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Ruination 22

Ruination 22

Table of Contents

As the SHOOT Project logo goes up in smoke, we cut to a time lapse of the Las Vegas skyline fading from the bright, sunlit day to the dark sky of night, the neon lights blazing over the landscape. There’s an almost eerie sound of silence to it. The lights cut out as if someone threw a switch, plunging everything into darkness. And then, very abruptly…

 

I got, I got, I got, I got

Loyalty, got royalty inside my DNA

 

Kendrick Lamar’s “DNA” slaps through the stream as neon lights flare into the form of Joshua Breedlove standing in all his glory, hoisting the SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Championship high above his head as the camera pans around him in a full 360° view.

 

Cocaine quarter piece, got war and peace inside my DNA

 

The Unholy Cyber Army burst into existence in a shower of neon sparks, raising their World Tag Team Championships high and bellowing silently into the darkness.

 

I got power, poison, pain and joy inside my DNA

I got hustle though, ambition, flow inside my DNA

 

A single beam of neon blue streaks across the darkness, taking the form of Azraith DeMitri, the Sin City Championship draped over his shoulder, The Avatar daring some unseen challenger to come and try to take it.

 

I was born like this, since one like this, immaculate conception

I transform like this, perform like this, was Yeshua new weapon

 

Pink and blue neon lights swirl from the ground up forming into Dan Stein raising the Shut Up and Fight Championship, lights flashing all around him.

 

I don’t contemplate, I meditate, then off your fucking head

This that put-the-kids-to-bed

 

Several rapid flashes of multicolored neon herald the arrival of Buck Dresden, the Iron Fist Championship draped over his shoulder. The scene lightens and darkens in a steadily pulsing manner as Buck offers silent challenge to all comers.

 

This that I got, I got, I got, I got

Realness, I just kill shit ’cause it’s in my DNA

 

Jamie Johnson burst into the scene in a flash of blue light.

 

I got millions, I got riches buildin’ in my DNA

 

Cal Crawford burst forth in a red, white, and blue bomb of neon sparks.

 

I got dark, I got evil, that rot inside my DNA

I got off, I got troublesome heart inside my DNA

 

The darkness itself seems to coalesce into the form of Void. Blight and Fade appear beside him for a moment before all three disappear into whisps of smoke. A flash of red light flares up and Jacob Mephisto stands where they previously stood, flanked by The Montgomery Twins.

 

I just win again, then win again like Wimbledon, I serve

 

A spotlight flashes and Nate Robideau bursts into the scene, throwing a nasty looking knee before fading out and a burst of neon green light reveals Josh Conway pointing out into the distance.

 

Yeah, that’s him again, the sound that engine in is like a bird

 

A shower of sparks forms into IAM, looking up with a face full of determination before two streaks of red light form an X as X-Calibur pops into the scene throwing a roaring elbow.

 

You see fireworks and Corvette tire skrrt the boulevard

 

Ayumi Seppuku springs into existence in an explosion of golden light before another burst of color produces Go Gensai.

 

I know how you work, I know just who you are

 

A shower of multicolored sparks births the form of NEMESIS, her mask being pulled down over her face.

 

See, my pedigree most definitely don’t tolerate the front

Shit I’ve been through prolly offend you, this is Paula’s oldest son

 

Three neon skulls form from smoke as the Broguns form, holding the Battalion Championships up for all to see.

 

I know murder, conviction, burners, boosters

Burglars, ballers, dead, redemption

Scholars, fathers dead with kids and

I wish I was fed forgiveness

 

Several flashes of all different colors and shades of neon take over the screen as we see flashes of every SHOOT Project Soldier along with flashes of the word “ApeX” interspersed.

 

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, soldier’s DNA

 

Neon purple streaks across the screen and forms into the Ruination logo…

A Sibling Encounter

Backstage, the cameras are shown inside the locker room of Lexi Gold, where she is seen sitting on the leather sofa with her eyes glued to her phone. She was already dressed to compete in her ring gear. It is a big night for her since this will be her first chance at a championship opportunity, so she has been studying Dan Stein’s matches for weeks and is currently doing that as we speak. 

 

We then pan over to another blonde woman who just entered the frame. She was holding flowers in her hand. It turned out the identity of the woman was Lexi’s sister Leslie.

 

Lexi notices her standing there and gets up out of her seat, then smiles and pulls her into a tight hug. The two sisters stand there, embracing each other, before Leslie hands off the flowers to her.

 

Leslie Gold: I just wanted to come by here and wish you luck. I know tonight is a special night for you. I’ll be watching it all go down and win or lose, I’m proud of the growth and journey you’ve been on.

 

Lexi Gold: Thank you for the flowers and for being here, really. I know you have mother duties to attend to, so the fact that you’re here in support of me means the world.

 

The hot crowd in Las Vegas cheered on The Golden Goddess, elated to see such support being shown and the anticipation of the match that will be happening later.

 

Leslie Gold: No problem. I wouldn’t miss a moment like this for the world. I know Dan is no walk in the park. He’s a tough opponent, and he will more than likely try every move in his book in an attempt to beat you, but I also know you will do the same in return. You have come a long way since the days when you first started in this business as a manager. Look at you now, you’re one badass, well-oiled machine. Proud of you sis and always will be.

 

Those words were enough to make Lexi’s eyes water up and start crying, not to mention the emotions heading into the match added to it. She didn’t want to disappoint her or anyone else who was supporting her, she wiped her tears and laughed at how silly she’s probably looking for the viewers watching this.

 

Lexi Gold: I promised myself I wouldn’t cry, but damn those words affected me big time. I know you and I had our battles in the past, but I’m glad all that is behind us, and we can now have a healthy sisterly bond. Aside from that, I am ready to get my emotions in check and throw caution to the wind.

 

She smiled and threw her head back, shutting her eyes for a moment, thinking about how grateful of a position she was in, then threw her head forward and back to normal as she opened her eyes. 

 

Lexi Gold: All this build up has led me to this night. I’ll make a promise to myself, to you, and to everyone else that whatever outcome comes out of this match, I will continue to work harder and move forward instead of backwards. 

 

She sighs and looks around the room with her hands on her hips.

 

Lexi Gold: In this business, you are never certain of what you will receive. It could be news of your release, the news of an injury you suffered, or a title opportunity. That is why you must take full advantage of the blessings you’re receiving. I plan to do just that against Dan Stein. I am ready for this battle. 

 

Leslie Gold: Then go out there and show it! 

 

The two exchange nods and Lexi leaves the room as her sister watches on with a smile on her face. 






Nice to Meet You

She stood next to a monitor, sipping from a bottle of water.  It had been an evening of reacquainting herself with the wrestling business altogether, nevermind SHOOT Project specifically.  She wasn’t going to meet everyone this evening, nor even in combination with tomorrow night’s Revolution–assuming she decides to return.

 

Yet, in the back of the Epicenter for the first time in years was Laura Seton.

 

And as she is about to find out, she isn’t alone now.

“Seton, right?”

She turns, one brow arching, and is met with the owner of a voice like thunder across a plain.  He stands broad of chest, heavy of brow, his face a mishmash of light scars and the side of his neck bearing a healed gouge from a lifetime ago.  He’s hauling a gear bag and wearing a hoodie marked “Blackhawk Gym” across the chest–and he is walking with a woman who actually dwarfs him, both in height and glamor.  He’s obviously on his way to get ready, but she’s already geared up, and whatever they were talking about is cut short by way of introductions. 

Robideau: Nate Robideau.  It’s good to see you back here. 

He extends a hand that’s roughly the size of a tomahawk steak.  She has a friendly smile and watches as her hand becomes lost within his with their shake.

 

Seton: Not back officially, still have a couple I’s to dot and T’s to cross tomorrow, but yeah… good to be around again.

 

She turns towards the woman, eyes slightly widening at her sight.  It wasn’t often Laura had encountered someone bigger than her in the business.

 

Troy: Lindsay Troy. Nice to meet you.

 

Troy extends a hand of her own, although hers is taped up for battle. Laura takes it and Lindsay clasps it firmly.

 

Troy: Always great to see another veteran come back to the game.

 

Seton: Can’t say I’ve watched much wrestling since I stepped away, but I’ve seen your name a few times before. You’ve done a heck of a job for yourself.

 

She turns her attention back to Nate.

 

Seton: Certainly different around here from before.  Glad to see you can make it for being you are now and not what you used to be.

Nate steadies his bag on his shoulder, his lips curling into a soft smile. There’s a bit of haunt behind his deep-set eyes, but he seems to shake it off.

Robideau: Yeah. They’re good about that, around here. So what brings you back to the fold, anyway?

 

Laura gives a soft laugh, looking down for a second; still trying to figure out this answer.

 

Seton: Just… just want to piece it all together for once. Get what I missed out on years ago here. I want to fight again because I love the spirit of sport and I’m not getting any younger.

 

Troy: None of us are. But you’ll find there’s something to be said for the older crowd teaching the younger ones a thing or two about the sport of kings

 

It’s said with a smirk and a wink and wrapped in wisdom.

 

Troy: Speaking of, I need to go and do just that. It was good to meet you, Laura. We should talk more sometime.

 

Seton: Good luck!  I appreciate the kind words.  I’m sure we’ll run into each other more in the future.

 

We fade away.



Lindsay Troy Vs. Daihm Ferguson Vs. Malice

Send in the Clowns

Lindsay Troy rises to her feet as the bell rings, signaling her victory. Her hand is raised and as she leans down to extend a hand to Malice and help him to his feet, a wave of BOOOOOOOs roll through the Epicenter.

 

Scott Kamura: Oh no, what’s this now?

 

Cromwell Yarbury and Muratagi Hanzo sprint through the crowd and hop over the barricade. The two stooges members of the Unholy Breedlove Empire slide under the bottom rope and make a beeline for their boss’s upcoming supershow opponent.

 

Dutch Harris: Looks like Joshua Breedlove has a comment to make on Lindsay Troy’s fighting spirit after all.

 

Scott Kamura: Of course. Why say anything when you can send your goons to make a statement for you.

 

Yarbury tackles Troy to the mat and hammers away while Hanzo puts the boots to her. The Unholy Breedlove Empire works the numbers advantage and seems to have the upper hand before a well-placed headbutt to the bridge of Yarbury’s nose sends the lackey to a world of pain. He rolls off and holds his face, feeling the blood trickle through his fingers. Troy sweeps Hanzo’s legs out from under him and then kips up to her feet.

 

Dutch Harris: That’s one way to turn the tide. Yarbury’s nose might be broken!

 

The Queen muscles Yarbury to his feet and tosses him over the top rope to the ground. Then she turns her attention to Muratagi Hanzo, who is now getting vertical himself. She bolts toward him, leaps, and knees him smack dab in the chompers.

 

Scott Kamura: Queen’s Gambit! And Hanzo tumbles through the ropes to the outside!

 

The SHOOT Project Faithful erupt into cheers as Malice now groggily stands up. Troy gives him a nod before he makes his way to the back. Lindsay motions for a microphone, and, once it’s handed to her, scowls at Cromwell and Muratagi.

 

Lindsay Troy: Hey. Bozo and Pismo.

 

She leans on the top ring cable, smirking. The Unholy Breedlove Empire 

 

Lindsay Troy: Tell the ringmaster he shouldn’t bother sending in the clowns since he had no problem attacking me at Master of the Mat. If he wants to send a message…he can do it himself.

 

 

Troy flips the microphone to the mat as Yarbury and Hanzo make their way to the back, angry at how their plan backfired. The shot lingers on the Master of the Mat ascending a turnbuckle and looking out to her adoring public before cutting away.

Be Vewwy Vewwy Quiet...

Kitsune has arrived!

 

The fans in attendance cheer as the Battalion Champion and Brogun aficionado walks through the entrance from the parking deck.  He wears his new mask, unveiling his beautiful and charming chin and mouth.  His grin is inescapable and his happiness is palpable.  He stops and notices the camera.  He cocks his head to the side and sticks his tongue out.

 

Kitsune:  Why…hello there out there in TV land!  It’s ya boy the Purple Fox, Wizard Supreme Kitsune.  Man, I gotta tell you, I haven’t seen action in ages now, can you believe it?  No Battalion defenses, no singles matches, nothin’!  But, I’m rested, I’m tested, I’m vested, and maaaan…with peace between the Kyles and Broguns in effect and my quest to bring a smile to RAIKO I’ve gotta tell y’all…I’m feelin’…

 

He stops walking and is now face to face with RUSS.  RUSS cocks his own head to the side and waves to the much, much smaller Kitsune.  Kitsune blinks a few times.

 

RUSS:  HELLO FOX.

 

Kitsune:  …hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii Russ!

 

RUSS:  RUSS.

 

Kitsune:  Russ.

 

RUSS:  RUSS.

 

Kitsune:  RUSS?

 

RUSS:  RUSS.

 

Kitsune:  How…

 

Kitsune reaches up and wipes some dandruff off of RUSS’ giant shoulder.

 

Kitsune:  …are ya, buddy?

 

RUSS:  HUNGRY.

 

Kitsune purses his lips as his mind works overtime to try to figure out his next steps.

 

Kitsune:  Oh hey!

 

Kitsune reaches into his pocket and hands RUSS a warm and flattened protein bar.

 

RUSS:  WHAT.

 

Kitsune looks at the massive hand of RUSS close around the bar.

 

Kitsune:  It’s…it’s brownie crunch, my dude.

 

RUSS:  I LIKE BROWNIES.

 

Kitsune:  Yeah, dude, brownie crunch.

 

RUSS opens the wrapper and bites half of the bar in his mouth.  He starts to chew and his face starts out content.  Kitsune smiles until RUSS’ face shifts to one of disgust.  He spits out the protein bar at Kitsune’s feet, much to Kitsune’s shock.

 

RUSS:  TASTED LIKE CHOCOLATE SAND.

 

Kitsune:  I mean, protein so kinda you know like grainy…

 

RUSS:  NOT A BROWNIE OR ANY CRUNCHES.

 

Kitsune:  Is crunch actually a flavor?

 

RUSS slams the bar into the wall beside the two of them.

 

RUSS:  CRUNCH.  LIKE BONES.  LIKE…FOX…BONES.

 

Kitsune takes a few steps back.

 

Kitsune:  Now hey, man…the Kyles ‘n’ us have an agreement.  Now if you wanna go to a Brazilian steakhouse I can…feasibly give you a coupon for…an appetizer.

 

RUSS lets out a howl of fury.  He reaches for Kitsune, who ducks RUSS and quickly runs past him.  RUSS charges after the Fox.  Kitsune leaps over a production box on casters while RUSS tears through the box like if the Blob ate the Juggernaut.  Kitsune dips around a corner and looks around.  He sees a painter’s cart with fresh black paint.

 

Kitsune:  Fuck fuck fuck fuck…okay…

 

Kitsune looks at the paint and then the wall.

 

Kitsune:  Nah.

 

He runs off.  We stay focused on the paint until Kitsune steps back into frame.

 

Kitsune:  Unless…?

 

RUSS turns the corner and sees the painter’s cart.  He glares down the empty hallway and then looks at the cart.

 

RUSS:  FOX!

 

RUSS looks down at the black paint.  Then he looks at the wall, where a fresh black half circle was painted on the wall.  RUSS looks at the black half circle and then back to the paint can.

 

RUSS:  …FOX?

 

RUSS slowly lifts his hand and pushes his finger into the paint.  RUSS looks back and sees the wet paint on his finger.  After a beat, he licks it.  His face contorts into one of rage.

 

RUSS:  FOX!

 

RUSS rushes past the half circle and we follow him for a moment before cutting back to the black half circle.  Kitsune is standing in front of it now, hands on his knees, breathing heavily.  He hears the stomping Kyle and his eyes go wide again.  He takes off running, looking for somewhere to hide.

Lexi Gold Vs. Dan Stein (c)

Rat in a Cage

“I am going to win the Sin City Championship tomorrow night.”

 

It is hours before showtime at the SHOOT Epicenter and Alex Kincaid is already at the building getting ready for his return to the ring. Various staff members are milling about and trying to get things set up for the event. Lighting rigs are being connected, dozens of camera are being put tested and a myriad of other little details that have to get put in place are all being worked out. But there is a constant. The ring is the first thing to be set up and tested every week. With everyone else running around like a chicken with their head cut off, Kincaid looks remarkably relaxed. He sits in the corner of the ring in sweatpants and a ratty looking Lou Thesz tribute shirt. He shrugs a little and continues.

 

“I’m past the point in my career where I try to hype up things by being clever. Clever, in this line of work, is saying whatever it takes to needle an opponent to pick a fight with you. Well I don’t have to do that this week do I? Because I’ve already got a fight, I walked in the door, told people I wanted a challenge and well…boom. Challenge given. Challenge, of course, accepted. My first match in this company in a very long time is going to be a four way for the Sin City Championship. Pat Cassidy. RD3. Azraith DeMitiri. I am going to beat them, all of them and at the end of this night I am going to stand here with my newly won championship and prove to everyone that I was worth another chance.

 

So it’s that simple right? I mean, if I’m going to sit here and flat out tell you that I’m going to win the championship then you obviously know what comes next. I sit here and I run everyone down. I check off the list. Reginalds a creepy little navel gazer-”

 

He waves an imaginary pen in the air and clicks his tongue, making him off his mental list

 

“- Pat Cassidy makes me sad-”

 

Another click.

 

“-and we should have salted wherever they grow the DeMitiri family.”

 

A final click.

 

“There you go. There is my brilliant wrestling promo that gets put on youtube and everyone is amazed. You’re welcome. No, I’m not going to do that. That’s boring. I’m much more curious what being given this chance says about me, and about what SHOOT Project thinks they know about me. Like I said last show when I walked out and laid out my past here, I’m here because I want to be different. I want to make changes. If you’re new, if weren’t around when I was here seven years ago, I was a pretty different guy. I picked a lot of fights and I hurt a lot of people. But I always did it because I thought that pro wrestling could be saved in the long run. I still do. Man, nothing means more to me than this. There are kids who grow up, they see that clip of Hendrix playing guitar with his teeth and they’re amazed. They think, oh even if I’m never that good I still need to try. Because nothing has made me feel as fired up as THAT.  That was me the first time I saw someone throw a truly pretty german suplex. Couldn’t be anything else in the world after that.

 

Everybody knows that about me. Everybody knows I don’t see pro wrestling the way everybody else does. People say I’m obsessed, fine, whatever. What matters is that in terms of that obsession or whatever? That hasn’t gone anywhere. You know, I might be trying to turn the old moral compass around but I’m still sailing around the same globe. And what I know is, if a guy with my obsessions and my history in this organization walked in…well I wouldn’t be giving him a title shot in his first match. I’d be trying to keep him as far from any of the pillars of my organization as I could; So what am I to think?”

 

He chuckles a bit, almost sarcastically, and he looks away from the camera in front of him for a moment. When he looks back his expression has sharpened.

 

“You wouldn’t just be trying to shut me up would you?

 

‘The wolves came down to the farm last night and spoke to me of freedom’. That’s a Henrietta Bradford line from a book my wife loved as a kid. I’ve always that line, because the dog that it’s being said to is becomes super pumped up by it but has absolutely no goddamn idea what it’s getting into. You wake that fire in a man and he’ll charge and do something stupid. The wolves, of course, know what they’ve gotten you into. Freedom isn’t being given a token title opportunity and having some nervous promoter go ‘Hey man, we good?’ Did you think that just because I came back last week and said I wanted to do things a little differently I’d fall for the same stupid shit back here everybody else does?

 

You’ve got Alex Kincaid back in your locker room. The Last Son of Professional Wrestling, ‘Infinite’, whatever you prefer. And I never thought I’d find myself resentful of a title shot. I’ve met kids toiling on indy shows in VFW Halls where they’d tell me they want to get to SHOOT, get in a Sin City championship match and really set the pace. Be the workhorse. I admire their fire. Because me, as I sit here, all I can think is…do I deserve to be given this chance? And what does it mean when you’re given an opportunity that everyone knows you don’t deserve?”

 

He drops those last words so fast and hard it catches him by surprise. He’s been ranting and raving, every once in a while letting go a bit of spittle as he shouts toward the camera but when he says that he goes silent. He sets his jaw grimly. There’s a tremble, just a small one, as he tries to constrain his frustration. He keeps his volume lower as he lays out his final points.

 

“I had a plan. Come in, bottom of the card, show people ‌I’m not here to snatch opportunities from them. I was going to fight my way up, bit by bit, and maybe in a couple of months I’d earn one of these shots. Instead, Sin City Championship 4 way first match. I remember when I saw it, backstage, reading the booking sheet on the wall and I look over and I saw a crew member rolling their eyes. Oh great, this guys back and he gets a shot right away. So I’m deep in a hole here, yeah? I win the belt, then I won a title people that some folks out there are going to say I don’t deserve. I lose, and I prove them all right. Great.

 

Let me tell you what’s going to happen one more time: I am going to win the Sin City Championship at Revolution. I’m going to win because wrestling is about one thing above all others and that is imposing your will on the world. I’m going to win because I fucking decided to! Because I want to be champion. And there’s going to people in the audience, and people backstage who are disgusted with it. Who is this guy to walk in and snatch up one of our belts? Well, the answer at that points going to be simple: I’m the Sin City Champion. You can change that any time you want. And I will give people those chances until I prove to them that change has come. Until I prove to them, that I am everything I say I am.

 

Life is rarely about what you deserve. More often it’s about what you can take. Someday I’m going to have to make peace with that notion. Unfortunately, for my three fellow competitors this week? I’m not there yet. I’m walking in with something to prove, and the only I can do that is by using the three of you to do it. I won’t insult you by telling you it’s nothing personal. You screw with a mans bread and everything becomes personal. So I’ll tell you the truth: You don’t want me in this match? I don’t want me in this match either. But it’s here now, and when that bell rings all the unfairness of the world gets side aside. We’re four men in a world of our own, and we’re going to affect change the only way we know how. I’ll see you four tomorrow night. Be ready.”

 

With that he lays his head back against the turnbuckle behind him to take a deep breath. He closes his eyes and the camera moves back from him. We’re left in the still being set up arena as we fade…to…black…



Watchful Eye

Bobby Tick and Broodwarden are backstage with Abigail Chase.  Tick paces back and forth, twiddling his fingers, and is in deep thought.  Broodwarden is statuesque in the background and pounds a fist into the palm of his hand.  The massive seven foot monster cracks his neck to the right and left.  His mask is different this week.  He’s wearing a black mask with one giant eyeball in the center.  Broodwarden’s petite, bulbous, penguin waddling manager, the odd Bobby Tick, scratches his chin.  The beautiful Abigail Chase opens the scene.  

 

Abigail Chase: Last week, on Revolution, Broodwarden made his debut and pummeled the competition in less than a minute.  This week – 

 

She’s interrupted.  Bobby Tick forces himself into the microphone.  Ms. Chase looks appalled by the grotesque miniature archfiend.  

 

Bobby Tick:  This week?  THIS WEEK?  Ms. Chase this week doesn’t exist.  Last week, a man known around the world as the Overlord of Onslaught, mopped the ring with that pathetic excuse for competition.  He proved to the entire roster that they now have a living, breathing, mythological being in their presence.  The entire world witnessed a murder in the ring.  The Disciple of Disaster, Broodwarden, cannibalized that poor little schmuck before a live audience.  This week?  We’re sans match, Ms. Chase.  We don’t even have the bottom of the damned barrel.  We’ve been told that there’s not a single soul in the back with a sack big enough to go toe-to-toe with my client.  Not yet.

 

Bobby turns to Abigail and smiles.  He pinches the microphone and removes it from her grip as it dangles from his fingertips.  He brushes her along as she quickly scampers from the scene.  Tick walks toward the camera to get up close and personal.  

 

Bobby Tick:  It was not long ago that I was told by a good friend of mine there was a wonder of the world living in a village outside Tacna, Peru.  I jumped at the opportunity to acquire a relic of the natural world.  Who wouldn’t?  The man I met at the southern tip of the mysterious Peruvian wasteland was nothing like I’ve ever seen.  His strength is unbelievable.  His talent is impeccable.  His ferocity is unmatched.  His focus, and drive, are immeasurable.  It took time, but eventually he was on board with traveling the world and competing against the legends of the squared circle.  His series against Jinko Musashi will go down in Japanese lore as some of the greatest big battel wrestling of all time.  He’s the only man to pin Black River Bill Bradshaw in the wild man’s signature England Execution stipulation.  The man behind me is known around the globe as the Universal Eradicator.  He LIQUIFIES legends.  

 

He waddles back so Broodwarden can be seen.  The monster continues to grind his knuckles into the palm of his hand, and his heavy breathing is daunting.  

 

Bobby Tick:  We’ve been told that SHOOT Project is unconquerable.  That’s why we’re here.  We want your best.  We want your biggest.  We want your baddest.  We want the Azriath Demitri’s, the Void’s, the Unholy Cyber Army, and then we want the main course.  

 

Tick shuffles toward the camera and leans in like he’s telling a secret.

 

Bobby Tick:  In case you didn’t get that…I just called those folks ‘appetizers’.  Not even good enough to be the main course.  

 

He quickly returns to his original position to present his client, and continues within context.  

 

Bobby Tick:  A snack.  A morsel of what you deem is talented and worthy enough of this man’s righteous ability to out-wrestle every individual he comes into contact with.

 

He looks down at his Hublot Big Bang Meca-10 King Gold watch.  

 

Bobby Tick:  You’re only giving us more time.  More time to observe.  More time to study.  More time to understand your flaws, and weaknesses.  We’re not distracted.  We’re eyes-wide-open to everything that’s going on.  It’s fine that you fear booking my client.  Because we’re watching. We’re watching Nate Robideau.  We’ve got our eye on IAM.  We’ve seen what Pat Cassidy can do.  We won’t forget what we saw when KIMO and Buck Dresden met last week.  That’s what we want.  That’s what we crave.  That’s what we…desire.  Bring it.  Because, if you don’t, then it will be brought to you.  

 

He jolts toward the camera with surprising speed.  His empty brown eyes stare into the camera.  His beak nose points downward.  He snarls, and spits as he states the following…

 

Bobby Tick:  In the form…of…BROOD….WARRRRRRRRRRDENNNNNNNNN….

 

The microphone falls with a thud.  Bobby Tick leaves the scene.  The camera captures Broodwarden in all his horrific glory.  The cameraman zooms slowly forward as the cycloptic eye on the black mask stares back during a simultaneous fade out.

Jamie Johnson Vs. Go Gensai

Ignatius V. Ignatius: The Backstage Conversation

“Ignatius.”

“Ignatius.”

Backstage in a locker room, the man known as I AM is taping up his wrists and stretching intermittently.  These are the quiet moments before the war that most like to keep very, very solitary.  But not wishing to be rude, Ignatius Albert Martin waves in Nate Robideau, pulling his AirPods from his ears.  Martin is in his standard halloween tights, a nod to his time at Oklahoma State University–Nate is in warmup pants and his ever-present gym hoodie.  He pads in softly, arms crossed, and before he can speak up, the younger man takes a moment to get in a quick rib shot. 

I AM: What’s up, Blackhawk?  Here to tell me how much contempt you have for me? 

Nate practically winces, then shakes his head. 

Robideau: No, no I am not. 

I AM: Nah, I get it.  New kid, too much attitude, said some shit that pissed you off.  So what is it? 

There’s a moment where Nate considers a few different ways this conversation could go.  He’s almost Sherlock Scanning the situation.  Finally, as he always does, he takes the honest approach.  He is, after all, breathtakingly predictable in many ways. 

Robideau: I wanted to wish you luck tonight. 

Martin looks up at him, almost incredulous.

Robideau: I know.  I know.  But there’s something you have to understand, Ignatius. 

He helps himself to a seat next to his opponent from last week. 

Robideau: Every fighter needs…something.  You are a new kid, but that just means you’re still learning.  And maybe you take a loss from me and see me talking about how I have to face you with contempt and treat you like you don’t belong, and maybe you think that’s the way this has to go.  But the thing is…I’m not you.  I’m not half the athlete you are.  I have to work twice as hard just to keep up with you, and if we were the same age, I’d still have to work that hard.  Hating you, hating the people I’m across from…that’s my ‘something.’  That’s my edge.  That’s because I need one.  You? 

He shakes his head.

Robideau: Being Ignatius Albert Martin is your ‘something’.  That’s your edge.  

 

Martin nods his head in understanding .

 

I AM: Let me tell you something, Nate.  Both times I faced you I looked up and down that booking sheet a couple times just to make sure that I was reading it right.  I know how it goes.  Old dog doesn’t want to give the new kid his due until he’s paid it.  I get it.  It’s been that way everywhere I been.  There been more than a time or two that I been that old dog on the team.  I know some stuff got said between you an me.  That’s just the way the game is played, bro.  At the end a tha day I know that you an me ain’t got no beef.  It’s competition.

 

Nate smiles as Martin puts his hands on his shoulders.  

 

I AM: You wanna know what your angle is?  It’s just being Nate.  Shit.  You beat me so bad the first time we got in the ring together I went an joined up with SAIGO.  You think I would have thought to join their Dojo and endure that kind of pain day in and day out if I had beaten you?  Naw man.  You made me want to be better, just cause you’re better.  Fact is, I aint got nothin but respect for you, man.  

 

Both men grasp hands.  

 

Robideau: The feeling is mutual. 

 

He stands and begins to walk out, but turns.  

 

Robideau: Give Void Hell, Ignatius. 

 

With that, he exits, leaving Ignatius Albert Martin to continue taping, considering his upcoming match. We cut away…

Private Eyes... They're Watching You!

We cut backstage.  The setting is lounge area.  The camera is peering from the viewpoint of a corner.  In the upper and lower edges of the frame, we can see the shadows of the leaves of a plastic plant.  The sounds of the room are muffled, almost as if we are hearing them from behind a wall.  The overall feeling is that we are not supposed to be here.  The room is a standard seating area.  There are a few comfortable looking executive chairs in the room and several tables.  The live feed of Ruination is playing on a television mounted to the wall.  The muffled sounds of breathing can be heard overtop of any sounds coming from the room.  

 

Chad Kyle is sitting in a chair situated on the far side of the room.  He’s not dressed to compete as he is wearing a pair of black sweatpants and a pair of slides.  He rests his shutter shades onto the top of his head and reaches into his pocket.  “Animals” by Nickelback gets louder as he removes his cellphone from his pocket, the song ending as he brings it to his head.

 

Chad Kyle: Hey babe!  I was just thinkin’ about you.  What you doing?  Ahh that sounds fun.  I’m just hanging out here at the show.  Figured I’d hang around and see if there was something for me to do here.  Naw, I prolly wont stay for the whole thing.  You wanna grab something to eat later?

 

Chad pulls his right leg to a rest over his left knee, leaning back in the chair.  He is comfortable, disarmed even.  The camera shakes a little at the movement of Chad, is if it’s trying to get a better look.

 

Chad Kyle: Man I’m glad you called.  There’s been a lot on my mind lately with everything going on, and I just wanted to check in and see how you’re feeling with everything.  Me?  Naw, I’m good.  I don’t spook that easily, plus you got my back.  What should I be scared for?  You’re a badass chick, She may run her mouth a bit on Spitter, but there’s no way that she would actually do anything right?  

 

The breathing intensifies behind the camera.  Chad stops, almost as if he may have heard something, just off in the distance.  He looks around and over his shoulders, obviously spooked.  The tone in his voice shifts just a touch, but only for a moment.  After a moment, he settles back into his comfort, leaning back again in his chair.  His face lights up all at once as if he just remembered his train of thought.

 

Chad Kyle: Naw, I thought i heard something.  I guess I have been a little on edge lately.  Thanks for checking on me, though.  You really do take care of me.  I was thinking, and I know it hasn’t been that long, but I really think I could be fallin’ for you.  Yeah…The Big L Bay Bay.  

 

At that the breathing in the background gets slightly stammered, as if it is anxious.  The camera begins to tremble.  

 

Chad Kyle: Naw no pressure babe.  I just wanted you to know how I felt.  Afterall, we never know what we got tomorrow, no sense in letting anything fall to the wayside ya know?  Anyway, I’ll give you a call when I get outta here.  You too.  Later babe.

 

Chad hangs up the phone and slides it back into his pocket.  The leaves in the corners of the screen begin to fade off as the camera angle pans in tight on the face of Chad Kyle.  The breathing in the background gets louder, but more controlled.  The shot fades to black as Chad kicks back to watch the rest of Ruination.

Seeking Purpose

We cut backstage where we find Patience and Decius Montgomery. The Twins sit alone in the corner of a cafeteria. A few SHOOT Project crew members and road agents also populate the area, but it’s mostly deserted. They look tired and more than a little beat up. Both of them have mostly healed shiners under their eyes. Decius’ lip is scabbed and Patience’s nose looks a little crooked, as if it has been fairly recently set.

 

The Twins have physically seen better days.

 

Decius: We have to do something, Patience. We can’t keep going like this.

 

Patience looks up timidly, her faded green eyes brimming with tears.

 

Patience: We can’t. He told us not to. You’ll get us in trouble, brother.

 

Decius slams his fist onto the table, making his sister jump slightly.

 

Decius: I don’t care! What could be worse than what we’re being put through? Every single day we step in that ring. Every single day he sends all of the Coyotes after us. It never changes.

 

Patience: We’re supposed to be lear-

 

Decius sends another fist into the table.

 

Decius: Learning what? How to take a beating? What have Dietrich and KC taught us? Nothing! They just tell the Coyotes when it’s their turn to eat. No, we need to take action. We need to do something.

 

Patience bites her lip, an old habit.

 

Patience: We can’t go after Azraith or Judy-E. He said to stay away.

 

Decius huffs and leans back for a moment.

 

Decius: You’re right. But, he didn’t say we had to stay away from everyone else. We need to make a statement. We need to show him we can be useful.

 

Patience stays silent for a long moment before nodding, her eyes glazing over into something more predatory. Her voice softens, delight creeping in.

 

Patience: You’re right, brother. Father only said to stay away from the DeMitris. What if we do something that shows him that we learned. We could make him see us again.

 

A smile curves onto her face, her eyes sparkling.

 

Patience: We can make it better.

 

Decius nods.

 

Decius: We can make this family whole again.

 

As the Twins bring their heads in closer, beginning to whisper, Jacob Mephisto stands just outside the cafeteria doors. He smiles as he walks away, whistling all the while.

Void Vs. Ignatius Albert Martin

Fast Food

Vladimir Kyle is not one to suffer too many shenanigans.  One of the darker Kyles in persona, Vlad constantly finds himself calculating whatever his next move can be.  Since the Kyles are such a large brood, they’ve taken to a dressing room all for themselves this evening.  He hears a knock at the door to their space and rises from his seat.  He saunters over to the door and sees nothing and no one.  He sighs, rolling his eyes, and turns to the room to see Kitsune, breathing heavily.  Kitsune is sweating profusely, tugging at his mask to keep his eyes open and his mouth open.  He bends down, clutching his knees.

 

Vladimir:  Kitsune?

 

Kitsune holds up one finger.

 

Kitsune:  Hey…hey…so…you don’t…know this…but the magic…that I do…yeah it takes a lot outta you.

 

Vladimir:  Does it?

 

Kitsune nods, trying not to black out.

 

Kitsune:  Give me…a second.  Your brother…I think he wants to eat me.

 

Vladimir:  What?

 

Suddenly, a loud bang is heard at the door.  Kitsune quickly gets his phone out.  Vladimir seems confused.

 

Vladimir:  Relax!  I can talk to him.  Calm him down.

 

Kitsune nods his head, typing away like a mad man on his phone.

 

“VLAD!”

 

Vladimir looks to Kitsune and then to the door.

 

Kitsune:  Annnnnd…sen–

 

Vladimir CLOCKS Kitsune, knocking him out.  He stands over him for a long moment and then he casually opens the door.

 

Vladimir:  Russ, guess what I’ve found for you?

 

RUSS looks past Vladimir at Kitsune’s prone form on the ground.  He grins from ear to ear.  He walks into the room and looks down at Kitsune.

 

Vladimir:  Remember, RUSS, Mother always said don’t play with your prey.

 

“HEY!”

 

Before RUSS and Vlad can do anything, the Bone Brigade have arrived.  Dave and Mike storm in the room.  Dave quickly rushes to Kitsune’s side.

 

Mike:  YO.  Y’all two think y’all can fuck with our boy like that?

 

Vladimir:  Whoa whoa whoa, Mike, we didn’t think any such a thing!

 

RUSS:  I’M HUNGRY.

 

Mike:  Yo, Heavy D.

 

He points to RUSS.

 

Mike:  Do yourself a solid an’ go for a walk.  Take ya boy with you.

 

Dave:  Bruh, he good.  Glad I paid my phone bill so I could get texts again.

 

Dave helps Kitsune to a seated position.

 

Mike:  Get the fuck out.

 

RUSS:  THIS IS OUR ROOM!

 

Vladimir:  It’s okay.  We’ll go.  Apologies.

 

Vlad looks at Kitsune.

 

Vladimir:  Get well soon, Fox.

 

Vladimir pushes RUSS from the room.  The Kyles leave the Broguns alone.  Mike looks at the doorway and shakes his head.  He turns to Kitsune and Dave.

 

Mike:  Those mother fuckers, man.  They wanted to play games, sent their brother to smoke up with us, played like they wanted a peace treaty just so they can come for Kitsune?  Nah, man.

 

Kitsune:  Guys…I…

 

Mike:  Nah, man.  Nah.  Fuck a peace treaty.  Fuck an agreement.  Them Kyles wanna test the Broguns, I’m tired of waitin’ around.  Chinga tu madre, Kyles, time to stop fuckin’ around.

 

Mike flips off the doorway and then kneels down to check on Kitsune with Dave.

Into the Void

Ayumi Seppuku sits just behind the curtain of the Epicenter arena with headsets on, focused on her upcoming match with Nate Robideau when a crumpled piece of paper falls at her feet from above.

The Ronin Wraith removes her earbuds and looks up to see the masked face of Void looking down at her – his long, stringy hair framing his face so it is the only thing in her field of vision.

 

Void: What is this?

 

Ayumi reaches down and tries to straighten the crumpled paper, revealing a familiar name situated near the top in her handwriting: Fade.

 

Ayumi sighs and tries to get the creases out of the paper by running her palm over it on her leg.

 

Ayumi: It’s a get well letter – I heard what happened to Fade and-

 

Void: How?

 

Ayumi stops. Void’s voice isn’t raised, but the animosity radiating off of him is palpable.

 

Ayumi: How… what?

 

Void snatches the paper from Ayumi and crumples it back up in front of her.

 

Void: How did you know my Fade was injured? Tell me, now.

 

Ayumi first looks sympathetically at Void, but her sympathy soon gives way to frustration.

 

Ayumi: You think you have dominion over Las Vegas’ nightwalkers? People talk, Void. You start making moves in one of this city’s biggest economic engines second only to gambling and you think that because you’re physically underground you are under the radar? You’re not. 

 

Void stiffens at Ayumi’s rebuke.

 

Ayumi: I heard what happened to Fade and I wanted to wish her a speedy recovery. That’s all.

 

Void softens his position a bit but doesn’t stand down.

 

Void: I don’t know what your game is, Seppuku. You come to me after you humiliate me in the ring and now you want to befriend Fade? To what end?

 

Ayumi looks at Void earnestly.

 

Ayumi: Because I care about her. I care about YOU, Thomas, and don’t want to see anyone else get hurt.

 

Void punches the wall past Ayumi’s head. His hair falls into his masked face and Ayumi, never flinching, notices the trembling tendrils of hair before Void brushes them aside.

 

Void:  For somebody so adamant to forget Ichiro you seem to enjoy calling me Thomas.  So…funny how that works for you. Tell me, Seppuku, do you think Fade needs you? Do you think I need you? If you did and you approached her or myself carefully, you wouldn’t be doing such…fucking…stupid moves like calling me Thomas or sneaking about Las Vegas looking in on my family.  

 

He sneers.

 

Void:  I’m warning this final time, Seppuku. Leave. Us. Alone. You might have gotten the better of me in a wrestling ring but if you continue to seek her out or speak to me past tonight?

 

He inhales deeply and lets his mask slide back on.

 

Void:  I’ll make you as dead as Ichiro.  

 

Void takes a step back and behind him stands Fade, with Mbaye’s arm firmly around her.  Mbaye glares at Ayumi with a ferocity that could put Void’s to shame.

 

Mbaye:  Tuez-la maintenant.

 

Void looks down to Mbaye and takes Fade by the hand.

 

Void:  Pas maintenant.

 

Fade looks up at Ayumi and waves faintly and gives a small smile. She whispers “Hi” to Ayumi before Void and Mbaye begin on their path, leaving Ayumi with a crumpled piece of paper and a lingering sense of dread.

Nate Robideau Vs. Ayumi Seppuku

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