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Ruination 54


Before the show graphics. Before the pomp and circumstance. Before we see the live shot of the capacity crowd in the Epicenter we are shown a much more intimate scenario as a black screen transitions into the comforts of Dan Stein’s office.

Dan is seated behind a spartan, but impressive-looking desk, but he is not alone. On each side the SHOOT Project COO is flanked by a crowd of tense-looking SHOOT Project Soldiers:

Chick Grillbreast.
Miranda DC

El Paria
Ayumi Seppuku

Miranda DC looks absolutely pissed as she grabs the edge of Dan’s desk and leans in to confront the newest SHOOT executive.

Miranda DC: What the hell is going on? Can I get my hands on that prick 17?

Dan looks nervously at Miranda, about to respond before El Paria, aka Jack Johnson, scoffs.

El Paria: THAT is what you’re worried about? Jamie is MISSING. Daihm is MISSING. What are we doing about that?


Miranda DC: Uh, maybe I can beat that info out of that puto?

Dan is jolted out of his chair by a roaring Chick Grillbreast.

Chick Grillbreast: ENOUGH.

Chick slams his fist on the desk, splintering it slightly much to Dan’s chagrin.

Chick Grillbreast: They hurt Dan Dragon. The girl’s right. Violence is the only answer.

Ayumi Seppuku claps her hands loudly together, like a school teacher trying to regain control of a classroom as everyone turns to look in her direction.

Ayumi Seppuku: Listen. I know how. NC-17 thinks. How he acts. He is not at the root. Of this. Someone else. Is.

Everyone looks at Ayumi with a puzzled expression, but it’s enough to calm tempers in the room for the moment.

Dan Stein: Wait… this isn’t another Blaze Claymore, Deep SHOOT thing is it? I don’t think I can handle that again.

Ayumi shakes her head.

Ayumi Seppuku: I don’t know. But I can. Find out.

Miranda DC, who is across from Ayumi, waves her hands in a “no way” gesture.

Miranda DC: Who the hell are you, again, exactly? You just… randomly show up with NC-17 at the arena the day Jamie Johnson almost gets got the first time and suddenly now you’re the asshole-whisperer.

Ayumi Seppuku: Don’t kink. Shame.

Miranda DC scoffs and steps backward, not quite sure how to respond, but El Paria leans in, locking eyes with Ayumi.

El Paria: You really think you can track him down? Get him to release Jamie and Daihm? Why?

Ayumi sighs.

Ayumi Seppuku: I can’t. Promise. Anything. But… Seventeen needs. To be stopped. This needs. To stop. I have to. Stop him.

Miranda DC: Now hold on a minute!

Chick Grillbreast: He is MINE!

The four fighters begin to jaw and argue, their words flowing like a jet stream over Dan Stein’s head before he finally holds up his hand to pause everyone from talking.

Dan Stein: HEY! HEY! Stop it!

Reluctantly, everyone complies.

Dan Stein: Ayumi is right. Until we actually have NC-17 here, until we can find him – this is all just a moot point.

Chick shakes his head, confused.

Chick Grillbreast: What do cows have to do with this!?

Dan Stein: No… Chick. MOOT. In other words, it doesn’t do anyone here a damned bit of good arguing about titles or matches or whatever right now. We have to find him first and… Ayumi? If you think you can do that, then I’m all ears.

Ayumi nods, but no one around the table is smiling. Miranda DC turns away from Stein’s desk and begins to leave.

Miranda DC: Fuck this. You two can play whatever game this is together but the second I see NC-17 – in the Epicenter, on the street, or in handcuffs, I’m getting my pound of flesh from that sleazeball.

Chick Grillbreast also begins to leave, his teeth clenched, seething.

Chick Grillbreast: I will find him! I still haven’t looked everywhere for Daihm. I will find him and I will CRUSH him.

As Chick heads out the door, El Paria stares down Ayumi.

El Paria: You better not be blowing smoke, Seppuku. I don’t care who the hell you are, if you’re jerking us around on this and covering for your friend…

Ayumi Seppuku: I just. Want. What’s best. For SHOOT.

El Paria scoffs.

El Paria: That’s not exactly a denial.

Ayumi closes her eyes.

Ayumi Seppuku: I will. Find Jamie. I will bring Daihm. Back.

El Paria turns to leave.

El Paria: For your sake, you better. Otherwise I’m coming for you next.

Dan Stein: Woah. Woah. Just… Christ. Jack… go cool off okay? You’ve got your match up next anyways.

El Paria heads for Stein’s door, but before he can leave, Ayumi grabs a hold of his shoulder.

Ayumi Seppuku: Jack. Be careful. You’re a target. Too. Remember?


El Paria’s eyes go wide for a split second and then narrow, burning a hole into Ayumi’s. He doesn’t respond, but keeps his eyes locked on hers until he is out the door and closes it behind him.

Ayumi turns to look at the SHOOT COO and he gestures to her to take a seat.

Dan Stein: Okay, then, Ayumi. What’s your plan?





Izzy Sia is backstage, looking a little different now–updated gear, her buzzed undercut braided into a neat row on top of her head.  This consistent evolution as she fights professionally and tweaks what works is probably something everyone goes through, but it’s oftentimes not seen by so many people.  Still, if you compare this lean warrior in the current MMA industry standard of spandex top and shorts to the green fighter who came to the ring in half a gi with a ponytail, you’d be forgiven for thinking they were different people. 

Currently, she’s pacing backstage, a familiar environment from her mentor, the place where you stretch out and shadowbox and visualize.  She stalks down one end of the hall, stanced up, the camera following as she works on bobbing, and weaving.  She makes it to the end, jumps up and down, bouncing on the balls of her feet and shaking her arms.  She turns to start down the other end…and stops dead in her tracks. 

Sia: …The fuck is this?


Coming up the hall towards Izzy is 3 people all dressed in the same sterile gray and white suits. At the front of the group is Adongo Mbabazi, the Ugandan woman who appeared in the recent CICADA promotional video. In the group’s center is the aforementioned man, towering above the suits, tatted to the gills and revealing nothing with his body language. The small conversation, a somewhat serious one by the general tone of the four suits, immediately stops. Adongo smiles warmly at Izzy, while CICADA simply cranes his head down to look at her. Whatever his expression or how he feels about crossing his opponent’s path is hidden, as his mask reveals nothing.


Adongo: Ms. Sia, what a pleasant surprise! Or do you prefer Izzy? I apologize for referring to you by your first name in that little video, I should have remained more formal initially.

Sia: My name is pronounced ‘suck my dick’, it’s Tagalog for ‘if you think you’re going to ambush me in the hallway then I’m taking at least half of you with me.’  Clear enough?  


A man in the back begins to step forward, a slightly taller, but still only of average height Filipino man.


Man: Hindi kailangan ng CICADA ang aming tulong-


Adongo turns to shoot this man a glare, holding up her hand. CICADA turns his attention to the man as well, and the man quickly backs down, still shooting daggers at Izzy.


Adongo: Antonio, there is no reason for this to be anything other than cordial. 


Adongo and CICADA return their attention to Izzy. Adongo returns to a warm smile, holding up her hands in a ‘we want no trouble’ gesture.


Adongo: I understand your wariness of coming across your opponent with a group of people by his side in the halls. This industry is not known for its fairness or…professional decorum, especially with people just disappearing left and right. I assure you, though, this is a moment of happenstance. We were not looking for you, and as much as CICADA wants to trade blows with you, he very much wants it to happen in the ring.


Adongo leans in, still smiling.


Adongo: And between you and me, you’d take out more than half of us. Aside from CICADA, none of us are particularly skilled in violence.

Iz regards this representative with wariness, but melting wariness.  Call it the kind demeanor, the assurances of decorum, the fact that she believes what she’s being told–or it could just be that if they wanted to attack her, they probably would have gone ahead and done it.  Her guarded stance drops down to hands on the hips.  Keeps her distance, though. 

Sia: Say what you want to. 

She shifts her gaze to Antonio.

Sia: At ikaw naman, fuckboy? Wala kang sapat na itlog.


Adongo doesn’t speak Tagalog, but the use of ‘fuckboy’ makes her laugh. Antonio sulks, knowing that he isn’t supposed to react and also knowing that Izzy is, essentially, correct. There is also a Thai woman in the background. She remains aloof from the situation, checking an ever-buzzing cellphone, though she does reach out and gently squeezes Antonio’s shoulder.


Adongo: Well, Ms. Sia-


Izzy rolls her eyes.


Sia: You can call me Izzy. 


Adongo nods.


Adongo: Izzy then. Adongo Mbabazi, pleasure to meet you in person.


Adongo offers a hand to Izzy, which Izzy sort of glares at, but only momentarily, mostly keeping her eyes on the much larger man who she will face later tonight. Again, CICADA makes no movements of any kind. Adongo nods, lowering her hand, a moment of disappointment on her face, but that is quickly replaced with the same kind, warm smile.


Adongo: This meeting is happenstance, not planned. Like I said, we were not looking for you. However, since we are here, I want to be clear that CICADA feels nothing but respect for you. He is very excited to test himself against you, and those of us who represent ERID LLC. are looking forward to seeing who is the better between you two. I…


Adongo pauses, not sure how to approach this next part.


Adongo: Look, ERID LLC. is a multi-faceted corporation that is always scouting promising opportunities and ventures, and while in the world of wrestling, CICADA and the SWARM Protocol are our main focus, we are always interested in keeping lines of communication open. The protégé of Nate Robideau who shows such promise at such a young age in the ring with our client…well…regardless of the outcome of this match, we would love to keep lines of communication open between you and the Blackhawk gym. 

Izzy snorts, cracking her knuckles. 

Sia: You want to talk business, you do that with the man who owns the business–he just retired, so I’m sure he’s got plenty of time to think of a creative way to reject whatever buyout you’re going to offer.  As for me? 

Izzy sets her lower lip and walks right past Adongo, getting herself as close to her larger opponent as possible.  She’s doing everything she can to project strength, but there are physical realities at play, and seeing them so close to one another only highlights their size discrepancy.  She stares at him for a long moment, her hands on her hips. 

Sia: I’m gonna stand on business.  So I hope you’re bringing your best. 

She storms off. CICADA turns to watch her walk away. Adongo comes up behind CICADA and places a hand on his shoulder.


Adongo: She’s feisty. I like her a lot.


Adongo pats CICADA on the shoulder, the smile lessening, becoming less warm. She gives a nod to Antonio.


Adongo: Don’t break her too badly.



We head backstage, where we find the diminutive NC-7teeny walking backstage with…a new look? The red dye has been washed out of his hair, and it’s no longer a faux hawk…just a mop of stringy brown curls. He’s wearing a t-shirt with a “Max Towers” logo and a pair of gym shorts…clearly not in the building to compete tonight, and he’s casually drinking a bottle of water.


He pitter patters down the hallway, soaking in the evening’s rendition of Ruination, when he abruptly halts, suddenly engulfed in the hulking shadow of Lars Von Bremen.


The crowd boos its disapproval at the arrival of the strongman. 


7teeny looks startled but he tries not to show it. 


7teeny: Ugh. And what do you want?


Lars is emotionless. He simply looks down at the S I G N I F I C A N T L Y smaller man, allowing an awkward silence to fall between the two. 7teeny stays stalwart for a time, but eventually, the silence and gaze of the monster before him breaks him a bit.


7teeny: Look, I don’t have time for this.


Annoyed and intimidated, the little guy tries to find his way around Von Bremen’s massive girth but to no avail. Lars isn’t going anywhere.

Lars Von Bremen: You have all the time in the world, little champion.


Lars places a hand on 7teeny’s shoulder, which Teeny shrugs off.


Lars Von Bremen: You and I have a match…next.


Teeny looks like he got punched in the gut. The Epicenter is now full on booing the sequence of events unfolding. The smaller wrestler doesn’t seem to understand what’s going on.


7teeny: What are you talking about?


Lars grins ever so slightly.


Lars Von Bremen: Strings were pulled, wheels were greased, and you and I have a match. 


Lars turns to walk away but stops. He turns back to Teeny. 


Lars Von Bremen: Let’s be clear, little champion. You disrespected the boss, fucked his ex, and now I’m going to fucking kill you in the ring.


With that, Lars turns around and walks away.


Leaving an astonished 7teeny staring down an IMPOSSIBLE task.


Scott Kamura: Oh no. Looks like Lars wasn’t kidding…an impromptu match has been announced…NEXT.


Dutch Harris: Not exactly a lot of notice. I dunno what 7teeny’s doing standing there…he’s gotta get ready! Ready for an ass kicking!


Scott Kamura: Oh man.


Singles Match



As the match ends, Lars Von Bremen rises, leaving an utterly battered Max Towers on the ground. He doesn’t even allow the referee to raise his hand, but exits the ring and begins to dig under the ring. 


Dutch Harris: C’mon man, the little guy is down. 


Scott Kamura: What could Lars be looking for under there?


Lars emerges from under the ring with a can of red spray paint. The crowd boos as he reenters the ring. Max has rolled to his stomach and is on his hands and knees, trying to catch his breath, but Lars simply puts his giant boot on the back of Max’s head and drives him into the ring, placing pressure on the head of Towers, who cries out in pain. He tries to grab the foot of Lars, but his struggle is pointless. 


Dutch Harris: When he said he was going to kill 7teeny, he didn’t…he wasn’t being literal, right?


Lars suddenly stomps on the head of Max, immediately pushing the fight out of the smaller man. He drops the can of spray paint and picks up Max, slapping him in the face and knocking him to his knees. 


Lars Von Bremen: You had everything.


Lars picks Max back up just to slap him back down again.


Lars Von Bremen: But you got greedy.


Lars lifts Max back up, tosses him on his shoulders, and drops him with the LIGHTS OUT. The crowd boo, trash starts to hit the ring, but Lars does NOT care. 


Scott Kamura: This has to stop. Someone has to stop this!


Dutch Harris: What’s the paint for?


Lars bends down slowly and picks up the spray paint. He then walks over to Max and hoists him up with one hand, holding his near lifeless body on his knees. Lars begins to spray paint Max’s hair with the paint, a similar red to the NC-17 mohawk. He is not careful, and plenty of it ends up in Max’s face, who struggles to get out of the clutches of Lars as paint drips into his eyes. Once Lars has sufficiently reddened Max’s hair, he smashes the spray paint can into Max’s face, blood and red paint mixing together. As Max goes unconscious for the third time in the last couple of minutes, Lars drops him back down. 


Scott Kamura: This is…pretty sick.


Dutch Harris: This guy works for the dude who has kidnapped two different wrestlers, Scott. What do you expect?


Lars kicks Max onto his back. He drops to one knee and begins to spray paint something onto Max’s chest. More boos and trash showers the ring, but the giant man does not care, and the referee knows he is powerless to stop this. Lars tosses the spray paint away and grabs Max by the spray painted hair, lifting him to his feet. He turns the tiny man around and lifts him in the air with one hand by the hair. He holds the small man to the camera so that it can read what he spray painted.





Lars snickers at his work and drops Max to the ground. “Lights Out” by Mass of Man hits over the PA as Lars slowly stalks out of the ring, finally allowing referees and trainers to storm the ring to check on Max Towers.


Dutch Harris: So, the takeaway here is that you should NEVER have a relationship with anyone that NC-17 has had sex with.


Scott Kamura: That…that’s not the takeaway. Jesus, I hope Max Towers is okay.



Things around the Epicenter have been pretty high-tension lately, what with all the masked figures roaming around and doing grievous acts of violence. But no matter how many of his friends have been affected, the day-to-day operations of SHOOT Project are still at the forefront of new COO Dan Stein’s mind. He trawls the hallway, posture straight and confident, gait swift but not hurried. He’s ready to keep the ship from veering into a mysterious iceberg.


That is until he hears a voice behind him.


Voice: Ah, it’s the new boss.


Stein turns around to see the weathered visage of one Mr.  Ho, the Eastern super-agent and manager of SHOOT Project’s newest side of Mongol beef, Moriton.


Mr. Ho: You know, I liked the first cards you booked better than the last two. My Horde Rider has been getting a little bit rusty.


Dan Stein: groaning You do realize I’ve only booked two shows, these two shows this weekend, and I help run actual operations, right?


Mr. Ho: Well, I can’t get a straight answer out of most people around here about anything. I figured I’d go right to one of the sources.


You can see Stein’s posture slump a little bit out of frustration and annoyance.


Dan Stein: So you want more matches for Moriton. Got it. Good.


Mr. Ho: I’m sorry, am I bothering you?


Stein’s eyes widen.


Mr. Ho: Two shows with several matches with multiple wrestlers in it. You can’t find any time for my Mighty Garuda. Am I supposed to sit back and take this lightly?


Dan Stein: Alright, I get it. I get it. You’re an agent. You want to get paid. Money makes the world go around. But I don’t know if you’ve noticed things around here lately. Masked figures are blindsiding our wrestlers. One of them was unveiled to be the Premier Champion. I’ve seen friends get hurt. I’ve seen rivals get hurt. Jamie Johnson was attacked, Daihm Ferguson kidnapped, Chick Grillbreast put on the shelf. So excuse me if I’m not going to take HR complaints too seriously right now.


Ho strokes his chin.


Mr. Ho: Okay. You’re under a lot of pressure. But that’s the job you took. You want executive pay? You should learn how to delegate responsibility like an executive. Just some friendly advice. In the meantime, maybe delegate responsibility to someone to make sure my Mighty Garuda is booked at the next cycle of shows, you hear?


Stein rolls his eyes before giving a halfhearted nod and walking away. Ho stands confidently at first, but then his own shoulders slump a little bit as he feels an icy presence creep up behind him.


Mr. Ho: I made my demand, you ghoul. Now let me be.


Felix Mullen: Heh. You think that clears it? Oh no. You’re going to get me my money, or else the whole world is going to figure out that this Mr. Ho persona? Yeah, it’s just that. A persona.


Felix pats the superagent on the shoulder.


Felix Mullen: I told you I’d find something out about you.


The portly ginger podcaster chuckles to himself as he walks off. Mr. Ho is left to gulp and stand, beads of sweat forming on his brow.


Singles Match



The cameras shifted their focus to the backstage area, where we find Lexi Gold strutting the hallways. She is clad in her ring gear, and her hair is styled in two ponytails, adorned with a scissors hair accessory.


A big grin forms on her face after her actions that took place on Reckoning Day. As she continues to walk, she starts engaging in a conversation with herself. She stops in front of a door that reads “Dan Stein COO”. While most people would be respectful and knock, Lexi Gold chose to just barge into his office. Dan rises from his seat where he was probably discussing the show with an unknown member of the leadership team. After realizing who barged in his door, Dan sighs and starts to gingerly walk around his desk toward her.


Lexi Gold: Look at this! Dan Stein, now dressed in business attire, has traded his wrestling gear for suits. Interesting. 


Dan steps to Lexi Gold. The person in Stein’s room slides off camera. Stein tucks his head, chuckles to himself, and crosses his arms over his chest.


Dan Stein: Funny, Lexi, you make it seem like I had a say in the matter. I’m glad you made your way so rudely into my office, though. 


Dan lifts his head to look her in the eyes. His happy-go-lucky demeanor is still present, but he speaks with a stiffer tone.


Dan Stein: You know that stunt you pulled at Reckoning Day was awwwwfully dangerous, yeah?


Lexi, with her arms crossed, leans back against the desk.


Lexi Gold: You know, out of all the people, they chose you for that position. It seems like a poor decision, if you ask me-


Dan interjects.


Dan Stein: They didn’t.


The fans in the arena “oooooh” the comment. Lexi takes a moment to look at Dan. Dan stares at her. Her lip curls as she continues on.


Lexi Gold: I guess when your old body finally gives out, you’ll try anything to remain in the spotlight. As far as Reckoning Day is concerned, I was simply wanting Savior to look into the glass and reflect on his mistakes. Trust me, things could have been worse, but I decided to be generous under my dark heart. 


Dan looks around incredulously, then to Lexi.


Dan Stein: Did you just tell your boss that you purposely put one of your coworkers in danger? To make a point? 


Lexi ignores his response at first as she sits on top of the desk and takes it upon herself to grab a pen and write on a paper that is attached to a clipboard, finding humor in her troublesome ways. Dan frustratedly reaches for his stuff, taking it from her. Finally, she looks up at him and smirks.


Lexi Gold: Is that a problem, Stein? Perhaps you should do some reflecting yourself. I’m sure you have a shit ton of skeletons still hiding in your closet, but what do I know. Right?


Dan sighs, shaking his head.


Dan Stein: Lexi, when you first got here in SHOOT Project, you had the world in your hand. You were newcomer of the year. You had the fans adoring you. You were on the straight and narrow, and you were going places. This new you? Whatever this is with the scissors and the dolls and glass? The attitude with your boss? You need to decide whether or not this is the REAL you, or just the NEW you. Trust me, Lexi. I would know.


Lexi just smiles at Dan. A fire seems to burn in Dan’s eyes at the smile.


Dan Stein: Alright, Lexi. Since you want to be a badass and bust down my door, then insult me, and disrespect my office KNOWING that I can FINE you exorbitant amounts of money, I have a feeling money won’t get through to you. So, I’ve got something else in mind for you.


Dan puts the pen that Lexi took off his desk to the pad, and jots down a message.


Dan Stein: Next set of shows, Lexi Gold takes on one of the meanest, most vicious members of the roster. Lexi Gold against REDACTED UNTIL SHOW TIME!!


Lexi stares at the ground, lost in thought.


Lexi Gold: Should I get a bucket to gather your tears from all the crying I’m hearing out of you? This is the real me. Good girl is gone. Miss evil is here to stay. So, go ahead and gather up all your roster members in order to stop me. Hell, maybe you’ll throw your crippled ass into the fray. It does not matter either way. Bring on anyone. I’m not afraid.


Dan sighs, disappointedly.


Dan Stein: I thought you’d say that.


Dan just gestures toward the door.


Dan Stein: I’m busy, Lexi, and since you’re so intent on reflection these days, maybe having a monster staring at you from across the ring instead of looking back at you from the mirror will do you some good. Besides, I hear his bite is worse than his bark.


Dan looks upset he said that outloud. She hops off the desk and slowly walks up to him, looking him in the eye with a serious expression on her face as tension in the room permeates.


Lexi Gold: Bark or be damned, I suggest you watch what happens in that ring very closely. Once I’m done knocking his fangs loose, and making him choke on them, he can go back to obscurity with the rest. 


She giggles before exiting the office. Dan sighs, exasperatedly, shaking his head. The camera fades.


Singles Match



Scott Kamura: Hold on, Dutch, I’m hearing we’ve got an incident backstage.

Dutch Harris: What do you mean, an incident?

Scott Kamura: I think we’ve got a camera; let’s go to the back.

The feed cuts to a dark area of the Epicenter, seemingly tucked away from much of the normal hustle and bustle, where a crowd of security staff have convened around two figures.

Dutch Harris: That’s… El Paria! 


Scott Kamura: And Chick Grillbreast is with him; they don’t seem to be fighting but I think El Paria may be injured. He’s holding his shoulder pretty gingerly.

An out of breath Dan Stein reaches the scene, speed-walking with his cane, as the security staff part and the COO gulps for air.

Dan Stein: What… I heard… attack.

El Paria winces as he tries to stand up from a sitting position. Chick helps the fighter up, scanning the area with a sense of purpose.

El Paria: Yeah… one of those fuckin’ masked assholes. Nearly got me too.

Chick Grillbreast: We are being watched! Like a man named Tom who peeps! I HATE PEEPS.

Dan still looks confused.

Dan Stein: What happened? Where did they go? And what were you doing back here? Are you OK?

El Paria: Christ. One question at a time, Stein. Look… was trying to get some time to myself to process and I wasn’t looking exactly at where I was going; I just kept walking wherever there was a path to walk and then… I don’t know.

Someone jumped out at me from the shadows over there with a damned baseball bat and swung it at me. Luckily they got me in the shoulder and not my head, but they were fast, boy. They had me in a chokehold and I was about to pass out but then this guy here chased him off.

Chick Grillbreast: I had followed Jacked Johnson and thought he may be in trouble. I was also looking for Daihm, still searching parts of the Epicenter. The masked…. person was on top of Jacked so I yelled at them; really loud.

El Paria: You ain’t kidding, man. You got some lungs on ya’ I’ll give you that.

Chick Grillbreast: I tried to grab the masked person. I was quick, but not quick enough. He slipped away somewhere back there but I thought Jacked here may be hurt so I stayed.

Dan Stein looks up and looks around for any signs of a disturbance.

Dan Stein: Sonofabitch… well, we’ll get the police down here right away to search the area. But, Chick, you said you thought Jack may be in trouble? Why?

Chick looks curiously at Dan Stein, as if he had heard some foreign language.

Chick Grillbreast: Because he is a son. Josh Johnson’s son. Like Jamie.

Dan Stein: What does that…

El Paria scoffs, starting to get some motion back in his rotator cuff.

El Paria: Sins of the Fathers. That’s what this is all about, right? At least… that’s the excuse.

Suddenly, everything clicks in Dan’s mind.

Dan Stein: Oh… Oh Jesus. I gotta call Molly! I… you two get somewhere safe, OK? We’re going to get this sorted one way or the other.

Before anyone else can protest, Dan turns and begins to leave, power walking himself down the hallway as fast as he can past a hustling medical team. Meanwhile, a concerned-looking Chick Grillbreast and El Paria begin to let themselves be checked over. 


Scott Kamura: They’re not giving Dan Stein a moment to breathe!


Dutch Harris: Think he regrets his choice?


Singles Match



The scene opens with Kelvin Breedlove in the back, a cardboard tray of coffee in both hands, a total of eight coffee beverages. He tries to move quickly while also not dropping the 8 extra large beverages that are in both his hands. He dodges other staff and production crew, who glare at the intern, but he tries to ignore this as he focuses on not dropping his coffee.


Kelvin Breedlove: Okay, 2 cortados to the video truck, 3 large black to audio, 2 hot teas to legal, and 1 iced upside down caramel macchiato extra shot to Stein…


As Kelvin tries to remember the order, he rounds a corner and immediately slams into Ultimo Muerte. All the coffee goes in the air, but, luckily or unluckily for Kelvin, all of it falls on him, not a single drop spilling on Muerte or Pandora. They both scoff down at Kelvin and move on, Pandora laughing at the intern as they walk away. Kelvin rolls around, a mixture of hot and cold coffee ruining his suit and covering his body, browns and creams and syrups slothing around on the ground.


Kelvin Breedlove: FUCK!


Kelvin stands up, burning and freezing at the same time, noticing that his expensive suit (more money than he should spend considering what he makes) is completely ruined. Seeing everything, he stands, slamming his fists against the wall multiple times, eventually hitting his wrist wrong and shaking it in pain.


Kelvin Breedlove: I. DON’T. FUCKING. DESERVE. THIS!


???: Bad day little cousin?


As Kelvin turns around to face the voice, still shaking his wrist, we see Joshua Breedlove walk into frame. Kelvin immediately tenses up, all his rage dying away. He almost shrinks in the face of his far superior cousin, the difference between a trained fighter and a paper pusher becoming clear. 


Kelvin Breedlove: Hey Josh. Ummm…


Joshua grins at his cousin, looking him up and down.


Joshua Breedlove: Yeah, they wouldn’t ask you to get this many coffees if they weren’t messing with you.


Kelvin audibly gulps.

Kelvin Breedlove: So, how much longer do I have to do this?


Josh pauses for a moment, crossing his arms.

Joshua Breedlove: I believe our attorney, Mr. Hodding Schrotenboer, said that the contract was for three years, maybe five years? It’s… probably non-negotiable, but maybe negotiable? I wouldn’t count on it though, Kelv, I’m sorry.


As Josh leaves, patting his cousin on the shoulder, Kelvin falters, stumbling towards the wall and slumping to a seated position. He stares off into the distance, thousands of miles away, feeling utterly shattered.


???: Mr. Breedlove…


Standing above Kelvin is Adongo Mbazi, the representative of CICADA and ERID LLC. She looks down at Kelvin, offering him a slender hand. Kelvin, almost barely aware of what he is doing, takes the hand of Adongo and allows her to help him stand. As Kelvin stands, his face comes to the chest of CICADA. Kelvin jumps back, seeing the much larger, much scarier man staring down at him.


Adongo: It seems that you’re having a rough day Mr. Breedlove.


Remembering the cold, cutting words of his cousin, Kelvin shudders at hearing his own last name.


Kelvin: K-Kelvin, please.


Adongo nods, smiling warmly.


Adongo: Well, Kelvin, I’m glad we were able to come across you here. We’ve noticed that you’ve taken an interest in our corporation and in our representative here in SHOOT Project, CICADA.


Kelvin’s eyes dart back and forth between Adongo and CICADA, fear crossing his face. Adongo puts a comforting hand on his shoulder.


Adongo: We aren’t here to hurt you, Kelvin. We just want you to know that, if you wish to know more about the workings of ERID LLC., you can ask us directly. Searching in the shadows isn’t necessary.


Adongo leans in, never losing composure. 


Adongo: The endless blue reveals all, Kelvin. 


Adongo moves back. She pats his shoulder for a moment before she turns to leave, CICADA following closely behind. Once they are fully gone, Kelvin lets out a gasp, clearly having not taken a breath for the last several seconds.


Kelvin: Jesus Christ…


Singles Match



As the arena lights dim, a palpable tension fills the air, the kind that precedes the arrival of something monumental. Suddenly, the sound system erupts with “Make Way for the King”, commanding the attention of Ruination’s above capacity crowd! The lighting shifts to a dramatic display of red, black, and gold, casting the arena in the unmistakable colors of the group.


From the titantron, images of conquest and glory flash, showcasing the many victories and moments of dominance The Empire has over its rivals. The crowd’s anticipation builds to a fever pitch as the first members of The Empire make their grand entrance. Jack Johnson, otherwise known as El Paria, is first out and he is sporting a sling for his arm which is a result of the attack earlier in the evening. Out next are Muratagi Hanzo and Cromwell Yarbury, a bruiser of a tag team who handle Empire business in REIGN. Next, the Empire’s staff, including Hodding Schrotenboer and Kelvin Breedlove, take the flank, everyone standing off to either side. They are a formidable sight, as pyrotechnics explode in a spectacle of red and gold flames, continuing the hold over the crowd’s attention.


Finally, the number one contender appears to the cheers of the crowd! Joshua Breedlove steps out into the smoke, bathed in red, black, and gold light, wearing a red, black, and gold suit. He smirks as he surveys the crowd.


As the group makes their way down the ramp, each member interacts with the crowd, some audience members throw disdainful glares, others with smirks of superiority, knowing they’re witnessing a true display of wrestling royalty.


Joshua Breedlove, the leader, walks with an air of regal dignity, his eyes locked on the ring, his championship ambitions clear in his determined gaze. His gear, adorned with gold accents, signifies his status as the #1 Contender, and as he steps into the ring, the group forms a protective circle around him. He’s handed a microphone and offers a hand to the crowd, hushing them.


Joshua Breedlove: It’s been a busy year already here for the Empire. Hanzo and Yarbury are handling their business effectively, and efficiently, Jack Johnson has re-emerged and is somehow managing being a member of the Empire and also a Dog of War, a Dog of the Inferno, and a Son of Thunder… Jamie would be out here with us, but you all know what’s going on there…


The crowd boos, thinking about the tragedy that befell Jamie Johnson.


Breedlove: But we press on. The Empire is a machine that keeps on trucking, and so we’ve been doing some recruiting. Some scouting, if you will. The SHOOT Project is filled with prospects, from the top to the bottom of the card… everyone is talented, everyone is hungry, everyone is ambitious, but for the individuals that I’m about to introduce? They have something a little extra. Something a little bit… more. You know them both, you’re familiar with them both, and I’ll introduce them to you RIGHT NOW. 


The crowd starts to stir and looks towards the ramp.


Breedlove: FIRST, joining the Empire is a man who needs very little introduction. He’s eccentric, he’s formidable, and in the last several months, he’s grown EXPONENTIALLY in the ring. He strikes out on his own now, trying to secure his legacy, putting his tag team behind him. He is the one… the only… MIKE DE LOS HUESOS.


“Make Way for the King’s” instrumental version hits and the extremely popular member of the BONE BRIGADE makes his appearance, donned in red, gold, and black gear while also wearing gold and black face paint. He walks down the ramp, a renewed sense of purpose. The crowd is loving it, and loving the move, which has been rumored for some time. They pop hard for him as a result.


Scott Kamura: Big move for the Empire, even bigger move for Mike, I’d say.


Dutch Harris: I’d agree. It’s not easy striking out on your own, but you can see where Mike’s work has paid off. He’s had a pretty good year to start off with. Held his own against Breedlove, has a win over Ryan Samuels… easy to see why the Empire wants him.


De Los Huesos slides into the ring and takes his place next to Breedlove, at Breedlove’s left side. 


Breedlove: NEXT, she’s the number one contender to the Sin City Championship… she’s forging her own legendary career in her own way… she is a FORCE OF NATURE and one of the first competitors for the SHOOT Project’s Premier Championship…


The crowd starts to stir and cheer, starting to key in on what’s coming.


Breedlove: She is the ONE. THE ONLY. MADISON SETON.


Pyro pops off as the instrumental theme picks up again, and the crowd goes wild for the announcement of Madison! Madison bursts out from the back, also clad in red, gold, and black gear. Her hair is pulled back and she’s got a BIG smile on her face as she walks down to the ring.


Dutch Harris:  HUGE move here, holy shit. Madison Seton is one of the hottest prospects in the SHOOT Project, Scott! 


Scott Kamura: She’s got big wins in her very short career, and currently holds a win over the Sin City Champion, Miranda DC. This is a huge get for the Empire, and a huge move for Madison Seton.


Dutch Harris: This also begs the question… we’re at some point going to see Breedlove and Laura Seton face off, whether it’s sooner or later remains to be seen… is this a head game? 


Scott Kamura: Might be! Might not be! We’ll have to see.


Breedlove smiles as Madison rolls into the ring. She takes her place on the other side of Breedlove, standing between him and Jack Johnson, who’s happy to see the future mother of his child and his future wife.


Dutch Harris: Jack looking a little distracted right now, but relieved to see Maddie.


Scott Kamura: He’s a man that’s taken on too much, I’m afraid. 


Joshua Breedlove: Now now… THIS. IS. THE. EMPIRE.


The words echo through the arena and the crowd ROARS in response.


Breedlove: One of the things that’s been reinforced for me from my encounter with Nate Robideau is the importance of forging your legacy. I said weeks ago that the Empire is not my legacy, but I am the Empire’s legacy, and while I still believe that… I ALSO believe that the Empire’s legacy lives in the people who wear its colors and display its logo. Doesn’t matter if it’s an ultra star like Madison Seton or an intern like Kelvin Breedlove… Red, gold, and black are the colors of the future.


The crowd pops.


Breedlove: But speaking of the future… let’s not forget that I… am the NUMBER. ONE. CONTENDER.


The crowd roars again! 


Breedlove: So, I’m officially putting LAURA SETON on NOTICE. I don’t care if it’s next Revolution or Ruination… I don’t care if it’s at the next PPV… I’m calling my shot. YOUR number one contender… Joshua Breedlove… against the NEWWWWW SHOOT Project World Heavyweight Champion… LAURAAAAA SETOOONNNNNNNN… for that title. 


I want it. 


I NEED it. 


I’m GOING to have it. 


All I need you to do is say yes, because I’m coming to Revolution, Laura. I’m not going to give you the benefit of two weeks of deliberation… We’re not going to wait to tell the fans here what they’re going to get… no no, Laura. Tomorrow night, I want my answer. 




Do you accept?!


He leans into the shot of the hard cam, the visage of the Empire behind him, and a LARGE grin on his face as Ruination 54 comes to a close and fades to black.