|We open to a black screen, the soft intro beginning to play.|
I thank you for all the lives you’ve led
Against the black backdrop, sparks begin to fly as a curved line begins to carve into the darkness in gold.
I thank you for every word you said
The carving continues along its path, straightening and curving again as it goes, beginning to form a familiar shape.
I thank you for walking away
The sparks stop as the rudimentary carving of the SHOOT Project helmet glows red-gold against the black background.
I THANK YOU
The screen flashes brilliant white, almost blinding to the naked eye.
I thank you for the promises you broke
We cut to the Mojave desert, outside of Las Vegas, the fabled Epicenter just barely visible in the distance.
For always watching, watching while I choke
We cut to the inside of the Epicenter the backstage halls empty. The camera transitions to a first person view, beginning to travel the halls.
I thank you for teaching me
The camera begins to move further on, through the curtains to the empty arena, the ring at the center. It is empty, pristine, untouched.
Yes, I thank you for your hurting
We move down the entrance ramp to the empty ring, and just as we reach it…
(I BITE DOWN) a little harder
The Unholy Cyber Army explodes out from a desert rock formation, the SHOOT Project World Tag Team Championships around their waists. Nate Robideau steps out just behind them, the calm to their fury.
(MY BLADES) a little sharper
We jump-cut to Jacob Mephisto crawling out of a desert canyon, the Sin City Championship hanging around his neck like some twisted medallion.
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow
We flash to Buck Dresden cradling the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship surrounded by darkness, a single spotlight shining down on his moment.
(STRIKE BACK) a little harder
Cut back to a completely packed Epicenter, pyro exploding all along the stage in shades of red and white.
(I SCREAM) a little louder
Back in the desert, Buck Dresden stands atop a mountain, the World Heavyweight Championship raised above his head defiantly.
My roots, my roots
Run deep into the hollow
We cut to a rotating shot of all three SHOOT Project championship belts against the darkness with the helmet logo carved into it.
I’m stronger than I ever knew
Fade back to the empty Epicenter, this shot taken from above.
I’m strong because of you
The scene flashes to a packed Epicenter, the lights flashing various colors, the atmosphere tense with excitement.
(I HIT BACK) a little louder
Jacob Mephisto snatches the Sin City Championship from the referee while standing on wobbly legs.
(FUCK YOU) a little harder
The Unholy Cyber Army raise the World Tag Team Championships high over their heads in victory, surrounded by the steel cage that became their playground.
My roots, my roots
Buck Dresden stands tall, covered in sweat, and hoists the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship in the air on the entrance ramp, ticker tape falling around him before we cut to the SHOOT Project helmet logo.
Run deep into the hollow…
We flash quickly, as the song fades, to the new number one contender to the World Heavyweight Championship, C.K. Butcher sitting in darkness with his head bowed. The glow of perhaps a campfire illuminates his face as he slowly looks up, a smirk forming on his lips before we abruptly cut to…
Revolution opens to the grizzly image of three men standing free, unrestricted. The Lord of the Flies, C.K. Butcher, dressed like a morbid king, a crown made of his mother’s skull and bones, a cape made of her burial gown, a scepter made of her fibia, stands in the center of his estranged brothers Alden, and Elvis. The giant Alden presses his right fist into the palm of his left hand and grinds it as if creating a powder of skin cells with a mammoth pestle and mortar. Elvis sandwiches his face between both hands and viciously rubs raw his putrid visage. The youngest Butcher smacks his head several times and stares at the camera like a hungry, sadistic hyena. Drool drips from the corners of Elvis’ crusted and cracked lips. The brothers wear their traditional garments, Alden in a stained tunic, and Elvis in tattered jean overalls.
They stand in front of a black curtain setup for future interviews throughout the evening, but these men don’t need an interviewer. Nobody dares come close. Nobody stands behind the camera. The Butchers stare into it, and at everyone who watches.
The Lord of the Flies slaps a blood stained piece of paper, irons it with his hand, and stretches it without tearing it apart. He flicks it a couple times with his finger, and then licks his lips.
C.K. Butcher: “It is with the proper consideration, and fairness, that your brothers, Alden and Elvis Butcher, will need no restraint until further notice. Thank you for your cooperation, and your patience is greatly appreciated. The SHOOT Project continues to thrive into a new decade, the third decade of its existence, and it is no surprise to the masses that our company faces pressure, and turmoil from within. This internal struggle, albeit in its infant stages, will be extinguished before it matures; we guarantee you that. We appreciate your choice to negotiate and extend the olive branch, but we will not need your help with any issues regarding the current conflict. The administrative structure will thrive during wartime with your support. Thank you for your time, and congratulations on your Redemption Rumble win!”
He stops reading and gives a quizzical look toward the camera. He crumbles the letter and then hands it over to Alden, the mountain he calls a brother.
C.K. Butcher: Sincerely, Joshua Johnson.
Alden immediately consumes the piece of paper and swallows it without taking a bite. C.K.’s brow furrows. He seems confused, or more-so disappointed.
C.K. Butcher: Sincerely. Sincerely. Sincerely? You don’t need our help? You’re sincerely mistaken, but we won’t debate that since we have a greater focus in our microcosmic sphere of influence. You do you. It is nice to know, however, that my brothers no longer need to be subjugated by the man. It’s a true testament to our society, today, when my brothers are held down for simply being themselves. A true testament to power, and fear. Regardless – my brothers are free. Don’t worry, Josh, we won’t kill anyone.
The sweat glistens on Alden’s dirty face, his eyes separated as far as God could stretch them, his jaw as square as a box, and his stringy hair shade his eyes. He pounds his fist into his hand so hard that the camera shakes. His voice is deep, hollow, as if a didgeridoo could speak.
Alden Butcher: We will HURT them.
Elvis Butcher: Ye-ye-YEAH! Reh-reh-rerrrrrrr….
Alden continues to stare into the camera, and grinds his knuckles into the palm of his hand. The Lord peers over his left shoulder at his youngest sibling smacking himself in the face three times. Elvis viciously rubs his face, then quickly widens his eyes, smiles, and pushes out a response like the whistling of a tea kettle at it’s increased boil…
Elvis Butcher: …REAL BAD!
The elder Butcher turns back to the camera with a comfortable half-smirk.
C.K. Butcher: I made a sacrifice at Revolution 145 en route toward our greater goal. I laid down my guard. I weakened… for the moment. I took every shot that Nate Robideau gave. I ate every single punch, stretch, kick, and slam. Then…dogshank. I asked for it. I got it. I blacked out. The pain was OUTSTANDING! I loved it. It hurt so good. It felt…soooo…right. I could have laid in that position…forever. Embraced. Decimated at the hands of a murderer. Instead…he weakened. He put in every ounce of physical labor necessary to wrap me up, but he couldn’t finish the damn job. I applaud him. He did the noble thing, not to be mistaken for weakness. He took the win and walked away...well…he ran away. He and I have a long way to go before settling the score. Now that I know what it’s like to endure Nate Robideau – he will soon know what it’s like to endure C.K. Butcher. The Lord of the Flies. YOUR LORD KING GOD. But…not tonight.
C.K. Butcher: No, tonight is all about teamwork. Tonight is all about showcasing the battle of Revolution 146. Like the Battle of the Bulge, or Midway, this is simply a fragment toward spoils of war. The Blue Ridge Butchers, led by the Lord of the Flies, against the Unholy Cyber Army, led by their Blackhawk, Nate Robideau; The Battle of Revolution 146. Blackhawk down.
C.K. Butcher: Attrition is such a beautiful word, and you’re absolutely a poet for bringing it to my attention. I’ve said it before: you see right through me. But, screw that. You’ll never wear me down; my charisma is too damn definitive for that. You will need to kill me. If you can’t then I’m going to reveal what Nate Robideau truly is. Kill me, or come to terms. That’s simply up to you. Simply. I say that as if it’s easy trying to hide the darkest secret a man conceals. I wouldn’t know. I don’t have any dark secrets of my own. Only yours. I am proud of who I am, no secrets necessary. That’s who I am, ladies and gentlemen. I am what you see. I am what you hear. I am…what I am. Call me a lizard? You’re right. I’m vile. Reptilian. I’m a snake. I’m disgusting. I’m maggots eating a grizzly, cavernous wound. I am wretched, fowl, grotesque; I am a monster, a pile of horse shit, ...a loser. That’s far better than being a liar. Think about THAT, Mr. Robideau. Chew on it. Feel the fat of your lie bounce around your molars and get stuck between your teeth; dig deep into your gums. Need a toothpick? Then tell the fucking truth, you bitch.
Alden Butcher tilts his head back and lets out a ridiculously loud roar, similar to that of the great grizzly bear, or a mythic ogre dead set on destruction. Elvis Butcher begins laughing like a lunatic in heat, with his head arched back to present his disgustingly twisted teeth. Then there’s C.K. Butcher, calm, collected, a cocky grin from ear to ear, and an emptiness in his eyes as if he has nothing left to lose.
C.K. Butcher: I await your embrace. We…await your embrace. Now that we’re…free…may the battle begin…
He creates the sign of the crucifix with his right hand, the offset crosshairs.
C.K. Butcher: The Lord says FUCK your amen…
The Lord quickly leaves the scene with his tattered cape following behind him. Elvis shakes and rattles behind his older brother like the follower that he is, but Alden does not move. He seems patient. His eyes are dialed in; calculated. His jaw muscles moving like the gears of a complex machine. His knuckles still grind into the palm of his hand. His breathing is methodically slow, and that’s all you hear. Breathe in, and out; deep and hollow. The scene fades to Revolution’s first match of the night, featuring the Butcher trio itself…
The Unholy Cyber Army Vs. The Blue Ridge Butchers
The crowd’s electric excitement turns to dread, to fear, to anger at the familiar crackle of vinyl and the mournful guitar of Skip James…
You know them people are driftin’, from door to door
But you can’t find no heaven, don’t care where they go
Emerging from the entrance is not the familiar sight of Charlie Jay Hitchens—but instead, a grouping of six men. The wrinkled, dusty clothes and worn gloves mark them as laborers, their faces turned leathery by the sun, their eyes narrow in the lights of the arena. They are navigating a familiar shipping crate, easily larger than a refrigerator, down the ramp on a large industrial flat dolly. Behind them, walking with her grim solemnity, finally emerges Charlie Jay Hitchens. The crowd buzzes, booing readily, but with an undercurrent of confusion. The men reach the side of the ring and hoist the massive box onto the apron. Two of them clamber up, holding the bottom rope upward to the others can shove it across the mat. Charlie begins to make her way down as the men clamber into the ring.
Eryk Masters: Charlie Jay Hitchens here, maybe to answer some questions?
Other Guy: Or to just confuse us even more! She’s been hauling that box around for weeks now, right?
She rolls into the ring as the workers take prybars to the crate, cracking it open. We can’t see what is inside, but as two of them work the corners with a mighty pull, the sides of the box fall open to reveal…
Eryk Masters: A coffin?!
Still coated in mud and sod, a beautiful coffin. The men—more pallbearers, really—lift it and arrange it standing in the corner against the turnbuckles, the mat becoming coated with grime.
You say you had money, you better be sure
Lord these hard times gonna kill you, drag on so slow
The song fades, and, armed with a microphone, Charlie takes off her hat. The men do as well. The crowd is, at this point, sitting in relative silence, a low din of conversation rather than an outright reaction.
CJH: “Remember him. Before the silver cord is severed, and the golden bowl is broken—before the pitcher is shattered in the spring, and the wheel broken at the well. The dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God, who gave it.”
CJH: Amen. We are gathered, of course, to mourn. Because this man was never afforded proper mourning. Even in death, his memory is used to justify the worst impulses of a man with real sickness in his bones. For what is violence without purpose, what is blood shed to do nothin’ but satisfy your own pride and vanity?
She strides over to the coffin, scanning the crowd.
CJH: Took me a month of Sundays just to bring this here. So that you could know peace, my friend. So that you could help your brother be healed and see the warm light of God’s embrace. All that you gave him, all the ways in which you tried to teach him, and he has done what with it? Squandered it all. For nothing. Cheap metal riveted to cheap cowhide on the backs of those he calls family, with us still and in His kingdom alike. “If an enemy were insulting me, I could endure it. If a foe were rising against me, I could hide. But it is you, my brother, with whom I once enjoyed sweet fellowship in the house of God”.
She looks to the rafters.
CJH: We are gathered to say goodbye to Charles Brandon Magnus.
At this the crowd explodes into boos—which quicker than anything switch over to massive pop as Buck Dresden is making his way down the ramp!
Eryk Masters: No music, no videos, no preamble—The World Champion is here to put a stop to this sickening display!
Buck drops the belt and slides into the ring, only to be met by the six pallbearers. None of them make a move to attack him, but they block his path long enough for Charlie to roll out of the ring. They part and begin to exit wordlessly, leaving Buck alone in the ring with the casket. He looks to Charlie, eyes unblinking, then to the coffin, his eyes absolutely livid. He considers both, then walks across the mud and dirt to the casket itself, his brow furrowed, his hands trembling, rage filled fists.
With an unsteady hand, Buck touches the casket, almost as if he’s making sure it is real. He pauses for a moment, his eyes betraying how anguished he is. The crowd buzzes as he takes a moment to think, closing his eyes briefly. Finally, he opens his eyes and throws the lid of the casket open—to reveal a Bad Ass Brotherhood hat and shirt! Looking over the contents with confusion, he hears the vibe of crowd change to screams and attempts to turn—only to get BLINDSIDED across the SKULL by Charlie Jay Hitchens with a ball-peen hammer!!
Eryk Masters: He’s not even fully healed yet!!
Sprawled across the coffin, Buck finds his legs and tries to push himself to standing, his limbs shaky. Charlie calmly kicks his left leg out from under him, causing him to grip onto the coffin to regain his footing. She holds the hammer high, catching the light of the arena, and to an almost deafening wall of booing and outright screaming…BRINGS THE HAMMER DOWN AGAIN!! Buck stalls for a moment, but he gets his hands under his body and starts pushing himself up!! Charlie grabs him by the collar and hauls him backwards until he lands on his knees. She keeps her grip, and as the champion attempts to claw at her, she lines up her shot with no mirth or enjoyment etched in her face. Rearing back, she SLUGS him in the back of the head ONCE—TWICE—and Buck finally goes limp!! She casually tosses the hammer to the mat, spattering blood on the pristine white of the SHOOT Project logo, and considers the crumpled man at her feet.
Other Guy: Jesus!!
Eryk Masters: Get Grimaldi, get anyone the fuck out here! I know we’re live, I said what I said!!
As casually as one would lift a sack of mulch, Charlie shoulders the lifeless form of Buck Dresden, kicks open the bottom section of the coffin, and lays him in it!! The crowd is furious as she closes the lid and begins dragging it to the edge of the apron, whistling and pointing to the now mortified looking graveyard workers. As they busy themselves with getting the casket through the ropes and onto the dolly, Charlie walks over to the ramp and picks up the discarded World Title. As they begin wheeling it up the ramp, she stops them just shy of the entrance, her eyes scanning the crowd, then regarding the title belt in her bloody hand. She throws open the lid, lays the belt down over the champion, and slams it shut with authority—then simply leads the funeral procession out of sight, leaving the fate of the man unknown.
The current reigning, defending, undefeated, unconquerable, Iron Fist Champion, Arthur Pleasant.
This triumvirate of terror that have been making their mark on the ever chaotic landscape of the SHOOT Project for the last several weeks are all making their way down to Gorilla when an armed security team greets them. Adorned in riot gear and the works, they lock eyes with all three members of The Collective. Milton nods at the five or six security guards, and then his eyes rest on those of SHOOT’s head of security, Lou Grimaldi, right in the middle of them all.
Milton: Gentlemen. Lou.
He pauses. Sizing the situation up, Milton chuckles, clearly amused at the lengths being taken. Scratching the scar tissue on his face, Milton continues.
Milton: To what do we owe the honor of your presence, hm?
Lou looks to the left at one of the taller looking security guards. Easily six-foot-seven-ish. He looks to the right at a much shorter guard, who has arms that were nearly bigger than Lou’s head.
Lou Grimaldi: You know why.
Milton: No really, enlighten us. We’re all just dying to hear this one.
Arthur, meanwhile, looks absolutely nonplussed over the whole situation. Adjusting the old Iron Fist Championship on his shoulder, he stomps his foot like a kid who got told “no” from a scolding Father.
Arthur Pleasant: But, why Lou? WHY!? D-don’t you w-want to be f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-f-FRIIIIIIIENDS!?
Arthur mock-sobs in place, rubbing his eyes together as Milton places a hand on Arthur’s shoulder. He hushes him. Soothingly so.
Milton: Easy, Arthur. Let’s not play into their little game. Sometimes, you need to let them simply have one. After all, you did beat up a Father and held his son captive on a live wrestling program! Oh, the atrocity!
They all chuckle at this. Even one of the security guards, who receives an elbow to the side from one of his squad members. Under the riot helmet, he probably mouthed “Sorry!”.
Milton: See, THAT guy gets it! So, lest we forget the horrible and unforgivable transgressions we have committed thus far, Arthur, this man is simply doing his job. I’m pretty sure Josh Johnson, our fearless (if not legless) leader has been receiving calls from AmeriTrust all day and night. Isn’t that right, Louis!? I can… call you Louis, can’t I?
Milton draws closer, and the armed guards all reach for their riot batons like a row of sentient robots being uploaded an .exe from command central.
Milton: Now, now. I just wanted to get a little closer. My eyesight isn’t as good as it once was. Being burned alive on more than one occasion will do that to a person. Heh.
They don’t even flinch. Not a muscle. One could easily tell that Lou gave this group of armed guards the proper rundown and more than adequately prepared them for this precise moment in the show.
Arthur Pleasant steps forward.
Arthur Pleasant: BOO!
They all withdraw their batons, which garners a sick laugh from the Provocateur.
Arthur Pleasant: Hahahahahaha. CUNTS.
Again, Milton places his arm on Arthur.
Milton: Relax. We don’t need to be hospitalized before completing our masterpiece, do we?
Arthur Pleasant: I guess not. Besides, SHOOT would collapse if they inadvertently put their GREATEST IRON FIST CHAMPION THAT HAS EVER LIVED in the hospital. Imagine the down revenue in live event attendance and merchandise! Hoo-boy!
After staring at the row of fine looking muscular men + Lou standing in front of her, Addy cannot contain her usual lustful advances any longer.
Adelaide Ainsworth: Ya want me ta suck ya fuckin’ dick, Lou? Or maybe theirs? Or maybe all of ya’s? Is that it!?
Addy, as explicitly horny and unhinged as ever, licks her lips and winks at the security guard on the end who laughed earlier.
Adelaide Ainsworth: I’m sure we can find a maintenance closet somewhere ’round ‘ere. Ya borin’, prude little fuckin’ naive wives will thank me.
Lou, rattled by the sexual advances, sighs.
Lou Grimaldi: Thanks, Ma’am, but I’ll pass. We’ll all pass, actually.
Looking back at Milton, Lou rubs his temples.
Lou Grimaldi: Look, you know what I’m about to say, but I’ll say it anyway so that the rest of your… group… can hear it out loud. I need all three of you to exit the premises. We have been instructed to use force if necessary. Please don’t let it come down to that. We really don’t want to cause talent from this roster to be on the shelf for ANY period of time. You understand me?
Arthur Pleasant: That’s assuming we don’t put all of you fucking clowns down first. You understand… me? My darling Louie? I’m not the GREATEST IRON FIST CHAMPION THAT HAS EVER LIVED for no reason!
Lou doesn’t think twice about it.
Lou Grimaldi: Boys, escort these three out of the building. You have been granted permission to use force if necessary.
Milton: Et, tuh, tuh, tuh, tuh… no need, Lou. We’ll be on our way.
He whispers in Arthur’s ear.
Milton: Discretion is the better part of valor.
Arthur Pleasant: Indeed. Spongebob always had the best quotes.
Chuckling, Milton led Arthur and Addy away from the security team. Looking back, Addy motioned “Call me!”, to the guard at the end. Arthur looked back at Lou and began the ten-count in somewhat of a sing-song voice. Simultaneously, he makes the hand gesture of a gun popping off with his fingers aimed directly at SHOOT’s Head of Security.
Arthur Pleasant: One… Two… TEEEEEEEEENNNNNNN!! Hashtag, ANNNNNND STILL…YOUR… GREATEST… Iron Fist Champion… that has ever lived.
As The Collective draws more and more of a distance between them, Lou breathes a sigh of relief. He then motions for the team to be at ease.
Lou Grimaldi: Well, that went a lot better than I thought it would.
Devan Derbyshire Vs. Adelaide Ainsworth
We are following a man walking—his gait is somewhat stilted; the pace of old injuries having caught up. The Italian leather shoes, the pinstriped suit with the Versace break, the burly physique. A man with the solidity of a retired athlete. As he turns a corner, the details all fall into place. Gold pocket square. Silk tie, Windsor knot. The beard and the smirking, sunbaked face.
“Mr. PPV” Eddie E.
He’s somewhere deep in the bowels of the Epicenter, where pipes and electrical lines lay exposed like the building’s own veins and nerves. His head is on a swivel, looking for something, but not finding it.
Eddie E: C’mon you fuckers…I know you’re about…
He continues walking and stops short at a storage door with lights peeking out from under it. Taking a long moment, he pinches the bridge of his nose and takes a deep breath. Preparing himself. Another breath, and he throws open the door—to show the New Vanguard. Void stands, dwarfing his associates Avarice and Malice. All three step forward, effectively blocking the entranceway. Their stances show no hint of action, no bad intent, and not an ounce of fear. Eddie meets every gaze with his own, then waves his hand dismissively.
Eddie E: Scatter gents, scatter. I’m not here to fuckin’ try some hero play, so sheathe the metaphorical knives, yeah? You know I’m here to talk to one person.
After a long staredown, Void steps back, opening a line of sight to the man himself, Scion. Sitting in a chair and idly stretching his neck, Real Deal’s son looks content, if bored.
Eddie E: You, kid.
Scion: Yeah, me.
The older man steps into the room, gathering a folding chair and setting it down. Slowly, he eases himself into it, undoing the front button of his suit jacket and settling himself.
Eddie E: Yeah, normally I’d stand, but you know how a bum knee can do you in. Especially with my sciatica flareups. Doctor says I need to lose a few more pounds, but try as I might, turns out I’m the kind of man needs to have a vice, yeah?
Scion: So, did you come here to talk about how broken down you are, or did you have a point?
Eddie E: A Point? Yeah. A point.
He retrieves from his breast pocket a gold cigarette case, then a gold Zippo. With a practiced motion he retrieves a Nat Sherman and ignites it, taking a deep drag as he puts the accoutrements back in the pocket. Exhaling a cloud, his shoulders relax a little.
Eddie E: I trust you don’t mind. About fuckin’ impossible to get one in these days. But you were asking about my point.
He lays a look on Scion that could crumble buildings. A hard glare.
Eddie E: Stop this.
The younger man slaps his knee in an exaggerated motion.
Scion: Ah ha ha. Ha ha. Ha. You’re not serious, right? Oh my god, you are?! That’s even funnier!
Eddie E: Yeah, right hilarious. But you know that this doesn’t end well for anyone, right? You’re acting a chief and you have your merry band and you think you’ll just, what, destroy everything? Four kids in masks are gonna undo SHOOT? This company is a fuckin’ cockroach. Nuclear winter’ll come and go and it’ll still be around. It’s a silly goal, but what’s more? It isn’t what I trained you to do. You came to me, right? You said you wanted to prove you could be every bit the superstar your dad was. Said you wanted to carry on his legacy. That’s the only reason I worked myself to the bone showing you the ins and the outs.
He takes another mighty drag and jabs his finger in Johnson’s direction.
Eddie E: You know who else I’ve trained? Fuckin’ no one. ‘Cause I saw something in you. And this is what you choose to do with everything I passed down?
Scion: What did you expect, you stupid old man? That I’d just be grateful and go about my business, be the seeds in the garden of the SHOOT Project and grow the brand, try to exist inside of my da- the Real Deal’s- shadow without doing anything to make myself stand out? Are you kidding me? Are you sitting here, in front of me, really telling me that you are SURPRISED by this?
He stands up just so he can look down at Eddie E. It’s poignant and it’s deliberate.
Scion: I feel like you… the REAL you… not the bum knee, suit version of you… would understand what’s happening here. This is right up your alley, right? This is what Eddie E. did! This is what the Real Deal did! From CWC to the SHOOT Project, this was your JAM, man. You lived for this kind of stuff. You know that people out there think that you’re the one that’s behind all of this, but we all know better, obviously.
He keeps looking down at Eddie E.
Scion: You’re pathetic. Unless you have something more valuable to say to me, I’m done here. That’s bad news for you, so I’d start thinking real long, and real hard about finding some relevant words to say.
The older man considers this for a moment. A long one. Finally he takes off his glasses, folding them and placing them in his suit pocket. He stands, his eyes meeting Scion’s. As he slowly drags from his cigarette, his gaze goes hard. No avuncular warmth. No charm. Just a brief glimpse of the skullcracker he once was. He smirks, but there’s no joy in it.
Eddie E: Think this is where I start begging, yeah? It ain’t. I’ve seen what every one of you nonces can do, and I knew I was risking something coming here. But I also know that somewhere underneath all this bullshit, the masks, the blood god talk, all that gleeful adolescent joy you get at sticking it to your old man…part of you knows this is wrong. Maybe not the rest of you, but you, kid. You know.
He drops his cigarette to the floor and snuffs it under his shoe.
Eddie E: Now I’m gonna walk out of here, right? Cause if I was gonna get my nut done in, one of you would have swung already.
Eddie turns his back to the men and begins to make his way back through the maze of piping that he found them in. Before he gets out of view he hears the clink of a pipe knocking against a few of the overhead pipes on it’s way towards him.
Eddie E: Malice…
Eddie turns around to Malice bringing a steel pipe down from above his head. Eddie gets his hands up, successfully blocking the trajectory of the pipe, bringing it down on his left leg as opposed to his head the target had aimed for. Eddie falls to one knee, looking for the rest of the Vanguard. They are not around.
Eddie E: I should’ve known it’d be you, boy. You’re every bit at hot-headed as that old man of yours. Funny how you still manage to resemble him, Eh? Well. Let’s get this done, then.
Eddie stands to face Malice, putting his fists up, and motioning for him to put the pipe down. For a brief moment, Malice contemplates tossing the pipe to the side before his eyes flash with sudden, blinding anger. He slides his arm to the left as if to indicate tossing the pipe to his side before bringing it back across his body and connecting with a sickening blow to the ribcage of Eddie E. Eddie falls backwards, immediately clutching his side, coughing in pain.
Malice: You were right about one thing, old man. I don’t know that this is wrong. This is exactly the way it was always supposed to be. I need you. I need you to draw him out. I need you to bleed so maybe he will come and face what Hell he has created.
Eddie tries to laugh for a second, but the pain causes a wince in his face. He coughs a few more times and looks up to his assailant.
Eddie E: You can do whatever you want, kid. There ain’t nothing in the world you can do to make that man do anything he isn’t ready to do. You and I both know that. You got your licks in. Now fuck off.
Malice looks towards Eddie. He contemplates his next move for a few moments, seeming to hesitate. After a few seconds, watching Eddie trying to get back to his feet, something inside of Malice snaps. He begins to furiously swing the pipe down on any exposed part of Eddie that he can find. The dull thud of metal against flesh hits from the surrounding pipes, dissipating into the air. Eddie grunts with every swing. Malice screams, his voice breaking into tears as the assault continues.
Malice: YOU DIDN’T SEE ANYTHING IN ME? YOU COULDN’T TRAIN ME WHEN I NEEDED IT? YOU JUST WATCHED ME FAIL, OVER AND OVER, JUST LIKE HE DID! I HAD TO LEARN EVERYTHING ON MY OWN WHILE THE TWO OF YOU FUCKED OFF!
With every swing of the pipe Eddie’s groans of pain became more and more faint. Suddenly, right as Malice was about to deliver one final blow, a hand reaches over the shoulder of Malice and grabs hold of the pipe. Scion stands behind him, shaking his head, as if to signal that this fight is over. Eddie lays, bloodied, bruised, but breathing. Malice drops the pipe to the ground with an echoing “ting.” He reaches down to the, now unconscious, Eddie E. He reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls the cigarette holder and Zippo. He removes a cigarette, lights it, then slides the accessories into his own pocket. The Vanguard begins to walk away, smoke trailing in a small line behind them. The camera begins to slowly pull in towards Eddie, fading out as it does.
Eryk Masters: Jesus! Someone get to the back and help Eddie E!
Other Guy: What in the blue hell is going ON around here?!
Stunna Girl’s “Runway” plays over the speakers. From behind the curtains a young woman emerges and begins to skip down the ramp, flipping her hair out of her face before she gets to the ring. She is wearing a pair of legging with a kitten face pattern adorning them and a white crop top with a light denim jacket and oversized hoop earrings. She bounces up the ring steps and learns into the ring between the bottom and middle rope. As she paces the ring, bouncing along to her entrance music, she gives a Queen’s wave to the fans on all four side of the ring. She leans backwards in all four corners of the rings, taking a selfie, making sure to get a wide shot of all of the fans behind her. She comes to a stop in the center of the ring, hits the record button, and begins to pan around in a circle, recording all of the fans.
Kennade Starr: That’s one for the TikTok!
She puts her phone into her pocket. She reaches into her jacket pocket and pulls out a bright pink microphone, adorned with several different colored jewels.
There is a small contingent of the crowd (five to six people) who know who this woman is. For their part, they are absolutely ERUPTING with cheers. They are all youngish women, dressed very similar to K Starr, and waving around autographed lithographs of her. K-Starr gives a bit of a giggle and points into their direction.
KStarr: Thank you to all of my StarrShines that showed up tonight. For all of you that wasn’t able to make it, you can check this special appearance out tonight. It’ll be uploaded to my official YouTube account right after the show goes off air! So what is ya gurl doing here tonight? I’ve been teasing this appearance on my insta and my Spitter for weeks now. So what does it all mean?
K Starr places her hand to her chin in a faux thinking pose.
KStarr: What it means is that since I’ve already taken over the world as a famous influencer, TikTok star, InstaCeleb, and Spitter Queen I’ve decided to try my beautifully crafted hands at something different. I’ve always loved wrestling. It’s so fun. Everyone gets to tell their stories, everyone gets to be a STAR! Tonight I benign m journey towards superStarrdom. Tonight I officially sign my contract with SHOOT Project to become the next face of SHOOT. Tonight I become a SHOOTingStarr!
Her five to six fans cheer enthusiastically, already wearing homemade KStarr SHOOT T-shirts that they had pulled from their bags.
KStarr: Just remember to all of my new and future fans. Don’t just sit there and watch everyone else have all of the fun. You too can be a part of my meteoric rise to superStarrdom. All it takes is a GlitterGold level membership in the StarrShines. For as little as 9.95 a month US, you too can take part in one of the hottest trends in the world of professional wrestling. Show the world that you two are a SuperStarr! Join today guys! Love you all!
KStarr begins to make her ways towards the rope as “Runway” begins to play again. Before she climbs out, she puts the mic to her face one more time.
K Starr begins to make her way down the ramp and back through the curtains as her music fades.
Scion Vs. NEMESIS
The lights dim, the flashes go, and the opening build to “Body Hammer” by Fear Factory hits, causing an eruption in the crowd that can mean only one thing: The arrival of the Unholy Cyber Army. They emerge from the back wearing their title belts, their movements a bit slow given the action they were a part of earlier in the evening—but they still raise their arms and slap hands with the crowd on the way to the ring, screaming all the while.
AS OF NOW, I AM A TOOL, OF SEVERE IMPACT
HAMMER DOWN, CAUSE AND EFFECT
AND CREATE A NEW WORLD…
They roll into the ring and each clamber to a corner, raising their arms and yelling out. A few smattered grouping in the crowd yell above the cheers with loud “WITNESS!” screams. At that, Power Devil and Superbeast bellow out an entirely unmic’d “WITNESS” of their own, to a fervor of appreciation from the crowd.
Eryk Masters: Fresh off the heels of an almost all out war against the Blue Ridge Butchers, the champions are returning with something on their minds, it seems!
Other Guy: Creatine and Mercyful Fate records, maybe?
Eryk Masters: OG, I don’t doubt that they’re gonna let us know!
With mics in hand, “Body Hammer” dies down, and Power Devil bellows to the rafters.
Power Devil: SHOOT Project!! Faithful, soldiers, viewers, timekeepers, road managers, catering staff, executive assistants, commentary team, facilities managers…
Power Devil: …are there not two among the lot of you prepared to attempt to take these titles from around our waists?
He slaps the plate of the belt as the crowd cheers. Then he tosses the mic to Superbeast, hadbutts him—hard—and his partner growls deep from his chest.
Superbeast: We told you to come from the woodwork and give chase! Are you cowards?! Make Championships Great Again?! Too busy attempting to destroy a single man because they found our combined might too overpowering!! Martial Law?! Silent!! The curs, the New Vanguard?! Fearful!! Good Job?! Ghosts!!
He clambers to the middle turnbuckle.
Superbeast: Do we stand the conquering kings alone atop our mountain? Or will you attempt to stake your claim to glory?
He leaps down as the crowd roars in approval, hauling off and giving Power Devil a gunshot of an overhead chop before handing him the microphone. Power Devil walks to the side of the ring facing the entrance, leading over the top rope. He takes a long moment, his hands lowered, then pantomimes listening with his hand cupped around his ear. He shakes his head.
Power Devil: I hear nothing! I see no one!! Speak up, jackals!! Surely SOMEONE wants a shot at immortality and an honorable defeat?!
As soon as he finishes the sentence, an airhorn pierces the silence, a loud “PEW-PEW-PEW-PEWWWWW” presaging the stage to light up. A pair of pyro shoot across from each other, the smoke making an X across the entranceway! Thin Lizzy’s “Bad Reputation” pumps through the speakers, and the crowd goes absolutely insane!
Eryk Masters: Is it? Can it? Could it be?
Four letters appear across the video screen:
OG: It is, Masters! Three-time SHOOT tag champs, former OPW tag champs, Long Island Hardcore is back in the Epicenter, and listen to the crowd!
Eryk Masters: LIHC hasn’t been seen as a unit in almost 4 years, OG, but they’re here apparently answering the Unholy Cyber Army’s challenge!
CJ Nelson and Jared Walsh step onto the stage, taking in the thunderous cheers from the crowd! Jared’s in a parody Three Wipo Moon t-shirt and lime green cargo pants, arms outstretched and spinning for the crowd’s attention! CJ stands straight, arms crossed, with his Sons of Fenris kutte, white tank, and dark blue jeans, an eyepatch over his left eye! A PA hands Jared and CJ microphones as the UCA stares intensely!
Jared Walsh: So… we heard there was a new set of champs here in SHOOT Project making a lot of waves, and we decided we had to see for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
CJ Nelson: And now that we’re here, lemme just say, bravo. If we’re being honest, you two are probably the most entertaining team to come through these halls since, what, the Flying Avengers, J?
Jared Walsh: Sounds about right.
CJ Nelson: And then we heard about this open challenge, this… “shot at immortality,” so to speak.
Jared Walsh: Don’t forget the “honorable defeat,” Ceej.
CJ Nelson: And it got us thinking, y’know? About what you really have to do to get that “immortality.” See, SHOOT Project has had its share of legendary tag teams. Instant Heat…
Jared Walsh: Hardcore Style…
CJ Nelson: The Beautiful People…
Jared Walsh: The Collins Brothers…
CJ Nelson: The Bad Ass Brotherhood…
Jared Walsh: And don’t get me wrong, you guys are great, but you’re not that kind of great. Ya just… don’t have the pedigree.
CJ Nelson: You want to be great? You’ve got to beat great.
Jared Walsh: Far be it from me to say that your last champions, Dan Stein and… that other guy, aren’t talented people. But for a team called “Make Championships Great Again,” they were a little… underwhelming.
CJ Nelson: You can’t stake your claim at being the greatest team to ever set foot in SHOOT without beating a truly amazing team.
Jared Walsh: And, uh, we’ve got just the team in mind. Multi-time champions who have faced some of the best this industry has ever seen. They’ve put on amazing, brutal, and innovative matches all across the world.
CJ Nelson: They’ve put their bodies on the line and aren’t afraid to be bowed or bleeding, but they ain’t never been broken.
Jared Walsh: And they’re extremely attractive and charismatic, if I do say so myself, Ceej.
CJ Nelson: I think you know where we’re going with this, right? That team is–
Jared Walsh: WITNESS!
CJ Nelson: –sneaking up behind you right now.
The crowd roars as Power Devil and Superbeast turn around– face to face with the Vice Squad! “The Deathmatch Debutante” Lou drives a chair into Power Devil’s gut, and as he doubles over she drives him to the mat (and the chair) with a Diamond Cutter! Jane Doe catches Superbeast off-guard with a somersault dropkick, sending him to the ropes! He bounces back, but Jane ducks a clothesline, tripping him up with a drop toe hold, and wrapping him in an STF! Before he can attempt to escape, Lou comes off the ropes as well, holding the chair, and driving it into his face with a dropkick! Jane breaks the hold, as Lou hops to her feet– Power Devil is back up, and he gives chase! Lou and Jane slide out of the ring, where LIHC has arrived, keeping Power Devil in check! Superbeast is dazed, but gets back to his feet! Lou and Jane take the microphones!
Lou: Made you look.
Jane Doe: Vice is back, baby. Time to add one more championship to the list.
Lou: We’re ready when you are, sweethearts.
The mammoths consider giving chase, but both pause for a moment. They stalk the ring, shaking off cobwebs, and finally pause and look at one another. Power Devil calls for a new mic and is tossed one, and he breathes heavily into the receiver.
Power Devil: Jackdaws!! To step into this ring and use the coyote’s own trickery…!!
Superbeast looks at his partner, murderous rage in his eyes. The look is returned, and they both turn to stare at the Vice Squad, daggers in their eyes. Finally…they break out into grins!! The crowd goes electric as they laugh heartily with one another. Superbeast throws his arm around his partners massive shoulder and bellows into the mic.
Superbeast: Finally! Next week, you curs will be left Bowed…
Power Devil: …Bleeding!!
The crowd joins in on the last one…
“Body Hammer” cues back up, and the Unholy Cyber Army climb to their corners raising their arms.
Other Guy: Talk about a dang bombshell! Vice Squad are here to strip those titles off of the Unholy Meathead Posse!
Eryk Masters: Folks you heard it here first, next week on Shut Up and Fight, the Unholy Cyber Army will put their titles on the line–no ducking a challenge with these guys!!
As the teams continue to jaw at one another, we cut away…
Johnny Patriot Vs. X-Calibur
Once “Church of Execution” hits, X-Calibur chuckles to himself and looks over at the fallen Johnny Patriot.
X-Calibur motions for a microphone which is then handed to him by Mark Kendrick. Breathing heavy from being seconds removed from his match, X speaks into the microphone.
X-Calibur: I… I need all of you to see something.
If you’re back there watching – which, I’m sure you are – I need you to see this. For that matter, I hope Boyd is with you too and you’re both seeing this. Because I’m SURE you’re both wondering why the hell you haven’t seen that big Russian bastard at all tonight.
Other Guy: You know, Yuri was conspicuous by his absence tonight during the match we just witnessed..
Eryk Masters: Wait, that’s right. Yuri is nowhere to be seen tonight! What’s up with that?
X-Calibur: So if you wouldn’t mind… take a gander at the SHOOTron, or Epitron, or VegasTron 6,000, or whatever the hell we’re calling it these days..
Other Guy: I think we’re about to find out.
Everyone looks out at the SHOOT Epitron.
EARLIER IN THE DAY…
Dan Stein, Boyd Walton, and Johnny Patriot all stand around in the backstage warehouse area of the SHOOT Project Epicenter while indecipherable words escape none other than Dan Stein. Meanwhile, behind them, the Russian Assassin himself, Yuri, sits on a wide yellow safety bollard in between a set of docking bay doors.
Yuri simply looks down at his hands, tightening up a pair of leather black gloves while Stein pats Boyd and Patriot on the backs. Motioning at Yuri, Dan nods. Yuri nods in return before looking down at his own hands again. Moments later, while by himself…
???: Well, well, well. If it isn’t my old comrade..
All of a sudden Mason Pierce steps into the picture, much to the surprise of Yuri.
Mason Pierce: You made a mistake, Yuri. A big one.
Yuri looks perplexed at Mason.
Mason Pierce: But not with me..
Before Yuri could even respond or get up from the yellow safety bollard…
X-Calibur destroys the glass bulb of a wall-connected, swinging yellow docking light with Yuri’s face as he swings it full force into him.
As he watches Yuri fall to the hard cement floor, X-Calibur screams with rage.
X-Calibur: HOW’S IT FEEL TO BE BLINDSIDED YOU MOTHERLESS FUCK!? YOU WANT TO THREATEN MY FAMILY NOW, BITCH!? HUH!? COME ON!! GET THE FUCK UP!!
Mason Pierce simply looks on, satisfied with the momentary distraction he could provide. Suddenly, it becomes clear that he has a steel chair in his hands. But even with this weapon, he stands still and watches X-Calibur do his work.
X-Calibur: See, this is what happens…
He takes Yuri by the back of his head and bashes it against the docking bay door.
X-Calibur: When you threaten…
He bashes it again. Yuri remains helpless.
X-Calibur: … my goddamn…
He takes a handful of hair and bashes Yuri’s head against the metal once more, the impact of which echoes throughout the docking area.
X-Calibur: … FAMILY.
Standing up, X-Calibur looks down at the fallen behemoth sized Russian Assassin and shakes his head in disgust. Turning around, X locks eyes with Mason and he starts to walk away from Yuri, however, his instinct gets the better of him. He turns back towards Yuri… who is actually stirring again.
X-Calibur: Jesus Christ. Seriously!?
Rushing towards Yuri, he SLAMS a knee into him, banging his whole body off of the docking bay door. Nearly knocking himself over, he looks at the door. Then at Yuri.
Then at the door.
Then again at Yuri.
X-Calibur switches his attention to the docking bay door’s chain linked pulley and begins pulling it down, hand under hand. The door lifts up until it is just aligned with Yuri’s neckline, preventing him from falling back to the outside pavement about five-feet below. X repositions Yuri so that his neck is laying directly underneath the door. He pulls him about a foot forward, away from the door’s alignment trajectory.
X-Calibur: Time to teach Lennie about the rabbits.
Mason hands X the steel chair he came equipped with. X kneels down and roughly wraps it around Yuri’s neck.
He stands up and grabs the door’s metal handle.
Backstage personnel arrive at the scene and begin yelling at X-Calibur to not “do it”. Mason holds some of them off as X lets out a laugh. Drawing another parallel to John Steinbeck, he looks down at Yuri with snarling contempt.
X-Calibur: Looks like the men in the woods are here. Guess this is the part where I tell you to take your hat off and — ehhhhh fuck it. ‘Nuff with the symbolism bullshit.
In one swift motion, X jumps up and uses all of his weight and strength to SLAM the door across the steel chair that is connected to Yuri’s throat!!! Yuri gags, chokes, spits, and sputters all the while flopping around like a fish out of water underneath the weight of the docking bay door!!
Seconds later, before the SHOOT officials could even make it to Yuri, X lifts up the docking bay door and places a boot on the shoulder of Yuri, rolling the monster back and letting him fall to the outside loading dock area. The look of rage in X’s eyes is palpable as he stares out into the atmosphere. Numerous SHOOT officials either burst through the door or jump from the metal bridge to the outside so they can tend to the fallen Yuri.
Walking away from the crazy scene, X smirks and bumps elbows in proper social distancing fashion with an onlooking Mason Pierce.
END VIDEO TRANSMISSION.
Eryk Masters: OH MY GOD!!!!
Other Guy: Looks like X completely LOST it with Yuri!!
Eryk Masters: I think we all know what inhumane acts X-Calibur is capable of if pushed past the point, and Yuri did exactly that the moment he started mentioning his family.
Other Guy: Some dudes just gotta go there. And, well, you can see the results.
X-Calibur looks out at the fans who all cheer for the just deserts that X had given Yuri earlier in the day.
X-Calibur: So yeah, Dan. Sorry to shit on your plans but I don’t think Yuri is going to be attending the next MCGA convention you plan on putting together. The good news is I heard he’s in Southern Hills Hospital. So maybe you can all go pay him a visit. But, if I were you? I’d do it soon. Because there’s a rumor going ‘round that he may be extradited back to Russia for a series of violent cr-
There’s a commotion in the crowd, which causes X-Calibur to turn around.
Dan Stein awaits with the same steel chair we saw X attempt to equalize the situation with at Revolution 145. Only, instead of Dan Stein’s face taped to the seating of the chair, it now has X-Calibur’s.
Stein swings… and X ducks!!
X BLASTS Dan Stein in the face with stiff European uppercuts until he is reeling in the corner and drops the chair.
Eryk Masters: Look out!
Other Guy: It’s Boyd Walton!
With great survival instinct, X leaps up and NAILS his legendary X-Terminator on Boyd Walton, spiking him brutally into the mat!
Eryk Masters: X-TERMINATOR!!
Seeing Boyd Walton dropped with the devastating X-Terminator, Dan Stein hops through the middle rope and to the outside, fleeing the chaotic scene. Rubbing his chin from the effects of the uppercuts, Dan Stein looks back at X inside of the ring.
Both men are smirking at each other.
Both men are jaw jacking with each other.
Dan Stein backpedals up the ramp… but he turns around to see Mason Pierce standing in the entrance! Stein quickly backpedals, looking like he’s seen a ghost… and Piper Fury emerges from the back, standing beside Pierce, quickly flanked by a third man, tall, muscular and arms crossed.
Eryk Masters: The rumors WERE true! Mason Pierce is back in SHOOT Project, and he’s brought backup!
Other Guy: I’m no math whiz, but three of them against one of Dan Stein – and who’s that new guy? Never seen him before.
Stein’s eyes dart to the new arrivals and he starts backing away down the ramp, towards the ring where X is waiting with some very bad intentions in his eyes and the steel chair in his hand!
Halfway down the ramp, Mason and Piper stop and the third man continues to advance on Stein, who turns around and is welcomed by X-Calibur, who blasts Stein to the floor with a vicious clothesline! He grabs Stein and throws him unceremoniously into the ring, sliding right behind him and getting to his feet, grabbing the steel chair.
Measuring him up directly over the steel chair that Dan Stein initially brought with him, X-Calibur DROPS him with lightning fury directly on top of the seat that has X-Calibur’s face plastered onto it!
Eryk Masters: ANOTHER X-TERMINATOR!! On the CHAIR no less!!
Other Guy: X handin’ out X-Terms like candy on Halloween tonight!
The audience pops HARD as X-Calibur finally gets his hands on Dan Stein! Pumped to the max, X-Calibur rolls backwards and pushes himself to his feet where he scoops up the microphone he originally had asked for.
X-Calibur: DANNY BOOOOOOOOOOY!!!! I told you I would get my hands on you.
But make no mistake about it. This hunt is not over by any means.
You say you want to ride my coattails, Dan? Fine. You want to ride them so badly, then you can ride them all the way to REVELATION.
Because you and me? Since neither of us have much going on at the moment… we’re gonna have ourselves a little match.
He kneels down next to Dan Stein, whose eyes are glazed over. X grabs him by his cheeks and squeezes, creating fish lips.
X-Calibur: And THAT’s where the hunt for Dan Stein ends. Because right now? I’m not ready to make the killshot on you. No, not yet. That would be too fuckin’ easy.
Right now? It’s time to release you back into the wild.
See you soon, Dan.
With a pat on the cheek, X stands back up to the sounds of “Church of Execution” once again hitting the PA system. Looking out towards Mason Pierce, both of them nod at each other as if to say “job well done”.
Eryk Masters: Well, X-Calibur has laid out the challenge for Dan Stein, and it’s in the form of a one on one match at REVELATION!
Other Guy: Why do I have the feeling, if he does accept, that he’s not going to ask Johnny Patriot’s advice on what type of match it should be!?
Cut to ringside. Other Guy has just finished a sentence as Eryk Masters leans forward and rests his elbows on the commentators table. He presses his hands against his headset. He’s concentrating for a moment as he listens closely. His eyes are still focused forward, contemplative, they blink three times, and his brow furrows.
Other Guy: Hold on ladies and gentlemen, we’re being told something is going on backstage…
Cut from ringside to backstage where Alden Butcher has a chunk of Nate Robideau’s hair and is dragging him down an Epicenter hallway. Robideau grasps at the thick tree trunk wrists of Alden Butcher, but the giant doesn’t budge. Robideau’s fingernails dig into the colossus’ skin in an attempt to shred his epidermis. Nate clenches his teeth, his eyes, and he growls as his heels push and kick at the waxed tile floor below. The two men are surrounded by stage settings, unused rafters, and equipment storage. The lights are dim.
The great Butcher bear stops and spins Robideau around. Nate is face to face with emptiness and sheer rage in the form of an unreasonable herculean Blue Ridge mutant. Alden is expressionless as he stares down at his prey through enormous bug eyes. Alden immediately wraps one paw around Nate’s muscular neck. Nate grabs Butchers wrists.
The soles of Robideau’s boots slowly lift from the floor. The strength of the big Butcher is impeccable. Nate’s lamenting groan rises through grinding teeth. His eyes clench, and tears squeeze from his ducts due to the pressure of Alden’s choke lift. Alden tilts his head to the right as he studies Robideau’s display of pain. If the vise tightens any further then Nate Robideau will be no more.
Nate’s body is suddenly compromised as Elvis Butcher wraps his arms around Blackhawks waist. That’s not who spoke, no, it was the Lord of the Flies. C.K. Butcher steps into the picture, still sweating and beaten from the battle that ensued to start the show, and he snaps his fingers. Alden releases his grip and Nate falls into Elvis’ embrace, but the young Butcher immediately whips him toward an all black equipment case. Robideau smashes against the case and is immediately spun back around by Elvis Butcher.
Alden steps in, and places his right hand against Nate’s chest. The third leg of the Unholy Cyber Army breathes heavily, in and out, as he snarls, his eyes lock with C.K. Butcher’s. Nate’s focus turns to the man in charge of the attack, the Lord, as he watches from behind his siblings with his arms comfortably crossed. Robideau ignores the awkward Elvis, who is bent below Alden. The youngest brother, a tourettes riddled monster in his own right, begins to sniff Robideau from the mid-section and upward. Elvis stops when he’s nearly touching noses with Blackhawk. Nate closes his eyes and turns in disgust, most likely due to Elvis’ halitosis. Alden reaches over his brother, wraps his mitts around Robideau’s jaw, a hand that nearly engulfs his entire face, and turns Nate’s face so that C.K. can look at him.
C.K. Butcher: I don’t think I’ve ever met a man who is being haunted by the past, present, and future. You’re severely unlucky, Nathan. Severely.
It dawns on C.K. Butcher that something is missing. He curiously scans the surroundings and then looks back at Robideau.
C.K. Butcher: Where are your boys? I recall you saying something about finally having true friends? Where are your friends? I’ll tell you where they are. They’re not here. I do not expect them to be stealthy; they’re not about to leap out and rescue you. No, Nathan…you’re fucked.
There’s a look of excitement on Butcher’s face. The Lord of the Flies creeps forward. He drops his arms. Alden grabs Nate’s right arm and secures it firmly against the black equipment case. Elvis has reciprocated with the left. Nate snarls as Butcher steps closer.
C.K. Butcher: So, what do you say, brother? Is it time to spill the beans? Confessional is open. The Lord is ready for repentance.
Suddenly Robideau lifts his legs and attempts to kick C.K., but the oldest Butcher is quick enough to dodge backward. The Lord’s brow lifts, his eyes widen, and he chuckles with surprise.
C.K. Butcher: Saucy! I like that!
But Nate’s actions are immediately pacified. C.K. nods to Alden who peels Nate from the box and then immediately slams him up against it with a tremendous thud. Robideau lets out a gasp and then falls to the ground. Nate sits against the case trying to regain composure after having the breath knocked out of him.
C.K. slithers toward Robideau and kneels down before him. He strokes his chin. Alden and Elvis hover above.
C.K. Butcher: Your coil, that tightly wound, chemically wounded, coil that describes your anguish…I am unwinding it. This has become more than attrition, Nathan. This is pure Fabian strategy, and through this directive I will haunt you until the time comes when you break down and tell the entire world who you really, truly, are…
It’s then that C.K. lunges toward Nate in an attempt to complete a vicious punch direct center nose. But, the fist stops just two inches from completion so that Robideau can read the letters inscribed on each of Butcher’s fingers.
C.K. Butcher: No-no. I’m saving this for the real battle.
The Lord of the Flies slides back and smiles.
C.K. Butcher: Until then, sir, the Lord will be waiting for your confession. After all, you owe it to SHOOT. You owe it to your friends. You owe it to yourself. You owe it…to him.
The Lord, still feeling the effects of the match earlier, is slow to stand. He stares down at the bitter Robideau with an obsequious grin.
C.K. Butcher: Until next time, my friend.
The Butchers file away from the scene one after the other being led by a rather pace driven older brother. The scene fades to the image of Nate Robideau, adjusting, still sitting against the black equipment case. He angrily bangs the back of his head against the case, realizing that he allowed the Butchers to get the best of him in a very vulnerable position. Yet, they oddly did very little…
We now cut to another part of the backstage area, where Abigail Chase is standing by. She spots Mason Pierce and his entourage approaching down the corridor and starts heading toward the group.
Abigail Chase: Mason! Can I get just a moment of your time?
Mason stops, with Piper Fury and their unknown associate beside him.
Abigail Chase: Mason, it’s been years since we’ve seen you or Piper in the Epicenter. Why have you come back to SHOOT Project after all this time?
Mason Pierce: It’s nice to see you again as well, Miss Chase. You’re correct. It has been a very long time. And it’s nice to see that even with the passage of such a long time, some things never change. As for the reasoning behind our return, that’s something that will be revealed in time. Tonight was simply the first domino. You will be seeing us again, of that I can assure you. Our work here is just beginning.
Abigail Chase: It appears that your first order of business seems to be aligning yourself with a man that you had a very bitter rivalry with the last time you were here. Is it simply coincidence, or a matter of keeping your enemies closer than your friends? We all know what happened the last time.
Piper Fury: Let’s hope someone else remembers that lesson as well. If not, we’ve got no problem reminding anyone what happens when you-
Mason Pierce: Easy, Piper. Let’s not go threatening the entire roster our first night back. Right now we’re simply here to complete a task. Let’s focus on that right now, shall we?
Abigail Chase: I’ve also noticed you’ve brought along someone new this time around.
Mason Pierce: Ah, yes. Our good friend Jason Lobo. One of the most dangerous, gifted and talented wrestlers I have had the pleasure of discovering and mentoring. He is quite something, isn’t he?
Mason places a hand on Lobo’s beefy shoulder.
Mason Pierce: Stay tuned. Things are about to get interesting. Let’s go. We have work to do.
Azraith DeMitri Vs. Void
Having been ejected from the building earlier, Adelaide Ainsworth drags a red and black polk-a-dot carry-on behind her. One of its wheels is missing, causing it to falter and tip to the side every so often, especially after rolling over some latent parking lot gravel. The zipper had been detached from its little silver teeth for quite some time, and holes riddle what was once an immaculate looking faux-leather fabric.
No Milton at her side.
No Arthur in front of her.
No other as-of-yet-to-be-revealed persons standing adjacent/parallel/whatever best side it was to stand in for protection.
In fact, it had become quite obvious that Adelaide Ainsworth didn’t need protection.
If anything, they needed her protection.
That theory came crashing down hard when Addy snapped out of her sudden stoicism and looked up, noticing something coming at her.
Courtney Hatchett nearly topples over from the amount of impact after slamming the gold and emerald blue faceplate of her newly won SHOOT Project Shut Up And FIGHT Championship belt right into Adelaide Ainsworth’s face.
Clad in a grey “Concrete Jungle” designed Donovan King hoodie, (from SHOOT Project’s vintage line, soon available for public purchase at SHOOT Project’s pro-wrestling tees store), gold and black yoga pants that accentuated her amazing “assets”, Courtney had her hair tied up like she was ready for a fight.
Courtney Hatchett: What’s the matter, bitch!? You didn’t think you and the rest of the Devil’s Rejects could violate me the way that you all did and just play the Slytherin to my Hufflepuff and magically get away with it, did you!?
She watches Addy roll to her stomach, checking her face for blood. There’s a trickle running down her forehead which dripped out onto a blue handicapped parking space line. Courtney smiles.
Courtney Hatchett: Let me tell you something, Ms. Ainsworth, you… you weird little freakin’ troll.
I may be new to SHOOT.
I may be new to wrestling in general.
But I adapt quickly. And you know what that means? That means I’m not some pushover that violent, sexed up baddies like yourself can take advantage of. And that sure as hell doesn’t mean I’m afraid to defend myself.
Nor does it mean I don’t know how to defend myself.
She pauses, looking at her Shut Up And FIGHT Championship. Addy rolls onto her back, looking up at her attacker, still a bit stunned from the walloping she just took.
Courtney Hatchett: I want you to look into these eyes. You hear me!?
She kneels down right next to Addy. Dangerously close, even.
Courtney Hatchett: Look into my eyes and see if I’m lying.
Courtney raises the Shut Up And FIGHT Championship right in front of Adelaide Ainsworth. At this moment, Addy lets out a snarling yell as she tries to swipe at Courtney with claws. Courtney sees this coming, though, and instinctively jumps back. Upon laughing, Addy giggles.
Nodding her head, Courtney slings the beautiful looking championship over her shoulder. The icy blue sections of the championship that were intermixed with the gold parts seemingly matched her eyes and yoga pants; an especially nice touch, even if unintentional.
Courtney Hatchett: Yeah, yeah. You mad. I get it. You can be mad, that’s okay.
But do me a favor, honey? Bring that anger with you next week at Shut Up And Fight. Because you’re going to need every last ounce of it to survive me, let alone having a chance in hell at beating me.
Courtney raises the title before turning her back to Addy and climbing into a trailhawk green Jeep Cherokee. The tires peel out as she slams it into reverse. Looking out at the doorless frame to where Addy had been laying on the pavement, she throws a white rag out to her.
Courtney Hatchett: You got a little blood on you there, girl. Clean yourself up. I want you to look good for our main event.
Peeling out once again, Courtney makes off into the night.
Adelaide Ainsworth just stares ahead, arms holding her up on the pavement. Looking down at the white rag, Addy giggles. Sitting up completely, she wipes the blood from her face with the rag. Looking at it, she flashes a toothy grin.
Adelaide Ainsworth: Hehehehehe.
We cut to a camera being shakily handled. It is finally turned and we see the filth covered, stone faced visage of Charlie Jay Hitchens. She sets the camera on the ground and then turns it, bringing into view what everyone at home had feared: A hole in the earth, and the casket from earlier. From which no movement stirs. She walks over to the hole. Surveys it. Hops in—it’s not terribly deep—and begins slowly shoveling more out, adding to the pile of dusty ground she’s already accumulated. For a minute, two, we watch her shoveling, before tossing the shovel high into the air. As it clatters, she emerges, looking down.
CJH: Over and over again you got told. But you’re as stubborn as a mule, ain’t you?
She pauses, running her hand over the grimy exterior of the coffin. The varnish peeling, wood exposed. Time in the earth did not treat it well. The only noises are the sounds of the desert after dusk has fallen. Lizards and carrion feeders.
CJH: I suppose this is the moment. The moment He foretold to me. Said to me that there would be a time when I would see what you were truly made of—but I’d have to really do something big to find out. Suppose this works as well as anything, doesn’t it? Suppose we’ll all see if you’re ready to face judgement or if you’ve still got fight left in you. But I hope that time in your brother’s coffin at least teaches you something, Buck Dresden. I hope you realize that this is bigger than that belt you’re in there with. And it aint going to end, Buck Dresden. Our fates, in so much as a man can have one, are tied together. Tangled up Kudzu. No escape. Not til our work is done.
With a mighty shove, she pushes the coffin into the hole with a resounding thud of impact into the dirt. With zero ceremony, she retrieves the shovel and begins to fill the hole. After a few shovels full, she begins to sing, her voice somewhere between a creaky door and the rumble of a truck.
CJH: “Death don’t have no mercy in this land…Death don’t have no mercy, in this land…”
Her accompaniment is the slice of a shovel into dirt and the percussion of it hitting the wood.
CJH: “Death will claim any family in this land…Death gonna claim any family, in this land…”
A pause as she finishes up the last of the dirt. She begins to pack it down with the back of the shovel.
CJH: “Come to your house, you know She don’t take long…Look in the bed in the morning, find your family gone…”
She tosses the shovel into the bed of her truck with a clatter. Viewing her handiwork, she takes a bandana from her pocket and wipes the sweat from her face, no more emotion than one would give to digging a fencepost. Finally, she retrieves from the ground two planks of wood fashioned into a crude cross. With a shove, she buries it into the dirt. Then dusts her hands off.
CJH: “…I said Death don’t have no mercy, in this land…”
With that she simply walks over to the door, gets in, and fires up the ancient Ford. The red taillights illuminate the cross until that fades as well in a cloud of tire dust. We’re left with the camera laying on the ground, the cross backlit by the moon on a remarkably clear night. Just before the feed cuts to static—the earth begins to swell.
Eryk Masters: I think… I think Charlie Hitchens just buried Buck Dresden alive, and I’m not even sure how to start to process that. Things are absolutely out of fucking control here, and wait, we’re getting word from the back, something fucking ELSE is going on!
Other Guy: Well stop looking at us, go back there!
Sure enough, there’s a commotion coming from the area right behind gorilla position, and it takes a couple seconds for the cameras to get into position so they can see what’s going on! Avarice is standing there waiting to go out for the Sin City Championship match, and he turns to look. There are two producers who’ve just run out of gorilla towards the area, and the camera catches none other than JONAS COLEMAN who is dragging someone along with him!
Other Guy: Oh fuck!
Eryk Masters: Who is that?! I see… black hair, street clothes?
Jonas walks right up to Avarice and throws the person he’s dragging with him down at Avarice’s feet. It’s JOSHUA BREEDLOVE! Breedlove looks to be in pretty rough shape, as he’s got a bloody nose, and red marks on his face. He’s clearly taken a beating. Avarice takes two steps back and starts to speak, but Jonas cuts him off.
Jonas: I want you to take a look at this clown. Look.
Avarice cocks his head.
Avarice looks down at Joshua Breedlove, who groans.
Jonas: You and this guy have something in common, Avarice. You are both part of a group. You might be wondering… why does that matter, exactly? I’ll share. I picked this chucklefuck out of his band of merry chucklefucks EFFORTLESSLY. I gave him a beating that he’s going to be mad about and we’ll likely have to have a match over… EFFORTLESSLY, and you know the other thing?
Jonas motions around him, and cups his hand to his ear.
Jonas: You hear that?
Jonas: That’s right. There’s no members of any group coming to find their leader or member or whatever this idiot is, and I made that happen effortlessly. Here’s the thing though, right? Just as easily as it was this guy?
Jonas: It could have been you, Av. Could have been you, could have been Void, could have been Malice, could have been TJOMD — and then, you know what would have happened?
He picks Joshua Breedlove up from the ground and just SLAMS his face into the wall in gorilla position. Breedlove is out cold.
He looks directly at Avarice, and begins to speak very calmly.
Jonas: I was not fucking around when I told you all that there was a reckoning coming, so consider this my official non-violent cease and desist request. Y’all are all talented, you can succeed without whatever this is, so I want you to take this moment and understand something. Understand that I have given you a reprieve because you’re about to fight for a title. Understand that this could have been you or any of the others in the New Vanguard. Understand that this was my warning shot. You and yours are going to have to answer to others, like Eddie E., for what you’ve done, but as far as I’m concerned, I am giving you the opportunity to walk away. If you don’t? Well…
He motions to the floor, at Breedlove again.
Jonas: Good luck tonight, but before I leave you, I want you to understand one last thing. You’re disgusting. You’re vile. You’re pathetic, and Avarice?
Jonas: Your father would agree.
The scene cuts from gorilla and immediately back to Eryk Masters and Other Guy.
Other Guy: We just witnessed a very calm and collected Jonas Coleman, who apparently dismantled Joshua Breedlove and then splayed him out as a warning shot to Avarice and the New Vanguard. E?
Eryk Masters: Yeah, that was scary. Not like in a “this is a horror movie” kind of scary or like a blood and gore scary, but Jonas is focused and honed in. I hope that Avarice doesn’t take his warning lightly. This show has been an absolutely whirlwind. Jonas Coleman has obliterated Joshua Breedlove and sent a stern message to the New Vanguard, the Butcher Brothers are just… running rampant, and something heinous has probably happened to our World Champion and I haven’t even had time to THINK about that.
Other Guy: Unfortunately, we’re not going to have much time to talk anymore about it, because the main event is NEXT!
Avarice Vs. Jacob Mephisto (c)
Mephisto comes to his feet, sweating and nearly exhausted. The referee hands him the Sin City Championship and he snatches it away, cradling it close to his chest. Mephisto chances a quick glance at his fallen foe as Avarice rolls out of the ring. Mephisto stops for a moment, noticing that his music hasn’t hit since the bell rang.
The crowd suddenly comes ALIVE as “Leather Teeth” by Carpenter Brut begins to pound the speakers. Mephisto’s eyes widen briefly and then narrow as he turns towards the entrance ramp.
Azraith DeMitri stalks out from the back onto the stage, eyes locked on Jacob Mephisto.
Eryk Masters: Well, we knew things weren’t over between these two, folks! And it looks like business is about to pick back up right here tonight!
Other Guy: Mephisto just defended his title, E! But, it looks like he’s gonna have to deal with Azraith now!
Mephisto looks down at Azraith, neither moving forward nor retreating as Azraith climbs into the ring, taking a microphone from a ringside attendant as he does.
Both men come face to face, complete disdain for one another etched into their visages.
Azraith DeMitri: We. Aren’t. Finished.
Mephisto smirks, shaking his head. He half-turns away from Azraith before turning back lighting fast and open-hand slapping Az across the face!
Azraith doesn’t even turn his head. There is no hesitation as Azraith LAUNCHES forward and LEVELS Mephisto with a hellacious lariat! Mephisto hits the canvas hard, dropping the Sin City Championship on the way down.
Eryk Masters: Here we go! It’s back on between these two!
Other Guy: I don’t think it was ever off, E!
Mephisto pops back up fairly quickly and Az is already through a rotation. Just as Mephisto gets to his feet, Azraith BLASTS him with a roaring elbow! Mephisto hits the canvas hard for a second time, but begins to crawl away. Azraith moves forward with uncanny quickness, and JERKS Mephisto back to his feet. He spins Mephisto around, but Mephisto SPEWS black mist!
Eryk Masters: OH! Mephisto got Azraith again!
Other Guy: No! No he didn’t!
Azraith anticipated Mephisto’s use of the stinging liquid and he SIDE STEPS as Mephisto spits the mist! The crowd gets LOUD as Az backs up a few steps and then absolutely DRILLS Mephisto into the mat with a huge spear!
Azraith DeMitri: I told you at Redemption. I told you!
Azraith drags Mephisto back to his feet, the Sin City Champion on wobbly legs. He SNATCHES Mephisto by his throat!
Azraith DeMitri: You’re a fucking DEAD MAN!
Azraith LIFTS Mephisto, BUT MEPHISTO GOES LOW!
Eryk Masters: What a cheap shot!
The crowd boos savagely as Azraith drops Mephisto. Mephisto wastes no time, scooping the Sin City Championship from the canvas and rolling out of the ring. Azraith clutches his family jewels as Mephisto starts to back up the ramp. On his way, Mephisto grabs his own microphone. He stops about halfway up the ramp, staring down at the former champion.
Jacob Mephisto: No, no , no, NO! You do NOT get to dictate the terms of our war, Azraith.
Mephisto coughs, rubbing the spot where Azraith had him by the throat.
Jacob Mephisto: Azraith, I have taken everything from you. Deny it all you want. Sure, you’ve patched things up with your little girl for now. You tell everyone you’re ok. But, we can all see you. The beast has been neutered, DeMitri.
Azraith is SEETHING as he paces the ring like a wild animal at Mephisto’s words.
Jacob Mephisto: So, now it’s time to put you down. Come and SEE, Azraith!
Mephisto makes a motion for Azraith to “bring it on” as he starts to saunter back towards the ring. Azraith doesn’t hesitate, as he steps out of the ring and drops off the apron. Mephisto stops in his tracks at the very edge of the ramp.
Jacob Mephisto: Oh, but one more thing before we do this…
The fans get LOUD with boos and warnings!
Jacob Mephisto: Everything. Rots.
Azraith pauses on his way towards Mephisto for a half-second before he realizes, too late, what is happening.
A steel chair collides with the side of Azraith’s head sending him reeling into a second chair shot from a second perpetrator! Two men in hoodies, their faces concealed, have come from the crowd and begin to take turns hammering Azraith with their chairs!
Eryk Masters: Who the hell!? What the hell!?
Azraith attempts to fight back, but these two men are coordinated, professional. Each time he whirls to clobber one, the other strikes. They drop the chairs and begin to relentlessly pound and throw knees to Azraith.
Mephisto calmly walks backward until he’s about halfway up the ramp again.
Jacob Mephisto: Gentlemen, into the ring please. It’s time.
The two never let up their attack, throwing knees, elbows, and fists. Azraith never stops fighting back, but the continued and unexpected onslaught has caught him off guard. The two hooded men roll Az into the ring and immediately begin to stomp him.
Another figure has climbed over the barrier at ringside and comprehension begins to dawn on the fans that can see her.
Eryk Masters: Wait a minute? Is that?
Other Guy: That’s Jennifer Dowling! That means…
Jennifer Dowling pulls herself up onto the ring apron, saying something to the two men that the camera microphones do not pick up.
One after another, the men remove their hoods.
Eryk Masters: That’s Johan Dietrich and K.C. Rockefeller!
Other Guy: Now it’s all making sense, E. Everything rots! KHARRION is back! And they’re in league with Mephisto!
Mephisto simply sits down on the apron, pulling his knees slightly up and casually draping the Sin City Championship across his waist.
In the ring, Dietrich and KC have shed their hoodies and Dietrich has pulled something from his pants.
Eryk Masters: Dietrich has a weapon! That looks like a screwdriver!
KC sits Azraith up and Dietrich begins to DRIVE the flathead into the forehead of Azraith! Blood immediately begins to pool and pour down his face. The crowd is booing loudly, now recovering from their initial shock.
Eryk Masters: Where the hell is security!?
Other Guy: Knowing Azraith, E? He probably got The Real Deal to agree to keep them out of things again.
The two DRAG Azraith back to his feet and HURL him, chest-first, into the turnbuckles. Dietrich rushes in after him, driving a knee to the small of his back! KC immediately follows up with a running shotgun dropkick to the back of Az’s head. The former Sin City Champion’s head snaps forward into the turnbuckle and he sags forward, the buckles holding him in place.
Mephisto slowly gets to his feet, shouldering the Sin City Championship. He calmly makes his way to the ring, climbing the steps and stepping through the ropes. Mephisto begins directing traffic and KHARRION snatches Az by his hair and tosses him down onto the canvas. They bring him to a seated position, holding him in place.
Mephisto squats down, microphone in hand. He speaks calmly and softly.
Jacob Mephisto: I told you. I told all of you. You weren’t listening. You weren’t paying attention. I told you something was coming and you all laughed it off. You dismissed me.
Mephisto SLAPS Azraith across the face. Az begins to thrash in anger, literally screaming curses at Jacob, but Dietrich and KC hold him in place.
Azraith, gurgling: FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU!
Jacob Mephisto: Shhhh…Let’s not drag this out, Azzy boy. We both know we’re going to dance again. Let’s set a date, shall we? Let’s say… at Revelation. We go one more time. If I’m still the champion, it’s on the line. You don’t have to answer now. When you wake up, think about it.
Mephisto calmly lays the title across Azraith’s lap, backs up, and DASHES forward, leveling Az with the Godless Kick! He pops back up and screams at KHARRION.
Jacob Mephisto: AGAIN!
The pair drags Az back to a sitting position. He’s still conscious, but it doesn’t look like anyone’s home, Az’s eyes staring at something miles away.
Mephisto runs forward and delivers ANOTHER Godless Kick. Az is out. Mephisto collects himself, picking up the microphone, then pulling the Sin City Championship out of Az’s clenched grasp. KHARRION releases the unconscious Azraith and comes to their feet, flanking Mephisto.
Jacob Mephisto: I told all of you, but you weren’t listening. THIS is the result of your ignorance. I told you all that this was coming. I told you to come and see. You made jokes. THIS is the consequence. Azraith DeMitri will be broken. He will be left nothing more than an empty shell. The BEAST that you all fear so much, the MONSTER you tell tales of in hushed voices…THIS is what he has been reduced to. I TOLD you this was coming. It was only a matter of time. I TOLD you that in the end, Everything Rots. This… is the rise… of The Empyrean Codex.
Mephisto reaches down and dips his fingers into the blood still pooling on Azraith’s forehead.
Jacob Mephisto: Be baptized in the name of atrocity.
Mephisto motions one more time to KHARRION. The DRAG the unconscious Azraith up, Dietrich sets Az up for a powerbomb. He HOISTs Azraith up and KC rushes forward and delivers a flying shining wizard while Dietrich drives him into the mat!
Eryk Masters: This is just sick. Greetings from Rottenberg from KHARRION!
The duo rejoin Mephisto in the center of the ring as he draws a familiar symbol with the blood on his own face and stares into the camera, a smile forming on his face as he raises the Sin City Championship into the air.
Jacob Mephisto: All. Hail.