IC: Charles "Chuck" Bonaven Head coach's office, Mehsla Vhetin, Keldabe, Mandalore The excitement was gone, the cacophony of millions of fans had long faded and the players themselves well on their way home. But as Chuck Bonaven contemplated a season at the crossroads, he saw a single light still burning bright in the darkness. Approaching it's source slowly he saw it emanated from the office just off the locker room, an office that the nameplate on the door simply said L. Braun Coach. The old man was going over game reports of the Lightning match up, getting a first glimpse of what was in store for the Mercs in their final home game of the 277 season. Chuck knocked gently at the door and Braun looked up to him from where he sat behind his desk, nodding softly. "Heck of a game out there today," Chuck said. He meant it too. It had been a hell of a game, the hits and been hard and players had been flying all over the field. For the most part the refs had let them play. It was just the sort of game that the Mercs had originally been built for, and one that their fans loved. Sadly, the Smugglers seemed a little more built for it and, after a contest that had gone beyond tense, had once again emerged victorious over their hated rivals. It was the Mercs first home loss this season, and it stung. The Mercs had done well in their other "rivalry games", collecting hardware more often than not from their foes. But in the game with no trophy, the game of pure hatred between Nar Shaddaa and Mandalore, the Mercs had come up short for three seasons in a row. In was heartbreaking to Chuck, who so wanted at least something to hang his hat on before Felps went on destroying the team. Her plans for this season were crashing around her, but he knew that she would gut the team even further this offseason to achieve her goal. "Someday we'll learn how to beat those guys," Braun's gruff response made Chuck smile wanly. Braun didn't know what Felps had in store for the team, and Chuck knew he couldn't tell him. They would both get fired if Felps ever got wind of it. "You know, Youv'e done a great job..." "Braun looked at him sharply. "3-3 is hardly a great job." "With this group...it is." Braun shook his head. "There is some real talent on this team. The veterans are playing back to form, and some of the rookies are developing faster than I thought." There was a gleam in his eye now. "There's two or three potential all-stars out there." Chuck could only shake his head. He knew that Felps would trade away or release any veteran talent this off season. Any rookie that showed signs of improvement that fast would probably also be let go or sent down to Concordia. Oh she wanted a winner, just not on Mandalore. "You really believe that don't you?" "I know it. We're contenders now Chuck. Not just for the playoffs, but for the Cup title." It saddened Chuck to see coach so delusional. He liked Braun, he liked this team and dammit, he liked his job. Seeing Braun actually believe this without knowing the whole truth, it was worse than losing to the Smugglers. He broke down. "Rak'el Felps will never allow that to happen..." TAG: No one.