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Ruination 46

Chapter One

A quick crackle of static cuts to a grainy, long-distance shot.  It looks starkly different from most SHOOT Project production work.  Crisper in a way, more ‘digital’.  The framerate feels like a jarring 120fps.  It’s a long shot in the back hallways of the Epicenter.  The camera is unmoving, but what’s distinct is a low, deep breathing in the background.  Not really a disconcerting way, but almost like listening to some huge beast that’s idling.


Slowly, the shot starts to approach, walking with a slow, bobbing gait.  Like the camera was just glued to this person’s eyes.


As it approaches, we see two figures in the distance.  A student and a teacher.


Burkhalter and Robideau.


As the camera starts to focus more clearly, there’s a sharp intake of breath from the beast.  A catch.  A nocking of a proverbial arrow.  The silence hangs, but only for a second.  A figure walks past from the left to the right of the camera, a random SHOOT Project employee cutting across the camera.


Not even seeing it.


A slow, rumbling exhalation.  The shot starts to creep closer.  Moving smoothly but quickly around large electrical storage boxes and AV equipment.  Never staying in one place too long, but never losing sight of Burkhalter and Robedeau.

While six foot six isn’t a world apart from six foot two, their composition makes the difference seem all the more stark–where Nate is stocky, compact, muscular and wide, Burkhalter is all compact torso and spidery limbs.  While we can now hear their conversation over the steady intake of breath, it’s clear this isn’t what they would normally put in front of the cameras, more a private moment between student and teacher. 

Robideau: …and I’d never be caught dead saying this, but watch out for him.  I know he seems like just another cocky asshole….well, he is a cocky asshole.  But he’s been through hell and he’s far, far more tenacious than you’d think looking at him.  So what’s the gameplan, eh? 

The student considers things for a moment.  When he answers, his voice still sounds youthful–he is a teenager after all–but it’s clear he’s trying to be stern and stoic, a warrior prince. 

Burkhalter: Stay tight.  Don’t give him a window.  Use my age to my advantage, wear him out.  Continuous attack. 

Robideau: Suffocate him. 

Burkhalter: Suffocate him. 

Robideau: Look, everything I know, I’ve poured into you.  The only thing you’re lacking in is big fight experience.  Win or lose, this is going to be good for you. 

With a grin, he claps his student on the shoulder. 

Robideau: But don’t embarrass the gym, eh?

Slowly, during the entire conversation, the shot has been managing ways to get closer, and closer to the two.  You can feel the presence of the camera like it was a person, stalking the two like a predator about to strike.  As the two break away, the shot was maybe just several feet away from Nate.  


As the camera locks in on his face, everyone can finally start to make out just a bit of jitter, a little bit of shake that seems to be growing as the shot stays on Nate’s face.  The camera watches, intently, but as Nate moves to leave it takes several steps back, into the shadows of an overhang.  It watches Nate stalk off, before slowly shifting it’s gaze down the ground, to the darkness.


But even in that darkness, you can still hear that breathing for several more seconds.

Golden Burkhalter Vs. Dan Stein

Not the New We Were Expecting

Dan’s arms are raised in victory, having just vested Nate Robideau’s golden pupil, Golden Burkhalter. The faithful in the arena are electric as Dan parades around the ring, climbing ring corners and saluting the crowd. As his music echoes in the arena, a familiar voice accompanies it:


Molly Stein: Congratulations, Dan!


Scott Kamura: Wait a minute, now! Molly requested this time after the last set of shows. I wonder what she’s got up her sleeve!


Molly carries Siobhan (wearing earmuffs and a t-shirt with some sort of writing on it) in one hand and has a microphone in the other as she walks out to the stage. As she walks to the ramp, Stein’s music fades and she continues to talk. 


Molly Stein: We’re just going to wait here while he walks up the ramp.


Molly lowers the microphone as Burkhalter walks unsteadily toward her.


Molly Stein: Hey there. Hi. Tough luck tonight. You’ll get the next one.


Coming from anyone else, it might’ve sounded sarcastic, but Molly was sincere. Molly watches Burkhalter walk past her and to the backstage. Stepping down the ramp on her own, Molly talks and walks.


Molly Stein: So, you know how I requested some time a couple of weeks ago? Now seems like the BEST time. 


Dan sits on the middle rope and pushes the top rope up, waiting for his wife and child. As she ascends the stairs, Molly puts the microphone to her mouth. 


Molly Stein: Aww, how sweet. Thanks, Pookie Bear. 


The faithful in the arena chuckle before a “Poo-kie-Bear” chant echoes. It distracts the Steins as Molly enters the ring. Molly smiles wide at the fans, then laughs at Dan blushing. 


Molly Stein: I know you’re tired and hurting so this won’t take long. 


Dan looks at Molly, somewhat afraid. 


Dutch Harris: Can’t blame the guy for being worried. This business has a long history of crippling bad news being delivered by the person you love the most.


Stein talks to Molly, though it’s not in the mic. He speaks through a grin.


Dan Stein: The last time it was just you and me in the ring, you left me!


Molly fixes her long, auburn hair from her mouth with the hand on the mic and smiles at Dan.


Molly Stein: Oh, that’s true. I’m not out here to crush your spirit…again. In fact, I’m hoping for the opposite.


See, you’ve been a great dad. Sure, there was that Blaze-Claymore-making-me-drop-Siobhan-in-the-ring thing, but besides that. Since day one, you’ve been dedicated to me, and our little girl. Take a look at how beautiful she is.


Dan steps over to his girls, tickling Siobhan. Dan’s daughter reaches out for him, causing the faithful to oooh and awww. Dan picks her up and holds her in his arms. 


Molly Stein: Aww, she loves you. Look, she even picked out that t-shirt. Camera person, get a good look. 


Dan adjusts his daughter in his arms, then pulls her shirt taught for himself and the camera to read. Against the white background of the shirt is the glittery pink lettering:




The arena EXPLODES. Dan EXPLODES in joyful emotion. Molly’s eyes well up. Dan closes the distance on his wife and embraces her in a big hug along with Siobhan. Confetti gets shot into the ring. Light blue and pink streamers are thrown by the faithful in the first few rows. Dan continues to hug her tightly. 


Dutch Harris: Just how much of this was planned?

Scott Kamura: Literally all of it, for weeks now!


Molly puts the microphone up to her mouth, desperately.


Molly Stein: Okay, okay, I can’t breathe. 


Dan gives her a peck on the lips and then his daughter on the cheek. He then creates some room between the two of them. Siobhan looks around at all the pretty colors. Molly smiles, but Dan looks around as if expecting something.


Molly Stein: No bamboozle, this is legit. I’m pregnant! You have no idea how hard it was to keep that from you, but I had to share it with 10,000 of your closest friends at the same time!


Molly laughs. A “We’re-His-Friends!” Chant starts up. Dan gives the faithful a thumbs up. Molly steps forward and Dan wraps his arm around her and kisses her again. The Steins walk to the ropes where Dan places Siobhan down on her feet. Dan’s music hits again. Daddy Stein drops to the mat and slides under the bottom rope. 


Dutch Harris: That’s it? “No bamboozle”?


Scott Kamura: We were just a party to one of the biggest announcements in The Stein’s lives!


Siobhan toddles over to the bottom rope and ducks under it, allowing her dad to pull her from the apron and into his arms. Molly ducks between the middle and top ropes, and Dan helps her down the stairs. 


Dutch Harris: Uh oh. I’m waiting for Golden Burkhalter to come back through that curtain and attack Dan or SOMETHING!


Scott Kamura: While he’s holding his TODDLER?!


The Stein family walks up the ramp to the backstage area, leaving the ring crew to clean up to celebratory confetti and streamers. The faithful continue rocking in the arena.


No bamboozle.

Let's Slay

Oh. Yes. Right there. Harder. Harder. HARDER DAN DRAGON!

Daihm Ferguson throws up his arms and massages his palms as he takes a break from working out a knot from Chick Grillbreast’s upper back.

A grumpy Chick spins around and crosses his arms.

Chick Grillbreast: Your arms not strong enough. You need more protein! More GAINZ!

Daihm shakes a cramp out of his hand.

Daihm Ferguson: I think you’d need a steam roller to get that kink out, Chick. Just… calm down, okay?

Chick grumbles.

Chick Grillbreast: I have to defeat the Black Sheep Boyz! Normally I am okay with double teams, but this is for a championship. I have to be at my best!

Daihm Ferguson: I understand, I just-


Voice: Woah ho ho. Sounds like trouble in paradise, mi amigo.

Daihm and Chick look up to find the two members of Lucha Fitness turning the corner. Maximo Fisico, despite not being booked, is in his ring attire, which means, aside from an ornate, pink and green checkerboard robe, he is mostly just wearing a pink speedo that leaves very little to the imagination. Kid Lucha is more conservative by comparison, wearing a line green muscle shirt and pink athletic shorts. Very short, though, like, 80s short. 


Maximo smirks and runs a finger along the length of the wall as he takes the corner and nods toward Daihm.

Maximo Fisico: I’ll give you an arm workout you won’t forget. Muy caliente.  

Daihm chuckles nervously as he instinctively clings to Chick, who takes a defensive stance as the two approaching fighters continue towards Daihmbreast. Maximo Fisico’s eyes dart back between the pair.


Maximo Fisico: ¡Ay de mí! How do I choose from this slender display of foreign delicacy and this imposing, All-Americano exhibit of pure strength and machismo?


While Maximo eye-fucks the two friends, Kid Lucha has his arms crossed. He is as undeservedly cocky as ever, and though his face and features are completely covered by his mask, you can tell that he has bad intentions with the way he focuses on Chick.


Kid Lucha: I’d say stick with the emaciated one, Max. The big guy may not be as all-natural and cage-free as the packaging implies.


Chick Grillbreast: EXCUSE ME, PUNY LUCHA MAN?!?!?!!?!!?!?!?


Chick takes a step forward as if to engage. KL readies himself, either to fight or run, but the aura of arrogance goes nowhere. Daihm steps in, holding Chick back.


Daihm Ferguson: Hey! Hey hey hey. They’re trying to get under your skin, Chick. We have more important things to focus on. You have a great opportunity tomorrow against Baez.


Kid Lucha: Yeah, big boy. Wouldn’t want you to have a heart attack. A fight with little ole me in this backstage area might wear you out too much for a match you have TOMORROW.


Chick scratches his chin for an uncomfortably long time pondering that which Kid Lucha has told him. Like… he shouldn’t be thinking about it this long, but yet. Finally, a lightbulb figuratively goes off over his head. Not literally. That visual gag has been done to death.


Chick Grillbreast: You’re right! If I squish you in the locker room here, I might accidentally do cardio because you’re a little chicken man who will probably run away from me with pee-pee streaking down your pants. I HATE cardio. You’re safe.


Chick shoots both members of Lucha Fitness the dirtiest look possible


Chick Grillbreast: FOR NOW!

Lucha Fitness smirk and cross their arms as Daihm begins to push Chick backwards, out of the way. As the pair turn away, they hear a whistle.

Maximo Fisico: ¡Ay papí! Don’t leave so soon! I wanna squeeze that 

culo apretado!

Chick Grillbreast: Dan Dragon! Let them squeeze my biceps! That way they will have to accept our dominance.

Kid Lucha: That’s not the body part he was talking about, dumbass.

Daihm’s face flushes as he yells at Chick to keep going. As they turn the corner, leaving Lucha Fitness behind them, Maximo looks over to Lucha and flashes a smile.

Maximo Fisico: You know, amigo, call me un caballero de brillante armadura, because I wanna slay that dragón.

Kid Lucha: Well then… slay we will, baby.

Behind his mask, it’s clear Lucha is smirking with all manner of ego. He gestures for his partner to follow him as the pair leave the scene and we cut back to what’s happening in the ring.

Nate Robideau (c) Vs. Avalanche Anderson

Chapter Two

After the bell, Nate calls for a microphone, clearly still furious.  “Never Sleep” dies down as he huffs into the stick, pacing, not even taking his belt as the referee offers it to him. 

Robideau: Cut it, cut it!  Johnson, you see this?  I’m still here!

Stalking now, he faces the hard camera and slaps himself in his battleship chest. 

Robideau: I’m still the face of your company, I’m still at the top of the mountain, and no matter how much you might want to insult me, that isn’t going to change!! 

At this, he finally snatches the belt, rudely, from the official.  Shouldering it, he resumes his stomping pace. 

Robideau: I have scraped and fought my way from nothing to this.  Parolee to mogul.  Prisoner to champion.  I’m made of stronger stuff than you, Real Deal, and trust me: in this game of chicken, you’re going to be the one who blinks.  You’re going to falter.  Not me.  Azraith is going to be…

At this, he trails off.  At first we would be forgiven for thinking he was just catching his breath, but the dead air hangs for a bit longer than is necessary, as if he’s searching for the words.  He stops walking, even.  His eyes, wide for a moment, dart to the entrance, before he scans the crowd.  It’s an awkward thing, his bravado cut short in an instant, giving way to worry, before his armor comes back up again. 

Robideau: …he’s an after thought. 

He paces in a circle, getting his momentum back. 

Robideau: You gonna book me to open the Pay per view?  Hell, put me on the pre-show for all I care.  But I guarantee you this…you either find me a better class of opponent, or something bad is gonna happen to the next scrub you put me in the ring with. 

With that, he throws the mic down, causing a feedback wail before his theme picks up again.  He clambers to the turnbuckle and raises his belt high in the air as the crowd boos.  We cut away…

Can't Stay Away

He’s aware of the camera following him as he walks down the Epicenter’s hallways. He felt a sense of relaxation and comfort. He ran his fingers along the walls, as he often did, making the most of the moment and reminding himself to stay grounded. His arm was in a sling, owing to the shoulder injury that had been reported, but Jamie Johnson was smiling and glad to be at work. 


He walks a few steps past a half-opened doorway, and upon backtracking a few steps, sees Laura Seton leaning back, full on street clothes. 


Jamie Johnson: Can’t help yourself and just couldn’t stay away either, eh? 


He laughs and makes a motion as if to request entry. Seton grants it, so Jamie walks into the room, appreciative. He shifts his sling a bit, trying to get a little more comfortable prior to taking a seat.


Jamie Johnson: I’m not really good at small talk, so I’m just gonna– are we about to be an uncle and an aunt together?


Laura has a pretty good-spirited laugh.


Laura Seton: Yeah, I guess so.  The stubborn Johnson and the most stubborn Seton.  I wish ’em luck with that one.


She gives a sly grin.


Laura Seton: And we get to spoil that kid.


Jamie laughs.


Jamie Johnson: That’s very true. You wanna know how crazy this whole thing is? He actually came to me for advice. Like, nearly hat in hand style. Just super humble and serious. He’s taking it SO seriously.


He pauses for a moment.


Jamie Johnson: All love to the Storm, but green and yellow are terrible baby colors.


Laura Seton: I don’t disagree… though even if she was with, say, Vegas she may force those colors… because Packers.  I just hope they know what they’re doing.  She talked with me about it for over two hours.  Its hard.


Jamie Johnson: I’m not gonna lie, Laur. I’ve NEVER thought about it. Like, hasn’t even crossed my mind. My life for the last four years has just been this. All love and power in the world to people who choose to go through it, but it’s just not for me. Not yet, anyway.


He shifts in his seat, fidgeting with his free hand.


Jamie Johnson: I told him it sounded like they had it figured out. Sounded like they had a plan and all. I’m sure Dad knows about it all by now, but I don’t think Jack’s talked to him. Guess he’s not really obligated to. I haven’t talked to Dad about it either. Not really my busin– sorry.


He stops.


Jamie Johnson: I’m rambling.


Laura Seton: I’m sure they have a plan, but I… I don’t know.  I think she thinks it’ll be easy with his support.  I hope it works, but–


She shrugs.


Laura Seton: This isn’t like shooting a ball.


Jamie Johnson: Or hitting a suplex. I hope it works too, but I guess all we can do is be supportive.


He sits back.


Jamie Johnson: Wanna just catch the rest of the show in here? My shoulder hurts and I’m tired of walking around the Epicenter.


She notices and raises an eyebrow.


Laura Seton:  You okay?  Hell of an injury.  Much less around you losing for the first time in a Chinese dynasty.


Jamie Johnson: Yeah, this is just nagging injuries that piled up on my run. S’why you haven’t seen much of me since I dropped the belt, you know? Just resting, healing, rehabbing, and being excessively careful. 


He pulls the sling off and shows decent shoulder rotation and mobility, but is definitely in some amount of pain.


Jamie Johnson: We’re looking at the Revolution after Eternal for me to get back in the ring.


Laura Seton: I kinda have the same timeline.  Stunk losing the Premier match, like two-for-one punch in the gut having the ROS belt taken from me, but?  It happens in this sport, right?  And as much as I love my twins… I look at Maddie at the start of her career and here I am… at the twilight, almost.  Unless someone does something smart with the booking at Eternal, I should be back the same time.  Head on straight.  Do what I gotta do to stand opposite Blackhawk, or whomever.


Jamie Johnson: Gotta be honest, really hoping that Az doesn’t take too much damage against Jack. I’d love… LOVE to see Nate get beat. He’d go fucking NUTS. Also, I don’t accept this being the twilight of your career. 


Jamie shrugs his good shoulder.


Jamie Johnson: You still got a lot left in the tank.


We cut back to the ring.


Mushigihara Vs. Roy Vezina

Bring the Thunder

He’s just chilling tonight, taking as much of the shows in as he can, prior to facing Azraith DeMitri in the main event. He saw his older brother walk into Laura Seton’s locker room not that long ago, and that made him smirk. He knew what they were about to discuss.

From the distance we hear a voice–reedy, accented, enough twang to make you think he’s probably the genuine article.

“Ell-Ell, Ell-P!”

Paria looks up, his confusion giving way to a genuine smile as he recognizes an old friend.  The mustache, the bottle blonde, the white leather boots–Bennet Bronco, one half of Chingons Groseros, has made his arrival.  He jogs up to the man, tossing his duffel to the concrete and holding his arms out. 

Bennet Bronco: Ladies Love El Paria!!  Bring it in here hombre, how the Hell are you?  


El Paria: Bennet! My fucking dude, I am so glad to see you. Nice of you to finally join us on the mainland, homie. Got yourself a sweet lil spot upcoming too. How’re you? Oso still crotchety as fuck?

Bronco rolls his eyes so hard they’re threatening to bounce back to El Paso.

Bennet Bronco: Brother, I’m gonna be shocked if Timothy Roy even decides to show up.  I mean yeah, the guy was being a bit of a chapped asshole, but he rubbed ole Oso every incorrect direction, yeah?  But he’s good.  Pissed, so at least I know he’ll bring the thunder in the match.  Bout all I can trust him with, hahaha.  


El Paria: Mans has a short fuse in general, how would Roy not just… pick up on that real quick?? Guy with that much pride, it’s just a given. 


Paria laughs.


El Paria: When did you all get in town, anyway? SHOOT set you up nice? I can have a word with you know who if I need to.

Bronco shakes his head and claps his old friend on the shoulder. 

Bennet Bronco: You’re playin’ like I didn’t set my location on Tinder to this city as soon as the papers were signed.  I’ve already got something sweet set up with a lil’ senorita, I’ll be fine.  Listen, I gotta go make sure to trim my mustache and even out my tan.  You know, appear–

El Paria: Appearance can win you matches before the bell”, yeah yeah.  I’ll give you a cool hundred bucks the day your grooming routine is the deciding factor. 

Bennet Bronco: But hey hombre, do me a favor.  Ask Oso about where he’s staying, eh?  He hasn’t shared his plans with me and I don’t wanna think about him rotting in some roach den.  


Paria pumps his fist at Bennet and starts to walk away.


El Paria: I got you, hermano I’ll go find him, tonight or tomorrow. You know how it goes.


We cut away…


A Mary Kelly Exclusive!

We are backstage with SHOOT Project interviewer Mary Kelly, who happens to be standing alongside two special guests; the newly returned NC-17 and his manager, Johnny Vignochi! 


Seventeen is shirtless and wearing his trademark hot pink wrestling pants and white tassels. He looks sweaty for some reason, and…like he stuffed the crotch area of his tights with something to make his junk look bigger? 


The smaller, more wiry Johnny Vig is in a gray and black leopard print shirt, complete with gold necklaces, wrist bracelets, and rings. He’s stroking his ratty beard diabolically and smiling, revealing a set of jagged yellow teeth (and a gold tooth!). Both men are wearing sunglasses. 


Mary looks slightly uncomfortable but, like the professional she is, plows on with the interview.


Mary Kelly: Ladies and gentlemen, I’m here with former SHOOT Shut Up and Fight Champion NC-17 and his manager, Johnny Vignochi, with a Mary Kelly exclusive! A lot of folks are asking…what happened? One day you were competing at the highest level against Buck Dresden in the Master of the Mat tourney and the next…gone in the wind. There are a lot of rumors and conjectures about exactly what transpired…I personally heard something about a press appearance where you were allegedly intoxicated? But there’s no film footage, and the people wanna know…where did you go, and why?


Seventeen grabs the mic, licking his lips, and invades Mary’s space a little. She takes a step back, glancing at the camera nervously.


NC-17: Mary, gotta say, big fan. Love the dress, the hair, and my oh my, is that a hint of Summer’s Eve stinging my nostrils? You do that just for me? No? Whatever, look. The past is the past. I used to have a problem, ya know what I mean? But I did a lot of soul-searching while I was in rehab, state of the art soul searching. I’m talkin’ hot tubs, sushi bars, one-on-ones with Dr. Drew, massages…and while there were no happy endings to accompany those massages, I still “came” to an epiphany…that I wouldn’t be able to pay my bills anymore because of the noncompete clause I signed with SHOOT. OOPS.


Johnny Vig: Those noncompete clauses…they’ll getcha every time!


NC-17: And so I fucked off to Japan, Mary, where I ate noodles, beat off to tentacle porn, and prayed to GOD Josh Johnson would call me and let me job out with my knob out like the old days. And in the mean-time, I worked on myself, Mary, OOOOH, I worked on myself A LOT. Got clean, Mary Kelly, I swear to CHRIST, I PROMISE I’m fuckin’ clean. Went to AA…I’m a 10th level Grandmaster Sober Guy now Mary, can ya believe it? Look, I got the poker chip to prove it!


NC-17 flashes a Chuck E Cheese coin at the camera for less than a tenth of a second. Mary’s starting to look skeptical.


NC-17: And lo and behold, SHOOT FINALLY called me back! Prolly has something to do with all the fuckin’ geriatrics that haunt this dump dying off or retiring. I mean hey, I’m pushing forty myself, but in this place, that’s considered your prime! I heard they put Dresden in a home, and that X-Calibur quit to be a spokesman for adult diapers…and while the legends are doing their due diligence and shittin’ out as many second-generation superstars as their defective lil’ wombs can carry, I’m afraid there isn’t nearly enough nepotism here to fill out a roster! And so here I am! Ready to entertain the dribbling, fart-sniffing nerds that still tune into this goofy vaudeville shit!


Boos start to rain down from the Epicenter. Where once there may have been a hero here…it appears as if the “cream of obscene” has succumbed to his basest instincts. Mary Kelly looks offended.


Mary Kelly: Wow…there’s a…lot to unpack here. Dribbling, fart-sniffing nerds? And did you just call former World Champion Buck Dresden a-


Johnny Vig snatches the mic from Mary. 


What a little creep.


Johnny Vig: What my client means to say, Mary, before you so rudely interrupted him, is that we’re back with a VENGEANCE. Last time around, this place was chalk full of fuckin’ superstars…now that they’re all havin’ wheelchair races in Shady Acres, looks like the field’s wide open and ripe for a RAPIN’!


As if on cue, the mohawked Seventeen draws even closer to Mary Kelly, breathing heavily while he menaces her. The boos have picked up steam. Nobody’s really digging this, or this guy. What a disgusting display of behavior.


Johnny Vig: No Ayumi, no Lindsey Troy, no Dresden, no NEMESIS…that’s a mediocre talent’s wet dream, Mary! 


NC-17: Hey! 


Johnny Vig: No more heroes, nobody to save the day! It sounds like the start uh somethin’ BEAUTIFUL, Mary. The start of a NEW REIGN. And it all starts with COMBAT Kabuto on REVOLUTION.


NC-17: Joshi sucks!


Johnny Vig: So if ya got kids? Send ‘em to another room. Your parents stoppin’ by for tea time? Might wanna change the channel. This program may contain violence, nudity, and graphic language. It’s about to be rated…NC-SEVEN-TEEN!


NC-17 grabs the mic out of Johnny’s hand and gets directly in Mary’s face.




He drops the mic, and the two awkwardly make their exit. Yeesh, what an interview.


Mary Kelly looks stunned.


Mary Kelly: Back to you, Scott.

Lexi Gold Vs. Madison Seton

A Liability

A knock can be heard at Lennox Ferguson’s door. SHOOT’s Chief of Staff looks up with a sense of caution – given how the last time an unannounced visitor’s appearance ended for him.

Lennox Ferguson: Come in.

Lennox sighs in relief as he sees none other than Ayumi Seppuku step through the door. 


Yet, after taking a longer look, he realizes how much weight the Hall of Famer has lost. His expression sours for a split second before Ayumi smiles and runs a hand through her naturally dark-brown hair, completely undyed in the fantastical colors she is so well known for, and closes the door behind her.

Lennox stands up and extends a hand as he sports a genuine smile in Ayumi’s direction. She steps forward and reciprocates before taking a seat in front of Lennox’s desk. Lennox sits down as well.

Lennox Ferguson: Ayumi. Well… this is a surprise. To what do I owe the pleasure?


Ayumi looks around and lets out a laugh. Lennox cocks his head.

Lennox Ferguson: What’s funny?


Ayumi shakes her head and smiles.

Ayumi Seppuku: Seems like a lifetime ago when we were in the ring together, huh? You… me…. Azraith. You’ve landed in this great position. Azraith is… well, he’s still commanding a huge following. And you both have kids who’ve made a name for themselves here.


Ayumi sighs.

Ayumi Seppuku: I just sometimes… feel like I’ve missed out because of all those years I spent in Japan.

Lennox squints with a note of concern.

Lennox Ferguson: Ayumi…


Ayumi reaches out and grabs Lennox’s hands, holding them surprisingly tightly. Lennox looks up and meets his old friend’s gaze.

Ayumi Seppuku: Lennox, I need you to give me the chance to get back in the ring. It’s been so long and every day I see my window to leave my mark closing.

Lennox Ferguson leans back and pulls his hands free, which causes Ayumi’s smile to falter.

Lennox Ferguson: You’re a literal Hall of Famer, Ayumi. What else do you want?

Ayumi’s tone turns from pleading to serious.

Ayumi Seppuku: You know what I want, Lennox.

Lennox’s demeanor stiffens as he leans forward and locks eyes with Ayumi.

Lennox Ferguson: Trust me, Ayumi, when you’re medically cleared to compete, you have my assurance you will get every opportunity to get what you want. You’ve earned it. But today my response is going to be the same as everyone else I know you’ve talked to. We are not going to be liable for ending your career.

Ayumi slams her fist on the table in a move that causes Lennox to recoil.



The Ronin Wraith recoils, herself, embarrassed. She holds a shaking hand up to her face to try and calm down.

Ayumi Seppuku: Lennox… you don’t see it. The things I have to deal with every day. The only place I feel like I belong in this world anymore is in that ring and… and…

She chokes back a sigh.

Ayumi Seppuku: I don’t know how much more time I can spend sitting on the sidelines.

Lennox closes his eyes and reaches out to hold Ayumi’s hands.

Lennox Ferguson: We go way back, Ayumi. And as someone who has found a career outside of the ring, I want you to know that there are options. It’s not… all or nothing.

Ayumi pulls her hands back as her eyes begin to water.

Ayumi Seppuku: Maybe for you, Lennox…

She stands up and begins to make her way out of his office as Lennox tries to call Ayumi back.

Lennox Ferguson: Ayumi. You KNOW I can’t… it’s too much of a liability.

Ayumi looks around Lennox’s office once more and once again lets a light smile across her face as she nods and wipes at her eyes. She shuts the door behind her as she steps out into the Epicenter hallway and leaves a concerned Lennox gripping the edge of his desk.

Felix Mullen & The Murder Doves Vs. Miranda DC & Boomer Shooters

Chapter Three: Season of the Witch

Another snowy interruption of static before we cut to a familiar grainy, all-too-digital handheld, first person shot…this time in the Epicenter parking lot.


The same bestial breathing can be heard in the background as the unusually smooth framerate cuts around from a bush.  The sun has been down for about 30 minutes, and the last remaining light has been making a quick break for the horizon.  The darkness encroaches on everything that isn’t illuminated by the bold, circular lights that beam down in rigorous order down the parking lot.


For a few moments, there’s relative silence.  The shot pans across the parking lot, showing it’s quiet, nearly abandoned state.  The employee lot is filled, sparsely.  In this brief, uneventful moment, you spot him.  We all spot him.


Nate Robideau.


What’s amazing is that he passes right by us all.  Maybe no more than ten feet away from our left.  Just a slow, casual stride with his gear bag swung over his right shoulder.  After several paces…the camera starts to follow.


It’s a slow gait, and the camera seems to bob ever-so-slightly with the person who is holding it.  The camera person seems to keep a steady distance behind Nate, weaving between the few cars that populate the lot.  No HUD or SHOOT Project overlays about upcoming shows, no zoom, this feels less like a camera shot and more like we’re wired directly into what this person…this beast is seeing.


When the opportunity strikes, the shot grows closer, moving quicker to shave a foot, or even inches off their distance.  As Nate finally reaches his murder-tinted 1960’s truck, the camera stops for a second…but slowly starts to approach closer.


Every second of this camera’s attention is focused directly, specifically on Nate.  No wavering, no looking around.  It’s one car away, hovering at the corner of a large SUV, watching less than maybe seven feet away as Nate is throwing his gear into the bed of his vehicle.  That moment, that exact second is when we can all see it.


As Nate closes the gate with a heavy THUD, the camera stares intently at his face, and the sudden concern that is creeping across it.  The shot lowers, ever-so-slightly, to get more eye level with the fear that seems to be gripping the SHOOT Project Heavyweight champion.  No words.  No sound.  Even the city seems to have died to give these two their intimate moment together.


Nate pauses, for a moment, lingering at the door.  He turns towards the SUV, but his eyes are scanning beyond the camera.  They’re wide.  He knows something is up, but he can’t put his finger on it–but he doesnt shake his head, doesn’t dismiss it. 

He quickly hops in, shutting the door and locking it quickly.  


As the drivers side door slams, the camera emerges once again from behind the corner of the SUV.  At this point, it steps fully into one of the floodlights that dot the parking lot.  It stares at the driver’s side mirror, still watching Nate’s face.  For one brief moment, you swear you see Nate looking right at you.


That soft catch of breath.


The vehicle roars to life and in a matter of seconds it’s screeching out of the parking lot.  The shot follows it as it goes, watching the tail lights as they scream onto the street, and then eventually blink out of sight.  Several more seconds of that dead silent city as the camera looks around one more time, before slowly looking down to the asphalt of the parking lot as the feed cuts to black.