I've never been a nationalistic man, but the day University of Ottawa ate my High School still stays burned in my memory. I remember the glare of its gigantic, razor teeth from kilometres away. I remember the quake of the ground its mechanical, steel legs emanated. I remember the screaming and chaos that surrounded me as we awaited our doom.
Even in those days it was foolhardy to run outside the school. Sure, the air back then was more or less breathable, but where would you go? The land was barren. Pillaged of all its worth. Raped by our insatiable desire to grow. That was why we were going to be eaten. Because we were small, and they were big, and there was nothing we could do about it. I'd accepted it as a fact of life back then, and so I could only stare out the window as it grew closer, and closer.
There was no point of resisting. It wasn't in the school's budget to build a set of legs and a giant jaw to crush smaller schools. We'd decided long ago we'd have to be passive, and subsist until we either starved or were eaten. Besides, being eaten wasn't all bad. A few of us—the best of us—would be allowed to join the ranks of normal society with the school we were eaten by. On an individual level that was a comforting thought. Of course the ones who were not especially skilled would be sent to work as slaves until dead in the pits of the university's hull but... That wasn't what I needed to think about. It was just another fact of life.
I was accepted into the ranks of the university. They saw me for a budding skill in StarCraft. At the time I thought StarCraft was just a silly game I played for fun. I found out only too soon how wrong I was when they enrolled me in a program entirely to develop my StarCraft skills. In my introductory courses they explained that universities had an unwritten code not to eat each other. They'd decided each of them were so large that even the winner of the battle would incur massive damage that would soon leave it prey to another university that hadn't been in a fight recently. But with High Schools and Elementary Schools diminishing, they would need to feed off of one another. And so a new system was born.
It was called, charmingly, the CSL. Large schools would meet, jaws closed, and play each other in a round of StarCraft matches. The winner would be awarded 10% of the school's resources. Enough to eat well until the next round for the winner, and enough to be forced to eat the unfortunate alternate nutritions technology had introduced to the roaming universities.
It wasn't until I had completed two years of training that things started getting worrisome for the university. They were losing their ace StarCraft players left and right from unexpected suicides. No one knew why they suddenly left the university, but it was getting to be that we would never eat well again if we didn't act fast. So they held a competition open to StarCraft players who hadn't yet completed their training, to see if any rookies could fill the gap. They called it the OSL.
With two more years of training still left, I didn't think I stood much of a chance. One of the other players even had completed initial training and was planning to finish advanced training before he joined the StarCraft corps of the university. It was he who I shared a table with for the entire competition.
We played several warm up games and he destroyed me most every time. I wasn't used to playing StarCraft here. I wasn't used to any of this. In training we played with people our own level, using our own equipment. Here I was forced to use equipment I was unfamiliar with. Here I was going to have to adapt to a player with much more training than myself.
Among other players I met at the OSL were Cake and Gooser. Cake was a large black man with muscles the side of my head, and a tatoo of an anchor on his chest which I could see, because he did not wear a shirt. Gooser was mutant of sorts who had two more arms than I was used to seeing on a human being. They seemed to come in handy with his StarCraft play.
Still, even with opponents like these, I'd made the grueling climb to the finals. It was only fitting that the person I should meet in the finals would be the man in advanced studies. He would be tough all right, but I thought I was beginning to figure him out.
Game one was hard, but I knew then that a properly executed 9poolspeed would be his downfall. He lost to it in the beginning of game 2. Survived it in game 3 to come back and kill me while my mutas were out of position. In game 4 I knew that the only thing better than 9pool speed is 5pool. He BBSed and lost after testing my micro against his.
And that was it. I'd achieved the coveted rank of Golden Mouse in only my second year of training. A victory that would soon become a weight on my shoulders as the next CSL match approached.
Though he had lost to me in the finals, Stork was not left out of the university's StarCraft corps. Far from it, as he was one of the best players we had. Were it not for discovering the one fatal flaw in his play, I would have lost to him in the OSL, and he would be our university's Golden Mouse. By now he has fixed the hole in his play, and is a stronger player than me. A guilty secret that makes me uncomfortable when our team plays me thinking I will be an automatic win.
On our first match of the CSL, we played against a place called Carleton University. They were a strong team that often inhabited the same grounds as we did, and so it made me nervous to know they would be our first opponents. Our captain decided to send in one of the few veterans our university had left to play the first set. Of this I can only be thankful, and since he won it took some pressure of me. I played second, and won my match as well. It seemed Carleton wasn't as strong as they once were. Another rookie, named Thratur played, and won in dynamic fashion. A 3:0 victory.
When we returned we were greeted as heroes. The University of Ottawa was not doomed after all. Hoo. Ray.
It was a sour victory. Our captain had vanished before the matches finished and has still not returned. In his will he wrote for me to become the captain of the team, something I don't understand to this day. Why me? Why not a veteran? It seemed to much responsibility. It weighs heavily on my mind. But I do not give up. I arranged the players of the next match. None volunteered to take the first set, and so I did. Gaberiel second. Stork third. If necessary, Simon, our veteran would win or get us to ace.
It wasn't necessary. Again, we dominated. 3:0. 3:0. 3:0. Mount Allison University from Sackville. I hadn't expected a challenge, but I hadn't expected it to be so easy either. We, the rag tag team of rookies, with a veteran in tow and myself leading, were beating the well established giants that had been defending their universities for years.
I look to the future. I see Harvard College. I see it burning. I've devised the ultimate plan. We will win. We will make the name of Ottawa feared.