a moment later). At one memorable point, a chase encircled one of the larger globes of snow four times before the whistle was blown. Despite the confusion caused by the fifty yard line drifting to roughly twenty yards from the Yetis and the thirty yard line for the Ninjas getting lost entirely, the teams appeared dead even.
- With one minute left on the clock, Snowfang fell back to regroup. In a final all-or-nothing move, he arranged the pieces of snow into a larger version of the individual snow-packing spell used earlier by the team. The resulting snow-golem, resisting the conflicting gravitational forces, began to trudge toward the ninja end zone with Snowfang on its shoulder. In response, a contingent of Ninjas quickly erected an enormous yin-yang patterned shield to block the advancing giant. But, taking advantage of an upward gravitational current, Snowfang jumped off the golem and high into the air above the stadium, shooting back down again at terminal velocity and puncturing the roof as he fell into the Ninja endzone, thus scoring the final touchdown of the game. Due to the combined duress of the golem spell and the impact of the falling Yeti, the entire outer shell of the stadium turned into Swedish to Venusian Dictionaries and blue peanuts and exploded.