The Beginning of the End
“Listen I wouldn’t have had you flown all the way out to the Max Kael Present’s The End of HOW World Tour Cruise if it wasn’t for a good reason my friend.”
Max’s voice cut through the tension shared between himself and his chosen replacement, MAXKAEL Jr. His salt and pepper hair was coiffed into a clean undercut while his face remained cleanly shaven; an unusually well kempt look for the usually disheveled Lord of Kaelsalvania. Each word he spoke was pushed through sharpened chrome teeth while his lips were pulled into a tight, coy smile.
“[What possible reason could be more important than defending your Legacy in High Octane Wrestling?]” MAXKAEL Jr. grunted in Japanese. It was more a question spoken out of respect, he hadn’t really enjoyed his time in High Octane, particularly since it had been the ridiculous boy-child, the Herald, who had dictated the direction he should go.
“Well, friend, in this case you’re finally going to pay that debt back.” Max’s face darkens slightly, the smile shriveling up into something a little more fake looking. “I’m a little backed into a corner right now what with High Octane Wrestling not closing and me looking like I might end up a liar. So, in order to preserve my uh.. My Honor let’s say, I’ve had to make a few concessions. But listen, this isn’t anything that I don’t believe either you or I can handle together, I believe in us, in you.”
MAXKAEL Jr. nodded his head slowly as he stared up into the strange blue eye of Maximillian Wilhelm Kael. Max reached out as his long, claw like fingers to grasp MAXKAEL Jr.’s shoulder tightly.
“I have some business to attend to before we head out. Come with me, I’m going to need you by my side.” Max hissed through his teeth before his smile flattened out into something more sincere in appearance.
The Prime Minister of Maxopotamia turned and opened a door causing the room they were in to be flooded by light. Striding out through the threshold Max stepped out into the sunlight as a cool ocean breeze tugged on his hair. In the light Max could be seen wearing what looked to be a black blazer with a white shirt beneath it paired with ugly green pants and black shoes. MAXKAEL Jr. joined his side wearing an old Mike Best #UNDEFEATED shirt, matching pants and shoes.
Max gingerly moved down the side of the ship heading toward the stern with MAXKAEL Jr. in toe. After about fifty feet they turned and passed through a large metal door into another well lit corridor of the ship. From here they passed through several more passages, each just as disinteresting and forgettable as the last. Finally the two men came to a pair of large gilded doors that looked immeasurably gaudy.
Max put his hand on the door handle before pausing. He turned to face MAXKAEL Jr. as he locked him in a serious stare. He took in a deep breath appearing deep in thought before speaking.
“This is it. This is where this whole new phase of my plan begins MAXKAEL Jr. Once we walked through these doors and enter that room there is no stopping, understand? But, if you make it through this, if you make it to the end.. If we all do our jobs.. Then we’ll all win and you won’t owe me anymore. So when you’re ready, say the word.” Max offered a brief nod before he turned back toward the door waiting for MAXKAEL Jr.’s response.
The Lord of Kaelsalvania turned the handle sharply before slipping through the doorway followed immediately by MAXKAEL Jr.. Wait for them on the other side were a dozen armed guards and Colonel Pahk Pawng Joo, the North Korean officer who had captured the Cruise ship and had been holding Max Kael prisoner.
At the sight of the Colonel MAXKAEL Jr. froze, his eyes burning with hatred directed at the NK Officer. In return of the hateful glare Colonel Pahk smirked and turned his attention toward Maximillian Wilhelm Kael.
“Well, well, I would never have expected you to actually come through.” Colonel Pahk says sarcastically as the shocked MAXKAEL Jr. looks between him and Max. “Take him.”
MAXKAEL Jr. doesn’t have a chance as he blinks in confusion, still shell shocked by the appearance of the Colonel. The butt of a rifle smashes into the back of MAXKAEL Jr.’s head knocking the man to the ground where he feels a boot smash into the back of his head while zipties are quickly applied to his wrists. Max Kael doesn’t seem to pay attention as he continues to stride into the room.
“You’ve got to have a little more faith in people, Pahk, I always keep my promises. Hence why we’re in this little pickle.” Max sneered through chrome fangs as he pushes past the Colonel. ”Anyway you have what you want, do you have what I want?”
MAXKAEL Jr.’s eyes turned and looked up toward Max and burned with hatred. He struggled and pushed against the men holding him down however in his current position he couldn’t get any leverage.
“[You bastard! You Dishonorable Bastard! You are sending me back!?]” he raged at the man he admired once upon a time.
Max made a dismissive motion with his hands as MAXKAEL Jr. was hauled up off the ground and dragged away. He continued to roar, swear and hurl insults at Max who seemed to shrug them off while the Colonel watched in delight.
“Yes, yes we have what you desired..” He turned around and snapped his fingers causing several guards to slip forward with a large case.”Though I don’t agree with this.. The Supreme Leader is wise and his methods, I am sure.. Are justified.”
The case is opened as the guards quickly pull out a green coat that looked similar to the Colonel’s. Pulling off his black jacket Max slips the green NK Military tunic over his shoulders and buttons it up, a new, excited smile stretching across his face. As he finishes the final button he turns his head allowing his weird pale blue eye to stare into Pawk.
“Colonel Pawk, I think you owe me something.” Max chortled as he spun his body around and took two long steps toward the Colonel towering above the much smaller man. Pawk’s lip twitched as his eyes narrowed glaring up at Max. The NK officer’s body stiffened as he threw his hand up into a salute that caused Max’s smile to somehow stretch wider.
“Yes sir..General Kael.”
The Herald Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose stared out the small porthole of his cabin. Water. Water as far as he could see, flat, splashy, wet and salty water.
He was bored.
Twitter didn’t work on the ship right now and so he was left with, well, absolutely nothing to do. Max had been off doing some kind of business thing and he had taken MAXKAEL Jr. with him. To make matters worse, Max had instructed the Herald not to leave the room and left behind two guards to make sure. Rumble at the Rock was just a few days away and Max Kael had yet to even formally address the situation!
This had caused no small amount of stress for the Herald of Maximillian Kael.
“I wonder if Mummsy and Daddums even notice that I haven’t called home in like.. Two months.” the Herald mused to himself as he kept staring out over that endless horizon beyond the small porthole.
It was in that moment that the door to the cabin was flung open and in stepped Maximillian Wilhelm Kael dressed in his new NK officer’s uniform emblazoned with the rank insignia of a general. The Herald spun from the port hole to stare at Max with a slack jaw as the Prime Minister of Maxopotamia modeled his new look.
“Check out the new threads, Herald O’Mine!” Max cackled as he held his arms wide to show off his various metals and ribbons.
“Oooh..uh.. Neat?” The Herald sputtered out as he stared at the various shiny golden bits of Max’s uniform. “Where is MAXKAEL Jr.?”
The smile on Max’s face dimmed slightly as he lowered his arms as his hands folded behind his back. Lifting his chin into the air Max sobered up as his blue eye turned to stare out the port hole that Bentley had previously been watching the world through.
“MAXKAEL Jr. is on a different journey and I suspect we won’t see, well.. Anytime soon. But that’s not where my focus is now.” Max’s head turned sharply to stare at the Herald. “.. Rumble at the Rock is the next phase of the plan. The ship is heading for San Francisco as we speak and I plan to set down before the show so as to get a good look at the area of the prison my match is happening.. The Prison Yard..”
The Herald was still looking at the NK military tunic was wearing before his brain finally caught up with the conversation that Max was having with him. Though in honesty the only real information that the Herald caught was that they were headed for San Francisco.
“Oh yay! San Francisco! I’ve never been but I hear it’s got a great homeless population who poop on the streets! Sound’s magical in a sort of barbaric, common man sort of way.” the Herald thought out loud as he imagined the prospect of watching poor people defecate on the side of the road like a common animal.
“I had a financial advisor who pooped on the street before he was run over by a bus.” Max felt obligated to say as he held out an imaginary glass pouring one out for one of his dead hobo followers. “Anyway, it’s been a couple of months since I’ve been around HOW and I don’t know the dick all of whoever is in the match with him beyond MJF so we’ll need to get around to updating me on that. I’ve been so busy over here and.. Well, honestly though HOW would close so I hadn’t really been keeping watching..”
“Yeah, I mean, not much is different. The crowd chants my name when I go out! Apparently Jack Harmen, my creepy stalker, and MJF had been getting crowds into it. But..” The Herald offered a shrug and a small frown that crossed his boyish face. “..Uncle Mike says that it’s a stupid grammar joke and they are saying Harold.”
“Herald?” Max says in a confused manner.
“Yeah, Harold. Harold the Herald specifically.”
“Herald the Herald?.” Max’s eyebrow quirked as he stared down at his Herald, the whole bit going over his head.
“Yeah, Harold the Herald. But not like.. Herald. Harold. With an A, like someone’s name.”
The North Kaelrean General furrows his brow as his brain, more powered by petty cunning rather than actual intelligence, fails to register the joke for a moment before it seems to click. His mouth purses up as if he had just tasted something bitter and shook his head.
“That’s fucking stupid. MJF and Jack Harmen made this joke you said?”
“Yeah, it’s kind of their thing, it started on twitter, the only place that idiot High Flyer can get any attention.. And he does it using my good name!..or.. Or Title!” The Herald quickly corrects himself as he folded his arms across his chest like a petulant child. “And they keep trying to attack me! ME! MAXKAEL Jr. was supposed to deal with Jack Harmen and he manage to beat him in a Tag Team match but he failed to finish the man off!.. I guess he was waiting for Rumble at the Rock to do it proper but.. Well.. I mean now you’re here!”
The Herald jumps up and begins to do a strange little dance as he sweeps his cape back and forth while Max stares at him like a disappointed father. Sometimes it was painfully obvious why the Primrose-Farthingtons had sent their precious child to him. Seems like he always got people’s unwanted children. He’d eventually figure out exactly what he was going to do with Chloe now that John Sektor had left.
“It wasn’t my plan to crippled High Flyin Jack Harmen but I guess I could take a moment out of my schedule. The real trouble here is MJF.” The Prime Minister of Maxopotamia snarled as he remembered his loss to her at War Games earlier in the year. It had been a sore not in his return and something of a matter of broken pride for the HOW Legend.
“Also Evan Ward is in the match!.. But.. but I don’t know if he is even alive or around anymore.” The Herald added off hand as he continued to prance with his bedazzled cape and bells.
“So Evan Ward, High Flyer and the current LSD Champion MJF in the Prison Yard this year. It’s a far call from Solitary Confinement and the High Octane World Championship scene but we’ve all gotta start somewhere. And I’m going to delight in getting my hands on MJF..” He looked down at his hands as he wriggled them, a low giggle slipping under his breath.
The Herald takes a break from his silly little dance to stare at Max again, his feathered floppy hand flopping to the side as the Herald takes a power stance.
“So why exactly are you dressed like a military officer now?” Bentley blurted out as he eyed the ugly green tunic he was wearing.
“Oh! I almost forgot to tell you. So I turned in MAXKAEL Jr. to the North Koreans in return they’re funding and backing me in my efforts to make sure High Octane Wrestling closes. See, ultimately Supreme Leader Kim Jong Il wants me to return to North Korea so he can finally get his win over me.. But before I go back and take the big bad job to the pillowy soft Supreme Commander I made him promise he would empower me to carry out my vengeance against High Octane Wrestling and finally.. FINALLY.. Shut down this dying federation.”
“Actually since Scottywood took over I’ve been referring to it as the High Octane Dumpster Fire.” The Herald chimed in cheerfully.
“Yes, a dumpster fire does sou-” Max’s face seized up as he suddenly started to cough violently, his cheeks and nose flushing red. He sank to one knee as he gasped for breath, his chrome teeth screeching loudly together. “..Scottywood.. Scottywood is running HOW?!”
“Yeah, Mike sold Scotty a huge portion of the company allowing the lunatic to run things! He’s already had to apologize on twitter for some stupid thing he said, it’s actually pretty funny.” Bentley said in a sing song voice as he dug his phone out delighted to show Max the various tweets only to realize that the internet was still not working.
“Wow.. maybe I didn’t need to sell MAXKAEL Jr. back off to the North Koreans…”
The two stare at each other in silence for a few moments before Max breaks down into a guttural, shrill laugh. The Herald nervously laughs with the North Kaelrean General of High Octane Wrestling.
“..Hey! You know what..” Max wiped a tear from his eye as his eye turned back toward the porthole of the room. “..that news just gave me a great idea. Meet me up on the deck this all just gave me a great idea..”
As night crept out over the ocean the horizon was filled with the growing lights of the San Francisco Bay. The Max Kael Present’s The End of High Octane Wrestling World Tour Cruise ship was barreling cutting through a strong, chilling autumn breeze. High above in the observation deck North Kaelrean General Maximillian Wilhelm Kael stood in his uniform, his twisted blue eye staring at the city they were rapidly approaching.
“Oh boy! We’re almost there!”
The sound of the Herald’s voice at this side reminded Max that he was not alone. He turned and moved away from the window pulling a radio from his pocket which he lifted to his lips.
“Is everybody ready? We are starting out final approach, ten minutes until touch down. Ready all stations.. Heh-heh..” Max giggled into the radio before a series of call backs confirmed the ship and crew’s readiness. He turned to look back at the Herald flashing him a thumbs up. “The internet should be back up and running now that we are this close to the coast line. I’ve got a few words to share with the world, I’d like you to record it and send it out, Herald O’Mine.”
The Primrose-Farthington pulled free his phone from his medieval tunic and cloak he wore as though he were pulling a sword from its sheath. He then leveled the phone toward Max and nodded his head as the small recorder light popped up on the screen. Max pulled himself up to his full height while his arms folded neatly behind his back. His usual smile was replaced with a severe scowl adding to his authoritarian appearance.
“Citizens of the High Octane World it is I, The North Kaelrean General Maximillian Wilhelm Kael, First of my Name, Long May I Maim! I come to you now on my way to the shores of San Francisco on route to none other than Alcatraz Island for the Rumble at the Rock. I come to you now because the world is sick.. The world is in chaos and it’s not the kind of chaos that I appreciate.”
Max slowly walked toward the observation deck windows as the lights of the Bay grew brighter and more distinct. The Bay Bridge’s red framework was starting to become visible in the distant fog as the ship barreled forward.
“I promised you citizens that High Octane Wrestling would be dead by Rumble at the Rock and I intended to do everything necessary to get there. I thought, after War Games, everything was said and done. We defeated the new Best Alliance. We saw Eric Dane, Jack Harmen, Troy, Dan Ryan and MJF each eliminated.. That was supposed to be it. HOW would leave Florida, limp home to Chicago where Mike would close the doors and end this psychotic murder death federation… but things didn’t go that way did they?”
He hung his head low for a moment in acceptance of his own failure and his trust in the federation to kill himself.
“So then I thought, wouldn’t a slow, quiet death for everyone just be best? So you know what I did? I threw in with North Korea, I threw in with the only people in the world who could understand what I’m trying to do here, the only people with the balls, the courage, the tenacity to stand up to the big bad American country and do something like, I don’t know, hacking the central website making it nearly impossible for the company to conduct business? Does it seem brash that I chose that path? Possibly.. But you know what happened? The company came this.. THIS.. fucking close to dying. Just a few lines of code and this whole house of cards almost came crumbling down..”
He pantomimed the collapse of a house of cards, his fingers waving through the air as he wore these expressions of surprise and distress.
“..but High Octane Wrestling didn’t fully die did it? Like a stroke victim, parts of the body stopped working but the heart and brain were intact enough that it still managed to drag itself across the floor.. Only instead of trying to fix itself High Octane Wrestling moved forward with Rumble at the Rock, a pay per view where people literally, in the literal not figurative manner, try to kill each other! That’s no joke.. And if you are in this Prison Yard Match.. And I’m looking at you Jack Harmen, MFJ and Evan Ward, know that I’m probably going to try and kill you. I might literally take a blunt object, shove it down your throat and break it in half just to watch you choke to death! Because you know what happens then?”
He nods his head aggressively as the smile stretches over his face again.
“Lawsuits! Criminal Charges! The kind of press coverage they save for politicians and pedophiles! And this is the LSD title, people, that just means we are going to have to be twice as violent to make it worth all the blood thirsty views out there! Trust me.. I know this place. I have participated in some of the bloodiest, most violent matches ever to take place on Alcatraz! Curious about them? Well one of them resulted in Michael Best STABBING MY FUCKING EYE OUT!”
Max points at the rusted metal patch that was bolted over his left eye.
“But don’t feel too bad for me, I carved my initials into his chest with a chainsaw, Lady Murderfucks, that I paid off a few guards to let me keep in my cell. Sure, he had surgery to have the scar removed but it’s still there.. Still just beneath the surface and, I am sure, the scar hasn’t left Michael’s sharp little mind. I did that too him and he was my brother.. IS my brother. I’ve stabbed people here, I’ve ripped flesh and broken bones here! I’ve nearly died myself, I know what’s at stake, I know what I need to do to survive. I’ve got the age and experience in this place, this is not a brag, this is a fact but that is also a double edged blade, right MJF? I’m not in my twenties, I’m not riding high on youthful hormones and a, early life fueled by success.”
He turned to look out the window once again as the ship blew past the legs of the Golden Gate Bridge and continued to roar toward Alcatraz Island. The light house was not easily visible, its powerful beacon spreading far and wide over the bay before them.
“I’m not walking into this match with any illusions about it. My body is falling apart, my best days are likely behind me.. But I’ve never been the type of person who relied on skilled or personal merit to win matches. I’ve been a dirty, underhanded cheat my entire life. I’ve embraced cowardice and attack people through others. I’ve engorged on cruelty using all manner of twisted weapons to gain whatever advantage I could score. I literally ripped out all of my teeth so I could replace them with metal fangs to ensure I had an unyielding weapon no matter what my situation.. This Prison Fight.. This is my stage to show the world that High Octane Wrestling needs to close. This HAS to End. All of it..”
Max turns away from the window and picks up an officer’s peak hat off a nearby bench and lifts it to his head where he secures it finalizing his North Korean look. His blue eye is barely visible beneath the black visor of the cap while his smile creates deep creases in his face that are filled with the shadows cast by the hat he wore.
“We’ll talk again before Rumble at the Rock is official but please be put on notice, the War for the End of HOW is coming to Alcatra…”
He turned his eye toward the window again as the lighthouse appeared alarmingly close to the ship which had not slowed down in the least.
“..I’m North Kaelrean General Maximillian Wilhelm Kael.. First of my Name.. heh-heh.. Long May I M-”
Before he can finish there is a horrific crashing noise as the sound of metal twisting and wood splintering fills the air. Both Max and the Herald holding the camera are tossed and thrown from their position.
Alarms blare as the lights flicker and..
– To Be Continued.