FWA ‘Back in Business XVII’ || Promo Thread

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E-Fed Staff Member
Sep 13, 2022
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Promo deadlines:

Pacific Time: Sunday 9th July, 23:59.
Eastern Time: Monday 10th July, 03:00 (am).
UK: Monday 10th July, 08:00 (am).
Istanbul: Monday 10th July, 10:00 (am).
Melbourne: Monday 10th July, 17:00.

There are no extensions. Good luck!​

Link to backed up PDF promos: here!
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The ScapeDubb

Cry me a river
Sep 14, 2022
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"Well it's one for the money, two for the show
Three to get ready, now go cat go."

The tunes of Carl Perkins' Blue Suede Shoes can be heard playing inside the large, robust garage of the Goode family estate. Not to be confused with The Goode Garage, which is the wrestling school headed up by BAOW wrestling legend, Danny B. Goode. A man who has been entrusted with training the next generation of wrestling stars after his own successful career. The walls of the garage are adorned with memorabilia from his twenty year career including a replica of his iconic brown leather jacket encased behind a thick glass display as well as photos of the times he competed in the King of Wrestling tournament. Most notably featured is the time he actually won the whole darn thing in 1993.

In the middle of the garage sits a beautiful, shiny, dang near pristine black 1950 Ford Deluxe convertible with it's hood up as Johnny Murdoch is bent over, turning at part of the engine with a wrench while the legs of Sonny Zucko stick out from underneath the car on an automotive dolly. While they are hard at work, Betty B. Goode, Danny's beautiful granddaughter, sits perched on the sleek leather seat of the cars, her blonde curls cascading down her shoulders. She wears a poodle skirt that huggs her curves, and her long legs seem to go on forever. She seems to be in a more supervisory roll as she smacks on some gum while watching the boys at work, bobbing her head to the music.

The work is interrupted by the heavy steps of Danny's own Doc Marten boots as he walks into his garage. He stops to admire his two star students at work. "Heeeeyyyy, fellas - take a break!" Danny announces upon his entry. "All work and no play makes The Goode Fellas a couple a dullards!"

Hearing the voice of their mentor causes Johnny to perk up from the hood while Sonny rolls out from underneath the car. Betty sits up straight in the Ford Deluxe, pulling her legs in and gives an innocent smile and wave to her grandpa.

"I got some news for you, fellas!"

"What's the haps, Big Kahuna?" Johnny askes, his voice buzzing with excitement.

"Yeah, we've been sweatin' like crazy workin' on this ride," Sonny chimes in, swiping his brow with a greasy rag.

Danny grinns and leans against the car, arms crossed, the epitome of cool. "Well lemme ask you cats somethin... what if... I told you... I could get us onto the big stage. The Granddaddy of them all! Fantasy Wrestling Alliance. Back in Business, baby."

"Whatchu talkin' about, old man?"
Johnny snaps back, clearly in both shock and disbelief but also using this as a term of endearment in this instance.

"Hey!" Sonny barks at his partner, "keep it cool, man. Danny wouldn't yank our chain about this."

"Oh no siree Bob,"
Danny nods his head, "no chains being yanked on this one. Surely you've heard all about their new Trios titles right... well boys, they're sayin'... and you won't believe this... you don't even need a contract to jump in the game!"

Johnny and Sonny exchange puzzled glances while Betty watches eagerly, her gum chewing intensifying.

"Well..." Johnny hesitates, "that's pretty cool and all, Danny. But there's only two of us... and I'm pretty sure you gotta have three to be a trio. Right, Sonny?"

Johnny looks to his partner for reassurance, to which Sonny nods his head.

Betty, unable to hold back her excitement, jumps up and out of the car, raising up her right arm with exuberance. "I'll do it!"

Johnny and Sonny look back at the elated Betty, though their own faces show they aren't quite as thrilled as the young lady.

"That's not quite what I had in mind, sweetheart," Danny replies.

Betty folds her arms, pouting. "Awww, c'mon, Grandpa! I've been trainin' just as hard as Johnny and Sonny! I know I can do this! Gimme a chance, won'tcha?"

The wrestling veteran walks over to his granddaughter, placing his arm on her shoulder reassuringly. "I'm sorry, kitten. There's no doubt in mind that you're gonna be a real spitfire in that ring one day... but the time's not right just yet. This match... it's gonna be a real wild rumble. But mark my words, sweetheart... you keep swingin' and strivin', and one one day soon... you'll be front and center, rockin' the ring with the Good Fellas too!"

Betty nods, a mix of disappointment and determination fueling her fire. "Darn right I will!"

"That's my girl!"

"But if it's not her, then who is it?"
Johnny once again questions their leader.

"Can't you figure it out yet boys? The third wheel... it's gonna be me, fellas!"

The garage went quiet as Johnny and Sonny stare at their mentor. Finally, Johnny breaks the silence. "You? But, Danny, you've been retired for like two decades!"

Danny nods, a glimmer of mischief in his eyes. "Sure, that's true. But this is the shot you guys need! And if I need to lace up my boots again to get you boys onto the big show... well, this old dog has a few tricks up his sleeves! We're gonna tear the joint down and prove we belong in that ring, daddios!"

"Now I know the competition... it's gonna be stiff. But let's just go down to Mexico... let's rock it out! Let's bring down the house! Show them just how cool The Good Fellas are!"

Johnny and Sonny pumps their fists in the air, clearly fully getting behind this idea.

"Yeah! We'll give 'em a show they'll neva forget!" Johnny exclaims passionately.

"You bet your lucky stars we will, Johnny boy!" Sonny adds as he wraps his grease covered arm around his partner.

Danny came over as the two separate, wrapping his arms around both of his students' shoulders. "That's my boys! Let's knock their socks off!"

With the rock music still blaring through the garage, a new sense of exitement fills the air. While Betty leans back, propping her feet up on the dashboard. She manages to hide her own disappointment while being excited for her friends and her grandpa as they already begin to discuss a game plan.

One thing is for sure.

Things in FWA were about to get Goode.

Real Goode.​
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Sep 30, 2022
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The screen is dark. Foreboding. Ominous. Just an empty nebula of utter blackness that lingers on the screen for several seconds before quietly and almost creepily, an image slowly fades into focus...and that image?

A keyboard. A nice one too.

We linger on this static image for several moments before a pair of pale hands appear on the screen, turning the knob on, bringing the electric keyboard to life with an electric hum and before long, experienced figures dance across the keys to make what is universally considered to be the most pleasing sounds to make on a keyboard.

Bloopy Reggie's music.

As everyone knows, the instrumental is "Rat in Me Kitchen." The basis of the gimmick for Ratin Mikichin. Witty. Anyway, the bloopy Reggie kick-off for an instrumental, but sure enough, the music starts to slow down and becomes more complex...and futuristic; the bloops turn into beeps as it's clear that this isn't a Reggae song....but rather...

A techno remix

There's a bat in me kitchen; what am I gonna do?
There's a rat in me kitchen; what am I gonna go?
I'm gonna eat that rat; that's what I'm gonna do,
I'm gonna eat that rat
When I open my mouth, and you see the fangs.
Ratin with squeak and struggle in vain.
But when the techno beat hits you up.
The Kazak rat is gonna be slain, And you got no one to blame
There's a bat in me kitchen; what am I gonna do?
There's a rat in me kitchen; what am I gonna go?
I'm gonna eat that rat; that's what I'm gonna do,
I'm gonna eat that rat
Now, There's a bat in me kitchen
When you're out on the street in your Mankini
It looks like you're smuggling Zukinis
But at Back In Biz
I'm gonna bite ya neck
send you down to heck
and turn your brains into a fizz
There's a rat in me kitchen; what am I gonna do?
There's a bat in me kitchen what am I gonna go?
The Bat's gonna eat that rat that's what I'm gonna do,
I'm gonna eat that rat
When the cape and the fangs hit the scene..well everybody screams
Because they know Reggie is so unjust
Techno is on the up
and I'm gonna turn you into dust
There's a bat in me kitchen; what am I gonna do?
There's a rat in me kitchen; what am I gonna go?
I'm gonna eat that rat; that's what I'm gonna do,
I'm gonna eat that rat
You invade my space
Chase me down every place
and now at BIB, Steve has to Erase.
If I had my way
If I had my say
I'd like to punch you in the face
There's a bat in me kitchen; what am I gonna do?
There's a rat in me kitchen; what am I gonna go?
I'm gonna eat that rat that's what I'm gonna do,

I'm gonna eat that rat

Music and lyrics by Sacha Baron Cohen​


Sep 30, 2022
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It was a normal day at the weekly meeting of String Rey Phobia's anonymous, warm coffee and doughnuts to the side as the small group sat in a circle, the vibe grim as a member took a deep breath and resumed her story.

"I don't sleep at night; I can't. Every time I close my eyes, I see them...all flaps...on the sea floor...lazing around...

The entire group shudders at the thought of those slimy bastards.

"It's ok, Mary. Just remember Sting Reys are at the bottom of the sea, and you're here; they can't hurt you...just remember-"

Out of nowhere, the music starts to play, making everyone look around in clear confusion, wondering what was going on and why they were being assaulted by funk music; the double doors blow open as in struts in; Funky Fedora who instantly makes everyone one per cent blinder with his sheer terrible dress sense as a Disco ball floats down....from nowhere...or at least that was the plan, clearly the disco ball was ill-prepared, and just SLAMS down from heavens and smashes a random passerby in the head, where he falls. Un moving. Funky Fedora doesn't seem to notice.



"No, not at all. Not even close. Who are you?"


It's important to note Fedora hasn't stopped moving this entire time, choosing to FUNKY STRUT in a circle around the group while he's talkin'.


".....We literally didn't understand a thing you just said. What's Back In Business. Whose String Ray? What is even happening' right now"


"I'm confused. Is the Funk a good thing or a bad thing? You seem to be using it in both ways."




Sep 30, 2022
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Dan Lupone didn't do anything. He honestly didn't. He had no idea why the table suddenly split down the middle.

He yelped with shock as the two halves tottered and crashed to the floor, one on either side of the kitchen, leaving a strange-looking gap where the table should have been.

A door banged further off into the flat, and Doug Lupone appeared.

"Not again," he said when he saw the table.

Things had been happening. At first small things, then the biggest things-much bigger things. At first, it was light bulbs going. One went, then another a week later. Then three went on one day. Then all the lights around Dan's mirror all blew up spontaneously, scaring the Lumberjacks so much that he wouldn't go into his bedroom for the rest of the day. Then one of the sofas suddenly collapsed when someone sat on it. They might have assumed this was because of the person's weight if that person hadn't been Lucy Lupone.

And now the table.

Doug looked at Dan't's frightened, confused face. This was a mystery just begging to be solved. An adventure was practically crawling on the floor, asking for him to have it. Only the bravest and most daring Lumberjack could hope to work out what was going on before the whole building fell down or something equally undesirable. Clearly a job for someone with a big axe and a hatred of trees.

But the older LumberjackLumberjack was totally at a loss. So he exercised the skill and courage that was practically bursting out of him by calling her younger sister Lucy, who was never pleased to be disturbed. So it was, he told himself, the courageous thing to do.

Dan, meanwhile, had sat down on the sofa and wrapped his arms around his knees. "What's happening, Doug?" he muttered.

Doug on the phone flapped a big meaty hand at him impatiently-somewhat annoyed that Dan didn't seem more impressed with his quick thinking and problem-solving.

"Hey, this is Lucy; if you're from college, stop calling me; I've had a life-changing experience and am now on a never-ending mission to kill trees; anyone else can leave a message.

Doug groaned.

"Lucy! Hey. It's Doug here, just calling to see how you are and also to say that the table broke in half, so maybe, if you could just...come home? Tonight? Tomorrow? Not urgent. We can manage, of course; well, Dan can't. I can. And I can look after Dan can. So don't worry.... but maybe, you know, if you felt like it...."

Oh, dear.

Doug hung up before he made things any worse. He turned towards Dan, hoping he hadn't heard, but Dan was now preoccupied with his axe. Not that there wasn't anything particularly unusual about that-but this time, Doug was looking critically at his reflection in the blade. Looking at it instead of polishing it.

Dan? Doug asked, worried.

"It doesn't look right," said Dan.

Dan's axe always looked right. This didn't sound good.

"What do you mean?"

"I dunno, it just doesn't look right; it looks wrong, Dan. I can't work out what it is...."

Dan joined his brother by the mirror and looked at him. He couldn't put his finger on it. But maybe now Dan mentioned it, there was something a bit off about his style....

"Don't worry about it, little man; it looks fine."

"Don't worry about it!? When my axe looks like shit?! Don't worry about it?! Doug turned distractedly back to the mirror. "Maybe I need to polish it", he wandered off distractedly.

Half an hour later, Lucy returned, looking a lot different from the last time we saw her, ever since her...interesting experience in the last week in the forest, gone is the college books, and studying hard to make something of herself, what is left is a lot of plaid shirts, and a wild look in her eye, as she carried an axe behind her.

Doug was surprised to see her. Lucy was normally in her room talking to her roommate, big foot, but when she came in, she seemed genuinely worried.

"Where's the table then."

"I moved it into the hall to get it out of the way,"
said Doug, proud of himself for thinking of doing this.

"Okay, Big Foot, I might need some stuff, so stand by, okay?"

grunted Bigfoot

"Hi, big foot."


The three of them went into the hall. The two halves of the table sat silently. Lucy bent over them while Doug watched and nodded knowingly so the others might think he had an idea what the hell was going on.

Then he noticed Lucy was shaking her head, and so he shook his head as well. This was obviously a worrying situation. Things like this didn't happen. It meant....it was a worrying situation.

"I don't understand it. It's a clear break."


"It's just split; it's like a rip Lucy was saying, running her hands over the wood. "It feels weird, too..." her eyes started to glaze over."


"Shh. LumberTrance."
Bigfoot hissed

But Lucy suddenly twitched and jerked. He blinked. The trance was over.

"Broke trance. Big Lumber idiot."

Doug decided not to dignify that comment with a reply. BigfootFoot was kind of a dick.

"Did you see anything else, Lucy?"

"There's pain here. Lucy murmured. She stroked the broken edges of the table almost lovingly. "The Lumber gods are angry-! And they demand an offering of gold materials on a leather belt."

"So we gotta win the trios match?"

"....Yeah, probably."

"Makes sense"



Dark Side
Apr 16, 2016
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FWA Trios Championship Battle Royale

Click the LINK to view



+ 4 for the title. 2998



There is a peaceful aura in the air under the blue skies. A calm before a storm. Three heroes on horseback head up to an aged temple, moss growing on its sides. Each of them are wearing different coloured tunics, all three women. One woman has a red tunic and her colourful hair sticks out from under her cap. Next to her, in a green tunic is a woman with silver hair. Finally, a woman in a pink tunic has a mask on. The three travellers get off their horses and take a long look at the temple in front of them. They speak Japanese to each other.

“So, this is it, then?” The silver haired woman asks. “Deep within this temple, we should be able to find each part of the triforce we’re looking for.”

Her masked friend nods. “You two are not from here, but there isn’t anyone I’d trust to help me take on this threat. I have the courage to face him, but I need help. There is not a woman wiser than you.”

“That’s the first time someone called me ‘wise’ and did not add ‘girl’ at the end of it.” She chuckles. “Thanks, Katsu.”

“I mean it. I always trust your advice. Then Ririko has the power and strength to overcome any-”


Ririko shouts from the side. Her two friends turn to see her swinging her sword, cutting grass.


Ririko looks innocently, holding her sword.

“I was just looking for rupees.”

Cali facepalms.

“There is no way you can find money in-”

Ririko innocently swings her sword, cutting a piece of grass. Popping out from under it is a shiny green gem.

“-Well shit.” Cali blinks, surprised. Ririko happily picks it up and meets with her friends.

“What are we waiting for, then?” Ririko points her sword towards the door. “Let’s find that treasure!”

Cali and Katsu exchange glances and nod. They’re ready. The three girls arm themselves with their swords and shields to walk through the door- as it slams shut behind them.

Heading down a long hallway with torches lining the wall that give off a light glow. Various inscriptions are on the wall etched in stone. The art depicts the trials and tribulations of heroes. A common symbol is of three golden triangles together, forming an even larger one. Heading towards the end of the hall, a large statue of a woman in a dress stands over a large door with Japanese text on it.

“Do any of you guys mind reading it?” Cali asks. “I’m fluent in speaking Japanese, but I’m still learning how to read it.”

Katsu steps forward, kneeling in front of the stone. She runs her finger along the text as she reads.

“Three heroes. One with the courage to fight any obstacle, despite the pain it brings.

One with wisdom wise beyond their years. Able to guide those around them and show kindness.

Another with power and strength. Not just from the outside, but within.

Combined, these three can assemble the Triforce.

Bring peace to Hyrule.

And be the leaders of a new land.

Step forward to your true heart.

And face your trials.”

Ririko tilts her head as Cali digests the words.

“What do you think it means?”

“It’s likely referring to us.” Cali steps forward, looking at the doors. “The way I see it, there are three of us… and look at the door”

Cali motions towards the door and on it is the common triangular symbol. Its gold is worn as there are three large and narrow openings.

“I think each of us is meant to open one of those.”

“What is it?”

“The triforce.” Cali explains. “Each triangle represents a different force. The top is power. To the left is wisdom. Finally, on the right, is courage. Together, they are in balance. If together, they grant its holders a wish, regardless of their intentions.”

“It’s scary to think about what a horrible person could do with that much power. I’d like to think I’d use it responsibly.”

“You would wish yourself a giant otter friend.” Cali quips.

“And wouldn’t that be SO much better than the destruction of the world, or someone evil to be king?”

“It would be better than most options.” Katsu steps forward. “Imagine, evil witches taking the throne, plunging the world into their dark arts with only the goal of expanding their Coven?”

“Or terrible musicians making us listen to their bad music!?”

“That sounds crazy, Ririko. There is no way that is happening.”

“But I do wonder what would happen if the Triforce fell into the hands of someone not from this world?” Katsu wonders. “Imagine the chaos…”

“Listen.” Cali steps forward to the door.

“We can spend all this time wondering what can happen if one party gets the Triforce or another, or we can do what we were always meant to do, team together and have each other’s backs. Besides, we wasted enough time with Ririko and the Koroks on the way here-”

“They were separated from their friends! I wanted to reunite them-”

“Using rockets!”


“Those were not my finest moments…”

“And sidetracked searching for treasure…”


“But the jingle is catchy… Duh duh duh duuuh!”

Cali raises her sword, frustrated.

“Enough guys! We wasted enough time! Shall we, ladies?”

Katsu nods and places her sword into the right slot. Cali places her weapon in the left, and Ririko in the middle.

Together, they push forward and the door moves before they each pull their swords out. The ground shakes as the doors open, showing a monster of a man sitting on a throne. The tone changes.


He has red hair flowing from his beard, contrasting his scaly, dark green skin. He has a large robe trimmed with gold. He has a scowl on his face as his glare cuts through the heroes. In the room around him, etchings are on the walls which match the rest of them, along with various other symbols, showing witches, kraken-like monsters, vampires, and more. The man on the throne has a cold laugh under his breath. The three heroes draw their swords and shields.


Katsu mutters under her breath.

“Why is it ALWAYS you as the big bad guy?” Ririko taps her foot.

“I don’t think that is important here…” Cali gets Ririko to focus.

“What’s important here is making sure he makes a timeline and split!”

“It’s been a while, heroes.” He laughs, slowly getting up from his throne. “You’ve done well to sneak into my temple. I suppose the least I can do is commend you for your reckless courage. Especially you, masked girl. I am Ganondorf, the master of this forsaken temple. You three will play an important role for me. But specifically…”

He points to Cali and Katsu.

“You two…”

Holding up his hand, we see a glimpse of a triforce on his hand.

“I already have power. You two, together, will give me the power needed to take over all of Hyrule-”

“I won’t stand for it!”

Ririko steps forward in front of her friends, protecting them.

“These two mean the world to me. I wouldn’t dream of seeing them be taken down by a monster like you!”

“Oh?” Ganondorf has a slight smirk on his face. “By the way, when you three placed your swords in the door… Did you by chance notice the monsters frozen in time began stirring again? No? Foolish girls. Well, maybe it is time to see it for yourself…”

Raising his voice, Ganondorf shouts as he balls his hand into a fist.


The three girls raise their swords and stand back to back, prepared for a fight. Katsu feels something shadowy reaching from below them in the form-

Of a tentacle. Katsu slashes it as it disintegrates before her eyes. Rising from the floor around them are other shadowy figures, appearing in groups of three. A goblin-like pig figure with clubs. Bokablins. Women with pointed hats and dresses, witches. Zombified bards. Sharp fanged vampires. Aliens even! More begin to take form including some screaming creatures. The monsters circle the trio who begin to fight back, realising they have no choice but to fight
Swords clash with the weapons of their foes. The three move in perfect unison, backing each other up when needed and doing everything to help. But no matter how skilled you are, the numbers begin to play against them. A witch, succubus, and a kraken-like figure corner them. Cali looks at the witch and something seems familiar.

“Wait, B-Bellatrix?”

An old friend.

“She’s with her witches…”

“But- we played games together… I thought we were cool?”

“Remember, we have business to take care of here.” Ririko, for once, plays the voice of reason, but another witch whispers in the ear of “Bellatrix” who throws a potion at the girls. They dodge it but the group comes closer.

“You three will fall under my feet!” Ganondorf yells. “Finish them!”

More hoards of monsters begin to appear. Hope is beginning to fade for the heroes. But a woman’s voice whispers softly.

“Remember why you fight…”

Their minds race back.


Standing in front of the window of her inn she is staying at in Japan stands a young woman with bright pink hair. She wears a green top with the famous triforce symbol of the Legend of Zelda series and some pyjama bottoms. Despite appearing of Japanese descent, she clearly isn’t from here. A knock is heard on her door.

“Visitors.” A voice in Japanese says. Entering, we see two familiar faces. The mask woman, “Vampyra” or “Vampiress.” and her tall friend with dark red hair, Ririko.

“Hello, Cali. We knew you would be staying here.”

Cali turns around at two women who she has only recently met. Her Japanese is a bit rough, but she can still communicate.

“Vampiress. Ririko. I’m surprised you are here.”

“We thought you could use company.” Ririko sits down in a chair, giving their Canadian visitor a warm grin.

“Thank you. This first tour has been so stressful. I haven’t really been able to win much. But you two seem to treat me well.”

“We have sympathy for you.” The future Katsu sits down. “And can respect who you are.”

“Well, the MAYHEM members don’t always seem to be nice. Since COSMIC decided to team me with you guys due to Watase’s injury.”

“They have high standards.” The masked woman pats Cali’s knee. “But I have a feeling they are warming up to you.”

“If anything, they push you to be better.” Ririko smiles, showing a bit of positive energy. “Saori Suzuki is the reason I joined MAYHEM in the first place! She helped train me and I knew she’d make me stronger! I always dreamed of being a powerful star wrestler! When my family saw I was growing fast, they knew I’d be some sort of athlete. And I always thought wrestling would be such fun!”

“Yes, Ririko, joining in her pursuit of power.” Vampiress chuckles.

“Well, if you put it that way, I guess.” Ririko turns to Vampiress. “Bit different when you joined Katsuki-”

Ririko covers her mouth. She said her friend’s real name to the newcomer. The masked woman glares. Cali “zips” her lips.

“Secret is safe with me.”

The future Katsu has a sigh of relief.

“Thank you… But yes. I was not in a good shape before I joined MAYHEM. I am sure you are aware of my history in Sin.”

“They corrupted you then straight up abused you.” Cali responds. Her friend nods.

“I was a shell of a girl. A husk in a vampire mask. I was scared all the time. Ririko forgave me. Then Saori brought me in. She told me, ‘Time for being scared is over. We will make you brave.’ I joined wrestling because of my dream, but I always wore this mask, scared of what others would think.”

“Let me guess, anxiety?”

Cali asks, and Vampiress nods.

“Yes, in part. But I feel as though I’m able to smile again. Push myself forward. I have the courage to fight many obstacles. But I’m still recovering.”

“It takes a lot of courage to go through what they put you through and stand up for yourself.” Cali has a small grin. “I can respect that.”

“Say, why did you join COSMIC in the first place? You’re a Canadian. We have had foreigners before, but it seems rather bold of a choice.”

Cali pulls out her phone and begins to search through.

“Well, I’ve been looking for somewhere to potentially settle as my home promotion for sometime. I thought I found one in the Northeastern US, but that place closed down. I got an offer here and I wasn’t sure.”

The Canadian pulls out an email on her phone and glances at it.

“And then someone I met in that promotion, Reagan Cole, messaged me. He said FWA, one of the biggest companies in the US where he started wrestling at, was doing a brand split. He said he thought I had potential and wanted to put in a word for me.”

“Why didn’t you take it?”

“To be blunt, I don’t think I am ready. I’m kind of still learning. I didn’t start wrestling in High school like you guys. For any foreigner to make it big in Japan is a big deal. I think if you can come here, make a genuine effort and carve out your legacy, you can make it anywhere. So, even if this isn’t guaranteed, I chose here.”

“Wise.” Vampiress nods. “I am sure many in your spot would run towards the potential big payday.”

“My parents told me to be happy whatever I do. Which is why they’re pretty supportive of me being a content creator, it made me happy. I just hit one million subscribers before this tour! But I know I- uh, need a lot of growing to do.”

Silence falls on the room. The three young women opened themselves up to each other and, despite coming from different areas of life, a connection began to form. Ririko stands up.

“I have an idea. Let’s work together!”

The other two look at her as she explains.

“We want to be stronger, be braver, and grow as people. Let’s be at each other’s sides. Help each other reach our goals!”

“I’m already teaming with you, Ririko.” The masked girl stands up. “But I think you mean to bring Miss Hayama into our fold.”

“Yeah! That!”

Cali stands up. “What about your MAYHEM teammates? I’m not in MAYHEM. I’m just with you guys on this tour.”

“They don’t need to know.” Ririko nods.

“And I am sure they might be changing their tune on you if you keep improving.”

Ririko puts her hand in.

“You in?”

The future Katsu puts her hand on top of her friends and all that is left is for Cali to join in. She looks up at these two. Two girls who are quickly becoming her friends. Something about this feels right. Cali puts her hand in and nods. A pact of friendship sealed.

“Here’s to us. Together, we will achieve our dreams and beat anything in front of us.”


Flashing back to the boss room, the three women look at each other and the growing horde of enemies. They exchange a nod as their hands are on top of each other. Getting a renewed sense of energy, they charge forward striking their enemies down with precision and teamwork. Ganondorf stands on his throne as he witnesses the heroes hack and slash through a wave of enemies.

Ririko ploughs through several enemies with her power, driving her sword forward, throwing several enemies to the ground.

Katsu charges at enemies twice her size with no fear, cutting them down to size.

Cali carefully runs through, hitting each enemy in their weak points, and even helping Ririko and Katsu when needed.

The tentacles, chopped, aliens, dismembered. Witches sent to the stake, and one by one, they are all down but for one… The corrupted Bellatrix.

Cali and Katsu, the two with some familiarity with her, step forward as she crawls back. Freight is in her eyes.

“I really don’t have any hate for you.” Cali says in English to her. “You’re a good person.”

“It’s a shame you are on the wrong side. Let me tell you from personal experience. The strings of the puppet masters aren’t for good. They are for them.”

They both pull their swords. Ririko steps behind them.

“Nothing personal. I hope things change. But now, you’re just serving the wrong masters.”

Cali pulls her sword out and Bellatrix the Witch runs to the door. No need to slay her, the message is clear as she leaves. Katsu sighs, feeling sympathy for Bellatrix.

“Maybe when we secure a brighter future, you will be free…”

Ganondorf, despite the heroes beating his army… Has a cold grin, laughing.

“What are you laughing at Ganondorf?? You’re insane!”

“Well then…” Ganondorf pulls out two blades. He towers over the trio. “Your future…”

He clangs the sharp blades together. “Yes… Allow me to show what hope you have…”

Flames shoot up around them, creating a circle to fight in.


The three girls take a step back, looking at the monster looming over them.

“We can do this… We are the only trio who can save this land-”

“…A team in harmony.”

Cali nods.

“We have the wisdom.”

“The power.”

“The courage.”

The three shout at Ganondorf.


Fire continues to burn around them. Bravely, the three young women charge at the monster in front of them. Their boss. Their fight, together. As they promised to do all those years. Now with a new land and a new history to create-

As the heroes of this land.


Last edited:

The ScapeDubb

Cry me a river
Sep 14, 2022
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The night continued to crawl. It was hot. Too damn hot. Bryan Baxter kicked the covers comforter off of his king-size bed inside his luxury suite just outside of Dallas and sat up. The alarm clock on the nightstand tortured him.

He needed some sleep.

Sleep issues aren’t a new phenomenon for Baxter. Whether it was during the days he was kicking his alcohol addiction or fighting with the guilt of lying to Jeremy… sleepless nights came and went in his life.

And with Back in Business just around the corner, a well-rested North American champion was of high importance.

“What’s the matter, Bryan,” Bryan could hear the voice in his head. It was the familiar voice of FWA World Champion, Chris Peacock. “Can’t sleep?”

In the shadows of his hotel room, Bryan could almost make out the silhouette of Disco’s Last Warrior, the FWA World Title over his shoulder as he ran his fingers through his hair.

“If I’m going to be having a nightmare, could I at least be asleep for it,” Baxter said to himself at the realization of the ghostly Peacock visiting him.

“You must be dreamin’ baby, if you think you’re gonna be keepin’ that title much longer.”

“C’mon man,” Baxter sighed, “you already have the World Title… AND the tag titles…”

“Yeah, but I’m staring at the three-year grand slam! Go big or go home, Bryan! You should know that by now.”

Baxter shook his head as Peacock began to fade away only to be replaced by the black-masked visage of Peacock’s own tag partner. “Nah, just hold up, Chrissy because that belt of his is my missing piece, too. Look, you got the World Title… we both got the Tag Titles… it seems only fair that I get the North American Title.”

“This isn’t what I had in mind when I wanted a dream of people fighting for my affection…”


“Ugh… not this guy…”

Bryan grabbed the sheet and pulled it over his head, hoping his insomnia inspired visions would go away. The weight of the North American Championship was weighing heavy on him. He had a target on his back. Suddenly “belt collecting” seemed all the rage with Shawn Summers, Alyster Black, and Chris Peacock all being double champions… and here sat Bryan with the piece each of them no doubt wanted. Not to mention that damn weasel that has put Bryan’s name in his mouth on more than one occasion since showing up.

Baxter reached out from underneath the sheet and grabbed his phone off the nightstand, pulling it back under the covers to safety. Maybe someone could talk him through this. Help him calm his mind. He swiped it open. He looked at his text messages. He could always count on Jeremy to be there for him, at any time of night. Jeremy was always willing to talk.

He gazed at the last sent message…

Hey bro, you got a minute?

U there?

Hope everything is cool…

Well… almost always. To be fair, Jeremy has his hands full right now heading into Back in Business. This whole mess with Krash had really gotten out of hand. Bryan hadn’t minded helping out because he’d committed himself to always having Jeremy’s back… no matter what. But unfortunately, right now Bryan could really use some of Jeremy’s genial words of affirmation.

Baxter scrolled down to Bill Scorpane’s name. Not typically the reassuring type but Mr. Scorpane had actually proved to be quite useful in cleaning up Bryan’s act when they first met. Scorpane’s plan to get Bryan into the FWA didn’t involve him being a drunk with a criminal record. While Jeremy tended to offer a more nurturing call, he could always count on Bill for that tough love.

Baxter began to type…
Hey, Bill, how’s it goin’. Know it’s
late but I am going through some


Message could not be delivered.

Ugh, he couldn’t even count on the “devil on his shoulder.” No doubt on some intergalactic adventure with his new friends, The Nephews.

So now what? Now where does he turn?

Things had gotten quiet out there. He cautiously peeked over the covers to the corner of the hotel room. No shadow presence. Bryan let out a sigh of relief.

“Forgetting someone?”


“To be sure you’re not looking past me, right?”

The corner of the room was now the home of a specter in the form of Mike Parr. Baxter’s opponent for Back in Business. “Shit. Can’t you guys leave me alone? I just want some sleep. Is that so much to ask for?”

“I just want my title back. Is that so much to ask for?”

“Uh, yeah I think so. It’s not yours anymore! It’s mine. Now go away.”

“Nah, this is a pretty swanky hotel room you got here. I think I’ll stick around.”

He wasn’t lying. It was a nice hotel room. One benefit of not having the frugal Mr. Scorpane booking all his accommodations anymore, Baxter was more willing to go all out for his hotel stays.

“Besides, if I sit here haunting you all night, maybe you’ll stop overlooking me.”

“Dude, I’m not overlooking you. I get it… you’re the former champ… you feel like you have something to prove… you feel like you should’ve never lost the title to begin with…”

“And yet I’m the last one you think about right now. You’re more concerned about the other people coming after your title that you’re forgetting about what’s right in front of you. And that would be your downfall.”

Baxter rolled his eyes. “I told you, I’m not looking past you. I can worry about more than one thing at once.”

“Isn’t that the problem?”

“I have this under control.”

“Do you?”


“Are you sure?”

“Jesus Christ, what do I…”

“Because this has happened to you before…”

Parr’s voice trailed off, replaced by that of a female. Just as the voice was changing, the specter of Parr also faded out and was replaced with a woman that Baxter was quite familiar with. A voice he never thought he’d hear again. The dark-haired woman grinned, her green eyes glazed over, peering into Baxter’s soul.

“What’s the matter hunny, you act like you’ve seen a ghost or somethin’.”


“Well hello, Baxxyboy.”

“I don’t understand. Why am I seeing you now? I never thought I’d see you again…”

“Maybe you won’t. This is your brain at work, not mine, hun.”

“Right… which is what I don’t get. You’re not after my North American Title are you?”

“Hah - you’d like that wouldn’t ya? Nah, that’s not why I’m here.”

“Then why?”

Bryan’s recreation of this familiar acquaintance of his gives a coy smirk. “Well, you wanted someone to talk to right? You’ve always relied on the angel or the devil on your shoulder… but both seem to be somewhat… MIA.. at the moment. Well… how about talkin’ to someone who is… heh, a lil’ of both.”

“Yeah well… better than having a Lizzie Rose on my shoulder, I guess. So what you got for me? What sage wisdom do you bring me.”

“Heh, so now you want to listen to me. That’s funny.”

“Hey! I listened.”

“Baxxy, if you listened to me, we’d probably still be together right now.”

“Ouch, damn… hitting me hard here.”

“Well, it seems like it’s worked out well enough for you. You’ve certainly cleaned up your life, huh? So maybe it was for the better.”

Baxter paused. “I mean… in some ways, sure. But the road here was rough.”

“I know. But that’s why I don’t want to see you make the same mistakes twice.”

“What do you mean?”

“Don’t you remember?”

“I mean, if I did, I wouldn’t be sitting here having a conversation with a literal ghost of my past.”

“Fair enough. Well, allow me to refresh your memory?”

“This isn’t going to be a flashback is it… c’mon…”

“Hold on tight!”


Bryan Baxter pushed past the doors of Duckworth’s Sports Bar in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina, holding his Elite Wrestling Federation Heavyweight Title in his hands. “THE CHAMP IS HERE!” Baxter declared to no one in particular. The patrons of the bar seemed to have no interest in who he was or why he was giving himself an intro.

But Baxter was more than happy to saunter his way through the room, plopping himself down at the bar.

“This round is on the champ!” Baxter declared, setting his title on the bar.

“C’mon Bryan,” the bartender stopped him, “we both know you can’t cover that.”

An audible disappointing groan went through the bar as Baxter shrugged his shoulders. “Aw, come on Dave, don’t be a party pooper. Fine, then just give me a double shot of Jack and prepare a third.”

“Sure thing… champ,” the bartender Dave’s response laced with sarcasm as he filled up a cup with two shots on ice and handed them to Baxter. Baxter proceeded to quickly down them.

“Easy there, champ,” the familiar voice approached from behind. Kristy Vance wrapped her long muscular arms around Baxter from behind with affection. Bryan grinned ear to ear as he turned and planted a kiss square on her lips. “Hope you’re gettin’ some for me.”

“But of course! Dave - the same for the lady!”

“You got it,” the bartender said as he poured the same for her and slid it to her as she took a seat on the stool next to Baxter. Kristy downed it just as quickly as Bryan did.

“You sure seem to be in a good mood tonight,” she said, wiping some of the moisture off her lip with a napkin.

“Why wouldn’t I be, babe. I’m on top of the world!”

“I get you’re lovin’ this whole ‘world champ’ stuff… but don’t act like you’re holdin’ gold in like the FWA or somethin’. Folks like me and you… we don’t make it to the big time.”

“You think I don’t know that? That’s why I’m enjoyin’ what I have. Don’t harsh my buzz like that.”

“Me? Harsh a buzz? Nah, never. How about another round?”

“I like the way you think.”

The drinks continued to flow for the pair, Kristy inching her chair closer and closer to Baxter, wrapping her arms around him as she now sipped on a glass of whiskey. “So… you’re not worried at all about tomorrow night?”

Baxter put his own glass down. “Worried? Do you think I should be? You think Diego will be coming for me?”

Kristy shook her head. “Nah, that’s not what I’m talkin’ about.”

Diego Fury was the previous EWF champion. The man Baxter defeated to become the EWF champion and, in typical Big Bryan Bastard fashion, he didn’t exactly win in the cleanest of ways. The popular Fury was no doubt wanting a rematch or at the very least some payback.

“I just know he’s gonna show up tomorrow… he wants to cost me the belt like I cost him his…”

“Baxxy… look at me… listen to me…,” she grabbed him with both hands on either side of his face, drawing his attention directly on her. “Forget about Fury. Tomorrow night, you’re not wrestlin’ him, you understand? Your match is with Seth Tempest. Okay? Seth. Focus on Seth.”

“Right… of course… but I mean… c’mon… Seth Tempest? I’m not even sure why he’s getting this title shot.”

“Well, for one, he’s a former champion himself.”

“Yeah, but what has he done lately? Beat a bunch of jobbers to make himself look good and just demand a shot because of his past? Bullshit is what it is.”

“Maybe you’re right. Maybe it is bullshit. But it doesn’t change the fact that you gotta focus on what’s in front of you before you go worryin’ about Fury.”

Baxter shook his head as he took another swig of the whiskey. “I’m tellin’ ya, Kristy… I know Diego is up to something.”

“Duuuude, you gotta stop it. So you blasted him across the head with the title to win? So what? You still won. You’re the champ for a reason. The real Bryan Baxter showed up when you beat Diego. You kicked his ass by being the Bastard I love so much. This is who you are supposed to be. Ever since dropping the dork, Jeremy… you’ve been unstoppable. I told you all along you didn’t need him. And by being the unrelenting, ruthless beast in the ring that you are… that’s what got you the title. That’s what you gotta bring tomorrow night against Seth.”


“No. No buts. You’re gettin’ in your own way here, babe. Keep it simple. Do what you do best.”

But Bryan's mind was clouded with doubt and fear. The alcohol-fueled his paranoia, and he grew increasingly agitated. He slammed his glass on the counter, causing heads to turn in his direction.

"You don't understand anything!" he shouted, his voice echoing through the bar. "I've seen Diego's eyes, Kristy. He's out for blood, and he won't stop until he gets this belt back!"

Kristy tried to calm him down, reaching out for his hand. "Baxxy… please…”

But Bryan jerked his hand away, standing up abruptly. “You just don’t get it! Don’t you see… there’s a target on my back… everyone is coming for me… it’s not just Diego. It’s not just Seth. It’s everyone… everyone wants this belt…”

“Look babe… calm… down… please…”

“No! I can’t do this… I can’t be here…”

With that, he stormed out of the bar, leaving Kristy behind, bewildered and hurt.

As the door closed behind him, Bryan stumbled into the night, his mind consumed by fear and mistrust. The alcohol had amplified his paranoia, and he found himself alone in a sea of uncertainty.


Back in the present, Baxter sat in the darkness of his hotel room, haunted by the visions of his past while literally haunted by Kristy's image still in the corner.

"I... don't even remember that."

The ghost of his past lightly chuckled. "No surprise there. You always did let that shit get to your brain. We both had our vices, sure."

"You're right. But I've moved on. I've left that part of my life behind me."

The vision of Kristy remained silent, her presence a constant reminder of the choices he had made and the pain he had caused. Baxter's mind raced as he began to recall the past. Finally, she spoke again. "Have you?"

"I haven't had a drink in over a year."

"That's not what I'm talking about."

"Then what is it?"

"The paranoia. The anxiety. It's still there. You never thought you'd be in this spot, did you? Especially not after what happened..."

"No... you know that. Even before that night... I didn't think I'd be here. But now that I'm in this spot. Now that I've been in the spotlight. Now that I have this gold... I don't wanna lose it. I can't lose it."

"Then we gotta keep going."

"No... I don't wanna.."

"We have to. You have to confront what happened if you don't want it to happen again."

"Fine... let's do this again."


The atmosphere in the Charlotte Civic Center was electric as the crowd eagerly awaited the highly anticipated EWF Heavyweight Title match between Big Bryan Baxter and Seth Tempest. The ring shimmered under the bright lights, ready to bear witness to a clash of styles and personalities.

As the sounds of Nickelback blared through the speakers, Bryan Baxter made his grand entrance, accompanied by a chorus of boos from the crowd. Wearing his red letterman style jacket, brandishing the word ‘Bastard’ across the back, Baxter displayed a confident smirk. But beneath the apparent confidence, his paranoia could be seen as he kept looking back over his shoulder. He even went as far as to look under the ring apron on each side of the ring, as if expecting someone to be hiding under it.

On the other side of the ring, Seth Tempest emerged, all smiles with a look of determination on his face. The underdog face soaked in the cheers from the crowd, his eyes focused on the champion before him. Though smaller in stature, Seth exuded a fighting spirit that captured the hearts of the fans.

The bell rang, signaling the start of the match. Baxter wasted no time, charging at Seth with a brutal open hand chop to the chest, the sound echoing through the arena. The impact staggered Seth, but he fought back, countering with a quick series of strikes to Baxter's midsection.

Baxter retaliated with a reverse STO, slamming Seth to the mat with authority. He followed up with a powerbomb into a backbreaker, showcasing his raw strength and dominance. The crowd jeered, their disapproval fueling Baxter's ego.

While Baxter seemed to have the strong upperhand, his attention kept getting diverted, looking into the crowd as if he saw someone. Clearly his mind was perhaps waiting for what he thought was the inevitable sneak attack from Diego Fury.

But it never came and instead that just allowed Seth Tempest to battle back with a series of strikes leading up to an impressive Northern Lights Suplex, the smaller wrestler showcasing his own strength to lift up the over three hundred pound Baxter, bridging for only a two count.

The match continued with a fierce back-and-forth battle. Baxter unleashed a barrage of punishing moves, including a corner splash and a running high-impact shoulder block, but Seth refused to stay down. He continued to show his resilience, countering Baxter’s power with his own agility. A flying senton from Seth once again netted him a very close two count.

But Baxter, in a desperate bid to maintain control, resorted to his underhanded tactics. He raked Seth's eyes and delivered a low blow, causing the referee to admonish him. The fans booed loudly, their disapproval echoing throughout the arena.

It seemed as though the champion had Tempest right where he wanted him. He hooked him for the Baxter Driver…

When the fans began to chant… “WE WANT FURY! WE WANT FURY!”

Baxter’s eyes grew wide at the mention of the name… causing him to drop Seth and he began to shout at the fans. “SHUT UP! SHUT UP! HE’S NOT HERE! SHUT UP!”

With Baxter distracted by the chants of the fans, Seth had recovered…



The arena erupted with cheers as Seth Tempest secured the victory, the title slipping through Baxter's fingers. The crowd's admiration for Seth grew even stronger as they witnessed his determination and skill overcoming the odds against the cheating champion.

Baxter, furious and humiliated, lashed out, attacking Seth after the match. The crowd booed relentlessly as Baxter continued his assault, fueled by his paranoia and the anger of losing his precious championship. The referees rushed to intervene, separating the two competitors as chaos engulfed the ring.

With the assistance of the EWF officials, Baxter left the ring… defeated…


Kristy Vance, concerned for Bryan Baxter, searched for him with a heavy heart after witnessing his defeat in the ring. She knew him well enough to anticipate his next destination - Duckworth’s Bar.

Entering the dimly lit bar, Kristy scanned the room until she spotted Bryan at a corner table, already heavily intoxicated and engrossed in a drunken rant to no one in particular, just anyone who would listen. She approached cautiously, her concern etched on her face.

"Baxxy..." she said softly, pulling up a chair beside him.

Bryan turned his bloodshot eyes toward her, his face showing a mixture of both frustration and sadness. "I'm not in the mood to talk."

"That's rich," she lightly laughed, "looks like you were talkin' up a storm before I got here."

Her laughter faded when Baxter didn't seem to share the sentiment.

"Sorry, just tryin' to lighten the mood a bit, I guess. Look, I just wanted to check on you. I'm worried..."

Bryan scoffed, taking another swig from his glass. "You warned me, didn't you? You always knew this would happen. Well, congratulations, you were right."

Kristy sighed. "It wasn't about bein' right. You know that. I warned you because, believe it or not, for some goddamn reason, I actually care about you, Bax. And I don't want to see you like this."

Bryan's drunken state made it difficult for him to fully grasp her words. He waved his hand dismissively. "You think you know everything, huh? Well, guess what? You don't know shit. You don't know what it's like to have everything slip through your fingers because everyone is after you."

Tears welled up in Kristy's eyes as she reached out to grab his hand. "Hun, there was only one person after you tonight, and he was in that ring. And he got exactly what he wanted..."

"Because those fuckin' fans. They got to me, Kristy. They knew exactly how to get to me."

Kristy shook her head, not sure what Bryan was talking about. "What do you mean? How did the fans cause you to lose? You took your eye off the ball. You had Seth right where you wanted him. The match was yours, babe."

"Exactly!" Bryan slammed his glass down on the table. "Then those morons started chanting... 'WE WANT FURY! WE WANT FURY!' - like they knew. Like they knew I was so goddamn consumed with what he was gonna do..."

"Bax... I was there. The fans were chanting... yeah... but they weren't chantin' for Fury. They were chanting for Seth..."

"What? No, I know what I heard."

"My God, Bax... it's worse than I thought. You're seein' and hearin' things that aren't even there."


Bryan's drunken rage fueled his frustration, causing him to lash out unintentionally. In his intoxicated state, he swung his arm wildly, accidentally striking Kristy. Shocked and hurt, Kristy recoiled, tears streaming down her face.

The commotion of the bar quickly came to an eerie silence as Baxter's own actions quickly caused him to sober up, realizing what he had done. His eyes widened as he saw the brunette beauty in front of him, holding her face as tears rolled down her cheeks.

"Kristy... I... didn't mean to..." Baxter muttered, his voice choking on his own regret.

But Kristy couldn't respond. Still reeling from the moment, she could not find the words.

"Hey, buddy, I think it's time for you to go." Dave the Bartender said with authority.

"Look, man... it was just an accident. It's okay... tell 'em, babe..."

Still hurt and fearful of Baxter in his current condition, again Kristy couldn't respond.

"I said get out! Or I'll call the cops."

Not interested in dealing with authorities, Baxter relented, grabbing his jacket off the chair. "Fine... fuck this place anyway," Baxter said, grabbing the glass off the table and hurling it at the wall sending glass shattering all around before storming out of the bar. Leaving Kristy behind in tears, her heart shattered into as many pieces as that glass.


Back in his hotel room, Bryan Baxter sat in the darkness, the weight of his past actions heavy on his shoulders. Regret filled his heart as he reflected on the pain he had caused and the mistakes he had made. The vision of Kristy's tear-stained face haunted him, a grim reminder of his old self.

"Not my best moment, huh?" Baxter admitted, now his turn to try and add some levity. "I messed up back then, no doubt about it. I was a fool, Kris... I really was. My anger... my paranoia... it got the best of me. And yeah, I lost my title... but after all this time, I realize that it wasn't all I lost that night."

The vision of Kristy nodded knowingly. "We all have made mistakes, Bax. And I get how important that championship was to you... and how much this one is to you too. I want you to be happy... really I do."

"I can't undo what I've done..."

"No, no you can't. The past can't be changed. But you have the power to stop history from repeating itself. Stop worrying about those who have put that North American Title on their radar. Peacock has bigger fish to fry right now. Alyster Black and Weaselperson do too. At Back in Business... there's only one person you need to worry about."


Kristy nodded once again. "Exactly. Drop the fear. Drop the doubts. Look at you! You've come this far. Further than anyone would've ever dreamed! And Hell Baxxy... I think you can do more. Go further. I think Chris Peacock should be worried about you over his shoulder more than you should be worried about him. You may be North American Champion now... but let's not forget... you beat him before. Him and Cyrus Truth! You have everything it takes to be the FWA Champion."

"I like the sound of that."

"Me too, Baxxy. Me too. But let's not get ahead of ourselves, okay? I'll give you the same warning I gave you back then. Mike Parr wants that belt... and you have it. But guess what, he ain't gettin' it. Right?"

"Damn straight."

"Worry about what's in front of you. The past is in the past. The future is uncertain. The present... now that's something you can control."

Bryan looked up, his eyes meeting the vision of Kristy's gaze. He saw the sincerity and love within them, a mirror of the emotions he still harbored for her. His voice trembled with a mix of vulnerability and determination. "You're right, Kris. You’ve always been right," he admitted.

Kristy nodded approvingly, a soft smile gracing her lips. "Bout damn time you said it…"

Bryan took a deep breath, the weight of his past slowly lifting as he absorbed Kristy's words. "Somehow you always saw the good in me... thank you. I won't let you down again."

Kristy's form began to fade, slowly disappearing from his sight, leaving Bryan alone once again in the room. He leaned back against the headboard of the bed with a feeling of ease washing over him.

He grabbed his phone once again and began to scroll through his contacts. He was determined to learn from his mistakes of the past.

Perhaps in more ways than one.

Bryan hovered over a name in the contacts of his phone... a name he never quite had the heart to delete.

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The ScapeDubb

Cry me a river
Sep 14, 2022
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The heat was almost unbearable.

Vengador trudged through the sandy expanse of Sahra, his heavy boots leaving deep imprints in the dunes. The scorching suns beat down on his back, intensifying the weight of his burdens. He adjusted the straps of his tattered backpack, containing the few possessions he owned.

The realm known as Shraa was unforgiving. With its not one, but two suns, and the fact that it was nearly ninety percent desert, made it a place where truly only the strongest could survive.

As he neared the rendezvous point, Vengador spotted a campsite nestled amidst the endless desert. He approached the camp cautiously, his dark eyes peering through his purple skull mask scanned the surroundings. He noticed a crackling fire that illuminated the silhouette of a young woman, her form graceful yet defiant. He slowly made his approach, each step feeling heavier and heavier in the sand.

The woman noticed his approach, turning to wave at Vengador. Her own face was shielded by a mask of her own. It was a mixture of purple and black with the slight resemblance of a tiger, a creature Vengador had conquered in multiple realms.

"You must be the new guy," she greeted him, extending her arm out to greet Vengador.

Unfortunately, he wasn't much of a pleasantries type of a guy. He remained silent, simply giving a curt nod. Vengador never saw the value in small talk, especially with someone he had just met and could not fully trust.

"Not much of a talker, huh? That's okay. I can do the talking for us. They call me the Moonlight Bandit! Welcome to the Squad... was it, Vengador?"

Just another simple nod from Vengador as he sat down his bag and leaned up against a boulder that lined the campsite.

"We've heard a lot about you. You have earned a bit of a reputation apparently... a vagrant traveler from a faraway world... someone who knows how to get the job done."

Under his mask, Vengador actually cracked a bit of a smirk. He was glad to hear word was getting out about him. But at the same time, that could be a bad thing. But for now, it seemed harmless enough. But he doesn't give her the benefit of knowing she had slightly stroked his ego and instead, he simply crossed his arms and continued to simply watch.

"Right... well... I like your mask! Looks like we both might have a bit of a thing for purple, huh? Where'd you get yours?"

Vengador waited a moment but finally broke his silence. "I took it off my brother's face as he was taking his dying breaths. It serves as a reminder... to the debts I owe him... and to the vengeance I will bring down upon the person who killed him."

the Bandit had to pause briefly, not expecting such an answer from the vagrant. "Woah... you're an intense guy, aren't you?"

Vengador simply gave a slight nod once again. Electing once again for silence as his response.

"Well, then... shall we get to work? Pretty cool, this is my first time getting to show someone the ropes."

He rolled his eyes under his mask. He wasn't sure why someone so young would be sent to train him. He also didn't think he particularly needed any training. But at the same time, he needed to know more about this Bandit. That was why he was really here.

"They're called Bvanos," she explained, "They are elusive creatures out here in the desert... they hide in the sand... completely camouflaged into they need to attack. They have been depleting the livestock of the nearby village... but that's not why they hired the Squad to hunt them. Nah, our... uh, employers... aren't really too interested in the preservation of the farming economy here on Shraa. Because the real money... is in their pelts. The rich folks over in Clunati absolutely love them and will pay top dollar to get them."

Vengador took it in as the Bandit continued her explanation. Despite her young age, he found himself quite impressed with her knowledge.

"So you probably are wondering... how do you hunt something you can't see? Well, that's where we come in. See, the Squad... we have some tricks up our sleeves."

Bandit unzipped her own bag and pulled out a set of goggles and tossed them over to Vengador. He examined them closely as she put on a set of her own. "Go ahead, try them out."

He obliged, pulling the goggles down over his head. Immediately, the bright sunny landscape went dark. "Is this some kind of joke? I can't see a thing."

"Now you wanna talk? Haha, but no... you just gotta wait... look over there."
Bandit walked over and physically helped Vengador turn to the right, overlooking a vast desert plain when suddenly red and orange heat signals began to become detected through the googles. "These goggles can detect the Bvanos heat signature... so all we gotta do is aim at the orange and red... and boom... payday."

Vengador slid the goggles up over his head, resting them on the top of his mask. "Sounds easy enough."

"I mean if it was easy, anyone would do it. These things are super fast... if you miss... well, let's just say... you don't wanna miss."

"I don't miss."

"Well, that's perfect then!"
Bandit walked over to the edge of the campfire and grabbed two long-range firearms from the top of a boulder, tossing one over to Vengador, which he caught with one hand. “The suns will be down soon… they are most active at night, so let’s prepare ourselves.”


One of the 3 moons of Shraa hung high over them in the night sky as the two unlikely partners prepared for their hunt. They ventured out into the dark desert, their footsteps muffled by the shifting sand. Bandit led the way, her leadership abilities well surpassing that of her youth.

At the top of a dune, she held out her arm to stop Vengador in his tracks. She lowered her goggles. "They're down there in the valley... this is the ideal setup. It'll give us plenty of opportunities... just in case... one of us was to miss."

Vengador slid down his goggles and looked down into the valley. The amount of heat signatures was awe-inspiring.

Bandit displayed her precision as she swiftly raised her firearms and let out a resounding crack, firing her shot with impeccable marksmanship. The targeted Bvanos heat signature faded away as it crumpled to the ground and its camouflage quickly faded away as it dropped to the sand.

"Impressive," Vengador admitted, aloud bringing a smile to Bandit's face behind her own mask.

She took another couple shots, each one landing precisely on target. "I think that's enough of a demonstration. You think you're ready for this?"

Vengador scoffed. "Watch and learn... the teacher is about to become the student."

With swift, calculated movements, Vengador locked onto the first Bvanos he spotted. He steadied his aim as he waited for the right moment. As he pulled the trigger, the crack of his firearm shattered the desert silence. The bullet sliced through the air, finding its mark right on target.

One by one, the Bvanos fell before Vengador's relentless assault. "Okay, now I am the one who is impressed," Bandit replied. "You were right, you don't miss."

With a smirk, Vengador lowered his weapon and placed it down in the sand as the valley no longer had any red or orange.

"Job well done, rookie," she laughed, giving her 'student' a pat on the shoulder. "Let's go collect our bounty."

Together they climbed down the dune and into the valley. The once camouflaged Bvanos now littered the ground, their exterior a beautiful luscious mixture of brown and gray. It was no wonder the wealthy residents of the Clunati realm would be interested in them.

Bandit pulled out a couple knives and the pair went to work skinning the creatures.

"You never told me about your mask," Vengador surprisingly broke the silence.

"Well, that's because you never asked. Do you really want to know?"

"I do."

"It's not quite as dramatic as your story, I'm afraid. At first, I did it because I didn't want my family to know the line of work I'm in. I'm actually Clunati born and raised... and let's just say mom and pops wouldn't be too thrilled to know their daughter was working for hire in Shraa. But then the more I got into this... it was less about not wanting them to know... then it was not wanting anyone else to know... about them. Someone finds out who I am... it's putting the people I love in jeopardy."

As Vengador tossed another pelt into his bag, he couldn't help but feel himself softening up about the Bandit. He understood what it meant to want to protect the ones you love. His brother's own reason for donning the Vengador mask was not too dissimilar from that of the Moonlight Bandit.

"That's... respectable," he responded.

"I couldn't live with myself if something happened to someone I loved because of me..."

"It's a fate worse than death, I'm afraid,"
Vengador said, knowing all too well. He felt a surprising admiration for the young woman. He had clearly underestimated her. While youthful in age, she had already lived a life many could never fathom.

One by one they skinned the Bvano carcasses until every last pelt was placed in the bag. But as she placed the last one in the bag, Bandit paused. “Wait, that’s not right.”

Vengador turned to her. “Something wrong?”

“I fired off 7 shots… you fired off 9… but there’s… only 15 pelts..”

“That can’t be right. There were definitely 16 bodies when we got here…”

Bandit pulled her goggles back down over her eyes. She could see the heat signature of Bvanos's blood leaving a trail away from the valley. “Must’ve just nipped one of them…”

“So what, it ran off to safety?”

“No… it’s… been waiting..”

The blood trail circled back around… suddenly the heat signature was way too close as the Bvanos tackled Bandit to the ground, it’s teeth inches away away from her face.


A shot rang out as the Vengador delivered the fatal blow. The Bvanos body collapsing down on top of her. “Uuuugghh…” she gasped under the weight of the dead beast. “That was a close one.”

“It was, wasn’t it.”

“Thanks… I guess your aim was a little off after all.”

Vengador smirked as he picked up the bag of belts. “No thanks necessary, kid. Consider us even.”

Bandit asked, struggling to free herself from the confines of the dead weight. “And… little help here?”

“See, that’s the thing. I have to admit something to you, Bandit. I underestimated you. I came here thinking the worst of you, at first. But you proved yourself today… in more than one way. And for that… you should be thankful. Because I was prepared to kill you… if I had to. But, I’m afraid you’ve also underestimated me, my dear. Because this was never about a job. This wasn’t about showing the new guy the ropes. I needed to know more about you… and, well, you passed the test. But like I said… I don’t miss.”

“Now if you’ll excuse me, I will gladly grab a nice little payday and be on my way from this God forsaken realm.”

Vengador slung the bag of pelts over his shoulder as he began to walk away from the Bandit, still trapped under the weight of the Bvanos. Her calls for help went on deaf ears.

As he walked away, Vengador retrieved a small electronic device from his pocket. Turning the device on, a list pulled up. He scanned down to the name Moonlight Bandit. Using his fingers and the screen’s touchpad interface, he marked her name off the list.

He was convinced that the Moonlight Bandit was respectable. She certainly had nothing to do with his brother’s death. For these things he was now sure. But that didn’t mean they had to work together. And it certainly didn’t mean he was going to share out in a bounty with her.

Perhaps the Bandit still had a lot to learn after all.

The ScapeDubb

Cry me a river
Sep 14, 2022
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“Hey man, you ready for this?”

Bryan Baxter stepped over the threshold of the door to enter the small room where Jeremy Best stood in front of a mirror. Bryan Baxter looked surprisingly dapper. Much more well-kept than he’d typically dressed. Now he was not dressed in a suit and black bow tie like Jeremy was, mind you. But he was at least wearing a buttoned up shirt and slacks.

Jeremy looked into the mirror, his face indicating a fair amount of nervousness.

“I dunno, Bryan.”

Baxter walked over, placing his hand on the right shoulder of Jeremy’s coat jacket.

“It’s okay. This is a long time coming. It’s okay to be nervous.”

“I know…” Jeremy bashfully looked down at his black Oxford dress shoes.

“Cold feet?”

“No, I’m going to go through with this.”

“I have to…”

“For him.”

Baxter nodded his head in agreement. “You got this, bro.” Bryan held out his arm as a friendly offer to his old pal for one of Jeremy’s favorite things… a solid handshake.

Jeremy looked up, his aging eyes smiling as the wrinkles on his face multiplied. “You’ve always been there for me, haven’t you?”

“Hey, I told you… I may have made some mistakes along the way, but I owe so much to you man. I’m forever in your debt. And what you’re about to do… I know it’s something new for you. Something you never thought you’d be doing. It’s starting a brand new chapter in your life. And no matter what happens after today… I’ll still be there for you. Whenever you need me.”

Not satisfied with just a simple handshake, Jeremy pulled his hefty friend in for a hearty hug. While not usually the hugging type, Bryan always made an exception for Jeremy as he patted his friend on the back.

“I’ll see ya out there.”

With one last cordial nod to one another as they disembarked from their embrace, Bryan left the room, shutting the door behind him.

Jeremy turned back to the full-length mirror in front of him. He adjusts his tie.

“You got this, Jeremy.”

He took in a big, giant, deep breath.

“It’s time.”


Dear Krash,

Hiya. It’s me again. Your biggest fan (and I’m sure you hear that all the time, but I think it really is true), Jeremy Best. This is letter number seven, I believe? I know you’re a busy guy. Or maybe it was just a problem at the post office. Who knows?? Seems like a lot of my letters to people tend to get lost in the mail for some reason!

But anyway, how have you been? I really hope that I’m able to meet you someday. I have all your action figures, trading cards, tee shirts, and even pajamas! My room even has posters and your pictures on the wall.

The truth is, watching you wrestle is the highlight of my week each and every week. I just know one day you’re going to become the FWA World Champion! I just can’t wait to see that day. It’s going to be amazing.

You are an inspiration to me. I’ve decided that I’m going to become a professional wrestler. Just like you.

I’m sure you get a lot of these letters from fans like me. And maybe you don’t have time to respond to them all.

But one day we will meet. I just know it.

Because one day, I will be in the FWA right alongside you.

That’s my dream anyway.

Maybe I’m a little crazy.

As in, crazy to have such dreams. People do think I’m crazy. When I tell them that. When I tell them that my dream is to wrestle alongside my hero. My idol. And maybe one day…

My friend.

Hey, who knows, maybe one day we can even be a tag team. Become tag team champions!

Wouldn’t that be crazy?

Well… I certainly hope this letter gets to you. I’ll leave my cell phone, home phone, and e-mail at the bottom just in case you want to reach me.

Your Biggest Fan,



Jeremy let out a deep sigh. The apartment was a wreck. Dirty plates filled the sink, empty pizza boxes were scattered about the counter, the kitchen table, and also took up significant real estate on the floor. And not to mention the mountains of dirty laundry in different piles across the rooms.

“Hey fellas,” Jeremy spoke up, his voice not exactly exuding confidence. “Can we… maybe work on cleaning up after ourselves a bit?”

Across from the kitchen in the small living room, Jeremy’s two roommates, Mitch and Brutus were unphased by Jeremy’s meek ask. They completely ignore him as they continue to play Call of Duty on the small TV screen setup on a makeshift entertainment center.

Mitch reached over, pounded back a Miller Lite can, finishing it off before belching loudly and tossing it to the side carelessly. “Did you say something, Bitchemy?”

Mitch and Brutus both laughed at the very clever joke.

“Haaaaaa! Bitchemy! Good one, bro!” Brutus exclaimed before offering his friend a high-five.

Jeremy sighed as he grabbed a trash bag from the cabinet and began to walk around collecting the various items around the room. “I just… thought maybe it’d be nice if our apartment wasn’t such a pigsty.”

“Hey dude, this is our place,” Mitch argued. “If you gotta problem with it, you can go back to bumfuck, South Carolina or wherever it is your hillbilly ass came from.”

“Yeah!” Brutus once again added elegantly to the conversation. “Hit the road if you don’t like it, Bitchemy!”

“It’s North Carolina…” Jeremy corrected.

“Jeez-us fuckin’ Christ. No one fucking cares.”

Jeremy closed his eyes and took deep breaths. Remember what Doctor Cameron has taught you, he tried to remind himself.

No, Jeremy wasn’t in North Carolina anymore. For the first time in his life, he had taken a leap of faith. Sure it was hard leaving all his friends like Becky back home. Granted she had really started to change recently. Jeremy didn’t quite understand why she seemed to want to hang out with other people more often than him. And Jeremy had been quite offended when she seemed to be trying to choose romance over friendship…

But that’s a bit off-topic. Plus, Doctor Cameron has helped him through all that.

This was about chasing his dream.

So here he was, a stranger in a strange land. The strange land of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

While not the most pleasant of hosts, Mitch and Brutus weren’t wrong. This was their apartment. A couple of fraternity brothers from Marquette University who recently got cut off from daddy’s trust fund and needed someone to help them out with the rent. It seemed like a fortuitous event for Jeremy at the time when he arrived in town and their “Roommate Wanted” ad went up on Craigslist. He was sure he’d be best friends with his new roomies in no time.

No time at all it seemed. As in there was no chance of them ever being friends at any time at all.

Jeremy wasn’t one to not like people. He tried his best to give them a chance. But at the end of the day, these guys were just completely rude and inconsiderate. Definitely not BFF material.

Jeremy continued to do his best to tidy up, but when he reached over to grab one of Mitch’s empty beer cans, he accidentally impeded Mitch’s view of the screen, leading to him being killed in the game.

“Goddammit!” Mitch shouted out, tossing the Playstation 3 remote across the room.

“Haha, you just got owned, bro!”

“Shuttup! It was Bitchemy’s fault!”

Jeremy stood up, holding an empty pizza box in his hand. “So sorry…”

“Ugh! Don’t you have dance school to get to or something?”

“It’s wrestling school, actually,” Jeremy once again offered up a correction to his roommate.

Both Brutus and Mitch began to laugh. “Hahaha! Wrestling? Who the fuck still watching wrestling?”

“Yeah, dude! That shit is whack!”

“Yeah, wrestling stopped being cool in like 2001!”

“Well, not like Bitchemy’s cool or anything! So maybe it makes sense!”

“Hahaha! Yeah, totally! Got ‘em!”

The two bros shared another high-five as Jeremy began to walk back into the kitchen with his trash bag. “Yeah… well… anywho, class doesn’t start for another couple days. But speaking of wrestling, I was hoping to watch it tonight… my favorite is wrestling…”

“Oh yeah?” Mitch feigned interest. “And just who is that?”

Jeremy perked up, thinking perhaps his roommate was finally being cordial. “Oh! Let me show you!” Jeremy quickly retrieved his wallet from the back pocket of his khaki pants to pull out a CWA Krash trading card. He quickly walked it over to the other two to show it off.

Mitch and Brutus examined the card and both held back some chuckles.

“This guy? This goofy-looking doofus is your favorite wrestler?”

“What a fuckin’ doofus!” Brutus repeated.

“Look at that stache! Dude looks like he’d be in a porno before he’d be in a wrestling ring.”

Offended, Jeremy snatched the card back.

“Ooooh, did I make the baby sad?”

“He’s not goofy and he’s certainly not a doofus,” Jeremy retorted. “His name is Krash and he’s the best wrestler in the world!”

“Oh yeah, so he’s like, what, world champion then?”

“Well, no… not yet. But one day he will be! I know he will.”

“World Doofus Champion, right Mitch?!” Brutus laughed with excitement but not even Mitch laughed back at that one.

Jeremy felt his hands tightening up into a fist. But he closed his eyes and breathed once again. Once again remembering the words of Doctor Cameron.

“You guys are just a couple of bullies. But one day… one day you’ll be able to say you were roommates with wrestling star Jeremy Best! One half of the greatest tag team in the world!”

Mitch and Brutus once again bust out into laughter. Mitch trying to compose himself before responding. “Yeah, okay? And who’s the other half? Mayor McCheese? Hahahahahaha!”

“Why it’ll be Krash, of course,” Jeremy stated proudly.

Mitch reached over and snatched the trading card back, much to Jeremy’s dismay. “Hey! Give that back!”

Brutus cut off Jeremy’s attempt to reach back out after Mitch.

“Wait just a minute,” Mitch said as he examined the card, “I hate to break it to you, bro, but I think your dream has a little flaw in it.”

“That’s not possible,” Jeremy shook his head.

“Nah, this says this dude already has a tag team partner. Someone named… Alyster Black?”

“Woah,” Brutus said in awe, “now that sounds like a real wrestler. Sounds like a real badass.”

“Eh,” Mitch shrugged it off, “if he’s teaming with this doofus, he’s probably a doofus too.”

Jeremy finally grabbed the card back, meticulously looking it over to make sure Mitch hadn’t done any harm to it. “Yeah, well… if you ask me, he’s a bit of a jerk from what I’ve seen. Honestly, not really sure what Krash sees in him as a partner. So I don’t see them lasting as a team, to be honest.”

Mitch shrugged his shoulders. “Whatever, man. I’m getting bored with this whole thing. Look, watch whatever you want tonight. Me and Bruti aren’t gonna be here anyway. Frat paaarrrttaayyyy tonight.”

“Fuck yeah!”

A look of relief crossed Jeremy’s face. Not just because he would be able to see Krash in action that night, but he’d also be able to have some peace and quiet while doing so.

He reminded himself… this is just temporary.

In a couple days, he started his training under the tutelage of one of his favorite wrestlers as a kid, Danny B. Goode at the Goode Garage.

His journey was just beginning. First, it was The Goode Garage. Then all he had to do was get himself noticed.

While Mitch and Brutus went back to their game of Call of Duty, Jeremy exited the living room to walk down the short hallway to his small bedroom. He closed the door behind him. The tidiness of his room was a drastic difference from the rest of the apartment. He sat down on his expertly made bed, looking down at his Krash trading card.

“This is only temporary,” he said to himself. Or to the card, maybe? “Soon enough, Krashy, buddy… soon enough, I’ll be at your side. Owning the ring. Dare I say it, tag team champions?”

“But more importantly… soon enough…”

“We will be best friends.”


Dearest Jeremy,

Thank you so much for your letter. It truly means a lot to me to have you as my fan. I am very honored to be your inspiration. I hope that I can continue to be the hero you deserve and that when you grow up, you’ll be able to achieve your dream.

You sound like a great kid and I also hope to meet you one day! Please never let go of your dreams. Becoming a pro wrestler isn’t easy but I know you can do it. If you truly want something, you should go for it. Fight for it and never stop believing in yourself.

Until we do meet, please find enclosed a signed autograph GangStars photo.

Sincerely yours,


“What are you doing, daddio?”

Jeremy sipped on his milkshake at Highway 55 Burgers and Shakes, back in his home state of North Carolina. Across the diner table was Jeremy’s mentor, Danny B. Goode. The aged BAOW legend was still as cool as ever in his brown leather jacket and slicked-back hair.

“Right now I’m enjoying this delicious milkshake.”

“No, no, no… no that!” Danny shook his head. “I mean… what are you doing… here?”

“Uhh…” Jeremy looked around the bustling diner, confused. “I mean, you invited me. And quite frankly, I was surprised to have you show up… what brings you to North Carolina… and to Total Rampage Wrestling of all places.”

“Look, Jeremy, dig this, okay? You’re wastin’ away here, my man! You should be doing so much more! You’ve got more talent than I can shake a stick at, but you’re bumming it here in the small time? You should be in the big time!”

“I’m getting there, Danny. Mr. Scorpane isn’t sure I’m ready…”

“Scorpane? You still dealin’ with that shady cat?”

“Oh, he’s a good guy. You just gotta get to know him.”

“I think I know all I need to know. I like to think I’m a pretty good judge of character. And something about that guy just doesn’t jive with me. But here’s the thing… when you walked into my school a few years ago… I thought… this can’t ain’t gonna last long here. You certainly didn’t look like the other people I’ve taught over the years. But I’ll be darned if you didn’t become one of the best I’ve ever seen! You got more fire and determination in that belly of yours than anyone who’s come through my Garage. You feel me?”

“Well shucks,” Jeremy blushed. “But you’re just sayin’ that because you’re my teacher.”

“You think I’d come all this way out here just to yank your chain and try to make you feel good about yourself? There’s nothin’ in that for me. I’m just concerned about some of the people you’ve associated yourself with since you left. I mean, I may be old but I’m not a dinosaur yet! I know how to follow people on those interwebs. And I saw what happened between you and that big cat, Bryan Baxter. And now you’ve hooked up with this shuckster? I just don’t like it for you. You should have it made in the shade, right now… and I think I can help you out with that.”

Jeremy’s eyes lit up as he finished off his vanilla milkshake. “What do you mean?”

“I’m just sayin’... opportunity is knocking, Jeremy. Are you gonna let him in?”

“I… still don’t follow.”

“C’mon, big daddy! I’m talking about the FWA! The Fantasy Wrestling Alliance! I pulled some strings and have you an official invite to take part in their Gunfight Battle Royal coming up at Lights Out in October. You show them what you got and I can almost guarantee you a full contract, baby!”

“Wow… I don’t know what to say, Danny… that’s… that’s awesome. But…”

“But? Don’t you but me, kid. This is an opportunity of a lifetime. This is your dream, isn’t it?”

“Of course it is. It’s all I ever wanted.”

“Then what is it? Is it that Scorpane fella? He’s given you all the wrong advice.”

“I mean, yeah… he doesn’t think I’m ready for ‘the big times’ just yet.”

“Pish posh! I think I know a thing or two about this business, Jeremy. And you are ready. You’ve been ready! But people… like Bryan Baxter and Bill Scorpane… have been holdin’ you back!”

“You mean I could’ve been wrestling alongside Krash all this time?”

“Huh? Oh yes, that cat. I mean, yeah, absolutely.”

Jeremy was silent, staring back at his mentor. This was the opportunity he had wanted for so long. This is why he started training. This is why he lived in Hell alongside Mitch and Brutus for a year. While the three letters on the logo have changed, it didn’t change the dream.

He knew Mr. Scorpane wouldn’t be on board, but he couldn’t turn this down.

Even if it was just one night. One night to be in the same arena as Krash. It’s not quite the same thing as being in the same ring… but who knows what could happen.

It was time for Jeremy to open that door.

“Okay,” Jeremy smiled. “Where do I sign?”

Now it was Danny’s turn to have his face light up. “Thatta boy! I’ll mail you the details… but trust me, you’re doin’ the right thing here.”


Dear Krash,

Hiya! It’s me again. Your biggest fan, Jeremy.

I have some super amazing news to share with you.

It’s finally happening! My dream is coming true. I am going to be wrestling for the Fantasy Wrestling Alliance. But that’s just a part of the dream.

You may not remember but it was your words that really inspired me. They got me through some of the hard times of my journey. I’ve kept the picture you sent me. I look at it every day to remind me why I am doing this.

And in just a couple weeks, we will both be in the same building at the same time. I hope we’re able to spend some time together. I’d also love to get some pointers from you. I think there is a lot you could teach me.

I just want to be just like you!

I’ve also started brainstorming some possible team names:

The Best Boys
Best Staches (assuming I can grow out a mustache)
The BFFs
Super Happy Fun Time Team
The Pal Patrol
The Sparkling Starswirls
The Rainbow Mane Marvels

Okay, I’ll keep workshopping those. You seem pretty creative though, I bet we’ll come up with something great.

Anyway, I can’t wait to see you soon!

Your biggest fan and soon to be co-worker,


"This... Might be one of the more difficult choices."

Inside the ring, Krash has the microphone, across the ring from Uncle J.J. JAY!, both appointed as captains for the upcoming Cibernetico match. Joining them in the ring are several other competitors selected to be part of the match including our friendly protagonist, Jeremy Best. All awaiting to be selected by one of the two captains to join their team. Uncle had already scored quite the coup by taking Krash’s own (at the time) best friend and tag partner, Alyster Black with his first pick.

“On one hand, we have Chris Peacock, someone who's tangled with J.J.JAY! enough to know his blood type. On the other, we have Jeremy Best, who literally just got here, but seems to have something inside him that promises big things.”

Jeremy felt his face beaming from the kindest of words coming out of his hero's mouth. He wanted to pinch himself.

Was this really happening?

He was so caught up in the moment he couldn’t even hear the next few words Krash said. His head was soaring in the clouds.

Snapping back into it, he realized Krash seemed conflicted in the pick. And the others in the ring all seem to have varying opinions about who Krash should take.

The sense of euphoria began to be replaced with an existential dread.

What if he doesn’t pick me, Jeremy thought to himself. What if he gets stuck on the team with J.J.JAY? Not wrestling with his hero but against?

This very well was a turning point in not just Jeremy’s life, but his career.

A mere choice by Krash would link these two together forever.

At the time, a choice that seemed somewhat trivial. A random grouping of wrestlers competing for a shot at the world title. A grouping that would no doubt go their separate ways afterward.

And perhaps… if Jeremy had been chosen by Uncle… things would’ve been different. Perhaps Jeremy ends up becoming a Nephew? Perhaps Uncle would’ve become his new hero.

"I'm going with my heart, and my heart is telling me to go for the person who reminds me of, well, myself. Myself a long time ago, perhaps a better self, before... Not the point. So, my next pick is someone who I believe has a very, very bright future ahead of them. Who I believe can add the perfect moral factor to the team. Ladies and gentlemen, Jeremy Best, it would be my honor to have you beside me."

Jeremy felt tears welling up in his eyes. Be strong, he told himself. Keep it together.

Those words would live with Jeremy for the rest of his life. Krash went with his heart. On that fateful night, Jeremy was the one in Krash’s heart.

It was at this moment in time that Jeremy realized this hadn’t been a dream.

This had been fate.

How else does one explain a relative unknown to the wrestling world getting matched up with the man he idolized in just his third FWA appearance? The person Jeremy had written countless letters to. The person who inspired his journey into wrestling.

Never had Jeremy been more convinced of what was meant to be at that moment.

The universe had brought them together.

Returning to the locker room, Jeremy opened up his own locker. He had to quickly get over the excitement of being selected to Team Krash because he had another match to come. But first, he pulled out the signed GangStars photo that Krash had mailed to him several years prior.

Except it was no longer a picture of Krash and Alyster.

Jeremy had taped his own picture over that of Alyster Black.

And now, Cibernetico had put Krash and Black on opposite sides.

But luckily for Krash, Jeremy was there to slide right in. To be his partner. To be his friend.

His best friend.


Dear Krash,

I don’t know how to write this letter.

I’ve written you so many letters over the years before I came to FWA. I know you only answered one of them but I like to think you read all of them. That you kept track of me and how I was doing. That you were wishing the best for me in my journey to eventually wrestling with you here in the FWA.

But it sounds like this is one letter you definitely won’t be responding to.

Last night at Back in Business… the world watched you and Randy Ramon disappear into the water, neither returning.

If Cibernetico was the dream come true, then Back in Business was the nightmare.

This can’t be right. This can’t be happening.

I thought this was our fate.

Why would the universe take you from me just as soon as it brought us together?

We never even got to become a tag team. There was so much we were supposed to do and become. Cibernetico was supposed to be the beginning of something amazing.

And sure, it was. It was us teaming together that ultimately lead you to your first and perhaps only World Championship.

I can always rest my head on the part I played in that for you.

But it was supposed to be so much more. I suppose I’m partly to blame for this. I got so wrapped up in my new friendship with Jackson Fenix that I lost sight of what was truly important.

Perhaps this is my punishment. I didn’t make the most of the opportunity. I didn’t take more advantage of getting Alyster out of the picture… and becoming the friend and partner you truly deserve.

And now…

You’re gone.


Or are you?

We saw you go into the water…

But that doesn’t mean anything, right?

There’s no proof that you died at Back in Business.

I refuse to believe the universe brought us together only to rip us apart.

This is all part of the plan, isn’t it?

You’re not dead. You’re out there. And you need someone to find you. To rescue you.

To save you.

You need me.

That’s why I’m here. That’s why fate has brought us together. Alyster Black isn’t going to save you. Violet Dryer isn’t going to save you.

This is where our friendship truly begins.

I will find you. I will save you.

We will be together.

See you soon, Krashy.

Your biggest fan,


“Where should I put him?”

Bryan Baxter stumbled through the doors of a charming two-story home in the middle of a picturesque suburban neighborhood. The portly Baxter had quite the weight to burden, both physically and mentally, with the body of Krash draped over his shoulder.

“Just put him on the couch,” Bill Scorpane instructed, plodding through the doorway behind him. Their actions were cloaked by the darkness of night.

“What is this place anyway,” Baxter questioned as he made his way into the living room, past a plethora of furniture with plastic coverings over them. “Feels like we’re in the Amityville Horror or something.”

“Haha,” Scorpane chuckled, “yeah it’s pretty damn creepy in here. This was my old Aunt Ida’s place. She was a bit of a coot but when she died, I swapped up the place for a steal when her kids wanted nothing to do with this place. But the point is… no one would ever think to come here looking for Crush.”

“It’s Kra… you know what, who cares. I’m just surprised you’re doing this for him.”

“Why wouldn’t I? Some light kidnapping is the least I can do for the man making me as much money as Jeremy is. Besides, I’ve done worse for less.”

“I don’t really wanna know.”

“Knock. Knock!” Jeremy said audibly as he also physically knocked on the still open front door.

“Hey, we’re in here,” Baxter called out.

Jeremy made his way through the home, beaming from ear to ear with a huge smile as he admired each covered up piece of furniture. “This place… is wonderful. It’s perfect! What a splendid place to help rehabilitate Krash back to health. Thank you both for everything.”

“Hey, I enjoyed kicking his ass tonight and all,” Baxter said, referencing the events of Back in Town. Jeremy Best had defeated Alyster Black in a “Krash Tribute Match” with the shocking twist of the night happening afterward when Baxter brought Krash out, proving that he was in fact very much alive… although not exactly in the best of conditions.

He didn’t even remember who Jeremy was!

Jeremy knew that this meant that his buddy may have been rescued…

But he wasn’t saved yet.

There was more work to be done.

“But,” Baxter continued, “I gotta get some sleep.”

“Good idea,” Scorpane agreed. “How about we let Crash here get his beauty sleep.”

“You guys go on,” Jeremy instructed, “I want to hang out with him. It’s been a while and we have a lot of catching up to do.”

“Uhh, okay sure, whatever you say, bud,” Baxter said as he and Scorpane headed out the door.

Jeremy walked over to the couch where Baxter had placed the unconscious Krash. He knelt down on the floor in front of him. “What… happened to you out there?”

“It musta been something so awful. How could you forget about your pal, Jeremy? Remember. The one who reminded you so much of you. The person you picked… with your heart.”

Jeremy reached up and placed his hand over Krash’s chest, right where his heart would be. “You’re sick right now. If you don’t remember me… your heart must not be well.”

“But it’s okay. I’m here. I’ve spent the last six months looking for you. Refusing to believe that you were gone. Everyone else, including Alyster Black, thought you were dead. They had moved on with their lives. But I didn’t. I couldn’t.”

Tears began to roll down Jeremy’s face as he looked into the closed eyes of his idol. “I couldn’t do this without you. I needed you. I wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t for you. There is no story of Jeremy Best without first being the story of Krash.”

“Don’t you see… our stories are intertwined. Fate has brought us together for a reason. I’ve never stopped believing that. And the fact that we’re together… right here… right now… in this room… it’s proof of that very fact. So I’m going to fix you. If it’s the last thing I do. I will get you back in that ring.”

“We will be together. We will be the greatest tag them this world has ever seen. Everything I’ve said has always come to be…”

“Everyone has always doubted me. They’ve thought I was…. Crazy.”


“No one thought I could become a professional wrestler. But I did it.”

“No one thought I would make it to the FWA. But here I am.”

“No one thought I’d be able to find you. But here you are.”

“And now people are going to see the state you were in tonight… and they’re gonna say… Krash… he’s too far gone. He can’t be saved. He’ll never wrestle again.”

“But you will.”

“Because I refuse to let anything else happen. This is not my will. It’s the will of the universe.”

Jeremy gets back to his feet before taking a seat on the couch next to Krash, putting his arm around his friend. “Oh Krashy, this is just the beginning, you know. Our story didn’t end at Cibernetico. Our story didn’t end when you fell into the waters at Back in Business. The truth is, I don’t know where our story ends. Because it’s so far into the future.”

“Our friendship… will that of legends.”

“I can’t wait until we get you back in the Fantasy Wrestling Alliance…”

Jeremy turned his head toward the unconscious Krash, almost as if he thought Krash had awoken and said something. “What’s that, Krashy?” Jeremy leaned his ear down, bringing it within inches of Krash’s cold, blue lips.

Jeremy began to chuckle.

“Oh, that’s too funny, buddy.”

“You’re right… The Friendship Wrestling Alliance.”

“I like the way that sounds.”


June 22, 2023.

A date most FWA fans will never forget.

And definitely a date that neither Jeremy nor Krash would ever forget.

Just two weeks prior, Krash had made his valiant return to the wrestling ring in a historic moment, teaming up with Jeremy for the first time ever in a very hard-fought win over a team with much more experience working together, that being Kung-Fu Boom. But The Friendship Wrestling Alliance had prevailed!

It just so happened that Meltdown also coincided with the crowning of new Tag Team Champions in Chris Peacock and Alyster Black.

That name sounds familiar, doesn’t it? You may recall that Alyster Black was the former tag partner and best friend of Krash. The man who had no interest in finding or saving Krash when he went missing. A man who quickly replaced one mustached partner with another. But when Jeremy was looking for another challenge for the Friendship Wrestling Alliance, much to Jeremy’s surprise it was their team, collectively known as FTN, that answered the call.

And they even agreed to put their titles on the line!

So on June 22nd, at Meltdown, it was finally happening.

Not only was Jeremy teaming up with Krash.

But once again… for Jeremy… opportunity was knocking.

The universe was smiling on Jeremy once again. It was that chance to win the tag team championship alongside not just his hero. Not just someone he considered a mentor. But his best friend.

The time had come. The crowd was electric. Unfortunately, Krash had still been dealing with some anxiety issues that caused the match to be postponed. Some wondered if the match was going to be able to happen at all.

Had Krash’s rehabilitation gone backward?

Jeremy walked out that night to address the adoring fans.

”I hope we didn’t keep you all waiting for too long-” Jeremy said with a grin, the crowd erupting in anticipation.

“THANK YOU JEREMY! THANK YOU JEREMY” was the chant from the fans.

”Wow, you’re really excited for this tag title match, huh?” Jeremy once again cracked a big grin as the crowd ate it up, erupting in a deafening cheer.

”Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret - So am I! I’ve been looking forward to tonight for months, years even! The night came a little bit earlier than expected, but sometimes you gotta roll with the flow, y’know?”

The crowd once again cheered in approval. Not a butt in its seat for this moment.

”I know, right? But, I’ve come to realize, if there is EVER a time to put this next step forward, it’s tonight. So, allow me to introduce to you, my tag team partner for tonight’s main event…”

Jeremy gestured with gravitas towards the entranceway with enthusiasm, the nerves fading away with his excitement. Bouncing on the balls of his feet, a toothy grin across his features, and a joyous gleam in his eyes, like a kid in a candy store.


“Back in Town” began to play as Krash walked out from the back, waving to the crowd. His mask now shed to showcase that his anxiety appeared to have faded! The crowd could not contain themselves as the mustached maverick made his way down the aisle. Krash climbs into the ring and is immediately met with a warm embrace from Jeremy.

”Krash… Ol’ buddy, ol pal, are you ready for this? We're finally gonna do it. Me and you. The Dream Team, The Friendship Patrol… The Friendship Wrestling Alliance… that’s us! The soon to be Tag Team Champions? Can you believe it?”

Jeremy shoved the microphone right under Krash’s nose, then took it back before Krash could even utter a word in his excitement.

”Buddy, you don’t gotta tell me, I know how excited you are! You want this just as badly as I do, maybe even more! After all, what better way to win the Tag Team Championships than with your New Best Friend… Then by taking them out of the hands of your Old Best Friend and the guy he replaced you with?”

”Krash, buddy, we’re going to make history, you and I. Just like I dreamed. Just like you dreamed. We’re going to go down as the greatest team in FWA history! Whadduya say, pal?”

There was a brief pause as Krash looked into Jeremy’s gleaming eyes. He scanned the crowd, almost looking for their approval which they definitely were giving him. The crowd wanted this just as bad as Jeremy!

The commentary team wondered if perhaps in the back of Krash’s mind, there was some apprehension. Perhaps feeling the anxiety creeping back. Perhaps nervous about facing his old partner?

But Krash turned back to Jeremy… and he smiled.

“Let’s do this… friend!”

The two hugged as the crowd roared in approval.

The boos for the tag champions were hot and heavy as they came out to the ring to get the match under way. Both Chris Peacock and Alyster Black seemed surprised the match was actually going to happen. They had clearly written it off and assumed that Krash would for some reason not side with his new best friend.

It was an epic match. A match for the ages! Krash was fired up and while initially he showed some signs of ring rust, it quickly faded as he eagerly took the offense to his former friend and partner, perhaps getting out some frustrations for him not giving the effort to save him like Jeremy did. And he was also more than happy to dish out some punishment to Peacock, a store brand Krash if there ever was one.

But after a hot start for the challengers, Jeremy soon found himself in trouble. The dastardly Alyster had resorted to some of his savage “X Rules” behaviors, cracking Jeremy with a chair at ringside, much to the disdain of the Besties in the crowd.

Despite the immoral tactics of FTN, Jeremy once again showed that heart and determination, continuing to kick out of each pinfall attempt as he tried to battle his way back into the match. Finally, Jeremy was able to strike with a tiltawhirl DDT after being sent into the ropes by Black, opening that door for him to make the long crawl and grab the tag to Krash!

With the crowd on their feet, the White Wolf took on both Black and Peacock, one at a time, dropping them with a couple of spears before striking them both with One Hit Kills!

Krash would attempt a pinfall on Black, but Peacock was there to make the save! The ring was a scene of chaos as all four men were now going at it while the fans ate up every minute of the intense action.

Best had paired off with Peacock, laying him out with the BFF! But Krash was in trouble! Alyster had his former partner right where he wanted him…



The One Shot Kill connected with Jeremy! “My God, what a hero Jeremy Best is! He takes the proverbial bullet for his best friend!” Anzu Kurosawa exclaimed from the announce booth as Jeremy dropped to the mat.

Even Alyster Black himself seemed taken aback by the selflessness of Best. Which opened the door for Krash…


Krash dropped down and hooked Black’s leg.





Katie-Lynn Goldsmith made the announcement but she had to strain her voice to even get her voice to amplify over the massive cheers from the fans in attendance.

The tag belts were brought into the ring as Krash sat up, a huge smile on his face as one of the belts was placed across his shoulder. Krash crawled over to Jeremy, who was struggling to gain his senses after that stiff shot from Alyster Black.

Jeremy pulled himself up to his knees, unsure where he was or what was going on. He could hear the sounds of “Life is a Happy Song” playing and the roar of the crowd… but when he opened his eyes, he saw a sight that brought tears to his eyes.

In front of him was Krash, holding one of the tag team titles as the other belt was being handed to Jeremy. Jeremy clutched the belt, holding it tight as tears rolled down his face, cascading down onto the gold belt. He reached over, pulling Krash in for a tight hug which was eagerly returned by The Mustached Maverick.

“What a night this has been, wrestling fans!” Rod Sterling concluded the broadcast, “Tonight… a dream has come true for Jeremy Best! He stands tall tonight alongside his idol. His hero. But perhaps most importantly.. .his best friend… the one and only Krash… and they have become the NEW FWA Tag Team Champions of the World!”


Dear Krash,

Hiya, it’s me, Jeremy!

Where, oh where, to begin? What a ride it has been, hasn’t it? And now the time has finally come.

In less than twenty-four hours, I have the honor of inducting you into the FWA Hall of Fame.

Now I know the moment, years ago when we shocked the world and defeated FTN… that was at the time the highlight of my career. I mean it was the highlight of my life. And then a couple months later, being at ringside when you defeated Chris Peacock to win your second FWA Championship… that was almost as sweet.

And going on to have three more tag title reigns with you… I can’t even begin to express how much it means to me to have been part of your Hall of Fame career. I like to think I’ve become the biggest part of it.

But all that really has been preparing me for this moment. The moment I get to be the one to usher you into your spot among the legends of the business. I mean, honestly, it’s been long overdue. You should’ve been in years ago! Most of those other names in there… the likes of Devin Golden… Nova Diamond… and ugh, Randy Ramon… none of them compare to you.

But with your induction comes another realization for me. You’re entering the next stage of your life…

And so am I.

Because I’ve achieved everything I could possibly want to achieve in my career. You’ve stepped away from the ring and without you in my corner, it just doesn’t feel worth it anymore. The Fantasy Wrestling Alliance just isn’t the same without The Friendship Wrestling Alliance in it.

So tonight when I induct you into the Hall of Fame, I’m also going to be announcing my own retirement.

So that we can spend the rest of our lives together.

Two best friends. Living the retirement life together.

Imagine all the hijinks we can get into together now!

For the past several years, we’ve been inseparable. So no reason to separate now!

Anyway, see you on the stage!

Your Best Friend,



Jeremy stood outside the double swinging doors of the church’s sanctuary. He took one more deep breath as he adjusted his black bow tie one more time before swinging open the doors and walking into the church. It was a relatively small church, with only about six or seven pews aligning each side of the sanctuary.

The church is mostly empty.

Jeremy passed by the well-dressed Bryan Baxter, the lone person sitting in the pews. The two shared a knowing nod as Jeremy slowly made his way down toward the altar where two things were waiting for him.

One was a minister, dressed in all black with a somber look on his face.

The second was a white casket.

Jeremy paused as he reached the casket, slowly bringing his hand along the side, tracing the ridges of the casket up to the beautiful flower arrangement sitting on top.

The aged Jeremy Best grabbed the handkerchief from his jacket pocket and wiped away a tear rolling down his cheek as he looked up to the minister. “May I?” Jeremy asked politely, to which the minister simply nodded his head.

Jeremy unlatched the casket and opened it up.

There lay the body of Jeremy’s best friend.

The White Wolf had become the Gray Wolf over time, Jeremy started to sob looking at the cold and lifeless body before him. He reached down and caressed his friend’s cheek, brushing past his gray mustache. Finally, he brought his own head down and planted a gentle kiss on Krash’s forehead before shutting the casket back down.

“Would you like to say a few words?” the minister asked.

Jeremy nodded as he walked behind the casket, taking the minister’s place at the podium. He looked out into the empty congregation and took a big breath as he paused to collect his thoughts.

“This… is a day… I knew would come eventually. A day that I have feared. The day where I must face a world without you in it.”

“For so many years… the Friendship Wrestling Alliance… you and me buddy… we were the best tag team in not just the FWA but the entire world. And all those years, we came out to a song by the greatest musical act in the world… The Muppets, of course. And those lyrics included the words…”

“Life's a happy song when there's someone by my side to sing along.”

“For the past thirty years, you’ve been there… right by my side. And life has been just that… happy.”

“Death… is… sorta what brought us together, isn’t it? Thirty years ago… people memorialized you too early. They thought this day had already come. But not me. The universe brought me into your life to save you… and for us to be together. And now, it is death that finally separates us.”

“When you decided to walk away from wrestling. That you had done all that you could do… I came with you. Because I too had accomplished everything I wanted to. Because this was always about… you. So now, as I look out into what is next… can I go on without you in my life? Why did the universe take you away… we should be making this journey into the afterlife together… just like we’ve been together every day… for the last thirty years.”

“This room is filled with the people who are important to us. That says it all, doesn’t it? Because when all was said and done… once the glitz and the glamor of the spotlight has faded… who was still there by your side. It wasn’t Alyster Black or Chris Peacock. It wasn’t Violet Dreyer. It wasn’t anyone else… It was me.”

“You said it yourself when you picked me for Cibernetico. I was part of you. We are one and the same. We are united. We have this divine connection that no one else could possibly understand. But you did.”

“And it’s that connection that is going to stay with me. It’s what’s going to allow me to continue to live my life even when you’re not here by my side anymore. Because I know that you’re still here with me. Because we are one. You are just as much in my heart as I was yours.”

“So, Krashy, old buddy, old pal… this is not the end. This… is only… temporary. It took me nearly thirty years for us to meet… and everything up until we met… was temporary. So that we could have the best thirty years any two people could possibly have… and now… it’s another temporary wait…”

“Because when we do meet again. And we will.”

“We will have…”

“All of eternity together.”

“Best friends. Forever.”


“Jeremy? Jeremy? Hellooooo, Earth to Jeremy”

The voice of Bobo brought Jeremy back into reality. Back to the cartoon realm of Friendtopia where Jeremy stood in the window of the now unoccupied castle by the babbling brook overlooking the Enchanted Forest. The cartoon bed that had been previously home to Krash was now empty.

“It was so… beautiful, Bobo,” Jeremy said with a sniffle. “What could have been.”

“Aye, I know buddy,” Bobo tried his best to offer comfort to his friend. “But… none of it was real.”

Jeremy wiped away another tear as his eyes began to flare up. “Real? Real? REAL??? Don’t you talk to me about what’s real or not! YOU’RE NOT EVEN REAL! NONE OF THIS IS REAL!”

“Aw come on, Jeremy… don’t say it like that…”

The cartoon landscape faded away as Jeremy now sat alone on the couch inside Bill Scorpane’s late aunt’s suburban home. The cartoon purple blob of a creature was still present, sitting next to Jeremy in the place previously occupied by Krash.

Jeremy continued to sob lightly next to his imaginary friend. “I’m sorry, Bobo. I shouldn't have said that.”

“There, there, buddy. I get it. There’s a reason you created me, you know. I’m the one friend who will always be there for you, no matter what. I can never turn my back on you. I cannot lie. I cannot leave you. I will always be here for you. I’m the one friend who is here for you for eternity.”

“Like Krash should’ve been.”


“It’s unfortunate… after all this time… I was wrong about what happened last year at Back in Business. Fate has failed me, I’m afraid. Krash really did die alongside Randy Ramon in those waters. But that doesn’t change what he meant to me. It doesn’t change what was meant for us. One day… I will reunite with the real Krash and we will be friends for all of eternity still! But for now… there’s this shell of a man who needs to be returned to the grave he crawled out of. At Back in Business… I have to do something I never thought I could do, Bobo.”

“I have to bury someone.”

“Because for the real Krash…”

“I’d do anything.”

“And this is what he would want.”
Last edited:

Cyrus Truth

Sep 16, 2022
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Exile Chronicles (Volume 5)
Chapter 24: The Man Who Tells The Tale



A bolt of lightning courses up and down his spine.

That moment, that fleeting moment, oh so fleeting. But it was like a glass of water after wandering the desert with nary a drop to drink. A rush of warmth to the bones of a man who’s been left out of the cold, forgetting what it felt like to feel his heartbeat.

Cyrus Truth, holding the FWA World Championship at the end of Fallout.

The Exile’s face betrays only a fraction of the emotions running through his mind.

Has it really been that long? That long since he held the World Title? Felt its weight in his hands, saw his face reflected in its polished gold face? It couldn’t be, could it? After all, he hasn’t forgotten. Hasn’t forgotten the feel of leather and gold, hasn’t forgotten how to grasp it with one hand to make sure that it didn’t slip or slide out of his grip when you want to raise it for people to see.

But…it has been that long. Cyrus knows that. And he also knows that, despite the rush he feels having the World Title belt back in his hand? It’s not his.

Not yet.

Cyrus looks down and sees the now-awake Chris Peacock stirring, looking up at him with an incredulous stare. The Exile knows that he’s not fully back in reality. He had been choked out and he’s still struggling to regain enough oxygen to think clearly.

But even in this fugue, Peacock recognizes Cyrus. Recognizes the man who will challenge him at Back in Business. And sees that his World Title is held by that same man.

Cyrus tosses it to Peacock before turning to leave. He doesn’t stop to see what Peacock’s expression is, because it doesn’t matter. Cyrus’s mind is on that feeling, that RUSH from holding the World Title again.

Like a life preserver out in the middle of the sea, Cyrus clings to that feeling…holds onto it as long as he can. He knows, better than many, how quickly that feeling can fade away. So for now? He enjoys it, and tries to burn it back into his memory so that he can remember it…hold onto it until that fleeting moment can be made into reality, and this long journey back to the World Title can be completed with a victory.

We fast forward to where the arena has been cleared out after Fallout. Most, if not all, of the FWA staff and wrestlers have left, with just a few stragglers in and about the backstage area. In the locker room, we cut to the shower room, where Cyrus is letting the scalding hot water wash over him, thick steam rising and obscuring all but The Exile’s face.

Minutes later, Cyrus shuts off the running water and walks out of the showers. Nobody should be in the locker room at this late hour, so he doesn’t bother covering himself.


“Finally! I was thinking I might have missed you!”

Cyrus, stark naked, stares into the face of a pudgy, suit-wearing man with short-cut hair, a thin beard, and a dopey grin on his face. Or at least, that grin is present until this stranger realizes he’s addressing a completely nude Exile fresh from the shower. The man turns away as he quickly stammers:

“O-oh! S-sorry! Figured you’d have at least a towel on. Heh! Whoops!”

There’s a bit of confusion mixed with an overwhelming helping of irritation in Cyrus’s expression. But he’s not embarrassed. Instead, he simply slowly walks over to where a fresh towel is hanging from a rack. Wrapping it around his waist, he very tiredly replies:

“You can look now. And you can also tell me who the hell you are and what you’re doing here. You don’t look like one of FWA’s suits.”

The portly suit looks up and, having regained his composure, immediately fumbles through his pockets and produces a high-end business card with gold-leaf calligraphy. He hands it to Cyrus as he introduces himself.

“Right! So, my name’s Benton Daniels. I’m an agent and producer, by trade. A friend of yours…I think her name was Penelope? She asked me to reach out to you.”

“Penelope…you mean Penny? My editor?”

“Yes! Exactly! Lovely girl, super talented. Anyways, she told me that you’re gearing up for your company’s biggest event of the year…Back in Business? Right, so she told me that she had some big-time gig fall into her lap and isn’t going to be on-hand to help you with your promotional package for your big match. So, that’s where I come in, you see!”

Promotional package?



In the adrenaline spike that was the end of Fallout, Cyrus had completely forgotten.

FWA has it written into their contracts that its wrestlers basically have to hype their matches with promotional videos, skits, interviews, and the like. Granted, the company allots a budget in those contracts for wrestlers to use to create those packages, but ultimately it is the responsibility of the wrestlers to put them together.

And some wrestlers will, at times, beggar themselves with their promotional packages, exceeding their budgets on massive, flashy, sometimes feature-length productions in the name of generating a buzz.

Even Cyrus, with his long and storied history in wrestling, was not exempt from this requirement. Hell, even CWA had something similar built into their contracts with wrestlers. But FWA wrestlers typically have little problem with this clause, as while It does mean that the FWA staff is less hands-on with the overall production of the product? It does allow them a lot of creative freedom in how they interact with their fans and the FWA audience at large.

The Exile has several well known promotional videos that he’s had created over the years in FWA. And much of the success of these vignettes were due to his editor, a young woman named Penny who served as his editor and confidant. The fact that Penny had more than a passing knowledge of the world of shadow made it easy to work with her and disseminate whatever promotional materials Cyrus wanted created out to all corners of the world, wherever FWA had a presence.

This “Benton Daniels?” While it’s rarely safe to assume anything, Cyrus is all but certain that this rotund, sweaty try-hard has no clue about the world of shadows.

So why would Penny send him to meet with Cyrus?

And more importantly…

“Hold on. If Penny wasn’t going to be on hand for editing the Back in Business promotional package, why the hell didn’t she let me know?”

“She said she tried to! Penny told me that she called you, texted you, emailed you and you weren’t responding.”

Somewhat disbelieving, Cyrus heads over to where his ring gear and street clothes have been stored in a locker. Opening it and reaching for his phone, he groans as he notices that he had left it on Silent Mode. Indeed, there were several missed calls, voicemails, texts, and emails from Penny that clearly corroborated Benton’s story.

With a deep and annoyed sigh, Cyrus puts his phone down and starts to rummage through the pile of clothes and ring gear, pulling out a T-shirt. As he starts to put it on, he addresses Benton without looking at him.

“All right, fine. I guess if Penny vouches for you, that’s good enough for me.”

“Excellent! I’m glad to hear that. To be honest, I was a bit nervous, you know.”

“And why’s that?”

“Well…you’re not exactly known for being particularly…how to say this without offending you?

Cyrus scoffs at that as he’s continuing getting dressed.

“I’m an antisocial asshole, it’s fine.”

Benton breathes a bit of a sigh of relief as Cyrus finishes getting dressed. The Exile, now fully clothed, grabs his gear and shoves it into a duffel bag before slinging it over his shoulder and approaching Benton.

With just a couple feet between the men, Cyrus motions for the producer to follow him as the duo walk and talk through the darkened, quiet hallways of the arena’s bowels, the sound of their footsteps on the concrete echoing slightly off the walls.

“I’m going to be honest with you, Benny…”

“Um, it’s Benton.”

“Sure, right. Anyways, I’m not exactly sure what I want to do for this promotional package. To be completely up front? It’s…bothering me that I have to do this.”

“It is? Has it ever bothered you before?”

“No, but…”

“Well, don’t stress! I have JUST the idea for a vignette that I think will really light a fire underneath this feud between you and this Chris Peacock fellow. So, hear me out…

“...It’s…a Western theme!”

Cyrus stops dead in his tracks. Benton does the same, although he’s not sure why.

There is an eerie silence, one where a pin drop would sound like a bolt of thunder. Cyrus turns to face Benton and just glares at him, albeit a glare born more out of incredulous disbelief rather than out-and-out anger.

“A Western.”

“W-well, yeah! I mean, it’s the young gunslinger facing off against the old outlaw. It’s a classic!”

“You are aware that Chris is only a year younger than I am, right?”

“Wait, he is?”


“...But it SEEMS like he’s a lot younger. Maybe…maybe because you’ve been around FWA for so long? I mean, you’ve been on TV for YEARS now. And perception being what it is, why not play into that?”

Cyrus grits his teeth.

There it is again.

That through-line that Cyrus is some washed-up, past-his-prime wrestler trying desperately to grasp for something that’s no longer his to claim with the rise of a new generation of FWA stars.

Cyrus turns and gets right in Benton’s face as he glowers. The producer’s nervousness is back on full display as The Exile dresses him down.

“I’m sick of that. Sick of having to play along while people are trying to push this narrative. I know full well that I’m in the back half of my career. And I doubt that Chris has pushed himself as hard as I have in wrestling, so maybe he doesn’t have as high of mileage on his body as I do. But the way Chris looked at the end of tonight’s show? That wasn’t the look of a man who was staring at some old fossil he’s been tasked to put out to pasture.”

“I…I wasn’t trying to…”

“And for that matter, what is the point of putting together some stupid little vignette anyway? I get it…wrestling’s a business and hype is the fertilizer that feeds the money tree. But wrestling is WRESTLING, after all. And there’s no over-the-top, excessively extravagant production that Peacock puts together that’s going to…”

The flash of indignation almost immediately evaporates as Cyrus stops mid-sentence. Benton seems even more concerned, knowing that The Exile as of late has been prone to wild mood swings given his struggles and mounting frustration, seasoned with the objective he’s been obsessing over being so CLOSE to being achieved.

It was Cyrus Truth himself that said that words were weapons when he first stepped onto the scene in FWA.

It was The Exile who claimed that, when he spoke? Gods trembled in fear.

And when Krash, during their brief time competing as a tag team, challenged him to bring ruin to someone who deserved it with just his words? The Exile did just that.

The Wayward Warrior cracks a rare, genuine grin. One born of an idea…of a bit of a reckoning.


Benton gulps as he nods, acknowledging Cyrus.

“I have an idea. If FWA wants a promotional package? I’ll give them just that. But something on my terms. And something to give Chris something to chew on before I break his jaw at Back in Business and he’ll have to take his food through a straw.”

“Um…great? That’s…fantastic! What’s your idea?”

Cyrus shakes his head as he puts a hand on Benton’s shoulder. It’s not aggressive, but it does send a clear message that The Exile is taking the wheel on this endeavor.

“I’ll fill you in on the details, but I need something specific. Can you make this happen?”

We zoom out as Cyrus outlines what he’s requesting, to the point where we can’t QUITE make out what Cyrus is asking of the producer. Upon zooming back in, Benton is much less apprehensive as he seems to be somewhat excited by The Exile’s rare bout of enthusiasm.

“It might be a bit tricky, but I do have some contacts with a high-end special effects company. We may be able to borrow some of their equipment and their stage, but it’s likely going to cost us.”

“I wouldn’t worry about the costs.”

“Um, why not?”

“Benny, if you’re going to work with me? You’re going to have to learn to stop asking questions that I don’t want you to have the answer to.”

“Right, right! Sorry! I’ll make some calls. But, um…what are you planning on doing?”

“What else?”

Cyrus takes his hand off Benton’s shoulder and starts to walk off. Benton, in a start, quickly follows behind him as The Exile simply says:

“The only thing I know how to do…

“Speak the Truth.”




Tumbleweeds and dried out acadia trees.

Our scene opens in a dirty, rustic Western town. The thoroughfare is completely empty, the doors and windows to the stores and saloons have been locked shut.

From alleys on either side of the thoroughfare, two gunslingers walk out for a showdown. One is a flamboyant showman, dressed in a peacoat adorned with rhinestones and other flashy accouterments purely for show. His opponent? Dressed solely in black, his long duster flapping in the breeze as his hat hides his eyes, showing only a grim, gritted jaw.

There’s a bit of jaw-jacking coming from the more showy desperado. The man in black says little, simply opening his coat to reveal his revolver.

Both men ready themselves to draw. The camera pans up to the town’s clock tower. It’s almost noon.

The seconds tick by. One after another, as both men appear to be waiting for the clock to strike noon as a signal to begin the draw.

Both men tense up.

The clock ticks down…




Two gunshots in rapid succession echo out.

And it’s only after those gunshots that the clock strikes noon.

As the clock’s bells ring out, we see that both gunslingers have fallen. Dead after both being shot in the heart, neither one having drawn their weapon.

The camera pans over to a hitching post near one of the town’s saloons, where we see a smoking gun held in the hand of a familiar man, wearing a jet-black suit with matching black shirt and a blood red tie.

The Exile, having been the one to pull the trigger, simply drops the revolver in a water trough as he uses his now free hand to pick up a simple wooden cane, topped with a carved effigy of a wolf that’s been shaped as a grip. Cyrus Truth walks out in the middle of the thoroughfare as he stands between the two dead men, right where the crossfire would’ve been.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen Cyrus Truth as the frustrated, exhausted wrestler. The man who was shoved off the top of the mountain and had spent years struggling to reclaim it. A principled man who has had his faith tested time and again, watching countless souls fumble and claw for the prize he so desperately sought.

But here? Cyrus looks…focused. No, that’s not it. Focus is there, but that’s not the sole difference.

The Exile, for the past few years, had looked more and more like a beaten mule, struggling to bear a burden upon its swayed back.

But right here? Right now?

Cyrus Truth looks like a paragon.

He looks like a demon.

He looks like a king.

“Were you all expecting something else?”

Cyrus chuckles as he lightly taps the tip of his cane to the dusty ground. But there’s an echo as the Western town starts to vanish like dust in the wind. The bodies of the gunslingers vanish along with it as this space becomes…fluid.

Images and recreations of FWA’s moments, its highest of highs and lowest of lows. A hundred different wrestlers over thousands of different matches and confrontations, all swirling to where it’s hard to piece together what’s happening. However, if one looks closely, they’ll see those moments that have been etched into the hearts, minds, and memories of FWA’s faithful.

The massive championship matches.

The bitter and unforgettable feuds.

The legends and titans that rose from the crowd.

Cyrus, for his part, doesn’t pay these moments any mind. Not even his own, of which there are several strewn about throughout this mire of memories.

No…The Exile’s focus is on something else.

“Back in Business…I’ve made it back. Not as some afterthought, not in some meandering conflict. No…I’m back to where I belong. Back to where it all started. The main event, with the FWA World Championship up for grabs.

“And as is typical for anybody competing at Back in Business, every wrestler fortunate enough to have a place on the card is pulling out all the stops to push that hype and that anticipation past the boiling point. I have no doubt that FWA’s fans are going to be treated to promotional videos, skits, and vignettes that push the boundaries of creativity, expressiveness, and originality all in the hopes of building the matches to the levels of iconic moments in history…and to the rare few? To the status of legendary conflicts.

“Not that any of this is particularly new, of course. FWA’s wrestlers have always done everything they can to boost the profile of their conflicts and their own reputation. Even me.

“After all…I told a fairy tale to Bell Connelly to show her that her dreams would be burned and her aspirations would be reduced to dust against my resolve…”

This room, this space shifts again. No longer cluttered, the scene changes to one solitary moment.

It’s a trip to the past.

It’s Cyrus Truth’s promotional package that he produced when he first faced Bell Connelly for the FWA World Title, where the young upstart, aspiring to become the ruler of a kingdom constantly at war, was reduced to nothing but dust at the hands of The Exile within the castle she thought was hers.

“I showed a cult a collection of false idols to challenge Gabrielle’s self-perception of divinity…”

The space shifts again, this time changing to that of an ancient temple. Strewn on the marbled floor are the shattered remains of stone effigies of FWA champions past surrounding a familiar-looking, cracked feminine statue, all of them Cyrus just walks through and past without a second thought.

“I conducted a chorus of faceless detractors and doubters to shatter Ryan Rondo’s ego and arrogance…”

Again, a shift. A scene in an empty arena with a choir of shrouded figures standing as witnesses to a king staking his claim to a throne Ryan Rondo was ill-equipped to sit on at that moment in time.

“And of course, the vignette that started it all…where I faced the clay-carved effigies of FWA’s best and brightest before I took this entire company by the throat.”

The shrouded figures begin to shift. No longer living creatures, but terracotta statues in a dark room, surrounding The Exile. A statement of the opposition that stood between him and his first Carnal Contendership victory.

Unlike then, Cyrus Truth has no sword to wield against this army of soulless clay.

Unlike then, The Exile does not need a blade.

With another tap of his cane, the terracotta soldiers crack and fade away. The images of FWA’s past crumble into dust, leaving just one man standing alone in a void of darkness, illuminated by a solitary light.

Cyrus just stands there, eyes laser focused and expression grim, but calm and composed. A far cry from the man who, over the last several years, has had to struggle and claw as FWA changed and shifted into what it is today.

“Back in Business is the biggest event of the year. So naturally? Your favorite wrestlers are pulling out all the stops to get management’s attention and build the hype for their matches. And…I suppose this is my attempt to do the same.

“However, I have to be honest. If you’re looking for the kind of over-the-top parody of a popular media franchise, or the driving epic parable that flavors the unsettled differences between myself and the World Heavyweight Champion? I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. Because that’s not what this is.

“I wouldn’t worry, though. If you’re looking for that kind of entertainment, that kind of vignette? There’s countless talented and creative FWA competitors that will undoubtedly give that to you. Hell, I imagine Chris Peacock will be putting forth his absolute biggest, most mind-blowing promotional package to hype up his match against me.

“What do you think he’s going to do? Maybe a sequel to some of his most recent stuff? I mean, the zombie movie skit that he produced for his match against Devin Golden was fun. Oh…and then there’s that post-apocalyptic vignette he had when he defended his title against me and Michelle. Think he’ll do something like that again?

“No, wait…he’s been on a video game kick with his latest stream of vignettes, hasn’t he? Same theme for four promotional packages straight. You think there’s a good chance that he keeps that rolling? Consistent storytelling is a rarity in this business of ours, after all.”

As Cyrus outlines some of Chris Peacock’s past promotional work, the space almost splits into three separate sections. In each section, a recreation that mirrors the vignettes and skits that have been produced by Chris and his team occupies the space. Zombies and vampires to The Exile’s left. Robots and cyborgs carrying high-tech blasters shooting at screaming victims off camera to Cyrus’s right. And a video game title card with the silhouettes of two obscured, but distinctly familiar figures to FWA fans watching the sunrise right in front of the Wayward Warrior.

Cyrus takes a moment to look over these scenes. And, as he regards them, there’s countless others beyond them, just out of reach. Classic tropes and undeniably creative ideas swirling in a maelstrom of thoughts, desires, and ambitious drive. We focus again on Cyrus, who simply sighs.

“Truth be told? Chris Peacock could redo or continue with any of these ideas. Or he can come up with something completely new. Either way, I know it’s going to be something wild. I said it on Fallout, didn’t I? Chris Peacock lives for this kind of thing. The pomp, the pageantry, the hoopla and hype. And I’ll admit…I’ve had some fun in the past reveling in that sort of stuff as well.

“But…for Back in Business? For quite honestly the most important match of my career? A match that’ll either close the lid on the coffin of my career or prove that FWA’s throne is still mine to claim? I don’t know…I just don’t think that this sort of nonsense is appropriate for how I’m feeling right now.”

With another tap of the cane, the facsimile vignettes vanish, leaving just Cyrus alone with that sole spotlight on him.

“And if I’m being completely honest? I think…sometimes, this new generation of FWA can get up their own asses when it comes to their promos. And look, I get that a lot of people aren’t going to agree with me on that assertion, but to me? I don’t know…sometimes a match is so significant, so monumental, so goddamn important that to try and frame one’s thoughts and words with some sort of skit seems…disingenuous. It can sometimes diminish the Truth, the heart of the conflict. When your focus is on outperforming your opponents with an idea or gimmick that’s never been done before…sometimes you forget to clearly deliver the message or show the world who you truly are. And I’m not the kind of person that wants to potentially waste time or, worse? Produce something that doesn’t have my heart in it.

“So instead…let me speak to you all. The FWA fans, the critics, the wrestling historians…and yeah, even you, Chris.

“Because if this ends up being my last chance to reclaim the glory I lost all those years ago?

“Then let it not be said that Cyrus Truth wasn’t true and honest to himself in the end. And didn’t give this match the kind of gravitas it absolutely deserves.”

The Exile snaps his fingers. From the darkness behind him, four wrestling championship belts appear. One of them is slightly different from the others, but FWA’s faithful fans recognize them as FWA World Championship gold.

“Four World Titles in FWA.”

As Cyrus says that, two more belts appear on either side of him. But these? The logo isn’t FWA. It’s CWA.

“Two more from CWA.”

Like ghosts rising from their tombs, more championship belts appear and surround Cyrus. We don’t get as good of a look at these ones as we do the World Titles, but what little we do see indicates that these come from various different promotions across the world and beyond.

“Countless other championships over the course of a career that’s closing in on twenty years. A journey spanning continents, struggles, and bloody feuds with the best and worst that have ever laced up a pair of boots. In a career like mine, it can sometimes be hyperbolic to claim that another match is as important or more important than the ones you’ve already had.

“So…why then is this match against Chris so damn important? Not just for FWA, not just because it’s Back in Business and it’s the World Title?

“It’s because I’ve been told, time and again, that I don’t belong here anymore. That my story is over.”

No cane tap. No snapping of the fingers. But yet, as if responding to Cyrus’s heart and will, the space changes.

In a swirl of gray smoke and ash that whips around a field of dead and dying foliage, we see snippets. Replays of matches past. It doesn’t take too long to realize what this is.

Michelle von Horrowitz.

Chris Kennedy.

Randy Ramon.


Devin Golden.

Nova Diamond.

Michelle again.

Thomas West.

Danny Toner.

Alyster Black.

Devin Golden again.

And finally…Chris Peacock.

Images, flashbacks to the past twelve title changes over the last two years. Each time, each wrestler shows some emotion, some joy in their victory…though as we know, it’s all fleeting. Only a handful of these champions survived their first title defense. Only Danny Toner was able to crack over 100 days with the title while also succeeding in a title defense, and even then he would abandon it due to injury…allegedly, anyway.

“For the last two years, a new breed of champion has arisen from the ashes of FWA World Champions past. And I’ll be honest…these wrestlers? They’re among the most talented I’ve ever had to face off against. Their technical prowess, their tenacity, and yes…their creativity is unlike anything I’ve seen in any promotion I’ve ever competed for. They’ve taken FWA by storm and the wrestlers that stood in the places they now occupy are all but gone.

“All but me.

“But…I can’t help but be bothered. And I think I finally understand why I’m troubled. And why this match, this one match against Chris Peacock has become the most important match in my career

“See, Chris alluded to it on Fallout. You remember what he said, right?

“Do YOU remember, Chris?”

All the images of the World Champions from the last two years vanish into the smoke, and one vision remains. A replay of the contract signing, and a recital of Chris Peacock’s own words in his own voice:

“But even if you beat me at Back in Business, what do I really lose? Not one person on this entire planet expected me to get this far anyway. Sure, I’ve used this championship to show that I belong here in the FWA and to show that I’m not someone to be looked over...

The vision freezes, and repeats.

And repeats.

And repeats.

Cyrus’s placid demeanor starts to slip just a bit, but The Exile keeps it locked down for just a bit longer.

“That. That, right there. Chris Peacock let slip the whole game. It’s subtle, admittedly, but to me? It speaks volumes. Chris Peacock has basically recited the anthem of the past crop of World Champions.

“It’s not just the short title reigns. I know, I’ve harped on that time and again, but I’ve come to realize that the length of a World Title reign isn’t indicative of the champion during that reign. But that dismissive attitude…that nonchalant dismissal of the consequences of losing the title? That’s it. That’s the problem. And it’s not just Chris, either. It’s been the champions, from Michelle to Toner.

“Chris also said during our little face-off that he understood the weight of the championship because Devin Golden told him that it’d make him a target. With due respect to The Golden One, that’s an asinine and obvious thing to say. That’s NOT the weight I was talking about. Of course a championship belt is a target for those who want it to hunt the one who has it. This is professional wrestling, after all.

“No…I’m talking about something else entirely. The Truth of what it means to not just be a champion in our sport, but to be THE champion.”

Cyrus, with his right hand firmly holding onto his cane, extends his left as he slowly brings his hand into the haze. We see that the smoke is not just gaseous. Within it are flecks of ashes that start to coat The Exile’s hand.

“A few years ago, I told another one of my rivals that greatness is forged in the fire of strife, and that it is the duty of lesser men and women to be the ones to tend to that flame. For the FWA legends, Hall of Famers, and World Champions of yesteryear? That still rings true. But understand that, when I say ‘lesser,’ I mean that the next generation should not only rival the past, but surpass it. And if you listen to Chris’s self-important, ‘I have nothing to prove’ drivel, you might be convinced that such a thing has already happened, and I’m just another lesser man tasked to tend to the flame and pass it on.

“Oh, if only that were the case. But the Truth is, and Chris all but admitted it when he opened his mouth on Fallout and even entertained the thought of losing the biggest prize at the biggest show on FWA’s calendar as no big deal, that over the last two years…none of these champions have done anything to tend to the flame and build it stronger.”

Cyrus removes his hand from the mist. Pink flesh has been replaced by a thick layer of ash and soot. The Exile holds it up at eye level, allowing him and anyone watching him to see how much the ash has caked onto his hand in such a short time.

“Chris Peacock and those who came before him, as I said right to his face on Fallout, see the win as the endgame. The title of ‘World Champion’ was the objective. Having your name added to the table of FWA’s World Champions is all that mattered. But tell me…how many of them ever talked about WHY they wanted to be World Champion aside from trying to prove they could? And how many of them actually considered what they were going to do once they had become World Champion?

“They weren’t interested in tending to the flame, or allowing it to grow.

“...No. What they wanted, and what Chris all but admitted to, is to cover themselves in the ashes of those who came before.”


Cyrus slaps his left hand over his heart. He practically chops himself as the strike leaves an ashen handprint on his breast.

“They want to cover themselves in the glory of the champions who came before.”


Cyrus hits himself even HARDER. More and more ashes get slapped from his hand to his once-pristine black suit.

“And they don’t care about what they leave behind for those who’ll eventually follow down the road they paved.”




The Exile continues to beat his chest, as black turns to gray and Cyrus’s face starts to twist into a grimace of pain. But, it’s clear from the look in his eyes that this pain isn’t self-inflicted from the chops. It’s anger born of indignation. A simmering rage that’s been boiling beneath the surface for some time…an anger The Exile hadn’t realized was there until his confrontation with the FWA World Champion.

“Whatever little skit or vignette you want to produce, Chris? You can try and claim that this match is important to you, but we both know that’s not the Truth. Because you’ve already admitted that you’ve already gotten what you want out of the World Title. You’ve already moved on to what you REALLY wanted all along…hanging out with Alyster Black and adding another shiny golden trinket to your accolades. And hey…if you want to claim that you don’t need to worry about me, that’s fine. Your eyes certainly told a different tale at the end of Fallout, but nobody would ever accuse this generation of wrestlers of being self-aware of their bullshit.

“But the Truth is…for you? The World Championship is just another bullet point in a career that will get you a Hall of Fame nod once you’ve decided that you’re not tough enough to keep it up. And you’re more than willing to wallow in the ashes of those who came before you and pretend that their glory is YOUR glory.

“But me?”

Cyrus holds out his left hand again. What little ashes remain start to…burn again? Flickering embers turn into a bright orange flame that covers The Exile’s hand from wrist to fingertips. Cyrus turns his hand to where his palm is facing upwards as the flame coalesces into a small, but brighter and stronger flame.

As it burns in his hand, not scorching flesh or inflicting pain…or if it is, The Exile does not flinch…the ashes that had soiled his suit start to burn away, turning into wisps of smoke that continue to feed that fire in Cyrus’s hands.

“I still remember. I still remember what it means to be the World Champion. To not only stand atop the mountain and sit the throne that all of us as wrestlers aspire to, but to consistently and repeatedly fight and prove that the prize we hold is worth fighting for. Because if it’s not worth the blood, sweat, and pain? Then why should wrestlers suffer for it? What’s the point of it all?

“Dave Sullivan understood that. When he won the belt from me? He was either stripped of or quickly lost the other two belts that he accumulated. But after that? He didn’t try and reclaim them. Because he understood that the World Title was THE prize, and to divert his attention from it would be a disgrace to those who held it before…and would disgrace himself.

“Hell…Gabrielle during her reign of terror? Where she held onto the belt thanks to corrupt management and Danny Toner, the world’s most overachieving drug-addicted simp? She may have held onto it using all the wrong methods, but her reasons were right. Because she understood that, if you’re not willing to fight like hell for the World Title, you’re spitting in the face of everyone who fought and failed to claim it.

“You want to wallow in the ashes, Chris. Your conviction to be a worthy champion isn’t there. And you can waste time trying to backtrack and claim otherwise, but I’m not going to let anybody forget what you really think, what you said to my face with that smug look of unearned superiority. But me? I still remember what it means to bear the flame, and carry that fucking weight.”

Cyrus closes his fist as the flame is consumed. Not snuffed out. No…it’s absorbed and races through Cyrus’s arm and throughout his entire body.

The space goes black again. When light returns, it’s yet another spotlight, with The Exile sitting in a simple wooden chair, cane cradled in the crook of his right arm. There’s a certain tired look in the Wayward Warrior’s eyes, an exhaustion that would overwhelm him if not for the fire that exists right behind his hawkish glare.

For now, it’s just Cyrus. Alone in the dark, with nothing else around him. Nothing to distract from the message he’s about to deliver, and nothing to punctuate what he’s about to say.

Nothing but an Exile sitting in a simple chair.

Nothing but a king on a throne addressing an usurper.

“The Truth is, Chris? I don’t hate you. I don’t, really. But when I look at you, when I listen to you speak, when I take time out of my day to listen to your promos and watch your vignettes, and when I watch you strut and preen like your namesake with a level of confidence that seems to teeter on blatant arrogance, I can’t help but see red. And when you tried to rebuke me on Fallout and all you accomplished was proving to me that you’re only interested in building the resume and not dedicating your heart to being the best World Champion you can be? Well, my blood boiled. It’s still boiling.

“Because…while the World Title might just be another notch on your belt? For me, it’s my heart. My soul. You were right in saying that it’s my reason for waking up every day, but what you said in derision, I say with conviction.”

Cyrus holds up both of his hands. He extends all five fingers on his right hand.

“The friends I’ve made in wrestling? I can count them on one hand.”

With his left hand, he holds up just two fingers.

“The number of people I’ve ever cared about, ever truly loved? One hand is all I need to count them, too, and I’d have fingers to spare.”

The Exile closes both and lowers his hands, leaning forward in his chair to stare directly into the soul of anybody watching this.

“I’ve given everything to wrestling. You hear other wrestlers, when they hang up their boots and get their “Thank You For Your Service” awards from the FWA brass, say that they gave everything to wrestling. Every single one of them is lying. Because they have something beyond wrestling that they gave at least part of their hearts to. But me? When I say I’ve given everything, I’ve given EVERYTHING! What happens between those ropes? The time between the starting and ending bell, the gold fought and bled for, the legends that rise and fall and the stories we tell? That’s the only thing I have lived for since I laced up my first pair of boots. But where others would mock me and others would feel sorry? I take pride in it. Because…wrestling is worth it. FWA, in spite of its many, many, MANY flaws, is WORTH it.

“When I say I’m a man of conviction, that my principles are worth more than just a fleeting victory…when I tell you that I am committed to leaving that ring with the title or not leaving that ring at all? You can’t possibly pass that off as simple hyperbole, even if you were a complete fool.

“And you want to stand there and tell me that you’re not scared of me? That you’ve moved beyond me?

“Chris…you know I’m going to hurt you…right? I’m going to make you choke on those words as I make you choke on your own blood.”

Behind Cyrus, we hear something in the darkness.

We don’t see anything.

We don’t need to.

It’s commentary. From FWA and beyond, a dozen different broadcasters echoing the thoughts of fans around the world watching one of the best wrestlers to ever do it absolutely take whatever punishment he is given…and returns that violence tenfold.

The sound of bodies hitting canvas. The cracking of flesh against flesh, the shouts of pain and screams of agony. The roars of a raucous crowd cheering their hearts out at this display of grit and determination.

A symphony of bone-bending and bruising strikes.

Where others would wince, Cyrus closes his eyes and reminiscences…and smiles.

“I’m not delusional, Chris. I know that this match isn’t going to be easy. Even if you don’t manage to get your head out of your ass long enough to realize just how utterly badly I’m going to beat you down to win our match, you’re still going to show up and do whatever you can to validate your assertion that you’ve moved past me, that you’re beyond me. And I imagine that whatever promotional package you put together prior to our match will do its best to illustrate your conviction to retain the World Title and be yet another wildly entertaining watch or listen. But we both know that your spirit is weak. Your greatest accomplishments are a cavalcade of opportunistic moments and emotional acts of retribution. Even your World Title match and victory was a knee-jerk reaction to watching Devin Golden beat your best friend. But you’ve NEVER proven to me, to your peers, or FWA’s fans that you have the steel, the resolve to be THE MAN. And I’m done, Chris. I’m done losing to wrestlers who neither understand the weight of the titles they carry nor care to carry it when it becomes uncomfortable.

“You can have your little moment with Alyster when you defend your Tag Team Championships. After all, that’s what you really want. You want to fuck around with your friends instead of stand alone as the king. But when you walk to that ring to face me? You’re facing someone who, in spite of everybody wanting him to forget, will always remember. The weight of this match, knowing that another shot like this won’t come easily, if it ever comes again…do you think I’m going to just…roll over and die? Or do you know, like so many wrestlers had to learn, that a desperate, motivated, and enraged Exile with so much on the line will fight like a devil and leave nothing but scorched earth and your shattered bones in his wake?

The smile vanishes from Cyrus’s face as the noise around him vanishes. However, fuzzy images in the void start to coalesce as The Exile stares in the camera, boring through the facade of bravados and burning a hole through the very soul of anyone watching it.

“You’re not going to be able to get another sneaky pin to escape this execution.”

Behind Cyrus’s left shoulder, we see a replay of Chris Peacock’s sneaky pin in the F1 Climaxxx to win against Cyrus…but like a film reel burn, as if to punctuate Cyrus’s vow, the replay self-immolates.

“Think your best friend or some other poor dumb bastard is going to get involved and give you an opening that you couldn’t fabricate yourself? Think again.”

Over The Exile’s right shoulder, we see a pair of replays. The first is from the Golden Opportunity Chamber match, where Devin Golden delivered his finisher on Cyrus after being egged on by Chris Peacock to eliminate him.

The second is from the Grand March, where Michelle von Horrowitz out of sight of the champion and the referee cracked The Exile with a Singapore cane. That sneak attack is what allowed Chris Peacock to deliver his finisher and eliminate Cyrus again.

Just as before, both replays burn away and recede back into the abyss.

“I will NEVER tap out again.”

A mirage again appears right in front of Cyrus, showing him that fateful night where he submitted to weaselperson. Cyrus’s grimace shows that the result still troubles him, but that as before burns away.

“And if you think any of your finishers is going to be enough on their own to stop me?”

On either side of Cyrus, we see replays in the abyss of Chris Peacock hitting his running knee strike called “The Strut” and his “Roller Disco” spinebuster.

And at these, Cyrus laughs derisively.

“You think any of them can match up against mine?”





The illusions showing off Chris’s most potent moves are dashed as they are replaced by visions of Cyrus delivering his own finisher.

Four times.

Four World Championships.

Four Journey’s Ends.

Cyrus rises from his chair. A chair that, in the blink of an eye, recedes into the darkness. This space, where nothing appears that isn’t willed by The Exile himself. No skit, no parody, no nothing.

Because…that’s the point. Cyrus doesn’t need it.

When Cyrus speaks, gods tremble.

And that Truth has never changed, even now.

“If you were smart, Chris? You’d take what happened at the end of Fallout and look deep into yourself. Realize that what you think you’re getting into when you step into the ring with me at Back in Business is nothing compared to the storm that’s awaiting you. But…you likely won’t. And if we’re both being honest with one another, it doesn’t really matter either way.

“You’re free to think that this is your story, and that your story gets to end with you being the all-conquering hero. But I’m sure as hell not going to be a footnote in that story you want to write. You don’t get to just waltz into Back in Business and keep your World Title and your health. But more importantly? YOU don’t get to tell MY story.

“Your hands aren’t the ones that’ll write the final chapter of my story, Chris.

“Alyster’s hands won’t.

“Michelle’s hands won’t.

“Danny Toner’s won’t, either.

“Believe what you want to about what this match is, Chris. But the Truth? The hard, bitter pill that you’re going to swallow if I have to ram it down your throat. This isn’t your story. It’s mine. It’s always been mine, and there’s only one set of hands that get to finish this chapter…


Behind Cyrus, several yards away, we see a series of smaller lights illuminate a space.

And what we see in that space is something that is very familiar.

A rustic office, illuminated by candlelight.

A massive oaken desk, looked to have been carved out of a single log.

A bookshelf filled with a series of smaller tomes, with four large, leather-bound books accented with steel and rivets to hold the pages within.

We’ve seen this space before.

This is where The Exile, after Back in Business last year, sat and delivered his condemnation of the actions of Executive Excellence and the Fallout secession.

Where Cyrus dared his fellow wrestlers to not take the insult lying down.

Where the Wayward Warrior, with no promise of reward or glory, would make his declaration of war for the sake of his wrestler’s pride.

A call to arms that Chris Peacock would not hear, or would not answer.

Cyrus walks towards that illuminated space, towards the desk and the fifth tome that rests atop it. Circling around to where the chair would normally be, The Exile runs his hands over the pages, still written in that strange amalgamation of languages that almost hurts the eyes to read.

“I’ve walked where demons fear to tread. I fought, when nobody else would. And when everyone else abandoned the fight, I STAYED. And at Back in Business, I will reclaim that which I have lost. I will suffer for it. I will bleed for it. I will die before I walk out of that ring empty-handed, so what the hell do you think I’m going to do to you, Chris? What the hell are YOU going to be forced to endure for being the unfortunate, arrogant bastard that is standing between me and the World Title? Our match isn’t going to come down to a fluke pin, a random stroke of luck, or anything short of one of us suffering oblivion. And people can say that I might not have it like I did before, but there’s NO ONE that’s ever walked through FWA’s doors that can say in all honesty that I wasn’t willing to bring people to the edge to get what I want. You say that you don’t need this, Chris? Well…I DO. And you’re going to suffer because of it.

“This is my story. My tale to end how I choose to end it. And because it would be discourteous of me to not at least warn you of your impending demise, allow me to share with you how this volume ends…”

A fountain pen resting in an inkwell stands ready. With his left hand, Cyrus grabs it. And begins writing as he says:


Again, illusions and images of Cyrus’s past four FWA World Title victories.

“...becomes five.”

The past victories give way to a replay of Cyrus standing over Chris Peacock with the World Title at the end of the most recent edition of Fallout.

“A preening pretender gets struck down…”

Images and visions of Chris Peacock, with all of his swagger and bravado, interjected with shots of him being brutalized at various stages of his career, along with instances of where he came up short and wallowed in disappointment, culminating with his most recent suffocating loss at the end of Fallout.

With a flourish, Cyrus finishes the final line and drops the pen, and looks directly at the viewers.

“And a vagabond reclaims his crown.”

SLAM! Cyrus, with force and purposes, closes the tome, effectively marking his final passage as the exclamation point to his proclamation. There’s an eerie silence that lasts a few seconds, but feels agonizingly longer.

Words are weapons.

When Cyrus speaks, gods tremble.

And The Exile’s words, with no outlandish setting or gimmick, punctuated by a void where Truth’s will becomes realized, strike like a spear to the heart.

Cyrus hefts the heavy book that rests on the desk and turns to have it join the other four volumes that have already been written. And as he turns back to the desk, another one of those heavy grimoires has appeared, already open to a blank, first page.

Because the story is still being written.

Back in Business is a major chapter, but Cyrus Truth will be damned if it is the final one.

“Chris Peacock? Feel this moment for the rest of your life. The immensity of this point in time. The weight of the championship that you carry, but don’t embody. And enjoy what time you have left with it. Sleep with it like it was just a cheap whore instead of recognizing its true worth. Flaunt it to your transient, fair-weather fans and that family of yours who you’ve thrown into harm’s way. Spend some quality time with your tag team partner, where you hype each other up and delude yourselves into thinking you’re all-time greats.

“I’ve never been anything other than a man driven by conviction, pursuing a legacy that stands up to the rigors of time and history. I’ve never been the undisputed best. But I have, time and again, risen to be the best, to meet the call to greatness. And even then? I don’t have to be the best to break you, Chris. But I will be. Because the FWA World Championship…my heart and soul, the heart and soul of wrestling that still beats in my chest…is WORTH it. What you’ve diminished as just another accomplishment? That is my redemption and salvation…a salvation I will give everything I have to reclaim.

“So…enjoy your time with it. Relish it. Because it won’t last. And…if you’re a man of faith? I’d recommend making peace with your god. Because at Back in Business? Every god that is, was, and will be is going to stay as far away from that ring as they possibly can.

“Because…not a single one of them is going to want any part of the hell that’s coming with me when we face off in the main event.”

Once again, The Exile smiles.

He’s said his piece.

Laid bare his conviction and his hunger to reclaim the throne.

Poured his heart out and showed the depth of his soul.

“I wasn’t lying, though…I am looking forward to whatever you come up with to hype our match at Back in Business. I know it’s going to be damn amusing. Because if nothing else, you’re a hell of an entertainer.

“But we both know, don’t we?

“We both know…nothing you say is going to change a damn thing.”

In an era defined by excess and over-the-top presentation? Cyrus Truth has opted to be true to himself. Even now, in what could be the end of a career full of accomplishments and achievements.

Because…that’s who Cyrus Truth is, when all is said and done.

And in that, and in the belief that he does have the grit and determination to silence the bleating chatter of critics and detractors alike?

The Exile has found peace.

A peace that, at Back in Business, will erupt into fiery war and devastation.

As Cyrus walks off, leaving the cane he's been carrying behind atop the desk, we see various markings burning into the front page of this sixth tome. Slowly, scorches become letters, then words:

Exile Chronicles.

Volume 6.

Chapter 1.

The Wanderer’s Salvation.

And after that? One last image. Another vision emerging from the darkness.

A strewn mess of colorful feathers in a forest clearing

And a canine jaw, dripping with blood...


Sep 30, 2022
Reaction score

-New York City Wrestling, Rush Hour- 12/02/18
In terms of booking. This was the weakest match on offer, yet has the most intrigue behind it; No one knew what to expect. Daphne Shelly is the new hot name in women's wrestling and is wildly tipped to make the leap up to the big leagues one way or another, and NYCW fans believe she deserved a bigger spot on this card, none more so than her. It's well known she has no time to walk someone through a passable match.

That someone is Lizzie Rose...

If you asked me who Lizzie Rose was on January 1st, 2018, I would've had absolutely no idea whatsoever. Then she did that insert promo promoting NYCW. Then another show... Then she got invited to another show…and now here we are.

It's one thing for someone to debut on PPV; it's another to do so challenging Daphne Shelly in a No DQ match; it's fair to say expectations were low...

After all, the last thing we all expected was a star being made.

First things first; Is Lizzie Rose a polished wrestler? Nope In fact, a lot of work was sloppy and difficult to look at, and at times, she didn't seem to know what she was doing...but to say there isn't potential there for someone having their debut is just a flat-out lie. His timing is good, her instincts are good, and even her punches are solid! And more than that, she has....IT.....Whatever IT is, she has IT in spades. I'm hard-pressed to think of any wrestler having the crowd fully invested in them without barely doing anything.

What we thought would be a forgettable excuse to promote Lizzie Rose's social media turned out to be a bloody, violent and emotional match. That saw Lizzie bleed buckets and was unwilling to stay down in the face of a determined Daphne Shelly.

When Lizzie made her comeback, the fans were 100 per cent behind her. Her face was a crimson mask, a grotesque display of effort.

We don't know if there's more to come from Lizzie Rose, but....we do know she can take one hell of a beating
The world was grey with tinges of red due to the blood currently streaming into her eyes, but that wasn't the most concerning thing at the moment.

No, that would be the steel chair being slammed into her spine repeatedly over and over again.


At this point, Lizzie was grateful for the steel chair that smacked against her skull thirty seconds ago. It slightly numbed the pain of a chair being slammed into her. So that was something she guessed.


On the whole, she was struggling to understand this whole glamour of wrestling thing...





Lizzie could hear the screams of Daphne Shelly, but they sounded very far away, like underwater, as the ref made sure to check the blood-soaked, broken body of Lizzie Rose.

Having worn out the chair, Daphne Shelly just threw it to the ground. She paraded around the ring, a trademark scowl on her face, clearly not giving a damn about the reaction she was getting, just waiting for the ref to raise her hand, and she could put this distraction behind her and move on with her damn life...

Only it never came....and the crowd was starting to hum...

Confused, Daphne turned around, and even her stoic features showed shock at what she saw.

The rookie Lizzie Rose. That weird goofball on social media stumbles to her feet, using the ropes to stand up with the last of her strength she can muster; she calls Daphne Shelly on through her crimson mask. Her meaning clear

"I can do this all day."​

The lights are on in the empty arena as people begin to put the finishing touches on the set for this weekend's big Pay Per View show. The stage is set up, the ring is assembled, and above it, as the Garden of Eden is being crafted, a mass of steel and wire hovering over the battlefield. The production crew watches the arena from a screen in the back as buttons are pushed to kickstart a mechanism. Things are set in motion as the giant cage slowly begins to descend over the ring. FWAs technicians have decided to test the hanging device to make sure that the cell can be dropped safely and securely, but unbeknownst to them, they aren't the only people watching the cage fall. Lizzie Rose is sitting up amidst the empty stands at the top of the stairs, where she would usually be found at the start of a match. Arms crossed in front of her chest, and with a focused stare on her face, Lizzie watches the cage intently, knowing that the biggest night of her life will take place inside it. With thoughts of the challenges that await her permeating through her head.

"Look at it."

…Says Lizzie as she nods towards the cage.


Lizzie shudders as she says that as if it didn't fully occur to her what this place was until she had to face it head-on...

"I've heard about places like this...but I've never thought I'd actually see something like it...I don't know about ghosts and ghouls and the things that go bump in the night...But I know places that are haunted. Not by spirits. But events, by experiences, you can visit any place in history where bad stuff happened...sites of massacres...places where battles and wars were fought....if you go to them....you can practically feel the horrible things that happened there like the walls absorb it..."

She nods to the cage as if to draw a line between that and the cage in front of her.

"I felt it when they closed the cell door and lowered that cage on me at Fallout. There's absolute power here...

She paused as she grasped the meaning of her words.

"I never asked for any of thing; I don't know what it is that Eternal has found so fascinating about me that they felt like they had to dedicate themselves to screwing around with me for months on end. Like...I get it; they're spooky, they're larger than life. They have an aura about them that's otherwordly and not normal. With that, they could have targeted anyone who plays those games, the nephews or The Coven...but instead, they pick me...at the end of the day? Who I'm I? I'm just a kid from Brooklyn; I'm just a girl. A girl is doing the climb. I'm someone trying to represent your community. A girl trying to prove that she is better than what everyone thought she was by doing the impossible and climbing out of hell. I am a woman making a journey, the Rave turning into the underdog, faced against the odds that have been stacked against me. Yet here I am. Here...I....am...

"A girl from Brooklyn, stepping into hell fighting for my soul..."

September 9th, 2020. Ground Zero.
"Do you guys have water? These lights are really hot, and I get really sweaty when I'm nervous. I've never been on TV before; I don't want my first impressions to be pit stains. Also, sometimes my nose bleeds."

The camera eventually starts rolling; as we return to the studio, where we see a great many ground zero contestants introduce themselves; only now, the stool is filled by..the smallest, tiniest wrestler with flaming red hair and pale skin you've ever seen. She was shifting in the chair uncomfortably, swinging her legs clearly, not knowing what to do with herself in these unfamiliar circumstances—looking like she didn't know what to do with herself in this slick, high-end studio. She glances down at the mic clipped to her T-shirt -a vintage Spice Girl shirt- and begins to fidget with it, amused by the booming sound effect to come from it. Gaining confidence, she leaned forward until her lips were practically against the mic.


That was as far as she got before the SCREECH of audio feedback cut through the air like nails on a million chalkboards. Almost instantly stunned by this, she screws up her face, presses her hands to her ears, and leans back but instinctively over-commits, loses her balance, and falls off the stool with a thud, landing off camera. For a moment, all is quiet.

"...You weren't filming that, were you?"

Never fear, though-! After a quick cut, the girl is back on her chair, looking more focused on the task at hand.

"Heya; I'm Elizabeth Rose, from Brooklyn, New York, but my friends call me; "Lizzie."

"Well, Friend. I have one friend, and she calls me that, but if I had more than one. I'm sure they'd call me "Lizzie."

The scene cuts quickly to footage of the short girl in action, jumping off the apron onto an opponent, interacting with people at ringside and dancing and shuffling her feet to her 90' s-riffic entrance music.

"When I got the call that FWA wanted me for Ground Zero, I was STUNNED...like SHOCKED. So I had to ask, why me? Did they see potential in me? Were they wowed by my matches? Did they see footage of me and think I'm the next big thing in wrestling? "

Suddenly the music stops with a record scratch.

They said, "No, we've never heard of you; We just really want Daphne Shelly, and she's refusing to sign the contract without you.

The footage eventually cuts to more footage of the dark and intense Daphne Shelly, making a beeline for the ring..backed up by the colourful Lizzie Rose. Daphne launched Lizzie in the air, giving her the height for some Lucha-inspired move and a few pics of Lizzie hugging the taller girl tight while Daphne looked awkward about the whole thing. It's a very heavy Scrappy Doo, hanging out with a Scobby vibe.

Voice off-screen: ...And why do you think Daphne was so intent on having you involved."

"Oh well, Daphne is great, like honestly, she is! It's me and her against the world. I literally wouldn't be here without her. I owe everything to her...but she's not what you'd call a people person. She hates people. No, really, if I wasn't here, she'd probably murder everyone in the house with scissors."

Lizzie says this totally straight. She means it

"Plus, she's going to find it super weird that her mom's there too. Even though Mrs Shelly is super nice...not like my mom...PLEASE DON'T TELL HER I QUIT MY JOB TO WRESTLE. SHE'S GOING TO KILL ME-!

To give Lizzie a beat to calm down, more footage begins to roll, this time showing the surprising amount of fight in Lizzie. It's basically a highlight reel of Lizzie getting the ever-loving crap kicked out of her yet still getting up.

"I know I might not look tough, and that I'm the smallest person on the show, and everyone else looks SUPER impressive... And I suffer from chronic stress nose bleeds….and I have phobias fear of clowns and ducks. What was my point again? Oh yeah, I may have all that going for me, but this is my golden shot to live my dream, and I'm not going to waste it. Everyone expects me to be on the first plane out of here, but I've got the key. I got the secret. This is my chance to shock the world and show I'm more than Daphne's sidekick. Because I'm Lizzie Rose and I…..



...Really should have come up with a cool closing line. Can I get another take? I need to brainstorm of catchphrases…Wait, what do you mean I've used all my time?! No, wait, don't stop fil-"​

"You ever heard of The Divine Comedy?"

Lizzie asks abruptly, leaning forward, her eyes still plastered on the garden of Eden in front of her, her eyes spellbound by it.

"Well, when I started thinking about the Garden of Eden...Hell....all that fun stuff. I started looking into it because I felt like it was the best representation of the type of ordeal I've got ahead of me, and I was right. The basic story goes like this. Dante's halfway through his life when he feels like he's starting to lose himself. He's straying from the righteous path, down the road to ruination, and so, in an attempt to gain perspective and come out a better man, he goes on a journey through the three realms of the afterlife: Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven. In his journey through the circles of hell, he saw true evil. He saw the selfish, the violent, and the malicious, all types of wicked people, each suffering their own poetic punishment. Things like false prophets who attempted to look forward into the future having their heads turned around so they can only look behind, things like that. Going into Purgatory, he saw corruption. People who could've been pure souls but have been warped by temptation and sin. These are the people who strayed from the holy path. They can be saved, but only if they pay penance. Finally, he makes it up to Heaven, where he discovers all the virtues that make up a righteous man. Fortitude, Temperance. Justice. these are some of the things he learns about that keep a man on the straight and narrow. In the end, he meets up with God, who explains to him the true nature of existence, and in the end, he is enlightened, transcended, and gone beyond a pure man into an ultimate being of all-knowing wisdom."

Lizzie gestures towards the Garden of Eden, her point clearer in front of her.

"Going through Hell to get to Heaven, this isn't a match. This is MY Divine Comedy taking place, and I'm the one who has to live it out. Barely anyone else in the existence of this sport has ever been in the type of position that I am in right now. This match has only happened about three times, and there's a reason that people believe ETERNAL aren't people; ETERNAL aren't human beings. They are forces of nature. They are representations of the trials that a man has to go through to surpass mortality. Nothing against Dante; he learned a lot on his journey, but here's where he and mine deviate because he never had to fight. He never had to fight in hell, in Purgatory, and DAMN SURE not in Heaven, but me? I need to fight my way through the demons in hell, smash through the sinners in Purgatory that stand before me, and lay siege to the gates of Heaven itself. And just like Dante before me, my road starts deep down in the smouldering depths of hell."

1st April 2016. Blogger.

So, em...

It's Friday night, and I'm alone...and writing blogs...

...yay for me.....

So today, my therapist broke up with me. Which I didn't even know they could do. I thought that could only happen if I was eating flies or I thought Al Capone was in my head...but evidently, you can be...too chatty with them. So that's something.

So, needless to say, I've had a pretty bad day...and what better way to deal with a bad day than to put on a little L'Amour. Toujours.

Music these days is so soulless, people singing the same exact way, to manufactured beats, or being dull and depressing...that's not what music is about. Music is meant to unite people, make them forget the stuff they go through, make them hopeful...and bring us together. That's what Rave culture is all about. PLUR. Peace. Love. Unity. Respect. That's what rave culture is. Good times. Good vibes. Good tunes with people you have nothing in common with each other instead of the music.

That's what keeps me going.

Even if I'm in a bad place. Even if life is kicking me down and putting me in a bind? The music is always going to be there, telling me things are going to be alright.

It has to be...​

"The thing about hell is that it is the ultimate punishment for the guilty. Those who are evil in life, the ones who are absolutely malicious and unrepentant, get sent there. Children are raised with the idea that if they're naughty, they get sent down where the big red devil immolates them in brimstone. They learn to fear. For all the punishment that the devil could inflict upon a man for his wicked deeds, the greatest aspect of hell is the fear of that punishment. Keres wants to represent this to a tee. Whenever someone stepped on her or her "Sister", she was the one that was sent down to make them humble. She owns it all. Her little fantasy world, this...thing...this creature..... It's hers. If the Garden of Eden is hell, She's the devil and The thing that makes people fear the devil because they know he's inevitable. When you die, you will get sent to hell, whether you like it or not, where the devil can torture you however he damn well pleases. When it comes to Keres, NO ONE escapes her wrath. Try to run, and she will hunt you. Try to fight, and she will break you. Try to put her down. She gets back up. Put her down again? She gets back up. Keep putting her down? SHE KEEPS GETTING BACK UP. She will keep coming back, and she won't rest until she delivers whatever the hell she thinks people deserve."

Abruptly Lizzie gets off her seat and starts walking towards the structure.

"You know, I saw what she did to Joe Burr. I know what message she was trying to send. She said she saw potential in me; that was her being NICE. Now, I have a reason to fear her. This woman no longer has any compulsions about taking me out. No matter what I do or where I go, this is a woman who will pursue me relentlessly, follow me up that cage and uphold no restraints in grabbing me by the neck and turning The Garden of Eden into my worst nightmare...So the question So, what happens now that I got the devil after me? How do I overcome it? How do I escape hell with my life intact?"

Lizzie paused as if inviting herself to answer that question as she looked at the cage, knowing those walls were going to be closed down around her. There's no escape for her. With all these questions and doubts swimming through Lizzie's head, they immediately get interrupted by the smirk that suddenly appears on Lizzie's face.

"You take away her greatest weapon. You go in with no fear. You don't get psyched out, you don't fall for the mind games, and you beat her ass into the ground. If it was anyone else in this spot? They'd crumble. They've already lost. Me? Now that I had given her a reason to hunt me down, I know she's going to make me suffer in that cage. This was the first trial of my Divine Comedy. To escape hell, I must overcome fear. The challenge of hell that keeps men from attaining greatness is fear. The fear that they will lose, the fear that they cannot succeed, the fear that they're just not good enough to get the job done. Against Keres, That fear is real. It's legitimate, and she gives you a reason to believe you're gonna get your ass kicked. Very few are going to take on Keres and win. Fewer still will step into a match like this, taking on a pissed-off, vengeful Keres and beating her, and guess what? That's what I'm gonna do at Back In Business. She doesn't even scare me even now, and why? Because I already know that I can stand up to her. It's not just a matter of ignoring fear or overcoming it. At this point, it's the fact that I've already proven I can, and it doesn't matter if Keres is more driven. I'm still gonna beat her ass down. If she wants to keep me down in hell, she can try. If she wants to cast me down, throw me into the pits of despair, she can attempt it as many times as she damn well pleases. But I am making my way out of hell, and she ain't gonna stop me. If she stands in my way, I will run through her. If she pursues me, I'm going to turn around and drill her ass into the dirt. If she gets back up, I'm just gonna put her down again. It won't matter to me. Lesser people will be afraid of the fall, afraid of the abyss looming right behind them, waiting to devour them, but me? I ain't afraid because you can bet your ass I'm gonna fight, and when it comes down to it, it'll be Kere's ass falling back down into the pits of hell and not me. "

5th of July 2023.


"Seriously?! Liz?! Now you won't even pick up my calls? What the hell happened at Fallout?! A Garden Of Eden match?! You're playing right into their hands. This is exactly what they want, and what happened at Fallout...Seeing you....like that...

"I didn't like it."

"Look, I get it. You gotta do what you gotta do. You're standing up to bullies, and you know. I'm going to support you whatever you do...

Just make sure you leave that cage the same person that came in...

....Call Jane..in case you didn't notice, she won a title.​

"Keres wants to be a god, a jealous god of violence who suffers none and tries to challenge her throne. Anything you think makes you big, anything you think makes you special or noteworthy or legendary, she's going to take from you. She's going to rip your accomplishments and achievements right out of your hands, break 'em into little tiny pieces, and reduce them to dust. That is what Keres does. She reigns over all. With immeasurable strength and unstoppable fury, she takes all your heroes and your champions and buries their legacies straight in the dirt. So knowing that here comes the big question? How do you defeat a god? How do you go up against someone who has that much power, who is that much of an indestructible force, and defeat it? How does someone siege the throne of God without getting destroyed in return?"

Lizzie has finished her walk past the steps and is in the front row and vaulted over the guard rail, so now there's no barrier between her and the cage.

"I don't know what Keres is, I don't know where she came from, I don't know how strong she is...and that helps her. Just like all gods in existence, whether they're mythical beings talked up by normal people or normal people claiming to be mythical beings, all gods rely on one thing, and that is their image. As long as people believe in her, she has power. That's why she has her "Sister" She will worship her; she will revere her, and she will let her do whatever she wants, not because she actually HAS power, but because they believe she has power. This is the trial of belief. Keres has power because of all the hype around her. She has Princess Nova and....did...whatever the hell she did to her, all so she has someone to believe in her and why? Because she wants to seem bigger and more powerful than she actually is. But I'm not buying into it. I'm not buying into everyone's expectations or beliefs. If the standard is to treat Keres like she's some kind of almighty deity, then my test is to challenge that. My trial is not to prove Keres can be beaten but to REMIND people that Keres is flesh and blood."

At that word, Lizzie opened up the palm of her hand, a dreamy tone coming to her voice as she stared at her hand for several seconds, lost in her own little world.

"Her biggest weapon by far is that people are selective in what they want to believe about her. Not only is that meant to make her look unbeatable, but If I went in there believing I was going to box with demons, I would falter. I would hesitate and crumble... But she's not...because at Fallout, I hit her harder than I ever hit someone in my life. I don't know what happened; I'll be honest, I got into like....a state....It doesn't matter; I'm fine."

Lizzie brushes off her overtly aggressive behaviour as if it is nothing worth talking about.

"But as I kept punching her, and punching her, and punching her-"

Lizzie idly mimed the action of throwing punches as she spoke.

"-And she looked up at me with a big creepy smile on her face, but that wasn't what I was focused on. I was focused on that cut on her head. She bled. What kind of demon? bleeds? Answer? She's not a demon. She's not special. You wanna see demons? You wanna see fear?"

Lizzie suddenly fishes through her pockets, pulls out a phone, and starts punching buttons and scrolling through it.

"Single moms, working 18-hour shifts for minimal wages, struggling to make ends meet for their family. A homeless man is trying to find a warm place to sleep at night. A recovering drug addict fighting each and every day to get that monkey off their back. WHAT ARE YOU KERES, COMPARED TO THAT?! I'VE SEEN PEOPLE BATTLE DEMONS SCARIER AND MORE POWERFUL THAN KERES AND NOVA COMBINED EACH AND EVERY DAY. How can I ever go back to Brooklyn, where they fight demons and monsters ten times more powerful than anything ETERNAL can possibly imagine and tell them I'm afraid of someone that bleeds just like I do?"

Lizzie slid her phone into her pocket and rubbed her hands through her red hair, the scream having a somewhat hysterical edge to it, like all the months of emotional abuse were getting to her.

"At the end of the day, She's not magical; She's not special, and she's not a God... She's just the latest in a long line of bullies that I had to spend all my life-fighting. No god here, Keres. Just people who get beat down, people who feel pain, people who lose, and Keres? She's just one of the same. So if she wants to go in there with a big head without realizing I'm the one who's going to dismantle her almighty image? That's fine. If she suplexes me, I'm getting back up. If she hits me, I'm hitting her back. And Princess Nova can cry sacrilege all she wants, but I'm bringing in the upheaval of this sick little system of worship ETERNAL have built. I am going to bury these flawed, pre-conceived beliefs. "

As she spoke, she gingerly started to step toward the cage, inspecting the chains and twisted barbed wire with some degree of disgusted fascination.

" Whether you think this is my story or not, the fact of the matter is, I fought my way here, and I ain't gonna back down just because ETERNAL feel like they got some sort of psychological leverage over me. At the end of Dante's story, he gained enlightenment. At the end of mine? ETERNAL do. Right now, this place is Keres Garden of Eden, but this is MY Hell, MY Purgatory, my Heaven, and after BIB, It will be her funeral."

The door of the Garden of Eden is ajar, and Lizzie finds herself at the bottom of the steps facing up on it.

"As I said, I've been doing a lot of reading recently, mostly because when you can't really sleep, you got whole twelve-hour blocks of time that you SHOULD be spending sleeping, so I've been killing time on my phone, going through my Kindle, I'll be honest, most of them didn't really make an impact, a lot of "Top 100 most inspirational quotes" Tuesday with Morey," The Five people you see before you die, that kind of stuff...It didn't do anything for me...But then I. I don't know how I came across it, but I ran into this poem called Invictus, Look I said I did a lot of reading on this stuff; it was the poem that Nelson Mandela read every day while he was incarcerated for twenty-seven years while he was locked in a cage he kept that poem by his side that helped him make it through those years of torment. Without it, he wouldn't have survived... I spent the last week reading that poem, over and over, back and forth, forward and back, again and again and again. It keeps going around my head. "

Lizzie takes one unsure foot step up the step to the cage.

"I can't promise you victory, but I will make you a promise, come Back In Business XVII in Mexico City, at Estadio Azteca. Locked in the Garden of Eden, every time Keres puts me down, I'll recite those words over and over. And I'll keep getting up. I'll keep fighting back, and I. will. Never. Ever. Ever. STOP."

21st July 2023.




"LIZZIE?! Is that you? Jesus, where have you been? I haven't heard from you for months? Everyone's worried about you."

"Yeah, sorry I've been super busy."

"It's been three months...."


"Have you talked to Daphne? She even called me, you know I don't like her but if you're not even talking to her..."

"Mom, I don't want you guys to watch Back In Business."

"...What? What are you talking about?"

"I mean it, don't watch the show. Don't look at highlights. Don't even look up the results. Just stay away."

"Lizzie, are you ok? You sound weird."

"No...I'm not but I'm going to be"


"Love you mom-"​

She pauses, hesitating; it was one thing to look at it from the crowd; it was another entirely to have it loom over you. To take in the sheer horror of the twisted cage. She takes a deep breath and squares her shoulders.

"Out of the night that covers me, black as the pit from pole to pole … I thank whatever gods may be, For my unconquerable soul."

One step.

"In the fell clutch of circumstance, I have not winced nor cried aloud. Under the bludgeonings of chance … My head is bloody but unbowed."

Two steps.

"Beyond this place of wrath and tears, Looms but the Horror of the shade … And yet the menace of the years … Finds, and shall find, me unafraid."

Three steps.

"It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll..."

Four steps.

… I … am the master of my fate

Lizzie Rose walks into the Garden of Eden.

"… I … am the captain of my soul."

....and slams the door behind her...​


Dark Side
Apr 16, 2016
Reaction score
New Brunswick, Canada
Favorite Wrestler
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KATSU vs El Vengedor



The sounds of exotic animals fill the air on a sunny summer’s afternoon. Along a brick path, visitors walk, with families, couples, or people looking for a day to mix things up. Children have popcorn, cotton candy, and fun merch depicting various animals on them. It’s a lovely day at the zoo with the green around the area. Along the path are the pits and cages to give a somewhat simulated environment for the many animals which make their home here. Somewhat standing out from the crowd is a woman with a Kitsune mask on, walking through the main gate. Red and white with a red top and white shorts on. She is being led by someone who appears to work at the establishment, wearing a polo shirt reading “Fantasy Zoo.” A book is under his arm as he walks. He has an Australian accent and blonde hair, and khaki shorts.

“Well, mate, I hope our VIP visitor enjoyed our aquatic exhibit?” He gives a friendly grin. “We worked hard on it.”The woman, Katsu, nods.

“I have never seen so many different species in one place. Very nice-, your name again?”

She asks politely. The tour guide points to the badge on his shirt and reads it out.

“Steve, ma’am.”

“Right, thank you Steve. It was very colourful. But there were too many… Octopi for my taste.”

“Yeah, I have to admit there was an incident a few years ago where two octopi, well, laid a few too many eggs. Caused the population to spawn out of control and we couldn’t transfer them all. Though, oddly enough, both parents are gone, only leaving the brother of the male.”

“So that would make them all… Nephews?”

The tour guide gives a chuckle. “I suppose that sounds about right. Yeah, those Nephews have spawned all over and been around for years. But we got plenty more here than just those fellas.”

Steve points down the path as the different enclosures for animals are. The path splits with a “petting zoo” also making an appearance with a chicken-wire fence, hay, and more animals that are safer to be interacted with closer to the visitors. Steve leads her towards the petting zoo.

“Here’s some softer and easier to manage animals for those youngins who want to get closer to the action.”

The zookeeper goes up to a sheep who is docile and approaches him. Its white wool is fluffy and well groomed for visitors. He hands Katsu a carrot and she holds it out. The animal takes gentle bites out of the vegetable.

“Well, aren’t you a lovely little sheep-”

“We call her Trixie.” The zookeeper says. “Gentle soul, though not always the brightest. Here let me-”


The sheep runs as another furry creature runs up. It climbs the wire fence and sits on the wooden plank. Its fur is sleek and brown with a snow white belly. Small ears and beady eyes. Yet, it has a loud disposition. It barks on its perch.

“Is that a small dog?” Katsu asks.

“No, it’s a weasel.” Steve looks at it. The creature twitches its nose.


“It seems more… more vicious than it should be?” Katsu is weirded out by the animals, frankly odd behaviour.

“You don’t bother him, you’re fine. We keep the fella around as a bit of a park mascot.”

“A park mascot?” Katsu turns her head to the zookeeper who nods.

“Here, let me show you it in the book.”
Least Weasel: Mustela nivalis:

Name: Zachary.
Zachary often roams around the park as a side attraction to the rest of the animals. Though its loud barking can be a disruption to some, he can be found at times in his favourite spot, barking at a komodo dragon in the reptiles exhibit. Though he can appear aggressive, he is not known to bother people, apart from one incident we call the ‘Cyrus incident.’ But our lawyers forbade us from speaking about it anymore. Consider him our mascot.

The zookeeper has a wide grin, seemingly proud of this weasel. Katsu looks at the furry creature.


“Let me get this… You have a zoo full of wonderful exotic creatures. Giant cats, majestic foxes, zebras, giraffes. And you guys make this creature your mascot?”

“The kids love him!”

Katsu rolls her eyes. She looks around at the petting zoo and her eyes get locked on a horse. It neighs as some kids stroke its fur behind the ears. The masked woman points to it.

“Something tells me that the kids prefer the horse.”

Katsu walks over to the stallion and pets him behind the ears. There is a slight nod from the horse, as if there is a bit of respect to the woman. Katsu looks over and sees a sign, similar to the page in Steve’s book. Her guide notices her eyes wandering and explains.

“The book has copies of all the signs we have and have added a few more like our precious weasel person.”

Katsu glances over at the sign.

Horse: Equus ferus caballus


Name: Tommy.
Tommy was donated to our petting zoo by a local farmer who had felt the horse had behavioural issues. We have since trained and reformed Tommy. He enjoys carrots and does well with children, having fatherly instincts with a foal which was in our care for a short time. We are proud to have him as part of our family here at Fantasy Zoo.

The horse has a gentle neigh as Katsu pats him on the head.

“I like him already.” Katsu has a slight giggle.

“It’s a shame this horse has been getting at it with the Donkey we have.”

“A donkey?”

“Eh, I don’t blame him. That mule’s a real Jackass. Probably best for you to stay separate. That Donkey really seems to dislike female guests.”

Katsu rolls her eyes. “Does not seem to be wise to keep that donkey around in a petting zoo, but I am not the operator here.”

“How about we head out of the petting zoo area and find something a bit more… Exciting?”

Steve motions with his arm for Katsu to follow. The wrestler begrudgingly follows him as they leave the stables to head back to the path of the main animals. Katsu folds her arms and looks around. Monkeys flying around a cage almost randomly, swinging on vines going from spot to spot. Near-by that, a Gorilla pen, in a specific position separating the chimps from the rest of the animals in the park. A position suited for a large and wise animal.

Howling brings the attention of Katsu as she turns to the opposite side of the road. Barking is heard as the guide goes over with Cali. Looking in an enclosure, two wolves stand on opposite ends of a fence. Both with silver fur and gritted teeth. One is slightly larger than the other, but the smaller seems more aggressive, barking repeatedly and jumping at the fence.

“Strange that you keep them apart…” Katsu makes a comment on what she’s seeing. She glances over to see the sign.


Wolf: Canis lupus

Alex and Jason: Alex and Jason are two wolf brothers recently brought into Fantasy Zoo. Though wolves are social creatures, the two have since become hostile towards each other, most notably the younger male attacking its older brother. Much is to be learned of their conflict, and we have been working hard at bringing the two brothers together.

“They have been fighting?” Katsu looks at the zookeeper who simply nods.

“Unfortunately.” Steve sighs. “Most wolves do well in packs, so in some ways, them being here is a blessing. One of them gets kicked out of the pack, they’re more unpredictable.”

“As someone with an older sibling, I can understand the pressure of living up to them.” The masked woman stops herself from spreading too many personal details to a stranger. “But I think supporting one another is more important. One’s success is a cause for celebration. Though, I suppose it is a hard task for some to grasp, even animals.”


Katsu turns and looks down the path. A large group of tourists have cameras out and are taking pictures. Katsu walks through the crowd and sees an exhibit for exotic birds. There’s an enclosure of peacocks. In the middle of the circle, one with a vibrant plume has its feathers spread out, showing a vibrant green. The bird lets out a loud screech of a mating call.

“He’s SO cool!” A young visitor shouts.

“That’s the funkiest peacock I have ever seen!”

“Can he sign my t-shirt? I know he’s a bird, but-”

Katsu looks around, surprised by the bird’s popularity. She glances over the sign.


Peafowl: Pavo cristatus (Commonly known as the Peacock)

Name: Chris

Chris has been a peacock this zoo has bred and raised for several years, often participating in plume competitions meant to test the mating skills and beauty of male peacocks. Chris finished second in several competitions in recent years, showing great promise. In early 2023, he finally won the competition, thus giving greater traffic to the zoo. We are proud of our little peacock.

The bird lets out a screech, waving his feathers from its tail around and the crowd cheers. Katsu tilts her head, slightly perplexed by the bird. Steven interjects.

“I know he may not look like it, but this is what peak performance looks like.”

The bird continues its dance to great applause from the visitors. Katsu appears slightly amused by the bird’s dancing, but it doesn’t seem to be for her.

“I suppose if it makes everyone happy.”

“That’s our bird. Chris Peacock.”

Katsu’s head darts back at the zookeeper. She seems somewhat grossed out.

“That is disgusting! Why would you name a bird that?!”


“Crispy C-”


The zookeeper puts two and two together at the unfortunate combination of the name of the bird with his species.

“Listen, English is my second language, but I put that together…”

“Okay, maybe the old zookeeper had a dirty mind. But Chris is a top notch bird. Easily one of our biggest recent attractions. A champion among birds.”


The guest gives a slight nod. She moves onwards to the other animals. She sees some otters, foxes, Tigers, and bears to name a few. Each being amusing or overhyped, just what is to expect with any zoo. No attraction is created equal. She turns the corner and approaches an exit of the park, she yawns, tired from the long day of travel. Steve continues to blab on.

“-So, that’s why Zebras are notorious among zookeepers. We never trust those stripped horses one bit, like cookies and cream on a-”

He taps Katsu on the shoulder. “Mate, are you paying attention?”

She leaps up slightly and comes back to reality.

“Y-Yes. Sorry. It has been a long day.”

“Well, our tour is just about over. We’re just getting to the exit. There is a gift shop where you can get all the merchandise you can ask for. Before you ask, no, we don’t accept crypto.”

Katsu glances to the side and she sees one of the last exhibits she has yet to see. A large cage with some grass and rocks, a small area for shelter. Lying on a rock is a large cat with a golden mane. The king of the jungle, a lion. He seems rather slow, worn down. Visible near his eye is a scar. A patch of fur is missing from his back. This jungle cat appears to have been through a lot. Something in Katsu draws her to the exhibit.

“Oh? Him. He’s new here.” Steve explains as he sees Katsu walk towards the cage. “But be careful, he’s vicious.”

Despite the warning, Katsu gets somewhat close to the cage. She looks out long at the cat. He moves slowly as he stands up, feeling some effects of whatever caused him pain.

“Of course he is.” She comments. “The creature must have been through a lot.”

“Lucky to be alive, if I’m honest.” He looks through his book. “Now, we haven’t got his sign posted, but I have the draft saved in here. Let me see…”

He opens up to the page, one of the last in the book.


Lion: Panthera leo

Name: Vengedor

Vengedor is a recent addition to the Fantasy Zoo. Found in the wilds of Africa, this male lion appeared to be separated from his pride, likely beaten for the position as leader of the pack. Near him was the body of a deceased lion, which according to DNA tests, appears to have been related to him, though no blood was found on Vengedor, so likely was attacked by the same lion who left scars on him.

We advise caution in approaching our new friend as he is unlikely to trust many humans after his events. We have behavioural experts working with him to ensure his comfort. We hope we can nurse him back to health and provide a wonderful home where he and others are safe.

Katsu looks long at the description of the book, taking occasional glances at the lion in the cage. A wave of emotions falls on Katsu. Some feeling of empathy, going through a lot of physical and emotional harm. Finally, the lion’s glare catches Katsu. He steps forward, going against the cage. Steve the zookeeper tries to put his arm in front of Katsu, but the wrestler walks past, fixed on the animal. Vengedor has a slight growl as he gets in front of the cage. Katsu stands firm on the other side, not showing fear. Steve has a wave of anxiety over him, fearing what Vengedor will do-

And the lion simply sits, looking at Katsu.

The two stand across on either side of the cage. Katsu doesn’t say a word, the beast doesn’t make a sound. There is surprise on the face of the zookeeper. The animal isn’t showing any signs of aggression towards the guest.

Katsu gives a slow nod and the Lion walks away.

“Well, I didn’t take you to be a cat-whisperer.”

Katsu gives a chuckle. “Really? I just stayed calm. I didn’t do anything.”

“I’ll say that you are the one who got the closest to the cage without him growling. The cat scared some poor kids the other day, one, two, three, four of them.”

The edge of Katsu’s mouth shows a slight smirk.

“Then I guess I’m a bit special.”

“Maybe. Look, this lion has had its family taken from him. The first humans he saw brought him here. Likely has been hurt a lot… So I guess some kindness is needed.”

Steve claps his hands together. “With that depressing note, thank you for taking part in this VIP tour, Miss Katsu. Feel free to go to the gift shop and have a fantastic day!”

“Thank you, Steve.” Katsu gives a small bow of respect to him and the zookeeper walks off. The masked woman turns around at the lion who looks over at her once again.

A smile appears on Katsu’s face.

“I’ll visit again soon, my friend.”

Katsu walks off to leave her apparent new friend as the lion curls up and lies down under the sunny sky.

Sure enough, over the course of several days, Katsu became a frequent visitor to the zoo, becoming one of the few people to spend time near the lion. Every single day she’d sit down on a near-by bench, observe the creature, and write notes. What sort of fascination does she have over the creature? Why? Her notebook became covered in her impressions of the creature. His habits. When he gets aggressive, and not. Even what he eats and when. In a lot of ways, she wants to learn more. How this lion hurts, and how it can be better.

Katsu looks at the lion as a passing kid throws a stick of beef jerky into the cage after not liking it. The Lion sniffs it, and eats it happily.

“I did not take you as a fan of that.” She says amused as she writes down in her book.

She looks up to see a tall woman in a kimono standing in front of her. Her dark hair is long and straight. She’s of Japanese descent. The colours of her attire are a vivid white and red. Katsu gets up and immediately bows in respect, showing a grin.

“It has been sometime, my friend.” Katsu smiles at her Guardian.

“You have not needed me for sometime.” The woman has a warm grin, a calming presence. “You have been blossoming into a wonderful young lady.”

“Thank you. Though it does not mean you can’t stop around for a ‘Hello’ once in a while.” The masked woman jokes.

“You already have your companionship.” Her Guardian mentions. “But I have been watching from a distance. Your musings, your improvement.”

“It has been a lot of work. Just to improve myself in the ring and outside of it.”

“Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. I’m proud of you.”

Hearing the affirmation from this mysterious woman who’s seemingly guiding her, gives Katsu a warm sensation. A feeling of accomplishment. She glances back at the lion and this is where the tone of her guardian changes.

“So, what are you doing?” The mysterious woman asks.

“I am getting to know my new friend.” She motions to the cage where the Lion resides. The Beast walks around on his paws, calm and stoic.

“A friend? Young lady, that is a wild animal.”

“Well, yes. But it doesn’t mean I can’t keep company from afar.”

She looks at her notebook.

“I have been taking notes these past several days. Learning how Vengedor acts, what he likes and dislikes. His behaviour. It’s been fascinating.”

“Tell me about him, then.”

Her guardian sits down next to her. Katsu flips through her book.

“Well, he was found in the wild here after being separated from his pride. His family is gone. They have since tried to provide him a home here. But he seems to be distrusting of most others. He is even separate from other lions I have seen. Though around me there seems to be less… hostility. He enjoys bathing in the sun. He enjoys snacks thrown in by near-by visitors, and yells at children.”

Putting her hand under her chin, Katsu’s guardian thinks. She hums, and asks her protege another question.

“So, he seems like a typical lion. What has drawn you into him?”

“What do you mean?”

“There are dozens of exotic animals here.” Her guardian explains. “All with wonderful features and personalities. What is it about this Lion that has piqued your interest?”

Katsu thinks, but she can’t quite come up with the right words. She looks at the woman.

“Why do I have a feeling you already have your own answer.”

Her Guardian has a warm laugh. “You know me well.”

“Yet I still don’t know if you have-”

“A name?” She interrupts Katsu. “All you had to do was ask. Kosuke.”


She nods. “Woman of the rising sun. At times of darkness for you, I rise to provide you a guiding light.”

Katsu gives a slow nod. “Nice to finally meet you then, Kosuke.”

Kosuke smiles. “Thank you. So, where were we? What makes you drawn to this lion?”

Katsu looks back at the creature. The lion looks up at her. She thinks about it more and more. “I want to solve the mystery of him.”

“I think that is mostly true. But why?”

She has no answer. Katsu looks at Kosuke. “How about you tell me?”

“Scars, mentally and physically. A loner, trapped in one’s own personal cage. Trying to do things to hide one’s own problems.” Kosuke turns to Katsu.

“Now, am I describing you… or your new ‘friend.’” She has a warm giggle and Katsu blinks.

“Something tells me you two have some similarities. Two creatures who have faced obstacles, having different ways to cope. Together, you two share a common experience. Trauma.”

“So what?” Katsu questions her guardian, still not fully seeing it.

“If there is one thing I understand about you is that you have a great sense of empathy. A heart which did not fit well with the old spirit trying to guide you. Looking at you now, you are Katsuki, but you ARE Katsu. You are in harmony as a guiding spirit. So, seeing a creature like this lion, Vengedor, you feel a need to help. A need to befriend.”

Continuing to listen, Katsu looks over at the beast in the cage.

“Look at your closest circle. Ririko you faced in battle many times. You learned to understand her. Miss Hayama was a new girl in a new land, feeling alone. Your bond with them is through your heart. Your courage and drive to help them. And how did you get to become the person you are today?”

Katsu turns to Kosuke. She listens.

“Your response to trauma. You turn it into a positive. But, the unfortunate truth is that not everyone can do that. Sometimes trauma can bubble, fester, and turn to something worse.”

Gently grabbing Katsu, she turns her around to look at the lion in the cage. Katsu lets her guardian turn her around, having great respect for her.

“That beast lost his family. His brother. He didn’t have someone like me to help them. He doesn’t have his friends, like you. Those feelings of betrayal fester. They warp him and his sense of justice.”

“Can a beast even have a sense of justice?” Katsu asks.

“Their instincts for a better term. I see him standing there. Those emotions are not lost on him. Nature has hurt him, so thus, his own nature has changed.”

“But, he can get better, right?” The masked girl says with some hope.

Her guardian has a brief pause. She sighs.

“Not everyone does. Now here is another unfortunate truth for you. You can’t save everyone.”

“Who said anything about saving?” Katsu turns to her, blinking.

“I know you. You think you can help everyone and everything.” Kosuke responds. “But sometimes you are not the one to do it. Some people need others. Then we have some who don’t want to be saved.”

“This is good and all, but where does he fit in?” She motions to the lion.

Kosuke blinks, she looks at the beast.

“That I think you know…”

“Excuse me, miss?”

Someone taps Katsu on the shoulder. It is someone who appears to work at the zoo with a similar attire to her tour guide from the other day. She blinks and turns around.

“Are you okay? You seemed spaced out and were mumbling to yourself.”

“Oh, I was just…”

Katsu turns and sees that-

Kosuke is not there. She looks back at the zookeeper and covers herself.

“Looking at the lion. That is all.”

“Okay then… Just reminding you we close in an hour.” He mumbles as he walks away. “Freaking weirdo in the mask…”

Katsu looks around and her guardian is no longer there. The zookeeper didn’t see her. Nobody saw her except for Katsu. Is she even real? Katsu picks up her notebook and looks at the lion. She has spent the past several days looking at the lion, learning about him. But now-

She has more questions than answers.

“Who are you…?”

Katsu mumbles to the Lion. The beast gives a slight growl before going under his shade. The masked woman walks away, looking through her book of notes she’s gathered over the past several days.


The sun gazes down on the savanna on a dry hot day. Vast fields of brown grass from the arid climate have a slight crunch as the many animals make their trek through it, kicking up dried dirt as they run. Sitting in the tall grass is a large cat with a golden mane. He sits, watching along the savannah as his potential prey. A patient hunter, but a lion alone, with no pride around him. Just a beast and his mission to capture and devour his prey.

Walking up behind him is a woman in some traditional safari attire, a light brown t-shirt and khaki shorts. The mask is a give-away. Katsu. She walks up to the beast and stands next to it, the lion not even flinching as she gently strokes his mane.

“Beautiful day, is it?” She pulls out a piece of chicken from one of her pockets, gently placing it in front of the lion. The animal takes a bite out of it. Katsu sits in front of him, crossing her legs, calm.

“See? I mean no harm. I understand you…” She gently whispers to the beast, giving him a scritch behind the ear. “You have a hard time trusting people, do you not? You have been hurt before. I understand the feeling. To be thrown away, alone.”

She shakes her head, a softness in her voice. “It is a miracle I didn’t shut myself away like you. It would be so easy, especially when you feel like you have nobody. But I learned that, to hide oneself far too long, to treat your mask like a cage, is not healthy. Your metaphorical mask is keeping you locked away.”

The lion looks up. Here, Katsu has complete command over the beast. Like a companion.
“There are good people in the world.” She places her hand on the side of the lion’s face. “Even if it doesn’t feel like it. There are people who you can trust, who aren’t there to take advantage of you or hurt you. When I give people my trust, it means something. It means I see something in you. It means I see value in you. In a world of hate, I try not to add to it. Just don’t do anything to break it.”

The Lion lies down, giving a gentle growl, seeming more playful than violent.

“Do you want a ride, friend?”

Katsu gets up and mounts the back. The jungle cat gives a flick of his tail.

“Alright then, let’s go!”

The Lion darts forward with Katsu holding on tight. Her hair flowing out the end of her mask dances through the air as the cat runs. A smile is on her face as she rides the lion as an equal across the plains. She looks into the sky-

“Breaking News at Fantasy Zoo!”

Katsu hears something odd. Slowly, the dream world around her fades… As she escapes back to reality.

Lying in her bed, Katsu’s face is under the covers. Her television set is on as it goes to breaking news. Police are outside of the zoo. Red and blue police lights blare through the night as a chaotic scene is unfolding. The female reporter gives a brief report.

“A lion was discovered missing from its exhibit half an hour ago at Fantasy Zoo, the bars of its cage broken. The animal was housed near the East exit and was a new resident of the zoo.”


Katsu mutters to herself. She puts two and two together. The lion has escaped. It is free from its cage and now, there’s a real possibility somebody will get hurt.

“Police are advising those who live around the zoo to stay inside. The animal is on the loose…”

Clutching her blanket in frustration, Katsu sighs. She knows what she’s going to do.

She needs to confront the beast.


The sirens around the zoo bleep out as several police cars appear at the gate near the once home of the Lion. A swat team has appeared too with their riot shields, and padded gear. Even a couple ambulances and a firetruck have made their presence known. Katsu, wearing all black, including a black version of her mask, hides in the bushes. She looks on in horror at the zoo which, just hours ago, was peaceful. An officer sits on a stretcher near the ambulance. His arm and calf are wrapped in bandages, some blood staining the gauze. His short hair is drenched in sweat after running for his life. She overhears him talking.

“That animal is vicious!” He shouts. “I’m lucky to even be alive! That beast slashed my arm and was inches away from biting my hand off!” There’s horror in his voice. Katsu leans in closer, getting on the other side of the ambulance.

“At this point, there’s no use saving him. Just shoot to kill, put the fucker out before he hurts anyone else!”

Clenching her fist, Katsu feels a great deal of anger over it. The lion is a predator, his natural instincts, but he is still a living thing. Another officer walks over to check on his colleague.

“Tony, holding up there?”

Tony the policeman shouts. “The fuck I am, Joe! I nearly got killed by an oversized house cat!”
“We’ll deal with him.” Joe pats him on his good arm. “Say, where did you drop your gear?”

“You mean the taser and tranquilliser gun? Just a bit down from the petting zoo.”

A lightbulb goes off in the head of Katsu. She quietly goes over to the gate, trying to remain unseen and she enters the zoo.

The domain of the beast.


Walking into the petting zoo, Katsu begins to see a trail of blood, likely coming from the officer’s wounds. Some of the animals are asleep, others roam carefully. In a grim scene, Katsu looks towards a pile of hay. A large amount of crimson covers the ground as the carcass of a lamb lies on top of a pile of straw. Katsu’s eyes widen as she sees the grim scene in front of her and rushes over. She kneels next to the deceased animal and looks in horror. The lamb’s eyes are still open, looking at her.

This is what the lion can do. This is what he can do to his prey. A slight quiver is in her voice.

“I-I am sorry, little one.” Her hand grabs some of the blood soaked straw, shaking in anger. “You did not deserve this. Nobody does… I will stop him for you.”

Looking towards the wire fence, Katsu sees the two leftover pieces of equipment from the officer. A taser gun and a tranquiliser gun. Walking over, she picks up the tranq. It’s shaped like a pistol with a red barrel. It only has one dart left from what she can see. Likely a missed shot from the officer out of fear. She grabs the taser gun as well. She thinks it over. How can she stop the animal? The mind of the woman races back to all the things she’s observed from the beast over the past several days. His habits, the potential heart it has overshadowed by its trauma and anger. She hatches a plan.

Rushing out of the petting zoo, Katsu goes to a food stand that the lion hasn’t gone through. She grabs all the beef jerky she can from it and finds an open area in the path of the park. She opens the bags and places all the dried meat on the ground.

“A final meal for you…”

She shakes as she says that. Deep down, she wishes it hasn’t come to this, but she knows it is needed. Stop him before anyone else meets its wrath. She hides behind some neay-by bushes lining the stone path and-


Minutes turn to over an hour as Katsu waits. She’s uncertain what will come, or if Vengedor the lion is still roaming the park? Maybe he ate all the police? She is patient for her age, but the time begins to wear on her. Will this even work? Katsu is about to give up hope, until-

She hears near-by bushes shake. Leaping out is the large Lion. Its scars on its face, it is unmistakably Vengedor. The animal sniffs the meat on the ground before licking it with his large tongue and chowing down, enjoying a snack. Katsu looks and sees he is likely out of range for her weapons and truthfully, she doesn’t want to hurt him unless she has to. She stands up-

And the leaves around her shake, causing the lion to look directly at her. She quickly hides her weapons behind her back, god knows he’d likely attack her instantly if she shows them. Nervously, Katsu steps towards the beast who crouches down cautiously.

“Hello, remember me?” Katsu does her best to hide the fear in her voice. “I am the one who’s been giving you company the past several days.”

Oddly enough, the lion’s ears perk up. A small sense of ease goes over the animal. He recognises her.

“I am just wondering… Why? Why did you hurt those people? The lamb? They didn’t do anything-”

She stops and corrects herself.

“Well, maybe to you. I doubt that the police officer has a perfect reputation.” Katsu attempts some humour, likely to calm her own nerves.

“But…” She tries to get to her point. “The people here don’t mean harm to you. They gave you a place to be when you didn’t have anyone else to go to…”

A slight growl comes from the lion. She instinctively knows what the lion is trying to communicate. He hates being caged up.

“I know you don’t like it, but if this is how you act when freed… Maybe the cage was the right place? And it may not be so bad. All your meals, a place for shade…”

The Lion roars.

“-Okay, I get it, being in a cage sucks, I will give you that, lion. But it does not mean you should hurt others over it. Why? Why do you hurt people? I know you’re a lion, but that can’t be it.”

She thinks back to the zoo keeper, what he said about him.

“This lion has had its family taken from him. The first humans he saw brought him here. Likely has been hurt a lot…”

She blinks.

“Because you got hurt…”

It dawns on her. The lion takes a step closer to her.

“No. Just no!” She raises her voice. “Just because you got hurt doesn’t mean you should hurt the world back. That doesn’t bring justice or balance. You add pain to a world already filled with pain…”

Behind her back, she tightens her grip on the taser.

“I don’t care if you’re just an animal, that doesn’t make it right. Someone took your brother-”

The lion looks with a scowl, he kneels down, getting ready to pounce.

“But it does not mean everyone else needs to suffer to give you a sense of vengeance!”

Vengedor roars at Katsu, its volume peaking.

“No justice comes from hurting. No justice comes from pain.”

The lion’s tail flicks. It’s going to strike.

“It only leads to your misery-”

Vengedor leaps up in the hair and on cue, Katsu brings the taser forward, shooting it at the lion. The two metal ends latch onto the lion and deliver a shock to him! The beast cries out as he falls to the ground. Electrons pulse through him, but he isn’t felled.

Looking up at Katsu, the lion growls as he has a slight shake to him. He’s weakened from the shock. Katsu takes the tranquiliser and points it at him.

“I’m sorry.” She says. “This is what has to be done.”

Pulling the trigger, a dart shoots forward, latching itself into the skin of the lion. The beast’s eyes blink. The effects of the dart are immediate. He slumps over and his eyes shut, knocked out. Finally, police show up, finally finding the beast thanks to the noise. They see Katsu standing, the beast fallen. The same officer from earlier rushes over to Katsu as the other officers point their guns at the lion.

“Miss, are you okay? Why are you here?”

Katsu doesn’t respond. She looks at the big cat, out like a light, at peace. She drops her weapons and the police put two and two together as to who finally tamed the beast. Finally, she says to the officer.

“I am okay.”

“Good. I normally would say you shouldn't be here, but considering what you did, I’ll let you off with a warning. Please, get out, we got it from here.”

She nods and begins to walk away as the officers get closer to the lion as some zoo keepers join in too.

“Alright boys, let’s get this beast to be euthanized before he hurts anyone else!”

Glancing back, Katsu gives what will be her final look at Vengedor. She shakes her head. The thought sickens her. But it needs to be done. Katsu heads off towards the exit. Beyond the gates, she sits down on the curb as the sun slowly begins to rise in the distance. Resting her hands on her knees, she looks off to the gentle orange glow of the sun.

She feels a hand on her shoulder. Not even looking back, she knows who it is. Kosuke. Her guardian. The woman doesn’t even need to say a word. Katsu sighs.

“You’re right. Not everyone wants the help. Some people deserve to be locked in their personal cage.”

The mysterious woman nods.

“How do you feel, my little kitsune?”

“Heartbroken… But I feel no regrets. Maybe this will put him out of his suffering…”

Kosuke nods in understanding.

Katsu looks off at the rising sun. Alone. Kosuke disappears from her side. She knew what she did was right, even if it may pain her to do it. Bowing her head, she closes her eyes-


And opens them, finding herself on the patio of her Mexican resort hotel. She looks at the nearby beach as the blue waves crash under the orange glow of the sun. She is in a pair of shorts and a very light tank top over her bikini. In her hands is her signature mask. The Kitsune inspired mask. It was all a dream. A vivid dream, but one where she was able to gather all her thoughts and emotions. A friendly voice in Japanese shouts from the room.

“Come on, hurry up! Cali and the others are waiting for us to have breakfast!”

Katsu folds her mask up and presses her forehead against it. Biggest weekend of her career incoming.

“I will be there, Ririko.” She says back. Standing up, she looks at the waves once more.

As Kosuke stands behind her with a proud smile.


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Prelude to Your Demise: I Predict, Lizzie Rose.

The Daughter of Demise. The Demon Seed. The controller of the TORN Universe.


She floats, yes floats, cross-legged in the middle of a gargantuan room. This room is comprised of thousands of reflective glass shards that make up the walls, ceiling, and floor. Each shard shows a different angle of Keres, with some shards depicting her in altered appearances. One shard shows her in her ring attire, one shard shows her as a child, one shard shows her as a humanoid raven, one shard shows her with two heads, and another shard shows her surrounded by fire. The real Keres floating in the middle of the room is wearing all white and her skin is completely covered, except for her face. In her lap sits her diary.

Keres: “It’s been a while, hasn’t it?”

Keres stares down at her diary and smiles at it.

Keres: “It has been far too long since we last talked, you and I. You all have developed so much. Your pages have gradually filled; it has been… fun letting stories write themselves. Watching as they come ever closer to their conclusions has certainly been interesting.”

Keres snaps her fingers. From either end of the room, crashing through the reflective shards, are two ravens...

Two very unique ravens.

Keres: “Somber and Solace, The Brothers Unkindness. The two of you have done well. My eyes and ears as I have been occupied with Elizabeth. You have both helped fill the pages of my diary in place of me. You have earned the right of furthering your existence. Welcome.”

Somber and Solace screech in gratitude. They land on Keres’ head and peck at one another.

Keres: “Elizabeth does not understand the magnitude of what she has walked into. I see it before it is written. She will claim no fear and a heart of steel. She will tout her iron heart and her strong will. She will sit in a void of lies and cover herself with bravado from her home as a shield. Her family and friends will serve as false support. Her refusal to see the truth brought this upon her. She has never experienced something as visceral as the structure her former self, ‘Lizzie’, shall be sacrificed in… and where her true self, as Elizabeth, will be baptized in blood. This is not a simple match… this is a funeral… and a rebirth.”

Keres closes her eyes and breathes in heavily.

Keres: “Lizzie Rose will not be amongst the mythos in life, she will not be a Dante level force. Her hell, my heaven, the Garden of Eden will prove to be her breaking point. It will be her culminating event.”

Keres opens her eyes and places her hand on her diary. The cover of it responds and seems to move as if it is alive. She pets and caresses it lovingly before opening it to a blank page.

Keres: “Somber. Solace. She must understand the Garden of Eden. And she will attempt to do so by digging deep into what she thinks I am and what she thinks I’ve done. She will use the ghosts of her past to paint a picture. She will lie to herself and refuse to acknowledge the Devil that I am… but this trial by fire will prove it beyond doubt.”

Keres holds her hand above her head, in front of her ravens. Somber pecks at Solace, who starts to wretch its head until it violently coughs up a solid black pen with Keres’ name written on it in gold. Solace uses its beak to place the pen in Keres’ hands. She tests the pen on the corner of the page. The pen writes in… water? It seems to burn the page, leaving a scorched impression where it touches.

Keres: “I shall captain this next entry personally. Like you, I will rely on some ghosts to help you understand much… much clearer. I want you all to read these words with me… and Elizabeth… I want you to pay closer attention than the rest of them. Join me in the garden, I’m leaving the door open for you.”

Keres starts to write on the page. The moment the first drop of watery ink touches above the line on the paper, everything instantly goes black… You can smell salt in the air.



Diary, Dear Diary: "The Dead Vessel"

pirate ship.png

The high seas are filled with unknown variables. Undiscovered creatures roam the darkest depths, lost treasures waiting to be found, and forgotten bodies never to be recovered are spread across the vast ocean. Land masses yet to be charted on a map, or purposely left off them, are always going to catch the eye of a whimsical adventurer… and those adventurers will always catch the ire of the greatest threats to roam the seven seas. Diary, Dear Diary… Do not stray from the course.

Knock, knock, knock

The sound of a loud pounding of a fist on a hardwood door bounces around a mid-sized luxury room. The walls, ceiling, and floor of this room are all made of the same grey wood. Yellowish-brown furniture and various violet-colored trinkets litter the room. This room is a mix of a bedroom and a small dining room fit for a ruler… or perhaps a captain. In the corner of the room, on top of a table, sits a golden birdcage with two ravens in it, their feathers a shiny shade of black with a purple hue on each wing. Next to the birdcage lays a familiar book with a sunflower on it. Everything is cast in a shadow, as the room was set for slumber, and a small open window with a thin curtain covering it is the only thing slightly lit by sunlight.

Knock, knock, knock

A second round of loud knocking on the hardwood door is heard. This time it does its job and wakes up the inhabitant of this mostly monotone room… The Daughter of Demise, Keres. Her eyes spring open but her face remains unchanged from its sleeping state… She remains cold and pale. From beyond the door a grizzled male voice shouts into the room.

Crew Member: “Ahoy, Capt. Keres! The sea, she be calm! The crew waits for you at the bow!”

As Keres sits up from the bed she looks over at the golden birdcage and snaps her finger. The door on the cage slowly opens, the hinge creaking as it does.

Keres: “Somber and Solace, The Brothers Unkindness, let the light in.”

Keres’ ravens, Somber and Solace, fly over to the only window in the room. They land on the small sill jutting from the bottom of it and each grab a side of the curtain with their beaks. They pull it open and let the sunlight in causing the dust particles in the room to shimmer and dance in the air. Keres stands from her luxurious bed and goes to the window, peering out at the ocean in front of her. The sky is a calming shade of orange mixed with a bit of grey from leftover storm clouds. The water is dark, black, and reflective, but a hint of sea green occasionally reveals itself when the sun hits it just right.

Somber and Solace, The Brothers Unkindness (Keres' Ravens).png

Somber and Solace, The Brothers Unkindness, fly past Keres’ ears and dart out of the window. The brothers fly around an incredibly grand ship on the open sea. Large, grey, and yellowish-brown just as the inside of Keres’ cabin, the ship is complete with massive purple sails. In place of a crow’s nest is a gargantuan sunflower atop the ship, which always guides it in the direction of the sun. Amongst the skies are ravens, like Somber and Solace, although lacking the gorgeous purple hued wings of The Brothers Unkindness. One other detail now made obvious by the light… The Brothers Unkindness have eyes like marbles, they are a solid glass white.

Somber, on the left, and Solace, on the right, land on the outside of the door to Keres’ cabin, coming to rest on the damp wooden floor of the ship. In front of them towards the bow of the ship is the rest of the crew, focused on whatever tasks they all have. The crew all wear traditional pirate garb, bearing the same colors as the ship, but unfittingly they all also wear raven-face shaped masquerade masks, which we have seen be worn by Keres’ servants in the TORN Universe. Some are cleaning the night’s storm away, a few are moving miscellaneous inventory around, others are singing… or chanting… a twisted sea shanty.

Ohoy! Ohoy!

At sea there dreadful horrors be,

They’re comin’ here for you ‘n’ me…

To the side of Somber, two members of the crew are lining up six bloody sacks in the shape of human bodies. These sacks are tied by rope at what would be the ankles and the neck of a body. One of the sacks has a much smaller, fist-shaped bag, attached to the rope around the neck. This bag has a portion that pokes out in what looks to be the shape of a beak. To the side of Solace are two more crew members… prepping a separate, much lankier looking, body-shaped sack to be tossed overboard.

And they all be doomed when ye’ dead come sailing home!

The door to Keres’ cabin opens and out comes the evil child herself. She wears a completely black pirate captains’ outfit with a long dark purple coat over it. Her boots thud hard against the floor, commanding attention. In her left hand she holds a rather large pirate hat, which she places on top of her head. The pirate hat is also as black as her outfit and is completed with the head of a dead sunflower tucked into the fabric.

In fifteen hundred and sixty-one

Ohoy! Ohoy!

A ship with crew went down ‘n’ drowned

Ohoy! Ohoy!

But the captain said “we dead won't stay,

I'll sell me soul to be back one day!”

In a hundred years ye dead will sail again!

Keres looks over at the row of bodies on her ship before turning her attention to a member of the crew.

Keres: “Who are these six husks that defile the boards of the Dead Vessel?”

Crewmate: “Apologies Capt. Keres, the lads and I tried to rid them of your ship before the morn’. They be scoundrels in band with the rose and the other body over there.”

The two crew members on the side of Solace easily lift the lanky body bag over their heads and toss it off of the ship and down below into the sea, where it sinks into the depths and out of eyesight.

Crewmate: “Their crew be not mighty enough, we bested them quickly, they were never a factor. One of them even had a pretty birdy with ‘em, but not pretty as Somber and Solace. It was an annoyin’ pest. They all be meetin’ Davey Jones soon.”

Keres snaps her fingers and her ravens, Somber and Solace, flap their wings and make their way atop her hat. They caw loudly, seemingly summoning a few more ravens that begin to circle around above the ship she called the “Dead Vessel”.

When ye dead come sailin' home again

Ohoy! Ohoy!

All men ‘n' women tremble then

Ohoy! Ohoy!

Oh the men will flee, ‘n' the boys will shout

And all the ladies will all turn out!

And they all be doomed when ye dead come sailin' home…

Keres walks over to the edge of the ship and places her hands on the side of the Dead Vessel. She gazes at the water below, where the familiar body had just sunken down. There’s that silence… she feels it… it comforts her… it feeds her.

Keres: “That insolent fool thought he could stand in the way… And now he rests in pieces, drowned among the rest of the forgotten at the bottom. With all the nonsense and obstacles out of the way… Elizabeth Rose is now free to explore new waters. But now… now she looks towards the unknown… in a place where most are cautioned against going to, because…”

Crewmate: “Aye, there be monsters!”

Keres turns back to the member of her crew, still with a stone-cold look on her face. She gets in closer to this member of her crew, inches away from his face, and begins to speak once again.

Keres: “Precisely. The Garden of Eden exists outside the edges of a map… a match created by, and named after, my mother. A match that has ended careers… changed competitors at their very core, for better or worse… and it took a life, even if they were brought back. The Garden of Eden is full of monsters… some monsters enter through the door; others are created within its confines… even if you don’t believe in monsters… they’re always there… under your bed or stuck in your head.”

Keres grabs her crew member by the collar and turns him towards the side of the ship. Still holding him, she pushes him backwards, moving at a quick pace, and he stumbles over the edge, falling from the ship and into the waters below. The crew cheers with glee after the splash.

Ye old church bell shall ring with dread

Ohoy! Ohoy!

To welcome our returning dead

Ohoy! Ohoy!

The village lads ‘n' lassies say

“Piles of corpses line the way!”

And they all be doomed when ye dead come sailin' home…

Keres walks over to the rest of the crew on the bow of the ship and snaps her fingers. In an instant the ship, and the waves themselves, stop moving entirely. The ravens above caw as the crew move in unison to stand in front of Keres and listen to their captain. The others behind her go about their tasks. The sunflower atop the ship moves the ship, as if it were on a turntable, to continue facing in the direction of the sun… yet the water does not move as the ship does. From inside her coat, Keres takes out her diary with the large sunflower on the cover. She opens it and begins to talk… the words appear on the page.

Keres: “Diary, Dear Diary, we sail the vast open seas. Endless time, power, and possibilities… In the distance, new beginnings… in the distance, familiarities… in the distance, an outcome that is already known…”

Somber caws and lets out one violent peck at his brother Solace. Solace, reacting to the peck, wretches forward and shakes his feathers… a rose falls out of his mouth and onto Keres’ diary. The rose and the diary react, letting off a slight burning sound and small wisps of smoke, as the rose becomes one with the page. It now looks like a perfectly done drawing in the center, and the words Keres spoke morph around it. She continues…

Keres: “It is a certainty. The rose knows what it must do to grow… I am merely guiding it where it must go. The Dead Vessel is much the same, for without guidance, it is only wood and sails without a brain. It faces the sun; it always pushes forward… It never strays from the course. You are so close…”

Keres snaps her fingers again and everything resumes its movement… and the crew in front of her have turn into human sized roses. The roses tremble in the wind as The Dead vessel sails forward. Keres walks amongst the roses and runs her fingers across a few of the petals as she goes along.

Keres: “Somber and Solace, take care of the roses please.”

Somber and Solace leap from Keres’ hat and fly over to the roses. They violently fight over a rose as they land on the same one and, eventually, Somber relents and goes onto a different rose. They both begin eating a rose… Solace watches Keres walk away from the roses while doing so.

In sixteen hundred and sixty-one

Ohoy! Ohoy!

Ye dead shall sail again me friend

Ohoy! Ohoy!

In sixteen hundred and sixty-one

All men and women will turn ‘n' run

And they all be doomed when ye dead come sailin' home!

Crewmate: “Capt. Keres, would ye like me to return the captain’s log to ye quarters?”

Keres: “Certainly.”

Keres hands her diary over to the member of her crew and she watches him as he enters her cabin. Once inside, the door closes, and she snaps her fingers. A guttural scream is heard coming from the room and then… silence. A twisted smile comes across the face of the Daughter of Demise as she joins in on the sea shanty with the rest of her crew…

Keres: “Oh, them hundred years has passed so fast… “

Ohoy! Ohoy!

"Behold! at Sea! A crooked mast!"

Ohoy! Ohoy!

"A rotten deck, on a leaking hull

On it a rime of bones and scum"

And they all be doomed when-

Yes they all be doomed when-

And we all be doomed when ye dead come sailin' home...

The crew sings and yells a warning of an approaching ship. This ship, massive in size, is adorned with foliage and beautiful flowers of all kinds. The ship itself is mostly black in color and the wood seems like it was a tree seconds ago, having not been refined into proper building material. The ropes all around the ship are made of loose barbed wire. Keres immediately recognizes this ship, or at least she recognizes what it represents, and stands on the side of The Dead Vessel that faces this mysterious, beautiful, and ghostly ship.

pirate ship 2.png

Keres: “Hello Mother. Hello Father. It’s lovely to see the Garden of Eden in such a state. I never imagined the two of you as people that would sail the seas… Well, actually, you’re here because I made it so, but that’s beside the point. Now play along.”

On the side of the enemy ship, The Garden of Eden, are the parents of Keres. The man once known as the “TORN Warrior” Slate Bass and his wife, the former “Seamstress of Reality” Eden, stand tall and proud while facing the direction of their daughter. These two, now usually seen as a part of the tree of the TORN Universe thanks to their daughter Keres, were once staggeringly powerful figures in their own right… but they could never dream of reaching the power of Keres, and they knew this from the beginning. Now they serve as a part of her TORN Universe.

Slate Bass: “Daughter. It is indeed lovely to see you. Look at how far you’ve come and what you’ve created. I am a proud father. But it’s a shame that we must play under these circumstances.”

Eden: “My TORN Warrior is right. I never thought that we would be forced to fight our own seed on a pirate ship in the middle of nowhere while she speaks in riddles and displays what she is capable of. It’s amazing just how much you really have reached your true potential, Keres.”

Keres: “It is nice to see that you are still strong even under my control, Mother… albeit powerless against me. I am… hmph… happy that you and Father have not withered away into nothingness… yet.”

Eden: “It is because you allow us to stay… even if it is painful, we are truly pleased to witness your magnificence.”

Keres’ crew line up along either side of her. The Brothers Unkindness, Somber and Solace, fly back to her hat and… hiss… at Slate Bass and Eden. There remains one single human sized rose where all the other roses stood… because the rest were devoured by Somber and Solace. A few of the crew members kneel and shuffle their arms… they are rolling the six bodies, including the one smaller carcass attached to a body, off the side of The Dead Vessel and they splash between both ships.

Crewmate: “Capt. Keres, what say you? Shall we lambast these heathens?”

From the other ship, Eden loudly interjects before Keres can respond to her crew member.

Eden: “Let me answer that for you, daughter!”

Eden has already lit a cannon hidden within one of the flowers on the side of the Garden of Eden and it fires towards The Dead Vessel. The cannonball soars through the air and connects at full speed with one of the members directly next to Keres, obliterating him in the process. Keres holds out her hand and looks up at the sky before she… snaps.

Keres lets out a loud, maniacal, and almost demonically toned laugh. Large grey tree roots shoot out from the side of The Dead Vessel and slam into the Garden of Eden, piercing it, and holding it in place. Keres’ crew, seeming to multiply out of thin air, run across the roots and onto the ship of her parents. Somber and Solace fly from her hat and go straight up into the air where they meet a black cloud. This black cloud takes the form of thousands of their species as a barrage of ravens swarm the Garden of Eden. Her parents crew, in the color of, and spawning from, the flowers, meet and do battle with the crew of The Dead Vessel.

Keres walks towards the door leading to her cabin and opens it. Falling directly in front of her is the crew member that had been bringing her diary inside… although he is now in a much more skeletal state than before. Keres reaches down and picks up her diary… and the crew members skull…

Slate Bass: “While the expendables fight, let us do battle once again, daughter.”

Keres calmly turns around to meet the gaze of her parents. She puts her diary inside of her coat and holds the skull in front of her with one hand before speaking to her parents.

Keres: “Mother. Father. These are words I believe the two of you are familiar with… ‘The scariest monsters are the ones that lurk within our souls’… Edgar Allan Poe… I do wonder if the rose is also familiar with those words.”

From behind her parents, the human-sized rose slithers up to Slate Bass and constricts around his body, lifting him into the air and holding him in place. Eden is caught off guard, but impressed, and turns her attention back to her daughter after glancing at her husband in the clutches of the rose. She witnesses Keres crush the skull in her hand and turn it into dust. Both mother and daughter run towards each other at blistering speed, coming to a stop as both their fists meet. They trade strikes, but neither are able to land a blow as one easily blocks the other. Meanwhile, Slate Bass manages to force himself free of the rose and runs towards the women doing battle while the rose slithers behind him. Once he reaches them, Keres decides she is through holding back and she lets off a powerful kick to the chest of her mother and sends her flying into her father. Slate Bass catches his wife and places her to the side before once again running at his daughter, attempting to grab her. Keres, placing a hand on Slate’s shoulder, leaps over him and grabs him by the head as she is upside-down. The momentum allows her to whip Slate’s head back as she lands on her feet… snapping his neck and causing his body to fall limp on the ground.

Keres: “How unfortunate. Father did always say his pride would be the death of him.”

The rose slithers up to Eden and constricts her body as she was focused on the body of her husband. Keres walks over and grabs her mother by the throat while the rose holds her. Eden’s face begins to go red as Keres leans in close to her mother’s face.

Keres: “Woe is you. In my clutches as it is meant to be… As it has always been, even before I grew.”

Eden: “You’ve… been taught… well…”

Eden struggles but she manages to let in a big breath of air to finish her statement to her daughter Keres.

Eden: “So, I know you saw this coming…”

Keres: “I did. I see everything before it happens. Did you see this?”

Keres crushes the throat of her mother Eden. And as she does this, the Garden of Eden unleashes a hellfire of artillery almost instantaneously. The Dead Vessel is hit with every single shot, but the sheer explosive power is enough to entirely destroy both ships and crews in a glorious ball of fire, wood, smoke, bodies, and screams. Keres, still emotionless, ragdolls through the air from the explosion and lands in the sea. All around her is a scene of war, blood, flowers, and… silence.

The rose slithers along the surface of the water, passing by the lifeless bodies of her parents, and stops in front of Keres, who places her arms onto it and uses it as a flotation device. Somber and Solace, not effected by the explosion in the slightest, fly down and land on either of Keres’ arms, with Somber being on her left arm and Solace being on her right arm. The silence of the sea is calming to Keres, and she feels completely at peace… so she begins humming a short unsettling tune…

Finishing the tune, she closes her eyes and speaks to her ravens.

Keres: “That was fun…”

Keres turns her right hand up and places her thumb and middle finger together. She snaps.

The sound of a raging storm bounces around a mid-sized luxury room. The walls, ceiling, and floor of this room are all made of the same grey wood. Yellowish-brown furniture and various violet-colored trinkets litter the room. This room is a mix of a bedroom and a small dining room fit for a ruler. In the corner of the room, on top of a table, sits a golden birdcage with two ravens in it, their feathers a shiny shade of black with a purple hue on each wing. They caw wildly at the storm, as if they are battling it. Everything is cast in a bright light from a fixture on the ceiling and a large window with thick glass is blocking storm rain from entering the room and making it a mess. A toddler sits in the center of a luxurious bed, playing with a plush pirate plush. She seems incredibly happy and giggles as she bounces the pirate plush off of a familiar book with a sunflower on it.

Keres: “Nova!”

Keres yells out playfully.

Princess Nova: “Yes, Keres?”

Princess Nova answers from another room within The Residence.

Keres: “I want to play in the garden now!... With Lizzie!”

The door to Keres’ bedroom creaks open as Princess Nova steps in.

Princess: “Ok, let’s go! She’s ready to make her choice, after all!”

Keres: “Yay!”

Keres slams her hands down on her diary… and everything goes black.
Young Keres 1.png

Keres waits for your choice. Keres knows what you will do.

Lizzie Rose, the "Dead Vessel" Keres captains, you will not survive Hell.

Credit for the sea shanty: “When ye Dead Come Sailing Home” – by Ye Banished Privateers


Tommy Bedlam

E-Fed Staff Member
Sep 13, 2022
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The Bloody Battle of Teague’s Valley

“All rise! The honorable Judge Victor Hearstly is now presidin’.” Davey Rodgers, the only bailiff in Teagues Valley, bellowed the same thing every Friday at 8:00 AM.

In the same way, Judge Hearstly barreled his large frame through the backdoor of the courthouse, which also served as a school and a church, every Friday morning at 8:01 AM. Standing at six-foot-five and tipping the scales at a buttermilk biscuit shy of 300 pounds, the “Honorable” Judge Hearstly filled out his long black robe. His presence dominated the room.

Teagues Valley, referred to by its residents as “TV,” wasn’t the most attractive town. There were certainly larger cities nearby, but the people who called TV home loved it. They didn’t deal with a lot of the violence that was common in nearby Xanthous.

Something else that wasn’t common in TV was legal issues. Judge Hearstly was a circuit judge, and he held court every day of the week in different towns. He had deliberately chosen to go to TV on Fridays because it gave him an early start to his weekend. Outside of an occasional property dispute or an accusation about stolen livestock, TV had never been a hotbed of legal activity.

All of that changed when Shawn Summers blew into town and took it over. Soon after his arrival, someone dared to try to bump Summers from his position of power, and he immediately ran to the court. Since he had more financial resources than many of the TV residents, he was able to keep a group of lawyers on retainer that seemed to get him out of any trouble that he got himself into. After a nasty court battle (and a rumored physical altercation), Shawn Summers had put himself back on top in TV.

Judge Hearstly asked Baliff Rodgers for the docket, fully expecting a blank piece of paper. He had already made plans to meet some of the lawyers at the local saloon by noon for an early happy hour. He was both shocked and disappointed when the bailiff leaned in close.

“Judge, we’ve got a doozy of a case today. Looks like that Summers feller has stepped in it again.”

“A doozy, you say? Let’s see how quick we can get this thing over with.”

The judge banged his gavel on the desk that served as his bench, calling the courthouse to order. The crowd barely seemed to notice as they kept talking among themselves.

“Order in my court!”

The crowd finally fell silent.

“That’s better. Now, it’s been brought to my attention that we have a case that we’re hearin’ today. Looks like it’s The City of Teague’s Valley vs. Shawn Summers. Damn hell, y’all got the whole town against one man? That don’t hardly seem fair. Is the defendant here?”

“Yes, your honor. My client, Mr. Summers is here. I’m Steve Manson for the defense.”

Steve Manson stood up, a tall handsome man with cold, stony eyes.

“Thank you, Mr. Manson.”

The judge tried to act like he didn’t know Steve Manson, but he was one of the crooked lawyers that Hearstly had plans with for the afternoon.

“Who is handling the prosecution?”

“That would be me, your honor.”

Bobby Bennett, the county prosecutor, stood up. He and the judge knew one another well. In fact, the only person Bennett liked less than Judge Hearstly was Steve Manson. He knew trying a case that involved both of them put him behind the 8-ball, but Bobby was a good man who was committed to law and order.

“Mr. Bennett. We meet again.” The judge’s greeting was intentionally chilly, letting the prosecutor know that the odds were truly against him. “Do I have a copy of the charges being filed against Mr. Summers?”

Davey Rodgers pulled out a second piece of paper and slid it before the judge whose eyes gave away that even he was impressed by the number of crimes that Summers had allegedly committed.

“I suppose I need to read these out loud. Mr. Summers is charged with threatening people, assaulting a pregnant female, and choking out an old man. There’s a note down here at the bottom that says the town also wants to charge him with being a sorry son of a bitch, but they aren’t sure what the legal precedent is for such a charge. Really? What am I supposed to do with that?”

“Your honor, the people move to add disturbing the peace, being a public nuisance, and criminal misconduct. Those charges should suffice for being a sorry son of a bitch.”


“On what grounds, Mr. Manson.”

“On the grounds that the prosecutor just called my client a son of a bitch.”

a voice cried from the back of the room.

“ORDER! We’re not gonna have outbursts like that in my courtroom. The objection is sustained. Mr. Bennett, you can’t call the defendant a son of a bitch in open court. However, if you have proof of the charges that you’ve brought up, I suppose that we will tag them on.”

The judge had no interest in actually charging Summers with anything, but he figured he would throw all of those things out by the end of the day. Giving “the people” what they wanted was his best chance at winning re-election.

“Let’s start at the beginning, folks. Mr. Bennett, are you moving for a jury trial, or will I be deciding how this thing shakes out?”

Bobby hated to admit it, but he was going to be forced to leave a final verdict up to the corrupt judge. Unfortunately, he knew that there was no way that he could put together a jury who didn’t already hate Shawn Summers. Hell, everybody in five cities hated Shawn Summers. He could go through the process of calling jurors, but Steve Manson would certainly get them all thrown out. It was an exercise in futility, and Bobby had no interest in subjecting himself or his friends and neighbors to it.

“I don’t believe a jury will be necessary, judge.”

Hearstly smiled a wicked grin.

“Excellent choice, counselor. So, who did Mr. Summers allegedly threaten?”

“I call Sam Saloon to the stand.”

Sam Saloon, the owner of Sam’s Saloon, made his way to the stand.

“Mr. Saloon, what did Mr. Summers do to make you feel unsafe?’

“He told me that he was gonna whip my ass and take over my bar. Judge, I’m too damn old to be fightin’ and carrying on. I’ve owned Sam’s Saloon for 40 years, and I’m a pillar of this here community. Mr. Summers threatened to harm me and take over my bar, and God knows what he would do with it. Probably turn it into some uppity cocktail bar for a bunch of citified yuppies.”

“WE AIN’T HAVING THAT SHIT,” the same voice from earlier bellowed from the back of the room.

“Dammit, I said we weren’t gonna do this in my courtroom!”

“Mr. Saloon, when did Mr. Summers threaten you?”

“Bout two weeks ago.”

“Were there any witnesses?”

“Yep. Five horses had walked into my bar just before that. They heard it all.”

“Objection! Five horses walked into a bar? Is this some sort of joke?!”

“Judge, it’s been brought to my attention that the five horses are here.”

“Ugh. Can the horses who heard the alleged threats against Mr. Saloon please verify this story?”

With that, five horses, who were known in TV as “The Stable” stood up, nodding their heads in unison.

“No further questions.”

“The defense waives our right to question Mr. Saloon, judge.”

“Mr. Saloon, you may step down. Bennett, who else do you have for the prosecution?”

“The people would like to call Rocco Sullivan to the stand. He’s the elderly gentleman who Mr. Summers assaulted.”

Rocco, an older man, made his way to the front of the room. His arm was in a sling, and his good arm had a crutch under it.

“Mr. Sullivan, Mr. Summers did this to you?”

“He sure did, Bobby. He dragged me around, beat me up, hell fire, he choked me out in front of a whole crowd of people.”

“Do you have any idea what prompted him to do that?”

“He’s a lousy son of a bitch, a sorry scoundrel, and a varment.”



“No further questions.”

“I’m good, judge.”

“Who you got next, Bobby?”

“The people call Randi Francis.”

Randi, the prettiest girl in town, made her way to the front of the room, her baby bump clearly showing through her long, flowing dress.

“Ms. Francis, would you mind telling us about what Mr. Summers did to you?”

“Mr. Summers hates me, and he has assaulted me twice. Once, he shoved me down, and the other time, he shoved my boyfriend into me, knocking me to the ground. I don’t know what kind of ‘man’ does shit like that, but that bastard is no man at all!”

The courtroom erupted into applause as Judge Hearstly banged his gavel furiously calling for order. When things finally returned to order, Steve Manson stood up.

“We have some questions for Ms. Francis. First of all, Ms. Francis, is it ‘Ms.’ or ‘Mrs’?”

“It’s Ms.”

“So you’re having a baby with someone who you have not married? And you really dare sit on that stand and talk about my client’s character? Is this really the kind of woman who we want weighing in on our legal system?”



“Ms. Francis, not only are you an unwed mother, but unless I’m sorely mistaken, I don’t see you here with a man. Do you even know who the father is, or is your baby the real bastard here?”



Suddenly, the door to the courthouse flew open and a tall, long-haired man walked in. He took his black cowboy hat off and held it in his hands. The crowd turned around to see who dared show up late for Friday court, and the murmuring began when they realized it was Tommy Bedlam. Summers’ face turned an awful shade of red, almost purple, as he slammed his hands on the table in front of him.

“Your honor, I believe Ms. Francis’ fiance has joined us.”

“The defense calls Tommy Bedlam to the stand!”

Tommy never slowed down, walking straight to the front of the room. He gave Randi a subtle wink as he took her seat on the witness stand.

“Mr. Bedlam, it’s nice to see you again.”

“Steve, I guess that depends on your definition of ‘nice.’”

“Mr. Bedlam, is it true that you impregnated Randi Francis?”

“We’re having a baby, yes.”

“And you’re not married?”

“Not yet.”

“So you’re the father of an illegitimate child? And it’s no secret that you have a problem with my client. Care to elaborate on those problems?”

“I hate that smug motherfucker.”

Summers slammed his hands on the table again.

“Isn’t it a bit ironic that a man like you, a man who drinks whiskey, chews tobacco, and has a baby with a woman who isn’t his wife, tries to act superior to anyone else?”

“It’s not ironic at all, Steve. Judge, I love this town. I’ve wanted to make a home in TV for as long as I can remember, and I’d like to raise my youngin’ here. But as long as Shawn Summers is running this town, it ain’t fit for nobody. This town ain’t big enough for the both of us. Hell, it ain’t big enough for anybody and that head of Summers."

“No further questions.”

“Ladies and gentlemen, based on the absolute lack of evidence that has been presented today, I can’t do anything about Shawn Summers. I believe he has a grand vision for this town, and you’re lucky to have him here. If anyone has concrete evidence of Mr. Summers’ alleged wrongdoings, I’m happy to have another hearing. Until then, court is adj-”

“Don’t you bang that goddamn gavel, Judge.”

The courtroom let out a collective gasp. Tommy didn't flinch. He just wanted to kill Summers and would risk anything to do that.

"You don't bang that gavel til you order me and Summers to duel to the death."

"You don't tell me what to order, and I ain't orderin' a duel."

"Fine. Then nobody in TV will ever vote for you again, and we'll make sure nobody else does either."

“Wait. What? Fine! Mr. Summers and Mr. Bedlam have a duel at High Noon. But listen to me. If Summers wins this duel, you people have to leave him alone and let him go on about his business.”

An air of excitement filled the room. Everyone other than Randi was ecstatic.

“Tommy, he’ll shoot you in the back. You know that.”

“I’ll be fine. I’ve been waitin’ for a chance to duel that sumbitch.”

As the noonday sun hung high in the sky over the town square, everyone was there. Sam Saloon had promised free drinks to anyone if Tommy won, and he had already declared that he was burning the bar down if Summers did.

“Boys, listen up. I don’t even know if I can legally order a duel, but here we are. You’ll stand here back to back, and on my command, you’ll take five steps. On the fifth step, turn and fire. The winner walks away and the loser gets put in the ground somewhere.”

Tommy gave Randi another wink as he put a lone bullet in his trusty old revolver. Summers placed his high-end weapon on his side. As the two men stood back to back, Tommy briefly considered turning around and shooting Summers at point-blank range. Even if it was against the rules, he knew it would be a public service. No, he was a man of honor.


Tommy took a single step, and he thought back to the way that Summers had been terrorizing him and the people he loved for months.

Step two brought about memories of seeing him assault Rocco, the closest thing Tommy had to a father figure.

As he took his third step, he could hear the horrible words that Summers had said about his unborn child.

His left foot hit the ground for the second time, marking his fourth step, and he could vividly see Summers shoving Randi to the ground. Rage overcame him, and he gave in to his temptation. He turned around, but just as he did…BANG!

Summers had shot early. The bullet lodged in Tommy’s shoulder. Summers charged at him, a wild look in his eyes. The rules of the duel had been forgotten. This was now nothing more than a court-ordered fight.

As Summers charged in, he wildly swung his pistol at Tommy’s head. Tommy ducked the attempt and planted his gunshot shoulder into Summers' ribs, driving him into a nearby horse trough. Summers fired a second shot into the air, missing wildly. Women were screaming, children were crying, and Randi stood there her mouth agape.

Tommy held Summers' head underwater for a few seconds, hoping the bubbles would stop coming to the top. The city slicker wearing expensive boots fired a third shot that also soared into the air. The coward, with few other choices, bit Tommy’s hand, forcing Tommy to release his grip.

Summers emerged from the trough, dripping water in a trail behind him. He closed in on Tommy and raised his gun. Tommy swung his arm back and knocked the gun out of Summers’ hand. He smirked and placed his own weapon back in its holster. He’d rather kill him with his bare hands anyway.

Summers planted an elbow in Tommy’s ribs which doubled him over, driving the wind from his body. He raised a mighty knee, catching Tommy square across his nose, knocking his hat to the ground. That did it. You simply don’t mess with a cowboy’s hat.

Tommy grabbed his nose and realized it was bleeding. Summers jumped on him, grabbing his throat and riding him to the ground. Tommy tried to free himself, but Summers had a death grip on his throat. For a moment, Tommy felt things growing darker. He looked around and saw the cowboys who were counting on him to save TV from Summers. He saw the children who would never be able to grow up in the quiet community that TV had always been. Then, he saw Randi and her baby bump. Dammit, he wanted his child to grow up in a place that was free of bastards like Summers.

Endued with a power that was buried deep within, Tommy found the strength to break Summers’ grip on his throat. He pushed his hands away and delivered a crushing blow across Summers’ jaw. Unfortunately, Summers fell to the ground next to his pistol. He picked it up once more and squeezed the trigger. The bullet missed Tommy’s head by only an inch and was buried in the saloon door at Sam’s Saloon.

As Shawn scrambled away, he fired another errant shot, and then a sixth. He squeezed the trigger once more, but his six-shooter was out of bullets. Tommy smiled and delivered a crushing kick to Summers’ ribs, flipping him over in the air.

“Shawn, I’m doing this for everybody in TV.”

“Wait a minute, Bedlam. Let’s talk this over.”

“The time for talking has come and gone, Shawn.”

Tommy delivered another kick, and Summers spit some blood into the dirt.

The women of the town hid their faces and told their children to do the same. The girls listened, but the boys were awestruck.

Tommy touched his shoulder, which was still home to Summers’ first bullet. He looked at Rocco, the battered mess that he was, and once more, he looked at Randi. He was doing this for her, and their future children.

Tommy pulled his revolver from its holster and held it close to Summers’ forehead.

“Summer is over, Shawn.”



Jimmy King

It’s Britney, bitch
Dec 12, 2010
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Are you ready for the Xperienx?

"Speed dating? What's that?" Nate Savage is heard asking Jackson Fenix as they approach a building with signs plastered all over promoting the speed dating event.

"Have you seen the movie The 40-Year-Old Virgin?" Jackson asks Nate.

"Yes, I think so."

"Well, there's a bit in the movie where they take Andy, the main character that is a virgin, on a speed dating thing."

"Okay, but that doesn't answer my question. What is speed dating?"

"People that do it are rotated to meet each other on short dates. The dates typically last about 5 to 8 minutes."

"Why do I want to date when I'm married? How will this help us win our match, and where is XX?"

"XX, Monica, and Antonio have organized this to help us prepare for our match. Don't worry about going out on a date with anyone here."

Nate shrugs and nods in understanding Jackson's explanation, but then Nate is caught off guard when he feels a playful slap on his butt. Nate turns around to see Antonio giggling, and he winks at Nate, while Monica gleefully giggles and then winks at Nate while licking her lips. Nate is blushing and does his best to brush it off with an awkward smile and a laugh.

"Hey, we were just talking about you!"

"Yeah, hey, where's XX?"

Jackson gets the answer to his question when he gets a playful slap on his butt and turns around to Xperienx Xtacee behind. XX smiles at him and saunters around Jackson before joining up with Monica and Antonio.

"Not gonna lie, I kind of liked that."

More giggling from the trio of XX, Monica, and Antonio while Nate shakes his head. Nate looks over at Monica again, and she blows him a kiss, and he quickly looks back at Jackson.

Xtacee: "Welcome, welcome. Mr. Fenix, Mr. Nasty, I hope you're ready to encounter many interesting characters. Monica, Antonio, and I all figured that since we'll be in a match with rotating variables, we might as well get used to dealing with multiple people in short windows… There might also be some, uhm, parallel situations here and from the people in our match."


Jackson, Nate, and Xperienx Xtacee sit at their tables with their respective dates while the timer is ticking. The first three dates they have are three Japanese women, two wearing masks, and the third is rather hyper and eccentric.

"Oh, you must be part of the YOKAI Death Squad!" Jackson exclaims to the girl sitting across from him with a familiar-looking mask. The masked woman shakes her head in response to him.

"Oh, well, you remind me a lot of Katsu. She's part of this group, YOKAI Death Squad, and they are our opponents in our next wrestling match. I like Katsu, and I respect her. She beat me in a one-on-one match, but we earned each other's respect. Still, that won't stop me and my friends here from beating her and her friends to become the first-ever FWA Trios Champions!"

It's difficult to tell, but the woman seems confused by Jackson. Meanwhile, Nate is having some problems with his date.

"This one won't stop talking so fast! I'm sorry I don't speak Japanese, but please relax!"

The young woman jumps up on the table and gets in Nate's face. Nate backs away and nearly falls out of his chair.

"You must've got the Ririko counterpart!" Jackson excitedly tells his friend.

"I don't know what that is, but make her stop!"

The third person in this seating arrangement, Xperienx Xtacee, is having a much better time with his date.

"Oh my, you're certainly very skilled with your hands. I couldn't do that much that fast. And the way you finished them all off is incredible."

Xtacee has been matched with someone wearing an abundance of green and holding a Nintendo Switch. On the screen, she is showing off her amazing talent for smashing… in Super Smash Brothers Ultimate.

"I was always more of a Tekken person, but I can see the appeal. I think I would main that one over there… Sephiroth is his name? What a looker he is."

Nate Savage: "Hey, can we trade? Can I have the one playing the video game?"

Nate's date hops off the table, and from her bag, she retrieves a plush of a Chiitan and rips the head off of it. She then throws it at Nate, and it bounces off of him.

Jackson Fenix: "I think she likes you."

Jackson looks over at his date and gives her a nod of respect before they move on to their next dates.

Next, a beefy-looking male in a maid costume walks in carrying a blow-up doll underneath his huge arm. The maid looks at Nate and places the blow-up doll opposite Nate's seat.

Nate Savage: "Uh, Jax, I think I got your date."

Jackson Fenix: "We're trading now? I get the blow-up doll, and you get the jacked-up male maid?"

Nate looks at the maid, who stares at him intimidatingly but then winks at him. Nate shuffles uncomfortably in his seat.

Nate Savage: "Uh, yeah, sure, that works."

Jackson Fenix: "Cool, not my first experience with a blow-up doll."

The maid places the blow-up doll in the seat opposite Jackson and then sits opposite Nate.

Nate Savage: "So, uh, I guess you're supposed to be the Maid of Death, huh?"

The maid nods and continues to stare intimidatingly at Nate.

Nate Savage: "Normally, I'd be intimidated, but you don't scare me. Maid of Death and other Nephews don't scare me!"

Jackson Fenix: "You must be Kha…Kha…uh, how do you say your name?"

The blow-up doll doesn't respond because it's a blow-up doll, and those don't speak.

Meanwhile, Maid of Death gets in Nate's face and tries to intimidate him more.

Nate Savage: "You might have bigger muscles than me, but that doesn't scare me, and you could probably break me in two, but you don't scare me! I've had it up to here with these Nephews, and it's time something is done about it!"

Nate stands up to The Maid, and The Maid hulks over him, and Nate lowers himself back into his seat.

Nate Savage: "Maybe not right now, though."

Jackson Fenix: "You're not my first blow-up doll."

Jackson winks at the blow-up doll.

And finally, sitting in front of Xtacee is a large person in an anthropomorphic, furry dog suit that is colored blue. On its forehead is the shape of an arrow. Xtacee stares inquisitively at the incredibly giddy furry.

Xtacee: "You know, I've encountered a lot of cool cats in my life, but I don't think I've ever run into someone taking doggy style to a whole other level. I must admit I'm intrigued… slightly intimidated, but intrigued nonetheless."

The furry claps their hands together and lets out an incredibly long, realistic-looking tongue from its mouth. It proceeds to lick the face of Xtacee, who is left slightly stunned but still giggles with amusement.

Xtacee: "Never did I think a furry would actually get me to smile. You must really be the chosen one, after all. Thank you for the affection, Ms…."

Xtacee reaches out and holds their dog tag to read the name on it.

Xtacee: "Niecey. What a cute name, baby."

He gives Niecey some chin scratches before she gets up after time is called to move on to the final pairings.

The final pairings walk up, and Jackson says goodbye to the blow-up doll when a clown sits opposite him.

Jackson Fenix: "Funnily enough, not my first time with a clown."

Nate watches the Maid of Death walk away, and then he's surprised as Monica sits across from him.

Nate Savage: "Hey, uh, Jax, do you want to trade again?"

Monica wags her index finger at Nate and leans forward.

Monica: "You're not getting rid of me that easily, darling."

Nate starts to shuffle uncomfortably in his seat.

Monica: "I wasn't kidding when I said I had a thing for you, Mr. Nasty."

Nate Savage: "Haha, again, I am flattered, but I am a married man…"

Monica: "I don't see your wife here… a quick date ain't a bad thing."

Nate Savage: "Uh, I guess that's a good point; hey, how's your date over there, Jax?"

Jackson Fenix: "So, what do you like to do for fun? Long walks on the beach? Read a book? Watch a movie?"

Monica leans in close to Nate's ear and whispers something to him. His eyes open wide as she sits back in place.

Nate Savage: "Uh, maybe you'd be better suited for Jax; he's into that sort of thing."

Meanwhile, the clown honks a little horn at Jackson in response to his question.

Jackson Fenix: "Fascinating."

Nate looks over at Jackson having a full-on casual conversation with a clown, and he shouldn't be surprised, considering it's Jackson, but he is flabbergasted by the sight of it.

While Nate and Jackson are occupied with their dates, Xtacee is completely dateless. He is staring at the empty seat intently and observing the fine detail of the chair. The silence is uncomfortable for Xtacee, and he is alone with his thoughts. Speed dating has been fun, but that doubt creeps back in. Can he trust himself and his partners? Are they ready? Will Xtacee be a failure?

Xtacee: "Yeah, I think we're ready…"

The final date ends, and Nate breathes a sigh of relief, but he's not out of the woods yet as Monica leans over and plants a big kiss on his lips. She stands up, wipes the side of her mouth, and looks down at Nate, who is speechless.

Monica: "That's right, you'll leave them speechless, darling."

Jackson walks over and pats Nate on the shoulder while trying to hold back his laughter.

Jackson Fenix: "Once they get the Undisputed Xperienx, they'll all be left speechless…"