Post by Dune on Feb 3, 2018 12:03:04 GMT -5
"It's all in the game."
- Baltimore, traditional
The sky is filled with grey clouds, and we find ourselves floating amongst them. Silence fills the air for a few seconds until a dull roar finds our ears. It grows louder...louder...until finally the source becomes visible. It’s a single engine Cessna, and it flies straight for us. The camera remains still as the plane approaches, and just before the propeller mauls the screen, we cut to within.
Dune is seated in the rear of the aircraft’s cabin, his back to the pilot and the overcast sky that engulfs the windshield. A moment passes before the pilot’s voice comes over the speakers amidst the engine noise.
Pilot: Should be touching down in Baltimore in approximately five minutes. Might want to strap in.
Dune turns toward the pilot and speaks in a raised voice.
Dune: Already am.
He turns back around and presses down on a button near his armrest. As he does, a barrier begins to raise at his rear, closing off the passenger cabin from the cockpit. It seals shut, nearly silencing the engine noise, and his icy blue eyes flick up at the screen.
Dune: I’m strapped in alright. The question is, is the rest of the WCF? Because there’s some major turbulence on the horizon for anyone brave enough - or foolish enough - to step in the ring opposite me and my official tag partner, Wade Moor - Godnilla himself.
That’s right, it’s a done deal. It’s set in stone. No longer will the Leviathan and I be paired at random in the ring. No longer will our respective names be unassociated with the other. Now, because of the bond we forged at One and solidified since, Wade Moor and I are officially a tag team...one that’s going to seek out the competition and leave nothing but broken hearts, broken wills, and broken bodies in our wake; one that’s going to bring legitimacy back to the tag division and a level of prestige not seen since Team Thickness reigned supreme; one that’s going to be standing tall amidst the destruction in the ring when the smoke has cleared.
Seek. Destroy. Win. That’s what we’re going to do. That’s what WMD is going to do. Wade Moor and Dune. Weapons of Mass Destruction. So strap in, WCF. The fucking nuke’s about to hit. And when it does, there’s no going back. It’s a new dawn here in the WCF - one of unrelenting fire and destruction - and WMD is ushering it in.
He looks away as the pilot’s voice comes over the speakers again.
Pilot: Three minutes until we touch down.
Dune gives a subtle nod before his eyes find the screen once more.
Dune: Unfortunately, we won’t be sharing the ring again this Sunday. We’ll be on our own...and our opponents - each member of Chaos Theory, respectively - will be too. Moor’s got Teo Del Sol on his plate, and I’ve got Kyle Kemp on mine. And boy am I hungry.
It’s funny. Wade and I have been challenging Chaos Theory for their Tag Titles for the past two weeks, but they’ve cowered away each time. And it was Teo who challenged me one-on-one, but again - as is becoming the norm with he and his partner - he backpedaled when I demanded that he put his Omega Title on the line. And so this week, it would seem Kyle Kemp has been chosen in part to reap the punishment for Teo’s persistent cowardice by being pitted against me at Slam. And no punishment could be greater.
It’s not fair, is it, Kyle? Why should you have to square off against me alone in the ring when it was Teo whose balls finally dropped only to be sucked back into his pelvic cavity the instant I tried to make our match worthwhile? I agree, it’s not fair - to either of us. I want your Tag Titles. I want Teo’s Omega Title. But then again, I also want Stephen Singh’s World Title - or at least a shot at it. But Rabid’s seen fit to not let that happen anytime soon, what with him snubbing me from the #1 contender tournament. It’s not fair, Kyle...but that’s life. That’s the WCF. You take it as it comes. And this week, I’m taking you down in what’s a mere precursor to our inevitable Tag Title match. Even in defeat this week, you’ll still technically be a notch ahead of me because of the gold you wear around your waist. But when you strip away the Title - which I aim to do when WMD meets Chaos Theory - what’s left? Just little old you. Just Kyle Kemp - the mediocre mid-carder you’ve always been and always will be.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Being a WCF mid-carder still makes you a legitimate badass in comparison to the 9 to 5 average joe. You’ll always have a place here in the WCF. And while guys with your skillset may have come and gone in droves throughout the years, those with your staying power are a rare breed. You’ve been roaming these halls and working that ring for nearly as long as I have. You joined the ranks while I was still carving out a name for myself; before I destroyed ICE Beckman and captured the WCF World Title. You were around for my entire tenure as Champ; for each of the reigns that followed, all of them failing to equal mine in both length and distinction. You’ve been here through it all - through thick and thin - and it’s all led up to Slam this Sunday.
It’s all led up to me.
The plane begins its descent, and Dune grips the armrests as the force pushes him against his seat. After a moment, he continues.
Dune: You’re coming off one of the most crushing defeats in your long career. Last week against Bonnie Blue, you were as close to a World Title shot as you’ve ever come. Sure, you had a chance during the Trilogy Cup in 2016 - which I’ll get to in a minute - but with the roster being as depleted as it is, the #1 contender tournament for Singh’s Title was your best shot in nearly three years. And what’d you do?
You blew it.
You fucking blew it, Kyle. Goddamn. What a disappointment...another in a long line of them for you and those few of the WCF Faithful who appreciate you. And to think, the very next week after the biggest disappointment of your career, you’re up against one of the best to ever do it. That’s got to be disheartening. I’d like to think it’s the opposite - that seeing my name across from yours on the card would motivate you and make you want to rise up to my level this Sunday. I often have that effect on people, though it rarely works out for them. But I don’t think you’re coming at me with the expectation of winning this Sunday. I think you’re looking at our match and convincing yourself a win is merely being able to wrestle the following week. I know your ribs are fucked, and you better believe I’m gonna be coming after them early and often. But know this, Kyle: that’s not all I’m coming for.
I’m coming for vengeance, you son of a bitch. I’m coming for payback. And you know exactly what for.
Rabid. Trilogy Cup. Ring a bell?
You hoped I was gone for good. You hoped you’d never see the day I came back, let alone stood across from you in the ring. But your hopes were dashed the second you saw me show up on Slam last December, and so were your chances of being able to say Dune never got the best of you. Because I’m back, Kyle. And while I want your half of the Tag Titles, in a few days on Slam I’m going to have to settle for wrecking you, pinning you, and finally taking my revenge on you for fucking me out of a World Title shot almost two years ago.
And this Sunday, I’m going to be perfectly satisfied with settling.
The plane touches down, and we cut to the runway as it slows to a stop near a black SUV whose front end is all we can see. Soon the cabin door opens and Dune appears. He wears a black crew-neck sweatshirt, grey sweatpants, weather-worn black boots, and of course, the half-mask that covers his butchered mouth and jawline. He grabs hold of his only luggage - a black gym bag - before he hops down from the plane. Slamming the door shut, he turns around and takes a few steps. When he finally looks up, he stops in his tracks.
The camera zooms out, revealing more of the black SUV...and the monstrous, heavily bearded man that stands next to it.
Swagrid wears a long, dark jacket only he could pull off, comprised of some unknown material that resembles snake or alligator skin. He lets out a belly-laugh to see the look of surprise on Dune’s face.
Wade: Weren’t expecting to see me here, were you, Dune?
Dune: I wasn’t.
Wade nods at Dune with a grin.
Wade: Nice digs. Work out on the flight?
Dune: Comfort is something even I can appreciate from time to time. Shocking I know. I ought to say the same of your get up. What’s that coat made of, Jackal skin?
Wade laughs before responding.
Wade: Ah...if only we’d skinned the son-of-a-bitch, Dune. If only. But come on, let’s get out of here. I got a surprise waiting for you at the hotel.
Wade turns around and hops into the SUV. Dune walks around and gets in on the other side. After a moment, the driver starts the engine and rolls off screen.
We fade to an exterior shot of the SUV as it passes beneath an overpass tagged by the phrases “R.I.P. Bodie” and “Omar Comin’ Back” in black spray paint. We cut to within the vehicle, where Dune and Moor converse in the back.
Wade: Well, it’s been three weeks, but we’re finally getting Chaos Theory on Sunday...just not in the way we were hoping. If the brass knew what was best for the WCF, they’d give us a shot at the Tag Titles asap. Instead we’ve got to soften Kemp and Teo up on our own before we snatch their belts.
Dune: We gave them every opportunity to take the easy way out. Had they met us in the ring two weeks ago, we’d already be the Champs and this would all be over with for them. But they chose the hard way, and because of it they won’t be able to rely on each other in the ring this Sunday.
Wade: Unless they try to pull some shit behind the ref’s back. We may be on our own for our matches, but we’re still gonna have to watch out for each other.
Dune: No question. Kemp acts like he’s an angel boy now but he’s not above allowing interference or interfering himself. I haven’t forgotten our first match. I’ll watch him if you watch Teo. Speaking of Kemp though, you know more about him than most. The two of you go way back.
Wade: Let me tell you the secret to beating Kyle Kemp: there is no secret. You come at him hard and fast and you never let up, you’re gonna win. It’s that simple. It’s only a shred easier said than done. Just stick to your usual script. Stay the aggressor and he’ll be down for the count in no time. The guy’s not built to handle guys like us.
Dune: Neither is Teo. I almost felt bad for him when I saw his name across from yours on the card this week. Serves him right though. Shame you won’t be the Omega Champ after the final bell on Sunday, but at least you’ll be able to give him a taste of what’s to come when we get Chaos Theory in the ring for the belts.
Wade: He’s gonna get a taste alright. He’ll be choking on that Godnilla taste for weeks until he and Kemp collectively choke when WMD comes knocking.
Just then the SUV slows down and changes lanes, exiting off the highway as the driver speaks up.
Driver: Uh...excuse me, gentlemen, but uh...well, I’m afraid I may have missed the exit back there. Give me a second though, I think I know a shortcut.
It’s nearly dark now, and we cut to an outside shot of the SUV as the sparse street lamps turn on simultaneously. The buildings are becoming increasingly run-down as they venture further from the highway. There’s a homeless black man pushing a shopping cart with spit bubbles on his lips that burst when he shouts, “Whiteys for sale!” He holds up a white t-shirt as the SUV rolls by, and we cut to within.
Dune: So...how’ve you been holding up?
Wade: I’m good.
Dune: Yeah? Based on you tearing it up in the ring and that Cairoform coursing through your veins, I’d like to believe you. But you know what I mean. How’ve you been when the crowds have all gone home and it’s just you and your thoughts?
Wade squints a bit, then turns out the window.
Dune: You were different before all this. You weren’t the man you are today. I imagine you’ve always been capable of being a decent human being, but I’d be lying if I ever knew you to be one. But then One happened, and all that led up to it.
Wade turns back to Dune.
Wade: I was deplorable, Dune. I’ll be the first to say it. There was light in me, but it was tucked away, buried in the dark. For as long as I can remember I was always in control. Always...until the Jackal took it from me. Now, he may be dead and gone thanks to our combined effort at One, but the irony is...that motherfucker saved me. He saved me from myself. When I was trapped in here -
Wade taps on his temple.
Wade: - I found it. I found that light, buried so deep within. And I haven’t let go of it since.
Dune: That’s good, Wade. Hold onto it and never let it go. But get it straight - he didn’t save you; you saved yourself. Any good he did for you was unintentional.
Wade: I know. But I didn’t save myself. Not alone anyway. You were there beside me in the dark. You stood by and never gave up on me. You saved me, Dune. I hope you know that.
Dune nods, then breaks eye contact as memories of the ones he couldn’t save flood his mind. He tries to forget, knowing the forgetting will forever be temporary.
Dune: How’s Bonnie? Big time match this week.
Wade: Bonnie’s a fighter, man. Goddamn, just thinking about her gets me all riled up. It’s kinda scary if I’m being honest. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. Not since I lost -
He cuts off, and Dune looks over to see a hint of pain etched on Wade’s face - the sort of pain Dune knows all too well - though it quickly fades.
Dune: I’m happy for you. For the both of you. Cherish it. You know as well as I do that you can lose it in a flash.
Wade nods and the two look out their respective windows. The empty street is lined by condemned buildings on either side. Plastered to the walls of several of them are faded posters that read “Tommy Carcetti for Mayor” and “Re-Elect Senator Clay Davis.” They turn back to one another, then to the driver.
Wade: Where the fuck are we?
Driver: We’re uh...I think we’re -
Wade: Ah man...pull over. I’m gonna look up directions.
Driver: I’m not getting any service.
The SUV comes to a stop on the corner as Wade checks his phone. Sure enough, he’s unable to pull up the GPS.
Wade: Sheeeeit. Alright. Wait here.
Wade hops out of the car and slams the door. He disappears behind the corner as Dune opens his door.
Driver: Sir, this isn’t the best area, I wouldn’t -
Dune: Relax. I’m just getting some air.
Dune steps out onto the street and closes the door behind him. There’s shouting and the heavy bass of a hip-hop beat in the distance as his eyes find the screen.
Dune: He must be mistaking me for Kyle Kemp. I wasn’t born on the streets, but I can say with certainty that no one’s gonna see me and think it’d be a good idea to try and mug me. Kemp though...shit, he’d be walking home barefoot and penniless if he were in my stead right now. Baltimore’s a rough city. It’ll chew up and spit out the uninitiated...just like I do in the ring.
But you’re not uninitiated, are you Kyle? We’ve met in the ring before. You were one of my last opponents before I took my leave of absence back in 2016. I remember every little detail of our match in the first round of the Trilogy Cup. But most of all, I remember your old pal John Rabid sneaking in and laying me out, which, make no mistake, is the only reason you were able to slip through my fingers. Had the fight remained one-on-one, we both know I would have walked out of there victorious. Don’t try to sway yourself or anyone else into believing otherwise. Despite the outcome, there’s no denying I was the better man that night.
And how have you changed since then? How have you progressed? It’s been almost two years since that fateful day when you had a chance to prove your worth against me alone in the ring, and for the life of me I can’t see any change - any progression - whatsoever. Sure, you’re no longer a #beachkrew minion. You’ve got a new partner in Teo...which shows that, if anything, you’ve digressed. But at best you’re still the same Kyle Kemp you were back then - the same Kyle Kemp who had to cheat to have a chance. And unfortunately for you, I’m still the same Dune I’ve always been. I’m still the same Dune who was one hard shot away from being one step closer to the World Title before Rabid came down to do your dirty work. That was some cowardly shit. It was you telling the world that you can’t defeat me on your own; that you’re inferior to me. As if it needed telling. You’d think the fact that you fucked me over for a World Title shot then lost it to a far lesser opponent would’ve kept you up at night, but I imagine you slept like baby afterward, seeing how you weren’t aiming for the World Title to begin with.
Or am I mistaken? Because so far as I can tell, you’re not too concerned with climbing WCF Mountain and staking a claim on the throne at the top. You might have made it to the second round of the #1 contender tournament for a shot at Singh’s Title, but when you met Bonnie Blue last week, you buckled under the pressure just like Teo did the week before. Bonnie singlehandedly threw Chaos Theory to the wayside in the tournament. She may be a legit contender for the Title, but last Sunday you proved that you aren’t. And given that I’m perhaps the most legitimate contender of them all, the fact that you were chosen for the tournament over me makes my goddamn blood boil. You didn’t volunteer, but something tells me your old tag team partner and the current owner of the WCF, John Rabid, chose you because of your long-dead affiliation with one another. And seeing how I’m unable to get my hands on Rabid this Sunday, you’re going to be the one to suffer for it.
More fuel for the fire, Kyle. That’s what your placement in the tournament over me is. That’s what your predictable failure last week is. That’s what your hollow victory over me thanks to Rabid’s interference is. And there’s plenty more fuel where that came from. You and Teo had the gall to demand that Wade and I prove ourselves before allowing us a shot at your Titles, and despite how ridiculous you sounded, we’ve been obliging ever since by defeating nothing but Champions. First it was World Champions. Last week it was the People’s and Internet Champion. And this week, when I pin one half of the Tag Champs and Wade pins the other, you’ll have all the proof you’ll need.
Now tell me, Kyle - what’s your motivation this Sunday? If you couldn’t muster the resolve to defeat Mikey eXtreme and Teo Del Sol for the Omega Title at One or to defeat Bonnie Blue for a shot at the World Title, I find it hard to believe that you’ll be motivated enough to defeat one of the greatest World Champions of all-time in a non-title match on Slam. Because when it comes down to it, Kyle, you’re not driven - not like me.
I’m driven to be the best. No one will ever be able to question my resolve. No one will ever be able to question the tenacity I bring to the ring each week. And neither will be in question when we square off this Sunday, Kyle...nor will the outcome of our match. For me, it'll be a payback victory a long time coming. For you, just another loss.
All in the game.
Just then, Wade appears from behind the corner and calls out.
Wade: Dune! Come here, you gotta see this!
Dune heads his way, and the two of them turn the corner, an auditory collage of hip-hop beats, drunken laughter, and hollering growing louder with each step. They turn down a side street to see two police officers, one who’s glued to his phone as he leans up against his squad car and another who’s asleep inside it. In the large courtyard beyond them, though, is utter chaos.
Creatures of the night litter the scene. Some run this way and that, trading baggies for cash and shouting things like, “Got that Barksdale Bomb!” or “Marlow Majesty - $5!”. Others waddle about, high on crank or crack or both. Still others sit or lie motionless on the pavement, spent needles dangling from their arms and too far gone to bother with anything but breathing...if that.
Moor and Dune can hardly believe their eyes as they gaze out of over the lawlessness, and the cop looks up and does a double-take when he sees Moor and Dune standing next to him.
Cop: Holy shit!
Dune: What the hell’s going on back here?
Cop: Ah...yeah. You’re not necessarily supposed to see that.
Dune: It’s a warzone.
Cop: It’s a freezone, actually. The idea is, we filter all the drug trafficking into little spots like these and allow the dealers and buyers impunity. This rogue sergeant named Bunny Colvin tried it back in 2006 under the brass’s nose. He got canned for it, obviously...but no shit, it lowers the crime rate.
Dune: So you’re concentrating all the chaos in the city.
Wade Moor: Can you imagine Chaos Theory set loose inside there?
The three of them share a hearty laugh at the thought of Kemp and Teo being absolutely torn to pieces by the addicts, dealers, and gangsters that roam the freezone up ahead.
Cop: Can’t be worse than what you two are gonna do to them when you get the chance.
Dune: The first one’s coming up on Sunday.
Wade Moor: And don’t worry, the secret of Baltimore’s Finest is safe with us. Oh, and by the way...how the fuck do we get to the Four Seasons?!
The cop begins providing directions to the hotel as the camera floats upward, finally revealing the entire courtyard and the chaos that rules inside it before the shot segues to another.
Dune stands on the balcony of a lavish hotel room, leaning on the railing and overlooking the city. After a few seconds, his icy blue eyes shoot toward the screen.
When I hear that word I think of panic-stricken masses fleeing from some terrible fate. I think of a violent mosh pit 100,000 strong. I think of wars fought hundreds of years ago when mass hand-to-hand combat was the norm. I think of the lawlessness of the desert back home.
But when I hear the word chaos, the last thing I think of is Kyle fucking Kemp.
Even when you ran with #beachkrew, perhaps the most chaotic group in WCF history, you were always the black sheep, Kyle. As a whole, they dominated much of the WCF in the ring despite being entirely laughable outside it, and not in a good way. But you never fit in with that bunch, and it showed from day one. You tried your best to fit in alongside them, but therein lies the problem: you had to try to fit in with them, while the rest were naturally compatible. And now you’d have the world believe that you’re a changed man. You’d have them think that because you were made humble after yet another year of mediocre performances, and because you’re trying to fall in line with Teo now, you’re a good person.
Well, Kyle...I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt. Maybe you’re not the same piece of shit that got banned from baseball, lived off daddy’s funds well into his 20s, and started claiming he was better than everyone in the WCF despite all evidence to the contrary. Maybe you're not the same cheating son of a bitch who allowed John Rabid to make the crucial assist for you in our first match. Maybe, just maybe...
But if that is the case, you’re absolutely fucked this Sunday. Because without someone to rush in and make the save for you when I’ve got you reeling, you officially have no chance of beating me. I’m usually more open to the possibility of losing, but not in this case. Not against you this Sunday. This is personal, Kyle. You fucked me over once, and now it’s time you pay the price.
Thing is, even if you sent Teo down to interfere in our match, it wouldn’t matter. Because gone are the days when I had no one to watch my back. Now, I’ve got the most capable guy in the company looking out for me, and this Sunday, the Leviathan’s gonna be there to ensure our match stays between you and me.
There’s a knock on the door, and he looks that way before deciding to ignore it. After a moment, his eyes find the screen once more.
Dune: Ours is a moment in time, Kyle. You can either rise to the occasion and throw down your very best in the ring this Sunday, or you can do what you and your partner have been doing since Wade and I exploded onto the tag scene and set our sights on the Champs: flee from the challenge and cower in fear. But between those ropes, there’s nowhere to run; there’s nowhere to hide. You know that as well as I do, and in truth I sincerely hope you do the right thing. I sincerely hope you come at me harder than you have at anyone in your entire career. Because deep down, I don’t think you’re a coward. I think you’re a winner - I know you are. If there’s one thing you’ve proven in your time in the WCF, it’s that. But likewise, if there’s one thing I’ve proven, it’s that...wait for it…
I’m better than you.
Facts are facts, truths are truths. And until you prove otherwise, it’s not up for debate. Don’t believe me? Think your tired old catchphrase rings true when spewed my way? Well...in the words of Chaos Theory:
There’s another knock on the door, and this time Dune turns to answer it. He strides across the hotel room and opens the door to see Wade standing in the hallway, still wearing the same long dark coat he had on before.
Wade: How’s the room?
Dune: Bit more luxurious than I’m used to.
Wade: Treat yourself, Dune. You said that even you enjoy the comforts of life here and there. This is merely one of the finer comforts. And speaking of which...
Wade turns toward the door and whistles, and Dune takes note of the way his coat catches the light.
Dune: What’s that coat made of anyway? You never answered before.
Wade: You wouldn’t believe me if I told you.
Dune: Try me.
Wade grins as two beautiful women waltz in through the open doorway. They make straight for Dune, never taking their eyes off him.
Wade: It’s Cthulhu skin. Some woman turned me on to it. Whale of a gal by the name of Morgana.
The two women give Dune a gentle shove, and he plops down on the couch behind. They follow suit...but it’s not their groping hands that silence him. It’s the name “Morgana”, the same woman who showed up at his canyonside abode two weeks prior, tricking he and Freeman into believing she was the head WCF outfitter.
Dune: Did you say -
Woman: Shh...we’ll take it from here.
Wade laughs, not realizing Dune’s contemplation has nothing to do with the beautiful women who drape themselves over him and everything to do with the absent Morgana, who’s anything but absent from his thoughts.
Wade: Told you I had a surprise for you. Don’t let them keep you up too late.
We cut to the hallway, looking in at the room as Wade exits. And as the door closes, we cut.