Holy War, I

[Click.]

[Static covers the screen as a Play ► symbol appears in the bottom right-hand corner.]

[The battlefield is ready.]

[The army of Lux Bellator toils upon the barren dirt, slowly forming into ranks and lines. They only await the arrival of Solomon Rhodes, and his army. Lux Bellator stands above them, a pep in his stance that we have not seen in some time.]

“At last.” [Bellator says with a smile.] “You have come.”

[But as the light warrior turns around to meet his visitor, it is not Solomon Rhodes that stands before him. Instead it is Pedro El Salvador himself.]

[Lux’s father.]

“For once you show wisdom, Father.” [Bellator begins.] “Perhaps it is to my own failings, but there is something I wish to ask you.”

[His brow furrowed, Pedro frowns at his son as Lux continues.]

“You. Who are you? What are you? You rose from the dead, the same as Rhodes. I only called forth one of you.”

[For a split second, Pedro El Salvador seems to become someone else. His lip curls up in a sinister grin, and he suddenly seems to look a lot less mild mannered. Then just as suddenly, the moment is gone.]

“I’m your father, Lucas.” [El Salvador responds after a moment.]

[With sudden force, Bellator turns to grab Pedro around the collar of his robe. El Salvador doesn’t show an ounce of concern at this, and only allows himself another grin.]

“Let him go.”

[Lux turns to face a new voice as a wall of flame erupts from the rock to separate father and son. As it dies down, we can see the source of the flame.]

“You’ll find no answers in that one.” [Solomon Rhodes says as he steps between the two men.] “Even your light will not penetrate that dark stain.”

[Warriors, both light and dark, stand opposite one another. The army has ceased preparing and now stands ready. Meanwhile, Pedro tries to slink away, but a sideways glance from Rhodes halts him in his tracks.]

“But you know the truth? Is that it?” [Lux mockingly says to Rhodes.] “No matter your power, you will not cloud my vision. This conversation does not concern you.”

[Rhodes doesn’t budge from his stance, instead looking deep into the soul of Lux Bellator.]

“I’ve walked this Earth since man could barely walk on his own, boy. I’ve witnessed empires flourish and fail. I’ve seen the greatest of triumphs and the deepest of defeats. But through all my travels, I had but one mission.”

[He looks back at Pedro with regret etched on his face.]

“He was a child when I found him.” [Rhodes begins, a deep sigh escaping his lips.] “Much as you saw the Kersh child in your visions, I saw Pedro. I knew he had to be the one that prophecy spoke of. He had nothing, so I took him to the Church. I believed they would do right by him. I watched over him, guided him, through his entire life. In my own darkness, I did not see what he was, the dark powers he wielded.”

[Lux seems confused as Rhodes continues.]

“And when you were born, I watched in horror as he pulled us both into a darkness and a servitude that I could not conquer. I thought you were above it. That’s why I am the one who brought Pedro back to the land of the living. I told you, all of your power is found in my hand as well. It is only by my flame that he lives. I wanted him to make things right, yet he remains in the same darkness. I failed him and I failed you, Lucas. I couldn’t save either of you.”

[Rhodes looks back into Bellator’s eyes with a steel gaze.]

“This Holy War is between the three of us. An unholy trinity. The Father, the Son, and the Ghost. I am no longer afraid of the darkness, nor the light. Lux Bellator, I will destroy you and all that you stand for. Because you cannot pour that bowl. You cannot bring that Wrath upon this world.”

[Bellator pulls his gaze reluctantly from his father back to Rhodes. He seems jolted by what Solomon has told him. Yet with a small breath, the light warrior stands.]

“You will fail.” [He states, no question in his voice.]

[Rhodes nods, holding his gaze.]

“Perhaps. I will fight you with every breath that I have, regardless. That is my choice.”

[Bellator snorts.]

“You choose death, then.”

[The Dragon grins as he takes a step back. With a flick of his hand, a portal appears in a ring of fire.]

“It wouldn’t be the first time.”

[Solomon looks over to the army assembled.]

“I see the army is ready.”

[Bellator smiles, familiar ground back under his feet.]

My army is, I only see you standing alone.”

[Rhodes nods, accepting that statement.]

“They’re ready.” [He nods towards his portal.] “We both have business to attend to first. Once that is complete, I will see you back here. It’s time to end this Holy War, and let the War of the Bowls begin.”

[Bellator seems slightly confused by that statement, but grins in response to it. As Rhodes vanishes into his portal, it closing around him in a burst of flame, Bellator turns to look at his father, slowly realizing that he didn’t get the answers he actually sought.]

[But Pedro has vanished.]

Chambers, Wright & Croatoan vs. Dylan, Rhodes & Johnson

Trios Match

[Let’s hope last week’s confrontation doesn’t get the better of Wright and Chambers as they team up with the mighty Croatoan to take on Clyde Johnson and the debuting Tommy Dylan and Freddy Rhodes.]

[The bells rings and it’s Chambers and Johnson to start. Before Chambers gets a chance to start, Wright tags himself in. The Bishop does not look like a happy man, but Wright just waves him off. While Wright’s back is turned, Johnson is straight on him! He rams Wright straight into the corner and follows it up with a Shoulder Thrust and another and anoth…no. Wright drives an elbow down into the back of Johnson sending him to the floor. Wright straightens himself up but before he gets a chance to act on his attack, Chamber tags himself in again.]

[This team is falling apart at the seams. Tommy reluctantly exits the ring swearing under his breath while Croatoan starts to berate him. Meanwhile, Chambers drives a knee into a now standing Johnson’s stomach and throws him to the ground, but he manages to leap for the tag to…Tommy Dylan! Dylan wastes no time getting to work, leaping off of the ropes to Dropkick The Bishop to the ground. Both men are quickly back up to their feet. Chambers charges Dylan but is whipped to the ground with a Running Head Scissors. Dylan is making sure OSW knows who he is.]

[Dazed, Chambers stumbles back to his corner looking for the tag to be shoved by Wright. Chambers shoves back before Croatoan tags himself in and Throws Chambers to the Outside. Wright drops down prompting a brawl to break out between him and Chambers. Dylan, ready to make an impression leaps at Croatoan but is dropped by The Purifier. He rolls to the tag, and Rhodes makes his way into his first match. Eager to impress he hits the ropes ready to tackle the lost survivor but Croatoan swings his arm wildly, aiming a clothesline.  It’s ducked by Rhodes who sprints across the ring, leaping onto the middle rope. Springboard Cross Body.]

[Croatoan is down, Rhodes rolls straight back to his feet but Croatoan is quick back to a vertical base.  Rhodes charges down Croatoan and hits him with a jumping side-leg kick right across the chest.  Croatoan bounces against the ropes but stays standing and Rhodes is quick back to his feet, charging once again but – NO! he gets floored by The Final Reckoning out of nowhere. ONE. TWO–  Johnson slides under the bottom rope but—THREE! He can’t quite make the save! DING, DING, DING.]

[Absolute Chaos in this match saw the team of Wright, Chambers and Croatoan dissolve, what can we expect to see next week?]

The Great Fire of Chicago

Backstage

[A football is kicked down the hallway as it comes to a stop right outside of the locker room door.]

[The kicker comes into view, sweaty after having just competed in a six-man tag team match.  Thomas Wright picks up the football and opens up the door to the locker room.]

[Inside, he hangs up his Manchester United jersey and heads towards the showers.  As he disappears into the bathroom, five figures step into the locker room.]

[Clyde Johnson, D’Von Chambers, and three other black men wearing nice suits of different colors.]

“Boy, now is your chance to become the newest member of my congregation.  Then you can learn to pass that plate one more ‘gain!”

“Look, man, I’ve told you before that I don’t want to join any congregation.”

[The Bishop stops and turns to look at Clyde Johnson with his head titled slightly to the right.  He looks at the other three well-suited men and smiles.]

“After tonight, I think you’ll change your mind, boy.  After the way that that sheep treated us last week, it’s time to show him his proper place in our Father’s world.”

[D’Von Chambers reaches into his pocket and flips out a blade before taking a step towards Clyde.  Naturally, Johnson goes into a defensive stance.  D’Von smiles and… STABS THE FOOTBALL!]

[The air begins to drain quickly before D’Von throws the ball away.  He snaps as the other three grab the shirt that is hanging up and throw it onto the ground.  One of them pours some sort of liquid onto the shirt and the other one strikes a match.]

[FWOOOOM!]

[Flames stretch out over the shirt as D’Von Chambers grins wickedly before slowly turning back towards Clyde.]

“You see, you’re either part of my congregation filling your pockets with cash and living life with class and grace or…”

[D’Von motions towards the shirt.]

“…you get burned alive for being sheep.”

[D’Von takes a step forward and pats Clyde on the shoulder before whispering in his ear something barely audible.]

“Think long and hard, boy.  Because the next time I ask your decision, I’ll won’t be so patient with your dismissal.”

[He pats him on the shoulder again as his well-suited men follow.  They exit the room leaving only Clyde looking at the burning embers of the shirt.]

“What the hell is that smell?!”

[Thomas Wright steps into the room and looks around before noticing his soccer ball and realizing the embers on the floor are the remnants of his shirt.  His eyes turn enraged as he looks up towards Clyde Johnson!  Clyde Johnson holds up his hands in defense, but Wright is having none of that.]

“You… you… I’m going to kill you for this.”

“You can try.”

[The two stop for a moment as they look across at one another before Clyde Johnson just throws up his hands and turns to leave as Wright hurls one more line at him.]

“You better hope that fat piece of shit helps you, because you’ll need him.”

Ethan Rose vs. Marvolo

Singles Match

[It’s a battle between the bold and the brash as Marvolo stands across the ring from Ethan Rose who is still wearing his sweet, sweet shades.]

[The bell sounds as these two proud warriors move towards the center of the ring no further than four feet away from each other.  Marvolo reaches into his trunks and… PULLS OUT A PAIR OF SHADES!  He puts them on as Ethan Rose looks on in shock and anger.  The Phoenix takes a step forward and puffs out his chest as if to show off his physique to which #1 retaliates by puffing out his own, larger chest.  After a moment of comparing, Rose takes a step back and stomps his foot in defeat.  Marvolo strikes another pose showing off his #1 guns to which Rose just rolls out of the ring.  He reaches underneath the ring and pulls out a bag.  He reaches into the bag and pulls something out.]

[IT’S A MASK!  The Phoenix puts a mask on his head and rolls into the ring!  It’s a red mask with golden wings coming off the sides, and his sweet, sweet shades are on top of it.  Marvolo looks alarmed and a little offended as Ethan Rose approaches.  Ethan Rose puts his hands on his waist in a mocking fashion before raising a finger above his head to indicate he’s number o-MARVOLO CHOPS HIM!  The strength was so vicious that Rose is floored momentarily before raising back to his feet only to be assaulted by more!  CHOP! CHOP! CHOP! CHOP!  Rose finally grabs the top rope and pulls himself through as the referee gets in between the two to pull back Marvolo.]

[The referee releases his hold on Marvolo who charges toward Ethan Rose, but he hits a drop toe hold as Marvolo’s face smashes into the second turnbuckle!  His shades break and fall out of the ring.  Rose gets to his feet, removes his shades, and takes off the mask.  He looks at the mask before spitting on it and throwing it at the downed Marvolo!  The crowd becomes adamantly against The Phoenix by his blatant disrespect towards the mask.  Marvolo slowly gets to his feet as Rose move towards him.  He kicks Number One in the midsection before hooking his arms for… EVENFLO-NO!  Marvolo rolls right into a ball!  THE MYSTERY BOX!  Ethan Rose sees this and begins just kicking the SHIT out of him!  Marvolo tries covering up, but he’s vulnerable.  Finally he releases the hold only to take a direct knee to the dome!  Marvolo falls out flat as Ethan Rose climbs the turnbuckle.  MOONSAULT!  He hooks the legs!  One…Two…THREE!]

[The Phoenix rises to his feet with his arms spread wide as THE STREAK continues!  He smiles as he grabs his sweet, sweet shades before lifting another finger in defiance of Marvolo.]

Women

Somewhere Else

[A tiger print shag carpet greets us. On the mantle beyond it, there is a giant crystal in the shape of “#1.” Above the crystal hangs the stuffed head of a unicorn. The walls are bright red, with black diamonds in their midst, all with a giant “M” decorating them.]

“Walking through lush garden of Pai Mei, Marvolo once saw the most fascinating scene.”

[Marvolo himself is sitting in a large leather recliner. Or that cheap flaky cheap leather anyway, who can tell? Beside him on a steel folding chair sits Raquel, seemingly enraptured by the story.]

“Several mermaids frolicked through the pond while at the edge, they were watched by a hydra, its many heads also frolicking.”

[Raquel merely nods as we focus in on Marvolo twirling his mustache in contemplation.]

“The hydra cowered in fear of Marvolo, but still watched the mermaids. Before long, the mermaids came up to the edge of the pond, working together to confuse all the heads of the hydra. As they did this, Marvolo struck at the hydra.”

[He turns to smile at Raquel, who now sports an eyepatch. Queen Raquel has invaded Marvolo’s home! Where is the other Raquel?]

[Of course, Marvolo doesn’t notice.]

“Number One cut off one head after another, but they kept coming back! The identical mermaids suddenly split, one turning on the other. But Marvolo didn’t need their help! He ripped off the last head, while Pai Mei wept tears of joy.”

[Queen Raquel nods once again, but slowly gets up and leaves while Marvolo dramatically gets up and poses by the mantle.]

“He said he called it the Aristocrats. Isn’t Marvolo’s life the best?”

[He turns to face the now empty chair, and his mustache shakes for a moment. The wolf’s head of King Royal sits on the chair, a taunt from Raquel’s captors.]

“Raquel?”

[Cut.]

Stephanie

The Family Home

[In the bowels of The Tap Room, a new family home resides.]

[And yet the screams of Stephanie Cussen echo like they always have. She’s led squirming on dirty sheets, panting, puffing, exhausted and in agony. The walls are covered in disgusting black gunge, crumbling and affected. The stench of death looms within the minimal existing oxygen, putrid and raw.]

[This is her home.]

[Stood at the door, Jake Jeckel and Calypso peer inside, horrified. This is what they came for. This is who they came to see. They look at each other with, nod and enter.]

“I was wondering when you’d come to see me,” [Stephanie barked with a hideous laughter.] “Am I to be your puppet?”

[Calypso rushes to her side.] “We can save you,” [she says.] “We can take you from this place and stop this horror.”

[Stephanie’s head tilts.]

Horror?” [She laughs.] “This horror is the birth of a new beginning. This horror is the birth of the end. I don’t want to be saved from it. I want to see your blood boil and your world burn.”

[She laughs sadistically as Jake approaches the foot of her bed.]

“I’ve been there,” [he admits.] “I’ve wanted to watch the world burn. I’ve set more fires than I’ve ever put out. Do you get it, Stephanie? You don’t get to see the world burn. You only get to suffer in the flames wit’ the rest of us.”

“Let us help you,” [Calypso offers.] “Please.

[The offer falls on deaf ears. Cussen just laughs.]

“There’s no helping me, and there’s no helping any of you. It’s you that doesn’t understand, Jeckel; there’s no stopping my daddy. There’s no stopping my family. This world will crash and burn and there’s nothing you can do to stop it.”

[Calypso looks towards Jake, who frowns, contemplating his next move. Wisely, they both back away, leaving Stephanie to squirm there in agony.]

Plan B?” [The Messiah asks.]

[Jeckel nods.]

[Static.]

[Screams.]

[Cut.]

El Trébol Junior vs. Calypso

Singles Match

[It’s a battle between two of the smallest competitors on the roster!  Calypso squares off with El Trebol Jr!]

[The bell sounds as El Trebol Jr. rushes forward with a huge kick to the shin!  Before Calypso can respond, El Trebol Jr. takes a step back and dropkicks the knees out of from underneath Calypso!  El Trebol Jr. rushes towards the ropes before rebounding with a shining wizard.  The Leader of the Meek is blasted backwards.  She rolls to her feet as Trebol bounces off the second rope, hooks her head, and hurricanranas her straight into the corner!  She slams into it before falling into the bottom of the corner.  El Trebol Jr. rushes towards the corner, springs up, and drives his boots into the chin of Calypso.  BOCA LLENA!]

[Calypso is flattened, but El Trebol Jr. pulls her out before hooking her legs.  One…Two…KICKOUT!  El Trebol climbs the turnbuckle and motions for the next big move as Calypso staggers to her feet.  He leaps off for an arm drag, but Calypso kicks him right in the gut!  She hits the ropes, returns, and nails him with a knee lift to which she turns around into a swinging neckbreaker!  Nice combination there as she hooks the legs of the new Luchador!  One…Two…KICKOUT!  She grabs El Trebol Jr. up by his mask and rakes his eyes!  He stomps his foot in pain before Calypso whips him forcefully into the corner as he hits, bounces, and tumbles through the ropes to the floor!]

[She rushes towards the opposite ropes, returns towards where El Trebol is and dives through the ropes!  HUGE suicide dive blasts him right into the barricade forcefully!  She bounces to her feet and screams out at the audience!  She grabs him up and rolls him into the ring before climbing up onto the apron.  As she climbs into the ring, El Trebol Jr rushes her and kicks out her leg out from underneath her!  She stumbles into the ring right as El Trebol rams her with a leaping headbutt to the gut!  She bends over and it’s just enough as he quickly rushes towards the corner, leaps up, and… AL VER VERDE!  He leaps off for moonsault before hooking the head of Calypso and nailing her with a reverse frankensteiner!  She’s laid the fuck out as El Trebol Jr leaps onto her.  One…Two…THREE!]

[Another big win for El Trebol Jr. here tonight as he manages to defeat Calypso!  He bounces up to the top rope before pumping his fist in victory.]

Vincere tenebris. Vincere umbra.

Somewhere Else

[A professional study.]

[Bookcases full of books adorn every which wall as we enter a large study. Their contents, by the bookends, range from various different historical periods and cover many different topics.]

[Sat behind a desk, watching a VHS tape on an old television is a professor of older years. He peers over his glasses at the person who handed him the tape, his mouth almost agape with shock.]

“What kind of trickery is this?”

[The camera swivels, revealing Brent Kersh.]

“That’s no trickery, I can assure you.”

[The professor shuts off the television, removing his glasses. He folds them up and places him on the desk, leaning back in shock. He has to take all this in.]

“I’ve only read of such power,” [he admits.] “It dates back centuries. The tales I have read state that it would consume its victim until its victim no longer existed. It’s a power that no mortal should have,” [the professor continues.] “And you’re saying that someone has it?”

[Kersh nods.] “I need to stop it. I need to reverse it. Do you know how?”

[The Professor stands up and walks over to one of his bookcases. He runs his finger across a group of books until he finally finds the one he’s looking for. He walks back to Kersh and places it on the desk.]

“This will do it but I’m afraid it won’t be easy,” [the professor says, opening the book and finding the passage he requires.] “It requires the pure blood of a moral man, who has done no evil. He has to be true and pure of soul.”

[Brent folds his arms.] “Go on.”

Vincere tenebris. Vincere umbra. To vanquish that power, you’ll need to mix your blood with his and say those words. Vincere tenebris. Vincere umbra. That is how you reverse it.”

[The Enforcer stands up, and nods.]

“Thanks for your help.”

[He backs away carefully and heads towards the door, leaving the professor to consider what he’s just been told. Who is Brent Kersh trying to save and why?]

The Family vs. Doubt & The Sharkman

Tag Team Match

[It’s The Family going up against The Asylum as it’s Max Million and Jensen Cussen squaring off against the unlikely duo of Doubt and The Sharkman.]

[The bell sounds as Doubt and Jensen Cussen are starting this thing off.  They move towards the center of the ring before Doubt nails him with a quick shot to the gut before hooking his arm and nailing a snap suplex!  Cussen is on his back in quick fashion before Doubt jumps on him and begins wailing!  Shot after shot as Cussen tries to cover up!  Something has come over The Masked Emotion!  What on Earth happened with its sister?!  The referee begins to count but Doubt isn’t relenting!  The referee, instead of disqualifying Doubt’s team, yanks it off of Cussen.  Doubt glares at the referee for interfering before moving back towards Cussen.]

[Cussen gets a big boot to the dome of Doubt as it grabs at his legs.  He begins scooting backwards and tags out to Max Million.  The former millionaire climbs into the ring with a stoic expression upon his face before charging with a hard clothesline that Doubt just ducks.  Doubt springs off the second rope before coming back for a dropkick.  Million moves out of the way as Doubt slams to the mat and slowly stands up.  CLOTHESLINE!  It nearly takes the ‘head’ off of Doubt before Million lifts it up before hooking both arms and drilling it into the mat with DOUBLE DOSE!]

[Instead of covering, Max drags Doubt into his corner and tags out to Jensen Cussen.  Cussen begins just drilling kicks into the chest of The Masked Emotion before lifting it up.  Slingshot suplex into a brainbuster!  GUILT TRIP!  Doubt’s head is just spiked into the mat.  Cussen goes for a pin.  One…Two…KICKOUT!  Cussen doesn’t seem too shocked as he takes a few steps back.  He prepares for a big move as Doubt staggers to its feet.  BLUNT FOR-MISSED!  Doubt managed to duck underneath as it leaps towards its corner!  TAG!  In comes The Sharkman who flattens Cussen with a SUSHI KICK!  The Sharkman is on fire here as he charges across the ring and nails a baseball slide knocking out the legs of Max Million!  He grabs up Jensen, hooks his arm, and… RECKONING!  Jensen is out as The Sharkman rolls him up.  One…Two…THREE!]

[The Asylum seems to have managed to stay together here tonight as Doubt and The Sharkman successfully defeated The Family!]

Incompatible Protocols

Backstage

[We open in the back stage area of The Tap Room.]

[This portion of the complex is arranged much like a warehouse would be with infrastructure extras and equipment sorted along the walls.]

[And in the middle of the room, in the open concrete floor we recognize a walking figure.]

[It’s Jacen Novan.]

[He is deliberate with each step as he moves forward towards the heart of the OSW’s venue.]

[But suddenly, his momentum is halted.]

“Novan, Jacen. Height, six feet two inches. Weight, two hundred twenty pounds. Origin, unknown.”

[Novan begins to peer about the room from under his hood. Cautious. Aware.]

[But it does not take long for him, or us, to see him.]

[TAM. The Automaton standing just inside the doorway from where Novan just walked.]

“You’re looking for me?” [Novan questions with a tone of intensity.]

“Incorrect” [TAM objects.] “I have found you!”

“Ok!” [Jacen turns now to completely face his advisory.] “Well now that you found me, what is it that you want?”

“My integrity programming logic is not compatible with your competition protocol!”

“In English you bucket of bolts!” [Novan fires back, seemingly annoyed.]

“The way you treated that man on the street last week was not fair! You did not play by the rules!”

[A small grin forms in the corner of Novan’s lips.] “Of course I did!”

“It was a game of dexterity and you used your special ability to steal from him” [TAM points a finger at Novan.] “I sense a certain darkness within your being!”

[Novan scoffs before lifting his hand into the air and without pause, bringing it downward in a swooping motion.]

[On cue, a tall stack of large wooden crates teeter and crash down hard on The Automaton before it is able to react.]

[A pile of broken and splintered crates is what remains with TAM buried underneath.]

“Sometimes darkness can show you the light.”

[Novan chuckles, satisfied with his work, before turning and moving about on his way leaving us with the rubble.]

[But as we pull close to the pile, it begins to stir and then…]

[The hand of TAM busts through the wood to the surface.]

[And we fade to black.]

Hysteria vs. Solomon Rhodes

Singles Match

[Another big match-up is next as it’s The Mad Mastermind stepping into the ring with The Dragon!]

[The bell sounds as Hysteria and Solomon Rhodes stand in the center of the ring.  They tie it up, but it’s Solomon Rhodes who gets the advantage early by twisting the wrist of Hysteria over.  Then he sweeps the legs of Hysteria out from underneath him!  The Mad Mastermind slowly gets up to his knees.  DARK WISH!  The superkick hits him right on the chin as Hysteria just crumples from the kick.  Solomon Rhodes covers him!  One…Two…FOOT ON THE ROPE!  Solomon lifts up The Mad Mastermind and he rakes the eyes of Solomon!  His hands fly to his face only for Hysteria to lift up Solomon and drop his throat across the top rope with a stun gun!]

[Solomon Rhodes is clutching at his throat before Hysteria rolls him up from behind!  One…Two…KICKOUT!  The Dragon manages to get a shoulder up as both men roll back to their feet.  Solomon Rhodes catches Hysteria with an enzuigiri!  He staggers into the corner and Solomon rushes towards him with a single leg dropkick!  Hysteria catches the foot as Solomon falls down to the mat right on his face.  Hysteria locks in the leg and wraps his masked hands around the throat and head of Solomon in an STF submission!  Solomon Rhodes begins crawling towards the rope.  He seems nearly out of breath before surging once more and grabbing the rope!]

[Hysteria wrenches back on the hold taking in the full four count before relinquishing the hold.  He slinks back to his feet before Solomon Rhodes gets to his.  Hysteria slaps the SHIT out of Solomon as The Dragon gives him a look of fury.  Hysteria rushes off the ropes and comes back for a running big boot!  Solomon Rhodes kicks him right in the mid-section, pulls him in, and… FIRE AND BLO-NO!  Hysteria sneaks out the back.  He slaps him right across the face and… THE LOST HOPE!  The codebreaker catches Solomon Rhodes flush before Hysteria rolls her up.  One…Two…THREE!]

[The Mad Mastermind gets to his feet with a grin and a laugh.  He climbs up to the second turnbuckle and spreads out his hands.]

These Shoulders

Somewhere Else

[Solitude can be a place that one seeks when the world becomes too overwhelming, yet when one finds themselves in a place of solitude not out of choice but circumstance it can be a lonely place. He felt the whole weight of that student on his shoulders as he contemplated his predicament countless times during the week. His only ally, killed by his own hand, now the fate of the world resting with him alone.  The enemy manipulating him to do their bidding. Their intentions becoming horrifyingly clearer with each passing moment.

This solitude is a lonely place, yet he is determined to not let it break him.]

[Dozens of shadowy figures stand still and stoic, awaiting their orders. The Zeta force around OSW has noted a definite increase since the encounter last week. A plume of smoke follows the only figure who presents himself uncloaked, their Chosen One, Captain Zappa. He inspects the ranks with a look of excitement and anticipation on his face.]

“Long have we awaited what glory is soon about to unfurl. The time draws nearer, and in two weeks time we will be ready for the invasion to commence. There is but one more loose end that must be tied first.”

[He speaks without removing the joint from his mouth, but it does little to hide the confident smirk on his face. His address, however, is cut short as a familiar voice interrupts him almost as if on cue.]

“Zappa…”

[Bobby Neptune. He steps forward from within the ranks of Zeta, none of whom move to stop him despite their overwhelming numbers. Whether he had just arrived or been hiding in plain sight for a while is unclear. What is clear is the look in his eyes. The guilt of Lyra’s death is still there, but there is a look of defiance and determination that mixes with it that drives him. Zappa smiles, laughing in Neptune’s direction.]

“… And he comes to me! Tell me Bobby, have you come groveling, having seen that the Zeta are the way forward? Or have you simply come to admit defeat in the wake of the most powerful force in the universe?”

[Bobby steps the rest of the way towards Zappa, revealing for the first time that his hands are full. He empties the contents on the ground at Zappa’s feet. Small black fragments, broken shards of a metallic glass-like substance. The small black disc left to him by the Zeta leader now lies in pieces.]

“I have come to tell you that I will not be intimidated. On these shoulders rests the fate of Earth. Unlike you, I remain loyal to my home, not selling myself to the highest bidder. You, the Zeta… I will stand between you and the destruction of this planet.

Lyra worked to refocus my energy, my power in the right direction. What stands before you is the result of her work. She believed in me, that I was the key to saving Earth. I have to continue her legacy.”

[Captain Zappa kneels, picking up one of the many shards at his feet. He takes a breath, blowing smoke in Neptune’s face.]

“In two weeks, Red Snow marks the commencement of the Zeta Invasion. When I defeat you inside this ring, nothing will stand in the way of progress. After you lose, the Zeta will escort you by force as their prisoner and lock you back away on their ship so you do not get underfoot during the ushering of the new day.”

[Bobby kicks the remaining shards over Zappa’s feet. The defiance in his eyes grows stronger.]

“I will not go back onto that ship. Red Snow, the Zeta learn the power of Earth first hand once and for all.”

[Bobby disappears back inside the ranks of the Zeta, leaving a smirking Captain Zappa to his thoughts.]

King Royal vs. TAM

Double Feature Championship Match

[The Royal empire may be fragmenting but he still has the greatest jewel in his collection, the Double Feature title for now at least. Can Royal stablize his kingdom or will an Android send it reeling into destruction?]

[The bell sounds as Royal circles the ring, trying to find the right opening before rushing in right into a leaping knee to the jaw. Royal staggers back as TAM rushes forward with a flurry of lefts and right, backing the King into the corner before backing up and crushing him with a massive clothesline. Royal stumbles out of the corner as TAM flips him around, DRAGON RUSH! A huge Dragon Suplex drops Royal right on his head as TAM covers, ONE…TWO…Royal kicks out!]

[TAM pulls Royal to his feet, stunning him with a stiff headbutt before unleashing a rapid fire series of knees or elbows with the Automated Joint Test! A big knee to the gut doubles Royal over, V-TR….Royal ducks under the knee, gripping TAM by the back of the knee and whipping him down to the mat with a Dragon Screw! Royal pounces on TAM, slamming his whole weight down on the right knee over and over again before quickly flipping him over and locking in a Single Leg Crab. Royal pulls with all his might but the hold barely affects the Android as he easily kicks Royal away]

[TAM gets to his feet but gets kicked low before a spike DDT drills him into the mat. TAM slowly gets to his feet right into into the waiting arms of Royal, BRAINBUSTER! Royal quickly scrambles up to the top rope, SPITFIRE! Slamming down on the android’s metal hurts Royal slightly but he manages to roll over and cover, ONE…TWO…TAM gets the shoulder up! Royal signals for the end, trying for the Dungeons of London but TAM powers him away as Royal rolls to his feet, V-TRIGGER! Royal looks out on his feet as TAM lifts him up high, MECHANICAL MAN-ROYAL SLIPS OUT, ROLLING TAM UP! ONE…TWO….THREE!!!]

[King Royal steals this one, taking a victory out of defeat as he uses his veteran wiles to beat the young android here tonight, as he retains the crown jewel of his empire]

Envy

Recorded Earlier

[Recorded Earlier.]

[Ethan Rose stands at the end of a hallway within the Tap Room, a big grin on his face.]

“It’s perfect.”

[He nods in approval as he steps back, revealing a life-size bronze statue of…himself. At the base of the statue reads “ETHAN ROSE: THE PHOENIX” engraved on a plate. He chuckles with glee until a familiar voice calls out from the distance.]

“I figured you were full of yourself, Ethan…but I wouldn’t have pegged you a full-on narcissist.”

[Ethan’s smile is replaced with an annoyed snarl as he turns around to face El Trébol Jr.]

“For fuck’s sake…what do you want now?”

“Well, I have as much right to walk through this hall as you, for one…for another, I wanted to wish you luck.”

[Rose gets a good laugh at this, shaking his head.]

“Luck for what, being amazing? I’ve got that covered all on my own.”

[Trébol nods with a chuckle, shrugging his shoulders.]

“I just figured, what with your winning streak getting started, that you and I should have a match to see who’s the better man…and what better time than Red Snow, when the world has its eyes set on the Tap Room?”

[Rose just scoffs at the idea.]

“Look mate, I get it…you’re green with envy over the idea that I’m better than you, and you have some crazy notion that you can dispute the facts. I’ll tell you what, though…if you want to get your arse kicked in front of everyone, that’s fine by me. Consider your challenge accepted, kid.”

[Rose extends a hand, but Trébol just stares it and then at The Phoenix before walking away, leaving Rose to smirk as he turns to adore his handiwork some more.]

[Cut.]

DTR vs. Cael Gable

Rewind Championship Match

[The Family has grown from strength to strength, the patriarch gaining his first OSW singles title as the Virus but a beaten down hero stands in his way. Can the Olympian gain back just a little or will the Virus, just like the Law overwhelm him?]

[The bell sounds as Cael rushes forward with a massive double leg takedown, slamming the Virus to the mat as he pounds down with furious punches and elbows. Cael tries to flip him over but DTR slips out, stumbling to his feet into a thunderous european uppercut, staggering the Virus into the ropes as he bounces off into the waiting arms of Cael who tosses him across the ring with a Belly to Belly Suplex. DTR slowly gets to his feet, GOLD RUSH! That massive spear nearly cuts The Virus in half as he drops down on DTR for the cover]

[ONE…TWO…KICKOUT! Cael pulls DTR to his feet but gets a shot to the throat for his troubles. Cael staggers away, choking as he finds himself lifted up into the air, BNBE! The Virus snaps Cael down to the mat but doesn’t cover, lifting him up, T-BONE SUPLEX! The Virus tosses him into the corner with that as he rushes forward, drilling Gable with a stiff knee to the side of the jaw before lifting him to his feet first, then up onto the top turnbuckle as DTR tries for a Superplex]

[DTR lifts him up top but before he can slam him down, Gable begins to fight back with lefts and rights before dropping him to the canvas with a massive headbutt. The Virus gets up as Gable sets himself up on the top rope, GOLDEN PARACHUTE! DTR gets dropped by the Super Uppercut as Cael calls for the end, lifting the Virus up to his feet, PUGH PLEX! DTR looks done as Cael rolls him up into an O-Conner Roll. ONE…TWO…THREE!!! NEW CHAMPION!]

[Cael Gable does it, using his superior speed and stamina to put down the Virus and become the new Rewind Champion]

Car Crash

Somewhere Else

[The Parking Lot.]

[Outside The Tap Room, Hysteria walks through the parking lot, the OSW World Championship draped across his shoulder. He’s feeling on top of the world as he filters through the parked cars and arrives at the exit, about to cross the street.]

[Headlights suddenly appear, full beam, shining right in his eyes.]

[He puts his hands up to see, only the sound of screeching tyres bounces off his eardrums as the vehicle in question speeds up, approaching him quickly. He moves left, he moves right, the car swerving with every attempt to escape.]

[CRASH!]

[A ginormous crash occurs, the vehicle having driven straight into a nearby streetlight. The door barely opens, out stepping Edward Newton. The Riddler heads to the front of the vehicle, looking for the body of Hysteria, only it isn’t there.]

[He barely dove out of the way.]

“Where are you Mr. Hysteria?” [Newton asks.] “Come out, come out, wherever you are.”

[The Mad Mastermind suddenly strikes from behind, only Edward saw him coming in the reflection of the bonnet. He moves out of the way, bouncing Hysteria head first off the same reflection. The Riddler pulls him away and sweeps his legs, taking him to the ground.]

“You’ve been a naughty boy, haven’t you?” [Edward says with a tut.] “And you must know what Santa does to naughty boys, right?”

[There’s something deranged about Newton; something insane. He’s clearly lost it. He snatches back his Championship and tosses it to one side before pulling Hysteria to his feet and throwing him in the drivers seat of the busted up car.]

[He picks up his belt and as police sirens approach, steps backwards. The officers pull up en mass, quickly rushing to the vehicle.]

“I saw it all, officers. He came hurtling down that street, lost control and crashed into that streetlight!”

[An officer quickly approaches.] “Sir, I need to take a statement.”

[Newton nods.]

“Of course, anything you need.”

[Cut.]

The God's vs. Unholy Alliance

Tag Team Championship Match

[The Old School Wrestling Tag Team Championship is on the line as the champions defend against the strange bedfellowed team of Ordell Terminus and Hades.]

[The bell sounds as Brent Kersh and Ordell Terminus stand in the center of the ring.  They tie up, and Kersh manages to get the better of the exchange as his powerful arms twist around the head and face of Ordell.  Kersh hooks the wrist of Ordell and turns it over until Ordell’s arm is fully stretched out!  Terminus taps his own shoulder before rolling forward, turning around, and sweeps the leg of Kersh out with a heavy strike behind the ankles!  Kersh gets back to his feet, but he’s nailed by three swift kicks and an uppercut!  Kersh is staggered backwards, but Ordell wraps up his head and… INCEPTION!]

[One…Two…NO!  Brent Kersh reaches out and gets his hand on the bottom rope.  Terminus pulls Kersh up from the ground, but Brent Kersh leaps up to wrap his legs around the arm of The Gateway to Greatness!  Terminus falls to the ground as Kersh is yanking profusely on the arm of Ordell to apply an armbar!  Ordell is hooking his hands together to prevent it.  LEG DROP!  Hades just entered the ring to prevent Kersh from properly applying the hold.  Hades grabs the head of Ordell and drags him to his own corner.  TAG!  Hades tags himself in.]

[Hades climbs into the ring and begins his march towards Kersh.  He lifts him up before whipping him into the rope.  BIG BOOT!  But Kersh is able to duck underneath.  HE TAGS OUT!  In comes The Light Warrior!  Lux Bellator springs to the top rope before connecting with a huge springboard dropkick!  Hades doesn’t fall down, but he is knocked back into the ropes.  Bellator charges again.  SPEAR!  Hades just threw his entire body at Lux!  Ordell Terminus enters the ring as does Brent Kersh!  Ordell Terminus tries to cut off Kersh, but Kersh drills him with a superkick as he’s blasted backwards into Hades!  Hades shoves him off, but Kersh chops him down low!  Kersh hoists up Hades…. SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT!  He grabs Lux and throws him on Hades!  One…Two…THREE!]

[Another big win for the champions as their reign continues!  Who will stop this powerful duo?!  Brent Kersh and Lux Bellator are handed their titles as their faces beam with victory.]

Prison Yard Rules

Somewhere Else

[Sat in a warden’s office, Cael Gable looks ready to do business. He sits across from the warden himself, with a proposal in mind.]

[Before he can even say a word, the door swings open and in walks Sheriff Law.]

[The Sheriff takes a seat, puts his feet up on the desk and grins, puffing on his cigar. He’s the last person Gable expected to see here.]

“When you requested this meeting, Mr. Gable, I thought it prudent to invite Mr. Law. After all, I’m certain that he’d love to hear your proposal.”

[Gable gulps.]

“C’mon kid, out with it.”

[Cael glances at him, with a sinister smirk.]

“It dawned on me recently that Law couldn’t have escaped prison. In this day and age, there’s just no way. For him to be out and terrorising me and my family, he needed help.”

[Law and the warden share a worried look.]

“That’s where you come in, isn’t it warden?”

[The Warden grimaces.] “You have no idea what you’re talking about, young man.”

“I don’t?” [Gable responds confidently.] “Because correct me if I’m mistaken, but he should still be behind bars, should he not? He’s out because you let him out. I’d be willing to guess that no-one even knows he has his freedom. Your superiors and the government still think he’s serving time behind bars, right?”

[No response.]

“I don’t know what shady deal you two have concocted, and I don’t care. I’m not here to pull the plug or spill the beans; no, I want to make a deal.”

“What do you want?” [The warden asks politely.]

“At Red Snow, I want a match with Sheriff Law here inside this prison. I want him in the middle of your yard, surrounded by the inmates who’d love to rip a corrupt Sheriff limb from limb. I want it so that only one of us walks away from that match. I want it so that only one of us leaves. So that, only one of us survives.”

[Law takes his feet of the desk, stares at the warden and shakes his head. He doesn’t want that match. The warden, though, he knows he has no choice and nods in agreement.]

“You’ve got a deal, Mr. Gable. We will detain Law here until then.”

[Guards suddenly swarm him, prepared to grab and control. Gable stands up, shaking the warden’s hand as his staff grab Law.]

“Just remember; you wanted this, Law. You wanted it.”

[Cut.]

Captain Zappa vs. Jake Jeckel vs. Mother

VHS Championship Match

[The VHS Championship is on the line as it’s Captain Zappa going up against Jake Jeckel and Mother in what can only be described as a brutal triple threat match!]

[The bell sounds as Captain Zappa just rushes across the ring towards Jake Jeckel!  Jeckel sidesteps the brash Zappa before pushing him into the corner.  Jeckel begins drilling shots into the midsection before Mother whips him around.  She BITES HIS NOSE!  FUCK OFF RISING ELBOW!  That backs Mother up, but Jeckel now has blood gushing from his nose.  He rushes towards The Mother of All Evil before lifting her up with a charge before drilling her into the corner.  He turns around to see Zappa lumbering across the ring.  He moves again, but Zappa hits a huge crossbody into Mother in the corner!]

[Mother falls to the bottom of the corner as Zappa turns around.  Jeckel goes for a clothesline, but Zappa ducks underneath.  Jeckel turns around only to receive a massive headbutt right to the nose of Jeckel!  “FUCK!” Jeckel yells as his hands fly back to his nose before Zappa kicks him in the midsection, lifts him up in a fireman’s carry, rushes towards the corner, and DRILLS him into the corner!  INTERGALACTIC INERTIA!  Jeckel crashes to the mat below before Zappa drags him out to the center of the ring and hooks his legs.  One…Two…BROKEN UP!  Mother breaks it up by spraying black mist into the eyes of Captain Zappa!  He flinches off of the cover wiping his eyes fervently!]

[Mother begins to set-up for her big finish, but Jeckel gets up behind her.  FUCK O- MOTHER’S EMBRACE!  Jeckel threw a big elbow up, but Mother just wraps up his arm and traps him with a leg locked in as well.  The former World Champion is fighting against it hard, but the pain seems to be too much for him!  He reaches out for the bottom rope before clutching his fist in pain!  ZETAVARIUM!  The moonsault from the top lands with knees straight to the back of Mother as Jeckel managed to roll onto his stomach!  Mother rolls off in pain.  Zappa goes to lift up Jeckel… FUCK OFF RISING ELBOW!  Zappa is blasted into the corner as Jeckel covers Mother!  One…Two…THREE!]

[Jake Jeckel is the new VHS Champion!  He’s awarded the title as Captain Zappa looks frustrated at the new champion in front of him.]

24 Hours

Flashback

[One hour after the conclusion of VHS #128.]

[The Masked Emotion stands alone with something small its hand.  It looks at it as its arms are folded.  It stands on a dock outside of a warehouse that seems to have long been abandoned.]

“Thank you for helping me.”

[A light-blue armored Sharkman emerges from the shadows as Doubt crosses its arms.]

“I’m helping you for your help in exchange for you helping me with Syndi.  Something about this scenario isn’t what it seems.”

“I have my doubts as well.  Now, let’s not waste any more time.”

[The Sharkman steps up to the warehouse door and looks at Doubt who nods.]

[WHAM!]

[He lowers a shoulder into the door and rushes into the large room just as Doubt sneaks in behind him.  He rushes into the center of the room where the five chairs are located.  As he gets there, The Sharkman stops as his head looks around.]

[There are five chairs… but they are EMPTY.]

[However, a screen comes to life behind the chairs.  A laugh pierces through the static as King Crowley smiles widely across the screen.]

“Oh how cute!  You chose quantity over quality, eh?  Well I’m afraid I have good news and bad news.”

[Doubt steps into the light with Sharkman and looks over the five chairs and the cut rope on the ground.]

Good news, your five friends were released before you even played the tape!  They are back home with their families.  Lucky them.  However, the bad news…

[King Crowley takes a step out of the way revealing Syndi, standing, with a noose around her neck and standing on a chair.  Doubt looks intensively at the screen with its hands clenched.]

“… is no more SYNDI!

[Lee steps back and kicks the chair out from underneath Syndi as she begins hanging in the air by the noose as she struggles for a moment before falling limp.]

[Lee Crowley moves back towards the screen and watches.]

[The Sharkman looks concerned.  He steps forward and places a hand on the shoulder of Doubt.]

“I’m so sorry, Do-“

[TENTACLES WRAP AROUND THE ARM OF THE SHARKMAN!]

[Doubt gets to its feet as the tentacles wrap around the throat and head of The Sharkman.]

“You made me doubtful of these peoples’ lives?  YOU made me help you instead of going after Syndi.  YOU KILLED HER!”

[The Masked Emotion begins choking out The Sharkman who is throwing punches and kicks to no avail.]

[The shrieking laughter of Lee Crowley breaks the silence.]

“Oh my brother, look at how far you’ve come.”

[The voice stops The Masked Emotion temporarily as it looks at the screen.  Lee Crowley walks over to the hanging body and reaches up to remove the wig atop of the head revealing a bald head.  Lee walks back towards the camera.]

“I don’t have your, or Johnathan’s, sister.  I don’t even know where she is.  But what I DO know… is that you’ve just choked out the only ally you had, Doubt.”

[Doubt suddenly begins to calm down and releases the body of The Sharkman who is breathing uneasily as he slowly scoots away.]

“Doubt, my brother, you’re alone.”

Mike Lane vs. Lee Crowley

Singles Match

[An old rivalry resumes here tonight as Lee Crowley faces off against the man he originally retired in Mike Lane. Can the Mad King continue his amazing run or will he fall to the Shadows here tonight?]

[The bell sounds as both men rush forward, drilling one another with savage lefts and rights, the hatred between the two still flowing as Lee leaps up with a huge knee that Lane just rolls away from before nearly knocking him out cold with a wild Lariat. Lee stumbles to his feet walking into a flurry of lefts and rights, culminating with a huge knee to the jaw that knocks Lee down to one knee as Lane rolls back, ROLLING IN THE…Lee ducks under, grabbing Lane from behind as he drops him on the back of his head with a Snap German! Lane slowly gets to his feet, SHOCK THERAPY!]

[That huge spear cuts lane in half as Lee covers, ONE…TWO…Lane just gets the shoulder up! Lee pulls him up by his hair, drilling him with a harsh headbutt to the back of the head before lifting Lane up high, ANTI-….Lane slips out, rushing to the ropes, ROLLING IN THE FAST LANE TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! Lee slumps down dazed as Lane pounces, slamming him to the mat as he quickly locks in the STF! Lane has the hold in locked tight as Lee struggles under the pain, laughing maniacally. Lane is a little taken back, loosening his grip for a moment which allows Lee to lunge forward and grab hold of the ropes, breaking the hold]

[Lee gets to his feet, running forward into an uppercut to the gut, doubling him over, DEGENERATION! Lane tosses him halfway across the ring as the Shadow calls for the end, dropping down before rushing forward, SHADOW...Lee catches the kick, tossing him up, ANTIDEPRESSANT! The Mad King is now calling for the end, lifting Lane up as he fish-hooks him before leaping up, HIDEOUS…LANE’S HOLDING THE ROPES! Lee crashes to the canvas, holding his back in pain as Lane rolls back, SHADOW KICK TO THE BACK OF THE HEAD! Lee goes down as Lane hooks the leg, ONE..TWO…THREE!!!]

[The Shadow picks up a huge victory here tonight, taking down the Mad King as he finally gets a measure of revenge for the months of hell suffered at the hands of Crowley.]

The Tooth

Somewhere Else

Elsewhere.]

[Two faces, two doors. In the side of a mountain sits the visage of Janus, the two-faced God’s likeness etched in stone, each mouth open, each one housing a gate. Standing in front of this structure? Ordell Terminus.]

[The Mortal, a Hero by Janus’ regards, stands in front of the twin doors, a message etched in between them.]

[Whoever enters these halls must make a choice. Before you lies two doors. Enter the correct one, and you will be accepted into Janus’ domain, enter the wrong door, and be banished from his good graces. Only the worthy may obtain the Tooth.]

[Ordell chuckles, taking the mask upon the back of his head and turning it around. He inspects both entrances through the eye holes before smirking and walking forwards, taking the door on the left and entering into the temple.]

[And slowly, the camera pans outwards towards the land behind him. A helmet comes off. Slowly coming back into existence, Hades. The God chuckles before following through the door, his footsteps alerting Ordell who turns around to face him.]

“Ordell, you’ve done your job well. I must thank you for showing me the way here.”

[Hades smirks as he approaches Ordell, the Mortal sneering towards the God before backing away. He looks backward, towards the end of the hall. On a pedestal atop of an altar sits The Tooth. A key, one carved from the canine of Janus himself.]

“You know, for a God, I thought you’d be above having a mortal be your guide.”

“I prefer to think of you as an unwilling errand boy, Ordell. Now, move aside and give me the tooth.”

[Ordell looks towards Hades before looking towards the walls. On them? A weapon rack. ORDELL LEAPS TOWARDS THE RACK AND GRABS A SPEAR! The Mortal thrusts it towards the God who takes a few steps back.]

“I was sent to retrieve it, Hades. You’ll have to kill me if you want to get your hands on it.”

[Hades sneers, moving his hand to the side, a flourish of black darkness encompassing his hand before a bident is revealed. He points it towards Ordell without a second thought.]

“Then perish.”

[The two men circle one another as the scene slowly fades out.]

Where Their Eyes Don't Go

Flashback

[Pitch Black.]

[Absolute darkness fills our screen, as if a void in the middle of an abyss.]

[Glitch.]

[Static.]

[Mother kneels in the middle of darkness, decades having passed her by. She hasn’t moved a muscle. As time has slowly ebbed away, her body has become a festering pit of Abaddon. Evil has taken control, and she has slowly come to accept it.]

[Flash.]

[2,500 BC.]

[Greece.]

[Everything changes. She now stands in the middle of a cornfield, the rain pouring all around her. As every drop attacks her head, she plows through the corn, coming to a stop in front of a perch.]

[Looking up, upon it, rests a tatty old Scarecrow. His attire is worn and weathered by the elements, and the stitched fabric upon his face has slowly began to fade and pull apart. Time has taken its toll.]

[She places her hand upon its chest.]

[Thunder and lightning echo all around as the rain intensifies.]

[Suddenly, the fabric freshens and tightens, the straw becomes firmer, almost a solid unit beneath the worn clothing. The Scarecrow morphs before her very eyes.]

[His eyes open.]

[But he can’t see her.]

“My child,” [she says, staring at her creation.] “The first of your kind. Feast upon humanity, like a God, because they belong to you now.”

[The Scarecrow stands, looking at his hands, hearing her words.]

“But be warned, for every evil, there is a good. For every one of us, there is hundreds of them. Your counterpart exists within this world, and you must find him. You must end his bloodline. You are intrinsically linked together, my child, but until they die, you will not be free of their curse.”

[His head slowly rises, his eyes a glowing yellow.]

And where their eyes don’t go, they will always fear The Scarecrow.

[Cut.]

Edward Newton vs. Bobby Neptune

[In a blockbuster non-title main event, the undefeated Riddler Edward Newton looks to deceive and outsmart a man whose consciousness is above that of most of his own earthbound species, Starboy Bobby Neptune!]

[Following the introductions, the bell rings to start the match. Neptune walks crop circles around Newton, who merely studies his opponent. Bobby throws a couple of feint kicks at Edward, but the reigning World Champion calls his bluff. The fans cheer for Bobby, who acknowledges their support even in light of recent events. Bobby goes for the tie-up but Edward immediately latches onto him with a side headlock which wrenches his neck. Bobby backs up into the ropes and shoves Newton off, but he misses the follow-up dropkick as Edward holds onto the ropes – then taps his temple and smiles!]

[Bobby shakes off Edward’s mindgames. There are bigger things at stake… He weaves behind the Champion—maybe looking for a super-early Supernova—but Edward gives him the slip and takes him down with a surprise Russian leg sweep! He goes for an early cover—]

[ONE…]

[KICK OUT!]

[No surprise there – but it all works to tire Neptune down and get inside that head of his. With everything already on his mind, Bobby looks flustered as Newton has showed him up twice now. He shrugs it off and Edward lets him recover, enjoying these cat-and-mouse games. With a swelling of support behind him, Neptune goes for a low kick which is caught by Newton. A quick-thinking Bobby immediately goes for the enzuigiri, which Edward instinctively ducks—]

[ROLLING MULE KICK!]

[Bobby floors the Champion! The fans pop as Edward rolls to his feet, furious to have been suckered in by Bobby. The Starboy points at his temple mockingly, and we kick into second gear! Newton ducks behind Neptune and lifts him up for a belly-to-back suplex, but Bobby lands on his feet and unloads on Edward with exotic-looking martial arts strikes. Edward is backed into the ropes and Bobby sends him across the ring. Worlds collide with a BIG CROSSBODY! Bobby races to his feet and…]

[STANDING MOONSAULT!]

[ONE…]

[TWO…]

[KICK OUT!]

[The fans groan as Newton remains unbeaten… so far. Bobby, the guardian of the galaxy, slaps his knee and heads up to the second rope. He’s looking for the RED GIANT but Edward DODGES the flying knee. Bobby rolls through and turns round – NEVERMIND attempt but Neptune throws Edward out of the DDT finisher! The fans whip their heads side-to-side like tennis spectators as these agile warriors exchange signature move attempts. Bobby takes things back to basics with a HEADBUTT! Edward is shaken but Bobby himself actually staggers back – before doling out another HEADBUTT… Neptune dips down to one knee! Edward is not impervious to the trauma but certainly seems to fare off better as he lays Bobby out with his own retaliatory HEADBUTT!]

[ONE…]

[TWO…]

[KICK OUT!]

[Bobby’s eyes are unfocused as he seems to kick out on pure instinct. Seemingly wanting to show him how it’s done, Edward climbs to the middle rope and waits for Neptune to turn around groggily—]

[DOUBLE AXE HANDLE!]

[Neptune goes down once more as Edward seems to have taken umbrage at his own cranium being targeted. The Champion stomps Bobby on the canvas, then hits the ropes before dropping a leg right over his face! Edward is in firm control now as he hauls Bobby off the mat, wraps in a waistlock, then drives him headfirst with a GERMAN SUPLEX!]

[ONE…]

[TWO…]

[SHOULDER UP!]

[Bobby seems to be running on fumes now as he just manages to stay in this. Newton holds up three fingers and asks, “don’t you know how to count!?” of the referee, who insists it was a two-count. Newton shakes his head and pulls Neptune off the mat by his hair – feigning innocence when called out for it. He leads him over to the corner and SLAMS his skull into the top turnbuckle pad!]

[“Maybe you’re not the guy to protect Earth!” Edward yells at Bobby, who doesn’t respond. Newton SMACKS his head into the corner again. “Do you think Lyra would be doing a better job than you are?” That is sick! Bobby is seeing stars. He CRACKS his noggin off the pad a third time! “Be honest: did you mean to pull that trigger!?” How dare he use Lyra’s memory like this!? “With her out the way, you get all the glory for yourself!” He goes to RAIL Bobby’s head off the pad—]

[BOBBY GRIPS THE ROPES! With a big pop from the crowd and newfound clarity in his eyes, Starboy BREAKS the RIDDLE ME THAT and hits a back elbow into Newton’s ribcage. Edward backs up, allowing Bobby to spring to the second rope—]

[RED GIANT! Bobby hits the flying knee to the face!]

[ONE…]

[TWO…]

[CAN BOBBY DO IT!?]

[SHOULDER UP!]

[Another groan from the fans as Newton’s streak remains intact. Bobby runs his hands through his hair; so close. With The Tap Room rallying behind him, Bobby signals for the end! Still holding his head and swaying slightly, he slowly climbs the turnbuckle and perches up top, biding his time. Newton slowly comes to and staggers to his feet—]

[TITAN’S CRASH—NEWTON SHOVES THE REFEREE INTO THE ROPES!]

[BOBBY IS CROTCHED ON THE TOP ROPE!]

[The official is furious with Edward Newton, but The Riddler proclaims his innocence, having simply lost his balance while getting back up. Shoving past him, Newton ascends the ropes to meet a defenceless Bobby. He cradles his head and leaps back—]

[TOP-ROPE NEVERMIND!]

[THIS ONE IS OVER!]

[ONE…]

[TWO…]

[THREE!]

[Edward Newton pushes his glasses up the bridge of his nose as the referee grudgingly calls for the bell; the reigning World Champion extends his winning streak against the latest challenger. The official tends to Bobby Neptune, who—unsurprisingly—is out cold.]

Holy War, II

Somewhere Else

A skull lies in a field of black rotten soil, framing the valley between two tall hills.]

[CRACK!]

[A lightning bolt streaks across the sky, illuminating the face of Lux Bellator, standing on one hill.]

[WOOSH!]

[A burst of flame rises out of the ground, and as it fades we are left with Solomon Rhodes standing on the other hill.]

“You come alone!” [Bellator taunts across the gulf.]

[Rhodes looks out among the sea of warriors between them, yet he smiles back at Bellator, speaking in a calm tone that somehow carries through the entire valley.]

“Do I?”

[Bellator snorts before gesturing at his army, but Rhodes isn’t done.]

“Once again, you have misinterpreted that which has been laid before you.”

[Bellator seems confused as Rhodes continues.]

“After all, there is a reason why the Kersh child has not been under your care, is there not?” [Rhodes questions.] “The child touched by darkness being saved by the light. Yet you were not there when the Riddler stood above the child.”

[Bellator spits down at the ground, great anger having arisen in him.]

“You speak of that which you know nothing about.”

[There is only silence for a moment, the landscape as bereft of sound as it is of life. Then a deep laugh emerges from the throat of Solomon.]

“Do I?” [Rhodes asks once again.] “Have you heard nothing that I’ve said?”

[Bellator snorts once more, gesturing to his generals.]

“Very well.” [A smile forms on his face.] “Slay the Dragon. Make him suffer for his impunity.”

[The front lines begin to advance, the offensive front as the remainder hang back as a defensive gesture. Rhodes is unconcerned.]

“You still deny that I mirror your power. Lucas, I raised my army over a year ago. As I rose out of the pit of fire, I raised the only soldier I would ever need to defeat your army.”

[Lux seems confused as Rhodes continues.]

“And as you boasted of your victory, that soldier exposed the truth of your visions to your army. Why they were brought back. The price you paid to secure your army has been revealed as a bankrupt ledger. Deals that are broken will not be forgotten.”

[Just like that, the advancing force of the army stop in their tracks, and at the behest of the lone star at their front, they turn around to face the other side.]

“You wanted this, Lucas. An army that would never stop fighting. Truth endures over your falsehood.”

[Like two rushing rivers of water, the now two armies spring forward to meet in combat. Blood begins to fill the valley, flowing as easily as those rivers. Lux Bellator watches with detached anger as this all plays out.]

[WOOSH!]

[Solomon Rhodes now stands before the light warrior, at the precipice dangling over the war below.]

“This is treachery, Rhodes! You have turned the army of God upon itself. Who was this soldier of yours? Was it the Kersh boy!?”

[Lux’s demand only gets a chuckle from Rhodes.]

“I already told you who my soldier was, boy. I was brought forth from death, do not think I would force that life upon others.”

[Like a slinking snake, Pedro El Salvador crawls up to the ledge the two warriors stand upon. Hunched over and filled with hate, he scarcely looks like the same man he did earlier. He holds a knife in his hand, blood dripping from it.]

“Solomon.” [He whispers, staggering towards Rhodes.] “It’s over. The truth. I know the truth… The book. The seals.”

[He falls to his knees before Rhodes as Lux looks on, a satisfied grin on his face. The Dragon holds him for a moment, as El Salvador bleeds further, the dagger falling from his hand.]

[Did he stab himself?]

“The bowls. I know what it all means.” [Pedro whispers.] “It’s worse… ever imagi… please… stop h…”

[The last word trails off as El Salvador draws his last breath. The Dragon takes a deep breath and stands up to face Lux Bellator, who seems shocked by the turn of events. Below them, the war below seems to have slowed to a crawl, the sea of blood swallowing all who participated, sending them back to the restful sleep of death they had deserved all along. Just as El Salvador has been sent back that rest by his own hand.]

“This Holy War is over.” [Rhodes slowly states, rising to his feet.] “The trinity has been broken. Six seals gone. Six bowls poured. Only one remains of each. Unlike last time, there is no righteous army behind us. There will be no sea of glass, no pit of fire. The two of us cannot destroy one another through sheer power. The War for the Bowls will be fought as the first men fought.”

[Bellator squeezes his fists, looking up from his dead father. He meets Rhodes gaze.]

“Man to man.”

[Lux smiles at Rhodes remark, speaking far more calmly than he has any right to do.]

“No.”

[A crack forms in the rock before Rhodes.]

“There will be no War. You have lost.”

[The rock splinters and disintegrates beneath the Dragon’s feet. After a brief struggle, he falls downward into the rushing sea of blood below.]

[Lux Bellator smiles even wider.]

[Rhodes cannot be seen, he has been swallowed whole.]

[Cut.]