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Thread: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

  1. #21
    Curtain Jerker
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    The Book of El Demente
    Vol. I - The Insanity
    Chapter 8 - Chaos





    The scene opens up on a sunny day with little to no clouds in the sky. Palm trees sway in the slight breeze and the sound of splashing echos in the air. A group of people are swimming in a large resort sized swimming pool with others dotted alone the sides lying on loungers. THe camera pans around until it finds its subject. It maneuvers around the pool toward El Demente. He is lying on a sun lounger wearing only a pair of red board shorts and his black and white mask. He has his Gauntlet Championship lying across his lap. Once the camera is next to El Demente he opens his eyes and stretches his arms above his head before folding them behind it.

    Everyone deserves to take a vacation everyone once in awhile, right? Just because everyone views me as this monster who hurts people doesn't mean I'm not human. It doesn't mean I can't relax an enjoy myself, right? While I do find extreme enjoyment in violence and roughing up my coworkers, I also enjoy lying in the sun and working on my tan. Since I joined the FWA it has been constant shows and touring. If I'm not on the road and beatin people up, I am usually in the gym, but I need a break too. You see, if I kept putting all of my focus on hurting people and didn't take the time to recharge my batteries, the beating wouldn't be as effective. Then, I would have more people like Stu Grimes who think they can walk off the ass kicking I give them. So don't take my leisure as sign of me taking my opponent at Light Out lightly.

    El Demente sits up in his chair and swings his legs over the side. He reaches over to the table next to him and finishes off the drink he had sitting there. He takes a sharp inhale of air after probably from the straight alcohol that was in there. He sets the glass back down and stretches his arms out at his sides and gestures around him.

    If I was the monster everyone in the FWA thinks I am, then these people would be running from me in fear, but they are all enjoying a nice day at the pool. Everyone here is more worried about themselves than those around them. If I was a monster, they wouldn't even see the danger they were all in. I'm merely someone who works in an industry where hurting people pays money. It also helps that those people I am put in a position to hurt deserve the beating they have coming. Sauce Man was false hero. Tommy Bedlam took more from the world than he gave it. Caesar stood up for the wrong man. Stu Grimes stole time from those who deserved it more. Everyone in the FWA has done wrong and must pay the price. Unfortunately for all of them, the price they must pay will be at my hands. I have been burdened with the responsibility of righting the wrongs of these people and I will not rest until all debts are paid. My journey leads me to Lights Out where I have to collect from Eclipse.

    El Demente picks up his championship and toses it onto his broad shoulder. He pats it and stands up, showcasing his immense size.

    I do not underestimate the unknown. Every day of my life I wake up and have to fight the unknown within my mind. Do you know what it's like to not know who exactly you are? I know the purpose I have in life, I know why I wake up in the morning, but I do not know who I was five years ago. I have learned to deal with the unknown on a day to day basis. That's why I won't underestimate Eclipse. No one knows who he is, where he came from, or why he is in the FWA. I don't care about any of that. The only thing I care about is making him pay his debt. He has done nothing except decieve the FWA and it's fans. He hides who he is because he doesn't want anyone to know. I hide my face because who I am does not matter. This mask is my face. This mask is the last things these pour fools see before they lie on their back for a count of three. I have heard people compare the too of us because we are masked men. That's like comparing a mortician to a brain surgeon. Both of them went to school, but you don't want a mortician working on your brain. Eclipse is a self-righteous, egotistical coward. He thinks he is gods gift to wrestling, but won't show his face.

    El Demente sets his title at his feet and reaches into his pocket. He pulls out a remote control with several buttons on it. He preses one without breaking eye contact with the camera. A loud air raid siren begins to play out speakers around the pool. Everyone in and around the pool scramble to evacuate as fast as possible. One woman slips and smashes her face into the poolside flooring. Someone helps her up, her face covered in blood, and leaves the area.

    ECLIPSE! I don't care who you are or who you think you are! At Lights Out I am going to break you! I am going to make you realize the mistake you have made for putting that mask on your head. I am going to make you pay for your cowardice. I am going to give you a glimpse inside my mind. I am going to let you see why I wear my mask. I am going to show you what true chaos is.

    El Demente starts to laugh in a horrifying manner, never breaking eye contact with the camera.

  2. #22
    Fight The Power
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread







    "No, I don't want to die. Not here, not like this. Why did I even come here?" Chris thinks to himself as he lays on the ground, the right side of his face planted in the blistering hot desert sand as he gasps for air, his breaths labored and his eyes tired.

    His mouth is so dry that it's excruciatingly painful, his lips and tongue beginning to crack and bleed. This was bad idea, he knows that now. He reaches for his shovel that's laying on the ground, the one he brought with him on his excursion, but it's too far out of reach and and the idea of crawling for it sounds like a futile effort in his current state. He turns his body from his side to his back, now staring at the sky, the sand caked onto the left side of his face. With a fierce intensity, the sun lashes down on him relentlessly and he can feel that shimmering gold orb in the sky draw every drop of moisture from his frail, broken body. Before death, most people who die from dehydration often experience delirium before falling into a state of unconsciousness. If that was to be his fate, he'd rather he just go to sleep sooner than later and skip the delirium part. However, as an inexplicably placed sandcastle in the middle of the desert stands just a couple feet from him, he knows he may not have that luxury. How did it get there? Is it even real? It can't be. Nevermind the fact that it's likely been several years since another human being set foot on this patch of the Chihuahuan Desert, but wet sand in the midst of this sweltering wasteland was an even less common commodity. You can't build a sandcastle with dry sand, and in this place where rainfall was nothing more than an urban legend told by coastal natives, everything is dry, dryer than limestone, dryer than ash, dryer than Michelle von Horrowitz's tragic excuse for a personality. Ah, that's right. Now he remembers why he came here. Her. He came out here because of her, and now he was to die out here, alone, where no one in the world would ever find him. She'd won. But she wasn't supposed to.

    The sandcastle was large and expertly crafted, with so many intricate details, such as cracks in the stones and ripples in the water over the surrounding moat, it looked as if someone took hours to build it. Suddenly, the sandcastle begins to crumble all on it's own before blowing away like dust in the wind, as if it was never really there. Because in all actuality, it wasn't. Chris musters all the energy he has to sit himself upright as the thought of dying in the desert as a result of some ill-advised journey of self-actualization begins to sting far worst than the blisters forming on his sunburnt skin. Ever since returning to the FWA, Chris Kennedy has been trying to figure out who he was in the current status quo, and while most others would have simply gone with the flow, his incessant need to know himself before he could possibly know his opponent was going to ultimately be his undoing.

    "You can't give up quite yet, Chris. We have many miles to go still. If you're going to die you may as well do it after you've crossed the finish line." a warm, feminine voice calls out to Chris from behind him.

    Startled, he turns around with a quickness that he didn't know he still had in his current state. When he sees what he sees before him, his eyes grow wide and his mouth hangs agape. He can hardly believe his own eyes, and he's not sure if he even wants to because of the implications that come along with accepting who stands before him. Either he is actually giving into the delirium and hallucinating as a result of the dehydration, or he's already died and he's staring at a ghost right now. He's not sure which scenario is worse.

    "Otherwise, what was it all for?" His mother says, standing before him where the sandcastle once was, the picture of beauty and elegance with her white gown and long dark hair flowing with the wind.

    Chris closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath, waiting for this moment to blow over and fade away, but it doesn't. As he opens his eyes, he sees his mother standing closer to him, her helping hand extended towards him.

    "Come now, honey. You've work to do."







    Dearest Chris,

    While I am not exactly sure how the years have treated you since the last time you've seen me, I do hope they have been kind. If your father has followed my instructions, then he has given you this letter today, on your 18th birthday. Given the brief amount of time afforded to me be my prognosis, it has probably been 6-8 years since you have seen my face or heard my voice, at least in person, but I am delighted to inform you that as the waves crash along the shore, you and your sister are right there in front of me building a sandcastle. The two of you have been at it for close to an hour now, and your little face looks so focused and determined! It's such a beautiful day today, and as I won't have many more days like this, I'd be remiss to take it for granted.

    I can only imagine the pain you've had to endure in the days that will come to follow, the struggle you'll have had to overcome while adapting to a world without me. More than anything, I wish I was there to console you during all those sleepless nights where you tossed and turned, wondering if I was up there looking down on you, cursing God for taking me from you and asking him why this had to be this way. People will have no doubt told you that this is all part of some master plan, that the lord works in mysterious ways, and that one day you and I see each other again. I don't know if the man you've become is one that believes in God or any organized religion at all. Myself, I've never been the religious type, but I've always been spiritual. I do believe in a higher power, though I have my doubts he or she is the jealous, spiteful dictator in the sky that some book written by simple men thousands of years ago would lead us to believe. But what I do believe, with the absolute utmost certainty, whether we're angels in some eternal kingdom in the clouds or if we are are a pair of shining stars resting among millions of others across the cosmos, you and I will be together again someday.

    The hardest part about cancer isn't coming to terms with the fact that you're going to die. It isn't the surgeries or the chemo treatments, it's not the precious few hours you have left being wasted within the confines of a hospital room when you should be doing bigger and better things with those limited hours. No, the hardest part is thinking about those you love and imagining what their world is going to be like without you, knowing that you won't be there for the birthdays, the graduations, the weddings, or anything else. That's what really hurts, Chris. Though I know, all of that pales in comparison to he pain one feels when losing a parent at such a young age and I hate that you've had to endure this, though I like to believe that at this point in your life, you've made peace with this and you've learned to lived your life. That's what I want. You still have your entire future ahead of you, and I'm confident you'll go on to do great things in this small world that I've always believed you were too big for.

    I'm incredibly sorry for all the birthdays that I've missed, but I damn sure wasn't going to miss this one. You're a man now, and as a man you have an obligation to yourself and to the lives you touch along the way to be the best man you can possibly be. That's why I want to give you some valuable advice now, advice that the version of you that's currently frolicking through the sand before my very eyes is not yet ready to hear, but I trust you'll be.

    Cancer comes in many forms. People think of cancer and they think of abnormal cells growing out of control and invading various parts of their physical form, but that's a major oversimplification. There are many types of cancer that would rather target your mind and spirit rather than your body. The unfortunate reality of these cancers is that they aren't ever diagnosed by a doctor, and in most cases they won't be identified as a danger to you until they've ravaged your mental health and by then the damage is often done. This type of cancer can be a dead end job, an addiction or unhealthy obsession, a growing pile of debt with no end in sight, or worst of all, a person. This is what I wish I knew when I was your age. There are people who will invade your mental residency and spread their toxicity throughout your thoughts until they completely consume you. They will take everything they can from you and won't lose a single night's sleep. That want very badly to wear you down until you're nothing and then steal your shine. You can't let them, Chris.. They are nothing more than a tumor on your soul and you'd do very well to just cut that tumor out yourself, painful as that may be. There will come many times in your life when you encounter people such as these, and when you do, I hope this letter resonates with and head my words.

    Right now, I would love, so very much, to see your face and learn more about the grown man who was once my precocious, charming little boy. I have full confidence that your grandparents have steered you down the right path and provided you with all the love and guidance you needed to be who I always knew you could be.

    I love you Chris. From the day you came into this world to the day I drew my last breath, you were the most important thing in my whole world, and I will always be with you. Take care of your little sister, be good to your Nanna and Poppy, and never forget the words I wrote in this letter. Never let the toxic people have the upper hand. To do that would be to let the turkeys drag you down to the ground when you should be soaring high like the eagle you are. Never give them the satisfaction. Take care of yourself, sweetheart.




    Chris sits alone in a corner booth at the Three-Coins Diner, his hands clutching the letter he's carried with him for 16 years. He couldn't recall the last time he had read it in full, and he wasn't entirely sure why he felt compelled to do so now. However, on this day, it was burning a hole in his coat pocket. There was a sense that unknown forces were at work, knowing what Chris was about to do, and they needed him to finish the "required reading" before setting out.

    His fingers trace the tear stains on the paper his mother left behind. Throughout the years, he read this letter to himself and most of the time, he held back his tears, but every now and then, he lost the battle. Whenever this happened, Chris was always careful not to shed any tears of his own so as not to leave stains on the letter, as he would no longer be able to recognize the ones she left behind. He remembers building the sandcastle with Daniella, the waves crashing into the shore, and his mother sitting under a shady canopy under a white summer dress, wiping the tears from her cheeks as she scribbled something down in her notebook. At that moment in time, he didn't understand what she was doing. Years later, when he received this letter, he was able to view that scene through a new lens.

    He folds the letter up and slides it back into the front pocket of his black leather jacket, letting out a deep breath as he does this. He looks down at his coffee and just fixates on it for a few seconds. Blacker than midnight on a moonless night, blacker than his father's heart, blacker than the void that awaits us all after death. He's reminded of the night's sky the evening Diana Kennedy left this world, how it didn't look as if there were a single star in sight, how he had sat on the curb outside that hospital building looking down at his scuffed up Converse sneakers feeling like a piece of the universe had died with his mother, and maybe a big part of him had as well.

    After a few moments, his mind begin to drift and he's consumed with thoughts of his tormentor, Michelle von Horrowitz. He thinks of Meltdown, episode 2. Chris as the referee in her match with Dan Maskell, Chris calling the match down the middle. He remembers extending his hand to Michelle afterwards as a show of respect, only for her to literally spit in his face. He thinks of Meltdown #4, Chris and Michelle unleashing hell upon each other all over the streets of Sparta, beating the living shit out each other as if their lives depended on it. Finally, he thinks of The Anniversary Show. He thinks of his beloved, Bell Connelly, just happy to be back in a wrestling ring after doctors told her she was lucky to be walking again, only for Michelle to try and re-injure her surgically repaired neck in an act of desperation because she knew it was the only way she could pick up a win over one of the few people that had already beaten her. Chris began to fell sick to his stomach over the last thought. He thinks of the words his mother wrote in the letter. "Cancer can be a person. There are people who will invade your mental residency and spread their toxicity throughout your thoughts until they completely consume you." His mother's last bit of imparting wisdom rang true today. That's exactly what Michelle von Horrowitz was, she was cancer of the mind and soul, and if Chris Kennedy was to keep living, he needed to cut her out.

    "Hey! Sorry I'm late..." Bell says as she approaches the booth, smiling.

    As the light from the window to the left of Chris sneaks in through the slits between the blinds, casting itself upon Bell's perfectly sculpted, angelic face, Chris smiles warmly. It never ceased to amaze him, even after all these years, how beautiful Bell Connelly was. The kind of beauty that called for attention from everyone in the room without ever insisting upon itself. She was a beacon, the shining light in the never ending canvas of pitch black, a light so vibrant that it guided through the last 6 years. Seeing her here, in this diner, it reminded him that it wasn't all so bad, and he had so much left to fight for. But even he knew, he wasn't doing this for her.

    "No, you're right on time, love."





    There is a an awkward silence lingering between Chris and Bell as he looks down at his plate of bacon and scrambled eggs, stabbing away at his breakfast with his fork before shoveling it into his mouth. Bell just looks at him, not quite sure what to say to him, still processing the information he just delivered. He knew she wouldn't quite understand, but he'd hoped he'd be able to in time, sooner rather than later.

    "Explain it to me again, Chris, because I don't get it. Why are you doing this?" She asks, her head tilted in confusion, her vividly blue eyes squinted as if she's trying to identify a strange insect she'd never seen before.

    "I guess I never did a decent enough job explaining it the first time, so that's fair." He says, setting his fork down on the table and wiping his face with his napkin.

    "Because to me, and I don't know, maybe I'm still shaking the damage Michelle did to my head and my brain is still jelly, but it seems to me that you're sentencing yourself to death here, Chris." She says, the look of concern on her face making it hard for Chris to broach the situation with his foot firmly planted on the ground as he'd intended.

    "It's not that, no. Listen, you already know all about my mother, how she passed when I was young."

    "Of course I do. I wish I'd have met her, she sounds like a wonderful woman." Bell says, her look of fearful concern shifting to an expression of warmth and regret.

    "She was, and let me tell you, she'd have loved you. But anyway, you also know about the hell I went through myself when I myself was diagnosed with cancer 8 years ago. I was supposed to die, Bell. Just like my mother before me. But I didn't. Call it a blessing, call it a curse. I don't know."

    "Oh, Chris..." She says, placing her hand on his.

    "So it's 2014. I'd just finished my final chemotherapy treatment and my cancer was in remission. Despite that, I still had a long ways to go before I was ready to get back into the swing of things. Heaven knows my strength far from 100% and it would be a while before the color came back to my face, before the bags under my eyes would fade, before I was ready to show my face on television, in a wrestling ring. I had weight to put back on. And hair to grow back!" He delivers that last line with a smile, though that smile isn't reciprocated by Bell. She looks like she's on the verge of tears and he hated that. He needed to spit it out already, rip the band aid off.

    "So, at the insistence of my doctor, I went on a wellness retreat. The Sedona Wellness excursion. A two day journey through the desert, medically supervised by naturopathic medical doctors and some local weirdos who eat Quinoa and think crystals have some type of homeopathic healing qualities. Basically, you spend two days in the desert sweating your fucking ass off, meditating, and reflecting on your life, putting into perspective in an effort to take it back. It was a detoxification and rebuilding program intended to repair your psychological and spiritual health after the good doctors in the big city were able to address and correct your physical health. Y'know, I didn't even want to do it at first, figured it was a big waste of time. But for reasons I still don't understand, I shut the door on that part of me that tried to prohibit me from going, and in all honesty, I'm glad I did. The first day was a little rough. There aren't any cellphones allowed, so you keep instinctively checking your pockets to make sure you have no missed calls or messages, only to be reminded that it isn't there and you're so far removed from civilized society that you feel like you're either living in the stone age or some post-apocalyptic civilization, the beginning of time or the end of time, but nowhere in between."

    "And this helped you?" Bell asks, taking a sip of Pepsi through her straw but still maintaining eye contact with Chris.

    "Oh, yeah. It helped a bunch. I purged a lot of negative thoughts I'd been having. Like, was I better off just letting the cancer take me, like it did my mother? What would I do if it happened again? Is life worth living when the looming threat of death is always around the corner? These were the thoughts that consumed my mind in the days leading to that retreat, the last toxic remnants of my cancer. See, when I was out there, sweat drenching my clothes and the sun slapping away at my skin, I wanted more than anything to see my daughters face, to dip my body into my swimming pool and enjoy a nice glass of Chateau Pontet-Canet, and last but not least, I wanted to feel the energy of twenty-to-40 thousand fans calling my name as I walked my ass down a ramp on my way to an FWA ring. While I was out there, I found myself, and I also said goodbye to an old friend."

    "An old friend? You didn't go there alone?"

    "Not exactly. But I came back alone, that's for sure. That old friend I said goodbye to, I buried him out there in that desert. It was the only way I was going to find my way in this new world I was setting foot in."

    "Okay I'm sorry, Chris. You've lost me. Are you telling me you killed a guy, is that what you're telling me right now?" Bell says, her eyes growing wide, her mouth agape in confusion and dread.

    "Yes and no. It's hard to explain."

    "Please try. Please."

    "I will, Bell. In due time. I'm not trying to shroud myself in mystery here, honest. I just don't have the mental energy to try and explain myself any further, I just can't. All I can say, for now, is that I need to go back. I need to go back, and I'm going alone. I'm not bringing my phone either. No connection to the outside world, no distractions. Just, me, myself and I."

    "See, this is where it's starting to feel like a death sentence, Chris." She says.

    "No, Bell. I don't want to die. Quite the contrary. I want to live again."





    As Chris grips the steering wheel of his rented 2021 Range Rover Sport, he can't help but wonder if there were some truth to Bell's words. His initial thoughts were that her claim that this was a "death sentence" was nothing more than hyperbole, prompted out of sheer concern for her partners well-being. But there was an heir of truth to it. After all, they say that Mount Everest was peppered with the dead bodies of hundreds of motivated adventurers. Over 200 to be exact. That was a modest number compared to the lives that had been lost out in the Chihuahuan Desert, so he could certainly understand her concern. However, he couldn't think about that right now. He had to know he was coming back from this, and if he wasn't, well then he was never ready for Michelle von Horrowitz to begin with.

    Chris knew he was cutting it close. In less than 6 hours, the sun would begin to set. He could reach his first destination within 10-15 minutes and that would give him enough time to walk the 5 miles he needed to trek on foot, as there was no road leading to the final destination. He felt confident he could make those 5 miles while he still had daylight. The other 5 miles back, he wasn't so concerned with the sun's guiding light, he wouldn't need it anymore by then.

    "Horse With No Name" by America starts playing on the radio and Chris can't help but laugh to himself. It's as if the universe was providing him with his very own soundtrack to this moment in time. He wasn't sure if that was a good sign, or a bad omen. He turns the radio up and begins nodding his head to the music, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel and singing along.

    "On the first part of the journey. I was looking at all the life. There were plants and birds and rocks and things. There was sand and hills and rings."

    Around him on both sides of the road were vast, never-ending canvases of orange, red, and brown. There was a beauty in the desert that was hard to explain. As far as he could tell, it was the fact that it was mostly untouched by man. There was a purity in it that he couldn't help but admire.

    "The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz. And the sky with no clouds. The heat was hot, and the ground was dry. But the air was full of sound."

    The last time he came here, 8 years ago, he reached his destination via helicopter. Dead Man's Trail was an offshoot that ran from the right side of Interstate 10 that couldn't be traversed by an automobile. A narrow dirt path that, over the years, had been consumed by the sand from both sides to the point where it was no longer a trail at all, but rather a slight dip in the sand. The walk was going to be the hardest part of the journey. If he could make it there and back, there would be nothing in this godforsaken world that he couldn't achieve.

    "I've been through the desert on a horse with no name, It felt good to be out of the rain. In the desert, you can remember your name, 'Cause there ain't no one for to give you no pain."

    He continues down the road further for a few minutes after that. He's mind becomes a blank canvas, no more thoughts of uncertainty clouding his mind. He's momentarily at peace, though little did he know this was simply the calm before the storm. In the distance, he sees the wooden post on the righthand side of the road. Almost there, he thinks to himself. As he approaches sign, we can see the text clearly. El rastro del hombre muerto. Translation: Dead Man's Trail.

    He pulls over to the side of the road near the sign and lets out a deep breath. From his front coat pocket, he pulls his cell phone out, looking over it one last time for any miss calls or messages. There is just one text message left unread, from Bell Connelly.

    "I know you said that I couldn't possibly understand this, that you'll be able to explain it better in due time, but I need you to know that I hate this. I'm worried about you and I just want you back here, now. Please be careful, Chris."

    After opening and reading the text, Chris sits there for a moment trying to figure out how to reply. He starts and stops the message over and over again, hitting the "back" key each time after finding that his words will bring her no solace whatsoever. Realizing that any reply he could possibly muster would be a futile gesture, he simply chooses to mark the message as "Unread" in his phone before opening up his glove compartment and tossing the phone in it. He exits the car and walks around the back of it, towards the trunk. Upon popping the trunk open we see a few gallons of water, a canteen, a flashlight and a shovel. He opens one of the gallons, and then the canteen, before filling the canteen to the brim with the water. He slings the canteen over his shoulder and grabs the shovel and flashlight before slamming the trunk shut. The time had come for the hard part. He makes his way towards the trail, turning around to look at his car one last time. For a second, he contemplates walking back to it, turning around and going home to Bell and spending the next 5 days watching video tapes and hitting the gym in preparation for his match at Lights Out with Michelle von Horrowitz. After thinking that over for a bit, he's ashamed of himself for even entertaining the idea. No, he needed to do this. If he turned back now, he may as well not show up for the match at all. With that in mind, Chris Kennedy sets off on a journey that will forever change him.





    The chain-link fence taunts Chris as it separates him from where he's come and where he's left to go. Three long miles into his journey, the moment he left his car seemed like an eternity ago, even if it's only been 45 minutes, and this was a roadblock he wasn't expecting. The sign on fence post reads "No entry beyond this point" and Chris finds this incredibly to hard to accept. To come this far only to be halted by a thin layer of woven steel wire, it was the ultimate tragedy. He had two options. He could veer either left of right and walk around the fence, but seeing as how the fence seemed to go on as far as the eye could see, he'd estimated that this would tack on another half a mile, at least, to his trip, and the sun's clock was ever-ticking. The other option was climbing the damn thing. Standing about 10 feet tall, it wasn't impossible, but it wouldn't be a walk in the park either. After mulling his options for a bit, Chris decided what he'd needed to do. There was no way around it, he was climbing that damned fence. He takes a few steps back and swings his shovel, throwing it in the air and launching it over the fence.

    Gripping the fence with both hands over his head, he plants his foot into the fence. He then swings his other foot up and his heel over it. Using his hooked leg and his arms, he pull himself up, straddling the fence as he makes his laborious climb. This was even harder than he imagined, even though Chris was in great shape and was no stranger to climbing a steel cage or two, the hot steel under the cruel sun felt like he was planting his hands on hot frying pans.

    Slowly but surely, He reaches the top of the fence, sitting atop it with each of his legs on both sides. He pivots himself so that he can make the climb down the other side, but he loses his footing and slips, falling down a few rungs and scratching his chest and abdomen on the sharp points. He manages to catch himself halfway down as not to fall the full 10 feet and possibly break or sprain something. His shirt was ripped and he had a nasty gash, but he avoided hitting the ground hard. Thank god, he thinks to himself. However, while Chris thinks he survived this experience mostly unscathed, he couldn't be any further from the truth. While he is well aware of the torn clothing and the broken skin, what he does not realize is that the sharp points atop the fence punctured his canteen on his way down, and within half an hour Chris Kennedy would be out of water, with so much ground left to cover. It would be a little while before he made that discovery, but for now he thinks he is in the clear and feeling pretty damned good about himself. With just a few feet left to climb down, he hops of the fence and lands on his feet.

    Taking a moment to catch his breath and collect himself, he wipes the sweat from his brow. Not too much longer now, he thinks to himself. A little less than two miles and he'd be reunited with his old friend, the one he'd buried near the dilapidated old rusty shack that had been ravaged by decades of bad weather and neglect.

    As Chris marches forward, he does not notice the trail of leaking water he is leaving behind and the group of vultures that are observing him intently as if they were waiting for their next meal. All he can think about is her. Michelle von Horrowitz. The cancer consuming his brain. Every single time Chris Kennedy had come back to the FWA from a brief absence, there was always a Michelle von Horrowitz. Someone who had prospered in an FWA where he didn't exist, where they otherwise wouldn't have, and his return always meant the death knell for their good time. Having to reconcile this harsh truth was always hard for them, and they'd become cagey and spiteful. Michelle von Horrowitz was no different, almost immediately making it known that she wasn't too pleased to see a returning Chris Kennedy. Initially, Chris didn't understand it. He'd heard so much about "The Dreamer", a revered fighter that just couldn't be beat, one who was quickly making a name for herself among the upper echelon of FWA talent. Surely someone with a reputation such as hers wouldn't become an insecure, panicky mess at the thought of someone better than them entering the fray, she would rise to the occasion if all the acclaim were true. Unless, of course, Michelle von Horrowitz was all hype, and she was no different than every other desperate parasite latching on to their championship belt and hissing at anyone who dare try to take their spot.

    Thinking of Michelle von Horrowitz that way, Chris found himself disappointed. Chris came back to the FWA because he wanted to face the best wrestlers the current roster had to offer. Michelle von Horrowitz was supposed to be the cream of the crop, yet the version he was hit with almost immediately was nothing more than a scared child who did little to conceal just how terrified they were at the prospect of actually being challenged for once. The week Chris Kennedy had returned to the FWA, Michelle von Horrowitz had already begun her unprovoked smear campaign, which said a lot about Chris Kennedy's never-diminishing placement in the status quo, but it also said just as much about where Michelle von Horrowitz saw herself in it. "please don't take my sunshine away"

    The reality of it was, Chris did respect Michelle von Horrowitz. When he clawed his way to a number #1 contender spot, Chris Kennedy was hopeful that this match between the two of them would be grounded in mutual respect. When Chris Kennedy offered a friendly handshake, Michelle von Horrowitz had spit in his face, yet she now has the audacity to play the victim, resorting to low-hanging fruit by lumping Kennedy in with the "chauvinists and misogynists" who'd caused her grief, as if he'd ever given her any reason to apply that stamp on him. He hadn't. Respecting her the way he did, it was difficult for him to wrap his head around the blatant disrespect she'd thrown his way. But now he was done trying to understand it. Now he just had to deal with it.

    The remaining two miles to his destination would be a blur in the years that followed this excursion. As he made his way through the hot desert sand, he seemed to be moving on auto-pilot as thoughts of Michelle von Horrowitz maintained the residence in his headspace. Even though Chris knew that Michelle von Horrowitz was afraid and at the end of her rope, he was far from dismissive of her, and he knew he had the fight of his life on his hands.

    When Chris finally arrived at his destination, past the dead,24 foot Mesquite Tree and the 4 large boulders to the left of, Chris was hit with a sobering discovery. The old, dilapidated, rusty shack that Chris Kennedy had buried his old friend near, was now gone, and after 8 years away from this place, it was impossible for Chris to remember where he'd buried him without that indicator. This was not good.

    "No. No no no..." Chris mutters to himself.

    This was not good at all.

    "Where the fuck is it?" Chris asks himself, his head starting to spin.

    The sun was starting to set, and he was running out of time.





    "You shouldn't have shot the kid, Nacho. You had no reason to do that shit, man. Jesús Cristo." Angelo says as he speeds down interstate 10 in his Dodge Charger, the sweat staining his shirt around his collar and under his armpits.

    "Sure I did. He saw your face. Blame yourself for not bringing your mask." Nacho says as he counts the money in his hand.

    86 Dollars. That's how much they scored from robbing a small, family owned gas station 11 miles back and taking the lives of a father and his 12 year old son. 86 lousy fucking dollars.

    "No you're not going to put that shit on me, man. There are rules to this, we don't kill kids. You know that." Angelo says.

    "YOU don't kill kids, Angelo. There aren't a lot of things I won't do, papi. But I'll tell you one thing I won't do. I won't go back to prison. I made that clear as crystal." Nacho says, opening the glove compartment and putting the cash in, next to the Glock he used to kill Hector and little Junior Vargas with.

    "The fuck could he have done, he was just a kid. Couldn't have been more than 11 or 12." Angelo says, growing more and more frustrated with Nacho by the second.

    "What could he have done? Angelo, you have a fucking spider-web tattooed on the side of your head, smart guy. Imagine him telling that shit to the cops. You'd be ID'd and picked up before sundown, and then we'd both be headed back to the State Penn. That seem like a good idea to you, hermano?" Nacho says, the expression on his face shifting from nonchalance to dead seriousness.

    "Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. Yeah, maybe you're right. Maybe. But still, man..."

    "Still what? It is what it fucking is."

    "Whatever, man. How much did we pull anyway?"

    "Like 86 bucks, man. Waste of time." Nacho sighs, letting out a disappointed sigh.

    Had they hit the gas station two days earlier, they'd have been able to clean Mr. Vargas' register before he'd made his weekly deposit at the bank and they'd be splitting a cool $493 between the two of them. It still wouldn't have been enough to justify the bloodshed, but they were desperate men at at the end of their rope.

    "That's what you killed a kid for, incredible. You know, Nacho, you gotta get your shit together, man. We gotta figure out how we're going to pay the cartel back what we owe and hitting these small ass interstate gas stations isn't going to cut it. We are going to need to get this shit sorted sooner than later." Angelo says.

    "Oh you don't think I know that, little brother? You think I'm out here doing this because it's a fun time for me? Don't you forget that it was YOU that got us into this mess with the cartel to begin with. Call me a killer, call me a lunatic, call me what you want but I'd rather be THAT than a fucking drug addict, Angelo. That's what YOU are. You're a fucking junkie and you were stupid enough to skim from the top on a product we had to move. The only reason we didn't get our throats slit and our tongues pulled out the holes in our necks was because I talked them into thinking we could actually pay them back. But I have to get MY shit together? I have figure out how we're going pull this off. Fuck you, cabrón. See if I don't leave you ending up like those dead pendejos back at the gas station, you keep talking that shit." Nacho says, gritting his teeth.

    Angelo falls silent after Nacho puts an end to his complaining. Nacho hated having to set his little brother straight like this but from time to time it was necessary for Nacho to remind Angelo who was in charge of this operation, and sometimes pulling rank meant that Nacho had to tell Angelo a few things about himself that he didn't want to hear.

    In the distance, they spot a silver Mitsubishi Outlander parked by the side of the road, near the entrance to the Dead Man's Trail. Nacho and Angelo both immediately take notice and give each other a knowing look.

    "Angelo, what is a fucking Range Rover doing out here?"

    "Beats the shit out of me, that's an expensive ride, man." Angelo replies.

    As they approach the vehicle, they come to a full stop and exit the vehicle. They approach the driver's side window with their weapons drawn to see that the vehicle is empty, after which they lower their weapons.

    "How much you think Gustavo's chop shop would give us for this one?" Nacho asks.

    "Shit man. 2k if he's going to scrap it. But he's not scrapping that shit, he'd put that one on the market. We're looking at an easy 10k." Angelo says.

    "Well damn, Hermano. Looks like our luck just picked up." Nacho says.

    It hadn't. That night, after they'd broken into the Range Rover and hotwired it, driving off with it like the thieves in the night that they were, they encountered a bit of trouble they couldn't have foreseen. They'd shot and killed the man at the gas station and his son, but they didn't know anything about the mother hiding in the beer cooler where she'd been stocking inventory when they ran in and robbed the place. She was able to call the police after they'd left and she was able to give them a full report of their appearance, identifying tattoos and all. She was even able to give them the make and model of their black Dodge Charger. So later in the night when the two brothers were on their way to deliver Chris Kennedy's rented Range Rover to the chop shop, a cop on patrol was able to spot that same black charger, the man with the spider-web tattoo on his face behind the wheel. In the Range Rover behind him, was man matching the other brothers description. That policeman tailed them cautiously while phoning for backup, and several minutes later they were engaged in a high speed hot pursuit that led to a shootout when the brothers were cornered on a dead end street. Both Nacho and Angelo lost their lives that night.

    Guadalupe Vargas would never forget the way her husband smiled at his assailants before he knew what he was happening, providing the same stellar customer service he always had. She would never forget her son running in from the backroom after hearing the first gunshot, only to be met with the 2nd gunshot. Angelo and Nacho Maldonado died that night, and they deserved that, but even after their deaths, many, many years after, The Maldonado Brothers would be a tumor on Guadalupe Vargas' soul. A festering spot of darkness that sent her to an early grave after years of desperately trying to cope with the loss of her family with drugs and alcohol. People can be cancer too.





    As Chris digs his 16th hole in the ground, he could only take solace in the fact that the hot desert sun had gone to bed with the rest of the world, and Chris had earned himself a reprieve from it's vengeance. His skin sunburnt and arms and legs tired, Chris Kennedy would have liked to have been in his rental car by now, on his way back to the airport. That was not his reality at the moment, and as he turns the desert canvas around him to swiss cheese, thoughts of doubt begin to cloud his mind. What if I don't find him? What if this was all for nothing? What if this is how it is, when you're at the end of your journey and you don't have any thing to show for it? What if I can't defeat Michelle von Horrowitz after all? No, he thinks to himself. We can't stop now. He's out here, somewhere, waiting to be reunited with Chris Kennedy once and for all.

    As Chris reaches the 4ft mark on the 16th hole, it's apparent that he's not in this one. Onward to another nearby patch of sand, Chris begins digging another one. And another, and another.

    As the hours pass, Chris can start to feel his body breaking down, sleep deprivation and fatigue beginning to take their collective toll, as if to say "You're done, kid. Go home. You never had a chance." His body wasn't the first to relay this message to him. Throughout the years, there was always a Stu St.Clair or a Rocky Creed, a Duke Drazin or a Wolf, standing in his way and telling him that he couldn't achieve what he set out to do. He'd always proved them wrong, this time was no different, he thought to himself. However, this was a situation where the mind and body were not in agreement, and he hated the thought that he wasn't in control of that, that despite his best efforts, he was truly human after all and like it or not, he needed rest.

    By the time Chris Kennedy had dug his 28th hole in the ground, he felt defeated. Surely, it was here somewhere. This WAS the spot, right? What had happened to the the rusty old shack? Where had his old friend gone? Perhaps the shack was picked apart by meth heads looking to sell the scrap, perhaps they'd somehow dug up his long lost friend and took him with them. That had to be it. If he was here, Chris would have found him by now, but he was coming up with nothing. Just a desert full of holes, a nasty gash on his belly, some sun burn and some chafing on his inner thighs. Now the doubt began to weigh heavy on him, and it was too much for his tired back to carry.

    Chris reaches for his canteen to get a much needed drink. He'd been thirsty for quite some time now, but was so focused on the task at hand that this necessity was an afterthought.

    That's when he realizes how grave his situation truly is. The canteen feels light in his hands, which piques his curiosity. When he opens the canteen he finds it entirely empty, and his curiosity shifts into a state of sheer horror. Turning it over, he sees the small hole punctured at the bottom, one last parting blow from his battle with the chain link fence earlier. He drops to his knees and surveys his surroundings in a panic. He fucked up, and now he was going to pay for it.

    "Fuck...oh my god, fuck...." He mutters to himself.

    That was it. His journey was over, he thought, and there was nothing he could very well do about it. There were few things in life that were more devastating to Chris Kennedy than not being in control. At times he was foolish enough to think he was bigger than the cosmos, and while the innerworkings of the universe had long remained a mystery to him, He believed that they had no place pulling his strings, fool that he was.

    Chris looks around him at all the holes in the ground, each one between 3-5 feet deep. He'd wasted his time and energy and now he would need to go home, or he was going to die out here. He shuddered at the thought of making the long walk back, having to hop fences watch out for the rattle snakes and coyotes that weren't as easy to spot under pale moonlight. Like it or not, it was what had to be done.

    "I'm...I'm just going to lay down for a second." He says to himself.

    His back now to the sand, Chris Kennedy looks up at the sky above him, his eyes fixated on the stars. Countless stars, more than the eye can see, and they go on forever and ever. It's the total opposite of that night his mother died, where there were no stars in the sky at all. To Chris, it felt like the cosmos had turned their back on him when Diana Kennedy left this world, and now they'd all come out in spectacular fashion to watch Chris Kennedy humiliate himself.

    "I don't know if you're listening or not..." Chris Kennedy cries out to a God he doesn't believe in.

    "But I gotta know..." Chris says, pulling the half crushed box of Marlboros from his right pocket.

    "Don't you think you've taken enough from me? When does it stop?" he asks, putting a cigarette to his lips and lighting it.

    Despite all of Chris Kennedy's accomplishments in life, all the good fortune that had had shone on him, you could make the case that the Powers-That-Be up there in that big great sky did have it out for him and that all those accolades were received in spite of him swimming against a current. His mother was taken at a young age, and then his estranged father would do the same in Chris' adulthood, leaving him an orphan. Then there was the failed marriage that he did all he could to salvage, the countless times an injury pulled him away from what he loved doing when his career was starting to flourish, and last but not least, his own cancer diagnoses. In Chris' mind, if there was a god up there above the clouds, he wanted Chris Kennedy dead, and was still mad at him for surviving the cancer.

    Chris didn't intend on falling asleep. He just wanted to stretch his back out a bit and collect himself before making the long walk back to his car which, unbeknownst to him, wasn't there anymore. But as his eyelids became too heavy for him to keep back, that's exactly what happened. Chris Kennedy feel into the deepest sleep of his adult life, and he would remain in that slumber for another 5 hours. When mind and spirt were 2-1 against the body, they had the majority vote, but his mind was beginning to defect to the other side, and the battle was lost.

    That night, Chris Kennedy dreamt that he was a little worm on a big hook. Michelle von Horrowitz looked like a literal giant. There seemed to be no end to her height. She had cracked and dry skin, bad teeth a front brow resembling that of caveman. She'd cast Chris out to sea from her golden fishing rod, and he'd gone into the water. Danny Toner, Gerald Grayson and Nova Diamond were three big fish racing towards him, with Kennedy their intended dinner. Right as the approached, Michelle pulled him out of the water, dangling him just inches above it. As the fish would jump out to snap at him, she'd raise Chris up just a few more inches to toy with them all. Everyone tells you about their dreams, and they never seem anything like the dreams you have. Dreams don't play out like movies with three act structures, you don't go through your life story with the ghost of Christmas past on a train and learn something profound about yourself. Dreams are fucking weird.

    "We are like the dreamer who dreams, and then lives inside the dream." Michelle von Horrowitz says to Chris before reeling him back in to do God-knows-what with. When Chris would wake up several hours later, he wouldn't even remember that he had this dream.









    In the hours that had passed since Chris Kennedy went lights-out, He'd woken up well after the sun had set and began to make the walk back, opting to leave his shovel and punctured canteen behind. The walk back seemed to go on forever. None of the energy and good humor he came with accompanied him on the way back and his sunburn from the previous day had started to blister, which he found to be excruciatingly painful.

    By the time he got back to the the long chain link fence, he wondered if he'd have the strength to climb it. After half of an attempt, he would find that he didn't, the required upper body strength needed to scale a fence this high was just not on reserve at the moment. So, knowing that he would likely die from dehydration and heat exhaustion before he'd make it to the car, he decided to see how far he had to go to get around it and hoped for the best.

    He'd have to walk another 620 yards before he'd reach the end of the fence, but thankfully that wasn't in the cards for him. As luck would have it, about 80 yards down, there was an opening between one of the fence posts where someone had pried it off. He'd taken advantage and squeezed through, taking a few moments to rest on the ground before pulling himself up with the fence. The hard part was over. He just had to get back to his car. There was water and food in his trunk, and his phone in the glove compartment. Just a few more miles.

    Throughout the remainder of the trek back Chris thought about what Michelle von Horrowitz was doing at this very moment. What was she doing to prepare for their match? What thoughts of Kennedy were running through her head? Was she even thinking of him at all? Chris nearly killed himself, all for this match, just to get a slight edge on his opponent. Was she going through those same lengths? Probably not. In her mind she'd already had this in the bag, she was already looking past Chris Kennedy and on to Nova Diamond, as if she'd already won this thing. It pissed Chris off more than he could understand, but the thought of Michelle von Horrowitz being so dismissive of him was enough to bring on a brief second wind and put a little more pep in his step. Plan A didn't pan out for him, and he didn't have a Plan B, but come hell or high water he was going to make his way to Lights Out and fight for his life.

    Whatever brief moment of renewed fortitude Chris had willed for himself would be laid to rest when he arrived at the location he'd parked his car, right by the sign that read Dead Man's Trail, to find the car wasn't there.

    "No..."

    He feels his heart begin to race as surveys the area. He looks from left to right and then does a 360 spin as if the car was going to miraculously appear behind him. He drops to his knees and puts his face in the palms of his hands. He just sits there, silent, for several seconds. The seconds feel like hours as he tries to figure out where it went wrong. Had Michelle von Horrowitz gotten so far into his own head that it led him to his death?

    Michelle von Horrowitz had defeated Chris Kennedy.

    Suddenly, Chris stands up. His face is blank and expressionless despite the tears streaming down his face, his eyes red and puffy. In an aimless, catatonic state, he walks across the street, into the desert on the right side of the road, opposite the entrance of Dead Man's Trail. He doesn't know where he's heading, he just knows he's going to die.

    As he trudges through the sand, his legs begin to feel like they are working against him, defiantly refusing to follow his command. He looks forward and suddenly begins chuckling to himself as if he'd remembered an old joke. Even he didn't know what he'd found so funny at the moment, it felt instinctual.

    He's sweating profusely and trembling, inexplicably feeling hot and cold at the same time. A choking sensation in his throat gives way to shortness of breath followed by a strange pain in his chest. The trailing grin from his chuckle a second ago begins to fade as he clutches his chest with his right hand and passes out in the sand.

    He wouldn't know it then, but he'd had a panic attack went into a state of shock. He'd lay there on the ground, unconscious, for another 45 minutes. When he would eventually come-to, he wouldn't try to get up. He'd just lay there, waiting for his turn to die.





    "No, I don't want to die. Not here, not like this. Why did I even come here?" Chris thinks to himself as he lays on the ground, the right side of his face planted in the blistering hot desert sand as he gasps for air, his breaths labored and his eyes tired.


    Diana Kennedy walks over the blistering hot terrain with bare feet, her elegant white gown flowing majestically. She tilts her head at the sight of her son, Chris, laying on his side with his back to her as he welcomes death. Diana knew a thing or two about death, and she knew it wasn't for Chris. As she approaches him, she pauses bit, studying him up and down to get a good look at what he's become.

    "You can't give up quite yet, Chris. We have many miles to go still. If you're going to die you may as well do it after you've crossed the finish line." she says.

    The sound of her voice catches him completely off guard, and he turns around with an urgency that he didn't know he still possessed. This was it, he thought to himself. He had died, and here was his mother to escort him to those pearly gates like he'd always imagined. No, that wasn't it, he thinks. This was the real world. He had no time for fairy tales about the happy ever-after, and if he was already dead, then why did he feel so much pain? No, this was something entirely different. It had to be.


    Before death, most people who die from dehydration often experience delirium before falling into a state of unconsciousness. If that was to be his fate, he'd rather he just go to sleep sooner than later and skip the delirium part.


    "Otherwise, what was it all for?" His mother says, standing before him. Chris closes his eyes for a moment and takes a deep breath, waiting for this moment to blow over and fade away, but it doesn't. As he opens his eyes, he sees his mother standing closer to him, her helping hand extended towards him.

    "Come now, honey. You've work to do."


    After closing his eyes and taking a deep breath, Chris waits for this moment to pass. It does not. Upon opening his eyes, he sees his mother standing closer to him, her hand extended towards him.

    Her smile is warm and inviting, and he reciprocates with a loving smile of his own before standing up and wrapping her in his arms, hugging her tighter than he's ever held anyone.

    It didn't matter if this was really his mother, or if it was a delirium induced hallucination. She was here right now, right in front of him, and he didn't want to ever let her go.

    "Mom..."

    "Oh, Honey..."

    "What are you doing here? Am I..."

    "No, Chris. You aren't dead. And you won't die out here, my love. You have so much life left to live, and you have so much to achieve still. But we don't have any more time to waste. Come with me."

    He follows her lead without question. He tries to speak but the words don't come out. She leads him across the street and back down Dead Man's Trail. As marches down the trail, there are people lined up on both sides to cheer him on. Pale skinned people dressed in funeral attire.

    "Don't be afraid, honey. The spirits mean you no harm, they are here to see your journey to it's end, and they really want to meet your friend. Just keep walking, we'll find him soon enough"

    The next few miles would forever remain a blur to Chris Kennedy. Every trip to-and-from the dig site felt like it took an eternity to get there, but this time Chris felt like he was there within 10 minutes. To this day he couldn't remember if he managed to climb that damn fence again, or if he went back to the opening down the line and squeezed through. Literally everything from there out was a black-out.

    When they finally arrived at the dig site, Chris was visibly confused when Diana led him past the several large holes Chris had already dug in the ground. 4 feet in front of the farthest hole he'd dug, she stops and points at cluster of large rocks under the nearby cliff.

    "That's where the abandoned old shack once stood. A few years after you buried your friend here, they decreed that this sacred land was to be an off-limits nature conservancy That's when they put up that big steel fence back there and cleaned everything up. Removing all the abandoned tents, deserted cars and rusty shacks."

    "Son of a bitch..." Chris said.

    He turns around tried to see if he can spot his shovel he'd left there, and he does. He rushes towards it and retrieves it before heading to the spot Diana pointed at. He begins moving the rocks out of his way, his mouth hanging open the entire time as if he was trying to catch flies with it. He stands proud after moving the last rock, taking a few moments to catch his breath. He stands and looks behind him and sees the well-dressed spirits watching in anticipation. There numbers have grown since first seeing them back that entrance to the trail, going from a few dozen to a little over a hundred. They all look so happy as they cheer Chris on. He smiles at them and gives them a knowing nod.

    "Chris..." Diana says, putting her arm on his shoulder.

    "Yeah, mom?" he asks.

    "This is where I leave you." She replies.

    "Wait, what? No, you can't go, I just got you back." he pleads.

    "No, son. You didn't. I don't belong to this world, but you do. I know it's hard to understand, but the world of the living needs you more than you need me." She says.

    "Well, wait... Can't you stay just a little bit longer?"

    "I can't, Chris."

    "But WHY!?!?"

    "Because your friend, sweetheart, he scares me"





    As he digs through the ground with intense focus and determination, Chris can't help but think of the closing moments of last weeks episode of Meltdown. One of the things he disliked the most about Michelle von Horrowitz was her penchant for revisionist history and framing her own narrative. He recalls her making excuses for her loss to Cyrus Truth, suggesting that Kennedy had it easy because was was fed Devin Golden while she was saddled with the insurmountable task of defeating Cyrus Truth, the man Chris Kennedy beat twice in one night just a few weeks prior to earn this very title shot. Michelle von Horrowitz was always getting high off her own supply, and in the past year others had too, eating up the shit we was spewing out of all ends like it was gourmet cuisine.

    But that wouldn't be the case for much longer. Chris Kennedy had something for her. A special friend that he was inviting to their match at Lights Out. Whether Michelle von Horrowitz liked it or not, Chris Kennedy had defeated her in the Pick your Poison challenge, and Kennedy put it all on the table that night on Meltdown.


    Michelle von Horrowitz, you and I will be meeting each other in the Tokyo Dome, and I can't think of a better way to settle our differences than in a brutal, life threatening JAPANESE DEATH MATCH. You and I. No holds barred, no weapons on earth that are out of the question, falls count anywhere. That's my stipulation, Michelle. Right now, you're asking yourself "Can I retain my title at Lights Out" but as a professional courtesy I am imploring you to approach that from a different angle. The question shouldn't be "Will I retain", the question should be "Can I survive Chris Kennedy."


    shoveling mound after mound of sand, Chris feels himself getting closer. He can't believe it, he's almost nervous, as if at any moment he's going to wake up face down in the spot where he collapsed. It had been 8 long years since he's seen his friend, and he was over the moon to finally be reunited with him. He understood why his mother was scared of him though, anyone with half a mind, alive or undead, would have been wise to take caution. His friend was a very dangerous man, and Chris Kennedy had put him in the ground in the interest of public safety.

    Now wasn't the time for safety. Chris Kennedy was about to embark on a journey to rival even this one, a nightmarish hell that would prove to be the most difficult match of his long and storied career. Michelle von Horrowitz was going to do all that she could to retain her title, and Chris Kennedy was going to do all that he could to end her career once and for all, so that we may all be fortunate enough to never see her in an FWA ring again.

    Suddenly, his shovel uncovers a patch of brown fabric. No questions about it, this was it.

    "Haaaaah!!!" Chris yells, manically, before dropping down to the ground to uncover the rest with his hands. He claws away at the cold soil surrounding the bag and uncovers just enough to be able to pull it out. He does so, and when he does, his back is to us and we can't see exactly what it is at first. When he slowly slides it over his head, it becomes clear that it is a mask. This was his friend? All this? For a mask?


    "Japanese Death Match? So... X Rules, then?" Michelle von Horrowitz says

    She is far from smiling. Her championship belt has been handed to her, and she has placed it in the centre of the ring. She paces behind it. The statement is clear.

    "You are looking at the queen of X Rules, Kennedy. I built that goddamn division here"


    "Arrogant little child."




    La Muerte Blanca turns around to face us and all of a sudden, he's standing in an FWA Wrestling ring in the middle of the dessert. The well-dressed ghosts who'd been following him sit around the ring in black foldout chairs, and there seems to be three times as many of them as their were before. La Muerte Blanca has a microphone in hand, and he begins to address his supporters from the underworld.

    "This is the part of myself that I said goodbye to so long ago. Michelle von Horrowitz, do you want to know why La Muerte Blanca was put on timeout? Because I represent the darkest, most sadistic part of Chris Kennedy. Malevolence unlike anything your feeble little mind could ever comprehend. I am the side of Chris Kennedy that will stop at nothing to eviscerate his opponents and leave them hungering for death's sweet release. This is the part of me that my therapist said I needed to cut ties with if I was ever going to be a happy, functioning member of society. Well, after all this time, I'm not very happy at all, and I'm not functioning all too well. When I get right down to it, it's all because of you, Michelle. You stupid, arrogant parasite. You built the X-Division? You've never built anything in your short, miserable goddamned life. All you do is take and make demands, an attitude fitting of some goofy looking troll with a Karen haircut like yourself. You are nothing more than a GUEST in the house that Chris Kennedy build and even after I extend some much-undeserved courtesy, you still refuse to bend the knee like the insufferable little piss-ant that you actually are. Even worse, you have the goddamned nerve to spit in MY face? If you know your history and you know what I'm capable of, I have to question your intelligence to think you were going to walk away from that unscathed."

    The ghost-crowd pops for La Muerte Blanca as if he's promising them her head on a silver platter. Based on the look in his eyes, he would if he could.

    "Michelle, you need to understand that not only am I going to break you down from inside out, attacking you from all points, mind body and spirit, but I'm also going to hit you where it really hurts. I'm going to take away your FWA Championship and you're going to have to watch me carry it around on both brands while you're stuck on Meltdown with that roster of "chauvinists and misogynists" you're so fond of. When I came back to the FWA, I made it clear that my sights were set on that title, and I fought my way to get here, tooth and nail, to get here. Along my road to this match I've beaten better men than you, men who've beaten you, and still you remain dismissive of me. You're already looking past me and cutting promos on Nova Diamond. The sheer lack of respect would be enough to send me into a fit of rage, if I still believed your would-be confidence to be authentic. No, I see you now for what you really are. Your fabricated swagger, the excuses you make for yourself to justify your inadequacy in the rare occasion you do come up short, your need to duck me in interviews before we ever even had a match announced, it's all the product of a mortified girl who is struggling to come to terms with the reality that this is a fight she can't win."

    "What was that sanctimonious bullshit you said about yourself last week on Meltdown? You'd lumped Grayson, Toner and Nova in there too, I believe. You said that you were trying to turn this place into something other than a "nursing home for the ill-repute." Michelle, I said it before but I'll say it again, your ability to frame a narrative and turn your bullshit into gold is admirable, but the whole "You're taking our spot" shit is a bit cliched, don't you think? Never mind the fact that you're trying to pass yourself off as being part of some hip, new generation when been in this business over half a decade and only recently came close to championship. Regardless of that, it needs to be remembered that this isn't scripted entertainment, the is a competitive sport, so for you to complain about someone "taking your spot" simply tells me that you aren't confident in your ability to take on all challengers, and if that's the case, you don't deserve that championship belt around your waist."

    "It's been a few years since I've tasted championship gold in the FWA. I've missed it quite a bit, and this thing between you and I has gotten so far out of hand in the recent weeks, winning the championship was nothing more than afterthought to me, and perhaps that's what you wanted. But make no mistakes about it, Michelle, I've not lost sight of what's really important. My eyes are on the prize. I'm going to take your championship, and WHEN I do, I'll be the record setting SIX time world champion. What will you have after that? You'll still hate me, even worse than before, because I'll have taken from you the one thing you value the most. And when you lay awake at night, you'll be haunted with thoughts of me and my face, the face you spat in. Then you'll remember my OTHER face, the face I had to put on so that the world wouldn't see just how big the smile on my face would be when I rip the skin from your flesh in our match."

    "Michelle, you talk about this "nursery home for the ill-repute" that you're stuck in. But son, you have just no earthly clue just how close you are to ending up in a nursing home of your own and I'm not talking about fucking Meltdown. At Lights Out, the Dreamer Dies, and the nightmare begins."

    La Muerte Blanca takes the mask off of his head and Chris Kennedy shows his face. He looks around, and finds that the spirits in the crowd are no longer there. He holds the mask tightly in his hands and stares La Muerte Blanca in the face. He felt a sort of power emanating from it, and he could feel it coursing through his veins. That side of Chris Kennedy was thought to have long put to bed, but the sleeping giant had awakened after an 8 year slumber and was hungry.

    It was then, in that moment, that the first drop of rain fell from the sky onto Chris' forehead. He looks up with a look of astonishment as another hits his cheek. While Chris was walking around in a delirious haze over the course of the last few hours, he wasn't sure if he just didn't notice the rain clouds hovering overhead, or if they just didn't manifest until now, while he was in the mask. It was important, he was just thankful for it. It hadn't rained here in 26 months. After this day, it wouldn't rain again for another 13 months. For all his talk about the cosmos having it out for him, the universe surely positioned him to be here at this moment in time. The light drizzle becomes a downpour, the heavens above opening up and showering Chris Kennedy. The water feels godlike on Chris' skin as he lays on the ground, on his back, his mouth hanging open while he collects rain drops in it.





    John Weathers fiddled with the radio in his truck a little bit as he drove down Interstate 10, going through the full range of stations before setting on Classic Rock. It had a been a long day, and the sun would soon be down, but he had some errands to run for the wife and needed to head into town.

    In the distance, John couldn't quite make out what it was that he saw standing in the middle of the road. He wasn't very used to driving in the rain, and his old eyes were beginning to fail him. It could have been an animal, perhaps, but he wouldn't know until he got closer.

    "What in the hell is that?" he mutters to himself.

    As he approached the moving object, it became clear that it was a man, shirtless and disheveled, flagging his truck down. Not many people drove down this patch of interstate over the course of a day, and John wondered how long he'd been out there, but he was clearly in need of help. He pulled up next to him and rolled his window down.

    "The hell you doin' out here, son?" John asks.

    "I don't even know, Mister, I gotta be honest with you. My car, I think it was towed or something. I'm sorry to ask but can I please trouble you for a ride into town?"

    "Well so long as you ain't one of them axe murders, I'd be happy to give you a lift. Come on in." John says.

    Chris rushes towards the passenger side and climbs into John's truck. Chris gives him a thankful nod and John smiles, nodding back. Then, there is an awkward silence as Chris tries to muster up an icebreaker.

    "You know I wouldn't tell you if I was."

    "What's that now?"

    "An axe murderer. I wouldn't tell you if I was. I'd just, like, you know...kill you."

    More awkward silence, are John starts to look a little uncomfortable.

    "I'm kidding. I'm Chris by the way." He says, extending his hand. John shakes it, and smiles politely, though he's still not sure what to make of Chris. He'd known he'd seen him somewhere, but he wasn't sure where.

    "I'm John, John Weathers. Pleased to meet you, Mr. Chris. Saw you were out there in front of Deadman's Trail. That area is off limits, ain't it?"

    "Yeah, I guess it is. If I knew then what I know now, am I right?"

    "Shit, wouldn't catch me out there. You must have a death wish."

    "Who, me? Nah man. I'm trying to live."

    Just then, "Carry On My Wayward Son" by Kansas plays over the radio and Chris smiles.

    "John you mind if I crank this shit up?"

    "Not at all, this is a good'n." John says, leaning in and turning the volume knob.

    Chris leans back and smiles, staring through the window and watching the desert pass him by. In that moment, Chris Kennedy knew two things. 1, he was going to go into Lights Out and he was going to dismantle Michelle von Horrowitz and win the FWA Championship. And two, he was never fucking coming back here.


    Carry on, my wayward son
    There'll be peace when you are done
    Lay your weary head to rest
    Don't you cry no more



  3. #23
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    An aerial shot of the Stadion An der Alten Försterei provides a complete look at the capacity crowd on hand for the fifth episode of Fallout. The fans in the center cheer as "Sick" by Adelitas Way pumps its way through the sound system. Despite the relatively simplistic nature of the entrance, the fans still produce a positive reaction for the man that self-dubbed himself as the "Prodigy." He makes his way from behind the curtain towards the ring without acknowledging the support thrown his way. He is indifferent towards them, regardless of if they cheer or if they boo. He enters the ring and looks around the arena - taking a moment to observe every inch of it. His gaze lingers on the rafters, but not for long. One wouldn't have noticed the slight pause unless they analyzed him - studying every one of his movements.


    The "Prodigy" returns his attention to his Hao as the scene shifts to the dark-haired Shawn Summers sitting on an equipment box peering down at Parr and Hao in the ring. He sucks his tongue on the toothpick hanging from his mouth before removing it - flicking it down towards the stadium below.


    "If I didn't know any better, I would have thought that he could sense our presence up here," he said with a smirk. Shawnathan (the dark-haired version of Shawn Summers) extends his arms behind him to balance as he leans back on the equipment box for comfort.


    "We may be the same person, Shawn, but it's you who truly has a flair for the dramatics," he says with a chuckle. "But, I can't help but admire your psychological game. Me, myself, I prefer to break my targets down physically. You know, a couple of punches, joint manipulation, breaking of bones. Eventually, they'll lose their will to fight and give up. No one enjoys a drawn-out ass-kicking. You, on the other hand, like to break them down mentally. Destroy their psyche over time. It's a long game for you. You destroy their mental, and then when you get them in the ring, you slowly, but methodically, pick apart their body. And because you've already deteriorated their psyche before the match, they start to second guess themselves in the ring with you - making mistakes that they wouldn't have made against anyone else."


    He cackles with laughter at the thought before continuing.


    "That's what truly makes YOU a fucked up person, Shawn," he says. Shawnathan lets out a deep sigh as he raises from a reclined position upright. "If you let me take over after you did all of your psychological shit, we'd be unstoppable."


    Our point of view switches from staring at Shawnathan sitting on the equipment box to behind him and an individual wrapped in the familiar black and green robe of Alyster Black. The short blond hair of the individual leads one to speculate that it is Shawn Summers. We receive confirmation of our speculation as the individual uses both hands to bring a mask over his head and finally responds to Shawnathan. "Stop talking," he says in monotonous vocal inflation. Shawn turns around, fully dressed in the ring robe and mask of Alyster Black, and begins to walk towards the staircase to the rafters. Shawnathan howls with laughter as he is all too aware of what Shawn is about to do. As Shawn approaches the staircase, he reaches for the "Summer Slugger" baseball bat used to pry the door open. He slowly but carefully inserts the bat into the robe's sleeve as the scene fades to black.


    Shawn Summers in
    Azul Perfecto (Interlude II)


    The automatic doors of the hotel split like butt cheeks, allowing Shawn entry into the establishment. Shawn dresses casually - wearing an athletic fit white shirt tucked into a pair of slim-fit blue jeans with completely white leather tennis shoes. His white bomber jacket is halfway zipped as his backpack rests slightly off his shoulder. Normally, immediately after a show, he would be on his way to the next closest city of the tour, resting up, but he requested and granted the opportunity to delay travel a day before continuing to Japan for the Lights Out event. He approaches the front desk and is greeted with a smile, and a raised finger, as the receptionist finishes his call.


    "Willkommen. Wie kann ich Ihnen heute Abend helfen?" says the receptionist. Shawn pauses as he attempts to make out what has been said to him before smiling and beginning.


    "Verzeihen Sie mir. Deutsch ist nicht meine Hauptsprache. Dürfen wir dieses Gespräch auf Englisch fortsetzen?"


    "Apologies, sir. How may I be of assistance to you tonight," the receptionist responds in German infused accent.


    "I have a room reserved here for the night. It should be under the name Summers," Shawn says as he looks down at the notification that has come across on his phone.


    "There was a login to your account @SummersOver from a new device at 10:22 PM. Review it now."


    Shawn smirks at the notification. Someone had managed to hack into his Twitter. They won't find anything worthwhile in the DMs or the message drafts, but the fact that someone would go to great lengths to impersonate him was intriguing. He chooses to ignore the security breach and place his phone back into his pocket as the receptionist locates his room details.


    "Mr. Summers, we have your room available. Here is your room key, sir."


    The receptionist slides Shawn a room key with the number 305 embossed on the plastic. Shawn stares at the number drawing a look of confusion from the receptionist. He attempts to slide the room key closer to Shawn as if to say, "please take it," but Shawn's focus on the card, and the card alone, remains.


    "Is...something wrong, Mr. Summers?" the receptionist asks quizzically.
    "Is this supposed to be a joke?" Shawn asks dryly. He finally breaks his attention from the card key and slowly raises his eyes to meet those of the receptionist.


    "I'm sorry, Mr. Summers. I don't believe I understand what you are referencing."


    "Who booked this room for me?" Shawn asks.


    The receptionist stares in a confused manner as Shawn inhales slowly and closes his eyes. He slams his hand on the countertop gaining the attention of all around him. He takes a moment to regain his composure and fakes a smile and laugh to assure everyone that everything is fine before turning his attention back to the receptionist. Shawn's eyes are cold and his expression, although not displaying anger still shows the expression of someone enraged.


    "Look in your system...and tell me...who...booked this room for me?" Shawn demands as the receptionist hurriedly types on his keyboard.


    "There was no name left for the person booking the room. They listed themselves as 'The Accountant.' If you would like another room, we can accommodate that for you, sir."


    Shawn's complexion goes ghost white as he hears the receptionist say, "The Accountant." He slides the card off the table into his hand and begins walking away from the counter.


    "It's not necessary. Thank you," he says as he walks towards the elevator. Shawn slowly pushes the "up" button and waits as his reflection in the gold metal of the elevator door stares back at him. His reflection smiles at him as the door to the elevator opens, and we see Shawnathan leaning against the railing inside. He motions for Shawn to enter as he laughs to himself. Shawn enters the elevator and watches as the doors close behind him.


    "It's fucked up, but, you've gotta admit, they know how to send a message," Shawnathan says sarcastically. "You know, they wouldn't have to send those little 'motivational' messages if you would just let me take control, just for a little bit. I would have given them all the assurance that they needed. Michael is not a threat. Michael is not a menace. Hell, Michael's not even an annoyance. He can't stand one-on-one against us in the ring. I mean, he can't even beat guys that we embarrassed in little one-off matches. But, due to your...failures...they now doubt that you can get the job done so they send you messages like (motions to the card key) this."


    Shawnathan laughs to himself as the elevator continues to rise. Shawn attempts to ignore him but to no avail.


    "I've gotta give it to them. This is a message that can't be ignored. Sending you back to the place where you were at your absolute lowest. Reminding you that if you lose against Michael you could up end up right back here. It's genius! You could learn a thing or two from them when it comes to mind games. I mean, you're good but they're on a whole other level!"


    The elevator dings and the doors slide apart, much to Shawn's relief. He exits the elevator and makes his way down the corridor. He turns his attention to the wall sign displaying the room numbers. He stops in front of "room 305" and closes his eyes. He exhales deeply before sliding the key card into the door slot and opening the memories of the past that he left in this room.


    As the door opens to the room, the memories of his overdose return to him. The racing of his heart, the feeling of heat overcoming his head, and the glimpse into hell all returned to him. All memories he attempted to suppress for years. He collapses to his knees and gasps for air as his phone continuously vibrates in his pocket with notifications. He reaches his hands out to grasp for air but is unable to. He looks around the room hoping to at least see Shawnathan. If Shawnathan was here he would of at least offered some snide remark to give him the strength he needed to catch his breath.


    He continues to gasp for air - completely ripping his shirt off in the process as he body slowly begins to overheat. He places his hands on his neck as if attempting to remove whatever was drawing the oxygen from his lungs but he feels nothing. He peers to his right and notices a floor-length mirror leaning against the wall facing him.

    His eyes grow to the size of a flying saucer as he looks at his reflection in the mirror and notices Shawnathan straddling his chest. His hands bone-white clenched around his neck squeezing the life out of him. He turns from the mirror and looks up at Shawnathan who hysterically laughs at him as he struggles to breathe.


    "You know, Shawn. I thought that we could coexist and do this together but I was wrong. I let you have too much control and I thought that if I asked nicely, you would realize that the only way for us to take out Michael and make our presence felt in FWA was for me to gain control. But you...were too afraid of what I might do if I was in control. You were....(struggles with his grip around Shawn's neck) too scared that I would do something like this to Michael. I'VE GOT NEWS FOR YOU SHAWN! THIS IS EXACTLY WHAT I PLAN ON DOING TO HIM! I'M GONNA PUSH HIM TO THE BRINK OF DEATH BEFORE BRINGING HIM BACK AND THEN TAKING HIM THERE AGAIN!"


    Shawnathan loosens his grip around Shawns neck and stares at him with disgust and contempt.


    "I know you're curious as to what it would be like if you let me take control. But you don't have to be curious about it, Shawn. Check your phone. I know you've felt is the notifications going off since we left the elevator. Take a look."


    Shawnathan removes himself from Shawn's chest allowing him to finally expand his lungs and allow air back into his body. Shawnathan takes a seat on the bed and motions for Shawn to check his phone. He slowly pulls his phone out of his pocket and sees multiple notificaitons from Twitter. He looks at the time and it reads 3:52 AM. How was it 3:52 AM? He had checked into the hotel at 10:22 PM.


    "OPEN TWITTER AND CHECK YOUR STREAM, SHAWN! We don't have all day," Shawnathan shouts at him. Shawn looks at him bewildered before opening the Twitter app and scrolling through his feed.
    [IMG









    Shawn looks up from his phone at Shawnathan who smirks back at him. Shawnathan points to the media cabinet in front of the bed he sits upon before beginning.



    "It's time for you to make a choice, Shawn. Which of your addictions are you going to allow to overtake you in this room tonight?"


    Shawn crawls to the media cabinet and looks at the perfectly cut and spaced lines of cocaine arranged with a rolled $100 bill next to it. He turns back to Shawnathan who no longer has a smirk on his face. He rises from the bed and comes to stand next to Shawn.


    "It's time for you to make a decision, Shawn. Are you going to return to your addiction to drugs or are you going to let me take over and return to your addiction to proving that you are the best? I'm done playing games with you. Make the decision now."


    Shawn stares down at the lines of cocaine remembering how he had to be revived in this very room. He never wanted to feel that close to death, that close to mortality again."


    "Michael needs to know what he's getting himself into. Let me be the one to tell him."


    Shawnathan smiles and nods his head in agreement as the scene fades to darkness.







    The train cuts through Tokyo as clusters of men and women enter and exit the train car. They are all dressed in business professional attire, scurrying in and out as they rush to their places of business. In mere hours, Shawn Summers would be at his place of business conducting a deal with himself. At the end of the deal, Mike Parr's career trajectory going forward would be set. Shawn sits in a seat against the window of the train car admiring the lights and fast motion of the city and its inhabitants as he presses play on the tape cassette that his headphones were connected to. The tape humms for a moment before the audio begins.


    "Michael, I want you to know that I've enjoyed our brief time together. However, this is goodbye. I fear that our time with one another draws to a close as our match approaches. You started out as a job for me but quickly turned into an unexpected spark. When I struck you between your shoulder blades in Paris, I had no idea of the journey of self-reflection that you would send me upon. I have to thank you for reigniting my passion for this business and my determination to win. But, I must also warn you about what is about to happen to you.


    At Lights Out, you are going to lose to me in the ring. I do not state this as a prediction or as an educated guess. I state this as a fact. You have absolutely no chance of defeating me. You simply are not at the level that you need to be in order to do so. The pain that your body will experience when you step in the ring with me will be unlike anything that you have ever experienced. It will live with you for the remainder of your life and I am sorry for that. But do not fear this, for you are not alone. Alyster Black can explain the pain that you will feel for the remainder of your life because he experiences it.


    It was no coincidence that I choose to dress like him when I attacked you on the last Fallout. I dressed as Alyster Black because I wanted you to see the last person who demanded the most dangerous version of Shawn Summers. What I'm going to do to you may be even worse than what I did to Alyster because I know that a loss to me will not only hurt you physically, but it will hurt you mentally. I know that you question yourself and your worth since your loss at Back in Business and I don't blame you. I know the feeling of getting so close to the world championship only for it to slip through your fingertips. We're similar in that manner. I've experienced it twice now. I know how much it hurts mentally to lose in that situation but I know that it's going to hurt even more to lose to me because, in your soul, you know that Shawn Summers is a better version of Mike Parr than you are.


    These are truths that I speak, Michael. I look at you differently from the way I look at my other opponents, Michael. I actually care about you and that's why I'm recording this warning and apology to you in advance. I want to give you the opportunity to back out of this match before you get hurt. However, I know you won't back out. We're too similar. I didn't want to believe the comparisons but I knew it the moment you used my father's death to get me to show you a glimpse of my true self. While everyone else saw me as the guy wanting the world championship, you saw right through me. You saw me for what I truly was. A sadistic bastard looking for competition to prove that he's the best.


    We're so similar it's almost scary. In another life, I believe that we could have been an unstoppable tag team. But, we're not in another life. We're in this life. And in this life, on this night, we will be standing across from one another and that will be the only time that we are equal in the ring. Once that bell rings, our equality and my respect for you disappears and you get exactly what you asked for. Was it worth it?"


    The tape stops and Shawn removes his headphones staring satisfied out the window. We get a closeup on the tape in the recorder. The label reads "Michael Parr - Sorry" on the front.

  4. #24
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread







    Our scene opens, where most scenes in this promo cycle will open, in Tokyo, Japan. The land of the Rising Sun, the broadcast epicentre of FWA Lights Out. However, the difference between this promo and any other set in Tokyo is the fact that it is taking place only hours after the conclusion of said pay-per-view.


    That’s right. Lights Out has come and gone. The world has witnessed the shocking events that have transpired. Title changes, upsets, thrilling highs and heartbreaking lows. Most notably, the result of our opening contest.

    But before we discuss that, we need to examine Tokyo.

    It’s late at night but the city is illuminated in a red hue. The sky which should be black in these late hours has turned red. Crimson red. As if the heavens above were painted in blood. The city itself lays in ruins as earthquake after earthquake ravages what once was the pinnacle of human advancement and modernisation. Sky Highs have crumbled and toppled over, streets have cracked open, highways and bridges have collapsed. Casualties are incalculable.

    One look at all this mayhem and destruction would make one think it was the end of the world. And they would be correct. The end of times has come and it is all because of the result of the opening contest at FWA’s Lights Out pay-per-view.

    Through the middle of the city, a giant fault has opened. Almost a mile wide and seemingly bottomless. Sitting on the very edge of the faultline is our hero, though he may not be able to think of himself as one right now. Krash, the newly crowned FWA World Tag Team Champion, sits in a precarious position. Feet hanging over the edge of the faultline, swinging them mindlessly for the dangers that present themselves. The once overly joyful, hopeful and inspiring professional wrestler, now appears to be completely overtaken by grief.

    A newly crowned triple champion, this should be the greatest night of Krash’s career. He should be over the mood. He should be proud of his accomplishments, he should be celebrating.

    Of course, he can’t. The world is coming to an end. And it is all his fault. He knows this too. He knows why the sky is red, why the city of Tokyo is being ravaged by earthquakes.

    He knows that he is the cause of everything wrong in the world, and no matter how he tackles this mental conundrum, he cannot reconcile his belief that maybe everything and everyone would have been better off if he had never joined the FWA. Or at least, if his tag team partner had never joined.

    His newly won FWA World Tag Team Championship belt sat beside him. As the clouds shifted overhead a beam of dark red light hit the faceplate and reflected into Krash’s eye. He placed a palm over the belt to block the light. He couldn’t stand to look at it right now. He thought about throwing it down into the never-ending abyss below his feet and ridding himself of it forever. It was a blood title and he wanted nothing to do with it.

    With a heavy sigh, he looked toward the horizon. There on the edge of the crevasse stood the Tokyo Dome. The sight of his greatest sin. Miraculously free from damage. Krash’s heart sunk at the sight of the stadium where only hours ago he had helped cause the end of everything. His heart sinks and his stomach turns. On his cheek, he feels the warmth of a single tear.

    He wishes he could close his eyes and wake up somewhere else, anywhere else. Away from all the pain he’s caused. Somewhere where his burdened conscious would just leave him be. But he knows he can’t run away from the consequences of his actions. Not without creating more pain and hurt for those around him. For the people counting on him, and for those that look up to him.

    The red skies above came to life. Lightning illuminated the Earth below. The sound of thunder roared and then it started to rain. But instead of waterdrops, it was fiery cinders that fell from the sky. Krash sighed and looked up to the heavens with his eyes closed and arms stretched out wide. The fiery rain fell upon him and each one landing on his immaculate jacket and turning to smoke, leaving no trace of their existence behind. Krash was unaffected by the fires that he felt he had conjured.

    The fire rained down upon Tokyo, setting ablaze any greenery that had survived the prior onslaught. The fires fell down into the cavern before Krash, illuminating the seemingly endless abyss. Krash could still see no end to the crevasse as he watched each and every cinder fall down into nothingness.

    “This is all my fault.”He remarked as he stared down into the chasm below, “Can’t be Alyster’s fault, this is exactly that kind of thing he does. But I knew this would happen, and I did nothing to stop it. Fuckin’ hell. Way to ruin everything, Krash.”


    He thought back on how the end of the world came about. Starting on one fateful day nearly a year ago. Prior to last year’s Mile High pay-per-view. Alyster and Krash, separated in the Division Tag Team Classic tournament, both found themselves eliminated. Both of them, the greatest tag team wrestlers in the history of CWA were eliminated from a tag team tournament. It made no sense to either of them and for the first time in their FWA careers, they had confided in one another. They spent a night reminiscing about the good old days. Of their time before CWA with Steve Storme, then of their time in CWA where they established themselves as the greatest tag team in that company’s history. Three CWA title reigns. A 14-6 win/loss record. They were a part of every single tag team title match in 2011 and 2012, not because of a shallow talent pool, but because they were the absolute best.

    So where had things gone wrong in the Division Tag Team Classic? Well, it was simple, they were separated. Surely if they had entered together then winning the tournament would be a breeze. Management claimed that the pairing were randomly drawn, but they both knew this was a lie. All the established tag teams in FWA were automatically entered into the tournament. So why weren’t the Gang Stars?

    “Because they knew we’d win!” That was Alyster’s theory. And it held some merit. “They sabotaged you from the start, look at who they randomly drew to be your partner!” Again, Alyster had a point. They had put me together with the man that I had spent the better part of a year feuding with. A man who pushed me to such lengths as to attempt to actually kill one another in a Japanese Death Match. Mike Parr.

    We were supposed to fall apart at the seams and tear each other apart. That was their plan for us.

    The more we spoke about it the angrier we both got. The angrier we got the more Alyster’s plan started to make sense. He wanted to jump the winners of the tournament. Disguised from head to toe so that they wouldn’t know it was us. We would jump out after they won the tournament and beat them down. Just to remind them that they weren’t untouchable. The Grayson von Horrowitz Connection or Golden Rock, it didn’t matter. We were going to make them feel vulnerable.

    As fate would have it, it was Golden Rock that won the damn tournament. Going undefeated and beating the Grayson von Horrowitz Connection in the finals.

    Anyone who held the FWA World Tag Team Titles should always be on the lookout for the Gang Stars.

    That’s what Alyster kept saying, and it made sense. So I followed him blindly. I followed him in these unprompted attacks and I helped attract the ire of Golden Rock.

    But we weren’t ready to reveal ourselves, no, we had to get some things off our chest first. So Alyster challenged me for the FWA North American Championship. And we had two of the bloodiest, most violent matches of our careers. But Alyster assured me that he still loved me, that we were still best friends, and that beating each other only strengthened our friendship.

    He was right of course, he’s always right about that sort of thing. He gets me like that. And I get him. We both said that sometimes brothers fight, but when they’re done fighting they hug and move on. They’re still brothers.

    He’s still my brother.

    Even though he made me do something so horrible that I want to throw up.

    I mean, all we wanted was a match against Golden Rock. Just to prove that we shouldn’t have been looked over the way we were. And we got that match. But when we were about to win Devin Golden got his team disqualified. It was cowardly. The man couldn’t stand to lose clean in his hometown on his birthday. The fucking ego of that man.

    But that was nothing compared to what he did after the match. When he carved the letters FWA into Alyster’s chest while I was forced to watch, helpless, unable to save my best friend.

    For that alone, Golden Rock deserved to be destroyed.

    Right?

    If that’s the case then why did breaking them up cause the end of the world?

    If they deserved to be broken up then why do I feel so awful about it?

    Why did I blindly follow Alyster like that?

    Why did we start this damn fight?

    Why did it have to end with the literal end of Golden Rock?

    Why…

    Why…

    Why...

    “There you are!”

    Krash snapped out of his daydreaming and turned his head toward the sound of his tag team partner’s voice. He was sans his half of the FWA Tag Team Championship and in casual garb. Wearing a pair of blue jeans, and a grey hoodie along with his signature mask.

    Alyster carefully climbed over a pile of gravel as he made his way over toward Krash. He nearly lost his footing as he stepped over the rubble that used to be the road but managed to catch himself.

    “I’ve been looking everywhere for you dude. Why’d you run off?” The surrounding apocalypse didn’t seem to catch Alyster Black’s attention. The red skies, burning rain, cataclysmic earthquake damage - none of it registered to the masked man.

    Alyster slowly approached his partner and got so close as to pat him on the back. “Good job tonight dude. We finally put Golden Rock out of their misery. Fucking cunts deserved it too.”

    Krash let out a tired sigh before trying to force a smile on his face. He nodded at his tag team partner and was about to speak but the words wouldn’t come out. Alyster waited with bated breath but Krash did not speak. Instead, the moustached man’s left eye started to twitch and he turned to his right and began walking. Walking along the narrow edge of the chasm below, away from his tag-team partner.

    “Hey! Where’re you going?” Alyster followed suit, picking up Krash’s Tag Team Championship belt and trailing closely behind. “Krash! Krash! What the fuck dude? Talk to me!”

    After a brief silence, Alyster started to feel annoyed. He picked up a small rock and threw it right at the back of Krash’s head. Krash hissed in pain and instinctively reached up to rub the back of his head. He turned around and stared back at Alyster.

    “What’s your problem, man?” Alyster barked, the warmth in his voice fading with annoyance.

    “We...we didn’t have to destroy them.” Krash finally spoke, his voice was low, almost at a whisper and full of sorrow.

    “Come again?”

    “Golden Rock, we ended Golden Rock. Thanks to us they’re no more. All of THIS - is our fault. Or my fault. I don’t- We’re responsible for it all, Alyster.”

    “I know. Pretty cool, right?” Alyster was mightily proud of himself.

    “Pretty cool? The entire world is crumbling to dust! The sky is literally on fire! And it’s - it’s…”

    “Come on, it’s not the end of the world mate. Lighten up.”

    “It IS the end of the world!”
    Krash exclaimed, gesturing broadly to their entire surroundings. “What else would you call a sky of fire and an earth ripping itself apart?”

    “I’d call it cliche. I mean, honestly, toss in a meteor or two and it’d be pretty standard.”

    “How can you be so blasé about this?”

    “Dude. Shit like this happens literally all the time. Someone loses a title or something like that and to them, it’s the end of the world. But to everyone else, it’s another day.”

    “No, no. This is different, Alyster. We didn’t just take the titles, we ended Golden Rock and destroyed a friendship.”

    “Good. Fuck’ em.”

    “Alyster.”

    “What? Fuck Golden Rock.”

    “Alyster!”

    “Yeah? What?”


    “Does it not bother you in the very slightest that our actions broke apart Golden Rock and put their friendship in jeopardy?”

    “... Not really, no.”

    “Godamnit, Alyster. Goddamnit all. I should never have agreed to this. I-”

    “Don’t pull this shit again. You know what, Krash? You had AGES to pull out before we committed to this path. You had weeks, months, to decide to have cold feet and back out before it’s too late. Motherfucker, I offered you the chance to back out before it was too late, remember? I gave you an out!”


    As Alyster ranted he inched closer to his partner.

    “Don’t stand there on your high horse and act like you’re horrified by what this path led to. You knew it was going to end up like this, just like I did. You knew all along, so why’d you agree to it in the first place? Yeah, we might not have known that us winning would lead to Golden Rock splitting, but we knew there was a chance of it happening all along. So why didn’t you back out, huh Krash? The sociopath afraid that his carefully crafted hero image is crumbling around him when you could’ve stopped it at any time. So why didn’t you take the out when I gave it to you? It’s because you wanted this just as much as I did!”

    As he said the final line he shoved the FWA Tag Team Title into Krash’s chest. The Moustache Maverick clutched the belt close to his heart. He looked down at the glistening golden faceplate. He couldn’t bring himself to look Alyster in the eye.

    “Because of you, Alyster.”

    “Are you really blaming me for it? Fuckin-”

    “No, not that, Alyster. I just didn’t want to lose you again.”

    “... Dude.”

    “Do you not understand this yet, Alyster? I lost you for seven fucking years. I was miserable without you! We’ve just gotten back on speaking terms, godamnit. I didn’t want to push you away when I waited so long for you to come back.”

    “... Dude. I didn’t kno-”

    “Yeah. You knew, Alyster. You knew the whole time that I’d kill for you if you ever so much asked, and you abused that privilege.”


    Gripping the FWA tag team title in his hands, Krash gazed at it with bitter, unloving eyes… Before tossing it into the pit below. The gold glinted as it spun into the chasm, rapidly vanishing from view. Alyster instinctively reached out a hand for it before he could stop himself, clutching his own tag title protectively with the other.

    Running his hands through his hair, Krash let out a shaky exhale, stepping away. “I don’t even know who I am anymore, Alyster.” He admitted. “I haven’t known who I am since we first attacked Golden Rock. I wake up every morning wondering who I am, and the answer I find at the end of every night is a miserable one.”

    “Krash...Jake...look at what you’ve done…” Alyster stared down at the chasm below. One hand still holding onto his partner, the other outstretched for the tag team title. He needed a moment before he could back away from the edge of the chasm and address his partner. “How can you say that? You’re Krash damn it. You’re my partner, you’re my best friend...fuck you’re my brother. You’re a god damn hero to millions of people all over the world. You’re the Heartbeat of CWA. How can you question that?”

    Krash couldn’t answer him.

    “Fine...for the record, we didn’t set out to end Golden Rock. Circumstances made it an us vs. them situation. That fucker tried to carve out my heart. Those assholes ignored everything we ever had to say to them. We couldn’t get a fair match out of them. And again, that fucker TRIED TO CUT MY HEART OUT OF MY CHEST. Don’t you care about that?”

    “What kind of question is- Of course I care about that! He could’ve killed you if he dug a bit deeper!”

    “He probably should’ve. Would’ve saved us both a whole lot of trouble, huh?”

    “Alyster, that's so petty...”

    “You’re the one acting like the whole world is ending because Golden Rock has broken up!”


    Another crack in the earth broke apart at their feet, spitting out chunks of lava.

    “You had your chance to back out.” Alyster continued, ignoring the world ending around them. “You knew the risks, you knew what could happen. What’s done is done. Accept the fucking consequences of your decisions for once in your life. Do you know how this makes me feel? It makes me feel like you regret bringing back the Gang Stars. It makes me feel like you regret this entire goddamn friendship we have. Is that what I am to you? Regrettable?”

    Alyster stares at his partner, deeply hurt by the implications. His eyes grow heavy and he starts to slump. He waits for an answer but doesn’t receive one and the longer they go without speaking the angrier he feels until he’s fit to explode. His hands ball up into fists and he desperately fights the urge to swing at Krash.

    The angrier Alyster feels the worse the world seems to be. More cracks in the Earth start to form, more lava spouts from the new openings. Thunder echoes through the open space and lightning illuminates the sky. Finally, Alyster breaks the tension between them with what may be his final words to Krash.

    “We did what we had to do. Get over it!”

    Krash is none too pleased with his partner. He doesn’t appreciate the way that Alyster just casually tosses aside his concerns and at this moment he has nothing but hate in his heart for the man who twisted him into the vile creature he feels like he has become.

    “Leave me alone Alyster. You’ve done enough damage to this friendship.”

    Alyster shakes his head in disbelief and without a word turns tail and walks away. Leaving the Moustached Maverick alone to wallow in his self-pity, guilt and sorrow.

    Krash didn’t watch him go.

    Having already turned his head, he only heard the sound of Alyster’s footsteps fade away until he was alone.

    Alone with his thoughts.

    A hell he wouldn’t wish on anyone.

    He was FWA Tag Team Champion, the kind of champion he always craved - because it meant someone out there trusted him enough to go the distance.

    So why didn’t he feel like a champion? Why did it feel so hollow? Why, after all that, was he still so… Tired?

    Shaking his head in dismay, Krash walked, aimlessly, down the empty cracked street, deftly avoiding the chasms and voids erupting across the surface. The fire crackled, a thin shriek echoed in the distance, and with nothing else, Krash followed the sound.

    “Hush. It’s only a first-degree burn. Hardly the end of the world. Apply cold water and bandage for a bit and you’ll be fine.”

    Huh. That voice sounded… Vaguely familiar. Like someone he might’ve worked with but didn’t 100% know, perchance. Squinting, Krash turned a corner, and found a middle-aged man with a paunchy build, greying hair and glasses who insisted on wearing a white medical coat, shooing away a worried civilian.

    “Dr… Smith?” Krash greeted, silently hoping he got the name right.

    Turning, Dr. Smith’s eyebrows raised for the barest hint of a second, before settling back into the familiar position of apathy. “Oh. Hello, Krash.” The FWA doctor greeted, in that toneless voice of his. “Quite the apocalypse, isn’t it?” He remarked nonchalantly.

    Krash shrugged. “I suppose so.”

    Dr. Smith’s bottom lip curled for a flash. “Congratulations on your and Alyster’s win, by the way. You wrestlers do have some affinity for big gold belts, so I’m sure you and Alyster must be delighted with how this all worked out. Although…” Dr. Smith stole a glance at Krash’s empty waist. “You appear to have… Misplaced your share.”

    Krash shrugged again and made a vague vocal noise of nothing.

    A beat of silence ensured.

    Finally, Dr. Smith tilted his head, but never changed the dull, world-weary expression from his face. “You seem… distracted, Krash.” He noted. “You didn’t visit my office after your match, so I presumed you are, or were, physically unharmed. Was I incorrect?”

    Krash scratched the back of his head awkwardly. “... Yeah. No. I’m- Yeah. I’m fine. I’m good. I’m faaaantastic.”

    “Are you?”

    “Not really.”

    Dr. Smith let out a long sigh. An impressively long sigh. The kind of sigh that seemed to eclipse the sky, that made regular sighs look like mere exhales. It was the kind of sigh religious groups would form to give worship to, and opposing splinter groups would wage crusades against. It was a cosmic sigh, an otherworldly sigh, a sigh that told everyone that some kind of God-like being was present and at least 95% apathetic to your concerns.

    “What’s on your mind, Krash?” Dr. Smith eventually asked.

    Krash thought about sighing, but having found the undisputed king of sighing, went against the notion. Instead, he fluttered his hands about, trying to find the perfect words, before giving up. “Alyster.” He finally said.

    Dr. Smith nodded his head in understanding. “Yes, I see your friend perhaps too much for my liking. The man has the self-preservation of a snowman in a desert.”

    Krash opened his mouth to ask what a snowman was doing in the desert and perhaps whether the ice cube’s subsequent misadventure under a hot sun was the direct result of a possibly sapient person leaving a non-ambulatory object in a very specific location, all but guaranteeing it’s early demise, and thus whether the blame of the snowman’s poor self-preservation skills lied squarely on the person who put it there.

    But before he could ponder that philosophical quandary, Dr. Smith continued. “It’s nice of you to stand by Alyster after so much. I’ve seen too many people who wouldn’t.”

    Krash’s words choked to death in his throat. He turned away, swallowing the golf ball sized lump, and muttered. “Y… Yeah. Shame, isn’t it?”

    “It is a shame.” Dr. Smith agreed. “It’s a very selfish business, the business you and Alyster and the rest of your colleagues conduct yourselves in. So it’s nice to see two people who aren’t together solely for championship purposes stick by each other, through thick and thin, through better or for worse.”

    Krash merely nodded, face churning in discomfort.

    “And it’s been on the ‘worse’ scale lately, hasn’t it?” Dr. Smith continued. “Alyster told me you’ve been… Unlucky, for a fair portion of your time for quite a while now. And Alyster himself, well… I’m not saying he didn’t deserve to be glassed and carved like a Christmas turkey, but it was still a ridiculously cowardly act to be done to him for, as far as I can tell, no discernable reason at a disproportionate response. I mean, there’s a very clear and very wide and very noticeable line between, what did Alyster refer to them? ‘A couple of love taps for attention and attempting to carve some initials into someone’s chest. Families watch this program, for goodness’ sake. There’s pushing the envelope with the censors, and then there’s knowingly committing potentially permanent bodily harm.” Dr. Smith shook his head. “I do try to stay impartial, y’know. I don’t pay much attention to the things you and your co-workers do to each other, but Alyster talks a lot while I get him cleaned up after the latest woodchipper he picked a fight with, and, well…”

    “He visits you a lot, doesn’t he?” Krash mumbled.

    “He does. Which makes me relieved he has someone like you looking out for him from time to time, giving him a shoulder to rely on when he needs it. That’s a rarity in our profession, Krash. Why, I wouldn’t believe if your opponents earlier bothered to keep in touch after, as Alyster put it, ‘you and him kickstarted their bitter and messy divorce.’ You must be pretty fond of Alyster.”

    “Yeah.” Krash slowly replied.“I… I guess I am. I probably shouldn’t be, but… I don’t know. I mean… I don’t...”

    “Take your time, Krash.”

    “It feels like… When I’m with Alyster… I do bad things. Like… Like he’s a terrible influence. He brings out the worst qualities in me and I just… Nod my head with it. And I know it, but I’d never turn it down, because of who it’s coming from. And it got me thinking - I try to be the light in the dark not because I really want to, but because I feel like I need to. I try to be a hero not because I want to do good things, but because I need people to love me for it. I tell myself I’m a good person, but when I ask myself why, I can’t think of an answer.” Krash ran his hands through his hair, shaking. “Dr. Smith, am I a bad person? Am I a bad person by myself, or am I using the excuse of Alyster’s proximity to justify it?”

    Dr. Smith tilted his head. “Ignoring how morality is a typically subjective scale… What makes you ask that?”

    “Well.. Y’know… That whole thing with Golden Rock… Kind of a dick move on our part, wasn't it? Masking up for a few assaults, light as they were while pretending it wasn’t me and Alyster… That’s kinda villainous, ain’t it? And us being the causes of their split, it’s… It doesn’t sit right with me.”

    Dr. Smith pondered the question, tapping a finger against his chin, before letting out a sigh. “Someone once told me something about you, Krash. They think you’re a very principled person at first appearance. Despite all your flaws, you have a code of conduct you try to stand by at all times. A code of conduct that is, at its very core, flawed for the situations you find yourself in, something that has landed you in hot water time and time again, but a code you still cling to, perhaps pointlessly, all the same. And more importantly, they think you're a very sentimental person, to the point where if it's a battle between your principles and your sentimentals, the sentimental part will always win, simply because who you value outranks what you value. Above all else, you care more about the person you’re with rather than why you’re with them. And I'm glad you do, because caring for them seems to make you happy. Because despite how often you go out and do things based on your principles, I don't think you're a very happy person based solely from the end results of your principles.”

    “Who told you that?”

    Dr. Smith smiled. “Alyster did.”

    The shadow of a smile passed over Krash’s face. “You still didn't answer my question.”

    Dr. Smith shook his head. “No. No, I didn't.”

    “Why not?”

    “Because contrary to popular belief, people are complex. Full of their own flaws as much as they aren't. And I think trying to boil yourself down to whether you fit into category A or category B is incredibly shortsighted. Are you a bad person? That’s something I can’t answer. Now, if the question was ‘Is Krash still a hero?' Then my answer is yes. You did all of that for Alyster, and what motivation could be more noble and heroic than the pursuit of friendship?”

    “But Golden Rock- They broke up because of us.”

    “If their friendship is meant to last, then they will make it work. We have phones these days - They can still text each other. And if it doesn’t… It’s not your fault, Krash. Blame the runners of Fallout and Meltdown for not drafting them together and forcing this situation on you all. You may feel like you’ve done something horrible, but this was going to happen to Golden Rock sooner or later. By your hands, someone else's, or even Golden Rock’s own - It was going to happen sooner or later. So, you may feel you’ve done something horrible. Maybe you started something and it snowballed into something else. But it was situational. Happenstance. It was, as I’ve heard, nothing personal.”

    Krash stood silently, running a hand over his moustache.

    Dr. Smith gently patted a hand on his shoulder. “Krash, I have two pieces of advice for you. First, you need to learn to communicate. Letting thoughts like that fester inside of you for so long will do terrible things to you. You need to tell someone sometimes. Doesn’t matter if it’s me, or Alyster. If you feel like someone’s leading you down a wrong path, you need to speak up. It’ll save everyone involved time and heartache, and Alyster would appreciate the honesty.”

    Krash smiled a thin, tight-lipped smile. “What’s the second piece of advice, Doc?”

    Dr. Smith frowned. “Don’t call me Doc. And secondly… You need to tell yourself that it’s okay to be selfish sometimes. When you do things you feel anxious about… You need to ask yourself whether the end result will make you happy. Work off that. Not off of the expectations of others, but off of what you feel is right for you. The people who understand will still love you, and the people who don’t probably aren’t the kind of people you don’t need the affection of anyway. It’s okay to pursue your own happiness, Krash. And if happiness to you is teaming up with a psychopath to send people to my medical office, well...” Dr. Smith shrugged. “Then we’ll just have to learn to live with it all, won’t we?”

    Krash chuckled. “It’s going to take some time to start doing those things, Do- uh, Dr. Smith. But I’ll try. Alyster deserves as much. I’m not going to let those pieces of shit, Golden Rock, try to make me feel bad just for pursuing my own happiness when they’re both such terrible people they’d resort to graphic mutilation and crippling a fellow wrestler for the flimsiest of justifications. I’d rather be in hell with Alyster than in heaven if that’s what the ‘good guys’ think like. I should probably go talk to him, shouldn’t I?”

    “Probably, yes.”

    Krash nodded his head at the good doctor then looked up toward the sky. It seemed to be a little less red now. It definitely was no longer on fire. Odd.

    Elsewhere, Alyster Black had managed to find himself back in the Tokyo Dome. Aimlessly wandering through the hallowed halls of this mecca of combat spots. It was always Alyster’s dream to wrestle in the Tokyo Dome. Ever since he was a teen and had first discovered a love for professional wrestling. Today that dream had been realised. He should have been over the moon right now. But issues with Krash soured his mood.

    The building has since been cleared out following the conclusion of Lights Out with the exception of a few straggler fans and the ring crew, who were carefully tearing down the pay-per-view set and the ring. Alyster watched them from the balcony above. Leaning against the rail quietly in thought. It was a relaxing atmosphere inside the Dome. The acoustics were fantastic. He’d noticed earlier in the night just how well the building carried the sound of the audience and of the in-ring action. Every bump sounded like a gunshot, every strike reverberated through the building. The crowd reactions were easy to determine in the ring, which was typically a problem in most arenas that the FWA ran. Especially any open arena. In Tokyo, Alyster knew that everything he did was impressive to these people. And he was grateful to be able to fight for them.

    Alyster found himself completely lost in thought about the night’s events. Of the Golden Rock match, the cataclysmic Earth ending event afterwards, and of his fight with Krash. All this weighed heavily on the masked man. He felt relief for finally putting an end to Golden Rock once and for all. He was indifferent to the apocalypse. But he felt anger toward his partner. He felt betrayed by Krash’s stance on this whole situation. How could he not understand that what he and Alyster had achieved together was beautiful? It wasn’t something to get upset about. A plan was put into action and the result was their winning the FWA World Tag Team titles. They’d proven they were the absolute best tag team in the world. They’d proven that their bond was stronger than Randy and Devin’s. Nothing else mattered.

    “A-hem.”

    Alyster was snapped out of his thoughts by the sound of a clearing throat. He turned his head and watched as a pretty young lass, dressed like a punk, with a spiked up mohawk approached him.
    “Hey Alyster.” She acted familiar with him but Alyster could swear that he’s never met this girl before.

    “Hello?” He responded.

    The girl was not amused with Alyster’s inability to recognise her. She leant back against the rail of the balcony, resting on her elbows and looking back toward the staircase. “It’s Violet.” Alyster didn’t react to the name, the punk rolled her eyes. “Violet Dreyer.”

    This still didn’t ring any bells in Alyster’s mind. “Sorry, I don’t believe we’ve met.”

    Violet’s left eye started to twitch. “I’m friends with your moustached bozo of a friend.”

    Alyster simply shrugged his shoulders.

    “Are you kidding me? How has that low-life not mentioned me before? How do you not recognise my name? My dad trained you for fuck sake.”

    This comment really left Alyster confused. This woman had an Australian accent and Alyster trained to become a wrestler in California. Where he moved after he realised that training in Melbourne was a waste of time.

    It finally hit him.

    “You’re Murphy Dreyer’s daughter?”

    Violet threw her hands up in the air in victory. “Finally the doofus remembers.”

    Images of Alyster’s first attempts at training to be a professional wrestler flashed through his mind. Repressed memories of training in Melbourne at the Dreyer wrestling academy under the ‘tutelage’ of Murphy.

    “Your dad didn’t train me to wrestle…” Alyster tried to stay calm, every instinct he had was telling him to toss Violet over the rail and rid the world of another Dreyer, he did his best to ignore that instinct. “Your dad had me and a group of gullible sods set up the ring and run the canteen at every event he ran for five months…he refused to even show me how to apply a headlock.”

    Violet laughed, “Yeah that sounds like dad. He’ll rip off any bright-eyed dolt who walks into the academy.”

    “I had to move to America to actually learn anything. Does your dad actually claim that he trained me?”

    “Yeah, you and Krash. His two star pupils.” She made air quotations with her fingers as she referred to the two Gang Stars.

    Alyster’s hand balled up into a fist, how dare this vile bottom feeding creature take credit for any part of Alyster becoming who he is today. “Listen, tell your dad that if he ever publicly claims to have trained me that I will sue his ass. Litigation usually isn’t my go-to but all your dad understands is the all mighty dollar.”

    Violet nodded her head, she'd heard this threat a thousand times by this point from nearly anyone who'd had the misfortune of meeting her father. “Sure, but like, you can just tell him yourself when we go back to Melbourne.”

    “I’m perfectly content to go to the grave without ever seeing that bastard again thank you.”


    Violet chuckled. Alyster shook his head and looked back down to the ring as the crew was rolling the canvas off the wooden boards.

    “Good job tonight by the way.” Violet had a wicked smirk on her face.

    Alyster grunted, “Cheers.”

    “I’ve gotta say, I’m a big fan. I love watching you fight. You’re so ridiculously violent.”

    Alyster couldn’t help but feel touched. It was rare that someone appreciated him for his violent tendencies. But then he remembered who he was talking to, a Dreyer, a member of the vilest wrestling family of all time. Cheaters and scumbags with the moral and personal decorum of carrion.

    “Seriously!” Violet gave him a soft punch to the arm. “Dude, watching you go out there and just scrap and claw is a highlight of these shows. Like, you go out there and don’t give a flying fuck what anyone thinks of you. I think that’s just class.”

    “I’m sorry but you and Krash are supposed to be friends right?” Alyster wondered just what was wrong with his partner if he was willfully taking the company of this woman.

    “Oh totally, best friends even. But not as close as you two. I could never make him do what you made him do tonight.”

    Alyster was taken aback. “What do you mean?”

    “You know...you made him betray every ideal he holds dear to his heart. Dad and I have been trying to make him turn to the dark side for years. The sneak attacks, the backstabbing. All of it is a work of art. And what you two did tonight...we could never, ever, have dreamed of making him do what you made him do. I mean, going as far as to end the most beloved tag team in FWA history.” Violet sighed, “It’s the sort of thing fairy tales are made of.”

    This vile cretin spawn of the devil was proud of what Alyster had done. He had made Krash betray every ideal he held dear. He made Krash sneak attack, backstab and destroy. He had turned Krash from the picture-perfect hero into a vile villain. Just like he was. No wonder Krash hated him right now.

    A wave of guilt washed over Alyster and he sank down low. Slouching over the rail and looking down at the hard floor below.

    Violet reached out and patted Alyster on the back. “Right well, it was a pleasure finally meeting you. I’ll see you around. At the after-party right?” And with that she took her leave, walking up the stairs and leaving Alyster alone to wallow in his guilt.

    “Fuck…”

    After a short while, Alyster decided to move on. He walked around the building, taking in all the sights of the empty seating and was in awe of just how big the Dome was, it was huge and just hours ago it was sold out and filled with people waiting to see him and Krash achieve immortality.

    But soon the walk and the sights started to grow tiresome. He found his way toward the entrance hall of the dome, at the top of a small set of steps, overlooking the doors which suddenly burst open as Krash arrived.

    Both Gang Stars stared at one another for a brief moment. Alyster felt nervous as he had finally begun to empathise with his partner’s plight and was anxious to reveal in another round of arguing. Krash however managed to crack a smile at the sight of Alyster. This helped calm the masked man down tremendously.

    “Hey.” Alyster casually waved to his partner.

    Krash nodded his head and waved back, “Hey yourself.”

    A brief and awkward silence followed but was quickly quelled by Alyster.

    “I finally met Violet.”

    Krash’s eyes widened, “Really? How’d that go?”

    “Poorly.”

    “As to be expected. If you give her a chance she’ll grow on you.”

    “No doubt. You failed to tell me who her father was by the way.”

    “You know Murphy?”

    “I think anyone who tried to make it wrestling in Australia knows Murphy.”

    “That’s a shame.”

    “Struth.”

    Again they both fell silent. Krash reached up and rubbed the back of his head, he sighed and then spoke again “Listen Al, I’ve got something I need to get off my chest.”

    Alyster nodded his head and sat down on the edge of the carpeted steps. He waved his partner over to join him and Krash was more than happy to oblige. Sitting down beside Alyster.

    “Over the course of time, when I look at the path I've taken - the path we've taken - to get to this very spot of our career, Alyster... I've done some terrible things, y'know. I've hurt people, people who might not have deserved it, all for you, Alyster. It keeps me up at night sometimes.”

    Alyster dipped his head, he felt guilty about what he had forced Krash to go through. “I know, I know you don't feel right about it, I know you feel sorry about it all b-”

    “Sorry?” Krash burst out into laughter. “Oh, Alyster, you've misunderstood me. I'm not sorry for anything.”

    The masked man was taken aback, “Y-... What? But the whole feeling guilty about breaking up Golden Rock thing-”

    “I'm not going to be seeking forgiveness or repentance for my actions, and neither of you, because we've done nothing wrong. All we've done, all we've ever done, is do what we thought was best for ourselves, for our own happiness. And if that meant ripping apart a world or two, then maybe that world didn't deserve to survive if our mere presence turned it into a jaded baggage-laden liability. They really shouldn't be taking it so personally.”


    “Yeah. It's not personal, we would've done it to anyone else if they happened to be in our way, right?”

    “Not just that. When we attacked Golden Rock, they were never in any danger, were they? The pipes were hollow - made a loud noise but didn't cause any lasting damage. They didn't miss a single day of work. We never put them in a position where they might lose what they treasure so dearly because of our attacks, because we never attacked them when they would be. If Golden Rock weren't so eager to turn this into something it's not, they would've seen that those little attention taps were just that - attention taps.”

    “Now you're seeing the light.”

    “In fact - you want to talk about personal? They made it personal, Alyster, when Devin tried to cut your heart out with a shard of glass out of some ridiculous hero complex fantasy against an imaginary foe of CWA. Our love taps barely made an impact, but you're going to carry those scars forever, y'know.”

    “And you know what? I thank him for it. I never felt more alive when I sat in the back and realized he just marked me, not with some shitty initials - but with a purpose. I had been missing that little bit of extra drive to push me over the edge into the Alyster Black that kicked ass and took names. I've drowned Dan Maskell in a pool of his own blood, beat Ryan Rondo like he was actually a Toner by blood, and beat the absolute crap out of Devin himself - because that shard of glass scraping against my heart was exactly what I needed to find the missing piece. In fact, I’m sure we’ve repaid Devin for his evil deed - by ripping him away from Randy Ramon and forcing himself to fight solo on Meltdown. I’m sure he’ll be grateful for the opportunity to stop having to piggyback off Randy and really cement himself as one of the GOATs. And Randy, well he’ll finally be able to speak for himself now, won’t he? Plus, he can focus on winning that World Title.”

    “Yeah, see, when you look at it that way, we're doing these guys a favour by being the force that breaks them apart. Devin can quit pretending he's worthless alone, and Randy can quit hiding behind an increasingly insecure manchild and fight his own battles. We're helping them move along into better beings, and really, isn't that the noblest thing anyone can do? This lame-ass Game 7, Round 5, Par 12, shoehorned catchphrase can go and die and everyone will be so fucking relieved that this tug-along bullshit is finally over.”

    “And how.” Alyster reached out and slapped his partner on the back. He was proud of him for finally turning the corner with this situation, but he still had to make things right.

    “Look, I’m glad that you’re finally seeing the light and all that but I still feel like I owe you an apology.”

    Krash shot Alyster a glace that practically screamed at him to stop.

    “Seriously, I do. I made you do something that Violet Dreyer approved of. And I can never make up for that.”

    Krash laughed, “No, you can’t. But you can try. I’ve no objection to that.”

    “Honestly, I’d go to the ends of the Earth for you buddy.”

    “I know, I’d do the same for you.”

    Both men looked out to the arena exit, where the world as they knew it was currently coming to an end.

    They stood up and made their way to the door, pushing them open and were greeted by a bright blue sky. They looked around and found no evidence of the apocalypse around them. Just safe clean streets brimming with life. No giant faultline with a never-ending abyss, no overturned cars, no screaming...just peace.

    “Told you breaking up Golden Rock wasn’t the end of the world,” Alyster remarked.

    “Nah, but the Gang Stars breaking up, that would have been the end of everything.”

    Alyster nodded his head and noticed a light glistening in the nearby bushes. He walked over to it then smiled as he picked up Krash's FWA World Tag Team title belt. He beckoned his partner over then handed him his belt.

    "You deserve this title, don't ever let anyone tell you otherwise."

    Krash beamed with pure glee, he was a champion again alongside his best friend. All was right in the world, and all would continue to be right.

    Spoiler:

    Quote Originally Posted by Fight Night: NOLA RP Thread
    "Alyster?"

    Alyster nodded. "Yeah?"

    "How long would you fight for me?" Krash turned to him, piercing green eyes shining in the light.

    "To my last breath." Alyster didn't hesitate for even a second. Nodding, Krash closed, his eyes, exhaled, and swung his legs onto the floor.

    "That's what I needed to hear."He decided, tugging on the leather jacket. "Let's do this."


    Spoiler:





  5. #25
    Huggin' and Kissin'
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    The University of Conerville
    Campus Grounds.

    A young man, most likely early twenties, struts through the freshly mowed lawn of The University of Conerville in clear violation of the “DO NOT WALK ON GRASS” signs erected around the circumference of the lush, green ground the suave, young buck strode across. He flicked his jet-black hair with his free hand. His other, of course, was occupied by holding the strap of his bag in place. One-strapping. You know it. A trio of excited college girls gush as he walks by.

    Girl 1: “Oh… my… god!”

    Girl 2: “Is that-?”

    Girl 3: “Better believe it, girls. Mister 4.0 himself. The guy has three academic golden certificates for 100% attendance records.”

    The stud-muffin in question has not only garnered the attention of the three girls – gangs of girls claw and scratch at each other to try and get in the eyesight of aul Casanova. They hold out their gadgets, begging him to sign them. Dozens of men sit around cutting frustrated figures. They all hold tablet devices, and we can see on the screen of each, there are various pop-ups and viruses that they are incapable of removing.

    Girl 3: “Rumour has it… he can do anything with devices. He can crack any code, fix any error and modify any piece of technological equipment you can think of! And to top it all off? He’s got so much academic credit-

    One of the girls actually swoons into the other’s arms. After steadying herself and regaining her composure, she allows the defacto leader to continue.

    Girl 3: “Yup… around here… Owen Kinsella is the man.

    Owen stops and smiles at the girl from a distance.

    Girl 3: “And I’m going to ask him out!”

    Girl 1: “What!?”

    Girl 2: “Are you crazy!?”

    The girl pushes up her assets and starts walking over towards Owen, a confident bounce in her step. Owen glances at her and smiles again. Stopping in front of him she brazenly states her case.

    Girl 3: “You know… my iPhone charger socket doesn’t seem to work anymore… I was wondering if you could come over after class and… have a look?

    Owen smiles sexily and –

    Ryan Rondo: “OH FUCK YEAH!!! This dude was really listening, eh Danny?”

    Danny Toner: “Rule 69! DAT! MY! BOI! Dat my boi, Owen!”

    Owen’s face turns bright red as he sees the last two people he wanted to see. Not them. Not here. But indeed it was them. Ryan Rondo and Danny Toner. Live and in person. In his University. Grrrreaaaatt.

    Owen: “Uh… hi guys. Uh… what are you-”

    DT: “No time, bud. We gotta hop, skip and jump. Guess what? YOU’RE GETTING YOUR OWN MONTAGE!”

    Owen: “Montage-wait, guys-“

    RR: “Surprise, buddy! You’re getting promoted!”

    DT: “Fuck yeah! You’re movin’ on up to rank of Corporal Traffic Cone!”

    Girl 3 looks a little but put out and moves to intervene.

    Girl 3: “Uhm, excuse me but-”

    Rondo and Toner jump back as soon as the girl opens her mouth.

    DT: “The fuck!?”

    RR: “You creeping for?”

    Girl 3: “I wasn’t-”

    ???: “I saw you, mate. Now fuck off, you creep.”

    Rondo and Danny spin around with big smiles on their faces as Owen slowly lets his head sink into his hands.

    RR: “Well, I’ll be damned! As I live and breathe!”

    DT: “Nova FUCKING Diamond!”

    Nova stands with his arms spread wide, equally as wide as the grin on his face with a big “I know, I know!” look etched across his mug.

    Nova Diamond: “Weren’t expecting me, where ya?”

    DT: “Fuck no, man! You creeped up on us worse than this creeper!”

    Danny juts his thumb at Girl 3 who throws her hands in the air and storms back off into irrelevancy.

    RR: “Yeah, you got me good, man! What you doing here?”

    ND: “Awh, you know… I heard about the kids debut and that, innit?”

    Owen looks up, worry plastered all over his face.

    Owen: “Sorry… my what?

    ND: “You got a real nerve speaking to me like that after your podcast fiasco!”

    Danny frowns and looks at Owen.

    DT: “What podcast fiasco?”

    Owen begins panicking. This is not cool. He’s basically a God around here. He can’t have his bosses cramping his style. But Danny looks pissed… and the academic credit really is useful. Still… he had to do something.

    Owen: “Hey! Why don’t we go to my dorm? I got pizza rolls!”

    RR: “The fuck you holding out for man?”

    ND: “Motherfucker has motherfucking pizza rolls-”

    The University of Conerville
    Owen’s Dorm.

    Owen shifts uncomfortably in his seat on the edge of his bed and glances around at his suddenly very occupied dorm. Nova lay on the opposite bed, idly watching Rondo thumb through his room-mates belongings. Rondo pawed through the various traffic-cone paraphernalia and mused loudly.

    RR: “Uh… Owen?”

    Owen gulps.

    Owen: “Uh… yes?”

    Rondo holds up a postcard with a Japanese bar – NTR Izakaya – pictured on the front.

    RR: “Just who is your room-mate?”

    Owen: “Uh…”

    DT: “Pizza rolls are ready!”

    Nova immediately jerks upwards.

    ND: “Fucking ace, mate!”

    Rondo immediately drops the postcard and turns and lunges towards the plate of pizza rolls, popping a full one into his mouth.

    ND: “This side of the room… is kind of weird, mate. What’s the story with those?”

    Nova points at two bloody katanas lying in the corner. Before Owen gets a chance to answer, Toner butts in.

    DT: “I recognize these from The Warehouse! Owen… is your room-mate who I think he is?

    Owen sighs loudly.

    Owen: “Yes…”

    Ryan shouts out between mouthfuls of delicious pizza roll.

    RR: “No…*chew* shit.”

    DT: “The fuck’s he doing here? Hasn’t he already got a degree?”

    Owen: “I said the same thing! But he said something like I broke my degree?

    RR: “Deep.”

    Rondo, Nova and Toner quickly nod in agreement.

    Owen: “Anyway… he’s not a student… non-students technically can’t live on campus but on account of my standing… The Dean made an exception. Besides… he does janitor work and emotional support work… that’s where he is now.”

    DT: “That good standing of yours Owen… I wonder what would happen if I pulled your academic credit, huh?”

    Owen looks shocked.

    Owen: “What!? Why? I do everything you ask and will happily continue to-”

    RR: “I dunno, kid. You ain’t gonna like it.”

    Owen: “Like what?”

    Nova leans forward and smiles.

    ND: “Your debut.”

    Owen: “My debut for what?”

    Nova, Ryan and Danny all look at each other, puzzled.

    DT: “Uh… what do we all do, Owen?”

    Owen looks momentarily confused but then slowly, the awful truth dawns on him.

    Owen: “You… you wrestle. You want me to wrestle.”

    Danny places a comforting hand on Owen’s shoulder and looks at him as one would a loved son.

    DT: “You’re damn freakin’ right I want you to wrestle.”

    Owen: “But… but why?”

    DT: “Why? Why? I’m doing it because Uncle’s been taking shots. He knows that if what he thinks is going to happen ever does happen that it’s going to be fucking huge and he’s putting himself in the position to be the running rivals. I’ve no sold him purposely about it but bringing out stop sign guy to take a shot at poor defenceless tc2? Warrants a reply.”

    ND: “Mate, are you alright?”

    DT: “Nawh, fuck this shit! I’m sick of mofos running all up on my shit. I needed to do somethin’ big! So, I came up with it… the perfect way to stick it to that fuckin’ whack-ball Uncle! I was gonna have a prodigy. I was gonna craft and train… THE NEPHEW HUNTER!”

    RR: “Siiiiick name.”

    ND: “Yeah, fuckin’ awesome origin story too, mate.”

    Owen looks utterly confused.

    Owen: “Uh… what has any of this got to do with me?”

    The trio laugh loudly and when they see Owen is still none the wiser, Rondo takes it upon himself ot whisper to him.

    RR: “Uh… you’re The Nephew Hunter, kid.”

    This time Owen begins laughing but it quickly dies out when he sees the look on the men in his dorm’s faces. He hangs his head dejectedly.

    Owen: “Oh, for fuck sake…”

    DT: “Look Owen, da bois need your help! All these damn Nephews are sproutin’ up like weeds!”

    ND: “And not the good kind!”

    RR: “Say whaaaa?”

    Danny waves a hand at the duo of messers.

    DT: “I need your help Owen! Aintcha one of da bois?”

    Owen tries his best to look flattered.

    Owen: “Gee, Mr Toner… I’d really like to help you but… I’m more of an audio visuals guy…”

    SUDDENLY THERE’S A FUCKING LIGHTNING CROWD RIGHT BANG SMACK IN THE MIDDLE OF OWEN’S DORM!

    ND: “What.”

    DT: “The.”

    RR: “Fuck.”

    A rectangle shape opens up and… Owen? steps out from the void. Except… it’s Owen jacked up on some kind of steroid and mechanical robotic mix. Brian Cage cosplaying as Wolverine x1000. With the gauntlet thingy from Lucha Underground. Minus points for 4th wall breaking? But all the cool kids are doing it!? Anyway fuckin’ terminator, mechanic, jacked Owen steps out.

    RR: “Alright, fuck this. I’m out. I’mma go check the cafeteria menu.”

    Ryan walks right past Owen and out the dorm, his blaise nature a direct contrast to a horrified Owen. He is staring at the thing that just came out of the rectangle. He stammers a few words.

    Owen: “Who-who-the fuck are you?”

    He speaks with a booming voice.

    Prime 0w3n: “I… am PRIME 0W3N! I have come from the future to warn you that you must heed Danny’s warning. You must hunt Nephews to prevent the dark fate of the future!”

    Owen: “Oh shit… the dark fate of the future? When is that?”

    Prime 0w3n: “Like… late October.”

    Owen: “Damn, I turn into a cyborg in like a month?”

    Prime 0w3n: “Yes.”

    Owen: “Oh… well. Kinda sucks.”

    Danny shrugs and Nova mutters something about “them the breaks” as Prime 0w3n looks set to take his leave.

    Owen: “Wait! You can’t just go! You can’t just drop that shit on me and go! You’re not my father!”

    ND: “Boooo!”

    DT: “Daddy issues suck!”

    Prime 0w3n: “Uh… to be honest… I’m using one of the CIA’s time machines in the public library… I gotta get back and let other people use it.”

    DT: “Shit’s really movin’ that fast, huh?”

    Prime 0w3n: “Afraid so… but before I go… I should ask… do you have any questions about the future and why The Nephews are so dangerous? You have one question.”

    ND: “Bullshit! BS!”

    Prime 0w3n’s whole body glows and his voice booms louder.

    Prime 0w3n: “ONE QUESTION! I really have to get this back…”

    Owen, Nova and Danny huddle together and whisper unintelligibly to each other. We can hear a few snippets.

    “We sure?”

    “No brainer.”

    “As soon as he asked-”

    “Yeah, mate.”

    “Go for it?”

    “Do it.”

    Danny turns around and faces down Prime 0w3n before clearing his throat.

    DT: “So… we were wondering… do you have a robocock?

    Prime 0w3n: “I… I uh-”

    ND: “Come on, mate! Robot dick or not?”

    Prime 0w3n looks at Owen for back-up and receives precisely none.

    Owen: “Well… I kinda want to know if this is my last month with… you know? So… what is it? Have you got one?”

    Rondo comes back in with a plate of pasta from the cafeteria.

    RR: “Got what?”

    ND: “Oh, Prime 0w3n offered us one question about the future and Danny asked him had he got a robocock.”

    RR: “YOU WHAT!?”

    Sensing an opportunity to escape, Prime 0w3n hops in the rectangle and vanishes into the future void.

    DT: “Goddammit, Ryan! Now we’ll never know!”

    Ryan places his pasta on the bed and turns to face Danny.

    RR: “Don’t tell me that somebody from the future was here to warn us about a stable that the VERY woman you could be facing for the World Championship, next month, in the future, has just joined and you… you asked him has he a robocock?”

    DT: “Sorry bro, gotta own this one… guilty.”

    Rondo looks like he’s about to explode but after a quick shaking fit and some controlled breathes he regains his composure. He looks at Owen.

    RR: “Well… does he?”

    Owen: “Do I what?”

    RR: “Do you get a damn robocock?”

    DT: “Oh… we didn’t find out.”

    Rondo finally reaches breaking point and smashes the plate of pasta against the wall.

    DT: “Sweet! That’s a smash in every promo!”

    Rondo looks mightily pleased with himself and smirks.

    RR: “Damn right, that’s a motherfucking smash in every promo!”

    Owen: “Can somebody PLEASE tell me what’s going on?

    ND: “It ain’t that hard to keep up. You’re going to the big time, mate. The FWA. Debuting at Lights Out. Owen … The Nephew Hunter!”

    Owen: “But I can’t wrestle!”

    RR: “But I can.”

    ND: “And I can wrestle.”

    Owen: “But you aren’t-”

    DT: “Shut up! They’re doing a bit! Respek the bit.”

    RR: “We have gotten a glimpse of the future and it is with the utmost urgency we must act.”

    ND: “We shall train you, young padwan.”

    Kooky rock music begins playing and Owen looks around for the source of the sounds. Danny jumps up and bounces his eyebrows up and down.

    DT: “Owen, my friend… it’s time for… YOUR VERY OWEN MONTAGE!”

    RR: “I get it!”

    Owen gulps.

    +++++++========+++++++
    “Try to be best
    ‘Cause you're only a man
    And a man's gotta learn to take it”


    We see Owen in his workout clothes and holding a baseball bat labelled “Nephew Slugger”. Eat dirt Summers. He is in a training simulation and running through a park. He sees a cardboard pop-up like they do in the police shooting training. The cardboard resembles Jhunha and a startled Owen instinctively swings the bat and takes off his head. Immediately another pop-up comes out from behind a bench and it is Quiet. Toner runs on to the simulation and can be seen pointing at Quiet and then taking the bat and destroying him himself. He looks ruefully at the dismantled Jhunha.
    +++++++========+++++++
    “Try to believe
    Though the going gets rough
    That you gotta hang tough to make it”


    We see Owen jogging along, sweat starting to form on his grey work-out gear. He approaches a bridge when suddenly The Leviathans pop ups spring out from under a bridge crossing a small steam. Owen, less startled this time, pumps the breaks and smiles broadly. The Diamond Dogs pop-up and Owen begins charging towards them but Rondo sprints out waving his arms in protest. Rondo yanks the bat off Owen and goes to destroy The Leviathans himself.
    +++++++========+++++++
    “History repeats itself
    Try and you'll succeed”

    We see Owen stalking casually through the forest. He has warpaint on his face and his demeanor somehow looks different. Suddenly, an Adam Bonnie pop-out appears in the distance. Owen pulls a knife from his boot and charges. Nova Diamond looks like he’s about to intervene but stops as Owen leaps over the Bonnie pop-up. As Owen is mid-air, a Thomas West pop-up comes out and Owen brings his knife down, slicing him in tow.
    +++++++========+++++++
    “Never doubt that you're the one
    And you can have your dreams!”

    We see Owen wielding the twin katanas and cutting down Stop Sign Guy, Marcus McClain and finally turning around and decapitating Harry the Sane Wizard. Just as the dust settles another pop-up appears! It’s… Donny Toner! Owen smiles at the pop-up.

    “Woud you like some help with your promo, sir?”

    Da bois woop and cheer as Danny wipes a solitary cheer from his cheek.
    +++++++========+++++++
    “You're the best!
    Around!
    Nothing's gonna ever keep you down”


    We see an MVH pop-up appear. Owen hesitates and looks at the lads. They side-eye each other and shrug their shoulders.

    “You're the Best!
    Around!
    Nothing's gonna ever keep you down”



    Owen is nearly at the end of the park. The simulation is drawing to a close, he can see the exit. He just about reaches it when an UNCLE pop-up appears. Owen doesn’t even break stride, bursting right through the pop-up and out the exit into the cheering arms of da bois.

    “You're the Best!
    Around!
    Nothing's gonna ever keep you downnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn”

    +++++++========+++++++

    The University of Conerville

    The Athletics Track.

    DT: “Aight, stop!”

    An exhausted Owen collapses to the ground after running several laps.

    DT: “That should just about do it for endurance today. Go home, get some rest and we’ll meet again tomorrow. You done a good job for your debut.”

    RR: “Yeah, especially considering we had other shit to do.”

    ND: “For real.”

    Owen manages to pant his thanks before collapsing once again. Danny turns and faces Nova and Rondo.

    DT: “For real guys… this ain’t bad. Sure, it’s pretty rushed but as a wise man once said; what’s quick is wonderful.”

    Nova screws up his face.

    ND: “You sure on that one, mate?”

    Danny shrugs.

    DT: “Regardless, when we factor in everything… yeah… yeah… he should do alright. Should even eliminate a no-show Nephew. I think this went pretty well all things considered.”

    ND: “Pity about the colour though, innit?”

    Danny looks around and Rondo’s face shows he has just realized something. A second later it clicks with Danny.

    RR: “For fuckkkkk… this is in black and white, D!”

    DT: “Awh man, that fuckin’ blows. We ain’t even on some Gabby shit to back this crap up. We might not even get our fuckin’ elimination now. The fuck happened here? This is a shitshow? What’s up with the coding?”

    ???: “Oh, hi guys! I done the coding for this promo! Owen usually does it but seeing as he was so busy what with being the star and all… I figured I’d give a hand!”

    The gang all exclaim at once.

    “CONEY!!!”

    They all share in a laugh as their good friend Traffic Cone 2 finally shows up. Turns out he was busy working behind the scenes doing the coding for Owen’s debut promo. He’s covered up in bandages and looks like a mummy but da bois conveniently ignore it.

    TC2: “Gosh, I sure am sorry I forgot about the colour guys… what is this? A late Uncle promo?”

    The gang once again share in laughter.

    TC2: “I just used initials as placeholders for names after I established them. I didn’t think of using colour. I’ll know for next time!”

    TC2 looks over at Owen and smiles.

    TC2: “I think it’s just great that you’re going to go eliminate The Nephews, Owen, really! I tried my best to help you… I even put us in a box!”

    The gang immediately goes deathly silent. Finally, Rondo speaks.

    RR: “We’re in a box?”

    TC2: “Sure thing! I seen Chris Kennedy and Golden Rock and loads of top-end guys do it! I thought it would help Owen here.”

    DT: “You… you mean a borderless box… right?”

    TC2: “No siree, full outline! Dimensions 500! Just like all the greats! Owen ain’t the only one that knows how to dicky up a promo good and clever!”

    RR: “Alright, I’ve had it! Danny, I’m sorry – this shit has to wait. Owen, forget everything, you’re back on coding duties. We look like ass!”

    ND: “I mean this is my PPV promo appearance…”

    Danny lets his flicker between the men in the room and then swiftly calls an audible.

    DT: “Aight… Owen… it’s up to you. What do you wanna do? I won't force you... you can just hang around coding our shit... or you can step up and really be one of The Pussycats.”

    ND: "Mate."

    DT: "Aight, name's a work in progress, but you know what I mean! You can code our shit... or you can step up and come to Tokyo with us and fuck up The Nephews in the Gunfight Battle Royal!"

    RR: "Gunfire, no?"

    ND: "idk m8 they're all rippin' us so hard, i can't even remember WHAT we came up with."

    Owen can’t believe he’s been given an out. He tries to look like he's torn but he eagerly begins speaking.

    Owen: “I really am more of a coding guy so-”

    His eyes get drawn to the two, still bloody, samurai swords propped up in the corner of the room. He twitches a little and then his voice booms.

    "DESTORY

    ALL

    NEPHEWS!"


    3X World Tag Team Champion (w/Christian Quinn, w/Randy Ramon & w/Ryan Rondo)
    1X Gauntlet Champion



    JOIN THE FWA!

  6. #26
    All About That Ace
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    CAPTAIN FANTASY, THE LIBERATOR, and the KING of KAIJUs


    chapter 1.
    exile

    Captain Fantasy strode across the rock-bordered path atop his STEED, an elk-like robot unique to his people. He gazed across the grassy plains with worry, investigating the scenery for anything gone awry. He held the elk’s reigns in one hand, and in the other held a bow made of GODSTEEL, a unique metal found in the Forbidden Lands. His quiver lay strapped to his waist, rhythmically bouncing against his hip with each of the elk’s strides. His eyes widened when he spotted three of the village girls, among them his junior, Fantasy Girl, running towards him with a sense of urgency. They both came to a stop as their paths crossed though without either losing the momentum of their respective journeys.

    “Girls!”

    “Cap!” Fantasy Girl called out.

    “There’s something strange going on,” he warned. “You have to hurry. The fates want everyone back at the village at once.”

    “We just came from Uncle Broc.”

    “Did he see something?”

    “Yes, in the Forbidden Lands. There’s something wrong.”

    “The birds are all gone.”

    “The animals too!”

    “Could it be a KAIJU?”

    “They don’t come this far out.”

    “I’ll head to the watchtower and check with Uncle Broc. You three go back to the village and be quick about it.”

    They nodded and ran off while he spurred the elk on at an even heavier gait than before. The path led him to the village watchtower - a mishmash of lengthy wood pillars that crisscrossed endlessly and held up a small platform topped by a straw roof. It was a wonder it held up, but it was said the wood had GODSTEEL microfibers within. As tall as the watchtower was, it did not come close to overlooking the great forest that bordered their village. The forest’s tallest trees would tower over even the tallest city building, and Cap’s people, the Nowherelians, were far from city people. The watchtower did not see much need these days but the Nowherelian’s did not let peace dilute caution, they knew they were one disaster away from being forgotten forever.

    Cap hopped off the STEED and onto the ladder at the watchtower’s base. As he reached the top of the ladder, he reached out to climb the wooden rungs that would lead him towards the viewing platform much higher up. Grabbing the first rung, he stopped his climb. His eyes narrowed through the chrome mask that covered the top half of his face. The Forbidden Lands seemed darker than usual. A dark presence seemed to eke out from within. Something seemed to swarm between trees. He realized they might have been right. It hadn’t been since before Cap’s time that a KAIJU ventured beyond the Forbidden Land. He hurried his climb up the watchtower and reached the top where Uncle Broc sat.

    His uncle had seen his better years long gone but the watchtower’s climb would betray any assumption that he should be a man wholly disregarded.

    “Uncle. Did you see it too?”

    “I did. It isn’t a H.M.” That was lucky. A HUMAN MACHINE would be worse than any KAIJU that might emerge. Isolation is what had allowed the Nowherelians to survive to this day.

    “The fates are calling everyone back to the village.”

    “It’s too late. It’s here.”

    Cap reached for his quiver and pulled out an arrow. He notched it onto the bow and aimed at the Forbidden Land’s edge where the tree range halted ahead of a stone-fence… and where he judged that the creature would emerge from. The world seemed to darken as the threat approached, the flora withering with its closeness. Cap made sure not to let his nervousness betray his aim. The stone fence that bordered the forest was crushed instantly by a paw the size of a man. The paw as it were, seemed more a lengthy tendril composed of what looked like writhing worms. The creature that tore into the plains could be called nothing else, if not corrupted. Trees decayed then fell apart in its path and Cap found himself having to look up in horror, even from the watchtower, as the thing emerged from the forest. The four-legged monstrous thing, blood-red eyes looking on absently, grass decaying beneath every footstep, exuded poison in every aspect of its being.

    “It’s some kind of demon!”

    “A demon?”

    The demon tore through the field towards the watchtower, its lumbering steps shaking the foundations of the building. It emerged past the edge of the Forbidden Land’s forest’s shadow, the sun seemed to halt it for a moment. The demon stopped, and the writhing worms that covered it from head to toes recoiled, revealing a scarred and bloodied KAIJU beneath it. The KAIJU had great tusks and a large snout. It was the first time Cap had ever seen one up close. It roared out a painful cry, but that cry was snuffed when the writhing worms made to cover it wholly once more. It was resisting, Cap realized, but whatever corruption had taken hold of the KAIJU was too powerful, and the KAIJU was too weak.

    It plowed forward towards the watchtower, staining everything that held life in its path and leaving it dead and rotten. Cap aimed his arrow but hesitated, there was still life within the creature. There was still hope for the KAIJU. He gazed down to see that the STEED was too frightened to escape, trembling increasingly with each of the corrupted KAIJU’s steps. The STEED was durable but the KAIJU’s corruption seemed abnormal. Cap feared for his companion.

    “Burr, move!”

    But it was too fearful to hear Cap’s command. He aimed his arrow at one of the watchtower’s pillars nearest to Burr and released the string. The arrow lodged itself into the pillar and spurred Burr on. He dashed away just as the corrupted KAIJU crashed into the watchtower’s base. The pillars withstood neither the impact of the monstrous beast nor the corruption that rapidly rotted its wood. The watchtower flew over the cliffside it bordered. Captain Fantasy grabbed Uncle Broc and leaped off the platform into the treetops of the forest that surrounded Nowhereville. They were both experienced tree climbers and managed to find their grip before a fatal fall could welcome them. The KAIJU leaped off the cliff-side, crashing down into the forest and toppling and rotting countless trees. Its head gazed left and right slowly. Cap grit his teeth, hidden as he was in the treetops, when he saw what new prey the corrupted KAIJU had found… his village.

    “I have to stop it from reaching Nowhereville.”

    “You must use the suit!”

    Cap nodded. He had never needed to use M-ELT before, Nowhereville’s only HUMAN MACHINE, but it was his responsibility to wield it if danger came. He whistled for Burr, he did not believe he had much time to waste.

    “Do not let the beast touch you, it is corrupted.”

    He heeded his uncle’s words but knew that was all the more reason for him to hurry. Cap leaped off the tree, and after a running start, grabbed hold of Burr’s reigns and hopped onto its back. Burr sprinted desperately, the corrupted KAIJU wasn’t far behind them. Sensing Cap’s desire, the STEED kept itself a safe distance away from the KAIJU though within reach so that Cap’s words could reach it.

    “Please, whatever you might be, leave us in peace!”

    His words did not seem to reach the great monster who pressed onward. Every step threatened to cost Burr its balance as the ground shook. This thing hardly looked anything like the KAIJU it had corrupted. Even now, the writhing worms covering it deformed, offering extra appendages in hopes it would allow it to catch up to Burr, and stretching out in lunges to catch the STEED off guard. Burr zig-zagged away from each attempt, proving himself a match for the monster.

    As they cleared the forest, the corrupted KAIJU stopped suddenly. It turned around, and Cap cursed. He had hoped to direct it away from the village, but seeing Fantasy Girl and the other two village girls, the KAIJU opted for easier prey, one not mounting a STEED. The three girls stopped at the sight of the monster, though fortunately had the wit to press onward with a greater hurry even though fear threatened to overwhelm their entire faculties. Still, as fast as they ran, there was no outpacing the corrupted KAIJU. Cap circled atop Burr, once again getting ahead of the monster.

    “Stop! Please! Leave our village alone.”

    Still, his words came no closer to pacifying the creature. One of the girls stumbled and tripped. Fantasy Girl and her other companion stopped and returned to help her up but the creature began lifting a paw intent on flattening all three. They would never outrun it now. He had no choice.

    “Burr, I. AM. HERE.”

    The STEED unraveled instantly beneath him, turning into several individual plates that wrapped around Captain Fantasy until he was clothed entirely in a pseudo suit of GODSTEEL armor. And then, the STEED’s Battle Armor mode activated. From within the forest, a building-sized suit of armor leaped onto the field, sliding on the plains in front of the village entrance, unraveling earth beneath its GODSTEEL feet. It glided to a stop in front of Captain Fantasy and he jumped into the cockpit of M-ELT.

    M-ELT stood up, a massive HUMAN MACHINE of orange and silver. It glimmered even through the dust it had gathered, having been left unused for decades. Cap, knowing he had no moment to waste, generated a bow and arrow of pure energy with M-ELT and aimed it. Cap reluctantly accepted that the path to a peaceful resolution was no longer on the table. He aimed confidently, even unused to the weight and heft of M-ELT - never had he need to use it before - and let the arrow loose. It soared through the air and penetrated one of the KAIJU’s eyes, causing it to halt and screech out its pain. The somber sound struck his soul but he had a responsibility to his people. Once again, he would try pleading with it, to know he had given it his all.

    “Please mighty KAIJU, turn back now. We do not wish to fight you!”

    The monster roared out by way of disagreement. Cap’s only fortune was that the girls had taken advantage of that brief moment of respite to hurry off into the village. The corruption, enraged by the attack, lunged even more desperately at Cap, catching M-ELT by the arm. Cap pulled away, getting out of its grasp, but remnants of the writhing worms still covered most of M-ELT’s forearm - and he realized, Cap's forearm too. It stung, a burning sensation he did his best to ignore. M-ELT’s arm seemed to have decayed. M-ELT aimed his energy arrow again, and with more strength than he knew himself capable of, let loose. The arrow seared through the air more fiercely than before, it tore the KAIJU’s left eye, then through its skull, out the back of its head, and flew into the distance beyond before evaporating. The KAIJU screeched, stumbled, reached out with one last desperate cry, and fell, sending tremors through the ground one last time and kicking up clouds of dirt.

    The villagers hurried out, weapons and torches in hand, to meet Cap. Fantasy Girl ran his way. He jumped out of M-ELT’s cockpit and stumbled to his knees. M-ELT hurried off back into the forest while STEED removed itself from Cap and turned back into a robotic elk. Despite its role as a protector, it could not shield Cap from the corruption, which seemed to have gone straight to his flesh, staining his forearm.

    “Are you hurt?” Fantasy Girl asked

    “Don’t touch it, it’s corrupted.”

    He threw dirt atop the wound on his forearm and vapor steamed off it, but the corruption scarcely purified. Fantasy Girl dropped to her knees, pouring further dirt onto the wound.

    “Stay away from him!” one of the fates yelled out.

    The three fates arrived atop their STEEDs. One encouraging the villagers to back away from Cap, another coming to examine the massive KAIJU as it lay dying, and a third approaching Cap and Fantasy Girl with a gourd containing holy water.

    “Here, pour this on the wound.”

    Fantasy Girl hurried to grab the heavy gourd and poured the liquid over Cap’s forearm. It steamed even more, and he grimaced at the pain.

    The fate who approached the dying KAIJU knelt with reverence.

    “The ground you lay on will have rites performed on it. Please pass on peacefully, and bear us no ill will.”


    The KAIJU looked at the fate with hatred in its eyes. It was the only action it could muster now. The corruption had begun dying out with the KAIJU no longer able to sustain it, and the beast regained its natural form. A creature no less terrifying but certainly more natural than what the corruption had done to it.

    “Soon all of you will feel my hate, and suffer as I suffered.”

    The remnants of the KAIJU decayed rapidly, flesh and muscle rotting away until all that was left were bones. The only thing remaining of it aside from its skeleton was a singular massive ball of GODSTEEL.

    “What is it?”

    “This is what turned this KAIJU into a creature of hate. It burrowed itself deep inside him and turned him into a demon.”

    “Show us your wound.”

    Cap held up the scarred arm. It was purple and blotchy and seemed as if it would burn at the touch. The fate remained stoic though there was melancholy in her eyes.

    “This infection will spread throughout your body, cause you great pain, and kill you,” she said, unflinching in her revelation.

    “Is there nothing I can do?”

    “We cannot alter our fate. We can simply choose to rise up, and meet it.”

    “There is something terrible happening out to the west where this KAIJU hails from. You may seek out the source of the corruption and see what you can see with eyes unclouded by hate. It is there that you may find the means to undo the corruption.”

    “You’re banishing him?” Uncle Broc asked, stunned. “Haven’t we suffered enough? There are few of us left as it is. Fantasy Girl isn’t ready to take the mantle. What if there are more?”

    The fates ignored Uncle Broc.

    “I understand,” Cap nodded solemnly. “If I must head west, then I will head west. I will see what I can see with my own eyes, the source of this KAIJU’s pain.”

    “You may take your STEED but you are no longer one of us once you leave, Captain. You will be dead to us. M-ELT will pass on to Fantasy Girl.”

    Such was the necessary ritual. The Nowherelians must be kept from being poisoned by the outside, there were so few of them left, it was the only way to keep them safe.

    chapter 2.
    savior

    From within the Forbidden Land, below a mountainous range that once was green and now was dead, far to the east of the home of the Nowherelians, Captain Fantasy stood at his STEED’s side, watching the small contingent of HUMAN MACHINE.’s carrying carriages of food atop colossal carriages along the treacherous mountain path. Their H.M.’s weren’t anything like M-ELT but he could tell they also weren’t the emperor’s. These people did not seem like the war-hungry slaughterers he’d seen on his journey here. Nevertheless, one could not dismiss the use of the weapons of war.

    Cap’s eyes widened when he saw a trio of massive shadows dashing across the mountainous range, but before he could even think to so much as warn the contingent, they were assailed. Three KAIJUs, a mother and its children he assumed, tore through H.M.’s, indifferent to the resources and costs sacrificed for the construction of these weapons of mass destruction. These KAIJUs were not as massive as the one that had corrupted him weeks gone by, but they moved with a viciousness that made up for it. The H.M.’s were helpless against their wrath. Maws bits down on their of GODSTEEL armors, and after a solid crunch, tore through them, ignoring the fiery blast that followed. One of the KAIJU cubs had a particularly barbarous wrath, swiping down savagely even as the pilots ejected from the H.M.’s, ensuring they did not survive much past the lifetime of their hulking host.

    One particular H.M. at the forefront of the contingent, and thus furthest from the assailing KAIJU, had led several others into a firm line, distinct rifles in hand. They obeyed faithfully their apparent leader's every command. He’d never seen weapons like the one these wielded. H.M.’s were generally limited to blades. These wielded long-range weapons. Balls of GODSTEEL shot out from their rifles but were largely inaccurate, sailing wide or at best leaving surface-level wounds on the KAIJUs. All except the leading H.M.. It was painted in a dark purple and black, lacking the dull camo of the other H.M.’s, with a halo at its top that could be nothing but an ornament, but an ornament deliberately chosen. Its ammo punched through the throat of one of the KAIJUs and it fell with a whimper down into the river below. Cap hid behind a tree to avoid the splash from the KAIJU’s plunge. Seeing one of their own downed, the mother KAIJU and the violent cub KAIJU slid down the mountain range to its rescue, abandoning their assault.

    He could overhear the soldiers on the mountainous range talking to each other.

    “Should we send out a search party to recover the bodies of those lost?”

    “No,” said the leading H.M., “Let us focus on making sure the living get back home.”

    Captain Fantasy realized upon witnessing those rifles in action, and the GODSTEEL balls they shot out, that he would find his answers within their village. He’d heard the rumors on the way here, Godsteel Citadel had a very unique population and stood independent among the warring clans and the emperor himself. He circled around seeking to go through the forest that was the Forbidden Lands itself instead of via the mountain path. The earth rattling sound of the KAIJUs behind him frightened him for a moment, but he realized they hadn’t spotted him yet. The mother and the cub looked over the third dying KAIJU who’d been pulled from the water, whimpering at its side. Captain Fantasy gazed mournfully and even considered approaching them to see if he could help but STEED nipped at his sleeve, advising against such course of action. The KAIJU would not survive, and they would not take kindly to his presence. Nor did he have M-ELT with him this time if they sought to kill him.

    Captain Fantasy turned from the tragic sight and led Burr on until he spotted the source of further sorrowful cries, these distinctly human. Three men lay at the edge of the mountain, their descent painfully halted by the hard dirt and stones that lined the river. Two of them were unconscious while one whined and moaned about his broken arm. Cap checked the pulse of the quiet pair and found that one had none. He was not surprised. The man’s body was mangled in irregular angles. Still, he couldn’t fight away the solitary tear that dripped down his cheek. Cap helped the two that still lived atop Burr and decided to guide them through the forest on foot.

    “What are you nuts? We can’t go through the Forbidden Lands! That’s where the KAIJU live!” the conscious one spoke.

    “We have no choice. Your friend there doesn’t have much time left. It’s the fastest route to your village”

    As they made their way through the forest, tiny translucid humanoids appeared along the way, running after one another across the makeshift path, sitting atop trees, and swimming through tiny pools of water. They did nothing but observe the travelers though the odd fixation they laid upon the trio would make the uninitiated uncomfortable.

    “They’re calling the KAIJUs! I’m telling you! We’ve got to get out of here!”

    “They’re just spirits. They mean us no harm. They can lead us where we need to go.”

    The villager does not seem too comforted by Cap’s advice. He’s careful to make sure he doesn’t get too close to touching any of them and he keeps a wary eye on any that nears him.

    “Why were the KAIJU after you?”

    “They wanted revenge.”

    “You attacked them first?”

    “No! No! They attacked us first.”

    “I’ve never known KAIJU to wander out of the Forbidden Lands.” When they weren’t corrupted that is. And those hadn’t been corrupted, as far as his eyes could see. He gazed warily at his arm, it still burned him. It had changed him, for the worse, he feared. Every day his anger threatened to overwhelm him.

    “We had to encroach on the forest, you see. We come from the village called Godsteel Citadel. It was supposed to be a great new city. We mined the mountain it was built on top of for all the GODSTEEL inside. We refined the godsteel and sold it. It goes for a pretty good price, you know. Every army needs GODSTEEL. But when we ran out GODSTEEL within the city, the citadel had no more supply… and then it lost its luster. Those with means left. Those who couldn’t, well, we had nothing else going for us. We began starving. We had to do something.”

    “So you’ve angered the KAIJUs. You trespassed the Forbidden Lands while you were warning me against it.”

    “We had no choice. There was so much GODSTEEL just waiting for us. We tried going in with H.M.s’ but the KAIJUs weren’t afraid. They took us apart. We didn’t stand a chance. It wasn’t until… it wasn’t until a priest came along… a priest in a HUMAN MACHINE. if you can believe that. He calls himself Father Eli. We have to do what we must to survive, he understood that most of all. When Father Eli found most of us, we had nothing. We were beggars, whores, bandits, sick! We were the leftovers of society. We’d been abandoned. No one wanted to help us until he arrived. Father Eli made Godsteel Citadel a home again. Life is suffering, but still, we all want to find reasons to live and he gave us one. Without the GODSTEEL, we’re nothing. Heck, now that we’re doing well for ourselves again, we’ve got so many lords threatening to go to war with us so they can have it all to themselves! We have to double down on mining the GODSTEEL and make sure they regret leaving us for dead in the first place. Those rifles are the only thing keeping our enemies away from an invasion. It’s keeping us fed! I feel bad for the KAIJU, I do… in a way… but we’ve gotta look out for ourselves don’t we?”

    Cap wasn’t sure if he could rightfully disagree. Still, he believed there had to be another way. If your survival came at the expense of another’s suffering, then we had a duty to find another solution, to not simply settle.

    “The actions your priest has you taking here are going to have far-reaching consequences. Hate will only breed hate.”

    “You don’t have to tell me! That’s why I’m telling you, we’ve got to get out of the forest. The King of KAIJUs will come after us!”

    “The mother KAIJU that attacked you on the mountain? Is she the King of KAIJU?”

    “No! The real King of KAIJU. Bigger than anything you’ve ever seen… but it’s not like the other KAIJU. It’s… it’s got a human face. It’s a god of life and death! It's different than any other KAIJU, and they're bad enough. You don’t want to mess with it!”

    “You’ve seen it?”

    “No! But Father Eli has. He has dreams of it.”

    Cap frowned. Priests were always claiming to have prophetic dreams, but he had a hard time relying on a dream.

    The trio arrived at a clearing within the Forbidden Lands. For the moment, the forest had not made them regret ignoring its name. An ancient massive tree of a time several centuries forgotten stood on a tiny isle surrounded by a shallow moat. Cap stopped by the body of river to wash his face, refresh himself and dip his hand in. His arm burned for a moment, though unbeknownst to his companion who only saw him growing pale with the pain. Cap’s eyes wandered away from the villager and gazed off at great distances he should not have been able to see. He froze at the sight of a solitary KAIJU, one that stood taller than anything he'd ever seen before. Even as far as it was, he felt he should've have felt the tremors of each of its steps, but he did not. It stopped suddenly and turned to him, seeing him from as great a distance as he had. Somehow, he was able to make every detail of its inhuman human visage. It felt unknowable and indecipherable to him. Its gaze unwavering. A being beyond his grasp. One he couldn’t hope to measure up to.

    “Sir. Sir! Are you alright there?”

    “You can’t see that?” Cap asked, refusing to look away. Even knowing that this creature must have existed for an eternity before he was even a thought, even knowing few could challenge its majesty, still, he somehow felt this moment was fleeting. Soon, for whatever reason, the creature's time would past, and someone else would have to hold up the fragile peace it maintained with its mere presence.

    “See what?”

    The man looked at where Cap was looking but was confused.

    “Nevermind.” The KAIJU turned away and walked on. “Sorry. We should get going.”

    Their journey brought them to the edge of the Forbidden Land where they were able to spot a fisherman’s boat on the shore who offered to ferry them across the wide river that separated Goldsteel Citadel from the forest. Godspeed Citadel was truly a fortress with jagged wooden pillars making it impossible to so much as see what lies within the town from the outside. Unsurprising given the close proximity of the KAIJU. As they approached the village, many of the villagers excitedly point out the pair of survivors, hurrying to alert their loved ones that they’d lived. By the time the boat arrived at the village’s small shore, a small crowd has gathered to welcome them. A few of the women hurriedly came to grab the unconscious man and help him onto a stretcher.

    “Tina, it’s your husband!”

    The conscious villager jumped out of the boat excitedly.

    “This stranger saved our lives! We should be grateful to him. He carried us all the way from the mountain base to here.”

    “Look at you, your arm is broken? How are you supposed to pull your weight around here like that,” his wife said by means of reply.

    “Oh, come on. Aren’t you glad I’m back?”

    “Hmm. I don’t know. Maybe you’d have been better off dead so I could find a new husband. How about you stranger? I bet you’re handsome under that mask.”

    “Tina! Let’s give our guest some space.”

    At the village’s back entrance, the man who’d slain the KAIJU that morning stood. He guessed this by the man’s outfit, a lavish dress that matched the colors of the H.M.. The villagers watched him with reverence, and he carried himself as if he were above everyone else, yet here to serve them nevertheless. If any of them found this demeanor condescending, they did not show. It was their acceptance of it that enabled him.

    “Stranger, we thank you for bringing our men back home. Feel free to rest, we’re in your debt. And if you might afford me the pleasure, I would love to speak with you afterward, if you have the time.”

    chapter 3.
    villain
    Captain Fantasy joined the rest of the village men in the dining hall. It was a massive hall where the lives of those lost were celebrated in a cheerful mood. Sacrifices had been made, but Godsteel Citadel was thriving and no regrets would be had.

    They treated him graciously, appreciative of the fact that he’d gone to lengths to bring two of their own back despite having no prior connection to them. From the dining hall’s entry, many of the village’s women came to spy on the chiseled traveler. He greeted them with a warm smile and a wave.

    “Your men aren’t even halfway through the grave and you’re already scouting for another?” the man next to him sniped.

    “This is what happens with the sort of people Father Eli tends to pick up. He wants to free everyone he says. Lead everyone to salvation. But you can’t lead everyone to salvation, can you? These whores are a disgrace, they won’t change, they won’t grow, they make the rest of us look bad.”

    “Hey! Who do you think works the GODSTEEL you use to go out there anyways? A little appreciation would go a long way.”

    “Yeah, yeah. Give it a rest. Like your job is so hard.”

    “Oh, is that so. Tell me more about how you protected Father Eli this morning?”

    “Actually,” Cap spoke, sensing a line was close to getting crossed, “I’d like to see how you make the GODSTEEL. May I join you later?” The GODSTEEL in Nowheresville had been passed down from generation to generation but they’d never mined it since the first batch. All GODSTEEL had brought was war, while peace was all they sought.

    “Why, of course! We’d love for you to stop by,” the girls sang.

    The women took that affirmation as enough reason to part ways with the dining hall, knowing they’d have the Captain to themselves later.

    “Everything’s changed since Father Eli came to town. He’s turned everything upside down. In a good way, for the most part. We were down on our luck. We’d mined everything that was left in the village. To get more GODSTEEL, we needed to dig under the forest, but MEATEATER, the KAIJU that controlled the Forbidden Land territory closest to us, wouldn’t let us deep enough.”

    “We lost a lot of men trying, so we gave up. This was a city of arms dealers, not fighters. But when Father Eli arrived, when we’d been all but abandoned, he did not fear the KAIJU. He came here with her special H.M. unit, R-MEN. Loyal people who would do anything for him. He was a god to them. In fact, it makes sense why he didn’t fear the KAIJU. KAIJUs are somewhat gods themselves, aren’t they?”

    “He slew the MEATEATER himself, just like he did that KAIJU this morning. A ball of GODSTEEL right between the eyes.”

    Captain Fantasy’s arm burnt at the thought of MEATEATER. Was that the KAIJU that had made its way to his village. Such a journey in so much pain. His arm… the corruption did not simply burn, it urged him on, to satisfy its reason for being. The man responsible for all of this was so near. Cap held onto his arm tightly. The other villagers gave him odd looks but he tried to brush it off with a faint smile.

    “Is there something wrong stranger?”

    “I… I was just thinking about the dead KAIJU. He must have been filled with hate… hate for humans… hate for Father Eli. His home taken away from him. Destroyed and exploited. He must have had no other thought on his mind but vengeance.”

    Cap stepped away from the dining hall to meet Father Eli himself, as he’d requested. The priest had a hut at the edge of the village, not far off from overlooking the river that bordered the town, and the mountain they had fought on beyond it. Eli met him with a gracious look on his face, but Cap could tell that graciousness had its limitations. The man was grateful for Cap’s aid, but that gratefulness wouldn’t leave him feeling indebted. He’d done what he felt he needed to when he abandoned those men. He was happy they were back, but he would not have done anything differently given the chance.

    “You have an unusual name.”

    “It was given to me by my people.”

    “Your people? Where are they from? You look different than anyone I’ve ever seen.”

    “They’re from very far, to the east of here. Though, they are no longer my people now.”

    “How come? You’ve abandoned them?”

    “Reluctantly. Out of necessity.” He did not wish to speak any more of them, both out of secrecy and out of the pain he still felt for leaving. “Do you recognize this?”

    His STEED unraveled, and Father Eli watched the alien being with restrained interest. A large ball of GODSTEEL dropped from within Burr and then the STEED reformed into an elk.

    “It was found within the body of a dying KAIJU. The KAIJU was corrupted. Not like the ones you fought. It seemed infected. It attacked my village, and I was corrupted trying to stop it. The corruption ate at him. Made him lose all sense. Made him live for nothing but anger and hate. Soon, the corruption will consume me and I will die as he died.”

    “Corrupted?”

    Cap unveiled his arm and Father Eli took a step back. He did not betray his concern for the revelation. He now understood that he had a part to play in the attack on Captain Fantasy’s village. That Cap would eventually die because of him.

    “I regret that you were harmed,” he said, sincerely. “It was never my intention for the innocent to be hurt because of my decisions. What do you seek now? What are you here for?”

    “I…” He remembered the fate’s words, “am here to see with eyes unclouded by hate.”

    The priest stared at him blankly, then chuckled loudly. It wasn’t a mocking chuckle, but one of amazement.

    “Unclouded by hate? How interesting. Would you come with me for a moment?”

    Cap frowned but nodded. The priest gestured towards the boardwalk overlooking the river, and the mountain. He stood there watching as the Captain came to stand by him. He watched the mountains through binoculars, chuckling, and then passing it to Cap.

    “Look,” he said.

    Captain Fantasy grabbed the binoculars and looked across the river to the mountainous range where he saw animals working together, digging into the ground, and planting something in the dirt. It was hard to make out the exactness of their actions in the dark, but that much he could tell.

    “They’re planting trees. They’re trying to regrow the forest.”

    “Forest?”

    “The mountain used to be part of the forest. Of the Forbidden Lands. When I arrived, we made an expedition onto it so that we could mine the mountain for GODSTEEL. This did not please MEATEATER, the KAIJU you met. Even the animals and birds of the forest themselves opposed us. I had to put down MEATEATER myself, though I apologize for not seeing the task through. When he was gone, we took every stone of GODSTEEL we could from the mountain until there was nothing left.”

    Cap looked at the mountain differently now. It carried a somber ghastly air. It was practically a grave.

    “Still, these beasts persist on trying to grow the forest back. Do you know why?”

    “It’s their home.”

    “Because they have strong leaders. The KAIJU. The KAIJUs temper each other, and they strengthen the beasts around them. With a strong leader, well, it trickles down. Take the Godsteel Citadel for example. Look how it thrives. Before I came here, starved children dropped dead in the street and no one would blink. They did not have the time. They were concerned with their survival. But I’ve given these people a future. I’ve given them hope. I’ve made them believe that this awful thing we’ve been subjugated with through no will of our own… this thing called life, it had good things to offer as well. I have freed these people from the clutches of despair, Captain. And I will not let them return. But the KAIJUs… they have a strong leader as well. One that pushes them onto survive. One that encourages them to stand when it seems as if all is lost. The King of KAIJUs.”

    “The King of KAIJUs,” Cap repeated.

    “I’ve seen it in my dreams, Captain. A KAIJU with the face of a man. The first time I met it… I believed the King of KAIJUs to be an ally. I saw a future for both of us together. Two powerful leaders. Two who could change the fate of countless. Yet, the more I dreamed of the King of KAIJUs… the more I began to see things differently. And before I knew it, Captain… me and the King of KAIJUs, we were fighting.”

    “But why?”

    “Why?” Father Eli chuckled. “Why? I don’t know, Captain. It was a dream. The details escape me. But I’ve never wondered why. In my heart, I knew it was necessary. I knew I had to fight the King of KAIJUs.”

    “And. How did it end?”

    “I die every time. And then, I wake up.”

    “Can you tell me more about it? The King of KAIJUs.”

    “The King of KAIJUs is like none other. It does not wander with the rest of the KAIJUs. It’s distant. And beyond the rest. Other KAIJUs, new and old, have challenged it themselves, but none have ever bested it. This is why they all revere it even if it seems to care little for them. This is all that I have learned from my dreams. Before our dalliance turned to war.”

    “Do you believe the King of KAIJUs is real?”

    Father Eli frowned. Then relaxed. “Sorry, no one’s ever questioned me on that point. Yes, the King of KAIJUs is real. I know it. I believe it dreams of me as well. And it wakes up every morning, having slain a man. We’re connected. Destined to fight.” He pulled out a paper from his cloak. “The emperor demands it after all.” He handed the paper over to Cap. “An old folktale has reached our emperor. It’s believed that a piece of the King of KAIJU’s head can grant the one that possesses it immortality. The emperor has heard of our inroads within the Forbidden Lands and has commissioned us to bring him the head of the King of KAIJUs in exchange for immunity and security.”

    “Immortality.”

    “Immortality, Captain.”

    “You believe it to be true?”

    “The King of KAIJUs is older than all other KAIJUs, as far as I’m aware. It has ruled unchallenged for several human lifetimes. It’s in all likelihood immortal. So who is to say that it cannot grant that immortality to someone else. The emperor’s error is in thinking I need his immunity or security. The emperor showed his hands when he sought our aid. Do you know what I could do if I claimed this immortality for myself, Captain? I can oversee the prosperity of my people to its end. I can be forever. I can always be and always have been. I can become a god. With the King of KAIJUs gone, the other KAIJU will be nothing to us. Soon enough, the Forbidden Lands will be filled with nothing but mindless beasts, free for us to conquer. With our stranglehold over GODSTEEL, war will be trivial. The emperor will be begging us for a reprieve, not the other way around. Immortality, Captain. Look at what I have done with the limited time I’ve been given. Imagine what I could do with so much more. This is what the King of KAIJUs offers.”

    “You would risk so much for your greed? Haven’t you done enough?”

    His arm yearned at him and Cap held it back again.

    “You wish to kill me?”

    “No! No. It would solve nothing.”

    “You know, if I could demand that MEATEATER have faced me instead of running away to attack innocents, I would’ve.”

    “It doesn’t fix anything. Don’t you understand what you’re doing? You’re only breeding hate. Hate from the KAIJU you kill. The home you take. Hate from your own people. And those they’re losing. If you are who you believe yourself to be, an unparalleled leader, can’t you find another way?”

    “I’ve chosen the best way! Hate, Captain? Is that what you fear? When I’m immortal, what will hate be to me? The end will justify my means, Captain. Hate will have no power in my world! If I have to open myself to revenge until then, I’ll do what I must. It’s all the more reason why I need to kill the King of KAIJUs. I’m well aware that it’s an impossible task. I’ve seen myself fail it too many times to deny it. But… perhaps you can help me? If hate is what you want gone, then fight by my side. With the King of KAIJUs body, I’m sure we can even cure you of your corruption.”

    “Why me?”

    “Don’t play the fool, Captain. I’m a well-read man. I know who you are. Where you come from. The Nowherelians. A lost people. I know you hold a mantle passed down from generation to generation. That STEED of yours… there is nothing like it. You can be no one else but their hero. The wielder of the legendary H.M.. Though, I suppose you’ve had to abandon it… those skills they won’t have gone away. You must’ve been brought here for a reason. The MEATEATER… his death allowed for us to meet. I know I inadvertently hurt you, but perhaps there was a purpose to this. Perhaps you need to overcome the hate in your heart, and help me.”

    Captain Fantasy gazed into the priest’s eyes. He wanted to say no, out of sheer respect for his own values. But something within him made him consider it. He looked into the priest’s eyes and sought to find some inkling of an idyllic future, but he saw nothing. He saw only the tyranny of another conqueror of unbound greed. This man. Father Eli. He would bring chaos upon the world given the chance.

    “No. I can’t help you.”

    Cap turned away from Father Eli.

    “Where are you going?”

    “I’ve seen one side of this war. I understand what’s inside of you now, Father Eli. There’s corruption inside of you. I want to see what I can make of this King of KAIJUs. What lies within him? Is he a demon, like you?”

    Captain Fantasy marched back into the city square with his STEED at his side but as he began making his way towards Godsteel Citadel’s entrance, he found the town square was now surrounded. H.M.’s barred every exit. They mostly seemed to wield blades. Instinctively, Burr unraveled into many distinct plates and pieces and then reconstituted around Captain, covering him like armor, though a meager one considering the massive machines he was surrounded by.

    “Captain!” Father Eli, it seemed, had been not far behind him. He stood next to a young adolescent, and an older woman. “The KAIJU have hurt my people, and you seek to aid them? The KAIJU is the reason my young friend here dug through garbage to sustain himself for so many years. The KAIJU is the reason this woman lost the man who had promised himself to her. They are mindless beasts who know only how to sow disaster. We’re humans. With dreams. And goals. And loved ones. Now, stand down.”

    “All of this is for me?” Captain Fantasy asked, gazing at the machines surrounding him. The rumors about his title must have grown beyond reason.

    “All of this for you,” Father Eli confirmed.

    The ground opened up in front of the priest and a platform elevated to replace it. Three H.M.’s stood on the platform, in the middle the purple and black H.M. from before. Two other H.M.’s stood at its side, with rifles in hand. Father Eli stepped into the middle H.M. while his two followers entered the other two. Captain Fantasy turned around to face the three HUMAN MACHINES, him a small solitary man.

    “This is my HUMAN MACHINE, Captain. The Liberator. I will let nothing come between it, and its purpose.”

    He was overcome by anger at the predicament, at the selfishness of the priest. He paid little attention to the growing corruption around his arm. He only felt the anger enveloping him. Lifting him. Strengthening him. Making him feel as if he were no longer one ordinary man, but a HUMAN MACHINE himself. And then he realized he was. The corruption enveloped him in a makeshift armor akin to the M-ELT he once wielded. He did not understand it but for the moment, he did not need to understand it.

    “Is this the power of Captain Fantasy?” Father Eli asked, wonder and concern in his voice.

    The other villagers had quickly backed down upon sight of the monstrous figure Captain Fantasy cut. He seemed as much KAIJU as H.M.. Even Father Eli’s soldiers took a step back.

    “This? This is the power of corruption. This is what your greed does! It will infect and destroy. Is that what you want?”

    “I am sick of hearing you talk, Captain. Is it really just the corruption bothering you? Let me cut your arm off, maybe that will do the trick, and then you can fuck off to be forgotten like the rest of your people.”

    Father Eli had no more patience for the matter. He dashed forward, with a blade in hand. One of the R-MAN shot at the Captain but he drew his bow, made of corruption, and shot an arrow that met the GODSTEEL ball mid trajectory and eradicated it. He dashed in to meet Father Eli himself, unsheathing a blade to clash with The Liberator's. The corruption corroded through The Liberator's GODSTEEL weapon. It was a power beyond anything Captain Fantasy could control. But he wasn’t here to be a killer. He struck The Liberator in its gut, and he knew it would be felt by Father Eli himself. The Liberator keeled over. There was shock and hesitation in the city square.

    “I am finished here,” Captain Fantasy announced.

    He turned away from the body of Father Eli and began walking away, hoping that fear of his corrupted power would see them choose wisely against prolonging the fight.

    “You… you can’t just leave. Not after hurting the man who saved us. Not to go help those who hurt us.”

    Captain Fantasy ignored the voice and continued to walk away. He heard the lad clap of a GODSTEEL ball being shot out of a rifle, and he saw the GODSTEEL ball fly out of and ahead of him. He ignored the pain, the blood pooling at his chest. He kept walking. The H.M.’s that were standing in his way, moved out of it through sheer incredulity. The crowd was stunned. Cap had no business moving. Still, he marched on, until he reached the edge of the village. Until he walked across the shore. Until he floated across the river. Until he reached the Forbidden Lands. And finally, the corruption faded and Captain Fantasy walked on his own two feet, for a few more steps, before fading into unconsciousness.

    chapter 4.
    peacemaker

    In his half-slumber, Captain Fantasy felt dragged hastily and carelessly across the dirt, crashing through branches and leaves, occasionally dipping into shallow pools of water. He had a vague reason why. He heard voices unlike any he’d ever heard before.

    “This is MEATEATER’s corruption?”

    “The humans poison each other in poisoning us. Barbaric and self-destructive. Such greed will destroy the world.”

    “Let’s kill him and be done with it.”

    “No. MEATEATER allowed himself to be corrupted. Allowed his rage to consume him.”

    “Perhaps he was not in the wrong. If they wish to rush headfirst into oblivion, we should aid them into that destination.”

    “No!”

    It seemed the more charitable mind had won out. Cap was left at last to rest submerged in a body of water that gave him faint relief both in the bloody wound in his chest and the corruption in his arm. Nevertheless, he was in no position to move. He went in and out of sleep, only managing to stay awake for a duration when more words reached him.

    “The humans are trespassing once again. They mock us! They’re saying they no longer fear us with such transgressions! We need to kill their leader. That abominable priest. They’ll return to being squealing mules once we squash him into a paste.”

    “We no longer have a choice. They’ve taken enough from us. With the priest dead, and their soldiers destroyed, their ambitions will stall.”

    No! It was a trap! Father Eli must’ve known they would attack first. They’d be prepared. Captain Fantasy did not have the energy to warn them. His mouth opened, but no sound came out. He could not even open his eyes let alone speak.

    When he woke up again, he finally found that the energy that had once escaped him returned. The bullet hole in his but had healed and scarred miraculously, but the corruption remained in his arm, still prophesizing his doom. Yet, he was still unmoving, struck by shock and awe at the sight of the King of KAIJUs. The human-faced monster lent a gaze unto him that conveyed a thousand things. Some that scared Captain Fantasy, and some that spurred him into admiration. He felt like an ant to the king. A footnote in its long and storied existence. The only thing that managed to pull Cap’s attention away from the King of KAIJUs was the arrival of another KAIJU, the cub he’d seen attack the people of Godsteel Citadel not long ago - though how long ago he was no longer sure. The cub KAIJU was scarred, and bloodied, and limping. In its eyes, Cap could see writhing worms beginning to emerge. He’d been corrupted too. Where was the mother? Even as he asked himself this question, he knew the answer.

    “King of KAIJUs, please. Heal me. The corruption. It’s… too much.”

    The King of KAIJUs laid a judgmental eye on the cub. Then with rapidity, swiped at the cub’s throat. The cub did not struggle, falling dead before it knew what had happened to it. Cap did not have time to protest. Did this mean there was no saving him? Was he doomed to succumb to his corruption? The King of KAIJUs did not hesitate when he slew the cub. Both their attentions were taken by the small army of H.M.’s that marched through the forest, GODSTEEL blades and rifles in hand, the priest at its lead. The cub had led them here.

    “King of KAIJUs,” Father Eli said, somehow containing both malice and admiration in his words. He seemed to detest the KAIJU with every fiber of his being, and yet, in the King, he knew there was everything he ever dreamed of being. Immortal. Unfathomable. Unassailable. Everlasting. “You," The Liberator said, "You’re still alive? Good. Watch closely, Captain. I’m going to show you how to kill a god. A god of life and death.” He turned to face the King of KAIJUs again. “The trick is not to fear him.” He aimed his rifle.

    “Stop!” Captain Fantasy finally found the force of will to speak. The priest ignored him. “I said stop.”

    The anger swelled with him, and as it did within Godsteel Citadel, he found himself becoming more, and less, than he’d ever been before. He stood between KAIJU and H.M., something halfway between both, something corrupted, and artificial.

    “Kill the Captain," Father Eli demanded. "He’s scarcely a man anymore.”

    Two H.M.’s lumbered forward, GODSTEEL blades in hand. They must have forgotten what had happened the last time his blade met one of theirs. Once again, their GODSTEEL was corroded. The corruption overtook him and he did not think as he swung his blade twice more and the two H.M.’s became fiery blasts. The Liberator ignored him entirely, aiming its rifle for the head of the King of KAIJUs. The King did not move. It stared The Liberator down as if daring it to do what it sought.

    “No!”

    More H.M.’s came between him and The Liberator.

    “I don’t have time for this.”

    Captain Fantasy moved with more furiousness. He leaped in the air and fell atop an R-MAN sword facing downward into the neck of the mecha. The second R-MAN was too slowly readjusting his aim, and up close, they became vulnerable. Cap let go of his blade and pulled out a dagger, thrusting it into the gut of the R-MAN. It stumbled back then collapsed against a tree. Incapacitated.

    “Stop!”

    Captain dived towards The Liberator, swinging his sword at the arm that would pull the trigger, but it was too late. The GODSTEEL ball popped out of the rifle, blazing into the King of KAIJU’s neck with such impact as to cause the head to pop off. The King of KAIJUs corpse stood there, unmoving. Its head tumbled down, crashing into the river, laying next to the rifle and dismembered arm of The Liberator. Father Eli reached for his blade with his sole arm and Captain backed away hurriedly. The priest did not intend for him though, instead, he dug his blade into the king’s forehead and pulled out an unnaturally perfectly spherical ball. The key to immortality? The Liberator dropped its blade and yanked the sphere out of its place with his remaining hand. The blood, flesh and skeletal remains from the King of KAIJUs covering it fell off smoothly.

    Every remaining eye turned to the standing corpse of the King of KAIJUs, fear grabbing tightly each of their hearts. Something terrible was happening.

    From the King of KAIJU’s neck, corruption erupted, flowing down the beast’s body like a waterfall, corrupting everything in its path. The Liberator dashed away in a hurry and Captain pursued. He needed to stop Father Eli, and he needed to escape from the corruption or his death would truly come in a hurry. The H.M.’s who were too slow, the animals who hadn’t already escape, were swallowed by the onrushing of corruption, rotting and becoming lifeless in seconds.

    “You have to give whatever you took back!”

    “Don’t you see, Captain? I’m so close to having everything. So close! I can’t shrink away from the challenge now.”

    The Liberator stumbled, dropping the king’s remains. It scrambled to recover it, only briefly panicking at the sight of Captain close behind him, and the corruption coming faster and faster. He began running again.

    “Is it worth sacrificing yourself?”

    Father Eli stopped running at last. The corruption was coming too quickly. He wasn’t going to make it out.

    “I understand the dream now," he declared. "I never won because, in the end, oblivion would happen no matter what.”

    He dropped the king’s remains and accepted his fate. Captain rushed to grab the ball and in a hurry, yielded it upwards.

    “Please, King of KAIJUs. We give you your soul back. Be at peace!”

    “We’re going to die.”

    Captain Fantasy rejected the priest’s pessimism. He believed that respect, and valor, and honor, and modesty would win out. But more than that, he knew that whatever the outcome, he would be doing the right thing. And if this was how he would die, then he'd rather die extending a hand in peace. The overwhelming corruption threatening to soil the entirety of the Forbidden Lands, suddenly halted and altered its trajectory, shooting directly for the ball Cap held out. And out from within the ball exploded a sea of sea-green luminescent waves that washed over them and across the Forbidden Lands. He felt himself regainin his normal form and landed on the ground, the corrupted construct he’d used as a weapon was purified into nothingness. All around him, the dying plants and trees seemed to recover. Animals that had incurred injuries in their escape were suddenly whole again.

    “What a waste,” the priest muttered. He seemed to gaze begrudgingly at an arm that would return. “It’s too late now, don’t you realize? No matter what you do, the King of KAIJUs is dead. It’s not coming back.”

    “No. The King of KAIJU will live on in his own way, his legacy still echoes on. But it's now our turn to protect this land and find a better way to do things this time. Will you help me?”




  7. #27
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    MICHAEL
    GARCIA

    IS
    "MEETING HIS MAKER"



    “What the fuck is wrong with you?” Mike Garcia exclaimed. There are several things that it never occurs to a person that might happen to them within their lifetime, but the one at the top of the list that you’d never be prepared for, despite what so many theists might believe, is meeting your maker in his living room, "Think about all the shit I’ve had to deal with; death, suffering, insanity, pain, confliction, a dead beat dad, debauchery, and failure." Now imagine meeting the person responsible for most of it and then try telling me you wouldn’t be angry too. "The only reason I don’t strangle you right now is that I’m not sure what will happen to me if I do. Would I disappear, would you just imagine me out of existence if I did it?”

    “Honestly, I have no clue,” replied the man that stood across the room from Mike in almost equal confusion, Anthony DeGenova. If you had to sum up this rather unextraordinary individual in only a few words, which wouldn’t be such a difficult endeavor, it might be something along these lines: Caucasian, brown hair, brown eyes, overweight, but still an absolute fucking stud. “It’s not exactly an everyday occurrence that you meet one of your creations in the flesh. I mean, it kind of makes me question everything I know about the universe in general. Think about it; if you were from a different universe, does that mean that my writing would affect it and shape the direction your life would take? Or does your universe somehow reach into this one and shape the direction my writing takes? This is just amazing. The real tragedy is everyone would think I was crazy…if they didn’t think so to begin with.”

    Anthony’s various habits include, but are not limited to; sleeping, eating, stressing out about work, watching TV, and E-fedding. What is E-fedding you ask (even though most of you reading this will be completely familiar with it and this will just come off as unneeded exposition)? Well, take wrestling, yes that thing with all the gentlemen in speedos grappling each other in a fairly homoerotic fashion. Now, take out all the awesome parts about it (the aforementioned homoerotic display of physicality) and insert text instead and you’ll have a pretty good idea.

    Oh, not good enough? Well, then let me go in-depth. Take a wrestling fan (such as you or I) and give them a yearning to act out a possible wrestling persona (as they probably do in front of their mirror multiple times a day), now have them realize that they aren’t cut out for such an intense violent activity; they’ll realize the next best thing is to write out their many chair-shot fueled fantasies. Now, why would they write something without feeling the urge to share it with the world (despite the world having never asked for it)? They know they’ll never sell a novel of the sort due to the publishers and the readership not being able to understand their genius, they’ll have to find other means to display their writings, which will inevitably lead them to scour the internet for a chance to do so. Eventually, said wrestling fan will run into something called an E-fed, which can sometimes be equated to a den of thieves, a room filled with people with a compulsive need to argue, or a short bus.

    An E-Fed is a wrestling-based competitive writing site (sometimes “competitive” and “writing” will be loose terms, depending on who you are talking to). You’ll have you start by creating your character, one you’ve probably been creating your whole life. If this is your first time e-fedding, go ahead and create an over-powered monster who can fly through the air, with conflicting personality traits, an all-finisher-move set, and feel free to name him Death or something equally as ominous and unoriginal (may I suggest Michael as a possible name?). Over time you will eventually have a sort of reasonability that will scale-down your character and create something that might actually exist (though your creativity might still suffer since your main influence is, indeed, wrestling).

    When you create a character (one where you will spend more time over entrance music than move set) you will be included, every week, on something called a “card”. These “cards” are a sort of weekly assignment where you are forced to face another like-minded competitor. When you find out who your competitor is, it will be up to you to write, what many will refer to as, an RP (also known as a Role Play or “that thing that nerds do because the real world is frightening”).

    An RP is a short story written either involving or from the perspective of your character where you will use repetitive, inane, and usually unoriginal trash-talk to insult your opponent’s non-existing character in the best way possible. Some of you might move on from the typical trash talk and write incredibly unrealistic stories involving ghosts, jailbreaks, crime, or talk-show host’s murderous sidekicks. Furthermore, some of you might move beyond stories and just post strange rambling manifestos about the world that have no connection to your character or wrestling in all, for that matter. When you finished writing your masterpiece, you will post it in the designated section of whatever forum you’re using and there it is in the hands of the judges. Whoever they might be, their job is to judge who wrote the best RP in the match-up and give them the win. When the winners are decided and the matches are written, the results will go up, and that’s when the real fun begins.

    See, the e-fed isn’t just a place to post ridiculous stories about your made-up character, it is also a sprawling metropolis of human interaction. These forums will usually have a space for out-of-character posts where you can post about sports (like wrestling), your favorite shows (like wresting), about what pisses you off (like wrestling), or start pointless flame wars for no reason that will create drama in areas that it doesn’t need to be because some invest a bit too much into this collection of lights flashing in their faces. When the results go up, then comes to chance for reactions, feedback, and rejoicing. If you win, you can gloat about it while lying to your opponent that it was at least a close match-up, eventually drinking yourself to sleep before work the next day. If you lose, you can complain to everyone by airing your grievances openly in the forum, telling everyone they suck, yell about how it's all rigged, quit, and then drink yourself to sleep before work the next day. It’s a good time had by all.

    It doesn’t just stop in the forum though. Many E-feds will have chat rooms (or Discords) too where many of its members can get together and continue many of the forum-related activities such as; fighting over wins/losses, causing unnecessary drama over ‘cliques’, pretending to be people they aren’t (fucking losers, amirite?), and creating a fictional hierarchy that depends solely on how long you’ve been there. New guys will come in and be obnoxious, maybe even use a selfie as a base pic, be too ‘in character’, and constantly complain about being picked on while the veterans will be grumpy, and start conspiracies about how everyone has it in for them, but both sides will be equal parts delusional and humorless. Some will let the slightest bit of success or power go straight to their head, others will be the most helpful and genuine people you could ever meet. Now that you’ve been re-introduced to the world of E-Fedding and its promising landscape, let's continue the story already in progress.

    “Think of the possibilities,” Anthony started up again, “I could make something even bigger, stronger, and smarter and have it fall through whatever temporal rift you stumbled into and then I WILL BE UNSTOPPABLE!”

    “Will you shut up,” Garcia interrupted, “Take a look at the big picture here. The reason every shitty thing has happened to me is because of you.”

    “Well, in my defense, you aren’t supposed to be real,” Anthony tried to come back with meagerly,I didn’t just want you to be some one-dimensional character that just threw money everywhere and was all about fighting for honor. FWA had plenty of those back in the day. I wanted to fill a need. The FWA needed a wrecking ball. And there needed to be a reason for you to be the way you are.”
    Garcia was taken back, “So, for the sake of making me ‘interesting’, you destroyed my life? You gave me a deadbeat father, made me take care of my brother and sister from age 8, made me a kidnapper, woman-beater, and forced me to nearly end my brother’s career to make me interesting? I’ve been fighting tooth and nail to get my life in order lately and you just keep fucking me over.”

    “Look it isn’t that simple,” Anthony spoke as he felt himself losing this argument, “if I didn’t give you confliction and trials, no one would want to read them and you would keep losing, you wouldn’t have won a World championship. You would've been future endeavored years ago.”

    “Oh, well I guess that makes it all worth it,” Garcias' words were dripping with sarcasm, “Thank you, glorious master, for destroying everything I love for the sake of a World Championship! I’ve tried to convey that family is everything to me, but you continue to sacrifice that for World titles and to salvage a miserable win-loss record. It’s disgusting. When are you going to allow me to atone for the actions your world has created for me?”

    “How was I supposed to know-“

    “Malik...”

    “What?”

    “You son of a bitch!” Garcia yelled at the top of his lungs, “You’re the reason I don’t have a great relationship with my brother! He is all that I have left and you forced me to attack him for the sake of character development! It was years before Malik would talk to me! Do you understand how much that has fucked with me?”

    “Well, at least you’ve got a career, accomplishments, and money,” Anthony retaliated, “I could have easily made you poor, starving, and dying without a single saving grace in sight! The way I see it, you got lucky you self-indulgent prick! I have a job I hate. I’m struggling to help pay rent, bills, and groceries. At least you’re an interesting wrestling superstar in your world. I just sit on my ass all day when I’m at home and write these shitty stories about assholes like you. At least you’re getting over your problems. At Light’s Out, you will beat Dan Maskell and set your career back on the right path. Every time I think I’ve got an opening to get out of this shit, I get the rug pulled out from under me. No one is going to write me out of this shit. No one is going to develop my character into a better or stronger person. For all I know I’ll always be stuck here.”

    “How do I know I won’t be stuck where I am? How do I know Dan Maskell won't finish me for good at Light’s Out?”

    “Because I need to keep you developing to keep you going so I don’t end up stagnant.”

    “When is the conclusion going to come?” Garcia sat down, noticeably calmer than a few moments before, “I’ve been fighting and fighting, but nothing is happening besides more problems. I need some sort of point A to Point B story.”
    “You’re my longest-running character,” Anthony rose to his feet with a glass in his hand walking towards the kitchen, stopping in the doorway and looking back at Mike. “It’s hard to let go of something like that. I mean, that doesn’t mean I haven’t thought about it. I’ve been considering trying to give you one more good run before moving onto a new character...Jamie Vaccaro but I’m not sure where to go. I want to go for the world title again, but the last time, losing it on the first defense, it sort of takes something out of ya.”

    “I remember, I won the Mile High match and Sullivan ended up getting the title back in 27 days…” Garcia reminisced for a moment, “Well, let’s say I get my last good run, you leave my story in a nice beach where I live out the rest of my years in comfort; who do you go with next?”

    “…Malik Garcia,” Anthony mumbled.

    “NO!” Mike raised his eyebrow, “You do NOT fuck with my brother. Do you understand me? My lil bro is already fucked up enough from the life you gave us. But somehow, someway, Malik’s managed to pull something together...He got himself a wife that loves him and a boy that worships the damn ground he walks on. And last week...last week...you sent him to the damn lion’s den! You allowed him to get the shit beat out of him by Dan Maskell!”

    “Yeah, I did. You’re damn right, I did. But I did it for you, Michael. I'm only trying to help you. Malik will be fine, and yes, I had to sacrifice him to help you achieve your goal. Malik needed to fall so that you can eventually rise.”

    “That pretty fucked up,” Garcia paused, “…Well, then why did you create me?”

    “I was kind of an angry kid at the time, kind of still am, and I used you to get a lot of my frustrations out by writing a bunch of loud, cathartic bullshit about wanting to tear everyone limb from limb and drink their blood.”

    “So, I was just supposed to be a bad guy in your world? Fantastic,” Garcia rolled his eyes.

    Anthony sighed as he could sense the displeasure emanating from his creation. He never thought he would have to explain this kind of stuff to a person directly out of his imagination, “At first, that was the case. I had you come out, angry with the world, the crowd would boo, and then wait for the next week to do it all over again. Eventually, I figured that’s all just buffer and filler, nothing was really gained that way. I decided to flesh you out, but not just to make you interesting. I made you smarter, I made you more in-depth, I gave you a reason and I made you with more emotions. I gave you passion. I gave you a mission, a path of vengeance to make everyone who wronged you pay. I wish to go on about things like you sometimes”

    “So, I’m like a tool for you?”

    “No, that’s not exactly it.”

    “Then, please, elaborate.”

    “Look,” Anthony thought for a moment as Garcia sat there and waited for his response, “You are my fantasy of having a stage to speak my mind. You have a world where millions of people watch you each week and you get to speak your mind. You would get to do what I want to do, but with flash and pizazz. You would do it while winning matches and getting titles. The best I would get is to hide it cleverly in some novel that I may or may not ever finish.”

    With that, Anthony turned around and continued on his path to the kitchen. His mind was lost in the thoughts of what could be true; that all these characters were living in a separate reality where his writings affected the outcome of their lives. All those characters, lost in their suffering as he wrote carelessly without a thought of the consequences. It all seemed so surreal. What if his world was the same thing; simply a creation of a vastly more cruel and unforgiving writer, who found the suffering of fictional beings to be amusing and entertaining? The fantasies of an incredibly untalented writer. The idea sent a chill down Anthony’s spine.

    You did that to him. His thoughts rang out so loudly and clear it filled the pit of his stomach with a most violent sense of anxiety. This world is waving back and forth in the wind waiting to sleep or burn by you simply pounding your fingers on a keyboard. Ended careers, broken bones, broken homes, shattered sanities, lost hope, downward spirals, lives careening out of control, BROKEN FAMILY, DEAD DREAMS, FORGOTTEN NAMES!…death…

    Anthony wrote that. The guilt shot through his body and racked his brain. He put his glass on the counter and quietly slid to the ground, his back against the cupboards he sat there in the kitchen, feeling breath leave his body, but being unable to retrieve it. The world felt like it was closing in on him. He could feel the soreness of his anxiety as he held the screams back in his throat. His arms and legs felt weak, almost shaking as he tried to hold them close to himself, almost of fear of them ripping off his body and leaving him there. Nothing seemed real, but his thoughts seemed all too real as if being whispered into his ear from an external party instead of sitting safely in his head. He suddenly felt childish in the grand scheme of all of existence; if it was just his world then his happiness was dependent on himself, but the idea of a world dependent upon the creativity of this world meant that he was responsible for all these characters he created and thus he was a small immature puppeteer, destroying the world like an angry boy denied his favorite toy.

    There is a chirp, one right outside the window in the kitchen. A quickly little melody springs forth as the chirping continues and sudden it reaches Anthony’s ears, pulling him back into the world, away from his rising turmoil. His eyes dart over and he sees a bird sitting on a tree branch that sits right outside as it gently waves in the wind. There is something that Anthony had forgotten as he scrambled to understand the information that was handed to him; with all the suffering that he goes through, there is also beauty. With all the pain and loss he suffers from, something grand can immerge that can make it all truly worth it. It dawns on him, just because the story has conflict, does not mean it must be devoid of beauty. This story does not have to be an ugly thing that serves no purpose but to depress the reader and destroys their optimism. He can control where it all goes, how it all feels, how it all works, and thus he has the power to turn his wrongs into rights with the simple power of will. He wrote the story, no matter of win, lose or draw, he chose where it went next. Goddamn it, it was HIS story!

    In his joking around, Garcia had been right. At the end of all of it, Tomas could write it out that Wolf could end up on a beach where the worries of the world could not reach him, he could live happily, he could find his conclusion. Garcia had spent years being trampled on by different storylines, different wrestlers, and even by Anthony when he was in a bad enough mood, the man deserved better than what he was getting and it was about time something was done about it.

    Anthony rose to his feet and took a deep breath to pull himself back together. He grabbed the glass filled it up with water as his mind continued to reassemble itself. He gulped it down, letting the cool liquid rush down his throat in waves. He put the glass in the sink and turned around, ready to face his creation once more like Dr. Frankenstein coming over the horror of the thing he put together in his dark and dreary lab.

    “Dude!” as Anthony walked back into the living room his thoughts of reinvigorated possibilities dissolved as he saw Garcia on his computer, his thoughts quickly filled with how he was going to hit him with a car as soon as he got him back into his own world, “that’s my computer.”

    “Well, if we are going to be technical, I kind of live in it, so it's like my house,” Garcia replied, still going through the confines of the machine, “you were out there for a while, so I decided to check my e-mail, but then I remember I wouldn’t have any since I technically don’t exist. Then I came across the Wrestlingclique website and decided to take a look at it what it was like in your world, a lot better if I may add, and that’s when I came across the ‘RP’ section. So…what the fuck was it two weeks ago?”

    “I don't know I was just lost. I mean, we weren't beaten. It was Maskell that cost us”

    “Well, I want to win the North American Championship and redeem myself in ‘their eyes.”


    I’ve got nothing, just a bunch of ideas that go nowhere.”

    “You worried?”

    “Yeah,” Anthony replied as he leaned back, looking up at the ceiling, “I mean, I’ve beaten the best that this company has to offer from Cyrus Truth to Saint Sulley and I think I could take them all again, but right now...I just don’t know. I feel like a shot fighter.”

    “You should pull yourself together. I deserve this chance for the better. Give me what I want and we both benefit. You could get MILES out of my redemption! And believe me, nobody is ready for a fully motivated Michael Garcia...with a purpose!”

    ”What about Maskell?”

    ”What about him? Yes, he’s trying to make a name for himself off my back. Shit, I was in the ring with him a couple of weeks ago. I went down. Captain picks up the win. The fucker has chops... But he's not prepared, not fully. None of'em are ready. Eli? Badass, coming out swinging. One of the best in the game today, just needs to catch his stride again. Dan Maskell? Twisted, a sadistic man that revels in brutality. This is the perfect match for him. He's going to try and hurt me in every way imaginable; I can't wait. The man loads the deck for every match, it sounds stupid. But go toe to toe with him and see if it isn't true. He's one Hell of talent, that's for sure. But if you had to sum up his time here in one word, it would have to be "unimpressive.". He's a bit of a prick, but he hates me almost as much as I do... He's jacked and he's on a hot streak, which makes him dangerous. Aside from that, he can go fuck himself. He knows how to handle himself one-on-one and in a crowd. Why there isn't a strip of tin around that guy's waist right now is no mystery to me. Because Dan Maskell and myself are both two characters of the same breed. If I looked in the mirror right now, I’d see Dan Maskell’s reflection and I’d hate every second of it. The reason why I know I’m walking out of Light’s Out with the victory is because I’ve been at the point, where Dan Maskell is now. He will be a footnote. And until he decides to take the necessary steps to change who he is, he will never be any more than he already is. Because Dan only cares about one thing... Dan. Respect is a foreign concept. He knows the word, he throws it around, but I'm not sure if he really knows what it means.

    Garcia turns, just slightly, making sure Dan knew he was talking right to him...

    "Because no matter how much I hate you, Dan. No matter how much I drag your name through the mud, which I can drag long and deep... I can always find something good to say about you. I can always look back at those - very - few things I respect about you and I can willingly admit they are your strengths. And I can still say you will continue to fail until you learn about respect... or I am going to break both of your legs. You see….when you buried that steel chair deep into my spine and then bashed my skull so many times that you sent me into concussion protocol, I I did what I always do. I got angry. I got screamed and I cursed and I snarled at Dinorah and I demanded that I get my hands on you. But then...I thought to myself...isn’t that exactly what I would've done in your spot? And as much as I hated that you did it to me, there WAS a small part of me that grew to respect it. But then...then you did it to Malik. Then you decided to fuck with my family. The family that I respect more than anything in this world. I know that Anthony doesn’t always show it… but I do respect them. And now...now... I have no choice but to do what I’ve never done before. What he’s never allowed me to do before."

    "Which is?"

    “I have to fight for my brother’s honor. But I know it won’t be easy. I know that Dan Maskell will not give up on this opportunity easily! Am I right?"

    "You are."

    "And no matter what, each of us is going to say he is going to be the only man walking out of the arena. Am I right?"

    "You are."

    "But how do we know? We don't. All we know is that in our mind's eye: we can see ourselves getting our hands raised, standing on top of a broken body. Am I right?"

    "I would have to assume you are."

    "Fuckin' A! Shit, I'm guilty too! Go ahead. Ask me... Am I going to turn this shit around? Am I going to regain their respect? Am I going to rise to the top of the FWA mountain the right way?

    Shaking his head, Anthony asks:

    "Are you going to right this ship, Mike? Will you rise to the top of the FWA in an honorable fashion?

    Without hesitation, almost interrupting Anthony...

    "You bet your fucking ass I am! I crawled and scratched and bled and put my body through all sorts of agony, only for people to remember me as a cold, uncaring bastard who kidnaps people and hits women with hockey sticks. You honestly thought that doing things the way you've done them would have people remember me as a champion, but all it’s done is cause them to remember as nothing more than Dan fucking Maskell. Eight years, Anthony...eight fucking years….don't I deserve better? Don’t I deserve a chance? A true comeback story? Don’t I deserve an opportunity to do better? So that’s what’s happening! Light’s Out! We end this! We do what we have to do to Dan Maskell! We shatter that reflection in the mirror! For Malik….for me….and hell, even for you.

    Anthony stared at the screen in quiet contemplation. He let the words resonate into his head and thought...really thought...before he said what he needed to say.

    “I can't believe I'm the one who created you out of all people. Look, I haven’t been the greatest…creator…I know that, but if it means anything, I can change that. I can’t promise there won’t be hurdles or tribulations, but I can give you definite progress and there will be a point A to point B from now on. I can’t just keep putting you in an endless mess just because I’m in one. I realized no one is going to want to read the continual downfall of some asshole written by a know-nothing thirty-six-year-old. It's time you actually started getting somewhere, after all the shit I put you through you deserve it. You really and truly deserve it.”

    “I can live with that,” Garcia felt a bit more at ease knowing that he wasn’t going to be some punching bag. Garcia turns to look at Anthony, but all he sees is...nothing. The whole room has dissolved into a blank canvas, empty of life, color, or substance. The world was gone… Anthony’s world was gone. Suddenly, a falling sensation overcomes Garcia as he feels himself twisting around in this white existence. Garcia looks down and sees a black spot far below him slowly growing in size, it takes him a moment, but he suddenly realizes that the black dot is the ground and that he is being hurled towards it at incredible speeds. When the black seems to engulf the white, Garcia feels himself collide with it and is jostled awake, finding himself laying on the wooden paneled floor of his own bedroom. He looks around, disoriented for a moment as he regains his bearings, his eyes darting around the room as he gets to his feet. He looks out the window and sees the sun peeking over the horizon, shining its light across the landscape, but instead of seeing a world of thoughtless mouth-breathers, hate-mongers, motherfuckers, and cosplaying Superheroes, he sees the sun lighting his path way to a world filled with opportunities to where none of those previously mentioned things exist.
    Last edited by Main Event Sayer; 09-28-2021 at 02:54 AM.

  8. #28
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    The door slams on the small, dimly lit locker room as Tommy Bedlam, Sammy Bedlam and Rocco Sullivan make their way inside. The Bedlams are both visibly happy with what just transpired in the ring. Just moments ago, Tommy had issued an open challenge due to his outrage about not being booked on the “Biggest Meltdown Card” ever live from Cairo, Egypt. A newcomer, Oliver Jordan, had stepped up to the plate and paid dearly for it. As Tommy and his newly dubbed “advisors” had walked away from the ring, Jordan was being tended to by medical personnel.

    Tommy walks over to a small basin in the corner and washes some of Jordan’s blood from his hands as his father, obviously jubilant over what had just transpired paces the room like a caged animal. Conversely, Rocco is seen standing against the wall, running one hand over the top of his bald head with one hand while he quickly responds to texts with the other.

    My God, boy! I hadn’t never seen nothin’ like that! Ain’t no way that bitch in the big office is gonna be able to ignore you now!

    In a thinly veiled attempt at a mutter, Rocco says, “No, she’s definitely not ignoring him.”

    Sammy slaps one of his massive hands across Tommy’s broad shoulders, barely even processing what Rocco, who is still furiously pecking away at his phone just said. While the two
    elder statesmen of the room continue to display their obviously different responses to what just transpired, the younger Bedlam grabs a bottle of water from the tub of ice on the table in
    the locker room and sits in a metal folding chair.

    Alright, kid. I’m just gonna shoot straight with you here: what the mortal fuck were you thinking out there?! Dinorah is blowing up my phone. Her and the board are calling a special meeting just to talk about what to do about what you just did…

    Before he can finish, Sammy interjects, “What he just did?! What he just did was go out there and show them why they better respect him!”

    Rocco, never one to shy away from a confrontation (especially one in which he believes he’s correct) bounds across the room and gets in Sammy’s face.

    What he just did was hijack a show that he wasn’t on and send a rookie to the fucking hospital! What he just did was jeopardize everything that I’ve been working for since the day I
    found him beating the shit out of your other kid on YouTube!


    What he just did- was because of me.”

    The voice changes halfway through the sentence from full blown anger to guilt. From a quite shrill voice to a calm but more hoarse sounding. The transition of the scene is as smooth as
    a thick layer of peanut butter on a PB & J in your school lunchbox. It’s almost like we’ve started all over again as the scene opens up with the shot of an ambulance. The blue lights flash
    brightly as the neon yellow stripes slowly become more and more distant as it leaves the arena. The camera slowly pans across to reveal Reagan Cole. Sitting in a chair that has
    Meltdown logos, Reagan keeps his stare on the ambulance, hunched forward and playing aimlessly with his hands. Trying to distract himself from the situation currently going on. Lizzie
    Rose didn’t have to defend Reagan when she did. She had nothing to do with Johnny Johnson, Logan Darwin or, besides both being on the Ground Zero Roster, Reagan. This isn’t
    even the first time she has saved him though. Reagan’s first match in Ground Zero, Lizzie Rose helped Reagan eliminate the person known as Putter Green. Lizzie has helped Reagan
    multiple times in both wrestler’s short times here in the FWA. And what has Reagan given back? Like he said...He got her injured by an asshole trying to prove a point. Great. That’s
    another wrestler Reagan has let down in his career, Reagan shakes his head trying to get the thoughts out of his head. As he does so he is interrupted by someone running into the
    arena to replace the ambulance that was on it’s way out.


    Nate:
    “Reagan!”


    Reagan turns his head to see his friend and his social media guy, Nate Knight. Nate walks up to meet Reagan, obviously slightly out of breath.


    Nate:
    “Reagan! There you are! What happened there? You kinda just deserted me and then the next thing I know, I see you on the TV!.”


    Reagan:
    “You just missed her.”


    Nate:
    “Missed who?”


    Reagan:
    “The girl. The one that saved me a couple of weeks back? Yeah she just left. In an ambulance. All because I was doing stupid marketing down the street!”


    Reagan could feel the anger bubbling under his skin. This was his fault and now here comes the anger that comes with guilt. The pure red hot anger, just longing to escape.


    Nate:
    “Reagan, there was nothing you could have done to get here faster than you did.”


    Reagan:
    “Yeah there was. I should have been out there.”


    Nate:
    “And then Logan would have came out and it would have been a massive thing.”


    Reagan:
    “But someone wouldn’t be in the hospital.”


    Nate:
    “But then Johnny would know that he’s in your hea-”


    “Oh ENOUGH!- Fuck me, would you two just shut the hell up already?!

    Tommy’s shout was enough to get the attention of both men, as we return to what it was at the beginning of the video, who by this point are standing inches away from one another, but he slings the opened bottle of water across the locker room for good measure.


    Listen, Rocco. I told you what I wanted. I told you to get me a rematch with fucking El Demente for the Gauntlet Title. When that didn’t happen, I assumed that it was because Dinorah wasn’t listening to you. Sammy and I had a conversation, and he told me about how they used to get peoples’ attention back in the day. It made a lot of sen-


    Rocco, still visibly irate about everything that’s taken place goes at Tommy with the same vigor that he was just arguing with Sammy with. Up until this point, their interactions have never been so intense.


    This isn’t the old days, kid! It’s fucking 2021. Do you realize how much shit has changed since this guy was running around the southeast beating people up whenever he felt like it? Fucking hell, kid. This wasn’t even a sanctioned match. Dinorah is flipping shit worried that the kid or his family is gonna sue. You just fucked up every-


    I just did exactly what I did when you found me online and brought me in here! Don’t pull your sanctimonious bullshit with me, Rocco. When you watched me beat the shit out of Jimmy Bedlam, you had me on a private jet to New York within two days. Why? Because I got your attention. I just went out there and did the same damn thing.


    No, the fuck you didn’t! Listen, kid. First of all, what you did in Texas was a match. A legitimate scheduled match. Secondly, yea, you beat the shit out of him. Maybe you took it a little too far, but that was a show with what, 100 people? This is a fucking international wrestling promotion. There are board members, financial backers, lawyers and all sorts of other suits that we’ve gotta keep happy.


    Sammy takes a step toward Rocco and flips Sullivan’s necktie up toward his own face.


    Sounds to me like the man who’s sitting here complaining about the suits looks and sounds just like one of them.


    Jesus Christ, if you two don’t stop bitching like an old married couple, I’m fucking leaving you both here.


    Tommy walks over, picks up his now empty water bottle from the floor, and grabbing the can of Skoal in his back pocket, puts in a large pinch before spitting in the bottle, the only sound in the now silenced room.


    Ok, let’s all take a breath here. Rocco, you’ve been with this company for how long? Obviously, Dinorah is gonna listen to you. Call her up, tell her I overreacted or whatever kinda corporate bullshit you need to sell her, and get me my damn rematch.


    Tommy, you’re not listening. We’re way past the whole “he overreacted, now give him what he wants” thing. Somewhere between hijacking the show and bashing a kid’s head into a chair, we kinda lost our leverage here.


    Alright, cue ball. My son…


    Before he can finish that thought, Tommy shoots Sammy a look and holds up a hand, obviously not prepared for this newly formed relationship to turn into a traditional father/son pairing.


    Sorry. You brought Tommy in here, but he made the decision to hire you as his manager. You’re job it do whatever he wants done.


    He made the decision to hire me?! He made the decision?! Listen, I know you’re trying to swoop in here and play father of the year all of a sudden, but from where I’m sitting, you’re more like Marvin Gaye Sr. than Ward Cleaver.


    Sammy, obviously incensed by this disturbingly accurate (if a bit outdated) comparison steps toward Rocco with a look of pure hatred. Tommy quickly steps between them in an attempt to diffuse the situation.


    Dammit to hell, I’m starting to wish I hadn’t just gone out there and told an arena full of people that you’re both my advisors. Sammy, go sit down and shut the fuck up. Rocco, get out your cell phone and fix this. I’ve told you since Fallout 3 that I wanted a rematch. I’ve told you since Fallout 3 that I want my fuckin’ title back.




    “No, I didn’t hire you, but
    you are my manager- Not my strategist!”

    Again the transition is clean as we go from one side of the promo to the other. But now we’re continuing the previous exchange between Reagan and Nate.

    Reagan:
    “Nate, nobody is in my head, this isn’t about strategies, Johnny Johnson just put someone into the hospital! He wanted to make a statement and he did it. This is what I’ve been
    talking about since the beginning. This is the kind of thing I was hoping to avoid. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself and now it’s gotten someone hurt. It doesn’t help that the company hasn’t booked me for the last two shows for no reason! I’m trying to be polite but at this point, what good is it doing? Nothing's getting done. It’s just….ugh”


    Reagan covers his face in his hands as Nate looks concerned for his friend. Before this show, they were doing some marketing videos for Lights Out and it was good publicity for
    Reagan to get his name out there and for more people to get to know him because that’s what opens more opportunities but it’s been obvious that even Reagan hasn’t been gone that
    long, he misses wrestling. And him seeing Johnny Johnson of all people, get those opportunities instead. It hasn’t been great.


    Nate:
    “Okay. Just chill out for a second, I don’t even fully understand. Lizzie Rose CHOSE to be in that match didn’t she? She knows the risks.”


    Reagan:
    “Yes she agreed to be apart of the match. Bell to bell. Not after it. Johnny made the decision to cross that line. Johnny let his emotions get the better of him. Meanwhile Logan is too scared of his son to say anything and is using Logans past to excuse Johnnys future...Like I’m imagining if I did any of his bullshit during my starting years at Gibson Gym.”


    Nate:
    ”Murdered?”


    Reagan:
    “Understatement. Chops from every guy and gal in the club. If I survived then the kids would have been able to have a go. And they surprisingly hit HARD… Maybe that’s what I should give Johnny. Let everyone in the front row have a go.”


    A slight smile appears on Reagan’s face before all the guilt comes back and the smile fades as quickly as it arrived. There’s a couple of seconds of awkward silence before Nate suddenly gets a phone notification.


    Nate:
    “Can’t let me have a few moments alone….”


    Nate grabs the phone and brings it out and reads it to himself as Reagan stares at the ground. Nate pulls a calm expression.


    Nate: ”Listen….-If you don’t think you can fix this, tell me now so I can find somebody who can.”

    The voice switch brings us back to a somehow even more tense atmosphere as the three men sit in a stony silence. Sammy smirks as he continues to replay what his son had just done. Tommy has a faraway look in his eyes as he’s already thinking about regaining his beloved Gauntlet Championship. Meanwhile, Rocco continues to feverishly work his thumbs across his cellphone, performing what could only be described as damage control.


    Tommy’s cell phone rings, but he doesn’t recognize the number and quickly hits ignore before laying the phone back down on the table.


    Well? What have you got figured out over there?


    I’ve figured out that somehow I’m getting my ass chewed for something you just decided to do. I’ve stuck my neck out for you, while you and Ponytail over there made the decision to go rogue. I don’t know what the hell they’re gonna do with you, kid. I’m waiting to hear ba-


    Before he can finish, his cellphone rings. He drops his head as he pulls it up to his ear.


    Hey, Dinorah.Yea. Yea, I know. Listen, I really think he was just frustrated and kind of overrea- Yes. Yes I’m fully aware that what he did was horrible. You want to what? I’m not even sure they’ve ever met before. Alright. Yea, I’ll let him know. I’ll call you back in a few. Thanks.

    c
    Rocco hangs the phone up and puts it into the inside pocket of his suit jacket.


    Ok, here’s where we’re at. You’re gonna be on the Lights Out card. The board decided-


    The board decided to give him his rematch! Hot damn! I told you boy, you go out there and show them who’s putting asses in seats, and they’ll give you what you want!


    Would you please shut the hell up for two minutes?! The board is not giving him a rematch. I’ll be honest, I don’t think you’re gonna sniff a title match for a long time. However, they’ve booked you in something else.


    They wanna put me in that Battle Royal they’re doing? That’s fine. Hell, I did fine in the last one. I can handle another Battle Royal.


    Is it a genetic trait? This whole not letting people finish thing? Listen, you’re not in the Battle Royal. You’re gonna be in a tag match.


    I’m not a tag team wrestler.


    He’s not a tag team wrestler.


    I swear to God, it’s like two Bedlams, one brain in here. Due to an injury to Lizzie Rose, you’re going to be partnering with Reagan Cole.


    Lizzie is that hot little brunette isn’t she? My God, she is absolutely f-


    She’s young enough to be your daughter, you old pervert! Hell, with your track record, I guess she might be.


    Whoa, whoa whoa. Reagan Cole? Isn’t he that British guy?


    How the hell did I get put with -HIM?!”

    And back to Reagan and Nate. Conveniently Reagan was also just told about this announcement, Reagan is now standing up running his hand through his hair as we hear Rocco finish his statement but this time it's a voiceover over Reagan & Nate. The scenes are starting to mesh.


    “Apparently, the board reached out to him with some names, and they thought of the available options that you made the most sense.”

    Reagan: “Nate, I didn’t agree to that! You’ve gotta message them back! I don’t want to fucking deal with a another bastard who injured someone tonight!

    Nate:
    “I know you didn’t. I did.”


    Reagan:
    “Nate. Are you actually kidding me right now?"


    Nate:
    “They gave me a couple of names. I picked the one that I felt would give you the best chance of winning.”


    Reagan:
    “Oh for God’s sake…”


    Nate:
    “Listen you want to get revenge on those two for what Johnny just did to Lizzie Rose?”


    Reagan:
    “Of course I freaking do. I want to show him some freaking respect whether he likes or not. But not when it gets more people injured, Nate. Here's the problem with your little plan, I don’t trust Bedlam, he’s in the same situation as Johnny Johnson. A new guy to the company trying to make a name for himself.”


    Nate:
    “Like you were a couple of months back?”


    Reagan:
    “That’s different. I fought my way to get respect. I didn’t ddt anyone on a freaking chair! I didn’t earn respect by pissing off everyone in the locker, No I earned respect the hard working way.”


    Nate:
    “And look where it got you. Not on the last two shows.”


    Reagan sighs. He hates when Nate is right.


    Reagan:
    “Touche. I just don’t like the idea of putting a loose cannon next to another loose canon and expecting no casualties. We do this and how many get injured?”


    Nate:
    “Fight fire with fire and trust me. I don't think there will be any casualties other than your opponents. You know you can defeat this team. You have defeated this team before. Everyone saw you. It was you and the Golden guy, right? Doesn’t matter what tricks they try to pull, it’s how you react to them. This guy doesn’t care who these two are, he just wants to kick ass. Plus You’re a tag team wrestler. This is literally your element.”


    Reagan:
    “I’m not a tag team wrestler anymore, actually.”


    Nate:
    “Oh I’m sorry, did all of that, what? 10 years experience as a tag team wrestler with British Kid? That all just disappear? Come on, man. You’ve got tag team wrestling down. They’re still figuring out how to get along. You have this. Doesn’t matter which partner you have. You’re gonna give these assholes hell for what they’ve done to you and Lizzie.”

    We then hear the Rocco quote repeated but this time for Bedlam and his father


    They thought? Listen, we ain’t gave a damn what the British thought since 1976.


    Oh my fuck. Yes, we all know.‘Merica!


    Rocco is clearly growing exasperated by this entire exchange, as his last comment was delivered with as much sarcasm as he could possibly muster.


    Here’s the deal. It’s you and Reagan Cole against Legends Evolved at Lights Out. After the shit you just pulled, this is the only way you’re getting on the card. If it wasn’t for injuries, she was gonna put you on a plane back to the US for God knows how long.


    I’m. Not. A. Tag. Wrestler. Listen, Rocco, I don’t know this Cole guy. And I sure as fuck don’t trust him. Do you know how many tag team matches I’ve ever been in? Zero. I’ve never trusted anybody enough to team with them, and I sure as hell don’t trust this Cole guy
    .


    I’ll be honest with ya, kid. I really don’t give two squirts of duck shit who you trust or what you want. If you’re gonna be on the Pay-Per-View, this is how it’s gonna have to be.


    Tommy shoots a bewildered look over at Sammy who is clearly as annoyed by all of this as anyone. He throws his hands in the air and walks away to sulk in the corner. Tommy seems to be paying very little attention as he responds to a text on his phone.


    Alright. If that’s the only way that I can get on the show, I’ll do it. But you can let Dinorah, and Reagan Cole know that I’m not happy about it. I don’t expect him to watch my back, but I sure as hell ain’t going out there and sticking my neck out for him.


    Rocco breathes an obvious sigh of relief and gets out of his chair and goes back to the other side of the room to call Dinorah. As soon as he’s gone, Sammy scurries back across the room and sits down inches from Tommy’s face and begins to whisper to him. However, Tommy is obviously more interested in the text messages that he’s reading and responding to.


    You don’t have to do this, boy. You proved tonight that they can’t ignore you. You went out there and showed them tonight that you’re controlling your own destiny. I haven’t seen anybody put a promotion on notice like that since I watched a guy come out and absolutely rip a whole promotion a new one sitting at the top of the entrance ramp.


    What? Oh yea. Listen, it’s all good. I’m gonna go out there, be a tag team wrestler for a night and then we’ll go from there. Not that big of a deal.


    Rocco walks back over with an obviously relieved smile on his face. As this is happening, the two scenes we have so far in the promo start to mash up more as we hear Reagan’s reply to his conversation as Rocco walks over

    Reagan:“Fine. I’ll team with Tommy against my better judgment just because I want to kick Johnnys ass for what he did to Lizzy. But I don’t trust any of this. Especially him.”

    “Alright, you’re in. But listen kid, she’s watching you. The whole damn board is watching you. I know you were pissed off when you got here and weren’t on the card, but that’s just not how shit works around here.

    Alright, Rocco. I hear ya. Listen guys, let’s get out of here. I guess I need to get up with Cole and touch base. Rocco, you wanna get together tomorrow and go over some film of Legends Evolved?

    Absolutely! That’s what I wanted to hear. I’ll get some stuff downloaded tonight and you can just swing by my room tomorrow.


    Sounds good. Think I can trust you two to get back to the hotel together? I gotta make a quick phone call. This guy’s been blowing up my phone since we got in here and I told him I’d call him back.

    Rocco and Sammy give one another a long glance, seemingly sizing each other up. Eventually, Rocco moves toward the door first and Sammy follows suit. Once he’s sure they’re gone, Tommy gets his phone out. Before he can even dial the number, it begins vibrating.

    Hello? Yea it’s Tommy. Yea, they both went on back to the hotel. So, tell me more about this big idea.


    The next few moments don’t contain a lot of dialogue coming from Tommy. Instead, they come from Nate and Reagan off screen?


    Nate: “You’ll be fine, man. You just got to relax and go with this, Okay?”

    Reagan: “Yeah. Sure, I guess. I have no real choice anyway.....I’m gonna take a walk, see if the production guys need me for any help.”

    Eli offered the occasional “yea” or “mmhmm.” to the conversation that he didn’t hear because he was listening to the person on the other end of the line who is clearly driving the conversation, but Bedlam isn’t too turned off by what he or she is saying. After a few moments, Tommy finally speaks.

    Yea. I’m in. You handle everything on your end, and I’ll take care of my side. Thanks for reaching out.


    Tommy throws his duffle bag over his shoulder, grabs his spit bottle from the small, chairside table and heads out of the locker room where he’s finally greeted by the other main character of this promo. Reagan Cole. The two promos finally collide into one exchange that is started by The British Apprentice.

    Reagan: “Well. Isn’t this convenient?"

    Tommy: Uh, yea. I guess it is. I’m guessing you’ve heard about this tag team match?

    Reagan:
    “Yeah…”

    Tommy: Listen man, I’m not sure what the deal is with you and those guys in Legends Evolved or how I got drug into it, but I’m just doing what I’m told. I don’t expect you to cover my ass, but you sure shouldn’t plan on me covering yours. I’m just showing up to whip some ass and get my rematch with Demente.

    While Tommy is talking, Reagan looks down and sees that Tommy didn’t fully wash all of the blood off his hands. The blood that belonged to another innocent kid. Reagan stares for a second before looking back into Tommy’s eyes trying to find any amount of remorse for his actions. He doesn’t find much. Reagan shakes his head slowly.

    Reagan: “...Did you enjoy what you did tonight?”

    Tommy glances down and notices that he missed a couple spots when cleaning the blood off of his hands.

    Tommy: Enjoy it? Not particularly. Am I sorry for it? Absolutely not. The only person with blood on their hands around here is Dinorah. Listen, if you’re wanting to ride in here and play the White Knight and shame me for all the wrong I’ve done, you’re barking up the wrong tree. I went out there to get some peoples’ attention, and that’s what I did. I didn’t make that kid run out of the back and swoop in to save the day. When you’re not given respect, you have to go out and take it.

    Respect. It always comes back to damn respect. Reagan takes a big breath as he wonders his next move. Tommy is very similar to Johnny. But maybe that’s what Reagan needs for this match.

    Reagan: “....Well you can definitely say you got their attention that’s for sure. But now you’ve got it, it’s about what you’re gonna do with it. This match, I’m not taking lightly. I know your father, I’ve seen a couple of his matches and I know he could fight with the best of them. I’m just hoping you're the same way because I can’t be dealing with another scrappy kid who can’t get the job done when I’m already fighting one. I want you to hold nothing back, you got it?”

    Tommy: Ok, first of all, I got to where I’m at without him, and I’m not sure if you’ve been paying attention, but I’m not a “scrappy kid.” I’m going out there to kick somebody’s ass. I’m not that picky about whose ass it is.

    Reagan: “I’m just making sure. That’s all."

    Tommy: Don’t worry about me, alright? Hopefully this is a one off thing for both of us. Lizzie can go back to watching your back and I’ll get what I deserve.

    Reagan rolls his eyes a tiny bit as the former FWA Gauntlet Champion reluctantly puts his hand out for a handshake with the other former FWA Gauntlet Champion. Pretty sure Reagan had the belt longer though,

    Tommy shakes his hand and stares him straight in the eyes.

    Tommy: I’ll see you at Lights Out

    Reagan: “Bring your A Game.”

    Tommy smirks as he walks away from Reagan, Reagan looks back at him and brushes his hand through his hair. The Tommy and Reagan Power Hour come to a close as the two sides of a coin get ready. Can the coin buy a penny sweet? You'll have to wait to find out.
    Last edited by The Gipper; 09-28-2021 at 03:38 AM.
    " I have this weird self-esteem issue where I hate myself but still think I’m better than everyone else."

  9. #29
    All About That Ace
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    NOT ANOTHER LOVE STORY


    001.


    Twenty-two guns were pointed at the skull-masked and fully clothed red and blue figure. Quiet lifted his hands slowly and innocently. Two triggers were pulled anyways. One bullet caught Quiet in the left thigh and the other caught Quiet in the gut. Quiet reached for the wound in his gut and observed the red spilling out with bemusement. They tumbled to the ground, holding their wound but not doing much more as if they were still coming under the realization that they were now dying.

    The only seated man in the lavish office glanced at the two that had pulled their triggers one after the other.

    “Sorry, boss. I-I panicked.”

    “Yeah, uh. Me too.” The second man was lying. Quiet had killed his brother earlier that day. He was getting even.

    Boss grunted. You could tell he was the boss because besides sitting down, his mask was much more lavish than the other mask-wearing gunmen. “Wasn’t so tough as all that. Take his mask off. Let’s see who it is.” Boss had seen enough movies. These things usually didn’t end up well for the mob lord. Usually, it ends in a blood bath. Sure, this was an anticlimactic way to end the sordid tale that was this day, but he was content that he would live to see another.

    Boss’s soldiers hesitated. They’d seen plenty of movies too. What if Quiet was playing possum, they thought. He looked around at them in dismay and stood up himself.

    “What the hell are you all scared for? It’s bleeding out right in front of ya. Fine, fine! I’ll do it myself. And ya can all kiss your next paychecks goodbye, you goddamn cowards.”

    He circled around his desk, shoving his soldiers out of the way. He cooly approached the bleeding body, hands in his pocket, a confident rhythm to his step. He stopped for a moment and considered Quiet. He then proceeded because, at this point, he had no other choice. He didn’t care for having his bravery questioned. He walked over to the dying body of Quiet and stopped a couple of feet away. He snorted and poked at Quiet’s body with his shoe. The masked figure was in too much pain to do anything about it.

    Boss squatted down.

    “You caused me a lot of trouble for no reason, you know?”

    Boss placed his hand on Quiet’s mask. He held onto it tightly, gulped, and then pulled the mask off.

    A young woman coughed blood beneath the mask. Boss looked around at his soldiers.

    “Any of you recognize her?”

    There were some murmurs, nos, and a lot of shaken heads.

    “Wait! Isn’t she… boss, I think she works at The Shop?”

    “The Shop?”

    “She might've been? I didn't get a look at her under the mask but” he snaps his fingers trying to remember, “Mary-Lynn? I think that's what I heard her name was.”

    “So… what is she? Some kinda vigilante? How’d she get here?”

    002.


    Mary-Lynn was no vigilante. For most of the week, she spent her time preparing to become a teacher. There was always a need for teachers. On weekends, she worked part-time for her uncle at his thrift shop. Like most of the people of Georgina, she wore a plain mask. Just another citizen struggling to make ends meet. Her mask, and those of other Georginans, differed from those of more lavish lifestyles like say the gangsters of Touka Organization.

    Today was a day that belonged to the weekend. She woke up at seven in the morning and was out of the house within the next hour. She took the 915 and transferred it onto the 916 to get to The Shop.

    “Mary-Lynn, you’re three minutes late. I’ll have to dock that from your pay.”

    Mary-Lynn ignored him. She was bound to the bus schedule and she had no intention of arriving twenty-seven minutes early. He wouldn’t pay her extra for that anyways. Better to just lose the three minutes. He was a stiff but she was lucky to have him as an uncle. Jobs weren’t easy to come by.

    “There’s going to be two pick-ups today.” He placed two briefcases on the counter. “Someone from Touka Organization and a man in a costume from the Octopi crew.”

    “A man in a costume?”

    “You got it. You just make sure they get what they came for and don’t ask too many questions, got it? These people, they don’t like questions. And remember! Don’t make the same mistake you made last time when they grabbed the wrong suitcases.” Oh, come on. Sure, it had happened twice, but she’d been doing better since.

    “Wait,” she said, but her uncle was already halfway through the door, “what kind of costume?” Aaaaaaaaaaand he was already gone. she couldn’t muster the energy to follow after him. If it was really that important, he wouldn’t have been so careless.

    Working at uncle’s thrift store wasn’t altogether a bad gig. For the most part, local kids came to buy whatever caught their interest but that wasn’t all too frequent. Even so, there was no way her uncle was making a profit from the shop. She was mostly sure he had dealings with the local mob. Heck, most shop owners around here had dealings with the local mob. It was that or, well, just think of a horrid alternative. Of course, she was smart enough never to ask. She wasn’t sure how fond of her her uncle really was.

    The two men her uncle had warned her about arrived within minutes of each other. The first of the two men arrived first. Mary-Lynn hadn’t even heard The Shop’s doorbell ring. She was still absorbed by the novel in her hand. He stood in front of her and didn’t make a single sound. It was only when she’d turned the page and bothered to look up that she noticed the man standing behind the counter. Her heart jumped and she threw her book up in surprise.

    “Oh my god!”

    She held her chest and heaved in air in a panic.

    “Oh my god.”

    He did not move other than keeping an eye on Mary-Lynn.

    “Uh. Can I help you?”

    “…”

    “What?”

    “…”

    The covering over his mouth seemed to move briefly.

    “I can’t hear you.”

    It moved a bit more this time, and she was sure it seemed like he was saying something.

    “. …. …”

    “I don’t- I’m sorry. I don’t understand. Are you mute?”

    “..”

    “Can I get you a pen and paper to write what you need?”

    The man reached into his pocket and pulled out a handheld device with a mechanical keyboard below a narrow screen. He typed quickly and rapidly and showed her the screen when he was finished.

    I’M QUIET.

    “You don’t say.”

    I’M HERE TO PICK SOMETHING UP.

    “I’m guessing you’re not from Touka Organization?”

    He said nothing.

    “Right.” She took in her costume and felt safe in the assumption that he belonged to the Octopi crew. Whatever that was.

    DING DONG!

    “I’ll be with you in a second,” she called out.

    Mary-Lynn bent over and looked over both briefcases. She confirmed she had the right one and placed it on the counter.

    “Hey, lady. I’m in a rush here. I’m picking up something for Touka Organization.”

    “I’m just finishing-”

    “Whoa, whoa. Lady. Your uncle didn’t teach you anything? Priorities. This freak here can wait. Touka Organization comes ahead of everyone if you know what’s good for you.”

    Quiet turned towards the man from Touka Organization. Mary-Lynn found herself oddly paralyzed with fear. If there was such a thing as killing intent, she felt it in that very moment, in that simplest of movement. The man from Touka Organization must’ve felt it too. He took a half-step back and reached a hand to his hip.

    “I’ve got your briefcase right here.” She said. It was an intelligent emotional decision. She wouldn’t have been the first one caught in the crossfire of a fight between the Touka Organization and its interest.

    The man from Touka Organization did not take his eyes off Quiet, and neither could Mary-Lynn. They both seemed to fear that the man would act any second now, and the results would please no one. The man grunted, and building some confidence in himself and his title as a man from Touka Organization, grabbed a briefcase. He walked towards the door with his free hand near his hip the entire walk. He couldn’t help but look over his shoulder on his way out of The Shop. Quiet’s body stayed solitary though his head track the man as he left The Shop. When he was finally out, Quiet shifted his attention to Mary-Lynn. It seemed as if all the tension had gone out from the room and Mary-Lynn giggled her relief.

    “Sorry, you scared me, Quiet. I thought you were about to kill him.”

    She giggled again but he did not react. Instead, he grabbed the briefcase, turned, and left The Shop. Mary walked slowly around the cash register and approached the entrance door. She pulled it open slowly, reached for the banner that said “OPEN” and flipped it over to “CLOSED”. Her uncle wouldn’t know any better, and she didn’t feel up to dealing with anyone else.

    003.


    The entrance door to The Shop was kicked open and a half-dozen men in suits in masks with automatic weapons marched down to the front desk. They had no reason to do it other than intimidation - as if waving automatic guns around didn’t do enough of that - but they knocked over tables, aisles, and whatever could keel over with a good enough shove. For the second time that day, Mary-Lynn dropped her novel.

    “Hi - can I help y-?”

    “YOU THINK YOU CAN FUCK WITH TOUKA ORGANIZATION?”

    Her mouth widened halfway. She was lost, almost certain there was a misunderstanding, but in her experience, the Touka Organization wasn’t great at talking through misunderstandings.

    “YOU THINK YOU CAN STEAL FROM TOUKA ORGANIZATION, HUH?

    “I DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT!” Ordinarily, you would not recommend screaming at a gangster to save your life, but she wasn’t sure talking things out rationally would work with these thugs, so she tried meeting them at their level.

    “WHERE’S THE BRIEFCASE?”

    “I GAVE YOU THE BRIEFCASE!”

    “YOU GAVE US A TRICK BRIEFCASE!”

    “NO! NO, I SWEAR! I GAVE HIM THE RIGHT BRIEFCASE!”


    “STOP LYING! YOU WANT TO DIE?”

    “NO! OF COURSE, I DON’T WANT TO DIE! I’M TOO YOUNG TO DIE! I’VE BARELY EXPERIENCED LIFE!”

    “THEN WHERE’S THE FUCKING BRIEFCASE!”

    “I’VE GOT AN IDEA! I’LL SHOW YOU THE SECURITY TAPES!”
    She saw they were intrigued by that well-reasoned solution. “You’ll see I gave him the right briefcase and we can resolve this with me still alive!”

    Mary-Lynn brought them into the back. She hoped her uncle didn’t have anything incriminating back there. She figured they’d take any reason to kill someone tonight. What did they say? You couldn’t go longer than a week without crediting a dead body or two to Touka. How many days had it been since the last one?

    After some fiddling around that wasn’t helped by being surrounded by several armed thugs, she was able to get the hardly used security monitor to switch to Camera 3 by the front desk set to midday. She watched Quiet walk up to the desk while she reads her book. It takes an uncomfortably long time before she finally notices him. Even, he starts communicating with his handheld device.

    “WHAT’S HE DOING THERE?”

    “He’s mute! He was just introducing himself.”

    “You expect us to believe that?”

    “At least just watch the whole thing first!”


    She brings up a briefcase onto the desk.

    “That’s his briefcase! He had one to grab too,” she says before they can start confirming their suspicions.

    Finally, their man comes in. He swaggers towards the front desk and gives Quiet a quick dirty glance. He gets quickly irritated that he’s not dealt with first, and Quiet turns in his direction. Mary-Lynn feels that sting going through her entire body. Like something bloody and violent is about to happen. Perhaps it’s only the memory of the moment because the men from Touka Organization don’t seem particularly alerted by the gesture the way she had been. She places the second briefcase on the table.

    “See! That’s his briefcase right there!”

    However, as absorbed by Quiet as both the man from Touka Organization and she had been, neither of them realized that he reached and grabbed the wrong briefcase. He leaves The Shop with Quiet’s briefcase, and Quiet grabs Touka Organization’s briefcase once the man exits.



    “SEE! IT WASN’T MY FAULT!”

    “WHAT DO YOU MEAN? YOU’RE THE ONE GIVING OUT THE BRIEFCASES! MAKE SURE HE GRABS THE RIGHT ONE!”

    “I was scared!”

    “SCARED! SCARED? LET ME TELL YOU SOMETHING LADY! EITHER WE FIND THAT BRIEFCASE OR I WILL CUT EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOUR FINGERS OFF.”

    “What? Why?”

    “Do you think your boss is going to be happy knowing you fucked up a very simple job?”

    “Uh… no?”

    “Yeah, and how the hell do you think our boss is going to react huh? He’s not running some dead-end thrift shop. He’s running Touka fucking Organization. Either he gets his briefcase, or we make sure he knows this mistake is never happening again. Now, you’re lucky we don’t blow your brains out. And heck, if we find out you were working with that freak there, we still will. So you better be praying that was actually a mistake.”

    “You don’t need me! We’ve got a tracker! We’ve got a tracker in the briefcases!”

    “You have a tracker in the briefcases?”

    “Yeah, for this exact situation. If they ever get stolen, we can find them.”

    “Why didn’t you say so early?”

    “I WAS SCARED!”

    “Lady, you’re really pissing me off.”
    The apparent leader of this assembly turns to another of his gun-toting partners. “Crow, report back to Boss. Let him know what’s going on.” Crow nods and runs off. “As for us, we’re going to murder a freak.”

    And so, Mary-Lynn accompanied the men from Touka Organization for the purposes of murdering a freak and recovering a briefcase of contents unknown. The tracker brought them to the busy market which was increasingly crowded at this time of the evening. They were forced to park and start walking on foot. Though most seemed keen on moving out of the way of the men from Touka Organization, making your way through a busy market wasn’t easy no matter which gun you brandished. In fact, it was as likely to be poached as it was to ward off poachers. They gazed around the market but could find no trace of the man they had seen on camera.

    “DO YOU SEE HIM?”

    She looked around in a panic but she could see no trace of Quiet.

    “No.”

    “WHAT DOES THE TRACKER SAY?”

    “That he’s here!”

    “THEN WHERE IS HE?”

    “I DON’T KNOW!”

    “FUCK IT!”
    He lifts his automatic into the air and pulls the trigger. The repeated pop-pop-pop starts clearing the crowd in a hurry. He grabs a voice enhancer from one of the men from the Touka Organization. “EVERYONE STAY PUT AND YOU CAN ALL GO BACK TO YOUR MODEST LIVES. WE ARE LOOKING FOR A MAN CALLED… QUIET!” It seems that grabbing the crowd’s attention with a mass threat to their existence was a routine thing for both Touka Organization and the people in the marketplace because they complied rather quickly to those demands. Mary-Lynn knew Touka Organization ran the town but she didn’t know to what extent. None of the officers that typically wandered the market seemed to be around and she doubted it was just a case of bad luck.

    The men of Touka Organization stood in the center of the market, brandishing their guns and gazing around at the crowd. Mary-Lynn watched worryingly, standing at the center of the thugs.

    “What’s your tracker saying now?”

    “He’s… he’s… over there.”

    She pointed at a section of the crowd who quickly parted ways. At a food stand, next to a plate of unfinished food, stood one of the briefcases she had passed on that morning. The thugs looked at each other in confusion.

    “Maybe he figured out what was going on and bailed?”

    “Ha. Smart decision,” the leader observed. “Go grab it.” A thug nodded and walked over to the briefcase. “Let Boss know we got the package.” He glanced at Mary-Lynn. “Looks like you get to keep your fingers, lady.” Oh, and how she was grateful.

    The thug got to the briefcase and after checking whether the serial number was correct, he lifted it up in confirmation. Within the food stall, a figure stood up to the nervous-looking chef. He did not make enough of a noise for the briefcase-wielding thug to realize what was happening. And the sudden alerting from his Touka Organization comrades seemed more celebration than panic. The bullet entered the back of his skull and entered the front. Quiet jumped over the stall and caught the briefcase before it fell to the ground.

    Now, the crowd ran. They ran without much thought into where to run, and so, some even ran between Quiet and the men from Touka Organization. “Out of the way” they yelled desperately but no one was listening. One of Touka Organization was dead, which meant all hopes of a civilized resolution was out the door. There was no sense in hoping rational minds would win out. It was everyone for themselves.

    Mary-Lynn stood very still. Her eyes did not once move from Quiet. She watched him disappear within the crowd but he could not escape her eyes, she was enamored. He seemed so different than all the other masked citizens of Georgina. It helped that even with a mask, his costume allowed him to stand out so much from everyone else she'd ever met. Quiet appeared in front of one of the Touka men without giving them enough time to react. He smashed the gun out of his hands with the briefcase and pulled the trigger on his own pistol, leaving the man reaching for his throat to cover the bullet hole there.

    “Get out of the way!” they yelled more urgently. “Get out of th-” and he could not yell it out any longer because there was a muzzle in his mouth. Pop.

    The crowd had mostly figured out by now that the safest place to be was away from the men of Touka Organization. Only two were leftover.

    “Don’t hit the briefcase!”

    “Don’t hit the briefcase?” the second asked, distraught by either facing Quiet’s wrath or that of the Boss’s.

    The leader of Touka Organization tossed his gun down and pulled out two short knives, approaching Quiet quickly. The second shot to offer his leader the chance to get closer without fearing being shot by Quiet. The leader seemed skilled with his two blades but Quiet did not seem trouble by the deadly attempts at his life, managing to parry the blades with briefcase and handgun as if he’d trained to wield both as weapons. He even struck the man with both handgun and briefcase several times wearing him down with each hard strike. The man slowed down as his face began to scar, his nose began to bleed, and he spat out a tooth. His second tried his best to aim carefully but couldn’t find the right moment where either his comrade wasn’t in the way, or the briefcase wasn’t. Still, he remained patient. Aiming, aiming. Mary-Lynn wasn’t sure what got into her. But for the first time since this had all started, she moved. She jumped onto the second just as he pulled the trigger. They both looked over to see the result of the fire. Quiet and the thug stood still facing each other. For once, the market was quite silent. The thug keeled over and held his leg. Quiet looked down at the thug, aimed his gun at his head, and pulled the trigger. The thug stopped moving. The second’s eyes widened in panic and he began scrambling for his gun. Mary-Lynn scrambled as well. They both grabbed it at once. She didn’t struggle very well after he punched her in the nose. He turned to aim at Quiet - pop! He stopped moving.

    Quiet stared at her. He holstered his gun and placed the briefcase on the ground. He points his handheld at her.

    EXPLAIN.

    004.


    How could she possibly explain that in the span of a few minutes-long murderous rampage, she had fallen in love? Quiet was everything you could possibly want in a man - Tall… well just above average height… Handsome… well he had an interesting taste in costumes… and she saved this one especially for last… Dark. Every man Mary-Lynn had ever dated had been a dangerous man. In fifth grade, Morty used to steal food from the other kids’ backpacks during lunchtime, in ninth grade, Chris was one of thirty drug dealers at her school, and in twelfth grade, she’d dated Joey but he stopped being much of a bad ass after Touka Organization sent him his dog’s head for mouthing off one too many times. But Quiet, Quiet wasn’t like any of them. Quiet was a stone-cold killer. And she’d just killed five gangsters from Touka Organization, the very organization that ran this entire district. Every princess dreamed about his prince showing them a whole new world, and something told her Quiet could show her a million new worlds.

    At the very least, Mary-Lynn had enough sense to advise Quiet that it would be better that she not elaborate on how they’d gotten themselves into this situation in the middle of a market containing a half-dozen bodies they’d curated. They headed back for The Shop where they were unlikely to be disturbed anytime soon.

    “I’m Mary-Lynn by the way.”



    “I just figured it would be good that you knew my name. Not that you could say it, or anything.”

    MARY-LYNN. EXPLAIN.

    She blushed at the sight of her name typed out. Having low standards was a wondrous thing.

    “You grabbed the wrong briefcase. The one you grabbed belongs to Touka Organization, and they grabbed your briefcase.” She sensed a sudden rise in anger from Quiet. “But that’s okay! My uncle places tracking devices in all of the briefcases. We can just figure out where your briefcase is, and go grab it.”

    WE?

    “I can’t stay here! They won’t let me live after this. You’ll take me with you, won’t you? You saved my life after all.”



    “Oh, you don’t have to decide now. Let’s get back your briefcase first. It isn’t right that Touka Organization would steal from you. They got too comfortable calling the shots here, they didn’t realize there are always bigger fish in the sea, right?” She fiddled with the tracker but began tweaking it with increasing panic as it did not convey the information she needed. The screen then began glitching and suddenly shut off. “Uh. I think it might have broken when I fell over back at the market. BUT IT’S OKAY! I’ve got a backup plan! When you think about it, there’s only one place that the briefcase could be. Touka Organization headquarters! They’d bring it straight back to the boss himself, right?” She saw him typing. “You want to know where it is? Don’t worry, I can understand you. We have a connection, don’t you see? You were willing to kill for me, I’m willing to do anything for you. My uncle knows where Touka Organization headquarters are. I’ll ask him to come over, say there’s a problem with them, he’ll be right over.”

    With greater urgency than her uncle had ever shown before, he arrived at The Shop with a look of panic and worry on his face. He saw that Quiet sat at the front desk digesting the same novel that Mary-Lynn had been reading during her shift. He frowned in confusion and Mary-Lynn clobbered him over the head with an old boom box. He toppled over and she used hem rope to hastily bind her uncle’s wrist and ankles. He hadn’t been entirely knocked out but he was in too much of a daze to offer any resistance or entirely grasp that his niece had just assaulted him.

    “Uncle, I’m sorry,” she said, as she helped him onto a seat. “But I knew you wouldn’t understand otherwise.”

    “WHAT THE HELL IS GOING ON, MARY-LYNN?”

    “STOP SCREAMING AT ME! I’m sick of everyone screaming at me! Would you please just listen?”

    “MARY-LYNN, I SWEAR TO - AAAAAAAAAAAAH!” Mary-Lynn stabbed him in the knee with a rusted ancestral knife that had been lying about in the story. “WHAT THE FUCK?”

    “You wanted to scream so bad, I just gave you a reason to scream.” She looked at Quiet for approval but he was inexpressive as ever. Despite that, her heart swelled, a lack of approval was still better than disapproval, after all. “Uncle. The Touka Organization did something very bad, they stole something important from Quiet?”

    “What? Is that the man from the Octopi crew? I told you to give him the briefcase.”

    “That’s the thing, uncle. The Touka Organization took that briefcase, and Quiet would very much like it back. Could you tell us where the Touka Organization headquarters are? Pretty please, uncle?”

    “Are you insane? I don’t even know where their headquarters are. Mary-Lynn, they’re going to kill us all. What have you done?” He shook his head mournfully.

    Quiet hopped off the counter and approached Mary-Lynn.

    52 MCLEAN ST. UNIT #545

    “You found the address, how?” Quiet simply stared at her. “You have your ways. I shouldn’t be surprised! So what should we do with my uncle?” Quiet glanced at him.

    “Mary-Lynn, what’s gotten into you?”

    “What’s gotten into me? I’m sick and tired of a life of mediocrity, of boredom. I want more than this world! Quiet’s incredible, uncle! It was love at. Well it wasn't quite at first sight, but nearly the end of second sight. And that's how you know it's real! Being with Quiet is like… it’s like being on a rollercoaster. I feel like I could die at any point… but… I know I’m safe. I know I’m safe with him. I’ve never felt anything like that before, uncle. What if he leaves and I never feel that again? You know, sometimes you meet people who will change your life forever, and instead of questioning it, you should put your faith in fate!”

    DING DONG. Quiet left The Shop.

    “Please, Mary-Lynn. Listen to yourself!”

    Mary-Lynn looks at the front desk and sees that Quiet left his pistol there. Her uncle tracks her eyes to the pistol.

    “Mary-Lynn! We’re family!”

    “Family?”

    “I gave you this job because you should put your family above everything. Everything.”

    “I’m sorry, uncle. But I can’t give my family everything. I don’t have anything left to give.” Mary-Lynn walks over to the front desk and grabs the handgun. “I’ve decided to give Quiet everything.” She points it at her uncle’s heart. “I think aiming for your heart will hurt the least? See, I do care about you in my own way.”

    “MARY-LYNN! YOU STUPID BIT-“

    He stops himself preemptively when she pulls the trigger. Alas, no bullet emerges. She’s confused then “ah’s” as she realizes she has to turn the safety off.

    “WAI-”

    His chest reddens quickly.

    “Mary-Lynn…”

    “Goodbye, uncle.”

    005.


    Mary-Lynn and Quiet sat in the car outside Touka Organization headquarters.

    “How are you going to get the briefcase back?”

    Quiet reached over to a box in the backseat of the card and handed it over to Mary-Lynn.

    “Is this for me?”

    She opened it slowly and removed a full-body costume. It had a white skull face with red and blue patterns across.

    “You… want me to wear this?” He handed her the Touka Organization briefcase. “You want me to pretend to be you? To be a decoy?” He stared at her. And suddenly, her heart filled with joy. “You want me to be you,” she said, and smiled, repeating it to herself. Was there anything more romantic than that? “You can trust me, Quiet. I promise I won’t let you down.”

    Mary-Lynn undresses in the car, not remotely feeling shy, but in fact, feeling empowered as she put on the costume. She idly wondered if he had worn this exact same costume before, and instead of asking, decided to accept such a truth until told otherwise.

    “I’m ready, Quiet. How do I look?”

    Quiet looked her up and down but said nothing. Just being observed made her swoon, anyways. She leaned in and surprised him with a quick kiss through their respective masks. She went to leave the car but he stopped her. He handed her night-vision goggles, and then seemed to send a message on his phone. A few seconds later, the entire building went dark. She nodded to Quiet and took that as her signal to leave.

    Mary-Lynn walked towards the Touka Organization front door with a handgun in one hand and their briefcase in the other. Though the block was now dark, her silhouette was still visible in the darkness. Two thugs began approaching her, and upon realizing who she was, began brandishing their weapons. Pop. Pop. The two men dropped. The second had a moment of panic before he collapsed next to his partner, a bullet ripping through brain and skull matter.

    She entered the Touka Organization headquarters without a hint of hesitation. She trusts Quiet wholly. The men who approached her did not ever get very close before they were laying on the ground in a pool of their own blood. They hardly got a chance to even understand what had happened to them before they died. She wondered if it was easier to die suddenly and immediately or to die a slow, painful death knowing its inevitability yet being incapable of doing anything about it. Then, she realized she’d prefer not to find out.

    Mary-Lynn made her way up the stairs, with the elevator out of commission. The thugs running to meet her there were fish in a barrel. One by one they dropped. In the darkness, it was hard for any thug to know what fate had awaited the previous one. Eventually, they began stumbling over the piled-up dead bodies. When the last thug had entered, Mary-Lynn had to climb clumsily atop the numerous corpses to finally make it to the fifth floor. The fifth floor itself seemed entirely deserted, but this was where the boss man’s office was. In all likelihood, Mary-Lynn could guess that whoever was still left alive in this building had chosen to hole themselves in with the king. It would make it all the more easier for Quiet to kill them all. She smiled within her mask. She’d lucked out. The people of the Touka Organization felt powerful because they had each other. All she had was Quiet, and that was greater than the entirety of Touka Organization combined.

    She proceeded to walk over to the entrance of office number 545. She knocked on the door.

    “Quiet, I presume,” the voice came from within the office. “You have something that belongs to us. We have something that belongs to you. You’ve killed quite a few of my men, but it’s not too late to resolve this now.” She wanted to burst out laughing. Powerful men weren’t used to being so powerless, they had no idea how to behave. They couldn’t imagine the concept of not being in control. This man who ran her district, he was nothing now. Everyone feared him, but all it took was one man, one extraordinary man, and everything he’d built came tumbling down. “Please, come on in. Let’s discuss this like civilized men. My people won’t shoot. I assure you.” Oh, she absolutely knew this was a trap, but Quiet was looking after her. He had a plan. They were dead.

    She entered the room with the briefcase out first. There were a few candles assembled on the boss’s desk though not enough had been gathered to illuminate the room much. Everyone there watched her with apprehension. This was how everyone gazed at Quiet? It was enough to make her believe she had their every life in her hands. In a way, she did. They all pointed guns at her, but she felt entirely unafraid. Though she did shake. She absolutely did. She was excited. Any minute now, they would all be dead. Any minute now. Pop. Pop. Huh?

    She looked down and saw that she was bleeding from the gut. She put her hands to the wound to try to stifle the bleeding and fell to the ground.

    “Sorry, boss. I-I panicked.”

    “Yeah, uh. Me too.”

    She gazed at the two men nonchalantly taking credit for shooting her. Quiet would kill them now, and save her. Any second now. He couldn’t have anticipated how stupid they would be.

    “Wasn’t so tough as all that. Take his mask off. Let’s see who it is.”

    No one moved. They were all still scared. That’s right. They should be. Any second now.

    “What the hell are you all scared for? It’s bleeding out right in front of ya. Fine, fine! I’ll do it myself. And ya can all kiss your next paychecks goodbye you goddamn cowards.”

    The Touka Organization boss stood up and slowly approached her. Even him, the man who could once decide the life of anyone in the district with the snap of a finger, feared to approach her. He hesitated and then continued his approach. He jabbed at her body with his foot. She could do nothing about it. Now, Quiet. Now. The boss squatted down.

    “You caused me a lot of trouble for no reason, you know?”

    He placed his hands on her, on Quiet’s mask. She was disgusted with him but hadn’t the energy to resist. He pulled the mask off and had a look of confusion on his face upon finding he did not recognize her.
    “Any of you recognize her?”

    There were some murmurs, nos, and a lot of shaken heads.

    “Wait! Isn’t she… boss, I think she works at The Shop?”

    “The Shop?”

    “She works part-time. I think her name was…” he snaps his fingers trying to remember, “Mary-Lynn?”

    “So… what is she? Some kinda vigilante? How’d she get here? Is she really the one who killed dozens of my people?”

    “I don’t know boss. Maybe she’s a decoy. Maybe she’s working with the real Quiet?”

    Boss looked up and found there was a pistol pointed at his forehead. Her heart quickened, and she smiled. He was finally here to save her!

    “Wait, we can talk this o-”

    The shots came quickly and silently. The other men hardly realized it happened until the boss was sent hurtling onto his desktop, sweeping the candles down with him. The room was plunged into darkness. Lights entirely out. The men began shooting in a panic. Quiet had no issues in a gunfight where he had all the advantages. They were blind. Deafened by their own mad firing. Mindless without a leader to guide them. He killed one man after the other. A bullet to the brain, one through the throat, a misfire to a partner, a shove through a shattered glass window, a briefcase bashing his brains out, his own knife jammed underneath his jaw as far as the blade was willing to go. One by one, they all died.

    The shots finally stopped ringing out, and outside of the moans and groans from dying men, the entire building had become very, very quiet.

    Quiet glanced at Mary-Lynn, then began searching the room. Eventually, he found what he was looking for. His briefcase.

    “W-w-why?” Mary-Lynn eventually managed to ask, realizing the man was ignoring her entirely.

    Why?

    006.


    “Morning, Quiet!”

    “……., …..”

    It was indeed a lovely morning on the Octopi, made no less lovely than by Quiet getting to see a smiling Uncle so bright and early. He busied himself chopping up vegetables for that morning’s breakfast, but Uncle had the large portion of his attention.

    “You know, I hate to ask you for favors. You always go above and beyond, Quiet, more than anything I deserve.” Uncle was quite careful about asking Quiet for help, but it only made Quiet all the more eager when his name was called up for a job. “But I’m in a bit of a tight spot here so I don’t really have much of a choice. You know Georgina?”

    “……… ….?”

    “Exactly. Mass surveillance. Omnipresent authority. Etcetera. Everyone wears masks down there to keep their identity a secret. It’s nuts. I mean I love masks as much as the next guy, but it's not so fun if everyone does it. Well, I need you to pick a package up for me. I’d go myself, but you know, one look at my mask, they’ll be swarming. But you’ll blend in real easy.”

    Quiet settled his knife down and washed his hands at the sink.

    “You’re going now?

    “……. … …, …..”

    “You know, Quiet. I really don’t deserve you.”

    But our dear muted friend felt quite the same.

    007.


    Mary-Lynn teared up for a moment. The other moans and groans had faded and now it was truly quiet. A lot could be conveyed in silence, and Mary-Lynn realized now that she was nothing to Quiet. A means to his end. A path to his goals. A tool.

    And yet, Mary-Lynn still found herself found of Quiet. Content that she could at least leaving having aided the man she briefly loved. And that was Mary-Lynn’s last thought. For the best, most likely. Any deeper thought on her misadventures would have sent her away in despair, and we deserve some happy thoughts as we go into that long good night.

    008.


    J.J. JAY!, Thomas West, and Harry the Sane Wizard moved away from Mary-Lynn's corpse, closing up the Last Day Generator that filled in the blanks on what had led to Quiet calling them from a building's worth of dead bodies.

    “So, what’s in the package?”

    “The Book of Cosmos?”

    “A Golden Opportunity?”

    … Uncle opens the briefcase and unveils… his eight-tentacled trademark mask.

    “You destroyed an entire mob group for a mask?”

    “I had no idea he was going to kill that many people!”

    “You know Quiet always goes over the top if it’s a favor for you.”

    “And that’s why I asked him to do it for me. If it was either of you two, you would’ve bailed.”

    “Fighting a mafia organization and going on a gunfight murder rampage isn’t exactly worth the equivalent of a mask!”

    “You know something, Thomas, this is why I don’t have faith in you to win the Gunfight Battle Royal.”

    “What does that have to do with anything we’re doing here?”

    “Are you dense, Thomas? Do I need to spell it out for you? It has everything to do with what we’re doing here. Quiet here just proved the lengths he is willing to go to get something as inconsequential as my mask. No offense to my mask which I value and treasure dearly. Sure, winning the Gunfight Battle Royal won’t get me much in the grand scheme of things, everyone’s lining up to fight good ole’ Uncle. But Quiet, he doesn’t care how small or big the reward, it doesn’t matter to him how he has to hurt people, how many people he has to hurt, who he has to betray-”

    “He does not have to betray us, by the way. Quiet, you do not have to betray us. Not until the end at least.”

    “See, you’ve got no edge, Thomas. I really hope you prove me wrong, but if I were a betting man, I’d bet on Quiet. Come on, Quiet. We've gotta punctuate this solo adventure with a hug, don't we? I bet you that Mary-Lynn girl is mighty jealous of this.”

    Quiet and Uncle conclude our adventure embracing, as all good adventures should conclude. Thomas and Harry try to get in on the action but are shoved away. After all, this is about Quiet, and his greatest love, Uncle.
    Last edited by Commie Uncle; 09-28-2021 at 03:14 AM.



  10. #30
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    Re: FWA Lights Out | Promo Thread

    Meltdown 5, in the ring the match between Lizzie Rose and Johnny Johnson is firing on all cylinders. Logan Darwin is assisting Broc and Rod with commentary for this match. The crowd is giving Johnny all they can in order to make sure they hate him. However, the reason Broc Lobster was trying to get the attention of the two other men that were bickering back and forth is overly clear now. In the ring, Johnny has hoisted Lizzie up in a gorilla press. He has walked to the one side of the ring and yelled out to the crowd,“Is this what you want?!”


    Broc Lobster: Darwin, please do something! If Johnny throws Lizzie into the crowd there’s no telling how much unneeded damage she will take.


    Rod Sterling: Don’t do a damn thing Darwin. It’s time you finally stop always taking the other side that your son is on!


    Logan takes his headphones off, gets up, and makes his way to the closest side of the ring. You can just make out what he’s saying as he shouts over to Johnny. “What the hell are you doing? You don’t need to do that. You’re going to kill her!”


    Johnny, absolutely surprised by Logan shouting at him turns towards Logan, still holding up Lizzie in a gorilla press position. Johnny looks confused, and for a second it looks like he might show a little sadness. But as swift as what might have been sadness arrived, it left, and up roared a scream full of rage. As he screamed out though, Lizzie started to wiggle free and slide down the back of Johnny. Going for a sunset flip, she gets Johnny to backpedal a little bit. However, Johnny is able to stop the momentum, bends over, and grabs Lizzie by her biceps. He hoists her up and traps her arms underneath his and with furiousness, he begins to lay vicious headbutts into the shoulder/chest area of Lizzie. He stops after a good six or seven headbutts, but before Lizzie can fall back onto the mat Johnny grabs her into a headlock, picks her up, and drives her down with a brainbuster!


    1…
    2…
    Lizzie…..Johnny pulls Lizzie’s head up by her hair.


    Broc Lobster: He could have ended it there and then. That was one of the most vicious brainbusters I’ve seen. There was no chance of Lizzie kicking it out.


    Rod Sterling: That might be the case, but really we have no way of knowing. Better to be safe than sorry.


    A sly, evil smile is now on Johnny’s face. Logan still ringside begins to slap the mat as if to get Johnny’s attention. Johnny does not even turn his head for a second towards Logan. Instead, Johnny gets to his feet, picking up Lizzie as he does. Visibly, you can tell there isn’t much behind the eyes of Lizzie Rose at the moment. That doesn’t stop Johnny from wanting to do more harm to her. As he stands her up in the middle of the ring, Johnny runs off and bounces off the far ropes, as he comes back he floats over Lizzie’s back and spikes her down with a DDT. Then in one fell swoop, he sits on the small of Lizzie’s back, places his arm under her chin, and wrenches back in a Dragon Sleeper! Screaming out in rage, it appears like Johnny is putting all his power into breaking the back of Lizzie. Seeing that she is absolutely unconscious, the ref calls for the bell!!!




    Winner via submission: Johnny “The Legend” Johnson


    Katie Lynn-Goldsmith: The winner of the match, Johnny "The Legend" Johnson!


    Johnny has not let go of the Dragon Sleeper. Still wrenching on the neck of Lizzie. The ref is yelling at him to let the move go. The ref is also tugging with all of his strength on Johnny’s arm, but Johnny is still not letting go. At this point, the ref looks over at Logan as if asking for help. Logan then slides into the ring and stands in front of Johnny. Yelling at him to let Lizzie go and the match is over. Telling Johnny that he already showed she wasn’t on his level. Then Logan begins to tug on Johnny’s arm and Johnny lets go of the hold. He gets to his feet and gets nose to nose with Logan. The rage that built up in Johnny throughout the match, visibly seething on his face as he stares dead into the eyes of Logan.


    Before things get even more heated between the two and satisfied that Johnny let go of Lizzie. Logan backs away from Johnny. Logan jumps out of the ring and as he hits the floor he looks back up to Johnny, who just starts to laughs. Johnny looks back over his shoulder at Lizzie, as at the moment the ref is huddled over her checking on her. The laughing stops and Johnny then turns back around to Lizzie. He pushes the ref out of the way and picks Lizzie back up. He gets her in a front face headlock. Johnny then turns around to make sure he is facing Logan as he is about to do what he’s about to do. With a disgusting look on his face, Johnny be….


    Rod Sterling: It’s Reagan Cole!




    The crowd roars in cheers. Just at that moment before Johnny can do any more damage Reagan Cole charges down the ramp and slides into the ring. But before Reagan can get his hands on Johnny, Johnny has already disengaged with Lizzie and has slid to the outside of the ring. Reagan stands in the ring, between Lizzie and the side of the ring Johnny is standing at. Reagan is waving Johnny to come back in the ring and get some action. Johnny just starts to laugh once again and makes a motion with both of his hands as if saying, “it’s not worth the energy”. Johnny then makes his way towards the ramp. Reagan not leaving his eyes off of Johnny. But once Johnny is making his way up the ramp, Reagan then takes to checking on Lizzie. Also, Logan slides back into the ring and also checks on Lizzie. And you can tell there is no remorse as Johnny laughs to himself as he makes his way back up the ramp.


    -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------




    Meltdown 5 has ended. We are now backstage in an undisclosed hallway within Cairo International Stadium. Johnny Johnson is pacing back and forth, he looks like he’s slightly muttering to himself. The emotion on his face switching back and forth from agitation to slight laughter. He stops pacing for a second and looks forward into a camera that he himself has put in front of him.


    Johnny Johnson: Reagan FREAKING Cole. So what was it? Was it the softness of that little bitches’ hand as she held yours after triumphantly saving your ass last week?


    Johnny laughs a little bit. The laugh is quickly faded into angst, however.


    Johnny Johnson: Or what? Did she take you back to some hotel and let you have a taste of that honey pot between her legs? All I know is that it sure seems you two have one thing in common. You both like to stick your nose where it doesn’t fucking belong.
    What made you do it this week Reagan? Have a little crush on lil Lizzie Rose? I mean I can’t fault you for that, I imagine with that shitty little kid you have that aren’t seeing too many pretty ladies in between your sheets.
    Speaking of being a shitty father, I can’t for the life of me why Logan Darwin keeps trying to protect you Cole. I constantly try to get through his head that he needs to stop being the good guy. That he needs to stop sticking up for losers, such as yourself Cole. Being one of the sheep doesn’t get you anywhere in this damn life.
    Johnny then starts to get irritated even more and pulls both of his hands behind his head before releasing them and a huge sigh with them.


    Johnny Johnson: I just don’t get it. Logan, if you’re listening to this, and I know you are. You need to stop. Stop being a part of the conformed flock. It hasn’t given you a damn thing in this life but more bones were broken in your body than you have years on this planet. Being part of these low-life commoners has only made you an old man begging to be put out of his misery. If you’re going to be in my corner, you can’t be that person Logan. It is time for you to evolve Logan.


    This leads me to my next point. Lights Out is upon us. Since you see fit in trying to still stick your nose in my business Reagan, let’s do this dance one more time. To answer the question you’re going to have, sure Logan will be in my corner there. I would say the two of us would face you and your partner, but it appears that I might have broken your favorite toy a little bit while in that ring tonight. Sure, if you find someone that has a death wish, just like you seem to. Bring them to Lights Out. Legend Evolved will mop the floor with both of you, no matter what loser you get in your corner. If you can’t find anyone, that’s perfectly acceptable, we’ll just make it you and me in that ring. It is Lights Out though, right? And man, every fiber in my body at the thought I just had. If you can’t find yourself a partner. The Legend will face Reagan Cole in a no DQ match.

    You better put your big boy pants on now Reagan. You better find yourself someone desperate enough to be on your side. Cause if you don’t, the last thing your little brat will see is your bloody corpse as I leave it lying in the middle of that ring in Tokyo, Japan. And I will just stand there basking in my glory, spit on your corpse and finally move on from the pesky knat that you are.


    And with that Johnny moves towards the camera, reaches out, and shuts the camera off.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    It is now the present day, two weeks before Light’s Out occurs in Tokoyo, Japan. Keagan Role and long time trainer, Thomas Mayhem are at Thomas’ home in a small town in California. The two of them are on the back porch of Thomas’ home. You can tell Keagan is extremely frustrated, but why has yet to be revealed.


    Keagan: What do you mean, “more focused”? How can I be more focused after losing the Gaunlet Championship?


    Thomas waves his hands in front of Keagan as if trying to distract Keagan from his focus on the Gaunlet Championship.


    Thomas: You once were Gauntlet Champion. You must now apply more focus to what you want next. Leave the past in the past, Keaganson.


    Thomas turns around and grabs a big piece of lumber that was leaning on part of the railing to Thomas’ porch. Thomas then slides the board on the outside of the railing of the porch against a frame of a fence. Thomas grabs a hammer and a few nails that are setting on the porch railing. He lines up the nail to where he wants to hammer it and drives the nail completely through the board in one hit of the hammer. He turns back to Keagan, making sure Keagan is focusing on the nails and hammer in his hands.


    Thomas: See Keaganson, you must learn to apply more focus now. The past is in the past, all that you need to see is what is in your future.


    Thomas then pushes the hammer and nails towards Keagan as if to tell him to grab them.


    Thomas: Now you. More focus Keaganson.


    Reluctant at first, as Keagan is clearly not seeing how hammering a nail into a board will make him focus more, he grabs the hammer and nails from Thomas. He then goes over to the board that Thomas previously drove a nail through. He lines a nail up into the board, holds up the hammer, and then hits the nail through the board on one hit, just like Thomas. Keagan turns to Thomas as if to gain some approval. Thomas is wearing a slight grin as if to say, “told you so” and that he is happy to see Keagan leave even a little bit of his past behind him.


    Just then on the steps of Thomas’ back porch walks up a mailman.


    Mailman: Excuse me, is there a Mr. Thomas Meham?


    Keagan: That’s Mr. Mayhem.


    Keagan fires back to protect the honor of his teacher. The mailman was obviously frustrated at the perception that he was being rude by mispronouncing Thomas’ name. He fumbles back on his words.


    Mailman: Sorry, Mr. Thomas Mayhem. Letter for you sir.


    The mailman then holds out the envelope address to Thomas. Thomas accepts the envelope. As the mailman hands it to him the mailman then heads out. Thomas looking down at the letter has a worried and questioning look, not sure what to make of the return address on the envelope. Keagan, sensing the worry from Thomas is quick to show concern.


    Keagan: What’s the matter, Thomas?


    Lost in what could possibly be contained within the envelope, Thomas starts to open up the envelope and pulls the letter out from it. He then begins to step off of his porch and walk into his backward, reading the letter, with Keagan still in tow.

    Keagan: What is it, Thomas?


    Thomas: Letter from an old friend, Lizzie Rose. She says my father is very ill and wants me to come to Okinawa, Japan to see him.


    Keagan: That’s terrible, then we must go, teacher.


    Thomas: - Ah, I must go. But what about your training, Keaganson. You have many great battles to train for in your near future.


    Keagan not completely happy with his teacher’s response begins to plead with Thomas.


    Keagan: Please Mr. Mayhem, you gotta let me go. There is no training without you. You are so important to me, I gotta go!


    Thomas turns to Keagan, setting a hand on the one shoulder of Keagan’, somberness in his eyes.


    Thomas: Me not think a very good idea for you to go. But like you say, I am your trainer. If you must train then I see no better plan than you to come with. Be here tomorrow Keaganson at six in the morning. We got then.


    Keagan jumps up in excitement and a slight smile can be seen on Thomas’ face, even if it is still full of somberness.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Keagan and Thomas are now on the plane ride to find their way to Okinawa, Japan. Thomas is reading a book as Keagan is staring out the window of the plane, head on a pillow, obviously attempting to sleep.


    Keagan: Mr. Mayhem, everything you have taught me over these years, the one thing you have mostly kept a secret was your father.


    Thomas not deterred by the question continues to read through his book.


    Thomas: Aye.


    Keagan: Well, why is that? Was your father a bad man?


    Thomas continues to flip through the pages as he answers Keagan’s questions.


    Thomas:The story of my father is a very difficult one. He wanted me to be better than a wrestler.


    Keagan: But you said you were trained by your father.


    Thomas: Aye


    Keagan lifts his head up off of his pillow and then turns towards Thomas, a confused look on his face.


    Keagan: If your father trained you to be a wrestler, how did he expect you to be something other than a wrestler?


    Thomas finally sets the book he was reading down into his lap and removes his reading glasses from his face.


    Thomas: You see Keagenson, my father he had two students. Myself and my old friend Dogan Larwin. Despite all of the training, all of the blood, all of the sweat that I poured for my father over the years the only one of us he said would be a great wrestler was Dogan.


    Keagan: Didn’t that put a strain on your’s and Dogan’s friendship though?


    Thomas: Not at first. Remember we were very young. We were being trained in something the two of us loved to do. It was like you and those video games. If you could grab a friend and just be trained in video gameplay, there would be nothing else more enjoyable for you. You would be in heavenly bliss, you and your friend.


    Keagan: I understand, but what happened with this Dogan friend of yours? You mention him less than you even mention your father.


    Thomas: Aye.


    A sad look crosses Thomas’ face as he is forced to remember a past that he very infrequently does.


    Keagan: So what happened then?


    Thomas: It was not my father that made and Dogan run adrift. There was a girl that we both had eyes for, her name was Alana Allure. You see, she only had those feelings for me. But Logan came from a rich family so he thought he deserved her affection based on that merit more than anything. Especially since I came from very humble beginnings.


    Keagan: So what happened from there? Why didn’t you just tell Dogan to pound sand?


    Thomas lets out a small chuckle at Keagan’s remark.


    Thomas: See, Keagan. Like I said my father didn’t always see me as the apple of his eye. He would tell me and Dogan all the time that Dogan was the greater of the two of us. If you keep hearing this, especially from your father of all people, you begin to think it’s the only thing that there is to believe. This is what happened to me. This is what happened with me and Dogan. This is what happened with me and Alana.


    Keagan: But how did you just give up all three, especially Dogan and Alana when they weren’t telling you at all.


    Thomas: Sure, to begin with, Dogan was supportive of me wanting to be with Alana. However, with time grew his affection for Alana as well. So much so that he would resent me because of her wanting to be with me. I thought the world of Dogan, despite what feelings started to evolve in his mind for me. I couldn’t blame him for wanting to be with Alana. I couldn’t blame him for being the better wrestler, in my father’s eyes. So in order for all others to be happy, I left. I come out to California to start over. I believed in my heart that there was no one better than me at my skill and that I would be able to overcome anything thrown at me, even if I was on my own. So I packed up and left.


    Keagan looks a little perplexed. As if trying to wade through the story that Thomas just told him, but to also figure out what exactly he thinks of all the characters in his teacher’s story, including his teacher.


    Keagan: Do you regret it?


    Thomas turns towards Keagan and places a hand on his knee.


    Thomas: Ah, Keaganson. I can see the confusion in your eyes. Was it the right thing to leave or was it to stay? I do not know. There really is no way for me to know the correct answer to that question. I do know that I did become successful and looking back and regretting any of it would just be like pissing in the wind. Keaganson, we have many hours still on this flight. If you still have questions after we arrive I will answer them. But for now, let us rest.


    And with that Thomas leans back in his seat and closes his eyes. Still a little confused from the unanswered questions in his teacher’s story, Keagan stares out into the night sky through the plane window and thinks through it all.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Thomas and Keagan have arrived at Okinawa, Japan’s airport. They have made their way to the taxi pick-up area on the outside. Both looking for a taxi that they can get into. Just then a young man, a stranger to both Keagan and Thomas, comes up and greets them with a smile.


    Young Man: Welcome to Okinawa, Mr. Mayhem.


    A little confused at the young man knowing his name, Thomas looks at the young man a little confused. Sensing such the young man tries to assure Thomas.


    Young Man: Sorry, I am Johnny Johnson. Your friend Lizzie Rose sent me to pick you up from the airport. Please my car is this way.


    Johnny motions a hand over to a black sedan parked, waiting in the taxi area. Johnny begins to walk towards the sedan. Taking the hint Thomas and Reagan follow behind. As they make their way to the car Johnny pops open the trunk. Keagan is the first to put his luggage in the trunk, and Thomas follows suit.


    Thomas: Johnny this is my student, Keagan Role. He is a very good student.


    Johnny looks at Keagan with a little bit of a smirk as he extends his hand towards Keagan.


    Johnny: You great wrestling student?


    Keagan flashes Johnny a smile, not picking up on the fact that Johnny is being a condescending asshole. Keagan extends his hand and the two shake. As they do Johnny crushes the hand of Keagan and now you can see on his face, Keagan is aware of just where he and Johnny sit with each out. Johnny then opens the back door motioning for the two of them to get into the car.


    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    The three of them arrive at an abandoned warehouse. Johnny drives the car inside. He gets out of the car and begins to scream for Keagan and Thomas to get out right away. Johnny has already opened the trunk of the car, reached inside for their bags, and throwing them to the ground. Keagan and Thomas have both now exited the car, very confused at what in the world is happening now. Just then you can hear a door slam shut from back in the warehouse and out steps Dogan Larwin. Keagan still looking confused, however, Thomas now understands what is happening. Dogan walks right over to the duo with an angry demeanor. Before he even speaks he spits at the feet of Thomas.


    Dogan: You dare show up to this place, you coward?!


    Thomas: Dogan, I’m just here to pay my respects to my father, as he is very ill.


    Even more furious Dogan fires back.


    Dogan: I’m aware you fool, unlike his cowardly son, I stayed with your father. I learned to be as great of a man as he was. You however are too late. My teacher is dead! He died peacefully in his sleep last night. Because of your cowardice, you couldn’t even see your father on his death bed. You don’t deserve to even breathe the air that I am breathing. And now I must do my teacher one last favor. Thomas! I challenge you to a deathmatch!


    Thomas hears Dogan’s challenge, however, does not look at all moved by it.


    Thomas: I will not fight you Dogan. I have no reason to fight you. All of this hatred has made your heart cold. Mine is not and because of that I know I should and will not fight you in a death match.


    Dogan looks absolutely furious, but then Johnny steps to the side of him with a cocky smirk on his face.


    Johnny: If this coward will not fight, father, what if his little girly student takes his place. And I take your place father, and I do what needs to be done.


    Johnny then moves towards Keagan and gets right in his face. Keagan without even thinking blurts out.


    Keagan: I’ll do it.


    The emotion in Thomas’ face changes dramatically for the first as Keagan seals his fate.


    Thomas: I will not have this!


    Dogan then laughs out loud in a maniacal manner.


    Dogan: You have no choice, old man. You are in a faraway land, you have no friends here, you have no allies whatsoever. You will face me or my son will fight your student! You decide you, coward.


    Johnny laughs right in the face of Keagan.


    Johnny: I hope you know what you just did silly boy. You sealed your own fate. Not only that but now your teacher will have to suffer through two deaths this week. You were a fool to accept this challenge. There is no way for you to come out of it alive.
    And with that, Johnny shoves Keagan away from him, turns away from him as Johnny and his father make their way into the black sedan and drive off. Leaving Keagan and Thomas to think about the challenge that has been set forth before them.

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