In front of a cinderblock wall, stand our SHOOT Tag Team Champions. Their facepaint is neon, their armor and spike-laden leather jackets jangle and clank. Their waists proudly display their title belts. They point to the camera for what seems like a few long moments before they both, in unison, scream to the ceiling with mighty roars, veins popping.
Superbeast: Tag teams of the SHOOT Project!
Power Devil: Tag Teams around the World!
Superbeast shakes his head, hands on his hips.
Superbeast: Is this what you bring us? No drive, no hunger, no desires for the thrill of violence and the chance for the throne?!
Power Devil steps forward, undoing the belt from his waist. He holds the back to the camera, showing the list of the teams they have defeated. He glowers.
Power Devil: Look at these names. Look at them closely! Every one of them now immortal, carved into stone, part of the epic tale of our rise and glory! Do none of you want this for yourselves? Do you feel no drive, damn you?!
Superbeast: It is depressing! I feel my power wilting and withering! A car cannot stay in peak condition if it is not driven, a chainsaw seizes if it does not have trees to fell, hammers go rusty and their handles rot with no nails to drive!! Is this what we came to America for? Is this what we came to SHOOT for?! No one willing to step up and challenge the Demons of Cyber Roppongi?!
He grasps his partner’s arm and holds up a finger.
Superbeast: …but. But! There is a team…
Power Devil: Brother! You do not mean what I think you mean, do you?!
Superbeast: I do!
Power Devil: …yes! The blood. The vengeance! The chance for them to try against us one more time, one more shot at glory, once more into the fray!!
He stomps off camera, slapping Superbeast on the chest with a mighty hand and a wild grin.
Superbeast: You want to, or should I?
Power Devil: Can I?
Power Devil steps in front of his partner, taking a moment to refasten his championship. He looks to the sky and raises his arms upward.
Power Devil:MURDER DOVES!! Shinjuku’s own Bastards! Do you lie awake at night remembering fondly our battles? The barbed wire? The Fishtanks? The thumbtacks, the tables?! We are beasts who have been given but scant bread and water to sustain us!! We hunger for the kill as wolves do!! And most importantly, You, Murder Doves, our old foes…your names are not upon the record of our conquests here! Superbeast, brother, do we accept that omission?!
Superbeast turns, striking his fist into the wall with a mighty growl before turning back around and screaming.
Superbeast: Never once, never ever!! Whoever needs to hear it, we declare proudly with full chests and battle in our lungs!! Book us against the Bastards of Shinjuku! Book us against SEGATA and Asesino de Luto II!! Feed us competition, lock the doors, let slip the dogs of war!! And we will leave our old foes immortalized on our belts–but they will be sent back to Chicago Bowed!
Both men headbutt one another ans stomp out of the frame, all neon and leather and metal.
Eryk Masters: Man oh man, the Murder Doves and the Unholy Cyber Army! That’s some shit to get excited about for Revolution 150!
Other Guy: I don’t know if you’ve seen much of their Japan stuff, but those guys had some crazy brutal matches. I’m REALLY looking forward to that. We’ve got a GREAT show tonight, and we’re kicking it off the RIGHT way with a Sin City Contendership battle royal! That’s FIRST!
SIN CITY CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENDERS
We’re taken backstage where Nate Robideau is sitting in an empty locker room. He’s not competing tonight, but the Blackhawk of the Unholy Cyber Army looks intense nonetheless.
He sits on a bench, seemingly lost in thought.
???: I know what you’re going through, you know.
The soft sound of boots on concrete seemingly echo throughout the room, somehow complimenting the familiar voice.
Jacob Mephisto stands just inside the doorway, leaning against the wall nonchalantly.
Mephisto: I know what hell your soul must feel after dealing with someone like C.K. Butcher.
Nate looks at him with a furrowed brow, his spine straightening from a depressive slouch to military. His voice comes out terse, his words clipped.
Robideau: Do you? I know that you must think yourself a master of the human condition, but…do you know what it feels like? Or are you guessing?
Mephisto sighs and, for the first time in what seems like forever, he shows something like weariness on his face.
Mephisto: Oh, there’s no guesswork here. I know it all to well. Men like C.K. Butcher… men like me… we know how to manipulate the human condition. We find the chinks in the armor. We exploit them. We bring the worst parts of your nature to the forefront. That’s how we break men like you. Even in defeat.
Mephisto let’s out a heavy sigh.
Mephisto: Honestly? It’s exhausting. And… if I’m telling the truth here? I don’t even know if those results are even worth it anymore.
Nate keeps his gaze to the floor. His hands alternately flex out and grip in fists so hard the veins show.
Robideau: Can I ask you…why? Men like you. Men like Butcher. Men like Corazon. What about you, what emptiness lives inside of your hearts, that you have to see men broken in front of you? Is it the rush of power? It is like none of you have any conception of the damage you cause in your wake. It is like you have no idea that you are ruining a human being. It confuses me. It disgusts me.
Finally, he levels his eyes at Mephisto–even under his heavy brow, they shine through.
Robideau: I find you and your ilk without merit and personally vexing. You leave a bad taste in my mouth with your mere presence. You…
He stops himself, holds up a hand.
Robideau: I apologize. You have given me no personal reasons to hate you. I am better than that. I think.
There’s a moment of silence that hangs in the air before Mephisto smiles. It’s almost genuine.
Mephisto: There’s no reason to apologize. You ask why? Most times, men like me and my ilk… we never ask why. We ask why not. But, I can’t speak for the others. I can tell you, for me, it was never about the destruction of men like Azraith DeMitri. There’s… something… within me that makes me look into the soul of a man. When I see potential that is being wasted or a caged beast inside, there’s this visceral need to force it out. It consumes me.
Nate seems to ponder this in the silence that follows, but Mephisto continues.
Mephisto: I’ve… never felt a need to explain that to anyone. Not even my comrades in The Empyrean Codex. But, I see that you are a man going through conflict caused by someone like myself. But… I don’t think that’s the only cause, Blackhawk.
He doesn’t say anything, but his brow furrows inquisitively. Jacob takes the cue.
Mephisto: Your past is your own business, Nate. I don’t particularly care about that. But, one thing I see in you is a competitor. You have this knack for submission wrestling. You’re pure in that way. Yours is a pure artform. The two men you’ve aligned with are… not that. Now, don’t misunderstand me, they’re not evil or ill-willed toward you. I truly believe they consider you one of their own.
Mephisto moves slowly towards Nate, his voice lowering slightly as he does.
Mephisto: But, isn’t that part of the issue? They want you to be brutal. They want you to be violent. Isn’t that what I just did with Azraith DeMitri? They don’t accept Nate Robideau. They accept their Blackhawk though.
He holds his hands up in a peaceful gesture.
Mephisto: Before you react, I’m just telling you what I see. Because if I wanted to manipulate someone into my fold? I’d take a page from the Unholy Cyber Army’s book.
Nate chuckles. It’s mirthless. He stands up, the brawn of his form taking up a great deal of space.
Robideau: I am not sure what you are getting at. Or trying. Those two men are my family. Why did you even come here, anyway? Why approach me at all?
Mephisto nods slowly, the movement methodical, deliberate. Those pale, grey eyes are intense.
Mephisto: Family. Yes. Sometimes it’s your own family. As to why I approached you…
Mephisto: There’s no redemption for me. I don’t have redeeming qualities. I’m never going to be a good man. But, I know what I’ve unleashed on the SHOOT Project. I know what I’ve done. I know what I am. I can’t change that. I don’t want to. This? You? Call it paying a penance. Don’t take my word as gospel, Nate. Pay attention. See for yourself.
Mephisto nods again, turns and slips out of the room, leaving Nate alone once again.
Eryk Masters: Looks like Mephisto might have himself a brand new interest. Not sure what that means for the redemption of Nate Robideau, but hopefully that guy gets an emotional break. In the good way.
Other Guy: Yeah, after everything he went through with C.K. Butcher… I’m with you.
Eryk Masters: Up next, we’ve got the continuation of the TRIAD Tournament. The winner of this match faces GODSPEED at Shut Up and Fight 10 to move into the finals, which will take place at Revolution 150 for the SHOOT Project TRIAD Championships! It’s New Vanguard and Extremely Martial Law, NEXT.
The New Vanguard Vs. Extremely Martial Law
Eryk Masters: Tough loss for the New Vanguard there, and you have to wonder if the armor is starting to crack a little bit.
Other Guy: Hard to say with this group. When you break it down, they’re all really new to this, so there’s a lot of growing that has to be done, and losses like that… are infuriating but also tend to help. Can’t learn without failing, right?
Eryk Masters: I guess that’s true, and I’ve been told we’ll hear from Scion later this evening, but right now we’re going back to the back where Joshua Breedlove is apparently… celebrating his battle royal win?
The scene immediately flips back to the backstage area just in time for the camera man to get absolutely DOUSED in what appears to be champagne, obscuring the shot! There are… what looks like three people celebrating. One is Joshua Breedlove, and the others look to be Michael and Lucas Sexton, the SIN CITY SCOUNDRELS.
Breedlove: WOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!! BATTLE ROYAL BREEDLOVE, BABY. SPARKLING CIDER FOR EVERYONE!!!!
Breedlove is shaking another bottle of… sparkling cider… and he uncorks it all over the camera man once again, right after the FIRST shot was wiped off.
Breedlove: FUCKIN’ NUMBER ONE CONTENDER. FUTURE SIN CITY CHAMPION. BEN BRONSON HATER. THE KING OF PROFESSIONAL WRESTLING. VIRTUOSITY UNLIMITED. MIKE! LUKE! Let’s fucking gooooooooooooo!!!!
Some indeterminate club music is playing as the Sin City Scoundrels are raging out with Breedlove. Michael Sexton rushes over to the camera and shoves his face right into the lens!
Michael Sexton: FUCK YEAH BRO. We’re OUT HERE in the SHOOT Project Epicenter, partying with our new homie JOSHUA BREEDLOVE. This guy is going to RUN this business, and we’re going to RUN the tag team division, so consider this a WARNING, Unholy Cyber Army! After you finish up your trip down memory lane with the killer canaries, WE’RE COMING FOR YA. And VOID? Jacob Mephisto!? DOESN’T MATTER WHO… OUR BOY IS COMING FOR YOU.
Breedlove: WOOOOOOOO!!! IT DOES MATTER BECAUSE BOTH OF THOSE GUYS ARE TERRIFYING IN DIFFERENT WAYS BUT IT ALSO DOESN’T RIGHT NOW BECAUSE FUCKING DRINK UP, LADS. BACK TO YOU GUYS AT THE DESK!!!!
Eryk Masters: Well… okay then.
Other Guy: I don’t blame him for celebrating, but don’t you think this… might be a little much? Like, what happens if he knocks Void off? Are we getting a parade?
Eryk Masters: Maybe don’t give him ideas, man. Just… let’s not.
Other Guy: Good call, let’s move on. We’ve got Devan Derbyshire and Bonnie Blue squaring off for the first open slot in the Iron Fist Championship elimination match! That’s next!
Devan Derbyshire Vs. Bonnie Blue
The lights dim in the Epicenter. The crowd turns their attention to the stage. That’s when “Drums of Drakkar” by Amoebacrew pounds through the audio system as if a battle is about to ensue in the epicenter. The beat muffles the sub-woofers. The crowd jeers as they wait for the Lord of the Flies, C.K. Butcher, to walk out onto the stage.
Eryk Masters: OG, we witnessed C.K. Butcher test Nate Robideau at Revelation in a last man standing match that will go down in history due to the controversial call.
Other Guy: Listen, Eryk, and to everyone else out there who may have an opinion on how the referee called the match, Nate Robideau won that match fair and square. C.K. Butcher couldn’t go on. The referee knew that Butcher couldn’t stand a chance any further. The last man standing was Nate Robideau; that’s that. Much deserved.
The fans are surprised to see the Lord exit the Gorilla Position and enter the stage wearing the American Flag as a cape instead of the black burial gown he removed from his mother’s grave. Butcher isn’t wearing the skull crown, no, his black hair is slick back, and he has a smile from ear to ear. His eyes are glazed and twinkle with a foriegn happiness. There’s an odd, comforting glow about the Lord of the Flies as his war drums continue to pound through the Epicenter. The American flag hangs proudly against his back as he begins to strut down the ramp and toward the ring. The smile he weares does not fade among the pelting disapproval.
Other Guy: C.K. Butcher is a disgrace to that flag, Eryk.
Eryk Masters: Well, let’s think about it this way, OG. What if his loss to Nate Robideau might have sparked something? We haven’t heard from Butcher since Revelation, until now. We haven’t seen him. We haven’t heard from his brothers. We don’t even know if his brothers are even alive, at this point. What we do know is that Butcher is coming to the ring, he’s wearing the American Flag as a cape, and he has a patriotic glow that’s reminiscent of every U.S. citizen that’s celebrating at this very moment…
Butcher proudly stands at the ring’s edge, and the flag courageously waves. The Lord is proud, his hairy chest puffed out, and his hands resting at his waist; the image of a comic book hero atop the tallest building overlooking the city. He shuts his eyes briefly to inhale and deflect every negative word that’s being launched at him. He quickly turns and directs himself toward the steel steps.
Other Guy: I don’t buy it, Eryk, and I won’t. This guy is a scumbag forever, in my eyes, and it irks me to see that beautiful symbol my grandfather fought for wrapped around his neck and waving down his back.
As is tradition for some wrestlers: he uses the ring apron as a mat to wipe the sole of his Redwing boots before entering the squared circle by bending through the ropes. As he enters he grips the flag tightly against his faded blue Wranglers so that it doesn’t get caught up in the ropes. Butcher walks through the hurricane of hate toward the ring announcer who is waiting for him at the opposite end and reaching into the ring from the outside with a microphone.
The crowd continues to shower Butcher with negativity. The Lord contemplates as he slowly positions himself in the center of the ring. The crowd’s noise level decreases, and some shouts can still be heard as the Lord raises the microphone to his black bearded face and his innocent eyes flicker out toward the sea of fans.
C.K. Butcher: I must say, and I hate to admit it, but Clark County has seen more press in one week than I have in six months. Good for you.
The crowd has calmed down as they watch Butcher clap his hand a few times against the microphone. He smiles, and nods toward the individuals in attendance at the Epicenter. His lips clench, almost as if he’s getting emotional. His eyes seem to grow heavier as he continues to tap his hand against the microphone. The crowd is skeptical, and do not follow suit, and Butcher returns to his dialogue.
C.K. Butcher: What an unbelievable week to be alive, am I right? There’s not a single soul in the Epicenter that’s seen anything like it. We’ve single-handedly witnessed the greatest Presidential election this country has ever seen. Now, I’ll be the first person to deny another over a remark of that magnitude, but as it rolled off my tongue, and the words tickled my lips, I realized right then and there that the truth felt damn good. What an unbelievable week to be alive.
Eryk Masters: It most definitely is an historical week to be alive!
Other Guy: There’s an odd tone in Butcher’s voice, E. It’s almost as if this is a different man speaking. I still don’t buy it…
Eryk Masters: I agree. There’s something intriguing about the Lord’s demeanor at this moment.
C.K. Butcher: Let me be the first sincere SHOOT thank you. To all of you who have sacrificed your entire week to count every single ballot, tallied every blacked bubble, and spent tireless hours securing our Democracy: THANK YOU. To the 150 million Americans who made their voices heard through the essence of the popular vote: THANK YOU. To every single man and woman who has stood up for what they believe in, undeniably epitomizing the essence of this beautiful land we stand on, and exhibiting the same sack our four fathers swung between confident legs…THANK…YOU…
Other Guy: I can respect those words.
The crowd’s jeering slowly transitioned into cheers, claps, and skeptical acceptance of a man who spent most of three months derailing another human being. Suddenly they’re seeing the Lord of the Flies in a new light, and an uncharacteristic brightness.
Eryk Masters:As you should! He’s speaking for the entire country, and everyone in this wonderful promotion when he utters those words. What those poll workers have done this week is thankless!
Other Guy: It’s true, and yet they were consistently hounded by protests and litigation due their civic duty as patriots for this amazing country.
C.K. Butcher: Ultimately, there’s something to be said about the world we live in. So many people are currently over-joyed, their bodies exhausted, as they flail their arms around with political propaganda in celebration over the United States becoming great again. This continent is shaking like a subduction zone earthquake. WE…have been heard. Yet, while we celebrate an American miracle, debunking the Trumpian mythos, and creating a ripple of antidepressant rage across the landscape, the world we actually live in is still…in chaos. We…did it. Yet, as we suck on the teet of Democracy, the rest of the world continues to suffer in their depressed and oppressed societies. Malign dictators still rule with iron fists. Children lack education. Poverty is at all time highs all over the globe. Terrorists still aim to fucking destory every single one of us just for a single sip of Jesus’ blood. The climate is changing across the rotating sphere of our existence and the Sun could give a solemn unflappable shit about YOU.
Other Guy: Wait, what?
Eryk Masters: He’s got that look in his eyes, OG.
There’s a sudden silence. Everyone’s eyes are on the Lord as he points toward the crowd. The attitude is changing. Butcher’s behavior is suddenly plastered with an anxious, yet confident glare. He begins to pace back and forth as he continues…
C.K. Butcher: That’s pretty dramatic, right? Now, I want to make something clear, and I am hoping that every dense individual polluting my oxygen will understand what I’m about to say, because I’m about to melt your Goddamn mind. Let me explain why I call myself the Lord of the Flies. Much like a fly – I am the ruler of a worthless kingdom. I am a shit eating, worthless thing; and I don’t care about anyone but myself. I am the leader of a meaningless microcosm; my existence. My savagery is increasing. I’m becoming more vile and disgusting as the months roll on. I’ve crucified my youngest brother, and exiled the other. I set flames to the West Jefferson Butcher Plantation, a land fertilized by my ancestors’ blood and tears, because if there’s one thing I hate the most – it’s history; and those who teach it are the greatest criminals of all time. I’ve tried searching for a God and the only God I know is the man holding the microphone and speaking into it...right now. So, with that being said…why the Hell would I give a shit about the Presidential election and how Democracy has been represented?
He doesn’t hesitate to immediately dig into the butt pocket of his Wranglers and remove a white trash bag. He quickly peels it apart, and whips it in front of him so that air helps the bag explode open like a parachute. He then removes the American flag cape he’s been wearing around his neck, purposely balls it up, opens the trash bag, and holds the flag over top of it.
Other Guy: No…NO…
Eryk Masters: Damnit, C.K., don’t do this…
Butcher’s eyes gleam. No smile. He glares for a moment as he hovers the balled up American flag over the opened trash bag. With the microphone still in hand, he leans forward, and simply states…
C.K. Butcher: I don’t.
…and then drops the flag into the garbage bag. The crowd is going batshit crazy, booing like they’ve just seen an infant kicked by an adult, as Butcher shares a belly laugh. He instantly pulls the draw strings, immediately ties them into a knot, and heaves the bag across the ring, over the ropes, and it plops to the outside. He turns toward the crowd and shouts into the microphone to overtake their noise.
C.K. Butcher: I…didn’t…vote.
Other Guy: I’m done here. This guy is a piece of shit. He should be the one in that trash bag, not that flag. I won’t say another word until he’s out of that ring.
Eryk Masters: I…I’m speechless, OG. Speechless. When’s the last time we saw someone desecrate something so precious to these people? You’re right. This guy needs to go.
The boos continue to flood in but C.K. Butcher shouts over them. He continues to pace back and forth in the ring. A fraction of the crowd attempts to chant U-S-A…U-S-A…but the Lord’s voice is too prominent.
C.K. Butcher: Screw this country. Screw you. Piss on the voters, the media, the Presidents and world leaders. To Hell with the Reds and Blues, the Rights and Lefts, and the division; multiply my middle finger by a million, because I’m gonna keep rollin’. Screw every single person who thinks they made a difference in “the world” this week, and a stern UP YOURS to all of you who think you matter in the grand scheme of things. You fragile little ribbed buttholes jump on monuments and shout about injustice? Screw you, your movement and to Hell with your protests. I’ll burn all your flags and spit on your sexual preference. Piss on everything you stand for; your religion and your God. Go cry to your support animal. Fuck your tweet, your Tik Tok, and your obsession to be accepted by people who wouldn’t share their piss if you were on fire. Go ahead, pop another pill because you can’t handle it. Here’s a Zoom call for you: fuck your facebook, and fuck your face.
He stops and looks directly into the hard camera. The crowd still chants U-S-A in the background.
C.K. Butcher: Have I made that perfectly clear, now? If anything, I made Nevada’s job one count easier. You should thank me.
He moves back into the center of the ring. The crowd’s noise has calmed, but there’s still so many U-S-A chants. His volume increases.
C.K. Butcher: So, as I stand here, sour, a victim of piss-poor SHOOT officiating, a made bitch at the hands of the man I should have sent back to the reservation like a true American, I reflect on the reality that I…am…the number one contender to the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship. I lifted X-Calibur over the ropes and sent that sack of has-been outside the ring faster than he could bitch about something. I won the Redemption Rumble. I earned the right to cerebrally destroy Nate Robideau, and as a matter of fact – I made him RELEVANT. Not even the Unholy Cyber Army has done THAT. And, now that I am the first man to ever lose a last man standing match while standing, I set my sights on SHOOT’s very own hero: Buck Dresden; The SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion.
The chanting stops. The crowd immediately cheers at the name of their proud hero, Buck Dresden. The Lord of the Flies nods and accepts their cheers. He scans the arena as they continue to show their support for their world champion.
C.K. Butcher: There’s something to be said about the world we live in, especially one where a man like me can do what he’s done, still lose, and be in the main event of SHOOT Project’s showcase, the show of shows…RECKONING DAY. This world. What a joke. God’s laughing at all of you, especially since I’m the punchline.
More booing, and more hate. The crowd’s noise cuts in and out as it overtakes the boom mics around the arena. Butcher patiently waits for them to calm down. He slowly circles around the center of the ring and watches those in attendance continue their hisses and razzes.
C.K. Butcher: So, Buck. We’ve made it. It wasn’t Charlie. It was you. It wasn’t X-Calibur. It was ME. Buck Dresden, a member of the Bad Ass Brotherhood, a man who’s tears nourish the soil that grows the flowers at Charles Brandon Magnus’ grave, and the self-proclaimed hero of the SHOOT Project; it’s you…and me. This is what the universe has written into its DNA. This is what your God has challenged you with. Charlie was just the means. And, boy, I hope you’re ready? Because, if you haven’t noticed, I’m not necessarily coming for that belt. No, Buck, I’m coming to end you, and I will proudly wave your head around this arena on a pike as a reminder to the world that every hero needs a villain, just as every villain needs a Buck Dresden to decapitate and turn into a hood ornament. Buckle up, buttercup, because you and I are going to dance under the pale moonlight for a long, long time.
Butcher pauses for a moment, and then stares up with a smile.
C.K. Butcher: What an unbelievable time to be alive! But, before I drop the mic, I want to leave you with a reminder. If there’s anything you’ve learned from this moment, if there’s any education you’ve obtained from the Lord, I want it to be this. I want this to sink in. I want this to be the starting point for what we are all about to witness. Shot’s fired, big boy. There’s not a single person in this Epicenter that’s going to stop what I plan to do after January ends. SHOOT’21 is going to be defined by the era of the Lord, and much like now...nobody is going to stop me. I’ve been recklessly unleashed on your world like an uncontrolled pandemic. There’s not much you can do but let it happen; because it’s already here. So, as far as the United States of Dresden is concerned? As for your hero? I mentioned that I’m not a man fond of history, but I’ll quote the sign that sat on Harry S. Truman’s desk as a reminder to every single one of you fools:
The camera zooms into his evil visage. His brow furrows. His smile is from ear to ear. His teeth an uncharacteristic pearly white backdrop against his dark black beard. The words tremble from his lips defined with a searing lust for destruction.
C.K. Butcher: The BUCK…stops here.
Butcher drops the microphone as it pops on the canvas. The crowd’s jeers are mixed with Bronx cheers, more U-S-A chants, derision and contempt. The Lord of the Flies stands tall in the center of the ring, absorbing all the hate, proud, pleased, and now ready for his chance to become the greatest villain in SHOOT history.
Other Guy: I hope Buck Dresden whoops this guy’s ass…
Mary Kelly: Ignoring whatever… THAT was… I’m standing by with member of the New Vanguard, Scion! Scion, do you have any thoughts following your loss to Extremely Martial Law tonight?
Scion is pacing back and forth, quickly, and impatiently.
Scion: No, no I fucking don’t. I have no fucking thoughts following our loss to Extremely Martial Law. We lost, we’re out of the TRIAD tournament, they’re not. It’s pretty basic and simple. Do YOU have any thoughts following our loss to Extremely Martial Law tonight?
Mary Kelly: Yeah, actually. You guys have a lot of ups–
Scion takes the microphone from Mary Kelly.
Scion: I actually don’t give a fuck if you have thoughts about our loss at all, Mary.
Mary says “Rude” out loud as she walks away.
Scion: See ya. Yeah, so like… we’ve got some things we need to work out, amongst the group. Not going to pretend like this loss didn’t sting. Not really sure how I go from beating the former World Heavyweight Champion with a SHOOT Project legend to losing to Elbow Jackson and Martial Law, but here we are. I’m disappointed, I’m mad, and I’m let down.
Scion shakes his head.
Scion: So congratulations to Extremely Martial Law. Good luck at Shut Up and Fight against GODSPEED. Avoid wizards, and if you make it through the end of this thing? We’ll be ready and waiting. Consider this our warning. A callout, if you will. I’m not going to rest until the New Vanguard is trending back in the right direction. Fuck this.
He goes to hand Mary Kelly the microphone, forgetting that she walked off after he was rude to her. He shakes his head and just… lays it on the ground… before walking off.
Eryk Masters: Strong but disjointed words from Scion, member of the New Vanguard. He’s taking their loss in the six-man tournament pretty hard.
Other Guy: I don’t blame him. This business is full of ups and downs, whether you’re a good guy or a bad guy, it’s tough to have a win like the one they had at Revelation and then lose the very next show out no matter who it’s to.
Eryk Masters: With that in mind, we’re headed back out to the ring where Dan Stein and Nicky Crawford are about to square off to determine who goes into one of the four-way elimination slots against Arthur Pleasant at Revolution 150, for the Iron Fist Championship! That’s next!
Dan Stein Vs. Nicky Crawford
Eryk Masters: That was quite something, right there! Nice debut for Nicky Crawford, but big win for Dan Stein as he goes into the four-way elimination match at Revolution 150 for the IRON FIST CHAMPIONSHIP.
Other Guy: No doubt about that. So far, that’s Bonnie Blue and Dan Stein in that contest with Arthur Pleasant and those are ALREADY some volatile elements.
Eryk Masters: You got that right, and before we get to the next match, I understand that we have Abigail Chase standing by with none other than the former SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion… Jonas Coleman!
The crowd pops as Abigail Chase appears up on the screen and standing next to her is none other than SHOOT Project’s Defender of Faith, though he’s still looking a little worse for wear with his head bandaged up from the attack at Revelation.
Abigail Chase: Joining me at this time is Jonas Coleman! I’m not going to ask you a lot of questions because I know you asked for this time, so I’ll just ask how you’re doing, how you’re healing, and what you’ve got on your mind. Take it away!
Jonas nods to Chase and takes the microphone from her.
Jonas Coleman: Thanks Abby, I appreciate it. I’m mad as fuck, not gonna lie. I am going to have this weird scar across my forehead, and while hair may eventually cover it, they had to shave my head in order to treat the wound suffered at the hands of Scion and Adrian Corazon. So, I’m pretty pissed.
The camera focuses in on his face, which is dressed in a scowl.
Jonas Coleman: I’m mad as fuck that I got knocked out at Revelation by Scion, of all people. I’m mad that he got that over on me, but other than that? I’m good. I’m ready to get back into the swing of things, and I am hereby issuing a bit of a challenge, because… as I’m sure you’re aware, I can’t just let things go. I want Scion and I want Adrian Corazon again. I don’t care when, I don’t care how… I want to significantly harm the New Vanguard by going after its leader, and going after its bloodline.
Abigail Chase: You got a date in mind?
Jonas Coleman: I don’t. I don’t think Adrian Corazon is going to be too keen to get into a ring with me any time soon, but Scion is an idiot and I think he’s far, far more likely to bite. Revolution 150 is out of the question, given the championship nature of that event, so maybe Shut Up and Fight 11? Revolution 151? I’ll let YOU pick, James.
Abigail Chase: Actually, another question. Did you have Maya in your back pocket always or was that just a happy coincidence?
Jonas holds a hand up.
Jonas Coleman: Let me be clear about something. Maya Nakashima is in nobody’s back pocket. That guy has been and always will be the heart of the SHOOT Project, and when you see a threat like Corazon and the New Vanguard, you HAVE to know that you’re going to attract some attention. I am the SHOOT Project’s defender, but Maya Nakashima is the beating heart of the SHOOT Project. It’s just who he is, and I am extremely grateful that he was there for me at Revelation.
Abigail Chase: Anything else before we get back to the ring?
Jonas Coleman: I lost at Revelation, clean and in a hurry, and then the New Vanguard tried to put me out for good.
Jonas looks directly into the camera.
Jonas Coleman: That will not go unanswered.
With that, he walks off and the cameras return to ringside.
Eryk Masters: Strong words from our former champion, and he’s got a point.
Other Guy: Of course he does, but I worry about his long term health, as I always have. He always seems to find himself in these really violent do-or-die scenarios and that’s… that’s just a big concern for me.
Eryk Masters: I know what you mean, man. For sure.
Other Guy: This show has been kind of a whirlwind, man. We’ve got Azraith DeMitri and newcomer Montgomery Creed coming up next, for the FINAL SPOT in the Iron Fist Championship at Revolution 150!
Eryk Masters: Can you say banger? That’s what I’m feelin’.
Azraith DeMitri Vs. Montgomery Creed
I…am a Man…of Constant Sorrow…
I’ve seen troubles…all my days…
The Charm City Devils’ “Man of Constant Sorrow” kicks in, bringing the fans to their feet. Out from the back emerges none other than the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion: Buck Dresden. He steps out from the back, the World Championship gripped tightly in his hand. He surveys the crowd and nods his head, slinging the title onto his shoulder. He wears a black pair of jeans, black boots, a white BAD ASS BROTHERHOOD shirt, and a black BAD ASS BROTHERHOOD vest. He continues to nod his head, talking to himself as he walks to the ring. He climbs the steps and walks across the ring apron. He grabs a hold of the ringpost, swings himself around and walks on the other ring apron. He stops, staring into the camera. He hoists the World Heavyweight Championship above his head and nods confidently, keeping the furious stare, and he grins.
Eryk Masters: He’s the World Champion of the SHOOT Project and after the things he’s gone through to win it and to keep it, I can’t argue that there’s any other soul that deserves it.
Other Guy: We’ve got one hell of a roster, that’s for sure, and if anybody can take on any of them at any time, I’ve gotta give the nod to Buck. I don’t want to, but he’s Champion for a reason.
He enters the ring and pulls a microphone from his back pocket. He motions for his music to come to a cease and it fades. He looks at the audience and then to the camera. He rubs his faded haircut, brushing his errant hairs from his face.
Buck Dresden: I was sittin’ in the back, mindin’ my own business, next thing I know Real Deal’s standin’ over me and he wants to talk about Revolution 150.
Buck pauses, paces the ring a bit, and stops dead center to continue.
Buck Dresden: He tells me all titles are gonna be on the line there. Sin City, Iron Fist, Tag Team, Six Man, Eight Man, Ten Man, Twelve Man, Fourteen Man, Shut Up and Fight, the Great British Baking Championship, the Chopped Championship, the Heisman, the Stanley Cup, I’ve even heard rumors we’re gonna hear Nevada’s final vote tally an’ see if Biden takes it or Donnie Boy.
He nods his head as there is a light bit of laughter in the crowd.
Buck Dresden: Yeah we all know that last one won’t happen. But still.
Buck Dresden: He told me he wants to get some input from me on who I should face for the World Championship. He wanted me to think about it. I told him I didn’t have to. I told him after what Charlie Jay Hitchens put me through, I was ready to fight whoever was next. Now, CK Butcher’s got me at Reckoning Day an’ I know full well I’m gonna have my damn hands full after 150 but at 150? Who did I want to play the spoiler, the guy or girl who could come in, beat me, change the main event of Reckoning Day, and lead this company if they had what it took to knock me on my ass. I told Josh I didn’t have to. I know who I wanted to face.
He stops, turns his head to the announce desk, and glares at the two of them.
Buck Dresden: But then he told me Eryk Masters is retired from active in-ring competition.
Other Guy: Oh…Shit.
Buck Dresden: Gettin’ real sick of you duckin’ me, Masters.
Eryk Masters: I didn’t…I don’t…
Buck Dresden: I’m fuckin’ with you, man. Damn.
Buck chuckles as Eryk clutches his chest.
Eryk Masters: I think my heart peed a little and not in a good way.
Other Guy: There’s a good way for your heart to pee?
Buck Dresden: No, I told him I knew who I wanted. A guy that is a journeyman. A guy that is a hero and a villain. An icon. A legend. I told him I didn’t want some crazy ass crackhead from some podunk with a gimmick. Nah, I wanted the real thing. I wanted the kind of guy that is first ballot Hall of Fame in anybody’s goddamn book. One of the toughest, scariest, baddest sumbitches on the planet. Somebody I looked up to. Somebody I had only dreamed about fightin’. Josh told me to call my shot. I had carte blanche.
Buck chuckles again.
Buck Dresden: I hope you’re watchin’ this, man. Because I’m callin’ you up right here…right now. For the World Championship at Revolution 150. I wanna defend this title, the people’s title, the world’s title…against X-CALIBUR.
Eryk Masters: WHOA!
Buck Dresden: I don’t get much political sway so when I get told I can call my shot, I’m knockin’ that sumbitch over the fence!
The fans are cheering their asses off right about now.
Buck Dresden: You barely know me, X. I barely know you. But I know that in a foxhole filled with the baddest Soldiers on the planet…you’re the goddamn General I wanna see in battle.
He pauses for a moment, looks down at the title, and then back to the camera.
Buck Dresden: I hope you ready, brother. See you at 150.
“Man of Constant Sorrow” kicks in again and the fans erupt. The challenge has been laid down. The match is made.
Eryk Masters: Ladies and gentlemen…the main event of Revolution 150…our Championship Edition…is Buck Dresden defending the World Heavyweight Championship against none other than the legend himself…X-CALIBUR.
Other Guy: He could’ve called for anybody, Eryk. He could’ve faced Pete Jack. He could’ve faced one of those Bone boys. He could’ve coasted. This guy called out one of, if not THE, most dangerous opponent in the ring we’ve ever seen in this business!
Eryk Masters: Of course he did. It’s Buck Dresden, you know? What do you expect?
Buck saunters up the ramp, looks over his shoulder, and smirks to the audience.
Other Guy: I would usually say I hope X is ready for this…but is Buck? Does he know what he just called for?
Eryk Masters: I think he knows exactly what he’s doing. Now, more than ever, Buck Dresden is in the driver’s seat. I can’t WAIT for Revolution 150!
Buck disappears to the back as “Man of Constant Sorrow” continues to play.
Other Guy: We’re rounding the evening out with a Sin City Championship defense! Void defends against Jacob Mephisto, and that match is NEXT.
Jacob Mephisto Vs. Void (c)
Void stands in the center of the ring, breathing deeply as “Would?” continues to play. He holds his head to the sky, inhaling the cries, licking his lips to taste the sweat exchanged between Jacob Mephisto and himself. He stands there with his eyes closed, listening to his music playing. The referee leaves the ring to see to Mephisto. Void looks down at the Sin City Championship and shakes his head, chuckling. He motions for a microphone. Once he is handed one, he waits for “Would?” to finish playing.
He places the Sin City Championship on the mat and reaches behind his head, unbuckles his half mask, and lets it fall, hitting the faceplate of the title first before coming to a stop next to his foot.
Void: Father Azraith…Sister NEMESIS…did you see? Did you see what I did for the family? I put a punctuation mark on the story told by you! How poetic that I, the uncrowned and unclaimed DeMitri, would be the soul to right this wrong. He will no longer cause us problems, I have seen to it.
Eryk Masters: Azraith defeated Mephisto at Revelation, what is he even on about?
Void: But I suppose that leaves me here, to end this show. I am to face Joshua Breedlove at Revolution 150 and, I must say, exemplary performance tonight! Truly. It is my pleasure to see you in combat so that I can continue to showcase the brilliance and dominion of the Vanguard. How poetic that I stand here…in the limel
He stops and looks at the microphone, tosses it aside, and asks for another. He breathes into the new microphone, sees that it is good, and continues.
Void: How poetic that I stand here…in the limeli
Another dead microphone. He mouths the word “Wow” and tosses it to the mat. The lights flicker. Void’s eyes cut to the entrance. Then to the lights as they flicker.
Eryk Masters: I’m not exactly sure what
Eryk’s headset dies. Other Guy goes to speak and his headset is dead as well. Void notices the two of them trying to speak at their desk. The lights dim. Dimmer. Dimmer. Dimmer. Without warning, the stark guitar strings of Kari Kimmel’s “Black” begins to play. Void turns to the entrance and the lights go out completely. All we can see are a few emergency lights and all we hear is Kari Kimmel.
When everything turns to black
You don’t know where to go
You need something
To justify your soul
Silence is broken
Confidence is gone
Everything you’re holding on to
Everybody selling truths
On every corner now
The wait until the fear
Has knocked you down
All the rules are changing now
You’re living in sin
Everything around you is caving in
All you’re holding on to
Slipping like water through your hands
Suddenly, the music stops.
I thought you would appreciate a little…theatricality.
A deep, rough voice echoes through the arena.
You needn’t worry, Void. I am not your enemy. I am not your friend. Do you know what I am?
The lights instantly come up and Void is face to face with OBSIDIAN.
Obsidian: I am your father, child.
Suddenly and without warning, Obsidian grabs Void by the throat and pushes him to the corner. It is obvious that Obsidian has but his index, middle, and thumb on the hand that is wrapped around Void’s throat. Void is frozen, breathing as much as he can from the iron-like grip. Obsidian slowly lifts the microphone to his bearded face, his wild hair cascading and shadowing his scarred visage.
Obsidian: And you’ve been a very…bad…boy.
The lights go out immediately for what feels like an eternity. They come back on and Void is alone, on his hands and knees. His head is bowed and he is shaking. All we hear…is “Black.”
And you sing
La la la la
La la la la
La la la la…
Yeah you sing
La la la la
La la la la…