Raleigh, North Carolina
We open backstage, just moments after a standoff between Steve Solex and Xander Azula…the latter being brought back forcibly by his Eternal Circle followers, passing by a group of stoic EPU agents down the hall as they rush to the locker room.
This act of apparent mutiny is enough to anger the Fighter when they finally get inside. Thomas Crowne peeks through the door into the hall before closing it…and not a moment too soon, as Azula starts shouting from the chair he’s sat himself upon.
“What the hell do you think you’re doing? I had that bastard, I was this close–”
“Yeah, we know,” interjects Crowne, rolling his eyes as he stares his leader down. “You were seconds away from beating the hell out of Solex, I’m sure…but did you see those EPUs out there? Cause we saw them lining up, just ready to strike down upon you the moment you so much as laid a finger on him. You should be thanking us for saving your ass just now…sir.”
That last word comes with a heavy heaping of sarcasm, which only aggravates Xander further as he rises from his chair, nearly going nose-to-nose with the junior recruit, who doesn’t budge in the face of this parallel moment to what he just pulled the Fighter away from.
“If we hadn’t intervened, you’d probably get busted up by those goons. Then you’d be stuck in the hospital, licking your wounds and realizing that your little stunt went haywire when you still don’t get the fight you wanted.”
Xander just stands there, taking a moment to let Crowne’s words sink in before slowly nodding in reluctant agreement, letting out a huff as he responds.
Xander sits back down, shaking his head as he takes some time to think. The silence is too much for the very chatty Crowne, who cuts through it with an inquiry that immediately annoys the Fighter to no end.
“So…what are we doing now?”
Xander glares at him as he snaps back in reply.
“Why don’t you tell me? Seeing as you’ve got so much of this figured out already, maybe you can chime in with a plan!”
Before the conversation can continue, however, there is a knock on the locker room door before it swings open…revealing a stagehand with a slip of paper, something that grabs Azula’s attention as he is handed the item by the young man without so much as a word exchanged. The stagehand quickly makes his exit as Xander finally speaks up.
“Hey, any word on–”
But there is no response as the door shuts, cutting the Fighter off mid-question. Xander looks down at the paper in his hands, unfolding it with an intense focus…and a heavy sigh as he reads what is written up. Xander doesn’t say much in response to the news that was handed to, aside from muttering obscenities under his breath.
Zach Kostoff, Xander Azula, Conor Fuse.
An up and coming second-generation talent teams up with not one but TWO World Champions to take on the Final Alliance squad of Steve Solex, Dan Ryan, and Jatt Starr.
In case it’s not already obvious, I am setting aside my thoughts and feelings on ol’ Conor and Zach, because I am far more interested in kicking the shit out of my opponents. All eyes from the Alliance will be set on Conor Fuse come Sunday, I’m sure…but that’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.
I can feel that glare from miles away Conor, and just so you know I’m joking. I can be a team player when I’m motivated enough…and getting my hands on Steve Solex for what he did to me in Long Beach?
That’s a very intriguing dragon to chase.
I may well have to go through Jatt Starr and Dan Ryan to do it, but I know exactly what must be done to get my rightful reward down in good ol’ South Carolina. I have no problem with the idea of tearing through the Mr. Ego himself and the Jattarang so I can focus my time and energy on the MERCDAD.
I trust that Conor Fuse can handle himself, he is a World Champion after all. Not the REAL World’s Champion, but as a fellow member of the “Beat STRONK Club” I can respect Fuse’s accolades. Zach Kostoff has a chip on his shoulder, and I reckon he’ll use that to bludgeon whoever gets in his way at Chaos 45.
As for me?
I’m beating the holy hell out of all three of the Final Alliance inside the North Charleston Coliseum, mark my words. Wanna know why? Because once upon a time they called me Legion…for I never forgot, and never forgave.
And believe you me, I still haven’t forgotten what each of these men have done to me over the years. Jatt and I have had our share of battles as far back as Bottomline in 2021, and I still have some lessons I need to beat into that jawjacker. When I’m through with Starr, the kingdom of Jattlantis will be in dire need of a new Emperor.
Dan Ryan nearly tore me a new one when we last fought, and like a diligent businessman about to face his tax agent I’ve got a receipt at the ready. When I’m through, it’ll be HIS ego busted, as I humble him before his GOD. Let him try to beg Lee to keep him around after a far bigger failure than before, and see how that pans out.
And after I kick my way through the Jattari Entertainment System and Flyin’ Dan Ryan, I get to punch my ticket to a one-way trip to Solex City…and that’s where the real fun begins. Ripping apart one Hall of Famer in Jatt Star would be nice, but tearing through two after I beat the living shit out of the MERCDAD? That’s beautiful.
And maybe, just maybe, the beating I give him will be enough for Lee Best to grant me the match I want. The fight I deserve. The battle I crave.
Because this business has tried to take and take and take some more out of me…and it’s about damn time I start taking back what’s mine.
I want something far more than honor, more than glory even…I want some damn respect.
Long Beach, CA
“I still don’t understand the proposition, Xander.”
The large metal door to the training facility slides up slowly with a creak, revealing the Fighter and his co-trainer Axel the Shark on the other side. Xander just chuckles at the comment from his fine finned friend, shaking his head before replying.
“What is there to understand? I thought it was pretty cut and dry.”
“Well, yeah,” states Axel as a group of trainees start walking in, heading for the locker room area to gear up for the training session. “You said if Solex beats you, you’re leaving…and that’s the bit I don’t fully comprehend. Are you really just offering to quit HOW after all this time?”
Xander is hesitant to respond for a moment, finally giving a slow nod.
“I beat that man early in my career, knocked him the hell out in the DeNucci Cup,” he states gruffly, turning his attention to the ring as he starts checking on how tight the ropes are. “Every subsequent battle with him has yielded diminishing returns…so if I can’t beat him the next time we face off one-on-one, I have no business sticking around anymore.”
Axel seems almost exasperated at the comment as he responds.
“But what about Lee Best and his goons? Couldn’t they just screw you over and run you right out of town?”
“That’s an eventuality I have to work around…but I already have something in the works. Something that so-called GOD is gonna live to regret seeing.”
Axel doesn’t know what to say to this, instead going silent as the trainees file out of the locker room and surround the ring. Xander quickly shifts gear as he focuses on giving a small lecture, the upcoming war with Solex put on the back burner for the moment as we fade to black.