Chapter II: Masters of the Multiverse

Chapter II: Masters of the Multiverse

Posted on January 28, 2022 at 11:53 pm by Xander Azula

01.22.22
The Complex
Long Beach, CA

“Wait, I’m teaming with whomst?”

It’s the day before Refueled returns to the airwaves with the kickoff of the Maurako Cup tag team tournament, and inside the living quarters of Xander Azula, the Head Disciple of Chaos has received word from the HOW offices that he will in fact be competing for a chance at tag team glory…with the man who sent him off a Guard Tower in Alcatraz, the man who nearly ended his career at Rumble at the Rock.

Darin Zion.

“No, this is unacceptable. I will not be teaming with Zion. What do you mean, I have no other choice? I can easily find a tag partner to replace him! Hold on a second.”

Xander moves the phone away from his face as he steps outside for a moment, looking around to see who he could possibly grab to get him out of this predicament. He mutters to himself as he assesses his options.

“Let’s see…no, Dahl isn’t cleared to compete…I don’t have time to get Crowne some kind of active contract…and I sure as hell won’t try and team with Randall.”

He mouths an obscenity to himself before putting the phone back up to his ear.

“Alright, you got me. I will accept these terms, and look forward to clearly carrying the weight of this tag team to at least the semi-finals of yet another big-time tournament. Thank you, good day.”

Xander ends the call, shoving his phone back in his pocket with a frustrated sigh as a voice calls to him from the distance.

“Something the matter, buddy?”

“Oh, for the love of…” Xander mutters, turning to face Aeon Khronos, who greets the Head Disciple with a smirk.

“You seem so pleased to see me.”

“I could definitely do without. You tell me about a vast array of worlds and universes colliding, and it’s been really messing with my psyche the past month or so. I haven’t stopped thinking about it, and on top of that, I find out that I’m expected to compete in a tag team tournament–something I already don’t do well in–with the man that tried to kill me back in October.”

“You mean the man whose woman you tried to kidnap and sacrifice to your goddess? The one who defended her honor by throwing you off–”

“Shut up.”

Aeon raises his hands in defense, that smirk still firmly planted on his face.

“I’m just saying, you kinda had that coming. Besides…this is an opportunity.”

This simply confuses Xander, who raises an eyebrow.

“What do you mean by that?”

“Well…aside from whatever sense of pride you have in your line of work, there’s also the matter of business we spoke about over the holiday. You’re gonna need all the help you can get, Xander, and it looks like you may need this man’s help more than you know.”

“Or want.”

Xander just shakes his head, scoffing at the idea when suddenly, he notices a bright light from the distance…another portal.

“Oh, for fuck’s sake. Not another one.”

He turns back to Aeon.

“How do we stop this?”

“It starts with Zion.”


01.23.22
Madison Square Garden
New York, NY

We are outside the famed arena, where we see Xander Azula storming off in a rage after the treatment given to him by Darin Zion just a moment ago.

“That fiend, that prick, that absolute son of a–”

Xander is cut off by the somewhat jovial voice of his unwanted companion, Aeon Khronos.

“Now now, no need for that attitude.”

Xander points toward the Garden with a look of rage on his face.

“He counted me down like a damn child, Aeon! He treated me like some sort of unwanted houseguest!”

“Was he still mad about the whole kidnapping and attempted sacrifice thing?”

“Shut up.”

Aeon chuckles, much to Xander’s chagrin.

“Listen, you and I both know how vital Zion is to all this, regardless of how much that must hurt your pride. There are bigger things at stake here than even the most egregious rivalry between you two. Besides, you know how these sorts of things usually go in the business…he’ll forgive you eventually. Maybe. I dunno, I’m not his dad.”

The conversation comes to an abrupt end at the sound of growling from off in the distance. This grabs the attention of Aeon and Xander, who turn their gaze to find a hideous creature staring them down. One that looks mostly like a man, but a noticeable fin-like mohawk atop his head. Face and body painted blue and white, his lips accentuated with red…only that isn’t paint, or makeup.

“Good lord, that’s…that’s blood.”

Xander squints his eyes, straining to make sense of the strange sight before him. That’s when it hits him…he recognizes the face.

“Axel?”

The figure grunts, possibly recognizing the name…but this isn’t the fun loving Kids’ Champion that Xander is familiar with. This is a whole different kind of Shark…a Predator.

And it’s running right at them.

Xander and Aeon dash in the opposite direction, hoping they can somehow outrun a deadly fate…but a portal opens up from underneath the beast, dropping him in before closing back up. The panic on Xander’s face finally subsides…and Aeon offers a quip to lighten the mood.

“Well, on the bright side…at least we know the portals go outbound, too.”

Xander is in no mood for any of this humor.

“We need to stop this, Aeon. How do I get through to a man who wants nothing to do with me?”

“The hard way.”


Life is far too complicated.

Setting aside multiverses and theoretical mathematics, there is just a lot to stress about…and I am not a man who deals well with stress.

So you can only imagine how my blood pressure has been doing since being informed of my involvement with the Maurako Cup, notably teaming with my current arch-nemesis Darin Zion.

Never have the stars aligned so strange…and yet, perfect.

With the weight of countless worlds pressed upon my shoulders, I have a choice to make…and I have to make it real damn quick.

Am I gonna let Darin’s new attitude get in the way of what needs to be done?

Or am I going to work around it, step my own game up, and carry my weight like I did in last year’s DeNucci Cup?

The choice is obvious, really.

It’s time to go all the way this year.

Seems only fitting that the first hurdle to this prize comes from Jatt Starr…or whatever the hell he wants to call himself this week…and the man this tournament is named after, Mario Maurako.

A pair of Hall of Famers, against easily the biggest underdogs in this tournament.

Which is saying something, because we’re seeing folks from outside HOW step in.

Hilarious how things circle back around.

Last year I came in as an outsider, looked down upon by those with reputations.

Men like Jatt Starr, who didn’t even have the guts to step into that cage.

Men who would rather talk a lot of shit and then hide in the shadows.

I haven’t forgotten what you did to me at Bottomline, Jatt.

Hard to forget a beating like that, especially the way it’s completely derailed my psyche since.

If you think you’ve somehow beat some respect into me, you’re a damn fool.

I have zero respect for you, especially in light of this change of name and personality.

I’d say it’s unbecoming of you…but it really isn’t.

If there’s one thing I’ve quickly learned about you, it’s that you are a snake…and every snake eventually gets trampled on.

I’ve been waiting for another go at you, to take my pound of flesh from you for your transgressions against myself and my Goddess.

Your foolishness will get the better of you.

Bottomline was the first and last time you would make a fool out of me.

I will not suffer the same fate again, not when there’s so much at stake.

A shot at tag team glory, a chance to balance things out on a cosmic scale.

Something not even a great legend like Mario Maurako could understand.

You sit there upon your imaginary throne, taking heaps of praise from those who are too cowardly to speak up against you.

You’ll find no such cowardice here, Mario.

Beating you in the middle of that ring, in the first round of your own namesake tournament…that’s gotta be humiliating, right?

That’s the plan.

Spit upon your legacy, make a fool out of you.

Move forward, and take what belongs to me.

Power.


01.28.22
Undisclosed Location

“What the hell is this?”

The distressed inquiry comes from Darin Zion, just moments after a portal opens to spit the trio out from Philadelphia into somewhere else…somewhere bizarre. Darin and Xander look around, confused by all the neon lights surrounding them…until Aeon points out a building out in the distance.

“Hey, isn’t that the place you were telling me about?”

Xander looks over, confused by the sight of the building…a television studio with a curious logo on the facade.

“Wait, is this…Cleveland?”

Aeon chuckles at the name of the venue.

“Haha, what a name. Absolutely cl–”

Aeon is cut off by an angry Xander, pointing his finger at the Master of Time Itself.

“No! We’re not doing that here.”

Darin looks unfazed by all of this, even after everything he’s been through just moments ago.

“Well, this is neat and all, but it doesn’t change how I feel. I have no desire to join on whatever adventure you’re trying to recruit me on. Now, if you don’t mind, I’d–”

Zion is cut off by a snarl and a growl. Xander and Aeon instantly recognize the sound, but Zion is caught by surprise as The Shark lunges at him from behind!

“What the FUCK, man!?”

Zion struggles as The Shark snarls some more, clearly on the hunt for food until Xander rushes him, pulling him away in the process. This predator quickly changes target, going after the Head Disciple…who is fortunate enough to fend for himself until a portal opens from underneath The Shark, once again transporting the danger away in the nick of time. Xander is breathing heavily as Aeon and Zion approach, Zion’s face a mixture of anger and confusion.

“What the hell was that thing?”

“It’s a long story, but we need to get outta here now. This is how it all starts, Zion…and I’m gonna need you to consider my offer. You want a championship so bad? Let’s chase these. But I’m really gonna need your help here, because if we don’t get this sorted out, shit’s only gonna get worse from here. What’d ya say?”

Xander extends a hand, offering a strange olive branch in the process…but we don’t get to see the response, before a portal swallows them up, leaving us to fade to black.