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SWF AftershoXXxxXXxxXXxxxxXXxXXXXX

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As the SWF prepares to go live in the barricaded confines of the Raccoon City Police Department, nobody notices the tall figure standing at the front doors, in a long buttoned black trenchcoat. With all the chaos and noise from the cheering living, it drowns out the scratching of the undead at the door, and takes attention off the creature known as Nemesis as it hoists a rocket launcher up on its shoulder and takes aim at the ring. However, a second figure strides across the entryway to the Police Department, this one in a white trenchcoat and equal to the first monster in size.

 

*CRACK!*

 

The Hell Machine shakes out their right hand after delivering the Knuckle Bomb, and look down at the incapacitated Umbrella monster on the ground. As they drag the Nemesis and its weapon off to be disposed off, the split-minded Australian mutters something under their breath before disappearing along with the monster through a side door of the police station.

 

"That's for the terrible fan-fiction."

 

And in the foreground, the show continues preparations to go live.

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SWF AFTERSHOxXXxxxXxxXXXXxxX!

Live, Friday, June 16th, from the Raccoon City Police Department in Raccoon City!

(6pm PST, 10pm EST; check local listings)

 

IPB Image

 

Send all promos/marked matches to janusd)

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

THE MAIN EVENT - INTERFED TAG TEAM MATCH

The Dead Precedents (Bruce Blank and Bloodshed) vs. GPX (Scotty Static and Johnny Jax)

---> So the Oat Toasters want to crash our party, do they? Heckle and Jeckle over here think it's cute to show up at an SWF Pay Per View and shill their little fed? I don't think so, guys. I don't think so.

 

At BlankShed's request, our people called their people (or was it the other way around?), and just like that, the SWF's very first Inter-Federation match was signed! At AftershoxxxxxXXxXXxxxXxXxX, The Dead Precedents, coming off a hard loss to Tom Flesher and GRAPPLAH~!, will now be directing their rage to their old OAOAST rivals! With the entire Federation's pride on the line, will Team SWF show these bozos who's boss? Or will Oat Toast's representatives shame us on our home turf?***

 

Rules: Standard tag team match.

Word Limit: 5000

Send to: chirs3

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

Insane Luchador vs. Austin Sly

---> Look at that! I actually remembered that Luchador doesn't have an E on the end! Yay for me!

 

In any event, these are two men who suffered hard losses at the PPV. These are also two men with title aspirations, which means they need to turn things around. Tonight, one of them will. Who wants it more?

Rules: Standard singles match.

Word Limit: 4500

Send to: janusd

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

OPENING PROMO: SWF World Heavyweight Champion Michael Stephens!

 

-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-

 

*** in the event that OAT TOAST does indeed shame us on our home turf, the Midnight Carnival will be called in for another drive-by redecorating. You have been warned, GPX. You have been warned.***

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‘The following programme is a presentation of the Smartmarks Wrestling Federation. It contains themes that will not be suitable for children, and some content which may also be offensive to other viewers. These may include, but are not limited to: hot sweaty men grappling with each other whilst wearing very little; blood; strobe lighting; anthropomorphic lesbian ferreasels; rednecks; barbed wire; Bloodshed promos; Straight Bread; sandwiches; zombies; Maoris; zombie Maoris; pandas; and the OAOAST.’

 

 

SWF AftershoxxxXXXxxx is live in FIVE…

 

 

…FOUR…

 

 

…THREE…

 

 

…TWO…

 

 

…ONE…

 

 

*BANG! BANG! BOOM! BUH-BUH-BUH-BUH-BOOOOOOMMM!!*

 

“YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“Fans, we’re live in the Police Station of Raccoon City,” Mak Francis greets viewers as the pyro goes off whilst generic rock music pulses in the background, “it’s hostile outside but… well, it could get pretty hostile in here if you’re a member of the OAOAST! However, we’ve just come off a blistering Pay-Per-View at 13th Hour, and what a night it was! We saw the Cruiserweight Title change hands as Michael Cross not only stabbed his former tag partner in the back by attacking Akira Kaibatsu but then ‘generously’ took his place in the match against Zyon and defeated the Unique Youth-”

 

“-are you going to deny that Cross wrestled well?” the Suicide King asks his commentary partner.

 

“Well… no, but-”

 

“But nothing,” the Gambling Man cuts him off, “Mike Cross eliminated weakness by not only taking out Akira, who if you recall was the man who tapped out and lost the Asian Underground the Tag Titles, but also brought Zyon’s title reign to a crashing halt. We’ve finally got a respectable Cruiserweight Champion again for the first time since JJ Johnson.”

 

“JJ Johnson himself fell victim to the Va’aiga Stinger in that awesome King’s Road encounter,” Francis continues, “and we’re still waiting for medical confirmation on when, if ever, he’ll be able to return to the ring-”

 

“Goddamn Maori…” King mutters.

 

“-but in addition to a triumphant return to the ring for Charlie ‘Grappler’ Matthews in his victory with Tom Flesher over the Dead Precedents, the biggest news to come out of Sunday concerns the World Title,” Francis informs viewers. “In the Last Man Standing match between Landon Maddix and Michael Stephens it looked several times as if Landon would walk away with a successful title defence, but in the end it was not to be; Maddix’s obsession with crippling his opponent meant he passed up the chance of an easy victory, and Stephens was able to take advantage to maintain his record of never being unsuccessful in a title challenge!”

 

“And you were cheering for Maddix,” the Suicide King says, “remind me what the hell was going on there?”

 

“I wasn’t cheering for him exactly,” Francis says defensively, “if Landon Maddix had been giving his all and had still been defeated by Michael Stephens then I’d have been glad that he’d got his comeuppance… but I can’t help thinking that the SWF World Title, whether you’re wrestling to win it or defend it, should be a higher priority than a personal vendetta; Landon didn’t agree, and he lost it. I didn’t want to see that happen.”

 

“Well, now we’ve got four-time World Champion Toxxic,” King says, “I can only pray that he turns out to be as good a holder as Magnifico, although I doubt it…”

 

“You’re not going to mention Danny Williams?” Mak asks.

 

“No.”

 

“Good,” the Franchise mutters, nominal fan-friendliness not being enough to overcome some obstacles. However, it is at this moment that a roaring chant suddenly blasts out of the PA system…

 

“COME AND HAVE A GO IF YOU THINK YER ‘ARD ENOUGH!”

“COME AND HAVE A GO IF YOU THINK YER ‘ARD ENOUGH!”

 

The Smarktron, which has abruptly gone white, starts to fade down to black as the crashing opening chord of ‘Rookie’ by Boy Sets Fire rolls out through the police station. As the distinctive bassline starts to come through jagged white letters flash up one word after another, spelling out a familiar phrase:

 

‘PREPARE TO BE PROVED WRONG…’

 

The screen changes again, displaying clips from Michael Stephens’ action-packed career; the All-Show Brawl with the Insane Luchador; the Super Caffeine Bomb on Tom Flesher; the infamous Glass Jawbreaker on Aecas and now, added in, the RTF II on Landon Maddix that eventually won him his fourth World Title. As the song starts to rise in volume one last clip is displayed, showing Mike Van Siclen being taken off a balcony and through a table with the Stephens Shock Syndrome, the devastating landing timed to coincide with the main riff kicking in and the-

 

*BOOOM!!*

 

-blast of red pyro that announces the arrival of the SWF’s most decorated Englishman! And through the flame and the smoke…

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

…wearing his customised England soccer shirt in honour of his country’s 2-0 World Cup win over Trinidad & Tobago last night…

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

…black hair hanging down and nearly hiding his face, with the SWF World Title around his waist…

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

…comes the man once known as Toxxic.

 

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,” Funyon booms, having to shout to make himself heard over the deafening racket in the enclosed area, “making his way to the ring at this time; your NEEEEEEWWWWWWWW SWF World Heavyweight Champion… MIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII-CHAAAAEEEELLLLL… STEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE-PHENS!!”

 

“YEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

Stephens starts making his way through the crowd, pushing through the narrow aisle where the security rail barely prevents the fans on either side being able to reach out and touch each others’ outstretched hands, and certainly doesn’t stop them from being able to reach the wrestlers as they make their way down. Mike reaches up and slaps hands with a few fans, but this is far from being a triumphant procession to the squared circle; instead, as in Tokyo on Sunday night, the new World Champion doesn’t seem quite comfortable with events. However, once he reaches the ring he rolls in and beckons to Funyon for a microphone, which the veteran ring announcer quickly relinquishes before stepping out through the ropes and leaving the Englishman alone in the spotlight.

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

Stephens looks up as the crowd chants continues, then motions with one hand. ‘Rookie’ fades out and after a few seconds the chants do as well. There is residual background noise and scattered clapping and cheers, but nothing more.

 

Then Michael Stephens raises the microphone to his mouth.

 

“Thanks, guys.”

 

“YEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

Predictably, this sparks off another explosion of cheers, but Stephens seems content to let the crowd’s enthusiasm run its natural course before continuing.

 

“Seriously, it means a lot to me,” he continues when the volume is conducive, “I won at Ground Zero last year and blew town afterwards; I walked out on the entire SWF just when the viewing public were starting to actually enjoy seeing me in the ring for a change. I took a ten-month leave of absence and returned to find that everyone was just as keen on me as they were when I left. That feels good.”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“Now, it probably didn’t hurt me that I was coming back into a shitstorm stirred up by Landon,” the World Champion continues, “and that all of you wanted to see me kick his arse. I’m sorry that you had to wait so long but the honest truth is, I genuinely wanted no part of him and his obsessional hatred of me. As it turned out,” he continues with a rueful grimace, “what I wanted didn’t play much of a part in it. He backed me into a corner using my sister as a hostage and I ended facing him in a match of his choosing on Sunday, a match I went into in the knowledge I could be fighting for my life.” He reaches behind him and unstraps the World Title, then holds it up to general cheering.

 

“Somehow, in fighting for my life I came away with this.”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“Now, I know I asked Joe Peters for the World Title to be put on the line,” Stephens says, “but I’ll be honest, it was more in the hope that Landon would start worrying about losing it and change his gameplan than it was about me winning it. Don’t get me wrong, it feels great to be one of only three four-time World Champions in the federation’s history, but if anything it was another little scheme to save my own neck. As it turned out, it didn’t work in the end,” he admits, “because Landon proved himself to be every bit as psychotic as I’d feared. But all the same, I still beat him. And that made me World Champion.

 

“So why don’t I feel like one?”

 

The question seems to confuse the crowd. There are no supportive cheers this time as Michael Stephens looks around at the selection of humanity that makes up the mass of fans packed into the police station. Then he raises the mic again, and answers his own question.

 

“Because I’m just as guilty as Landon was, in one area at least. On Tuesday I watched my match from Sunday, and as I was watching it I heard that man there,” here he points to Mak Francis, who looks surprised “saying that he didn’t want Landon to lose the belt like that. Mak, who I believe with JJ Johnson is the best wrestler to have never won the World Title, felt that Landon’s main priority should have been on retaining the title, not crippling me. Well Mak, I’d have to say I agree with you,” Stephens addresses the commentator, “and not just for the obvious reason. But at the same time, I wasn’t wrestling to win the title. I was wrestling to save myself and end the match. For the first time since I won it at Ground Zero in 2004, this belt I’m holding was secondary to another consideration. And looking back, I’ve got to say I don’t think that was right.”

 

“Maybe not right, but certainly understandable,” Francis says, but Stephens can’t hear him and isn’t listening anyway.

 

“So here I am, back on top of the company without ever really intending to get here,” Michael Stephens says, returning his attention to the mass of fans. “Sure, I’m undefeated since I returned, but three victories over Sean Davis, David Cross and the Insane Luchador do not, with no disrespect to them, qualify you for a World Title shot. I got the shot because Landon hated me and Peters was willing to book it. Now, part of me wants to just sit back and think that however I got here, I’m here now and we’ll leave it at that… but that’s just not me. That’s not how I do things.”

 

“If he resurrects the Toxxic Open Challenge I think Peters will have a fit,” King comments, “…so actually, I’m all for it.”

 

“Ever since I’ve come back, I’ve been settling back into the routine; getting the feel of the backstage, working out what’s changed, getting to know the new faces. But then from a couple of weeks after I showed up again I started noticing something in people’s faces backstage. For a while I thought I was just being paranoid, that the whole business with Landon was making me jumpy, but I’ve come to the conclusion that I wasn’t wrong.

 

“What I saw was people sizing me up. They, particularly the new guys, were working out where I stood. Here was this guy, a former World Champion suddenly thrown back into the mix, and everyone wanted to know whether they’d just been knocked down the pecking order a little. And sooner or later I knew that someone would decide that they wanted to make a name for themselves by taking me on. Well gentlemen - now’s your chance.” And so saying, Michael Stephens lays the World Title on the mat and turns to face the entranceway that leads to the backstage area.

 

“I’m not just back in the mix now, I’ve risen to the top again. I’m not just above you in the pecking order, I’m wearing the biggest bloody target in this business. It’s no secret that any one of you who wants the ultimate success in the SWF will be gunning for me in one way or another; I know that, I accept that, it’s nothing I haven’t faced before. I’m here to wrestle, I don’t want to have to make this personal… but,” he adds, “if any of you think that you’re gonna intimidate me then I have a piece of advice.”

 

Slowly, a small smile spreads over the World Champion’s face.

 

“I think you all know the words I have in mind.”

 

Most of the crowd catch on, and a few even chant them themselves, but Stephens he hasn’t finished yet. Instead he scoops the World Title up and, still facing the back, leans on the ropes.

 

“There’s a lot of people hanging around who I think might like a shot at this. Zyon, I spoke to you in China and you know that as far as I’m concerned, you have a shot whenever you want one. But that’s not all; Wildchild? Consistently good wrestler and great performer. JJ Johnson? If and when you come back to the SWF, if I’ve got the belt I’d consider it an honour to defend it against you. The man who dropped him on his head, Va’aiga? Well mate,” Stephens says, “you’re a former SWF World Champion and you’ve got another version with you right now; I’d say that you might need a couple more wins in the fed before we could justify a title match, but I’d be intrigued. Hell, Bruce Blank? Held a title for over 200 days, that’s a good indication of quality even if he did get beaten for it by my sister,” the Sensation continues with only a hint of a smirk. “I mean for goodness’ sake, Aecas is the International Champion and he‘s unbeaten this time around! I’ll give you a promise,” he tells the absent Black Angel with a grin, “next time we meet - no light tubes. And then of course,” Stephens says, sobering up slightly, “there’s Tom Flesher and Charlie Matthews. No-one would discount them from the running for this belt if they wanted it.

 

“In conclusion,” Stephens says, “I get the feeling I might get a few challenges for this title. That’s OK with me, everyone knows I don’t lightly back down from a challenge. Another British World Champion would have said ‘Step Right Up’,” Stephens continues, “but I’ve got my own way of doing things. So if you’ll excuse the rather confrontational vernacular…”

 

With a faint smile, Michael Stephens looks around at the fans. There’s another little catchphrase it’s time they caught up with.

 

“…COME AND HAVE A GO IF YOU THINK YER ‘ARD ENOUGH!”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

“TOXXXXXXXX-IC…”

 

The chants for the World Champion rise again in the Raccoon City Police Station and Stephens heads over towards Funyon to give the microphone back… but then he’s cut off by something else.

 

‘I’m born…

 

I’m alive…

 

I breathe…’

 

“YEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“That’s the music of one of the people Michael Stephens just mentioned,” Mak Francis exclaims as the recognisable tones of ‘Vitamin’ by Incubus hits and the crowd reacts positively, “and it looks like the World Champion might have an early challenger!”

 

“Please, you think this guy’s a challenge?” King snorts as Zyon can be seen making his way through the crowd and heading for the ring, “Toxxic might be an up-himself dick-sucker, but he can crucify Zyon any day of the week!”

 

Zyon himself seems rather focused this evening despite not having a match, and he vaults lightly into the ring before beckoning an SWF technician over for a microphone. Michael Stephens has paused in the act of handing his own mic back to Funyon and turns back around, waiting to see what the Unique Youth wants. Zyon now has a mic and walks up to the World Champion, not aggressively but hardly in awe of the man standing in front of him. Not surprising, given that he beat the last holder of the belt, clean, in Cambodia.

 

“Toxxic-”

 

“Whoah, sunshine,” Stephens cuts him off, placing one hand over Zyon’s microphone. The two men lock gazes with each other… and slowly, the atmosphere in the Raccoon City Police Station starts to get a little bit more tense.

 

“You wanna come out here and say your piece, that’s fine,” the World Champion says levelly, “but let’s get one thing straight. If you’re gonna talk to me, to my face, you call me by my bloody name, got it?” He steps back, taking his hand off Zyon’s microphone, and motions for him to continue. Zyon glares at him for a second, then raises the mic again.

 

“Well Michael,” the Unique Youth says, making sure to emphasise the name, “it sure is nice of you to put that invitation out to the entire company. But like you said, you made a promise to me that I’d get a title shot, and I thought I’d come out here and cash it in before you can offer it to someone else. After all,” he continues, “you might lose it before I got to you.” Stephens eyebrows raise slightly and he begins to speak in response.

 

“Well, that’s-”

 

“I’m not going to be put off,” Zyon warns him, cutting the World Champion off, “and I’m not going to be denied on this one, I’ve waited too long! I beat Landon Maddix non-title, and I got nothing,” he continues, jabbing a finger at Stephens. “Hell, I beat your sister non-title when she was Hardcore Champion and got nothing then either, except a pat on the back and a splitting headache! If you hadn’t come waltzing back in I might have been facing Landon at 13th Hour, and it would be me with that belt now!” The Unique Youth stops speaking, face slightly flushed with emotion, but it isn’t enough to impress Michael Stephens. The World Champion tilts his head to one side, then raises his mic to his mouth.

 

What I was going to say,” he says deliberately, “was ‘well, that’s fine Zyon’. But no, you want to run your mouth and talk about how you’ve been treated unfairly. OK, can’t fault you for that,” he continues, “but you need to bear something in mind. Cos it sounds to me like you’re implying that I was gonna break the promise I made you. And sunshine, that don’t sit well with me.”

 

In the background there is a faint ‘Toxxic’ chant raised by the crowd, but a fair few start a ‘Zyon’ chant in response. Zyon, for his part, just snorts.

 

“Y’know, you take that ‘promise’ bullshit awfully serious,” he remarks. “But hey, maybe you wouldn’t be so bothered about what people thought of you now if you’d actually had some goddamn morals in the past!”

 

“OOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“That was stiff!” Mak says in surprise and, perhaps, a little amusement as the crowd gasps collectively.

 

“Morals are overrated,” Suicide King sniffs.

 

“Is that so?” Stephens replies to Zyon, one eyebrow quirking upwards slightly. “Well sunshine, I’m so glad you’re here to preach to me about the morals of professional wrestling. Maybe you can enlighten me about how moral it is to take the win in a tag match after Spike Jenkins has hit the opposition with a kendo stick?”

 

“OOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“Or a magnet to the balls, perhaps?”

 

“OOOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“Or just maybe, clocking one of your opponents with a title belt, perhaps the Cruiserweight Title that you’re currently in possession of, and rolling Spike on top cos you’re not even the legal man!”

 

“OOOOOOOOOOOOOHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”[/b

 

“And Stephens gets stiff in return,” Francis exclaims, “he’s giving as good as he gets here!”

 

“Don’t use those phrases about Toxxic!” Suicide King splutters, “I don’t want to hear about Toxxic getting stiff!”

 

Zyon, meanwhile, doesn’t seem to impressed with the World Champion reminding the audience about some of the questionable tactics he employed while teaming with Spike Jenkins. So he decides to drop the A-bomb.

 

“At least I can beat Spike on Pay-Per-View.”

 

“WHHHHHHOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!”

 

“ZY-ON!”

 

“ZY-ON!”

 

“ZY-ON!”

 

“King, I don’t think Michael Stephens is going to like being reminded of that!” Mak Francis says, having to half-shout to make himself heard over the massive reaction to Zyon laying the verbal smack down (or possibly Smarkdown) on the World Champion, “it was a year ago at 13th Hour 2005 that Spike Jenkins beat the then-Toxxic in a Last Man Standing match after frog splashing him through the announce table-”

 

“-and was mercifully suspended by Tom Flesher moments after the match,” Suicide King recalls. “If only Tom has suspended him up until the time he started beating the crap out of Zyon on a regular basis!”

 

Meanwhile, Michael Stephens has half-turned away. A wry grin creeps over his face, as if he’s unable to believe what he’s just heard. Zyon just stares at him, and a careful observer would notice the tension in the stance and in the lines of his face. Zyon’s ready to fight, here and now, should he need to. However, as Michael Stephens turns back to face him, it doesn’t look like he will.

 

“OK then,” the World Champion says, cracking his neck from side-to-side. “You want to step up? Fine. You’ll find me waiting for you.” He shoulders the World Title, but then a thought seems to occur to him. “Zyon… if you think you’re ready for this… if you think you’ve got what it takes to knock off one of the most dominant World Champions this company’s ever seen… if, above all, you think that I’m going to be half as easy to get through as Spike was, then sunshine…”

 

The crowd recognise the structure of this sentence. They’ve heard it before. However, unlike before, this time they’re going to sing along.

 

“PREPARE TO BE PROVED WRONG!”

 

So saying, Michael Stephens grins at Zyon and drops the microphone to the mat before rolling under the bottom rope and starting to head towards the back as ‘Rookie’ kicks up over the PA system. The Unique Youth turns and looks after him, complete and utter focus burning in his eyes.

 

“Fans, what started as a sincere promise to Zyon in China has just escalated into something a whole lot more personal for both men!” Mak Francis says. “Zyon’s convinced that this is his time, his chance to step up to the main event; Michael Stephens has already got his first challenge after defeating Landon Maddix for the belt, and we’ll have to see if our new World Champion can still bring it when his own neck isn’t on the line! We don’t know where and we don’t know when, but it seems obvious to me that this World Title match will take place! Stay tuned, because we’ve got more explosive action coming your way after the break!

 

 

 

 

 

FADE OUT

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“And we’re back,” says the Suicide King, as the bleak and tattered Raccoon City Police Department lights up with the SWF’s makeshift lighting system. “We’re here at the... where are we again, Mak?”

 

“The Raccoon City Police Department, King,” Mak replies. “Even as we speak, the doors are barricaded shut, but the zombies outside are....”

 

“Oh, cut the crap. Who do you think we are, ECW?”

 

“Anyway,” Mak says, “we’re on the heels of the 13th Hour pay-per-view, where Michael Stephens won the SWF World Championship from Landon ‘La Cucaracha’ Maddix, and where inexplicable crowd favorites Tom Flesher and Charlie Matthews narrowly defeated the Dead Precedents. Granted, they had the help of...”

 

“LADIES AND GENTLEMEN,” comes the thin tenor of James Matheson, who walks through the door functioning as an entryway, carrying his trademark Halliburton briefcase as he shouts his introduction over the dull roar of the Raccoon City crowd, “I’d like you to take just a moment to get up on your feet. It’s something I expect you all to do anyway, because the man who’s going to address you next is not just one-half of a tag team that’s about to take the division by storm. Oh, no, that would be impressive enough on its own, as you saw the other night when he helped drive Bloodshed’s head into the mat, but this athlete is also about to break necks and take names on his way to whatever damn singles belt he feels like taking away from one of the rubes. That’s right... he’s magnificent, he’s superior, he’s award-winning... he’s the master of the King Cobra submission... TOM! FLESHER!”

 

“Oh god,” Mak groans. “Flesher joining up with Matheson is like high school, where you see a really smart guy, a really good athlete, fall in with the wrong crowd. In no time you see him smoking behind the gym and he’s never the same again.”

 

With that, the concussive opening of Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir” blares over the boom box attached to a megaphone that passes for a sound system in a barricaded police department. Flesher walks through the entrance, dressed casually in a pair of dark khaki cargo pants and a tailored, striped blue shirt. As he walks out, he grins at the crowd and smooths his collar before strutting to the center of the ring. Matheson follows behind him, and the pair enters the ring together, with Matheson handing off the wireless mic as “Kashmir” fades out.

 

“Well, good evening, Raccoon City,” Flesher says with a smirk. He looks to the outside, expecting a cheap pop, but getting only some scattered applause. “I mean, it’s no Nippon Budokan, but I’ll take what I can get.” That draws a round of boos from the crowd, and Flesher nods with a grin. “Yeah, I figured as much. But it doesn’t matter – you all watched 13th Hour last Sunday, and you saw what me and Grappler did to the Dead Precedents. I’m surprised Bloodshed’s even planning to fight tonight, after the way his head splattered on the mat.”

 

“But,” Tom continues, “more importantly, I got Bruce Blank back for what he did to me while I was playing Ghost Machine Version Two. Now, maybe I haven’t gotten Wayne back for jabbing me in the kidneys with a cattle prod, but that can wait for another day. I’m more concerned about the fact that two guys walked out of that arena with belts they didn’t walk in with. Mike Cross? Where does he get off waltzing in here after he hasn’t wrestled a match in god knows how long and jumping his tag team partner to take his shot at the belt away from him? Mikey, around here, our rookies pay their f**king dues before they even get into the ring with a champion.”

 

Flesher’s admonition for Cross garners a mixed reaction from the crowd, but he pays no attention to it. He continues, “And you, Michael Stephens... we both remember what’s gone on between us in the past. You can walk around with that belt, but always remember, Stephens... you’re only going to hold on to it as long as I let you.”

 

“So,” Flesher says, “the Heavyweight and Cruiserweight Champions are on notice. There’s only Joe Peters to deal with. How does a superior talent like me convince him that it’s time for one more turn? He know I sell tickets. He knows I thrill the fans, and he knows that crossover appeal just doesn’t get any better than this. If he’s going to hold out on me, all I can do is trample the entire roster... again... and start off by crossing another name off the list.”

 

“You know who you are, boys. One down.”

 

With that, Flesher dusts his hands off and smirks. Once again, “Kashmir” starts up, and as Flesher and Matheson remain in the ring, the show fades to commercial.

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S!

 

W!

 

F!

 

Aftershoooooooooooooox!!!!!!

 

Live from… Raccoon City Police Station? What the fuck? Isn’t this place like… infested with zombies or some crap? Is Raccoon City even a real town? It’s no matter, I guess. That’s where we are, all though I’m not quite sure how we even got here. Maybe a teleporting device of some sort. Maybe Capcom just really doesn’t want to let the series die. Who knows? Either way, here we are and here we will be all night. Even if here doesn’t really exist.

 

But when you really think about it, what proof do we have that anywhere really exist? I’m just going to throw out an idea here… what if we’re just floating in the ether of one big imaginary world? What if nothing exists? What if there is no truth to anything in this world? I mean, when you get down to it, truth is entirely subjective…

 

“WOULD YOU JUST GET ON WITH IT?!” bites King, yelling at the narrator.

 

Right… I got a little carried away. I’m sorry.

 

…please don’t fire me. I’m really not that bad of a guy, you know.

 

“Just do your job and we wont have any problems.” King adds, “sheesh, amateurs. In my day, we were allowed to burn narrators with lit cigarettes in order to keep them in line.”

 

Um… that’s really creepy. King gives the narrator an evil glare. See? I’m working here! The camera pans around the police station, packed with the few remaining residents of Raccoon City. It’s obvious that they’re all here for the same reason… to see some great live wrestling action! Well, that and shelter from the mutants and zombies roaming the streets. But mostly the wrestling part! Yay! The camera picks up a sign being held by up by a woman with long black hair in the audience that reads “I’m so hungry, I could eat a cockroach!” Unfortunately, the woman then puts down her sign and tucks her hair up underneath a trucker hat, revealing herself to actually be a man. Swerve?!

 

“Longdogg…. Mak Francis coming to you live from a wheelchair parked behind the announcers table due to a shitty storyline I got talked into doing with Spike Jenkins.”

 

“… and I’m the Suicide King.”

 

“But not only am I in a wheelchair, I’m also inside of the notorious Raccoon City Police Station, which has had the floor cleared of desks and bodies in order to allow us to place a wrestling ring inside of the building, and broadcast live!” Mak boasts. “With all the painstaking effort that we took to bring this show to you, it’s a wonder that there weren’t any more than two matches scheduled for tonight, King.”

 

“You suck, Mak, and if it weren‘t already crippled I‘d probably run you over with my car.” King says with a smile. “But not only that, you’re also correct for once!”

 

“Yessss!” Mak celebrates.

 

“I was surprised to see so little matches scheduled, but then I remembered that we’re less than a week removed from 13th Hour, which you can still catch on replay from some cable suppliers! Order now! But not only that, we also just want to get the hell out of this place!”

 

“I second that, King. This place gives me the creeps. I think it might be haunted!”

 

“Jenkies, Mak. I’m sure there has to be some explanation for this,” adds Velma. “There’s no such thing as ghosts… you stupid fuck.”

 

“How delightfully random,” Mak growls, “A Scooby Doo reference in a wrestling match!”

 

“We’ve got no where to go but down from here,” King sighs. “And with that in mind, it looks like Funyon is ready to start the match!”

 

Inside the ring stands the legendary Funyon, wrestling announcer to the stars! He pulls the mic up to his mouth and begins to speak. “Ladies, Gentlemen, and the one questionable person in the corner…”

 

“Hey!”

 

“… the following match is scheduled for one fall, and is presented in 3-D! Introducing first…”

 

“Man in the Box” by Alice in Chains begins to play, cueing the entrance of the Insane Luchador! Unfortunately, due to space constraints and fire ordinances, there will be no pyros tonight. So instead, a group of road agents run out and throw black and red streamers into the air! Rickmen walks out onto stage as the fans cheer, milking the attention.

 

“… weighing in at two hundred and twenty-one pounds… from Easton, Pennsylvania… he is Insane Luchador!”

 

He thrusts his arms into the air before taking off sprinting to the ring, slapping hands on the way down. He rolls under the bottom rope before hopping to his feet, eagerly awaiting his opponent. The road agents quickly grab their second batch of streamers.

 

“… and his opponent…”

 

Someone hits the dimmer switch on the lights as a road agent rolls one of the police searchlights into position on the second story balcony of the building when Zach de la Rocha walks out!

 

“Zach de la Rocha?! Here?” Pete says ecstatically. “I didn’t know that the SWF had contracted him to appear!”

 

“They didn’t.” King explains. “He was being held in a cell backstage after being caught protesting the Umbrella Corporation, and everyone just kind of forgot about him.”

 

“Forgot about him?”

 

“Yes… forgotten. Like his solo career.”

 

Zing! Streamers explode from each side of the stage, launching a flurry of red and gold towards the ceiling and cueing Zach de la Rocha's to sing Rage Against The Machine’s cover of "Street Fighting Man". The arena lights dim in and out along to the beat as Austin Sly makes his arrival on stage.

 

"Everywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet boooooy..."

 

"'Cause summers here and the time is right for fighting in the streeeet boooooy..."

 

“… weighing in at two hundred and twenty pounds… from St. Louis, Missouri… he is Austin Sly!” Funyon says, stepping out of the center of the ring to join Referee Sexton Hardcastle.

 

With a smile on his face, Austin slowly makes his way down the entrance ramp through the group of on-lookers lashing out for high fives on either side. He slaps a few hands on his approach before casually rolling underneath the bottom rope and into the ring, the end of his trench coat trailing his every moment with an extra flare. He quickly paces the ring before making his way to a corner and removing his coat before hanging it on the ringpost. He takes extra care in hanging it tonight, though.

 

“These two have faced off many times over their time here in the SWF, but its been a while since their last match together,” Mak reads from his facts sheet. “This should be an interesting match with possible title intentions down the road.”

 

“I’m so excited that I’ve got wood!” Mak says, holding up a clip board. “And attached to this piece of wood is a sheet of paper similar to yours, Mak!”

 

Inside the ring, Sly and Rickmen approach each other and tap knuckles in a sign of equal respect before the match starts. The share a quick word too, but it’s inaudible to the camera and only mentioned here to pad my count and make this match seem longer than it really is. Because otherwise, I’d have to awkwardly space my lines.

 

*

 

D

 

I

 

N

 

G

 

*

 

Ding~! The match begins, and Austin Sly and Insane Luchador begin to circle each other, looking for a weakness. Sly is the first to make a move, diving in after Rickmen’s legs, but he’s too quick and pushes Austin away! Austin pops back up, and once again the two begin to circle each other. Sly once again goes for the legs, but as IL jumps back, Austin raises up and clotheslines the former homicide victim! IL hits the match with a thud, but sits up quickly… and into a headlock from his opponent! Sly wrenches down on his opponent’s neck, trying to prevent any oxygen from entering his body. Austin starts to pull Rickmen to his feet, but he resists and throws a couple of elbows to Sly’s midsection in order to free himself. The Insane Luchador quickly spins on his heels and sends his fist sailing into Austin’s face and knocking him off guard!

 

“A good reversal by the Ill One!” Mak notes.

 

Sly teeters on his feet, and as he does IL sneaks in and wraps his arms around his waist before leaning back and demonstrating a perfect snap suplex! Austin grasps at his eternally sore neck, but was lucky enough to take the blunt of the blow with his back. Rickmen bounces back to his feet, followed shortly thereafter by Sly. The Insane Luchador reels back and take a swing at Austin, but it’s ducked! Austin quickly wraps his arms around his opponent’s waist before leaning back and hitting a snap suplex of his own!

 

“Dueling suplexes!” calls out Mak. “This is great!”

 

“This is almost as much fun as my last trip to the podiatrist” sighs King.

 

“Oh King… you so crazy!”

 

*Canned laughter*

 

Rickmen bounces off the mat, then tries to get back up too quick and is noticeably dizzy. Austin walks up behind him, wraps his arms around his waist again, and then lifts him up and over with a German Suplex! He doesn’t release his hold though! Both men climb back to their feet before Austin hits another German Suplex!

 

“Two quick German Suplex’s, and now the Ill One isn’t so quick to get back to his feet.” Mak cheers.

 

Rickmen struggles to get up this time, but Austin’s hands are still locked together. This can mean only one thing. A third German Suplex! This time, Austin holds on for a bridge, and Referee Sexton Hardcastle slides in for the count.

 

One!

 

 

 

 

Two!!

 

 

THREEEE-WAIT NO! TOO FAR UNDER WORD COUNT!

 

Rickmen and Sly both push themselves back to their feet… but the mood in the makeshift arena has just changed. Something dark and eerie has filled the room. It’s… it’s… [email protected]

 

“Zombies, King!” screams Mak.

 

“I see them… wha-what do we do?”

 

“There’s only one thing we can do, King,” Mak says with confidence. “Do you have your ring?”

 

“Of course, but…”

 

“Shape of, desert tray!”

 

“Mak, this is dumb.” King says, frowning. “Lets just act like we’re already dead instead.”

 

“Okay.”

 

King collapses down across the announcers table while The Franchise leans back into his chair, drops his head back and lets his tongue roll out of the side of his mouth. Havoc reigns around the police station, as a horde of zombies break through the barriers and creep their way down towards the ring. Austin turns to his former opponent and new ally, “you packing?”

 

IL nods to agree as Austin casually walks over to his trench coat that‘s draped over the ring post… and pulls out a shotgun and a box of shells! He casually loads the gun as he glances over at Rickmen, who has reached underneath his pants leg and pulled out a… squirt gun?

 

“Please tell me you’ve got holy water in that water pistol.”

 

“I was all out… but I did just save a ton of money on my car insurance by switching to Geico!”

 

Austin shakes his head as he walks to the edge of the ring, aims over the top rope, and fires! The bullet zooms ahead, crashing into the skull of the first zombie and exploding his head on impact! Skin and bones fly everywhere in an awesome display of gore and Winchester engineering!

 

*BOOM!*

 

Austin fire a round out of the second barrel, sending another zombie back to the hell from which it came! He cocks the gun and reloads as the undead warriors steadily march towards the ring. Rickmen spins on his heels in the ring, waiting for a monster to advance close enough that he may use his water pistol of might and glory!

 

“Hey Austin! I have bad news…” mutters the Insane Luchador.

 

“What could be worse than this?”

 

“We‘ve got a nemesis coming on fast!”

 

“… shit.” mutters Austin.

 

Austin quickly spins to face the oncoming beast, firing off two quick rounds into it’s belly and barely slowing it down! The nemesis plants it’s front foot on a desk and leaps into the air and over the ring ropes, making the leap seem comparable to that of over a puddle! It lands with a mighty crash, shaking the ring and both men inside it. As the zombies close in, Austin spins back around and begins firing into the crowd, taking a few down. Meanwhile Rickmen…

 

…skeet skeet skeet skeet…

 

… fires his squirt gun at the nemesis as fast as he can. This, of course, does nothing. The nemesis quickly wraps his bulging hands around the neck of Rickmen, lifting him up into the air to dangle. His feet are still free though…

 

WAM!

 

Rickmen kicks as if his life depended upon it (because it really does), nailing the undead mutant soldier in his… undead… mutant genitals. Geez… even I feel weird writing that. The nemesis drops to it’s knees in pain as IL quickly catches his breath before rocketing at the nemesis with a LAARRIIIIIATTOOOOOO~! The nemesis’ head flies off, bounces once off the announcer’s table, then comes to a rest on the floor of the police station! Meanwhile, on the other side of the ring, the zombies have thinned out considerably but are now at the edge of the ring! IL quickly rushes over as the first one begins to climb under the bottom ropes… but stomps on the back of its head, crushing the zombie’s skull! Between the skull stomping IL and shotgun wielding Sly, the zombies are soon obliterated and the threat removed. Both men back into the center of the ring, IL still panting for air. Austin turns to face his friend… and then bashes him on the back of the head with the end of his shotgun! The Ill One collapses to his mat, allowing Austin to pin him. Hardcastle shrugs, then slides down to count the pin!

 

One!

 

 

 

Two!

 

 

 

 

Three!

 

*Ding ding ding!*

 

“Well… that was kind of strange,” says the rejuvenated Mak Francis.

 

“The match?” questions King.

 

“Yeah…” says Mak. “Weird ending and stuff.”

 

“Forget the match… we need a clean up out here!”

 

 

 

 

… if you’re seeing this, IL no-showed! Whee!

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Landon Maddix sits in the locker room, eyes closed, replaying over and over the events of last Sunday night. It’s not necessarily an unnatural thing to do, especially when one has been a little… over-focused… in the previous months. There’s nothing strange about the scene at all; Landon sitting contemplating in a chair, eyes shut.

 

Apart from the fact that this isn’t his locker room.

 

*click*

 

“-yeah, seeya in a bit,” a familiar voice is heard to say as the door opens, “I’ll just pick up me stuff and we’ll get onto wherever the bloody hell Peters is sending us-what the bloody hell!?

 

Michael Stephens stops in shock, clearly surprised to see Landon Maddix sitting, calm as you like, in a chair in the middle of his locker room. Startled by the sudden change in tone, Amy Stephens piles in after him and comes to an equally surprised halt.

 

“Hi,” Landon says, waving.

 

“You’ve got to be bloody kidding me,” Stephens (the male one) growls, shoving the World Title belt at his sister and settling into a fighting stance, but Landon gets to his feet and waves his hands placatingly.

 

“Wait, wait… listen. I’m not here to fight you.”

 

“Then you can get the fuck out,” Mike says, opening the door and standing to one side. “Go on, shift.”

 

“What, you think I got lost?” Landon asks, “I did have a reason for coming here, you know.”

 

“Which is?” the World Champion asks, clearly not prepared to make this easy.

 

“Well, I wanted to say… that it is over between us,” Maddix says, folding his arms and waiting to see how his enemy reacts. Predictably, Stephens isn’t impressed.

 

“Oh, really?” he snorts, raising one eyebrow. “So after however many months of abuse, insults, attacks et-bloody-cetera, you’ve now decided to play nice? Bollocks, Landon. Get out.”

 

“It’s true!” Maddix protests. “Look, I was convinced that you hadn’t changed, that you were still going to be the person that nearly broke my neck last year - that was why I wanted you to come back, I wanted revenge on that person! When you pulled that stunt in my hotel room last week, that only made me more certain. But then in our match… you could have tried the Demonstar again. You didn’t. And I realised that everything you did in that match and before it was only to give yourself a better chance of getting out in one piece.”

 

“And?” Stephens says when Landon pauses. To his amazement the former World Champion steps forward and extends his hand.

 

“Look, I still don’t like you,” Maddix admits, “but it’s not like before. You have changed. You’re not ‘Toxxic’ anymore. The whole point of getting you to come back and challenging you to a match... forcing you into a match, whatever... the whole point of that was to come to peace with what happened at From The Fire. I thought crippling 'Toxxic' would have done that. As it turns out, I'm at peace with things regardless. The better man won this time, no controversy, no questionable tactics. No matter what you think of me and what I've done in these past few desperate months, I'm man enough to admit that. It's not like last time, I'm not running scared of you. If we cross paths again then yeah, I’ll try and beat you, but nothing more. No more attacks, no more mindgames, none of that stuff.” He looks down at his hand, then back up at the World Champion. “Deal?”

 

Stephens still looks dubious.

 

“Come on Michael, what more do you want?”

 

Stephens’ eyes flash up from the hand to Landon’s face at that. This is the first time that Landon has addressed him by his real name. Slowly, one black-nailed hand comes forward and clasps Maddix’s.

 

“I think you’re a cunt, but; deal,” the elder Stephens says. “I believe you. At the moment.”

 

“That’ll do for me,” Landon replies, ending the shake and edging past Amy, who is giving him some decidedly evil stares, “I’ll see you around.”

 

“Hopefully not too soon,” Michael mutters as Landon departs. Amy passes him the World Title which he packs into his trusty black holdall, ready to depart from Raccoon City and onto wherever they’re going next.

 

“You honestly believe ‘im?” Amy asks, looking at the door.

 

“I changed,” Mike shrugs, “Landon might.”

 

“‘Ow much ya wanna bet?”

 

“I said ‘might’,” her brother says, “I’m not putting money on it.” He looks around at Amy. “For someone who was shagging him a couple of months ago, you’re pretty bloody suspicious aren’t you?”

 

“Yeah well, he gave me a fuckin’ concussion, innit?” Amy snorts, “kinda gives ya a bit of insight into ‘is character, ya get me?” She purses her lips for a moment. “Mike… ya know in yer match on Sunday. You wasn’t actually goin’ for that Demonstar fing, was you?”

 

“Wouldn’t have mattered anyway,” Michael grunts, zipping up the holdall and putting it on his shoulder, “I couldn’t have got him up for it. C’mon, let’s get out of here.” And suiting actions to words, the World Champion heads for the door.

 

“Y’know, that weren’t exactly what I asked…” Amy says, but follows her brother out of the dressing room.

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Fading back, the SWF cameras are ringside, where they await the appearance of the newest member of the SWF-title baring family, ‘Iron’ Mike Cross, flanked by his new manager, Mr. Kobe. Welcoming us back is Mak alongside of The Suicide King, also anticipating and awaiting the new Cruiserweight Champion.

 

In the ring, Funyon promptly enters, looking spiffy in his rental tux, the crowd cramped inside the inner-sanctum of Raccoon City’s only current non-Zombie stronghold, the Raccoon City Police Department. “Ladies and gentleman, zombies alike, please welcome to Raccoon City, your new SWF Cruiserweight Champion, with Mr. Kobe, ‘Iron’ Mike Cross!” The crowd explodes in a chorus of boos as the deafening and epic sounds of Born of a Broken Man electrify the station in guitar riffs and bass.

 

“FUCK YOU CROSS! FUCK YOU CROSS! FUCK YOU CROSS!”

 

The crowd explodes even more as the new champion steps out onto the stage, Kobe carrying the strap over his shoulder like he’s earned it.

 

“Sure, Cross is a bastard, both figuratively and literally, but at least he earned the win at Thirteenth Hour…” Mak pauses in anger, “But this son of a bitch, oh, he’s real prick. Just the sight of him carrying that belt, the belt former and current champions of this company have all held and made prestigious, makes my blood boil. Someone show that man the door, how Peters can let this stand is unbelievable!”

 

“Well, Mak,” King responds, lightly, “It’s simple; Mike Cross puts the asses in the seats, he said so himself. And so long as you keep looking out for everyone else, you’ll never be as successful as he is. Just watch your ass, Mak; I might have to throw you in the fire to save myself.”

 

“Yeah, I bet!”

 

Down the police station ramp heads the new champion, looking smug, his hair styled as if he came from Hollywood, like some sort of star. Then, half way down the ramp, the lights cut, and the crowd explodes.

 

“AH-KEY-RAH! AH-KEY-RAH! AH-KEY-RAH!”

 

And then, as if a slap in the face, the hard hitting bass line of Money by Pink Floyd hits, and a spotlight hits over the evil duo, Cross smirking as he holds out his newly found treasure, turning, and laughing at the fans who would certainly walk at the door in spite of these despicable acts if it weren’t for the corpse eating zombies awaiting them.

 

“This is sickening, King,” Mak blurts out, “Has he no honor, has he no decency, no respect?!”

 

The spotlight follows Kobe and Cross to the ring, both entering as Kobe holds the belt up, smiling as he leans back, holding the ropes, and letting out a chuckle that sends the crowd into a near-riot frenzy. Funyon tosses ‘Iron’ Mike a microphone as the sounds of cash registers and bass lines cuts, the lights resuming to their normal state.

 

“We should throw this ass hole to the zombie’s as bate!”

 

Cross smirks, looking at the camera before turning to the crowd and shouting some obscenities at them. He lays off and then holds up his cash, Kobe holding up the belt, taunting them further before they simmer. Just as he begins to speak, the crowd interrupts.

 

“ZYON!”

 

“AKIRA!”

 

“ZYON!”

 

“AKIRA!”

 

“DIVINE WIND!”

 

“UNIQUE YOUTH!”

 

“DIVINE WIND!”

 

“UNIQUE YOUTH!”

 

Cross begins yelling, the crowd cheering and laughing in response as he loses his cool and kicks the ropes, turning, and then kicking the turnbuckle and stubbing his toe to the crowd’s delight.

 

“I can’t imagine Zyon wouldn’t show his face, this man has disgraced the name of respect that he bleeds to give. Or Akira, I can’t imagine an injury would prevent him from returning the favor to his supposed ‘best friend’!”

 

“Zyon can bleed all he wants, Mak, but Cross is just better – let’s face it, Zyon and Akira were too concerned with honor and all that shit to remember to work towards number one, themselves!”

 

…And then, the lights cut, sending the crowd into an uproar.

 

 

“WU-TANG CLAN COMIN’ ATCHA!”

 

“AH-KEY-RAH!!!!”

 

“YES, KING, YES!”

 

Akira walks down the ramp, visibly angry. He walks around the ring, towards Funyon on the outside, and the ring announcer tosses him a microphone. Akira runs up the steps, skipping the middle one. Cross wipes imaginary dirt off of his Cruiserweight title, as Akira begins to speak.

 

“Oh god, King…what does Akira have to say about this?”

 

“Well shut up and find out!”

 

Akira opens his mouth, and holds the microphone up to his face, but then drops it back down to his waist and smiles. Cross raises an eyebrow in confusion. In a moments time, both eyebrows are soon raised out of shock.

 

 

 

*SMACK*

 

“Oh my god, Akira just nailed Cross with a European Uppercut!”

 

“Payback!”

 

Cross is taken back, but he responds in such a manner that makes the crowd gasp.

 

*CRACK*

 

 

“Did you see that Mak? Cross just nailed Akira with the cruiserweight title! Did you see his head snap back?!”

 

“Yeah…I saw it”

 

Cross then drags his former partner over to the turnbuckle. He picks him up, and places him on the turnbuckle. Cross then ascends to the top, and faces Akira. He hooks Kaibatsu’s legs on the ropes, and pushes him downwards, into a tree of woe. Cross then takes his time, as Akira uses his legs to push himself up. When Akira gets halfway up, Cross makes his move. He jumps up into the air, and places the Cruiserweight title beneath his feet. He thrusts his feet down, shoving them into the face of Akira.

 

Akira’s mask turns from blue to purple. He falls off of the turnbuckle, motionlessly. The Cruiserweight champion grabs a microphone, and dives down stomach first on the mat. He lies next to Akira, and screams into the microphone.

 

 

“GO TO HELL…AND STAY THERE”

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DING DING!

 

As SWF Aftershox returns from a commercial break, a smallish athlete in blue mixed martial arts shorts with a Raccoon Police Department badge embroidered on the left thigh. In the ring, Funyon makes his announcement.

 

“Ladies and gentlemen,” he says, “the following exhibition bout is scheduled for one fall and will be conducted under cruiserweight rules. Currently in the ring, hailing from Raccoon City and weighing in tonight at a lean, mean 196 pounds... give it up for your hometown hero, Kevin ‘the Dart’ Ryman!”

 

Ryman earns a respectable ovation, as King notes, “It’s not uncommon for police officers to stay sharp by participating in mixed martial arts. This kid’s getting a chance to hit the big time.”

 

“Instead of the bottle?” quips Mak.

 

“And his opponent...”

 

Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life” begins to play, and Grendel walks out through the entrance to a pop from the crowd. “Grendel’s coming off a tough loss to Wildchild at 13th Hour,” Francis notes. “This is a chance to start over and set his sights on Ground Zero, maybe focus on winning back the Cruiserweight Championship.”

 

As Grendel walks to the ring, the fans suddenly begin to boo. Confused, he turns around... only to eat a shotei from Tom Flesher! Flesher walks through the entrance, grabbing the stunned Grendel by the straps of his mask and shoving a thumb into his right eyehole. With Grendel blinded, Flesher grabs him by the wrist and pulls him forward, hitting a short-arm palm strike that sends the Assassin reeling! Abruptly, the music stops, and Flesher throws Grendel head-first into the door jamb. Grendel staggers backwards... right into a German suplex from the waiting Flesher! He releases Grendel at the apex of the lift, sending him flying before he lands on the thin matting by the ring.

 

“Oh, come on, Flesher, there’s no need for this!” shouts Mak. Nevertheless, Flesher tears off his oxford shirt, revealing the wifebeater underneath, and sprints down to plant a vicious kick into Grendel’s spine. Even as Grendel tries to get up, Flesher grabs him by the mask and pulls him halfway up the ramp. Meanwhile, James Matheson stands in the entranceway, cheering his charge on.

 

“This isn’t necessary,” Francis says, as Flesher once again grips Grendel. “If you want him in the ring, go get him in the ring, but don’t just ambush him! Be a man!”

 

“Oh, for god’s sake,” says King, “let it go, Mak. Flesher’s got a legitimate grudge against Grendel, and he needs to settle it somewhere.”

 

As Grendel struggles, Flesher adjusts his bodylock to a hook of Grendel’s left arm. With a quick pivot, the Superior One takes Grendel over one shoulder with a judo-style ippon seionage! Grendel hits the floor hard, and Flesher quickly drops down behind him, throwing his legs around the masked assassin’s hips. Grendel, knowing what’s coming, fights to defend himself, but Flesher quickly shoots a half-nelson under his arm. In a flash, he reaches over, grabbing the afflicted arm and pulling it across Grendel’s neck to complete the King Cobra submission hold! Immediately, Grendel begins flailing, trying to free himself. He throws wild elbows back, trying in vain to hit Flesher’s head, neck, anything to release some of the pressure. He kicks his legs, only to have the former World Champion stretch his body out even further by arching his back and sliding his body scissors down to Grendel’s hips. Finally, Flesher ratchets the cobra clutch even tighter, squeezing the life out of a man unlucky enough to have notched a win over the erstwhile Ghost Machine 2.0.

 

“For god’s sake, Flesher, let him go!” says Francis, on the edge of his wheelchair. “That move’s lethal!”

 

Even if he wanted to, by this point, Grendel is unable to try to fight any further. Under his mask, his eyes slip away, and his movements become fainter. A few seconds later, his movements stop. Flesher, satisfied that he’s accomplished his goal, slowly releases the body scissors. As Matheson cheers him on, Flesher loosens the cobra clutch, then releases it as he shoves the lifeless body of his victim to the side. Matheson helps him up, and the Raccoon City crowd rewards him with a loud round of boos.

 

As Flesher struts toward the back, dusting his hands off in a satisfied manner, the agents pour out of an adjacent office to try to revive Grendel. Meanwhile, Kevin Ryman merely looks on, confused.

 

As we fade out, Ryman’s only words...

 

“I need a drink.”

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Aftershoxxx returns from it’s final commercial break with the Raccoon City Police Department filled to the brink with rabid fans and lucky survivors, The Suicide King and Mak Francis stuck at a desk, two monitors in front of them as the ring crew uses the ring to barricade the door just a little bit more, leaving an open pit with barely any mats to be seen, Funyon standing in the middle of the floor as the fans seem to enjoy the new high-rise seating, climbing into the old ring and hanging from the apron and turnbuckles to get a better view of the action.

 

“Well, fans, it’s the moment I don’t think any of us thought we’d ever see!” Mak Francis yells into his microphone as “Welcome Home” plays around the station, a section of the crowd parting as an office door opens, revealing the team of Bruce Blank and Bloodshed standing behind it.

 

“You got that right.” The Suicide King remarks as he downs another shot of Jack Daniels and Pepsi Max, slamming his glass down on the desk before calling for another.

 

“Ladies and Gentlemen…the following contest is scheduled for ONE FALL and is an INTERFEDERATION MATCHUP!!” The crowd cheers louder as Bloodshed and Bruce make their way through the crowd, the normally anti-Ultraviolent crowd chanting along to the music as the duo leaps over the barricade into the ringless pit.

 

“SAN-I-TAR-I-UM!”

“LEAVE ME BE!”

 

“Introducing first…weighing in at five hundred and twenty five pounds…representing the S-W-F…They are “The King of Pain” Bruce Blank and Bloodshed….THE DEAD PREEEEEECEDENTS!!”

 

“SAN-I-TAR-I-UM!”

“JUST LEAVE ME ALOOOONE!”

 

The crowd cheers again as the music slowly dies down, only for it to be surprisingly and suddenly replaced by “The Grudge” by Tool, causing the Suicide King to spit his second jack and Max shot all over the desk in front of him.

 

“Oh you have to be kidding me……..no way!”

 

“IT IS! LOOK!” Mak exclaims as the crowd parts around another door as it flies open, a figure in a small mask and Davy Crockett-esque cap appearing as Funyon’s voice returns…

 

“And also representing the S-W-F…YOOOUR SPECIAL REFEREE… CHRIS RAAAAAAAAAAAYNOR!!”

 

Upon hearing his name, Referee Raynor tips his coon-skin hat to the crowd and beelines the barricade, hopping up and over, landing almost at the feet of the Precedents before going into a spin, much to the delight of the trapped crowd.

 

“Talk about ‘when in Rome’…” comments the King as the Tool is replaced by a simple instrumental, the crowd unsure of how to react as a series of voices sound out from behind a third door.

 

COACH

LET US IN!

 

CABOOSE

THIS ISN’T COOL!

 

The door swings open to show a small table propped up inside of a fenced in yard, the background a mass of flesh-eating SWF fans that are not exactly up to the “live” experience of the show to gain admittance. Upon seeing the open door, the two OAOAST announcers dive inside, hitting the linoleum with a smack.

 

COACH

What kind of treatment is this! We’re stars!

 

CABOOSE

I’m a star, Coach. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

 

COACH

What the (bleep) ever!

 

Johnathan Coachman continues to brush himself off as the third OAOAST announcer, play-by-play man Michael Cole, appears from the crowd, his clothes a mess and his cheek bloody.

 

COLE

What happened to you two?

 

CABOOSE

I’d rather like to know where you’ve been. We’ve been dealing with the Evil (bleep)ing Dead outside.

 

COLE

Some chick named Allison showed me around the building. There are some lovely bathrooms here.

 

“WHAT?” The Suicide King has finally heard enough, and throws his headset off. “He isn’t saying what I think he’s saying….” His voice can be heard vaguely in Mak Francis’ mic before he puts the headset back on. “What a crock of…”

 

“Now now…” Francis laughs, as the trio of OAOAST announcers begins to yell for the jeering crowd around them to make space for their chairs. A desk can not be found.

 

COLE

Well, I can honestly say this might be a lock for one of the worst places I’ve ever had to do my job

 

“He looks like the kind of guy who does jobs in truck stop bathrooms.”

 

COACH

Oh were you a client?

 

“No, but your mother was!”

 

COACH

Oh you wanna play that game? Suicide King, huh? Go jump off a bridge!

 

“Oh, like I haven’t heard that one before. What year are you from, 2001?”

 

“Gentlemen, please! We have a match to get to” Francis tries to play peacekeeper as the wonderful boy band anthem “Make Her Say” by O-Town fills the police station…mostly with groans from the SWF fans as Funyon continues with the introductions…

 

“And their opponents…they hail from…HOT…uhmm…Lanta….at a combined weight of four hundred and twenty five pounds… representing the O-A-O-A-S-T…Scotty Static and Johnny Jax… THE GLOBAL PARTY EXCHANGE!!”

 

COLE

Now here we have two amazing junior-weight competitors

 

From behind another door, which seems to house a few dirty mops and a small rusted sink, comes the duo of Johnny Jax and Scotty Static, both looking as though they had been cramped up in there for far too long, and both seem to be wielding weaponry!

 

“They have mops!” Both the Suicide King and Mak Francis yell out as the two men enter into the pit, kicking down the barricade and looking to take first swings at the Wildcards across the ring from them.

 

*WHIFF!*

 

*WHIFF!*

 

“HA! They missed!”

 

Both Bruce and Bloodshed dodge out of the way just in the nick of time as Chris Raynor yells for some kind of bell to sound…

 

*A-DING-A-DING*

 

CABOOSE

Sounds like lunch.

 

“Hey, I was going to say that, you rip off artist!”

 

CABOOSE

I’ll rip your old-timey face off.

 

“I can’t kill them, right?” The King can be heard whispering, causing a bit of a chuckle from the three men across the room as Bloodshed and Bruce each move to a separate corner of the once ring-filled pit, each man drawing with him one of their mop-carrying opponents.

 

“No, you can’t, King” Mak says as Scotty Static eyes up Bruce Blank and lunges forward again, the handle of the mop swinging ‘round and connecting with Bruce’s arm, the force of the blow snapping the wooden handle straight in two!

 

*CRAAACK*

 

The break sends Static stumbling back, holding up his smaller, splintered mop before a smile comes across his face and he begins wielding it like a knife, looking to cause a bit more pain to the big man than he had probably expected.

 

A few feet away, both Bloodshed and Jax seem to have their hands full…with opposite ends of the mop. A tug-of-war has broken out just as Bloodshed was able to dodge a second blow, and now the two men desperately pull back, each working hard to rip the handle from the hands of the other.

 

COACH

Come on! Don’t let that freaky bastard take that!

 

COLE

I’m sure his parents were married when he was born, Coach. You don’t have to be insulting…

 

“RAAAAAAAH!!”

 

The crowd erupts as Bloodshed makes one final desperation pull, his body flying backwards in victory and crashing to the floor as he gains possession of the mop.

 

COLE

….that ass.

 

COACH

What did you just tell me!?

 

COLE

Nevermind!

 

“Who knew those guys could be so filthy and unforgiving?” The King says just as Static takes another dive at Blank, his broken shard of wood looking to pierce the flesh of the leg of the Trailerpark Messiah. “Come on, Raynor! That jackass is going to kill somebody!”

 

“Unforgiving, you said?”

 

COACH

Yeah, if you want forgiveness you can go talk to the guys outside!

 

CABOOSE

They’ll chew your ear off!

 

COLE

:(

 

CABOOSE

WHAT?!

 

In the ring, Raynor has found himself cleaning up after a mess he never intended to deal with, trying to pull what has become a vampire-hunting-esque stake from the hands of a professional wrestler. After adjusting his special ref mask, Raynor begins to beg and plead for the weapon.

 

“Give it up! We have too many dead guys around here as it is!”

 

Just as Scotty looks to be ready to hand up the weapon, Bruce Blank comes barreling into frame, his boot smacking the Hooligan in the chest and sending him flying backwards to the concrete, Static’s body rolling into the barricade. Bruce seems almost thankful to Raynor for the absent-minded distraction as he walks across the floor and picks up his downed foe and pins his back against the steel tubing of the barricade before bringing his hand up and back down hard with a mighty slap to the chest…

 

*SMACK*

“OOOOOOOO!”

 

*SMACK!!!!*

“AAAAAAAAH!”

 

 

*SMAAAACK SMAAACK SMAAACK*

 

Bruce smiles and the crowd cheers as he steps away from Scott, the GPX member’s chest redder than the brains of a fresh virgin as the camera moves in to get a closer look; the camera turns just in time to find Bruce standing over Johnny Jax, who lies in a bit of a bloody mess on the floor after taking a few shots to the head from Bloodshed.

 

*****REPLAY*****

 

A second camera catches the action as Raynor fights with Static, Bloodshed fakes right with the mop and then violently swings left, the tip of the mop handle catching Jax in the right temple. The shot doubles over the OAOAST star, and without so much as a blink, the crowd cheers once more as Bloodshed swings back and forth like a pro golfer, the cloth strings of the mop head slapping Johnny in the face, pushing him back up vertical before Bloodshed continues a Highlander type spin and slaps the mop hard against Jax’s nose and face, the entire handle shattering into pieces as Johnny falls to the floor, blood beginning to stream from his nose a bit as he lays there.

 

******END REPLAY*****

 

“And we have blood!”

 

COLE

Johnny Jax is a WRECK!

 

COACH

I thought that damn ref was getting rid of the weapons.

 

“He was, he just hadn’t gotten around to the other mop yet! The one YOUR GUYS brought into this stupid match!”

 

CABOOSE

All’s fair in love and war…

 

“I don’t wanna love anything except those two idiots getting their heads beat in, and that’s what looks like is happening right now!”

 

“Bloodshed doesn’t look too good himself though, King” Francis calls as Bloodshed drops to his back as Bruce approaches, the move bringing a smile to his partner’s face but a look of confusion from everyone else.

 

“Well, as long as Bruce is happy about it…”

 

“He looks it…” Mak replies as Bruce leans down, grabbing Bloodshed by the ankles and pulling him off the floor and around in a large swinging motion, releasing at the peak of the swing and sending him sailing head and chest first like a psychopathic missile straight into the recovering Scotty Static, who had thought he might be able to get a leg up on the Precedents as Bruce had his back turned. He thought wrong.

 

“Well if that isn’t a good use of your partner…my god…”

 

“They call that the Spin Cycle, King, and it looks like Scotty Static is nothing but dizzy after taking a shot from a two-hundred-plus-pound human baseball bat!”

 

COLE

You have to agree, boys, that was quite the sight.

 

COACH

I’d rather be blind than watch this garbage

 

CABOOSE

I’d rather be deaf than have to listen to you most days, but you don’t hear me complaining.

 

“HA!” even King can’t help but laugh a little as Bloodshed stands to his feet and notices the two downed GPXers, and seems to have an idea. He motions to Bruce, who nods and turns his attention back to the opponents as Raynor checks them over, noting there isn’t much he can do due to his medical experience only going so far as manatees and the occasional random broken neck type of injury.

 

COLE

Now what?

 

The fans in the crowd part as Bloodshed dives over the barricade and makes his way through them toward a back wall, where a desk stacked high with what are surely important documents is tipped over by the bloody prophet and drug back toward the pit, leading to the crowd cheering once more.

 

“RAAAAAAAAH!!”

 

“Bloodshed’s got some wood on his hands, and I can say that fully without FCC reprocussions!” calls Francis as Bloodshed pulls the table through the small hole in the barricade left by GPX and then moves toward Static, picking him up and pulling him away from Raynor’s “helpful” eye before lifting him up onto the table.

 

COACH

Oh no! He can’t do this! He can’t!

 

Bloodshed climbs up onto the table as well and pulls Static up to his feet, both men standing on top of the desk as Bloodshed looks to the crowd and pulls Static’s head down, placing him in a headscissors, the smile growing on his face as Bruce watches on from the floor.

 

“This could be the end!!” King screams as both Coach and Cole yell out in despair across the room….

 

 

*CHING!*

 

Bruce’s jewels are suddenly sent up about two inches as Johnny Jax appears from behind the King of Pain, bringing him to a whole new level of pain with the edge of a steel chair. Bruce drops to his knees, the low-blow distracting Bloodshed long enough for…

 

*CRAAACK*

 

…Jax to swing the chair up and dent it right between the second Wildcard’s eyes! Bloodshed staggers as Static slips away and stands, pulling the bloody prophet down and hooking his arms behind his back….

 

 

….lifting…

 

 

…and dropping!

 

 

*CRAAAAAASH*

 

 

COLE

THE SPIKED PUNCH!!

 

“HOLY (BLEEP)” The Suicide King is censored heavily as Bloodshed’s body crashes through the desk neck and head first courtesy of Scotty Static’s brainbuster. The SWF crowd boos loudly as Raynor checks on Bloodshed, only to be shoved away by the GPX!

 

“No! They can’t do that!” Mak remarks as Raynor hits the guardrail hard and bounces back up, yelling at both OAOAST members and calling for the bell!

 

*A-DING-A-DING!*

 

“It’s over! It can’t be over!”

 

COACH

It’s can’t be over!

 

Both the Suicide King and the Coach’s words come at almost the same time as Static and Jax turn their attention to Bruce Blank, Jax’s chair finding it’s mark one more time as Bruce’s skull meets the steel and he falls to the floor.

 

“The Global Party Exchange attacked referee Chris Raynor and this match has been awarded to the Dead Precedents, yet those damned Hooligans continue to attack!”

 

“RAAAAAAAAAAAH!!”

 

Just as the GPX looks to finish Bruce off once and for all, another man comes from the crowd, throwing his hood from over his head and leaps the barricade, revealing himself to be the Urban Legend, Todd Cortez!

 

“IT’S TODD CORTEZ!! HE’S HERE!!”

 

COLE

He’s not supposed to be here!

 

COACH

Well neither is HE!

 

As Cortez begins firing punches off left and right to the GPX, he turns to find himself face to face with a civilian-clad Jamie O’Hara, the third Hooligan brandishing a long belt and a small pouch, the belt snapping off of Cortez’s chest like a gunshot!

 

*SNAAAP!*

 

The crowd once again continues to boo as O’Hara lays waste on Cortez with his belt as security appears from the doors, all rushing the pit area like a swarm of bees.

 

“This is out of control! Jamie O’Hara is not supposed to be here and that is why security is out here!”

 

COLE

Todd Cortez isn’t supposed to be here either! They’re both gone!

 

“I’m glad after tonight all of you will be gone!” King huffs as security hits the ring, only for Jamie to reach into his pouch and pull out a small metallic weapon…

 

 

“IS THAT A STAPLE GUN!?” Mak yells as O’Hara begins to point the vicious end of the staple gun at the gun-wielding security, who backs off regardless and pulls the whipped Cortez up and into the swarm, cuffing him before putting their attention back on the three OAOAST menaces.

 

COACH

We saw Bruce Blank and that fool Bloodshed use a staple gun on the Hooligans, and now it’s time for some sweet retribution!

 

“They can’t do that! Come on!” King pleads, only for the crowd to once again cheer, for probably the first time ever, as O’Hara finds a small drunken monkey diving onto his back…the second Blank brother Wayne!!

 

“Wayne Blank! Wayne Blank is trying to take down O’Hara!” exclaims Francis as Wayne fights to take O’Hara down, only to be pulled from his shoulders by the GPX, the duo holding him there as Jamie turns and, without hesitation, fires off the staple gun into Wayne’s forehead just as security reaches him, the younger brother taking two staples to the face before the weapon is removed and Jamie is restrained.

 

COACH

Disturbing! Yet satisfying! One of those fools deserved to be punished for what they did!

 

CABOOSE

One? They took them all out!

 

“I don’t think so!” King yells out over the crowd as Bruce Blank begins to stir, his mammoth frame standing slowly as security pulls Todd Cortez and Jamie O’Hara toward the exits, the GPX following their partner as they look back down into the pit, Bruce standing, holding his head as he looks down on his stapled brother and Bloodshed, who has made it to his knees and looks ready to tear both members of GPX apart, with Chris Raynor and what remains of the security holding the Wildcards…the Dead Precedents...back and away from the GPX and Jamie O’Hara as SWF Aftershoxxx fades out, with only Mak Francis’ voice heard over the aftermath.

 

“Whether it’s here in the SWF or in the OAOAST, nothing looks like it was settled here tonight! We’ll see you next time!”

 

 

 

The scene fades to black, only to be replaced by a still image, The GPX and Jamie O’Hara standing together on one side of an OAOAST ring, with the Dead Precedents and Todd Cortez on the other, all six men staring down each other.

 

CUE: “Just A Job To Do” by Genesis

 

No use saying that it's alright, it's alright.

Where were you after midnight, midnight.

 

The video begins as the music roars, showing the three masked figures entering the OAOAST in a big way, attacking random wrestlers and wreaking havoc through the federation.

 

Heard a Bang, Bang, Bang; Down they go

 

With each bang, another OAOAST superstar takes a shot from one of the masked men…

 

It's just a job you do

Cos the harder they run, the harder they fall.

I'm coming down hard on you.

 

Fingers are seen pointed around the fed, nobody knows what’s up, and answers are needed. The GPX and Jamie O’Hara step up, calling out for answers.

 

No-one saw what you looked like, what you looked like

Like a stranger coming out of the night, out of the night

Someone put the word on you, I hope my aim is true.

 

Zack Malibu stands, the three masked men standing behind him…

 

I got a name, I got a number, I gotta line on you

I got a name, I got a number, I'm coming after you

 

O’Hara continues to ask for names…the trio returns once more with Zack Malibu…

 

Don't keep saying that it's alright, it's alright,

It seems you went just a little too far this time

Heard a Bang Bang Bang, and down you go

 

With each bang, the masks of the men come off, showing Bloodshed, Bruce Blank, and Todd Cortez – three SWF superstars standing in front of Zack Malibu and the stunned OAOAST.

 

It's just a job I do,

Cos the harder you run the harder you fall,

I'm coming down hard on you, hard on you.

 

Precious weeks later, the invading trio are now Six Man Tag Team Champions, having defeated the Garners in short order. Nobody knew what to expect.

 

I got a name, I got a number, I got a line on you

I got a name, I got a number, I'm coming after you

 

The Wildcards set their sights on the Hooligans, and OAOAST School’s Out looms on the horizon.

 

Keep running, Keep running; city to city

 

Images flash on the screen on the battles leading to the PPV, wild brawls with neither side gaining an advantage, yet the Wildcards continue to prove themselves to be vicious…almost too vicious.

 

Even if you're innocent,

You can cause too much embarrassment

And though your heart is breaking,

And you know there's no mistaking.

For you feel your life line breaking

 

Video flashes of Zack Malibu questioning the actions of the three, with Bruce Blank the most vocal in defense. They say they know what they are doing, and Zack seems at a constant state of unease.

 

Can feel your hands are shaking

The footsteps close behind.

 

As Zack stands across from the three men, the camera seems to show Malibu as almost insignificant compared to those he brought into the federation himself…

 

Heard a Bang Bang Bang, down you go

No-one really cares

Cos the harder you run, the harder you fall.

I'm coming down hard on you.

 

The PPV comes and goes, the Bangs showing each member of the Hooligans falling prey to Bruce, Bloodshed, and Cortez, including the staple gun attack after the end of the match…

 

I got a name, I got a number, I got a line on you

I got a name, I got a number, I'm coming after you

 

The music fades with the Wildcards turning their back on Zack Malibu, trapping him inside a steel cage and beating him, Cortez dealing out the Riot Act Plus and then attacking him with a baseball bat wrapped in barb wire, leaving Zack down in a puddle of blood, the three men smiling over his body. Somewhere, the GPX and Jamie O’Hara watch on, shaking their heads in disgust.

 

OAOAST GREAT ANGLE BASH

SUNDAY, JUNE 26TH, 2006!!!

 

 

BLACK.

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“Mike!”

 

Michael Stephens, black holdall over his shoulder, turns around to see who’s calling his name. He certainly isn’t prepared for the sight that greets him, because there with her red-and-black dreads and multiple facial piercings, but dressed rather incongruously in a pinstripe suit, is someone he knows very well.

 

“Naomi!” Stephens laughs, grabbing his ex-girlfriend in a hug. Naomi Walters, more usually known by her ring name of Jet, hugs back for a second before breaking away. “What the hell are you doing in a suit?” Mike continues, looking his ex up and down. “Don’t tell me; you’ve hooked up with Annie.”

 

“Yeah, I wish,” Jet sniffs. “Nah, I’m working for the SWF now, on the staff.”

 

“Seriously?” Stephens asks, “doing what?”

 

“Oh, Joe Peters has got me a nice little office job,” Jet says seriously, “something in HQ where I sit in a cubicle and he can come and leer over my cleavage every now and then.”

 

“Bollocks.”

 

“Yeah, alright,” she grins, “I’m a talent scout for the indie feds. Well, and he wanted me to be Austin Sly’s manager,” she continues, grimacing slightly, “but Sly didn’t seem to share his enthusiasm.”

 

“Sly’s manager?” Stephens repeats incredulously, “what the bloody hell’s that about?”

 

“No idea,” Jet shrugs, “Peters seems to think he’s the next big thing, or something. But anyway,” she continues, sobering up, “this isn’t why I came to find you. You need to watch yourself.”

 

“You what?” Mike says, tilting his head to one side.

 

“Look, Peters has got something in the pipeline,” Jet says, and now she speaks more urgently, looking over her shoulder. “It could spell bad news for you. I can’t tell you anymore or it could be my job.”

 

“Wait, wait,” Stephens says, taking her arm, “what’s that bastard got against me?”

 

“No, it’s not like that,” Jet assures him, “it’s not anything personal. If it was I’d tell you, and I wouldn’t be working for him. What he's doing is probably a good business move… but it could make things bad for you.”

 

“…do you mean bad for me as the World Champion, or bad for me?” Mike queries, “cos the two ain’t necessarily the same.”

 

“Seriously Mike, I can’t tell you anything more,” Jet says, and once more she looks over her shoulder, “I’m probably not even meant to know myself. Just… look out for yourself, OK? I’d better go.” She smiles at him, a faint hint of her old mischievousness coming back. “See you around, champ.”

 

“Yeah,” Stephens says, watching his ex-girlfriend hurry away. “Yeah…” He turns around and heads off. If he seems to be watching doorways and shadowy corners more closely… well, that’s probably coincidence.

 

Probably.

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And that, for the first stop on the fictional world tour, is an entertaining wrap.

 

Card up when I can -think- of one. Next stop...

 

DOOMTOPIA!

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