The Lee Best Invitational.
A tradition in HOW that set the general pace the rest of the year would follow. In the tournement new faces would show up and challenge the old names. Aspiring wrestlers from other federations took Lee Best’s open invitation into HOW to test themselves against some of professional wrestling’s best talent. Some would become career High Octane Wrestling wrestlers leaving behind whatever storied history brought them to Lee’s door.
They call game to the challenge and for the hope to claim the top prize in High Octane Wrestling, the #97red High Octane Wrestling World Championship. If a man or woman or anything in between could walk into High Octane Wrestling, break out of their division, pass the finales, become the LBI Winner and then, at Match to Glory, earn the World Title?
You’d basically have to consider them the best there has ever been in High Octane Wrestling.
It’s never done.
Not even Michael Lee Best. And you know why?
Maximillian. Wilhelm. Kael.
Outside of High Octane Wrestling Max Kael isn’t very well known. He isn’t seen very often, he’s only really been seen in a handful of federations achieving very little. Like all terrible monsters he has a territory he prefers, a familiar hunting ground where his name is legendary. In the lands of High Octane Wrestling he is an apex predator and he has been so for longer than a decade.
That was the fun of the LBI for Maximillian Kael, like a feral dog defending his little corner of the wrestling world Max delighted in terrorizing unsuspecting new challengers. The confidence of those who came in expecting an easy fight, the arrogance of the men and women who lived in the warmth of friendlier climates.
They always thought he was a joke, the little sideshow freak that Lee Best kept around for fun. They only heard distant stories or side hand jokes, maybe they had no idea who he was, they just recognized his face from all the pictures. They were always so confident, ready to stomp down on some old High Octane dog, after all they always came from better federations with larger crowds and more meaningful gold. They didn’t respect the position they were in, they didn’t recognize the danger of the situation.
They walked straight into the High Octane Wrestling Ring, beat their chests and then were resoundingly beaten into the mat by Max Kael.
That’s not bragging, that’s history. Check it out on Stevenspedia.
So here we are in another year and it’s another Lee Best Invitational block with a few new faces. The first name on the list, the first man he’d have to face was a guy by the name of Warrick Hill. It’s the kind of name that you expect a small all-white community with a gate staked out in Georgia might be called. If a white guy walks up to you and says “I’m not racist but..” there is a twenty percent chance that guy’s name is Warrick Hill. It sounds like the place where they used to lynch escaped slaves, hanging up on old Warrick Hill.
What did Warrick Hill think about Max Kae, about the LBI and the whole damn High Octane Wrestling brand? Well earlier in the week he released what one would guess is some kind of teaser or sort for an upcoming vinette or interview or something that might explain a little more about Mister Hill. Unfortunately Max wasn’t likely to see it, he’d been healing far away from a High Octane Wrestling after his gruesome injuries at ICONIC. Last Week he had mustered enough strength to appear in a pre-taped segment.. But this week?
He’d be on hand to begin his third LBI journey, one he intended to win. To that end he needed to heal, he needed to make sure that his body continued to heal, not just from his match but from the dumpster fire he fell into back in December.
Warrick Hill was going to be his first real test of his repairing body.
A new breathing mask had been secured to his face after a skin graft to replace the flesh he had lost at ICONIC. The burns that covered much of his body had begun to heal nicely and after nearly three weeks Max was starting to feel as normal as he was ever going to. Feeling health, however, and being healthy are two different things and the only way High Octane Wrestling was going to let Max into the ring again was if he could pass a physical to get back in the ring.
Normally Max would have used one of his own doctors however Lee Best wasn’t about to let Max hurt himself or potentially die, especially given the numerous injuries he had recently endured. Instead Max was going to have to make it past a man named Doctor Gregory Pierce.
And so Max made his way into Chicago to meet his doctor, get his approval and move on to securing his first victory in the LBI..
Assuming he passes because if he doesn’t he won’t be cleared to wrestle.. And if he can’t wrestle.. Well..
Forfeit is such an ugly word.
The office of Doctor Gregory Pierce, PhD. was located in a small industrial complex on the outskirts of Western Chicago. The cold winter has left this small corner of the city as empty and desolate as one could expect, several of the other officers and businesses in the industrial lot were gone making it look particularly suspect as Max’s uber pulled up.
The back door opened as Max Kael slithered out wearing a long, fur lined black winter frock coat with his black and red North Kaelrean uniform beneath it. The rebreather mask that covered his nose and mouth hissed and weezed as his wild blue eye stared up at the signage above the doctor’s office door.
“I hope you have a good visit and everything works out.” the voice of Norm, a middle aged man who split his waking hours between working at McDonalds, Uber and playing FortNite. Still, he kept a clean, nice smelling car so Max was going probably going to leave him a tip when he remembered to look at the app on his phone again.
The Lord of Kaelsalvania turned and stared in through the passenger side door as he closed the back door of the car where he had slithered out earlier.
“You’ve followed your mandate with exceptional zeal, I appreciate that in a person. I assure you that I’m quite healthy after taking several large doses of an untested super-healing formula that may or may not just be some really excellently made meth.” Max barked at Norm, his mask granting his voice a strange, metallic tin.
“Well.. okay then, good luck with that.” Norm said as he offered a friendly wave. His car pulled away from the curb and hurried away as Max stared after it with his unusual blue eye.
“He seems nice.” Max muttered to himself before he turned dramatically, marching toward the front door of the Doctor’s office.
Yanking the door open the North Kaelrean General was greeted with the cheerful jingle of a bell that hung just above the door. Max’s chest tightened as he was reminded of the Herald and his silly little bell cape. Stepping through the threshold Max allowed himself a moment as he chased the sorrow he felt from his mind, he Herald was a nobody, a stupid kid given to him by the Farthington family with the hopes that what happened would most assuredly happen.
It was in that moment of passing grief that Max had a sudden epiphany, was he so terrible with people, with children in general people could bank on him ruining them? Sutler was.. Well.. disappointing but the first kid always is, right?! Little Lady Sutler seemed to be doing just fine, he remembered to feed her and water her at least twice a day..
Max was jolted out of his thoughts as an insistent voice pierced the fog of his mind drawing his blue eye toward a young woman in her mid thirties with black and pink hair and an expression that screamed “I can’t be bothered.”.
“Yes, me, Sir. Actually it’s Lord.” Max took a step forward dramatically pulling his long black coat off, dropping it on the floor behind him. He puffed his chest out and hooked his thumbs on the LSD Championship that was currently wrapped around his waist. “Lord Supreme Dictator of High Octane Wrestling, Maximillian Wilhelm Kael, First of my Name, LONG SH-”
“THANK YOU.” The woman said in a commanding voice cutting Max off from finishing his long winded catchphrase. Max’s expression looked jilted, on the edge of offense even. “Yes, I can see here, Maximillian Kael, High Octane Wrestling, you’re five minutes late for your appointment.”
“Five minutes?! The traffic was terrible, I had to uber, I’m not sure what map services he uses is, how could I know!?” Max blurted out as his hands instinctively flailed in front of himself. His voice, manipulated by his breathing mask added to the full absurdity that was assaulting the receptionist who managed to stay remarkably unimpressed.
“Calm down, Doctor Pierce will see you..” she practically snorted in the direction of Max as she stood, grabbing a nearby clipboard. “Follow me, I’ll take you into the back where you can wait for your examination, Mister Kael.”
“Ah, excellent! Also it’s Lord Supreme Dictator.” The Prime Minister of Maxopotamia muttered under his breath as he slunk down the hall behind her like an ill fitting shadow. “So if, say, Doctor Pierce isn’t able to clear me today.. Just how flexible are his morales and ideals? Hypothetically, if you had to grade him on a scale of The Untouchables to Ronin, where does the good Doctor sit?”
Another snort from the receptionist as she led Max back along a narrow hall with a few doors on either side. It smelt as stale, cold and sanitary as he had come to expect of medical facilities.. Well, American ones at least, where they had running water and laws against certain questionable medical practices.
“Doctor Pierce would rather die in a ditch then put his medical reputation on the line.” she answered just before opening a door with the numbers 290 scrawled across the front of it. Within was more or less what Max was expecting, a cold pale lit room with a table, two chairs and a few cabinets filled with various medical supplies, Max believed.
“Damn! Untouchables.” He cursed as he slipped past the receptionist into the room where he scanned the room over with his blue eye before he looked back toward the door where the woman with the black and pink hair.
The door was slammed shut leaving Max alone with his thoughts once again. He folded his hands behind his back stared down at the medical table that sat in the center of the room. He suspected his bare ass was going to be touching that cold steel sooner rather than later, a sensation he was not looking forward too. It was in that moment that he heard an alert go off on his phone.
Pulling it out of his pocket Max expected to see an alert from Uber reminding him to tip Norm, instead he was greeted with a message from his adopted brother, Michael Lee Best. Max had been desperate to get anything he could on Warrick Hill. He had seen a short so called news story on the man but all he had managed to get out of him was that he didn’t like being bothered.
..who liked being bothered?
But it seemed that Michael had found more.
“It’s old but it’s something, love, Michael..” He muttered out loud as he read Mike’s text. Mike didn’t actually write Love, Michael, Max just liked to say that at the end of every text he read because it made it sound special. Unfortunately most of the texts were made up of where are you, where did my car go, why are there several goats skinned and hanging in the basement of 5 Time Academy, Love, Michael. Normal brother stuff.
His blue eye scanned the document that came with the text, a profile on Warrick Hill from several years ago.
“So.. Warrick Hill is.. Or was just a big, dumb stoner kid? Part of some team called.. House of Pain?.. He kinda looks like Matthew McConaughey. Finishing move.. The Joint. Huh..” Max scratched his chin as he read through the man’s very limited profile offerings. “Oh he used to wrestle Mario and Paul, cute. Sounds like he’s a real mid card kinda talent.”
The Lord Supreme Dictator takes a moment to apologize to the air for his insult that happened to catch Mario in the shotgun blast. He takes another gaze down at the profile before the door was pushed open and a middle aged, short man in a white lab coat burst in. He had salt and pepper hair cut short and had a pair of reading glasses perched on the end of a long, beak like nose.
“I’m Doctor Gregory Pierce, nice to meet you Max.” Pierce said reaching out with a handshake that was reinforced with a broad smile. Max gripped the hand and shoke firmly. The doctor immediately stared at the mask on Max’s face with a quizzical look before shaking his head dismissively. “All right, off with your pants.”
“I hope you know what you’ve gotten yourself into Warrick Hill.”
Max’s distorted voice cut through the darkness as a single light crackles to life above him. He could be standing in the 5 Time Academy basement in Tampa or a barn yard in Ohio, it was impossible to say as the light did not reach far enough. It could have been anything.. It could have been nothing.
“I didn’t want to do anything to crazy for you. I didn’t want to push the boundaries too much since I suspect you’re one of those guys who doesn’t know much about creativity. I don’t have any evidence to back that up it’s just one of those gut feelings, you know?”
The light above Max casts strange shadows across his face, his heavy brow leaving his blue eye covered in complete darkness. The raspy breath of his mask fills the silence between his words as fresh, clean oxygen is pumped past his ruined throat into his damaged lungs.
“I know, I know, I look like a poor man’s Darth Vader and sound like a chipper Kylo Ren. Listen, I don’t invent the technology I just use it. Now some people would say, in this match, you’ve got the advantage because, well, I’ve recently been set on fire, have my mouth, throat and lungs damaged, survived being practically murdered on live television and I’m almost twice your age..”
The Lord Surpeme Dictator nods to himself as he pulls the LSD Championship up over his shoulder, his head tilting to the side as he did so.
“..but I’m not your normal wrestler and this isn’t your normal wrestling federation. I might look feeble but I promise you I’m more dangerous than I’ve ever been. Violence hasn’t broken me down, friend, it’s built me up. I’m on the best win streak of my life, I suffered only ONE loss last year and now, in 2020 I plan on extending my winning ways by stepping right through you. It was a bad hand, getting delt into the same LBI bracket as me. Maybe over in the Narcotic Group you might have made it to the finals but here, with me?.. Sadly, you’re just here to make me look good.”
A low, choking laugh barked out of his mask as he reached down again and pulled the High Octane Wrestling Tag Team Championship Title up over his other shoulder, his head tilting back as his strange blue eye caught the light hanging over him. His mouth wasn’t visible but it could be assumed by the look in his one good eye that he was smiling.
“I wish I knew you better, I wish I had something more interesting I could say to you but honestly, I am sorry to say I am depressingly short on insults. So I decided to make a few up, it’s not your fault you’re not interesting enough so allow the Lord Supreme Dictator to spice your otherwise empty, shallow life with some fun..mmm..”
Max’s fingers tapped the faceplates of both belts that hung over his shoulders as his blue eye rolled around the room he was in, his mind working hard to find the right kind of personality traits he imagined a man like Warrick Hill might have.
“..Warrick Hill, you seem like the kind of asshole who gets together with his friends but spends the vast majority of his time black out drunk, vomiting your drama up before stumbling away like an embarrassment of a human being. You are the kind of scumbag who gets their girlfriend a puppy and when she ends up loving it more than you, you wrap it up in a burlap sack and throw it over the side of a bridge. Warrick Hill you’re the kind of trash that they cut out of a dead baby sperm whale, 420 lbs of plastic waste!”
The blue eye flashes wild as a red hue begins to overcome the strange blue. As he speaks his voice gets louder, the distortion deeper as the mask struggles to keep up with his rising volume.
“This is the Lee Best Invitational, Warrick Hill, this is where talent comes to shine.. Or DIE.. and if I have any hand in it your time here in High Octane Wrestling will be short. There is no hope that you’re going to reach Cecilworth Farthington let alone the finales of this tournament. I’ve got a lot of pent up aggression in me having spent the last few weeks being hospitalized. Also a doctor put his finger up my butt yesterday and I still don’t know how I feel about that..”
He growls a little and hacks, the sound causing intense feedback on the microphone recording him. The one blue eye has begun to burn red as his hate and malice boils up from the depths of his mind. The Minister coming up for a breath of air, alive and still very much a force within Max Kael after it’s deal at ICONIC.
“..Prepare yourself.. For you face the Lord Supreme Dictator.. Maximillian Wilhelm Kael.. First of my Name..”
The lights above him begin to snap to life, the sound of heavy switches clanking into place as electricity surges through old wires. Max is surrounded, as always, by his loyal North Kaelrean Soldiers as he seems to be presently sequestered away in a warehouse. In unison they lift their firsts into the sky, their voices booming in unity.
“LONG MAY HE MAIM!”