We find ourselves backstage at a table. There are several microphones that line down the table similar to that of an interview panel. Chadwick Kyle sits alone at the table. Behind him is a small banner that displays the SHOOT helmet. This table was clearly meant for larger scale interview, but The Chad sits alone. Chad is dressed in his normal street clothes. Affliction jeans with several rivets and bedazzled sparkly bits, and a camo Ed Hardy T-shirt with some sort of sparkly tiger on the front. This week he wears a soft neck brace around his neck. A closer examination of the brace shows a single signature scribbled in sharpie. It reads “Momma Kyle.”
The Chadster: Those damned robots…
Chad gingerly rubs his neck. He is looking a little worse for wear. He sports a few bruises on his cheeks and a small butterfly bandage over his bottom lip.
Tha Chadster: For those of you that didn’t see Ruination, let me fill you in on what happened. There I was. Triumphant. I had the match in the bag. I was going to be your One Man Tag Team Champion. And those cowardly Transformers just couldn’t handle it.
He leans away from the microphone and stares, for just a moment, to the ceiling. He looks like a man who just lost the Super Bowl on the last play of the game. A small, singular tear, rolls down his battered cheek.
Tha Chadster: Those cowards completely disregarded the rules of Tag Team combat. They did not retreat to their corners in a timely fashion after being tagged out of the contest. They broke the plane of the ring to break up every submission attempt, every pin attempt. They double teamed, they stomped all over the rules of engagement. Here I was, a one man wrecking crew, barreling straight for the Championships. But they stole that from me with their blatant disregard for the rules of engagement that were set forth by NATO. They spat in the face of all things that are decent and true.
He slams his fist down on the table, rattling the microphone and causing a slight bit of feedback.
Tha Chadster: So this is the type of war that the Empire of Breedlove wants. He wants to fight with Guerilla Tactics. He wants to ignore the Queens rules for fighting. The People’s Republic of Chad does not bow to terrorism. We will fight the empire on the beaches. We will fight them in the air. On Land and on sea. Wherever the Empire goes, we will be there. I assure you, this is only a minor setback. We will not surrender. We will win this two front war. Fellow Republicans of Chad, bear with me as I do battle on both sides with the Evil Empire of Breedlove and the Vile Savages of Valor. We will be triumphant. We will overcome. WE. WILL. ENDURE!
Chad stands, swats the microphone off the table and immediately bends over, grabbing at his sore neck. There is no reaction, only silence. Before he leaves the area and points his index finger towards the camera, still holding his neck.
Tha Chadster: Next week. Every Revolution. Every Ruination. The Democratic People’s Republic of Chad will be there. I will do battle with Valor and Breedlove. Alone if I must. But they will not prevail. Those Championships will be mine. And there will be Hell to pay for all those who have wronged me. Mark my words.
Chadwick Kyle walks from behind the table and stomps away from the table dramatically, in the same manner as a scolded toddler. The scene fades away.
Brogun Dave Vs. Kintaro
Backstage, Jamie Johnson gets himself ready. He’s already in his gear, boots laced, gloves tight. He’s wearing an oversized Blackhawk Fight Gym hoodie, and he’s warming up with shadowboxing and low squat stretches. He looks ready: focused, serious, in the sort of fteakish shape that someone who is both very young and constantly training can achieve.
Also in the room is Nate Robideau. He’s dressed almost exactly the same, down to the hoodie–he has a match later as well. He’s nodding his head, arms crossed, face stern.
Robideau: Good. Keep your body fluid. Seppuku is no slouch, and really anyone just needs one–
Johnson: ‘One opportunity to get the upper hand.’ You act like I haven’t been hearing your intro class all this time.
Nate drops his head and chuckles for a moment, walking in a slow pace, shaking his legs out occasionally.
Robideau: Man, James, you’re right. Should I sign the deed over now? Get a new sign put in?
Johnson: In your dreams I’d take that open sore real estate off your hands. You bought that bed, old timer. Now you’re gonna sleep in it.
Jamie starts jumping up and down, lifting his legs at the apex, shaking his limbs. Nate leans against the lockers, looking to the floor.
Robideau: All jokes aside, James…I know you feel like you represent us out there. And I know you take that seriously. That kind of pressure can tear you up, make you…hyperfocus. Lose sleep. I know better than most.
He strides over and grasps Jamie by the shoulders, roughly working them, before clapping them simultaneously.
Robideau: Just go out. Kick ass. And if you get those creeping worries about representing us? Just remember. The guys who’s name is on the lease, the face of the gym, the head trainer–he just lost the world title to a rookie. You can’t possibly mess up worse than that.
Both men laugh at this. Nate waves to the door, and Jamie nods, rolling his shoulders before striding out–before popping his head back in.
Johnson: Thanks, Nate. Maybe I don’t say that enough. But thanks.
Johnson: Learn how to use Spitter better, pepaw.
Nate chuckles and pads over to the door. For a long moment, he watches his student stalk down the hallway, his pride evident. Then, he ducks back into the locker room. Begins to stretch, shadowbox, roll his shoulders. We cut away…
Jamie Johnson Vs. Ayumi Seppuku
We’re going backstage with the quickness to Abigail Chase, standing in front of ye olde SHOOT Project backdrop. Your fave interviewer (and mine) lifts the mic up and smiles for the camera.
Abigail Chase: SHOOT Project Faithful, my guest at this time, the one and only, Lindsay Troy!
A ZOMGPOPSPLOSION~! rocks the Epicenter as the Queen of the Ring slides into the shot. With hands on her hips and a stern expression on her pretty face, she looks ready for battle against CK Butcher, which is coming up in a hot minute (or five).
Abigail Chase: Lindsay, thanks for agreeing to this interview before your match. I think the question on everyone’s mind right now is, how are you doing and how is Pat Cassidy?
Troy scrunches her nose and frowns in irritation before addressing Abby.
Lindsay Troy: Pat’s gonna be fine. He’s not here tonight, which he’s not happy about and I know the fans aren’t happy about either, but rest assured he’s on the mend and will be back to kick some ass sooner than you think.
Another cheer erupts from the Epicenter crowd at the thought of the Scrapper from Southie’s eventual return.
Lindsay Troy: As for me, Abs, I’m here. I’m ready to put on yet another classic for all of you watching here in the arena and at home, and the reason I’m gonna do that is because the Unholy Cyber Army put me down but they didn’t take me out.
The Queen turns her body so her hazel eyes pierce the camera lens, the tone of her voice taking on a serious, biting edge.
Lindsay Troy: There are few things I love more than the taste of revenge on my tongue and the broken bodies of the vanquished at my feet. And I’m not gonna stop until I shatter the faces of the UCA and rip their bodies in two. When you aimed for my head, Superbeast, you should’ve made sure I wasn’t still breathing. You should’ve put me in a hospital bed next to Pat so I couldn’t show up tonight either. You have no idea the wrath you’ve brought down on yourselves, but I’m gonna show you when I bring the Butcher to heel. And then….maybe I’ll pick up where you two left off three weeks ago.
She sneers, her arm muscles rippling.
Lindsay Troy: We’ll see who’ll be cowering and suffering at the end of this.
She marches out of frame, on her way to combat. Abigail watches her go and the camera goes to ringside.
Lindsay Troy Vs. C.K. Butcher
We cut to the SHOOT Epicenter Green Room where we find Blaze Claymore carefully reaching for a peanut butter chocolate square when, suddenly, a hand comes in and swats it away.
The SAG Award Winning Actor spins around to see, looking at him, the longest-reigning Shut Up and Fight Champion in SHOOT Project history: Courtney Hatchett.
Courtney: Not quite; but speaking of dicks? Maybe you should grow one, and a set of matching balls, then think about picking a fight with someone who’s willing to give it back.
Blaze looks the superstar up and down, absentmindedly licking his fingers to get at least some remnants of the desert into his mouth. He then points at Courtney with a saliva-soaked finger, causing her to recoil.
Blaze: Courtney Ratchet!
Courtney: Like I haven’t heard someone reach for that low-hanging fruit before. But uh, it’s Hatchett, actually.
Blaze: Oh my god. That’s so much better AND it sounds a lot more violent too. HATCHETT.
Blaze swings his hands down like a lumberjack and Courtney steps forward, pressing her forearm up against Blaze’s throat as he eeks out some words in protest.
Blaze: Ezze durz ittt pleeezzz
Courtney: Look here, Johnny Cage. Kayden, my friend and VALOR brother, may be too nice to say this – but you’re a real piece of shit taking advantage of his good nature and selflessness to make yourself feel big.
Blaze’s face begins to turn red as air is prevented from reaching his brain in Courtney’ hold. He says nothing.
Courtney: What’s the matter, coward? Cat got your tongue? You know, ever since I lost the Shut Up and Fight Championship, I’ve been looking for someone to take the brunt of my frustration and just kick the shit out of. Think I just found the perfect candidate.
Blaze points to his throat and Courtney finally releases, dropping him to his feet as he reaches up and grasps his neck, gasping for air.
Blaze: Is…. this…. a… kink…. thing…. or…..?
Courtney shoves Blaze directly into the craft services table, causing him to dip his elbow into some half-drunk fruit punch and his hand into a bowl of Ranch dressing.
Courtney: Let me spell it out for you, Hack Nicholson. You disrespected Kayden. That means you disrespected ALL of VALOR. When you disrespect ALL of VALOR, that means you gotta deal with me. The Queen of Kickboxing. The Chick With the Hardest Kicks in Wrestling. The Goddess of Shut Up and FIGHT. ME. And you know something, Blade Runner? I’m coming for my pound of flesh.
Blaze looks at his hand in the bowl of Ranch and makes a gagging face, trying to muster a response.
Blaze: How very Charles Bronson of you, my dear. But I’m not here to tussle with any ladies. That goes against my code. Now… if you wanted to do a scene together-
Courtney hears enough. With lightning quick speed, she kicks Blaze Claymore directly in the sternum! The sickening thwack echoes throughout the Epicenter’s catering (and probably all of Las Vegas), sending Blaze flying back into the craft services table, flinging the bowl of Ranch up – among other dips and sauces – and causing them to crash down on to Blaze and his neatly-pressed suit. Not satisfied with this, Courtney lifts under the table, lets out a primal scream, and upends it on top of Blaze, along with every other snack, hors d’oeuvres, and beverage that previously remained.
Blaze lets out a sound that’s a mix of a whimper and a gag as he tries to recover.
Surveying the damage, Courtney looks down in amusement.
Courtney: Sorry, Biff Tannen, but I don’t do auditions. See you… in the ring.
As Courtney begins walking away from the ruins of the craft service table, the massive (and very irish) REIGN Soldier-In-The-Making, Blade McGuinness, walks up to the wreckage. Looking crestfallen that it’s been toppled over and destroyed, he sighs before angrily yelling out to no one in particular.
Blade McGuinness: OI!! WHAT IS THIS SHITE?! Oi was lookin’ fahrward ta some fookin’ grub!! Oi’m gehnna smash someone’s bloody fookin’ bake!!
Hearing Blade’s disappointment and knowing what he would soon discover under the table she quietly giggles into her hands.
Nate Robideau Vs. Ignatius Albert Martin
Judy-E DeMitri is gathering her things. The belt,, of course. A few random items in a duffle. No real rush–after all, why should there be? As soon as she zips up, the lights in the locker room cut to black.
As the red emergency light comes on, she stands to her full height, turning. Rolling her shoulders, she shakes her head, chuckling softly.
NEMESIS: Let me guess…’Cower and Suffer’? You’ll get neither from me, assholes.
With heavy thuds, the footsteps of her companions in the room make themselves known. They emerge into the scant light provided, bathed in red, their eyes shadowed. Both men pop their necks in stereo. Superbeast. Power Devil. The Unholy Cyber Army are here, and the threat isnt stated. It’s implied–known.
NEMESIS: Think you guys are ever going to get tired of doing that blowhard’s dirty work for him?
Power Devil: ‘For him’?
The Demons of Cyber Roppongi turn to one another, then break out into a thunderous laugh.
Superbeast: This isn’t ‘for him’, Judy-E DeMitri. This is for us. We warned all of you who step foot in this epicenter that your bodies are the flagstone of our fortress walls.
They begin walking forward slowly, and the World Champion drops into her fighting stance.
Power Devil: Emperor Breedlove doesn’t even know we’re here. But it will be good fun regardless. A laugh can be had after the–
Not wasting any time, Judy-E stutter steps forward and BLASTS Power Devil in the face with a roundhouse! She hobbles for a moment, shaking pain out of her leg, the impact of shin to jaw apparently unpleasant. Power Devil reels backwards, rumbling deep in his chest–then rushes her, aiming for a spear!! At the last second she matador slips him, dropping to the ground and sweeping his charging legs out from under him with a low kick!! He crashes into a bench seat hard, and she pops to her feet–only to catch a SICKENING standing lariat full on to the side of her neck!! Superbeast flips her body almost a full 360 degrees with one unprotected enzui clothesline!! He stands over her, the flash of his smile apparent even in the low light. She rolls, trying to find her feet, standing up shakily.
NEMESIS: That…that the best you two fucks have? You’re gonna have to–
She’s cut short when the massive mitt of the enraged Power Devil grips her around her throat. He raises her up from the floor one handed, gritting his teeth. Judy-E begins to rain down hammer strikes to his nose, trying to get his grip to lessen, her face turning red. Finally she vaults her left foot off of the wall behind her, giving her enough force to drive a knee solidly into Power Devil’s ribs! He drops her ot the floor, but adds his other hand to his grip and THROWS Judy-E DeMitri into a wall of lockers back first!! She crumples to the floor–and she’s still trying to get up!! Power Devil stalks over to her, grabbing her head by the nose and eye of her mask, idly smacking it into the concrete before leaning close. He never whispers. He does now.
Power Devil: All pretenders will become sacrifice, Judy-E DeMitri. All charlatans will know our rack and beg for mercy. You will tell the rest of your compatriots. You will tell them that we are building thrones of their suffering–
Suddenly, the door to the locker room bursts open, and Lindsay Troy comes charging in!! She doesnt even stop at NEMESIS and Power Devil, charging the surprised Superbeast–getting him gripped under the legs and HAULING HIM IN THE AIR FOR A SPINEBUSTER!! Power Devil stands as she pops to her feet, waving him over, asking him to bring it. He grins.
Power Devil: Come, brother. This one is leftovers.
Superbeast scrambles to his feet, favoring his lower back, and glowers at Troy before thinking better of it. Both men begin backing out of the room, giving Lindsay the opportunity to check on her fallen comrade.
Superbeast: Remember, Lindsay Troy.
Power Devil: Remember, Judy-E Demitri.
Superbeast: Thrones of Suffering.
Power Devil: Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Tell your father. Cower. And Suffer.
Buck Dresden Vs. KIMO (c)
We cut to a video playing on the SHOOTron.
His hands tremor like fragile little leaves in a mighty gust of wind. A lone match twists between a set of long, skeletal fingers. The greasy, raven-colored mop on top of his head has grown longer, and the thickness of it is noticeably fuller as it hangs wildly in front of his face. Each strand obscures his crooked physiognomy more than the last, making it next to impossible to interpret his demeanor.
With a swift flick of the wrist, he strikes the match against the course material of his black pants and watches the head ignite. He moves in closer to a window in the home that is lit up from within.
There’s a woman.
There’s a dog.
There’s a television set turned on with its volume raised quite a bit.
There are inherent voices coming from both the television set and this woman.
The flame dances like a marionette. As if he’s the one pulling its strings.
With his free hand, Arthur Pleasant blows a kiss to the inhabitants of the Dresden residence before flicking the match, causing it to land on a particularly wet section of shrubbery. The fumes from the direct vicinity are gag-inducing.
A loud whooshing sound follows. The dancing flame turns into an infernal Goliath, burning the shrub and scorching the home’s immediate exterior until it turns black.
Arthur sits down, Indian-Style, ten paces from the house, cloaked in a black hoodie. For several minutes, the flames spread throughout the facade and roof.
Perhaps the fire alarms aren’t working on account of needing batteries?
Suddenly, he can hear a series of frightened barks. Then? A scream cuts through the night like a dagger through the heart.
“Ah. There we go.” he says under his breath to no one in particular.
Arthur pulls his hood up and closes it tightly around his head by pulling on the drawstrings. A giggle escapes his scarred and chapped lips while the flames continue to grow steadily.
Beep, beep, beep! Beep, beep, beep!
Finally, the smoke alarms sound.
Arthur pulls a cell phone out and begins dialing 911.
His thumb hovers above the “Call” button for several seconds. The middle of his thumbnail looks severely bruised; almost charcoal, actually. As if it had been bashed by something with terrific force.
A crooked smile gives way to a set of sharp, jagged teeth.
He backspaces 911 and locks his phone. Then, he looks up at the nearby camera capturing all of this.
Arthur Pleasant: We’re not done, Buck.
Pleasant closes his eyes as the flames crackle and the screams inside grow louder. In the distance, he can hear what sounds like a firetruck. Would it get there in time?
Arthur Pleasant: This is on you. See you soon, friend.
He waves at the camera before getting up from the grass and making a slow, sauntering escape from the scene of the crime.
We cut back to Buck Dresden in the ring.
Buck turns to KIMO, who is resting against the turnbuckle watching along with him. Nothing is said between the two Soldiers. Buck rolls from the ring and sprints up the ramp and to the back, leaving KIMO alone in the ring.
Eryk Masters: Ladies and gentlemen, Arthur Pleasant is back in a big way!
Other Guy: I hope Buck’s family is good. I can’t…I can’t believe what I just saw!
Eryk Masters: Buck wasting no time to get to the back and try to get home!
We cut to the back, where we see Buck racing past the go position. He is stopped by Real Deal and Donovan King.
Real Deal: Fire and emergency are already on their way, Buck, go.
Buck keeps rushing past the two of them and he stops just short of the exit to the Epicenter. He notices the Proper Villainz locker room. He kicks the door in and is face to face with the whole of the group minus, of course, Arthur and X-Calibur. Buck glares at Thane.
Buck: Did you know?
Thane: Did I…what? Arthur?
Buck looks at Kintaro and then RAIKO before finally stopping at Thane.
Buck: I swear to God, Victor, I’ll kill yer whole goddamn team if so much as one hair is singed on my wife or my dog.
He storms out of the room, leaving a bewildered group of Villainz and tears through the exit door, rushing to get home. Rushing to get to his family. The camera settles back on the exit door shutting slowly. We fade out on the door finally, slowly, latching shut.