Higher Point of Being

The Hearst Tower arena floor is empty. The ring sits still, with no lights above it or on it. We instead cut to a view of the Fight Tower Lobby. The large area has been cleared of all furniture, of all non-combative personnel, and is lit up in only five areas. The 4 corners of the massive room, and one overhead light fin the dead center of the room. Standing in that light, is Miss F. Dressed in a black suit with no shirt beneath it, she looks to a door in one corner, and nods. A Fight security guard moves out of the shadows and opens that door, and out walks the Cure.

Brandon Moore, Apathy, Eoin, Enforcer, and Sarah Wolf step out into the light, and are asked to stop just beyond the door. They do not talk. They do not move. They wait.

F looks to the door across from them, and nods. Another agent steps out, and unlocks the door, allowing FYA to step out. Dane Preston, Sahara, Allison Riggs Preston, Murphy Doyle Maher, and Kal X Wolf. The pop for the latter member can be heard from across the street, and the satisfaction on his feet is almost too much to stand.

F looks to the door to FYA’s left, and nods. The same agent that let out The Cure opens the door, and out steps Dynasty. All in matching color schemes to their usual in ring gear. Paul Montuori, Miss Michelle, Joe Montuori, Ricky Rodriguez, and Todrick Tabor Ramsey group up, and begin to stare down those who they hold personal grudges against. 

Miss F nods at the last door, and the agent who let the FYA out of their room steps up to the door, and from behind it, NSQ steps out. Each of them as peaceful as one can be before setting out on a night such as this. Miss F claps her hands and gets the attention of everyone in the room.

Miss F: You’ve fought for blood money. You’ve had your toxicity to one another proven. And now, it is time to leave behind the lowly works you’ve done previous, and ascend. To a new level. A higher point of being. To something better. To being someone better. 

Not all of you will make it to the top. It is a reality in this business all the time, but especially true tonight. Those of you who do not, there are days ahead where you may still. Those who do, remember those who did not. Because next time you may fall, and watch from the ground as these others rise. Everything changes after tonight. It is up to you all just how much of it stays. No more talking. No more words. And no one leaves this room, this level, until 4 of you are no longer conscious. 

NOW LETS FIGHT!

A Job Worth Blood

Miss F paces back and forth.

Miss F: Ophelia Pain-Pinkston. Newly minted Brooklyn Champion.

Druscilla White. Newly minted Bareknuckle Champion.

Bam Miller. VooDoo.

A slight pause, looking at the person stood next to VooDoo.

Miss F: Vhodka Black. Ashlynn Cassidy. Vincent Black. Austin Ramsey.

She walks back again, eyeing each of them.

Miss F: Inside of your locker rooms, you had an envelope. I hope you looked at your envelope, and you saw your instructions. Some of them are not particularly specific. Just carry out the instruction you have been given, and you will earn a bounty. Some of you do not have a specific target to eliminate. Others do. Do not get in each other’s way. Carry out your assigned task and you shall be rewarded handsomely.

And now she peers up at a camera, one that is being broadcast to all of the rooms in the Tower containing superstars who chose not to participate.

Miss F: Far more handsomely than those who chose to sit out the most important day in FIGHT! History, so far. Off with their heads, I say.

She smirked, then regained her composure and looked back at the mercenaries.

Miss F: All of you, convene in HR. Your passes will allow you to use the stairwells and move more freely through the tower, unlike the stables. Best of luck, and remember, on top of your assigned bounty, if you manage to eliminate a leader and return his key to the escape door on the top floor, you will gain an additional 2,500 Blood Money. ONLY if you turn the key in.

FIGHT!

A sound echoes through the tower. Our warriors look at each other, then look at the elevators in the corner of the lobby.

Shawn Warstein: I guess… we.. uh.. start now?

Brandon Moore, from the other side of the lobby, had no such hesitation. He ran to the elevator.

Apathy: Four KOs, Brandon.

Brandon Moore: These mook fucks, I bet they didn’t even do anything to the elevators.

He pushed the call button repeatedly, to no avail. This gave every opportunity for Shawn, Dickie, Betsy, Kasey and Aiden of the New Status Quo to scurry across the lobby and pile onto them. We’re straight into a five versus five. Enforcer with Kasey, Eoin with Betsy, Aiden with Sarah Wolf, Apathy with Dickie and Shawn and Brandon reigniting what was left from Night One.

Some of these athletes were fighting on fumes already, having been through hell the night before. Others were fresher, and looked like they had hell to give, and receive. In the opposite corner, Joe Montuori was chasing down Sahara, who was hiding behind Dane Preston, the Montuori brothers made quick work of breaking that down, though, and both teams were brawling there.

Joe Montuori: I’LL FUCK YOU UP BITCH!

Paul turned to Ricky, whilst trading right hands with Murphy.

Paul Montuori: I have a feeling this is gonna go sideways fast.

Ricky Rodriguez: Joe?

Paul Montuori: Between Joe, Michelle, Sahara and Dane I know someone’s gonna get real deep in their iddybiddy feelings and throw this whole thing away. I just know it.

Joe Montuori: Paul! Shut up and FIGHT! Get that blond hair bitch NOW, I’m gonna separate her from consciousness!

Paul rolled his eyes. Sahara sniggered to herself, and threw a potshot at Todrick from behind Dane.

First Blood

FYA begins to fan out, looking at Dynasty the way a pack of…predatory animals might look at Prey. Paul begins to give orders, to tell them to stand their ground and let them come to them, but Joe runs off at Sahara, and Ricky runs after Joe. Michelle curses and Toddy also jumps the gun.

As Joe reaches Sahara, Ricky is about to try and break it up in hopes of helping Sahara, but is cut off by Allison, who grabs Ricky and uses his own momentum against him, throwing him into a wall. Murphy, Dane, and Kal are about to enclose on them when Kal holds them back, and whispers something to them each. Dane and Murphy laugh, and nod, and look at Michelle’s hips, smiling.

Michelle is a very smart woman, and this type of tactic, this ‘comment about my body’ would never work on her. But the idea that they think it would enrages her, and she lunges at Kal, the worst of the Wolf men and her former Co-GM of a much less nicer place. Kal and her exchange totals to one another and blend into the background of the ongoing fight.

Murphy nods at Toddy, and they exchange pleasantries for a moment before agreeing as gentle people to begin the fight, even going to shake hands before. But Murphy, ever the gentlemen, instead kisses her hand, and bows his head. Toddy pretends to blush and in a flash both of their faces are no longer smiling but grimacing. Murphy begins to circle the much bigger Toddy and eventually begins to lock up with him, both battling for control of the other.

Dane and Paul look at one another, and Paul smiles. Dane asks what he’s smiling at, and Paul simply says ‘wrong one.’ And Dane agrees. Turning his back on Paul, Dane runs at Joe, and tackles him just as he’s about to strike Sahara. Sahara laughs, but suddenly finds herself on the receiving end of a kick from Michelle, who had pawned Kal off on Paul and had come after her.

Kal and Paul are trading rights and lefts, Paul’s key hanging from his neck and almost poking Kal in the eye. At no point though does Kal make a move for the key. By the look of it, he’s here to clean out his basement, not start a new legacy. So he uses his hands for what he’s always used his hands for; destruction of someone else’s face.

Kal is dragging Paul toward a windows by a clump of his hair, and is about to slam him face first into the glass but is broken up by Michelle who /has came across the room to help. Kal grabs Michelle by the face and pushes her off, causing her to stumble back and fall over Dane who is on his hands and knees.  Paul grabs Kal’s head and slams it into the glass window that Kal had intention with, and cracks it in a spider pattern. Blood runs from Kal’s newly formed wound. And rage fills his eyes.

Paul falls backward as Kal begins to attack like a man possessed. Paul, who is looking for some way to slow the old man before him and his progression. Paul grabbed Enforcer by the shoulders at the last second, and pushed him toward Kal. Kal tried to duck the man, and get back to Paul, but Enforcer pushed the issue, eager to prove himself against the old bastard. A mistake he would surely live to regret and wish he had not.

Throwing a sloppy punch, Kal avoids it easily, and grabs Enforcer by the head, hooking one arm over his right shoulder and one arm under his left arm, Lifting him up, he throws him backwards and drives Enforcers head into the floor, removing him from consciousness and with a pin attempt, the event at the same time. As Kal rolled off of Toddy laid on the floor, he looked up to the balcony, and saw an opportunity he couldn’t resist.

ELIMINATION; ENFORCER. BY KAL X FAGAN.

Fish Fingers

Dane and Joe make short work of the entire area they are in, narrowly avoiding other fighters in the area. Joe gets the upper hand on Dane, by fishhooking the side of his mouth with two of his fingers, and using leverage to toss him to the ground. Dane grabs his cheek, feeling the skin on the inside tear under the pressure of his fingers, and tasting the blood that came from it.

Dane stands up, and grabs Joe by the throat with both hands and takes him off his feet with a throaty scream. Joe falls to the floor and pushes past Brandon Moore and Shawn Warstein, darting up a set of stairs to the baclony above the lobby. Dane is right behind him.

Joe begins to try and stop Dane from climbing the stairs, throwing anything he can at him, which was quite a lot due to the balcony having not been cleared of furniture. Lamps, chairs and candy dishes shatter on the wall behind Dane, who continues up the steps unrelenting. Joe backs up and as Dane makes it to the floor, he lunges and collides and the two men fall down to the landing below, smashing into the pile of littered items that Joe had thrown just a second before. 

The both of them rose to their feet, trying desperately to beat the other man up. Dane and Joe both grab a chunk of furniture, Dane a chair leg, Joe a chunk of table, and begin to swing at each other wildly, clapping the pieces of furniture against each other’s, sending pieces of wood into the air and narrowly avoiding each other despite wanting to do just the contrary. Joe positions himself toward the stairs and begins to back up them, as Dane swings his sliver of wood at his face, blocking it with every swipe. Dane dashes up the stairs as lobs his piece of wood at Joe, who ducks it, but not Dane.

Colliding with Joe, Dane wraps him up, turns and delivers a stunning and raw belly to belly that doesn’t break the balcony floor, but could have. Dane stands up, kicking Joe in the back as he attempts to do the same. Joe grabs Dane by the waistband, and pulls him toward him, but also falls with the motion, almost tossing him over the balcony rail, but Dane hooks his arms on the side of the rail that has a floor, and stops himself. Turning over, he narrowly misses a punch from Joe that instead lands on the stone balcony. If Joe’s hand hurts because of this, he’s not showing. Dane pushes off the balcony and ends up behind Joe, who turns toward Dane but is quickly hit by a charging Kal Wolf, who lifts Joe into the air and throws him over the balcony.

Joe does not let go of him, though, and both tumble to the floor below. Dane rushes down the stairs and as he gets to the bottom of the stairs, he sees Joe and Kal rising to their feet. Joe angry as hell, and Kal laughing at how much fun he’s having.

Kal backs up and bumps into someone. Spinning on his heels, as does the person, he rears back to punch before he realizes it’s Sahara. No sooner than he realizes this, Joe realizes this, and grabs her by the throat, and pulls her toward him. This was a mistake as she hadn’t just fallen off a balcony one floor up, and she jumps into the air and plants a vicious kick to the side of his head.

Accidental Elimination

Apathy and Sarah have Ricky Rodriguez trapped in a corner, and are working him over, with intent on making sure he doesn’t get up. Joe Montuori is on his feet at this point and begins to walk over to help Ricky, but instead stops, gives him the finger, and turns back toward Sahara, who is heated at what she just saw. 

Ricky backs Apathy off just a bit with a well placed knee, and in a turn of events he wouldn’t have seen coming, Murphy appears out of nowhere, and clotheslines Apathy as hard as he can. Sarah is enraged by this and goes on the attack, leveling Ricky with kicks to his midsection that drop him to the floor, and cause her to lose interest in him entirely. Hauling ass after Murphy who has moved to the other side of the room, she begins her assault with clenched teeth cracking against each other more so after every attempt. Most attempts are met with well timed blocks by Murphy, who knows her tendencies rather well.

Sarah Wolf almost takes both their heads off with a fire extinguisher she’s pulled off the wall and thrown at Murphy, who instead pulls Toddy into the objects path and causes it to level him in the side of the head. Murphy drops to his knees to check on Toddy who is out cold, and as he does so, he inadvertently gets a 3 count with little to no effort from the unconscious Toddy. Murphy hears the announcement and is baffled as to how that’s possible, but keeps tending to him despite.

ELIMINATION; TABOR TODRICK-RAMSEY BY MURPHY DOYLE MAHER

Get Got

Eoin sees a moment and goes to attack Murphy. Trying to place a kick against the back of his head, Murphy spins away from it, and punches Eoin dead in the stomach, doubling him over as the air rushes out of him. Murphy leaps up and lands his finisher “GET GOT” by placing his leg on the back of Eoin’s head and driving him downward onto the extinguisher that took out Toddy. Murphy watches as Eoin slumps and settles, obviously unconscious.

ELIMINATION; EOIN O’ROURKE BY MURPHY DOYLE MAHER.

Murphy looks up and sees Betsy Granger, and makes a b-line to her, slapping Kal on the back as he does so. Kal breaks away from the fight with Joe and Sahara and follows Murphy. The three of them seem to have some sort of conversation, and at the end of it, separate from each other amicably. 

A voice comes over the speaker, and announces that with one more elimination, the next level will be unlocked. The entire room pauses, and everyone looks over who is left. Apathy and Sarah back away from their respective fights and begin to discuss their next step. Dane, Kal, Sahara, and Allison begin too, to communicate. Murphy on the other hand is helping Toddy up with the paramedics to get him off the floor.

Dane and Kal rush across the room, with Sahara and Allison behind them. Kal and Dane cross over and behind each other, and Kal is now in front of Sarah, with Dane attacking Apathy. Sahara backs Dane up as Allison blindsides Sarah, and Kal takes the moment to lock her into a submission move, which is only serving to piss Sarah off. Allison breaks off and joins the double team of Sahara and Dane into a triple team against Apathy. Apathy does her best to try and stop them, but the onslaught is too much, and before she can make it over to where Brandon is, she is leveled by Sahara who kicks her so hard she damn near twists as she falls. Dane turns toward Kal, and nods, and Kal lets go of his sister. Sarah tries to get to Apathy, but its far too late, as Sahara gets the pin and the elevators ding as they open.

ELIMINATED; APATHY BY SAHARA

Sarah roars, and runs to Apathy, her mouth a pulsating snarl of anger and broken teeth. The fight suddenly pauses and each group takes to an elevator. NSQ, who like FYA, haven’t lost a team member in one, and FYA in the one across. The remainder of The Cure, which is only Sarah and Brandon in another. And Dynasty who is still in it with a full team sans Toddy, in the last elevator. 

Who's That Walking In These Woods?

Inside the elevator the members of Dynasty look up above as the speaker over their head’s crackles to life, the smooth tones of an unknown woman flowing out into the small space. 

DJ FIGHT: This is for all you movers and shakers out there with an ear for action. It seems like The Cure has come down with a bad case of the blues and only two cats are left in the alley. Will our friends be able to make it all the way home to grandmother’s house or will they find the Big Bad Wolf along their way? Here’s a little mood music for you boppers as you boogie on down the line. 

The mysterious voice fades out as the sound of Sam the Sham & The Pharaohs “Li’l Red Riding Hood” begins to play out over the speakers. Joe’s chin is tipped towards the speakers and he scowls up at the unknown voice above, his face turning sour as the song begins to play.

Joe Montuori: What is it with the music in this place? Why don’t they ever play anything good? Would it be so hard to throw on some Busta Rhymes?

Michelle Moore: Shut up, Joe. 

The song plays on as the members of Dynasty stand lost in their own thoughts, each one staring at the doors in front of them as they wait for them to open and reveal what the future would hold for them.

The Mercenaries

The four teams rise to the next level, which takes a few minutes as it is a few floors above. When the doors open, they find themselves in the HR/Personnel area. FYA is the first to step out, and they are the first to notice that this area has what they’ve been told are the Mercenaries. The Fighters that were not loyal to a crew, and would be tasked with only causing the downfall of a specific fighter, or any fighter that was left, once that task was completed.

Dane looked across the room at Druscilla White, and Vhodka Black on one side of the room. Voodoo off in one corner, her eyes on another elevator. Ophelia and Bam Miller were standing near each other but weren’t looking at each other, and Ashlynn Cassidy standing off by herself.

Two more doors open, revealing Dynasty and NSQ, but The Cure elevator does not open. The OCCHI system switches to the feed from inside the elevator, and we see that Brandon Moore has pulled the Emergency Brake. Obviously trying to give the rest of the combatants time to get distracted, and forget about his dwindled team, before they come out. It’s a good plan, and it works perfectly.

The fight continues without them, or anyone noticing, but with a fresh influx of highly motivated combatants. Bam Miller rushes Miss Michelle. Ophelia takes after Ricky Rodriguez, obviously because she was assigned to, and Ashlynn goes after Paul Montuori. And the usual suspects go after the usual targets. Dane after Joe, Joe trying to get to Sahara, and Murphy, who is the only one who has noticed the lack of Sarah, walks over to Vhodka, and begins to talk to her and Dru.

Kal and Allison cross the rampage that’s happening on desks and in cubicles and make their way over to the NSQ who are waiting patiently for the fight to be brought to them. Dickie elbows Shawn, and as they prepare, Kal throws his hands up in a sign of peace, and simply extends his hand to Dickie. Dickie is confused, but in a moment genuine respect, Kal tells Dickie how amazing his match was, and that he’s going to keep on eye on him. Dickie nods and says thanks, and Kal backs up, asking if he’s ready. Dickie smiles, and says ‘of course.’

Kal and the Empire Champion Dickie Watson begin a dance as Allison tangles with Kasey Winterborn. Betsy walks over to Murphy and nods at him. He takes a deep breath and thanks her, before letting her walk away unscathed. Vhodka asks him what that was about but Murphy doesn’t answer.

Murphy who is concentrating on the unopened elevator doesn’t see Ricky Rod rushing him, but is pulled away from her by Ashlynn Cassidy, who for some reason decided to help. Murphy watches as Ricky bounces off the wall and curses. Murphy nods at Ashlynn, and she nods back, before going back to fighting with Paul. Murphy moves away from Ricky and hopes someone else picks them up, as he has other business to attend to.

Bam Miller and Michelle crash through a door and find large black trunk stored within, and tumble over it. Murphy and Vhodka rush in, and suddenly start trying to drag them out. Michelle fighting Vhodka, and Murphy on Bam.

Ashlynn Cassidy and Paul Montuori are going at each other like cats when suddenly they stop. Standing near the only elevator that didn’t open, they look at each other and listen carefully.

Bang Bang Bang

Screams of anger can be heard from within, and suddenly the door opens. Sarah Wolf flys out, and collides with both Ashlynn and Paul. Paul kicks Sarah off him and stands up, looking at her and seeing how much worse for the ware she is. He then looks up and sees that Brandon has calmly exited the elevator, but it was not him who threw her. It was the man who walks out behind him.

That man is Vincent Black.

Walking over to his downed sister, he picks her up by the back of her neck the way someone might pick up an angry cat. He tosses her toward the HR office where Michelle and Vhodka are fighting alongside Murphy and Bam. The second Murphy sees Sarah crawling toward the room, he levels with Bam with enough anger to almost kill him, and rushes away from him to help Vincent.

Vhodka rushes out as well, and they stand over Sarah, who is looking up at Vhodka and Vhodka alone. She mouths the words ‘I’m sorry.’ To which Vhodka replies, ‘Not yet you’re not.’ Murphy and Vin back up, and in an impressive show of strength, she clamps her hands on either side of Sarah’s head, and launches her through the frosted glass window that separates the HR department from the Payroll department, and gives chase right behind her. Sarah makes no effort to fight back, but instead she gets up on her knees, and looks at Vhodka, and at Vin, and at Voodoo, and Kal, and Allison, and finally, at Murphy. She smiles, blood dripping from her face as her teeth have cut into her bottom lip once more. Michelle steps through the door, looking to back up her girl, when Brandon stops her, and Sarah holds up her hand, nodding that it’s ok. Michelle storms off, and Brandon nods at Vincent, who nods back.

“…can we get this over with? I’m so tired…”

Vhodka screams and pulls back a knee, driving it into Sarah’s face, and knocking her out so hard she doesn’t leave her knees, she just leans back, and goes limp. Vin looks to Murphy, and tells him to get the case, but Murphy is already dragging it in.

ELIMINATION; SARAH WOLF BY VHODKA MARIE

We then switch footage to Dane, Sahara and Allison, who are fighting off NSQ and Dynasty. Brandon Moore is once again after Warstein, but as Warstein and him entangle, Bam Miller gets into the fray and attacks Brandon as well. Shawn sees his chance, and darts away from Moore, looking to take on other targets instead, like Dane Preston.

Dane and Paul are joined by Warstein who opens up on both of them. Taking turns with them both, he continues to level them both shot after shot, until finally Dane blocks a hit, and Paul lands a few on his own. Warstein doesn’t relent though, as these two men are tired, and he isn’t even sweating yet. 

Murphy steps through the broken window and is damn near leveled by Michelle, who spears him through an office door, and slams him against a window. Murphy’s face is pressed against the glass so hard that he can’t close his eyes and is forced to see the view from the middle of fight tower, a view that is absolutely terrifying to him. Michelle begins to pound the glass, screaming into Murphy’s ear as she does.

Michelle: You couldn’t deal!

BANG!!

Michelle: You couldn’t admit that she was happier without you!

BANG!!

Michelle: YOU HAD TO RUIN HER WITH YOUR BULLSHIT EXPECTATIONS!!

BANG!!

Michelle: …she was my friend, and I swear I’m going to make you pay.

Murphy passes out as he finally gets enough of the view and it’s direct line to his fear center. Michelle looks down at him in the fetal position and calls him a pussy, leaving him there like the baby he is. 

ELIMINATION; MURPHY DOYLE MAHER BY MISS MICHELLE

Uncertainty In Our Midst

Dane hears this and rushes after Michelle but is cut off by Shawn who isn’t quite done with him yet. Paul sees this and also turns his attention to Dane but only for a second, as he switches back to Shawn immediately. Shawn grabs Paul’s fist and steps under it, hitting him with a decent arm breaker that backs Paul off. Dane kicks Shawn in the gut the second he’s free of Paul and backs him up into the middle of the room. Joe, who is fighting with Ashlynn and Aiden, decides to try and go help Paul, but gets kicked by Sahara and knocked back toward Ashlynn.

Allison Riggs Preston rejoins the fray along with Voodoo, and they separate, Voodoo going toward Betsy Granger, and Allison toward Ophelia Pain. Allison grabs a lightbulb from an overhead light and smashes it across the back of Ophelia, sending glass and dust everywhere, but only really pissed Phelia off. 

Voodoo sweeps the leg of Ashlynn out from underneath her, and 

Murphy wanders out of the office, and finds himself looking over the fight, without a single care about any of it. He walks out to the payroll area, where Vincent waits. They lift up the trunk which obviously has Sarah in it, and pull it to the other elevator bank. As the door closes on the two of them and the trunk, Vincent asks Murphy if he’s sure about this, and Murphy says ‘not at all’ as the door closes.

Back in the main room, Allison is taking on Ophelia with reckless abandon, trying her best to keep the newly crowned champion down long enough to get her out. But Druscilla, the other newly crowned champion has a better idea, and she spins around Allison, and blasts her with a heavy right hand that lays Allison down like a sack of potatoes. She tries to stand back up, but Kasey Winterborn sees an opportunity and levels her with a kick to the head that lays her down again and keeps her down this time. Dru looks at Kasey and Kasey at Dru, and the two of them begin to fight right over Allison, who has finally lost consciousness.

ELIMINATION; ALLISON RIGGS PRESTON BY KASEY WINTERBORN

Tensions Rising

The crews begin to move away from their opponents and as Dynasty regroups, Joe points out that Michelle isn’t with them, but is instead standing with Moore. Paul tells him not to worry about Michelle, and worry about himself. Ricky agrees with Paul, which pisses Joe off further, causing him to push Ricky. Ricky pushes Joe back and Paul tells them both to cut it out, realizing that everyone is watching them bicker.

Vhodka steps into the room, and laughs, as the room looks like a middle school dance where no one wants to be the first person who dances. She walks over to Shawn Warstein and headbutts him unexpectedly, causing the entire room to pop off. Sahara, Dane and Kal head into the fray, and Joe and Ricky argue as Paul crosses the room looking to get his hands on Dickie. 

Betsy and Voodoo begin to tangle

Ophelia and Bam head after Joe

Vhodka and Shawn start to really heat up, with their fight looking more like a murder attempt on both sides.

Ashlynn Cassidy steps between Michelle and Moore and blasts Michelle in the jaw. Moore grabs the back of her head and pulls her back, slamming his arm down on her chest, and sends her to the floor. Michelle and Brandon begin to kick her over and over until Kal Wolf takes Brandon away and Ashlynn is able to get to her feet, taking the fight to Michelle.

Ricky finds Aiden coming across the room for him, and sees Kasey Winterborn is also coming toward him, as Dru has turned to fight with Dickie and Paul instead of continuing with Winterborn. Joe, who has just broken away from a fight of his own, see’s Ricky being double teamed by Aiden and Kasey. Being punched back and forth like a punching bag in a gym poor people might go to. RIcky calls out for help, but Joe just smiles, and tells him to go fuck himself. In shock, but not too much, Ricky watches as Joe turns his back, and in the moment he tries to rush him for his lack of assistance, he is leveled by Kasey and Aiden, driven into the ground head first by a two man bottom slam. Kasey covers and as Sahara rushes across the room, not letting anyone stop her, she see’s Joe, Ricky’s team mate, count off his elimination with glee. She reaches Joe at the count of three and unleashes hell upon him, cursing a storm that has no shot of subsiding.

The doors ding and the elevators are open once more. Brandon, the last of the cure enters the elevator by himself. As NSQ, the only full team left enter theirs. Kal, Dane, and Sahara get in theirs, and Joe, Paul, and Michelle climb in there’s, with Paul livid at his brother, who is still smiling at Sahara across the room.

Hold Me Tight And Tell Me You'll Miss Me

The remaining members of FYA are huddled in their elevator, all turned towards one another as they do their best to regroup and strategize in the little time provided on the elevator ride to the next floor. Above them the elevator speaker flares to life as all the members pause in their conversation to listen to the mysterious feminine voice who seemed to be speaking directly to them.

DJ FIGHT: You Mamas and Papas are looking good out there on the streets but it seems a few more of our friends have been wasted along the way. Little Girl Wolf finally came up with that receipt she’s been missing thanks to a few old friends and the bucket from Nantuckett had an ace up his sleeve that puts her M.I.A. We thought that newcomer had his boots to the ground but he cut on down and cut out. We can dig it but why don’t you dig this mess from a little band out of the city of angels. 

Mama Cass’s voice flows eerily out of the speakers up above as The Mama’s and The Papa’s “Dream A Little Dream Of Me” plays out over the speakers. Kal Wolf is the first to crack a smile at the irony of the song choice as he looks to Dane across the small space.

Kal X Wolf: Sweet of them to play a song for Sarah and Murph. 

Dane Preston: I’m glad it was him and not me. I wasn’t looking forward to having to fight your sister. No offense, Big.

Sahara: We’re still down two men, three on five isn’t great odds. 

Kal X. Wolf opens his mouth to speak again but is interrupted by the sound of the elevator dinging as it arrives at its next floor and the doors slowly slide open.

The Self-Awareness Deficiency

Do you remember that scene in The Shining where the elevator doors open and a flood of thickly viscous room temperature blood pours out like someone had just taken a gigantic jackhammer to the Hoover Dam? If the blood were peoples then this is exactly like that as the doors to the elevator slowly slide open to reveal what is left of the team collectively known as Dynasty. Michelle is the first out of the elevator, surveying her surroundings with a weary gaze as she looks up at the sign above the doorway announcing that they were now on the floor housing The Fifth Turnbuckle, the exclusive bar slash restaurant for FIGHT employees and rosters only. Usually this is a place that is off limits to the fighters, operating much like The Continental in John Wick but it seemed that tonight, the rules had been suspended as the sound of a fight was heard not far off in the distance. 

Paul Montuori has had better days, hell, he’s had better weeks for that matter. The loss to Dickie, the sudden shock that his parents have been alive this entire time, and insult to injury he’s been saddled with what is to date probably one of the most dysfunctional stables to ever exist. Paul is harried, running a hand through his snarled hair as he steps off the elevator scowling at no one in particular and everyone in particular all at once. Behind him, brother Joe is downright giddy despite the wounds of war apparent on his face. 

Joe Montuori: That bitch Sahara is lucky the elevators showed up when they did, I was three seconds away from popping her bleach blonde head off like an infected pimple, bro. That stupid bit-

Paul Montuori: SHUT THE FUCK UP JOE.

A normal human being might at this point begin to suspect that there was familial trouble brewing on the horizon. A normal person might look at Paul Montuori and note that his eyes were wild and showing just a bit too much white, they would also note the fact that a prominent vein seemed to suddenly be protruding from his forehead. Hell, anyone with even the slightest sense of awareness of their surroundings might take note that your brother slash partner telling you to shut the fuck up is likely not a good thing. But Joe Montuori was none of those people, being firmly grounded in his own private world full of Maserati and sports analogies. 

Paul Montuori: I am sick and fucking tired of the sound of your voice. Have you noticed that there are only three of us left? Did you ever stop to look the fuck around and see that Toddy and Ricky are gone? Did you? 

Joe Montuori: Yeah, so? Bro I told you we couldn’t trust Ricky, he was only out to help that bitch Sahara even after all we did for him. Toddy is a loss for sure but if you ask me the team to beat is The Montuori Brothers and Miss Michelle.

Paul Montuori: The team to beat? The team to fucking beat is New Status Quo, the team that has all of their members still, the team that made us look like a bunch of sleazy two dollar circus clowns. The team to fucking beat. If you ever had even the slightest bit of self awareness I think I’d die of shock. 

Michelle Moore: HEY!

Both men turned to the small blonde with near identical expressions of agitation on their faces, which Michelle didn’t give one iota of a fuck about. She rolled her eyes pointing a finger in the direction of the sounds of violence coming from within The Turnbuckle.

Michelle Moore: If I wanted to watch dysfunctional family shit I’d go to the Riggs house for Christmas. Get your heads in the game or get left behind, if I have to do this by myself I will. I don’t give a rolling rim job who the fuck is the on paper captain. 

Paul angrily turned towards the entrance of The Turnbuckle, pushing past Michelle with a scowl on his face as he snarled “whatever” under his breath. Joe followed in his wake pointing at Michelle with raised eyebrows, quietly blaming her for Paul’s surly mood as she made a very inappropriate hand motion telling him exactly what she thought of his opinion about her. 

The Fifth Turnbuckle

Kasey Winterborn’s scream cuts through the air as Brandon Moore lifts her high above his head, holding her aloft in the air for a moment before letting her drop down to the bar top below. From across the room Shawn Warstein watches in almost slow motion as she thuds against the bar and rolls off to the floor below, Moore punctuating her landing with a kick to the ribs for emphasis. Kasey attempted to roll away but Brandon continued to follow, driving his boot into her ribs every few feet as she screamed out in pain. Warstein is a man enraged as he begins fighting his way across the room in an effort to reach his partner in this and so many other things in her time of need. As luck would have it, that was the very moment that Michelle decided to enter the fray, aiming for Dane Preston and not at all seeing Shawn Warstein who had the sudden realization that turnabout is fair play. Before she can even get her bearings Shawn has his hands wrapped around the small blonde’s head, lifting her off her feet and sending her flying into a table a few feet away. Michelle crashes through the table and struggles to get to her hands and knees as Warstein converges upon her, a chair in hand. The sound of a whistle cuts through the room as Shawn puts his fingers to his mouth looking for the attention of Brandon Moore. Maybe it was the whistle, maybe it was instinct, whatever reason it was Brandon turns just in time to see Shawn bring the chair down on Michelle’s back. 

Across the room Aiden is beating back Paul Montuori who had also been distracted by the sound of Warstein’s call and was desperately trying to get to his fallen teammate. Aiden reached up, grabbing a handful of hair and slinging him back into the wall, raining a hail of fists right into Paul’s handsome af face. 

The fight is on between Shawn and Moore, both men trading lefts and rights like it’s their job if it wasn’t actually their job even though it kind of is their job. What I’m saying is, shit is crazy. Shawn Warstein’s left fist connects with the chin of Moore with a resounding crack only moments before Moore lands a lucky knuckle to the orbital bone of Warstein. Shawn takes a step back trying looking for a precious few seconds to clear the vision in his right eye as Brandon never loses a step, coming in with another right followed by a left. Shawn goes down and Moore smiles the sinister grin of a bad man thinking very bad things as he bends down to pull Shawn up off the floor and position him for an Everblack. As we watch, Brandon Moore’s eyes glaze over only moments before they roll back in his head, his body going limp and landing on the floor beside Shawn Warstein, revealed above him Bam Miller holding a very large wooden rolling pin. Bam stares down at Shawn, placing his foot on Brandon’s chest. 

ELIMINATION; BRANDON MOORE BY BAM MILLER.

THE CURE ARE ELIMINATED. THE CURE KEY MUST BE TURNED IN AT THE ROOFTOP BY BAM MILLER TO RECEIVE HIS BLOOD MONEY REWARD.

Joe Montuori’s eyes are crazed as he uses every ounce of strength in his body to apply pressure to the citrus juicer in his hands, only Joe isn’t making lemonade today, instead he’s trying to squeeze a much different liquid from Sahara’s hand which is caught between the two sides of the juicer. Sahara screams in agony as Joe bears down on the implement in his hand, her free hand feeling along the bar for anything that she might be able to use as a weapon. Sahara had hoped for something a little more formidable than the bowl of peanuts she found but hey, beggars can’t be choosers, right? With a guttural growl, she flings the crystal bowl of nuts right at Joe’s face, shattering it against his skin – his face and her hand both bloodied from the broken shards as Joe smacks her away with a yowl. 

Sahara grins, using her less injured but more bloodied hand to swipe her hair out of her eyes as she watches Joe pick a shard of glass from the sensitive skin right underneath his eye, groaning as he does so. 

Sahara: You look good with nuts on your face. 

Joe snarls up at Sahara before him seconds away from lunging at her, instead he is used as a human springboard of sorts by Dave the Dinosaur who comes from over the bar out of no where roaring, planting both feet on Joe’s back and launching himself toward Sahara, nailing her with a super kick to the face that sends her flailing into the back of the bar. Dave expertly lands on the balls of his feet quickly with his arms bent back like little t-rex hands as he roars in triumph before reaching down to grab the bottle of Ciroc laying forgotten on the floor and bringing it down hard over Sahara’s head making her both literally and figuratively The Crimson Queen. Dave drops his body over top of the prone woman below for the count. 

Dave The Dinosaur: FUCK. OFF. SAHARA

ELIMINATION; SAHARA BY DAVE THE DINOSAUR.

Old Status Quo

Joe is torn between elation that Sahara has been eliminated and fine rage at the fact that he was not the one to get to do it. It seems rage wins out as he starts screaming at Dave who turns to him in confusion, getting close enough to Dave’s face that a fine mist of spit slicks his reptilian (it’s just human) skin as Dave cocks his head to the side and very clearly starts to grip the bottle still in his hand. 

Luckily for them, or unluckily depending on how you want to look at it they are interrupted by Kasey Winterborn and Aiden Reynolds, Kasey using the distraction of Joe to remove the bottle from Dave’s clawed hand. Aiden taps Joe Montuori on the shoulder only a moment before he grabs his arm and spins him around headbutting him in his already injured face when he does. A headbutt is good in theory but in reality it kind of sucks as you only damage your opponent as much as you yourself is willing to be damaged, something that occurred to Aiden in the moments after his skull connected with the other mans. Aiden wastes no time pondering the popularity of headbutting as a offensive maneuver, instead grabbing Joe by the back of his pants and his neck hoisting him onto the bar and letting out a scream as he runs at full speed, dragging Joe Montuori face down across the top of the bar and through the various glasses and flotsam and jetsam that had landed there throughout the course of the battle. 

Aiden Reynolds runs out of bar far before he runs out of energy, using his last spurt to send Joe flying off the end to land in a heap on the floor. Aiden smiles down at Joe, picking up a rag off the back portion of the bar as she does, wiping off his hands and flicking a bit of imaginary dust off of his shirt as he comes to stand beside Joe Montuori. Aiden uses the toe of his boot to roll Montuori from his back to his stomach, stepping over to straddle the fallen man below him before he sits down hard on Joe’s back, covering Joe’s head with the towel at the same time, gripping it hard behind Joe’s head so that the other man’s head is entirely covered. Joe begins to struggle and flail like a gator being assaulted by a random Florida Man, bucking and gyrating in an attempt to remove Aiden from his back. As it turned out, Aiden would be the least of Joe’s problems as The Empire Champion Dickie Watson joined his teammates’ side, chair leg in hand. He lifts the leg in the air but stops suddenly as his eyes rise to find those of Paul Montuori who is standing a few feet away staring down Dickie and Aiden on top of his brother. Time seems to stand still as Dickie and Paul make some very heavy eye contact while Aiden struggles to keep Joe stationary below. Paul’s eyes travel from Dickie’s down to Joe struggling on the floor before he turns and walks away. Dickie nodded to himself more than anyone else really, wasting no time before he began striking Joe over his covered head with the chair leg over and over until the other man went limp below Aiden’s grip. 

ELIMINATION; JOE MONTUORI BY AIDEN REYNOLDS

Just Us

Dane Preston looked around the room at the scenes of violence unfolding around him. On one side, Paul had taken the fight to Dickie to avenge his brother Joe. Across the room Michelle Moore struggled with Betsy Granger and seemed to have the upper hand for the moment as she elbowed the other woman in the face. Sahara was still laying very still on the floor behind the bar, seemingly forgotten by everyone else in the fight once she had been eliminated. Kal X Wolf waved to Dane from across the room as he brought the bottle of Jack to his lips to take a swig, smiling like he was having the absolute time of his life and perhaps he was. It had been a long time since Kal had been in a fight such as this, and for the first time in a very long time no matter which way it turned out he felt energized but better yet, he felt alive. 

His joy would be short lived as Shawn Warstein came to stand casually beside him, resting on his forearms on the bar to look out at the chaos before them. Kal does not move to attack, only silently extends his drink to Shawn who politely declined the drink. Kal nods at the other man before taking a final swig as if to say “let’s get this over with then” only moments before Shawn jerks the bottle from Kal’s hand smashing it at their feet below and kicking Kal in the stomach. The older man goes down instinctually grabbing his torso as Shawn drives an elbow into the back of his head sending him to the floor. Kal does his best to protect himself but Shawn had other ideas, dragging Fagan Wolf to a small refrigerator under the bar and ramming Kal’s head into the glass door over and over. Wonder if he’s having fun now, Shawn mused as he used the last bit of strength in his body to send Kal’s head shattering through the glass. Kal’s face is the living visage of the Kool-Aid man as Shawn pulls him back through, kicking him in the head one last time for good measure. 

ELIMINATION; KAL X WOLF BY SHAWN WARSTEIN 

Dane had troubles of his own by the name of Paul Montuori. Paul, whose heart was in so many places but not wholly in this match. While his heart may have not been in it, his anger was and he was methodically taking every ounce of anger he had out on Dane Preston. Paul hefted Dane over a shoulder, lifting him up in the air before driving him down to shatter the wooden table below. Dane struggled knowing that he was all that was left of FYA and needed to get up if he had any hope of bringing this thing home to the people that had believed in him enough to make him their leader. As he wobbled to his feet he found himself airborne again as Paul speared him back down to the ground. Dane’s head snapped back against the ground as Paul stood over him, grabbing his ankle and dragging him across the room in the direction of the kitchen. 

Dane Preston was drug to his feet to lean against the stainless steel countertop of the kitchen as he made a valiant effort to fight off a crazed Paul Montuori who seemed to be hell bent on making a panini with Dane Prestons head. Paul’s nose erupts in a flow of blood as Dane nails him with a hard right hand, only angering Paul more who uppercuts Dane and drags him further into the room to the griddle top. It was at this point the two began to struggle in earnest, Paul trying his damnedest to press Dane’s face into the griddle top and Dane trying his hardest not to become Saturday nights chef special. Dane mule kicks behind him out of desperation connecting with Paul’s kneecap behind him, Paul’s leg buckles slightly but he keeps his grip, bringing his good knee up to nail Dane in the family jewels as payback. It was at that exact moment that Dane Preston lost his struggle against the griddle, finding his cheek placed firmly against the flat top. Dane screams, not because it hurts but because he expects it to hurt – which to be clear it doesn’t. This is a wrestling show, not a live murder and all of the kitchen components had been turned off prior to the fighters ever reaching the floor. Dane realizes this only a moment before Paul who is really peeved off about the lack of appropriate cooking temperatures, Paul unhand said  Dane who is now fully laughing at Paul as if he knew all along the griddle would be off (he did not) because Dane is just that sort of guy. 

Had he spent only a second less laughing perhaps he could have got his hands up in time to block the skillet rocketing through the air for his face but he’s a moment too slow and goes down like a sack of potatoes. 

ELIMINATION; DANE PRESTON BY PAUL MONTUORI

FYA ARE ELIMINATED. PAUL MONTUORI TAKES THE FYA KEY.

Paul spits down at the ground beside the unconscious Preston before he shambles back out to the main dining area to witness the mad dash the NSQ is making towards the now opened elevator doors. Michelle limps to Paul’s side, holding her ribs as the two look at one another taking their own mental inventory of the others’ wounds. 

Paul Montuori: Just us now. 

Michelle Moore: Cheer up, it could be Joe. 

Paul chuckles, wrapping an arm around Michelle’s shoulders as he leads her toward the waiting elevator and the floor above. 

Feed Your Head

In a very full elevator stands all the members of what we have come to know as the New Status Quo, in a split screen in a very different elevator stands a much worse version of Paul Montuori and Michelle Moore. The screen splits again on the other side of Michelle and Paul’s frame revealing a third elevator packed full of the bodies of the mercenaries who are in a much better mood than either of the teams in the other frames. In unison the members of all three elevators look up as the sound system above once more sparks to life and the sound of the DJ comes on.

DJ FIGHT: You bugs can really cut a rug but what happens when you go down the rabbit hole? Go ask Alice who hit the bottle just a little too hard tonight and got herself wasted from the competition. That white rabbit she’s keen on following around found himself in hot water thanks to the man who would have been king. The street is really heating up now, boppers. You know what they say about the kitchen when it gets hot, don’t you? We’ve reached our cruising altitude so why don’t you lay down those tray tables and get comfortable with Mr. Jefferson. 

From the speakers above the sounds of “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane plays out in each of the elevators in frame. NSQ hardly acknowledges the song above as in the frame beside Paul crouches down, stretching his stiff muscles as the song plays on while Michelle rolls her eyes up at the speaker above.

Michelle Moore: I hate this fucking elevator.

The Final Floor

Kasey Winterborn steps out of the elevator, and onto what looks like a penthouse floor. But its on a higher level than the one that Dickie Watson’s Empire Suite is on. To her side is Betsy Granger, and they’re flanked by Shawn Warstein and Dickie Watson. Coming up the rear is Aiden Reynolds. A grin on the Australian’s face tells the story, the story of how even in their wildest dreams they didn’t think they’d be in such a dominant position come the final floor.

The full team, all five of them, still in play. Against Dynasty, who had Michelle and Paul Montuori left. The other teams were all done.

Aiden Reynolds: Right fellas, lets crack on double time and we can make it back down to the bar for a pint before closing time. Easy work.

The fivesome walked through the corridor, unopposed, and at the end of the next corridor they could see some LED lights pointing them toward the final door. The door that would lead them to the fire escape which would take them to the roof. Where were Montuori and Michelle?

Barely a moment later, from a broom closet or a cleaning cupboard, a horde of bodies came hurtling towards the New Status Quo. I’m not sure if it is clear or not, but the mercenaries do not have to move around the tower in quite the same way as the teams. In fact, Vhodka Black, Ashlynn Cassidy, Druscilla White and Ophelia Pain were all cackling maniacally as they ran towards them with various foreign objects in their hands. Vhodka Black had a mannequin arm, which she used to whack Aiden Reynolds over the head with. Ashlynn Cassidy was a little less circumspect and went with a standard foldaway chair. She swung for Kasey Winterborn, who managed to avoid the brunt of it. Warstein sideswiped her and Cassidy clattered against the wall. Kasey pawed at her lip, blood started to seep from it and drip down her chin.

Ophelia Pain, the newly-minted Brooklyn Champion, was wielding her strap as a weapon, and flattened Betsy Granger with it. The Impossible Traveler clutched at her skull as she staggered back on her heels and then onto her backside. Ophelia, though, wasn’t done. She had fire in her eyes and a bounty to collect. She wrapped her legs around the head of Granger and started squeezing. Dickie reaches down to help his teammate out, but a fist with a diamante knuckleduster attached to it flies across the screen in a very dramatic comic-book style, attached to the new Bareknuckle Champion, who’s knuckles were ironically not bare at all. Dickie crumbled into a pile. Warstein looked down at the fray, not sure where to start. He grabbed Kasey and made a run for it. If he stopped to untangle all of his teammates, he for sure would’ve been eliminated. He had to do what was right for the greater good, and the greater good meant leaving Dickie to get a pummelling from Dru, leaving Ophelia trying to eliminate Betsy, leaving Aiden to take a slap from a plastic hand. Unfortunately for Warstein, Ashlynn Cassidy wasn’t going to just let that happen.

Bam Miller, passing by on his way to collect his Blood Money reward from the door, saw the chance too. The whole of New Status Quo were pinned back, blindsided. It wasn’t looking good. Over the other side of the hallway, Paul Montuori and Miss Michelle watched on, a smile spread across their lips.

Somehow, karmic justice was starting to twist in their favor. They were just two, and sure, they needed to get Warstein’s key. But they had two keys between them, and there was a third waiting at the door. So were they really up against it, or could they actually pull this off?

Get Me To The World On Time

From hidden speakers up above the smooth sounds of a woman’s throaty laugh as all the competitors lift their heads to the sky at once with the one exception being Shawn Warstein who simply kept his eyes trained on the fight ahead of him. Michelle, who has had about enough of this DJ’s playlist scoffs and throws her hands in the hair before placing them on her hips and staring down at the floor as she listens to the announcement that plays. 

DJ Fight: You big city baddies are almost on easy street, just a few more laps around the block to go. Will those cats break the mold or will Little Boy Blue run all the way to the top with the shape in a drape? Now it’s time for the final dance of the night boppers and I don’t want to see anyone sitting this one out, ya dig? 

“Get Me To The World On Time” by The Electric Prunes plays at an increased volume out of the speakers overhead as the sound of the song mixes into the sound of violence. 

Coming In Clutch

Betsy Granger: Keep these guys occupied. I think I can get to Paul.

Betsy is speaking, muffled, to Dickie Watson. Her face is squashed by Ophelia, and Dickie is doing his best to roll and avoid fists being thrown by Druscilla White.

Dickie reaches for Ophelia, blocking the barrage with one arm and grabbing a handful of red hair in the other.

Kasey Winterborn: No, Betsy… No…  Don’t split up. We are stronger.. Toget–

WHACK!! That chair of Ashlynn’s came crashing down over the cranium of Kasey Winterborn. Betsy turns, hesitates for a moment, and then slips away around a corner, taking a route she thinks she knows to get to Paul and Michelle.

Meanwhile, Ophelia Pain struggles with Watson, but the FIGHT! NYC Empire Champion clatters the head of fellow Champions Pain and White into one another. Dickie then goes over to assist his brother in arms with his battle with a mannequin (and Vhodka Black), and it seems like more people keep appearing. All of a sudden, Dave the Dinosaur has reappeared. VooDoo is there, more bodies appear. It starts to descend into chaos.

Some fists are being thrown, not all of them hitting New Status Quo. In fact, Sahara has appeared, despite being eliminated, and has got Dave the Dinosaur by the mask.

Sahara: I’m gonna send you straight back to prehistory, fuckin’ think you are.

Sahara pushes herself off the wall and drives an elbow into Dave, but his rubber mask no-sells and he twists his body, clasps his hands in the air like a T-Rex and dives onto her, using the teeth of the mask to gnaw at her.

Occhi leaves this for a moment, and has noticed Betsy Granger sneaking up on Miss Michelle and Paul Montuori, who are both leaning against the wall next to the door to the roof, waiting for things to unfold. She throws a boiled candy against the wall in front of them, causing both of them to jump and spin around.

Miss Michelle: What the fuck.

Paul Montuori: I bet its Joe.

Miss Michelle: That fuckin’ imbecile, I swear I get my hands on him he’s gonna regret it.

Paul Montuori: Look…

Paul points behind Michelle, where he sees something glinting in the reflection on a window. She spins around, and in that moment, Betsy Granger slips around the corner and hits a backstabber on Paul Montuori. Before Michelle manages to react, she’d been bulldogged into the wall. Betsy stood over the pair of them, mightily proud of herself. She grabbed the head of Paul Montuori and started to drive him into the mat, then, with Galactic Advantage – a sickening snapmare driver. Unfortunately for her, Michelle was wise to it and kicked her in the knees, then thrust her down with a brutal DDT into the hard floor.

Miss Michelle: If there’s something you better learn, its that the status quo ain’t going anywhere, bitch. We the big dogs round here.

As Betsy’s life started to flash before her eyes. Or at least, the bit of her life that was active in his match, she saw something out of the corner of her eye. Michelle was pressed against her and she could hear her count being announced through the building. Paul Montuori was closing in on them, ready to help Michelle out. Dickie and Aiden were gesturing to Betsy. She waved them off.

Betsy Granger: I got this.. Don’t worry….

Dickie again, was shouting but she couldn’t hear, Aiden was pointing furiously to the wall. She rolled her eyes. Always with these two being clowns, she thought to herself. And then she remembered something, about The Commonwealth coming in clutch and she started to focus on what they were trying to tell her. The wall. The wall. She moved her hands around, feeling for something, anything, a clue.

That’s when her fingertips touched something cold and hard, metal. A fire extinguisher? As she withstood the pinfall attempt, with everything going in slow motion, she grabbed hold of it and swung it over her head, cracking Michelle and breaking the pinfall. Paul Montuori got there just in time to stop Betsy’s reversed pinfall and save her spot in the match.

Big Dog Moves

Ashlynn Cassidy, Ophelia Pain, Vhodka Black, Druscilla White, Bam Miller (having successfully turned his key in for the princely sum of 2,000 Blood Money) are all fighting, Dave the Dinosaur has taken Sahara and they are in the elevator. Who knows where or when that’s going to end up. Down an elevator shaft, in a stairwell.

Paul Montuori and Miss Michelle are once again working semi-cohesively. Michelle’d been arguing with Paul over whether it was better to take the head of the snake or the tail, and inevitably, Paul pulled the captain card and Warstein was their target. Things were all coming up Dynasty, though, because between the mercenaries still in play, they all seemed to be focused on taking out the New Kids On The Block. And said new kids were struggling. Watson was face-down, Reynolds was being stomped to high heaven, Kasey and Ophelia were arguing over whether they ever really were best friends, and the argument comes with built-in bitchslaps and forearm strikes.

Paul lays a steel chair over the face of Shawn Warstein.

Michelle has started a run up to drive a knee into his skull via the chair proxy, and at that moment it is like the world seems to stop. As her knee crashes into his skull and from the four corners of the room the members of New Status Quo seem to see it all crumble before their very eyes…

For all their dominance through Blood Money, Venom 1, all through the season until this point, it was going to all fall apart despite being the only team to maintain a full complement of wrestlers all the way to the end of the match. For nothing. Because with Warstein eliminated, their War Chief, they’d all be eliminated, and Dynasty would hold all of the keys.

Sometimes you just need something unexpected to turn the tide. A renegade. A knight in shining armor. A brother in arms who knows just the right time to show up. The cavalry.

And sometimes the best cavalry is the one that you don’t have to call. Sometimes the most valued houseguest was one that showed up uninvited.

He stands amidst the carnage and debris, the stomach wrenching scent of blood and broken dreams hanging heavy in the air. He sucks in a deep breath, dragging the fingertips of a steady and unbothered hand through perfect hair.

There’s a moment in every battle where the chaos ends. The hollering of men grows hoarse before falling silent, and the clash of steel rings through the air no longer. He enjoys the peace while it lasts.

His name wasn’t announced for The Tower.

He was never supposed to end up here.

This wasn’t his war to wage; that had been made perfectly clear to him by the others whether they spoke the words to his face or not. The nagging whine of paranoia echoes in his head: 

*She’s happier when she’s away from you. He thinks you held him back. They’d rather work together than with you and the others never thought you were good enough to work with at all. They waited to do this without you. They. Could. Have. Asked. They didn’t ask! They don’t want you here! YOU’RE NOT WANTED! YOU’RE! NOT! WELCOME!*

*… you care more about them than they do about you.*

Stop. 

Focus.

He had a job to do. He didn’t come all this way to let emotion get the best of him. Maybe there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for all of this, and maybe it was exactly what he feared. He was going to find out.

Confident in neither, but ready for both. It was all he could do. 

He was here. There was no going back now.

Good allies are rare. Love is rarer. He owed it to them to be here to see the Ascension through. He owed it to himself. He had invested too much time and energy in these people to walk away from them when it mattered most. Whether they wanted him here or not, whether his part in their #Legacy was ever acknowledged or not, and even if this was their final hoorah… he was ready to make sure they finished what he had tried to start. 

He was ready to make sure they reached the top of The Tower. 

The nagging voice returns

*What if she doesn’t want you anymore? What if none of them do? What if clenched fists greet you instead of open arms?*

Then there wasn’t a single person in this cacophony of a Tower that he couldn’t take out. Not one.

Good allies are replaceable.

A broken heart heals.

… he had faith in his friends. They- they wanted him… right?

He presses forward slowly, clinging to the fringe and wading through the shadows. Finally he spots Shawn Warstein, chips down and back against the wall, and he knows that it’s his turn to jump into the fray.

James Raven: Here we go for the hundredth time.

The People’s GOAT whispers, stepping into FIGHT! NYC and forever altering the already New Status Quo.

He grabs hold of Miss Michelle, pulls her off of Warstein and thrusts her face first to the floor with The Flight of The Raven. Paul Montuori runs towards him, but he is on his feet quicker than a hiccup and throws a foot into his face, dropping him with FYS.

He laterally presses Miss Michelle, and the counter system overhead makes it official.

ELIMINATED; MISS MICHELLE BY JAMES RAVEN

FUCK

And there he stood over Paul Montuori, the last active opposition to the five members of NSQ who were still uneliminated. James Raven.

And you know that thing that happens, after a slow motion scene, in a movie? Where everything seems catch up all of a sudden? A rush of bodies flood forward, and Raven is lost in the shuffle. Fists fly from all sides, and the group of bodies including the rest of New Status Quo bundle off into a corner.

Occhi, on the other hand, focuses on Paul Montuori, who is sat with his hand on his jaw, smarting. He looks at Michelle, who was face down and groggy.

Paul Montuori: Well, shit.

That was an understatement.

But Shawn Warstein was still knocked out on the floor next to him. He looked around, saw his chance and got to his feet. At that moment, of all moments in the world, was the precise moment that things went from bad to worse.

Austin Ramsey: Paul! Now you believe me, right? NOW YOU BELIEVE ME?

Paul, perplexed, drops the floppy Warstein facefirst back into the floor. He turns to Austin.

Paul Montuori: What do you mean? What are you doing here?

Austin Ramsey: All through this match, all through the weeks LEADING UP to the match, you have shown a distinct lack of leadership. You let everyone else tell you what to do. Your brother, zombie mom, Michelle picking a fight with every motherfucker on her team, all you needed to do was be assertive. You could’ve won this. YOU SHOULD HAVE WON THIS.

Paul stares at Austin, then at Warstein, pretty much dead at his feet, and then back to Austin. “I CAN WIN THIS”, Paul wants to say, but Austin ain’t done speaking.

Austin Ramsey: You should have picked me! YOU SHOULD HAVE FUCKING PICKED ME!!! WHAT KIND OF LEADER DO YOU THINK YO–

WHACK!

Paul Montuori punched Austin Ramsey square in the face, then swept his legs, then punched him in the face again.

Paul Montuori: You know what? Fuck this. Fuck you. Fuck all of you. No matter how much I try, no matter what I do, you’re all destined to set fire to it all anyway.

Paul reaches into his pants, and pulls out the key marked FYA. He unstraps the key marked DyNa$Ty from his boot, and he spits on the floor before looking down on Austin Ramsey. Holding both keys in his hand, he looks at Michelle, and Austin.

Paul Montuori: So… Fuck you. And you. Fuck Dynasty. Fuck the Status Quo. Fuck the NEW Status Quo. Fuck New York. Fuck. I’m out. We’re out. We don’t deserve to win. We are fucking losers.

And with that, Montuori throws both keys at Shawn Warstein, then walks off. Not looking back for even a second.

ELIMINATION; PAUL MONTUORI BY FORFEIT.

DYNASTY HAVE BEEN ELIMINATED. SHAWN WARSTEIN TAKES THE FYA AND DYNASTY KEYS.

And in that moment, the fighting stopped. A horn blared through the tower, and the injured Warstein stood tall over Austin Ramsey and Miss Michelle. Half a glance backward at Paul Montuori, who kicked a hole through the fire escape door, but then his eyes trained on his comrades, the ones that he went to war with.

On Kasey Winterborn, the love of his life, who’d fought tooth and nail every step of the way along side him.

On Dickie Watson, who was both an ally and someone who he wanted to eventually test himself against, who had set that aside to make sure they made an undeniable impact.

On Betsy Granger, his sister who he knew he could rely on, who came when called and made sure they weren’t overwhelmed.

On Aiden Reynolds, the brother in arms of Dickie Watson, who they’d chased half way around the world to team with, who’d made sure there was enough at stake to really push the envelope.

And on James Raven, who knew exactly when his calling came. Who knew exactly what he had to do, without being asked.

They pushed the keys into the locks, and twisted them.

Red LED lights forming the silhouette of the FIGHT logo started to turn to green, as mechanisms within the door clicked and shifted. The door slid to the side, and the midnight sky became visible. Skylights danced in the sky, focused on an apex.

The screen races through some highlights of NSQ in action over the course of the previous 13 shows, all the while modal video shots of each member confirming their vote for what should happen if they win the Ascension match.

Aiden Reynolds: We rise as a team, we fall as a team. We don’t have a leader. We split the money.

Betsy Granger: The money will be split. That way we can continue to leverage ourselves in every division.

Dickie Watson: Split the money. Easy. If he wants a shot, he knows he can take it. Whenever he wants.

Kasey Winterborn: Easy decision. Split the money.

Shawn Warstein: Not once did we even discuss it. There was nothing to discuss. We knew from the first day that this wasn’t about having a leader. When the time comes, the time comes. We all know it. We split the money.

As the images fade back to nothingness, we are on the roof and the members of New Status Quo are stood in the doorway, backs to the camera, looking ahead.

There was a wrestling ring in the center of the roof. Spotlights trained on it. The FIGHT logo printed onto the white canvas. At the top of the FIGHT logo is a golden podium. Behind the podium stands Xavier Black. On either side of him are Miss F and Serotonin.

Xavier Black: Congratulations. You have succeeded. You have succeeded in ending the Status Quo. As of tonight, New Status Quo isn’t just the strongest stable in FIGHT! NYC, it is the ONLY stable. All others are hereby dissolved and banned. For how long? Well. That is up to you.

Shawn Warstein looks at Dickie Watson. Watson looks at Reynolds. Reynolds at Granger. Granger at Raven. Raven at Winterborn. Winterborn at Warstein.

Dickie Watson: What?

Miss F: What Mr. Black is saying, is that your reward is that no other stable shall be allowed to form. Until you allow it. You are not only the New Status Quo, from this moment forth you will set the status quo.