Blaze Claymore stands backstage talking with a member of the Epicenter custodial staff, arms flailing wildly as he tries to explain the seriousness of his situation.
Blaze Claymore: Are you SURE you didn’t see my phone anywhere? I MUST find it. It is of the upmost importance and I just don’t understand why this entire arena isn’t doing a massive search and rescue operation at this very moment!
Custodian: Ehhhhh why don’t you just get a new one? You’ve got the money.
Blaze Claymore: I could buy a million cell phones if I wanted to but the cell phone isn’t the point, it’s the principle!
Custodian: Oh, the high school is across the street. If you lost it there the principal can help you.
Blaze grips at his hair tightly, screaming as he walks away from the situation. He doesn’t get far before running into none other than Benny and Denny Colton.
Benny Colton: Blaze! I was hoping we’d run into you, buddy.
Something in Benny’s tone tells Blaze that they are not, in fact, buddies.
Benny Colton: Why’d you say those inappropriate things about the big man here’s mother? And on EASTER of all days?
Denny Colton: Downright untoward, you might say.
Blaze Claymore: I have absolutely no-
Benny keeps going.
Benny Colton: Normally, Denny’s a pretty calm guy. A real live-and-let-live type, y’know? But he just doesn’t stand for you said, ’cause he’s a good boy and he loves his mom.
Denny Colton: She’s a saint.
Benny Colton: He’s had a few days to calm down, which is why you’re not shoved through the wall right now. But I promise you, if it happens again, we’re gonna come back here and find out how high you can bounce. Copy?
Blaze Claymore: I can assure you that-
Benny Colton: Good. You break your promise? We’ll break your face.
Blaze looks absolutely stunned as the pair move on from the scene. He racks his brain trying to understand what the hell they are talking about but soon he finds himself with an arm on his shoulder.
Blaze Claymore: SELF DEFENSE!
Blaze spins around, prepared to strike, but drops all pretense when he sees Lindsay Troy standing there.
Lindsay Troy: Who the hell do you think you are?
Blaze Claymore: Well, that’s a pretty deep philosophical question that will take a while to unpaAAAAH!
Lindsay grips tightly, digging her fingers into Blaze’s shoulder blade.
Lindsay Troy: If you EVER use those words in my presence, or I find out they’ve left your mouth, from now until the end of time, I will make the beating that Kitsune put on you look like a sparring match. You’re on thin ice Blaze. REALLY thin.
Blaze Claymore: Look, I have absolutely no idea what you’re even talking about. I’ve never been within 15 feet of you before.
Lindsay Troy: And now you’re going to stay 50 feet away. Get the hell out of my face.
Lindsay shoves Blaze backwards as she leaves the scene causing him to stumble. He catches himself and shouts after Lindsay.
Blaze Claymore: NO ARGUMENTS FROM ME!
Blaze stomps his foot in frustration.
Blaze Claymore: What the HELL is everybody’s prob… OH Shit. My phone! Some nefarious Deep SHOOT agent is the one who stole it and now they’re besmirching my good name by sending everyone lurid texts! I’ve got to stop them before they find–
Blaze’s skin goes sheet white as he looks around nervously, locking eyes with RAIKO who immediately picks up her pace to try and avoid the confrontation.
Blaze Claymore: RAIKO! MY DEAR RAIKO!
RAIKO spins around into a defensive stance as Blaze approaches – throwing up his arms to show he means no harm. Intentionally anyways.
RAIKO: What? Tell me. Now.
Blaze Claymore: Have you seen my phone? It’s red, kind of older… OK REALLY older. Like a Nokia. You remember those, right?
RAIKO shakes her head.
RAIKO: Not care about you stupid phone. No idea where it is. Fuck off.
Blaze gets frustrated.
Blaze Claymore: Just tell me, then, did you get a text from me or not!?
RAIKO looks at Blaze like he’s grown two extra heads.
RAIKO: Do not have you number, idiot. Even so, you message me? I ignore. Ignore you now too. Go away or I cut you.
Blaze screams out in frustration as RAIKO leaves and he looks around trying to find someone – ANYONE – who hasn’t been contaminated by the Deep SHOOT miasma. Suddenly, like a shining beacon, he sees it. He sees his champion and rushes over.
Blaze Claymore: Oh. Thank God. Someone I can trust in this house of horrors.
Fresh off of his REIGN debut, WOLF MAN steps into the Epicenter, the back entrance door closing behind her with a “clink” and is immediately face to face with a now-rabid Blaze Claymore.
WOLF MAN sniffs and recoils instinctively, baring his teeth with a snarl.
Blaze Claymore: Oh you really are… um…
WOLF MAN gets down on all fours, snarling at Blaze.
Blaze Claymore: You know what? That’s OK. I’m good.
Blaze starts to step backwards, raising his hands as he tries to create distance between the feral fighter. He looks side to side quickly before breaking into a sprint down the hallway.
WOLF MAN does a sort of yell-bark as he takes off immediately behind his prey as Blaze’s fearful screams echo down the corridor.
Zoomer Love Vs. Boomer Shooters
We go to the back of the arena, in a darkened corner away from everyone else. Sitting there holding herself and looking around at everyone that passes her by, is Fade. She doesn’t look frightened, but she looks agitated and somewhat lost. No one sees her save the camera. She doesn’t speak. Soon, however, she is joined by the massive Void. He slides down next to her and smiles at her. She offers a smile back, but it’s a weak one, a clearly fake one. He ignores it.
Void: Darling Fade, can I get you anything? Drink? Nachos?
Fade: I wanna go home, Void.
Void nods, seemingly understanding but obviously not.
Void: Fade, I can’t trust you to run the Tunnels in my absence. I can’t trust you to not go out and try to play nice. That queen without a crown is out there somewhere, hunting and seeking for ways to warp your mind.
Fade: What’s so wrong with me liking her? It’s not like there’s a bunch of strong female role models sucking dick to pay for food down in the Tunnels…
He cuts her a glaring look.
Void: Don’t play stupid, Fade.
He composes himself, letting his visage shift into a smile.
Void: After I’ve rid myself of this Mushigihara person and advance to the final four of Master of the Mat, I’ll have the easiest route to utter and complete dominance of this business. Think of it, Fade. The 2023 Master of the Mat. I submit the World Heavyweight Champion, the king of submissions. I become the World Champion. I break Lindsay Troy, I send her crying back to her safe haven company. I prove she never could swim with the sharks of SHOOT Project.
Void: “Strong female role models?” Fucking spare me. I’m the only role model you or any other filthy detritus in the Tunnels needs. I came from nothing, I worked to become great, and now that I am on the cusp of showing my greatness, you want to put on a Lindsay Troy t-shirt and nestle at her teat? You think that’s going to give you comfort?
He grabs her chin and forces her to look at him.
Void: That woman doesn’t deserve your adulation. You have too much to learn and too little ability to use what you do actually have at the moment. I mean, you lost to Chadwick Kyle of all people.
Fade: That was forever ago, though…
Void: Because you’ve taken so many matches and bookings since then. Jesus Christ, for someone who dresses so brightly your mind is so…just…dim.
Void: I’ve got to go get ready to end this sumo wrestler or whatever he is.
Fade grabs his arm and wraps herself around it.
Fade: Please let me go to the locker room with you. I don’t know any of these people out here and they all look at me like I’m a piece of shit or something. Nobody wants me here. Please let me come with you.
Void shakes her off and rises to his feet. She goes to stand up but he grabs her arm and slowly drags her back down to her seat.
Void: You don’t deserve to share my bed, let alone share my locker room space. I already give you too much when I let you tell the vagrants of the Tunnels what to do and I already give you too much when I let you taste me or let you fuck me. You are a spoiled, devious, manipulative little girl I plucked from nothing and gave the world and in exchange you worship someone so far beneath me you may as well idolize the shit on my shoe. Now.
Void: Sit down here and think about what you’ve done.
He storms off, leaving Fade to slink back all the way to the floor. She spots some of the production crew looking at the confrontation that just occurred. They whisper amongst themselves and walk away from her, leaving her to bury her face in her hands and do what Void has commanded she do.
It was wrestling. And there she was backstage.
And there she was… in a proverbial ball all to herself. Because for as psyched up as she was for her moment to happen and as much as she looked forward to this almost her whole life?
Madison Seton was ridiculously nervous.
She sat in the majority of her ring gear, the exception being her boots and a pair of anklet socks on the ground next to her seat. Her long, brown hair tumbled towards the floor as she sat hunched over, head over her arms.
El Paria: Oh my god, is that MADISON SETON?! She’s making her wrestling debut ton–
Madison sits up. She does not look good.
El Paria: Oof. You okay?
Madison Seton: I feel like I’m about to hurl.
Paria sits down next to her and places his hand on the small of her back.
El Paria: First match butterflies?
Maddie has an innocent nod of her head.
Madison Seton: I haven’t felt like this since an 8th grade speech. Basketball? Nothing. First college game, first WNBA game… nada. But this?
She leans her head against his frame.
El Paria: I’m not gonna sit here and pretend like I can say “I get it”, nor am I gonna try and mansplain, because honestly, the way you felt about basketball is the way I felt about my first match. This is a step outside of what you’re comfortable with.
He pauses for a moment and then has an idea.
El Paria: I’ll come out there with you. Plain clothes, no antics– very little antics… just in support. You down?
She looks at him as she pulls away, a smile forming.
Madison Seton: I’d like that. I’m not worried even about fucking up out there–its just… being out there. Fulfilling that lifetime dream. So anything to calm me down? All for.
She pauses as they look each other in the eyes. Her smile grows.
Madison Seton: Do something afterwards?
El Paria: Oh, of course. There’s gonna be a lot of adrenaline that needs to get sorted out.
Baconator Martinez Vs. Pigpen Matsumoto
“5 out of 6” hits, and the crowd cheers and holds up their signs as Lexi Gold makes her way out from behind the curtain. She wears a half smile as she makes her way down the ramp, decked out in a pair of distressed jeans, a crop tank top and heels. Eventually, she found her way toward ringside where she claps a few hands, then ascends the stairs and gets into the ring through the bottom rope. Once inside the ring, she walks to retrieve a mic from the ring attendant, then stands in the middle of the ring and waits for her music to die before raising the mic to her lips.
Lexi Gold: I should have learned my lesson in putting my trust in people, considering my past. I have been stabbed in the back more times than I can recall. Each one played out differently. It’s been awhile since I’ve experienced that feeling, then that feeling returned to me at Ruination, all thanks to Laura Seton. Someone who I considered to be a friend of mine, yet friends don’t blindly attack someone in the middle of a parking lot.
She lowers the mic and shakes her head, visibly upset by allowing this to happen. The crowd reacts by showing their disapproval with booing, then begins to speak again.
Lexi Gold: To say that I’m hurt by her actions is an understatement. In a way I think she used me as her guinea pig, so she could unleash her anger out on me. Mission accomplished, Laura! You wanted to see a different side to me so bad, well here you go! Are you happy now? I sure as hell ain’t. I feel like I deserve more answers, so why don’t you come out here and give them to me.
She breathes heavily into the mic and lowers it again, focusing her attention now on the stage as she waits for her to come out. Within seconds, the chorus to Lady Gaga’s “Poker Face” starts up. A mixed reaction meets Laura Seton as she steps into the arena. She has a scoff as she looks into the crowd before making her way to the ring. She carefully scales the steps, then enters and calls for a mic.
Laura looks at Lexi. She smirks–almost a cocky smirk–as she makes sure to make eye contact.
Laura Seton: Lexi Gold… is angry…
The smirk turns to a full smile. Akin to one of pleasure.
Laura Seton: This is amazing! Never thought we’d get you this far!
The sarcasm disappears as she notices the scowl on Lexi.
Laura Seton: Okay… what is it? You want a full account of my thought?
Lexi moves a strand of hair away from her face with a serious look to her as she stands across from Laura.
Lexi Gold: It almost seems as if you find humor in this situation. I sure as well ain’t laughing. The reason I called you out here was to find out why you attacked me. Was it out of frustration? Jealousy, or something else?
Laura gets a playful expression as she goes into thought.
Laura Seton: Mmmmm… probably… frustration. Because you’re legit blowing your chance here. I see someone so full of potential. I see–well– almost myself. So gracious and full of skill. But too willing to fuck it all up.
She scowls back at Lexi.
Lexi Gold: The only one that fucked things up was you, Laura. You could’ve let me do my own thing and not try and change me. It killed you to know I was not going to change, so you decided to resort to attacking me instead of just letting things be. I won’t stand for your actions, and you chose to turn this into enemy territory. I hope you know what you have gotten yourself into.
Laura’s eyebrows raise in surprise.
Laura Seton: Whooaaah, an F-bomb from Lexi! Look, you–
She becomes stern once again. Even more than before.
Laura Seton: You’ve done well… to this point. No question. Two different titles. Well done. Seriously. But? You have the door open for the next step. That next gigantic step. And this courtesy of yours? Doesn’t work, honey.
Lexi laughs and steps closer. The two were now seen nose to nose with each other.
Lexi Gold: Your opinions are meaningless, such as your inability to finish the job on me. I’m done talking, though. Why don’t we have ourselves a brawl right here, right now! Let’s see your bravery show.
The crowd cheered in hope they were about to see a fight happen.
Laura has another smug smirk.
Laura Seton: Yeah… no, nothing tonight. But uh… I don’t know. How about you find a partner, I find a partner and we get it on in a couple weeks? And if I’m still in Master of the Mat? I guess I’m double booking myself, but you’re so eager to fight.
She rubs her chin and thinks about it carefully before responding.
Lexi Gold: Scared to face me on your own? Whatever, fine, I’ll play your little games and accept this match. Any way to get my hands on you, I’m game. The question is who could I possibly choose as my partner, hmm.
She pauses and looks toward the crowd as they cheer, anxious to hear her throw out a name.
Lexi Gold: Since you claim that I have no friends, I’ll go with someone that I have history with and unlike you, I have so much respect for, I chose the current Shut Up and Fight Champion Dan Stein.
Laura’s brows raise, certainly not expecting Lexi to pick so quick.
Laura Seton: Okay… well, good for you. And my partner will be the acclaimed, the feared–
I’m not telling you right now.
In the interest of fairness, I’ll let it be known before the match. But not tonight.
The crowd boos and Lexi simply shakes her head, gripping the mic tightly in frustration.
Lexi Gold: Why am I not surprised, but it doesn’t matter who you choose Dan and I plan to beat you and your partner, and eventually I will get you to myself in singles action until then we are going to wipe you two out.
She smirks and drops the mic, then looks at her with an intense stare before turning to exit the ring and head backstage.
Motherless Goat's Child
Backstage, it appears Felix Mullen has already changed back into his street gear–not that it’s radically different from his ring gear, mostly just that he’s wearing pants. He’s holding his phone out on a gyroscopic gimbal stabilizer attached to a selfie stick, and we appear to catch him mid-livestream.
Mullen: …and furthermore, I never once stated that “Anne Frank benefitted from White Privilege”. What I was saying is that I can certainly understand a viewpoint of someone who was raised with the trauma of being a person of color in the United States! I make every effort to understand things from perspectives that aren’t my own, something you should try some day, and frankly you’re engaging in what I’m terming “cryptogaslighting”. Furthermore, I think it’s–
“MULLEN…YAGI NO HAHA NAKI MUSUKO YO!”
That voice, cartons of cheap cigarettes soaked in Suntory, stops Felix Mullen dead in his tracks. Upon hearing a grunt of exertion he turns, eyes wild–JUST IN TIME TO CATCH AN IBM SELECTRIC 3 WITH ALL OF HIS NOSE AND SKULL!! Mullen damn near backflips, the typewriter landing to the concrete with a loud smash that sends keys flying, and this half of the Zoomers appears to be solidly out, blinking his eyes and trying to regain his composure as blood pours from his nose.
Into the frame walks the last man he’d want to see. The man who has seemingly made it his life’s mission to strike fear into the heart of Felix Mullen. Pigpen Matsumoto, bandaged from something and wearing a leather jacket, grins with bad intentions as he stiff legs it over to where Mullen lays, grabbing him by his topknot.
Pigpen: [ I told you, this was only going to be over on my terms. I worked too hard for too long to get here and have someone like you insult my way of life at every turn. So this, what just happened? This is your fucking life every time I lay eyes on you until you agree to my terms. I’ll make a man of you…or I’ll kill you by trying. Either way. ]
His attention is drawn to Mullen’s phone on the selfie stick, his livestream having not ended. There’s a lot of confusion and “F”s being spawned in the chat. Matsumoto picks it up, extending an arthritic middle finger.
Pigpen: Fuck the Felix-uh-Mullen.
Strained English notwithstanding, he seems happy, and casually swings the phone into a wall, splitting it open and killing the feed–and like the processor along with it. He limps off, laughing, leaving Felix to reel as backstage attendants and medical swarm him.
Madison Seton Vs. COMBAT Kabuto
A Royal Decree
“Sofi Needs A Ladder” rings out across the PA system, leading to boos flaring up around the arena. This is because they know what this means. Danni Johnson walks out to make her way to the ring. Her expression is one of smug amusement, an annoying smile plastered to her face.
Dutch Harris: Well Danni certainly looks like she’s in a good mood.
Scott Kamura: She sure does. I’m looking forward to hearing why that is!
The wait isn’t going to be a long one. The moment Danni enters the ring, she goes and grabs a mic. The jeering gets louder the instant she’s handed the amplifier.
Danni Johnson: Look, I realize you peasants aren’t happy about living in this squalor passing off as a city. You don’t have to take it out on me.
The harsh words do little to quell the hostile crowd. A look of boredom soon forms on Danni’s face. She walks over and leans on the ropes towards the hard camera.
Danni Johnson: You done? I got all night.
Again, the audience lets their displeasure be heard. Danni’s nonchalant patience eventually waits out the rackousness. She raises the mic back up.
Danni Johnson; So I have a few things I need to talk about. First… If you know anything about what’s been going on Spitter-wise, you know Ria Lockhart has allegedly made her return. There’s two problems here. Number one? She’s dead. Number two? A person who seems to look like her was a part of some Japanese company, Banging Pro! Wrestling or something. Well, this doppelganger had a pretty vicious match against some other goofy chick who likes clocks or some shit.
Dutch Harris: She means Anna Daniels.
Scott Kamura: I like Danni’s description better.
Danni Johnson: Anyway, the clock chick gave this fake Ria a concussion. Trust me, I have sources. So I’d implore SHOOT management that if this Fauxkhart tries to come here, you should probably force her to bring a complete medical report. I’m just looking out for this company, as well as this hopelessly overmatched cosplayer’s health!
The crowd starts a chant that rhymes with ‘Full spit’.
Dutch Harris: The actual motive behind Danni’s actions are pretty clear, I’d say!
Scott Kamura: Well yeah, she just told you. Protecting SHOOT’s interest and keeping some poor deranged wannabe safe.
Dutch Harris: You don’t actually buy that?
Scott Kamura: When has Danni ever lied?
Dutch Harris: Don’t get me started…
Danni moves over to the corner, resting her back against it.
Danni Johnson: My other order of business is one JamieJam Johnson. You know, you seem pretty confident that I don’t stand a chance against you. Now lemme be clear… I know you’re good, great even. But I know how good I am too! Do you? You’re gonna find out. Here’s the thing, J-Squared; I wasn’t supposed to make it this far. When I got serious about getting more active again, I got so much shit from pretty much everyone. ‘Part timer’, ‘Curtain jerker’ and other garbage like that got thrown my way. I beat Black Sheep Baez. I put down Thane. But you? If I take you out, Jamie, maybe I’ll start getting some respect. I DESERVE respect! The Empire DESERVES respect! That’s on my shoulders at the moment.
Though the majority of the crowd continues to boo, a small ‘Long Live The Empire!’ chant breaks out before quickly dying down. Danni continues.
Danni Johnson: I had to step up UCA with a messed up back. I had to beat a guy I pretty clearly had pinned before the damn incompetent ref missed it. I’ve had to deal with hackers harassing me. I’ve dealt with adversity, JaJo. You’ll find it’s harder to break me than you might think. Hope you’re ready to work. Cuz I’m gonna do what LT couldn’t! I’m gonna make sure you put in a full fucking shift! Your Empress has spoken!
Johnson drops the mic and confidently leaves the ring.
Dutch Harris: Well, a few things to unpack there. But one thing’s for certain; It sounds like Danni Johnson is ready for Jamie Johnson. Can she put him down, though?
Scott Kamura: Of course she can! Will she? Well… I believe in her!
A Convo Amongst the Shadows
Backstage, in that same, darkened corner as before, Fade sits alone with nothing but her thoughts to keep her company. Void has long since left to prepare for his match against the God Beast, Mushigihara, and every SHOOT Project staff member that’s walked by in the interim has either not noticed her or has paid her no mind.
She doesn’t like being ignored, but she’s been reduced to far worse in her life, and given the choice she’d rather be invisible than beaten or talked down to or humiliated or anything else. Still, there’s a sadness about her that’s only amplified by those that overlook her.
Fade pulls her knees further into her chest, trying to make herself smaller. As if such a thing were possible. She’s hungry. She wants to go home. She has no friends here, no one to hang out with. Only Void, who’s angry with her over an innocent admiration. She wants to fix things, but doesn’t know how. These thoughts, and others, furiously swirl around her brain, and she’s so focused that she doesn’t notice someone stopping in front of her.
The voice breaks Fade from her reverie and she looks up. Her eyes widen as Lindsay Troy stands there, a bottle of water and a wrapped-up sandwich in her hands.
Lindsay Troy: Mind if I sit?
She feels her chest tighten. It’s Lindsay Troy. Talking to her. She wants to cry immediately but chokes it back for all that she’s worth. She doesn’t know what to say or what to do. What if Void sees? What if one of these people that walk by tell him? Should she just scoff, insult, scream, claw at the Queen?
Fade: Uh…y-yeah! Yeah, it’s a…um…it’s a free Epicenter…
Her attempt at humor falls flat out of her mouth. She feels like a fucking idiot. She watches Lindsay’s every move now, trying her best to calculate what to do, what to say, or if nothing is the right move after all.
Lindsay plunks herself on the floor next to Fade, stretching her long legs out across the hallway. She looks up and around at their surroundings, then meets the young girl’s eyes.
Lindsay Troy: Not much of a location, huh?
She then extends the water bottle and the sandwich.
Lindsay Troy: You hungry? Catering’s pretty cleaned out by this time of night, but it’s turkey and it’s pretty good.
Fade looks at the sandwich and then to Lindsay. She is somewhat reluctant to take the food but Jesus she’s starving. After another beat, she takes the sandwich. She starts to unwrap it but stops.
Fade: Thank you.
She takes a “Thank you” bite, afraid of what the sandwich means or what any of this means. Her chest is hurting now but her stomach claws at the food coming its way. Lindsay watches her, the beginnings of a smile taking shape on her lips.
Lindsay Troy: Look, Fade, I don’t know a lot about you, and I know you don’t know a lot about me, but I do want you to know that I really appreciate what you said to Void about liking me. I get the impression that being honest about it wasn’t a very easy thing to do, and that he didn’t take it very well.
Fade laughs a little. She didn’t mean to and she hates herself immediately for doing so. She puts the sandwich down and sighs.
Fade: It’s stupid. I’m stupid. I don’t know anything about wrestling or…or…like, any of this really. He took me in and showed me this world and I fell in love with it, you know? Theatrical with physicality. It hit all my buttons.
She looks down at her lap.
Fade: I didn’t become a fan of wrestling thinking there was gonna be anybody I could, y’know, look up to. I just figured it’d be me and Void against the world. He’d teach me to wrestle, I’d be a star or something. I don’t know.
She stops again. Nobody asked for all that. She course corrects.
Fade: No, ma’am, he didn’t take it very well.
Lindsay Troy: You’re not stupid. And for what it’s worth, you can swing a chair pretty well.
In an instant, Fade looks horrified, remembering that she did, in fact, hit Lindsay with a chair. But the Queen is still smiling.
Lindsay Troy: Don’t worry, I’m not mad about that. I’ve been hit with chairs before by people who eventually became my friends. I’m more concerned with Void and how he’s treating you. You can still support him and look up to other people. I know he and I still have unresolved issues, but two things can be true at the same time.
Fade shakes her head at Lindsay’s suggestion of two things being true.
Fade: He doesn’t call himself Void just because he thinks he’s all dark and shadowy. It’s all black and white to him. If I’m not fully up on him and believing only in him then I’m against him. If he knew I was talking to you right now he’d forfeit his match with Mushigihara just to come back here and fight you or punish me.
She looks away for a brief moment.
Fade: He did so much for us, Miss Troy. He cleaned up the Tunnels. He put together a culture down there. It used to feel so good to go down there at night knowing he’d keep people in line and give people a home. He was so focused on family and wanting to build a family. He went after that Dan Stein guy because of that, y’know. Now, it’s like…he’s just jealous of you and what you got. It ain’t like him. This isn’t what he does. He’s never been like this.
She turns her attention back to Lindsay.
Fade: He used to wanna build something great for everybody else. But it’s like with you…he just wants it all for himself. He’s…done stuff down there he’s never done before. People are scared to go home at night now. I know it sounds stupid and melodramatic because that’s just how I see everything I guess but it’s true! I wanted Fade and Void to go away and be, like, Lucia and Tommy.
Her eyes burn as she thinks of everything. She takes stock of what she’s truly lost.
Fade: I don’t think that’s ever gonna happen if he don’t get his way.
Lindsay Troy: I don’t think it sounds stupid and melodramatic. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the best life possible, both for yourself and for other people. And I don’t think you’re wrong for wanting to see the best in Void either.
She puts her hand on Fade’s shoulder.
Lindsay Troy: Sometimes, though, people change, and we can’t explain why. It’s not anyone’s fault; it just happens. But I can tell just from talking to you that you care about what happens to the people in the Tunnels. I think you want to take care of them and make them feel safe and supported. If Void’s changed and made it unsafe for them, then you need to be that person for them now. I feel like communities know best what their needs are, you know?
She stands up, the smile never leaving her face.
Lindsay Troy: I can handle Void within the walls of this place. And I have a pretty good feeling that you’re a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for.
Fade looks at the sandwich and then back to Lindsay. She can’t help herself but to smile back.
Fade: Thank you, Miss Troy.
She peels back the wrapping on the sandwich a bit further and stops when she sees the edge of a business card. Her eyes go wide for a second before she looks back once again to Lindsay.
Fade: Thank you.
Lindsay Troy: Use it any time, day or night. And don’t let him find it.
Fade nods, taking the card and slipping it into her sock. Lindsay walks off down the hall, back into the shadows, while the scene fades out.
Void Vs. Mushigihara
The camera cuts to the back where Mary Kelly is seen walking up to the Stein’s locker room. Just as Mary goes to knock, the door swings open and Molly is rushing out of the room.
Molly Stein (while running away): Hi, Mary! Bye, Mary!
Mary Kelly: Just a word, Molly?
Molly Stein (from a distance): ERRANDS!
And just like that, Molly disappears down another corridor and off of the camera. Dan Stein appears in the doorway, looking down the hall where Mary’s eyes are locked.
Dan Stein: Hate to see her go, but love to watch her leave, right?
Mary turns back to Dan, confusion across her face. Dan shrugs.
Dan Stein: She’s got a juicy caboose-y.
Mary Kelly just stares at him blankly.
Dan Stein: I can say that, you know. She’s my wife!
Mary shakes her head slowly. Dan coughs.
Dan Stein: What brings you to my neck of the woods, Mary?
Dan throws up his forearm on the door jam, leaning on it as he looks at Mary. Mary puts the microphone back to her mouth.
Mary Kelly: I’ve been doing some investigative journalism around these parts the last few weeks, and I’ve stumbled myself into Blaze Claymore’s DeepSHOOT conspiracy. What’s your role in all of this, Dan Stein?
Mary pushes the microphone toward Dan’s face, looking a bit gumshoeish.
Dan Stein: My role? Aside from the fact that I’m the benefactor of a good laugh at Blaze’s extent, I have no role. You think I’m smart enough to super glue Blaze’s clothes to the ceiling? I’d have just had them shredded and been done with it. That takes time that I don’t have as a SHOOT Project Soldier!
Mary Kelly looks off in the distance and taps her chin with her free hand. She pulls the microphone back from Stein’s mouth and up to her own.
Mary Kelly: Alright, that checks out.
Dan Stein: Ye-HEY!
Mary Kelly: Sorry, but…you know it’s true.
Mary Kelly: If it isn’t you, do you know who is tormenting Blaze Claymore?
Dan belly laughs, patting his stomach.
Dan Stein: Absolutely not, but whoever it is, I’m going to buy them a new car for the fun I’ve had watching Blaze squirm ever since he attacked my wife and child…
Dan smirks to himself.
Dan Stein: That’s right. He did attack my wife and kid. And then tried to pin me as the aggressor. Blaze made a fool out of me more times than one since this all started, so I’m taking extra interest in seeing his mental demise. Did you call what is happening to Blaze Claymore “torment”? This isn’t torment, this is someone playing college fraternity pranks on him. I know you’re trying to be an investigative journalist, Mary Kelly, but have you ever stopped to think that maybe the call is coming from inside the house? No harm is actually coming to Blaze, you see that, right? Maybe this is all Blaze’s doing, trying to get attention on himself.
Dan looks at Mary Kelly.
Dan Stein: Maybe the DeepSHOOTer is actually Rooster, and all of Blaze Claymore’s so-called “friends” are deserting him, leaving him friendless. I see his “eyes” have turned on him. Where have they been? It’s clear to see that Blaze Claymore’s world is crumbling. He’s about to get real, real desperate. Don’t get sucked up in his lies, Mary. Not you, too.
Dan looks down at her, a ton of “caring” crossing over his face.
Dan Stein: You’re better than that, Mary. C’mon.
Dan nods to her, then slides backwards into his room, allowing the door to shut behind him. Mary Kelly turns to the camera, befuddled.