Sutler had no idea how long he had wandered in the deep tunnels of the bunker. The markings on the walls were all written in Chinese leaving the World Champion. Given the Champion didn’t know any Chinese this left him very lost.
Thankfully the entire facility had wifi running through it. They had hidden it behind the ridiculously easy password of Mao4Life. This allowed the HOW World Champion to at least keep up some mental training. For the past few minutes that included watching Conor Fuse’s promos.
“Wait I don’t understand, did both these things happen or.. Are we creating a new Alternate Dimension split here?” the Son of Scions asked the lonely hall he wandered down. “Or did both things happen and now there are two or three different Conor Fuse’s here? Does Conor Fuse have reality control?”
He paused for a moment, looking up from his phone to peer forward. The shadowy path up ahead seemed to curve gently to the left.
“Maybe I’ll take that from him when I beat him Bottomline.”
His eyes narrowed as he hands rubbed the World Title around his waist reassuringly. The promos from Conor had been a delightful distraction. Now that he was finished it was back to this labyrinth-like web of tunnels he found himself wandering around in. Occasionally he heard strange noises that echoed up from some distant depths. Still, even though they were not close, they had proven to be unsettling.
More unsettling was that, outside of the doorway he had been shoved through, he had seen no other doors. The only light, outside of his phone, were motion triggered lights above him. They would illuminate once he was within ten feet of them and would flicker out a few seconds after he passed. This meant that Sutler found himself in a small oasis of light surrounded by darkness.
“Though it looks like he stole his storytelling from Mass Effect. Regardless of my choice he wrote the same lame end result, that’s kinda lame.” the Son of Scions muttered to himself as he shuffled along. “And so unrealistic, I mean, he thinks he is going to win in both cases. Can you believe that? Rhetorical questions are fun, aren’t they?”
His voice echoed around him as he tried to fill the silence. Outside of the random distant noises the quiet had become unnerving.
He was about to answer his own question when he suddenly noticed a faint glowing up ahead. The gentle bend of the tunnel seemed to be straightening out leading onward to a distant room. Stuffing his phone into his back pocket the World Champion picked up his pace eager to see something other than a stone passageway.
As he grew nearer to the lit room ahead he heard voices in the air. He was still too far to discern any words but they was definitely a conversation ahead. Caution quickly overtook his curiosity and the SRK slowed his pace. What he couldn’t do anything about were the lights that flickered to life upon his approach. The kid just hoped whoever was ahead wasn’t paying attention.
Getting closer the sterile smell that reminded the SRK of the hospital or dentist office wafted under his nose. This familiar scent put Sutler a little more on edge as he neared the doorway. The voices were clearly speaking in one of the Chinese dialects. Sutler couldn’t understand their words but the tone seemed agitated. They were arguing about something.
His fingers rubbed the #97Red championship nervously as he tried to draw some bravery from it. Taking a deep gulp Sutler pinched his eyes together, his heart thumping wildly in his chest.
Part of him wanted to retreat back down the darkened tunnel from where he had come from. It argued to leave the voices, flee back and hope that maybe the door they had been tossed through was safe now.
Then he remembered Chloe and how she had been cut off from him.
“..we gotta get Chloe.”
There was a stillness in his mind as if all the arguments happening there had to take a moment to find a consensus.
His eyes opened with a flash of determination. He took in a sharp breath and clenched his jaw tightly. His fists balled up into white knuckled fists and he prepared himself for a fight. In his mind he counted down from five..
He spun around the corner of the doorway and charged through!
The violence he was expecting to find never came though. Bathed in a blue light the World Champion’s body became paralyzed with fear. It was because of the four Chinese scientists who turned to stare at him with surprise in their faces. No, it had to do with the horrors that floated in bluish hued tubes along the walls. Twisted abominations that Sutler immediately registered with the Son of Scions.
Malformed renditions of his adopted father, Maximilian Kael, stared out into the worth with milky dead eyes. Withered, shrunken limbs where intertwined with grotesquely enlarged body parts. Freakish large teeth were embedded in shattered, split smiles. A real gallery of midnight horrors.
All of these deformed monstrosities appeared dead save for one at the far end of the room where the four scientists in red lab coats were huddled. Floating there, curled into a fetal position with his eyes closed, appeared to be a year old boy.
If everything in this room was a piece of Max then that meant.. No. No, it was too terrible to even imagine.
But as reality set in, Sutler sank to his knees.
“..this is not the adventure I wanted..”
“I like that Conor Fuse.”
The Son of Scions had been undefeated so far in 2020. He was looking to make some big moves in the HOFC Tournament at the start of 2021 next month. He was a red hot, next generation talent. In High Octane Wrestling that meant that he was up against some well imbedded, long term talent. Men like Darin Zion, Steve Harrison and Cancer Jiles.
And yet he wasn’t exactly alone. Guys like Zeb Martin and Conor Fuse had joined in the last year and were all roughly the same age as the Son of Scions.
“Conor Fuse?” the languid tone of Elenore Kael’s scoff was as effective as if his Aunt had reached out and backhanded him. “Didn’t he lose to Jatt Starr? No, Sutler, we set higher goals than that.”
She never understood Professional Wrestling. Nor the need for him to have someone around like him. Instead she was a quiet planner who preferred manipulation and subterfuge. Elenore never wanted allies, she only wanted minions.
But guys like Conor Fuse, they were more like the Son of Scions.
They were Men of Action.
“No, you don’t get it, he lost to Jatt, sure, but look at his potential, with our help he could become something so much more!” Sutler pleaded his case to his Aunt. Her cold blue eyes bore into the youthful wrestler before she clucked her tongue softly.
“You’re just like your father, Max, in more ways than you know.” she replied. It wasn’t meant as a compliment and Sutler took the hint. “He was always running around trying to make silly little stories with everybody. Then he obsessed over those relationships and rivalries. In fact your fathers obsession with having someone to feud with is literally what killed him.”
Leaning back in her chair Elenore gave a dismissive wave of her hand, a teetering laugh escaping her lips.
“I just don’t get Conor Fuse, who would want to be associated with a video game kid?”
Elenore’s last words bit into Sutler’s hide as he was ignored. Her words stung, as if Sutler had no idea who he should associate with and when. It wasn’t like Sutler was planning on having a suicidal death match with Conor Fuse. He just wanted to work with the guy, maybe form a team.
Teams are important in HOW, you always need someone to watch your back after all.
“Sutler, my love, I’ve been speaking with Lee recently and there is going to be some openings in the Best Alliance soon. I suggest we take the tried and true path. Getting you closer to Lee will also help ensure that he invests more of the company in your name. Mike’s already put his entire fortune in your name to hide it from the divorce.” A coy smile slipped across Elenore’s pale, scarred face. “..the Best Family is almost ours..”
The Best Alliance?
Sutler’s shoulders shrugged as he thought about the prospect of being in his grandfather’s enforcement stable.
“I don’t.. I don’t want to be in the Best Alliance. You know what happens to those guys?” he argued with a shake of his head. “That is literally how my dad lost BOTH of his eyes. Lee gives enough of a fuck about his family to ensure they appear as winners as to not hurt his brand. He’d gladly spike a baby if he thought it would screw over one of his enemies and almost everybody that works for him ends up an enemy.”
Elenore didn’t look at Sutler as he made his case. When he was finished a thin smile settled over her lips as she folded her hands in her lap.
“Lee is always the enemy, Sutler. Lee is always coming for us and everybody else in HOW. Michael Best, Cancer Jiles, Darkwing, Jatt Starr, eventually Lee comes for everybody. Everybody knows that, my love, which makes him predictable. So you’ll join the Best Alliance, you’ll get in his good graces and when all of this is done.. We’ll stab Lee in the back and take what we are owed.” Her fingers entangle together as she smiles a shark-like smile, her cold blue eyes fixated on Sutler. “So put that Conor Fuse boy out of your mind. We’ve got much, much bigger plans.”
He knew by the way she said the last line that any further debate on the issue was going to achieve nothing. Despite having decidedly different methods both Elenore and Max had proven stubborn. With a nod Sutler excused himself.
For now it seemed Conor Fuse was off the menu.
“..what the FUCK is this..?”
Sutler stared at the floating child that looked hauntingly like his dead father. At this point he had the HOW World Championship clutched against his chest. One of the red coats began barking at him in a language he didn’t understand, causing the Son of Scions to grind his teeth.
“I don’t understand what you are saying, okay, I speak ENGLISH, a little French and some Japanese.” Sutler snarled, turning to glare down at the Chinese doctor. He noticed the Dragon logo on the man’s coat and made a note that he saw a lot of it down here.
Again the man merely barked back at him with an accusatory tone. The other three doctors seemed to mutter between themselves while pointing.
Realizing he was once again getting nowhere, Sutler turned his eyes back toward the child suspended in the tube. His brain bubbling and boiling over with theories he was desperate to confirm.
He flinched at the sound of Mina’s harsh voice calling out from behind him. It seemed she had survived her ordeal outside the bunker.
“What the fuck is that supposed to mean?” the Son of Scions hissed through clenched teeth.
“When Max came to China to undergo an experimental procedure, the Chinese Government took several genetic samples. Those samples were used to try and clone him.” the twisted lady said as her motorized wheelchair entered the tube chamber. “..only one proved viable. Turns out cloning us is harder than they anticipated.”
“That sounds… very unlikely.”
A cackle escaped the bandaged woman as she came to a stop next to the HOW World Champion.
“Buckle up because it gets dumber. The North Korean’s have been in a state of unrest ever since the live broadcast of Max’s death. He was beloved there, worshipped just below the Kim Family. Their spy network discovered that China had a clone of their beloved folk hero. They demanded they hand the clone over so it can be raised by Kim Jong-Un. As you might have noticed a particularly conservative branch wants you dead. You’re known as the Usurper…heh-heh..”
Sutler’s brow furrowed as he listened to Mina explain the dangerous political situation. He dwelt on how incredibly stupid all this was. Despite being dead now for almost a year, his father’s decisions and legacy were still ruining his life.
“..yeah that all sounds pretty stupid. So you got me on a plane, on the week of my PPV match against Conor Fuse at Bottomline, to fly to the other side of the World. You fly me to a place where there are a contingent of people who want to literally murder me in the middle of a potential war between China and North Korea to show me a baby clone of my dingus deadbeat dad? This could have been a fucking memo, Mina.”
The frustration and anger in Sutler’s voice is obvious as he peers down at the HOW World Title in his arms. At least, he reasons, if he died here he would die with the HOW World Championship. He wondered if Lee would send in the immortal Kostoff to retrieve it once he was dead. His idle daydreaming was suddenly broken by a wet, unpleasant giggle from his side.
“Heh-heh.. No.. no, Sutler, I didn’t bring you here to show you your father’s clone..”
Her wheelchair snapped to the side as she issued an order in Mandarin with a sharp, aggressive tone. The four scientist looked amongst each other in confusion, hesitating. Mina reissued the command, this time a little louder and more forceful.
Whatever she said jolted the men into action as they scrambled around the room in preparation of something. Her chair snapped around so she could stare up at Sutler with a pair of maddened red eyes.
“..I brought you here to bring him home..”