The Dangerous Path Towards Dystopia (1/5 #NSQ)

By: Betsy Granger

Date: 13th Oct 2021

“When one travels the stars themselves, time becomes a meaningless concept.”

 

Angry with herself with her loss, Betsy Granger storms off to Excellence without a word to any other member of the New Status Quo. Sahara had just gotten the best of her in the ring, and shame-filled her involuntarily. Although she was fully aware she couldn’t win every match, Betsy knew a lot hung on this go-home bout before Ascension, and she hadn’t been up to scratch.

If there had been any question as to who the weak link in the New Status Quo was going to be, they finally had their answer.

From down on the other end of the lengthy hallway, Betsy can hear Shawn “Brother Mine” Warstein calling out to her. Ignoring him, she snaps her fingers, and Excellence opens her doors obligingly. Shawn calls out louder, this time accompanied by Kasey Winterborn, but she slams the doors behind her, drowning them out.

Running up the bridge over to the control console, she tosses her jacket over the railing and places her hands on the cool metal border. Buttons and levers gleamed up at her invitingly, urging her to run just like she wanted to do. She glances up at the door when Shawn begins to pound on it, yelling for her to open up.

“I know you’re in there, Sister Mine, unluck the fuckin’ door!”

Rolling her eyes, Betsy stubbornly continues to lean over the panel listening as Shawn continues to attempt to burst his way inside. Kasey’s muffled voice comes through, though she is speaking too softly for Betsy to make out the words. Whatever it was, Shawn clearly disagreed with; a moment later, he resumed pounding on the door and calling out for Betsy to open up. Sighing with defeat, Betsy slowly begins to make her way down the ramp to allow her friends inside. No point putting off the unavoidable.

Before she’d even taken her first full step towards the door, the engine abruptly comes to life, chugging merrily away. From the outside, Shawn lets out a startled yelp and pulls Kasey back to safety as Excellence dematerializes before their eyes. From inside, Betsy stops dead and looks down at the lever that had just lifted itself, courtesy of Excellence. Dashing to the Nav-Screen, she grasps it with both hands and looks for the coordinates for their destination… But there is nothing.

It lasted only moments, then nothing. The engine cuts out and Excellence grows silent and still. Confused, Betsy walks up the ramp and slowly opens one of the doors a crack to take a peek outside. What she finds causes a strangled gasp to leave her throat as she opens the door wider to take in the full scope of the dystopia before her.

If the barren streets hadn’t still held all the buildings and monuments that gave away her location, Betsy would never have believed she’d moved. But as she stepped into the eerily empty streets of New York City, she quickly begins to realize that something bad had happened here… And it wasn’t all that far off in the future, either.

Coney Island had never looked more desolate as a breeze blew long-forgotten wrappers and posters through the streets. Old, yellow newspapers forever trapped in their bins told her that the last known date had been October 16, 2021.

That was the day the world had ended.

Alarmed, Betsy begins to weave her way through abandoned rides, gaming trailers, and food vendors. As much as she wanted to call out for someone, the idea of only her echo replying made her stomach twist. Keeping her lips pressed tightly together, she quickens her pace and works her way as quickly as she can through the cars that were left deserted on the Brooklyn Bridge. The trek takes twice as long through the thick line of empty vehicles, but at last, she reaches the mainland.

Even here, there wasn’t another living person to be found. Deer were walking serenely through the streets, grazing on some of the brush that had started growing through the cement sidewalks and streets. The city had become little more than a ghost town compared to the hustle and bustle it once boasted. Turning a corner, Betsy eyes up the next street, taking in the row of Brownstone apartments that had been emptied out long ago. She starts to walk towards the next block when something catches her eye; the sun beaming off the glint of a familiar car parked outside one of the Brownstone buildings. Her breath catches in her throat as the first flutter of hope fills her.

Turning around, she rushes quickly up the street, trying to keep her optimism at bay. After all, there was no way of knowing whether Brother Dearest would even be home in this desolate world.

*****

“When I look at the other teams on the marquee, do you know what I see?

Inferior beings waiting to become collateral damage, the destruction left in the wake of the New Status Quo’s rise to the top of the mountain.

Or better put in this instance, the top of the Fight Tower.”

Betsy Granger turns towards the camera, clutching something in her hand.

“Look at us all, isn’t it funny? We always talk about climbing that mountain, reaching the brass ring. Leave it to Fight booking to turn theoretical into the literal.” She chuckles. “Lucky for me, I’ve participated in a similar event before in the XWF. It wasn’t quite this massive and my competition was… Well, I guess just using that word is giving her enough credit. Competition… She couldn’t keep up with my pace.” A soft smile crosses her face. “Climbing Lady Liberty never felt so good. And here I go again, tasked with making it to the peak of a budding NYC landmark. I can’t give Fight Tower the same acclaim as the Statue of Liberty, but its popularity grows more every day. I always seen fans milling around from all over the world, hoping to catch a glimpse at one of the many stars that walk through those doors.”

The camera pans out and we see Betsy is standing on the roof of the Fight Tower itself. Gesturing towards the cameraman, she points down towards the sidewalk where the main entrance stood. True to her word, several fans were outside, looking up and watching.

“You can bet your ass those same people will be there on the 16 when New Status Quo shows the world why we’re the team to beat. You’ll hear them calling out our names from the streets as we stand tall on this very spot; we’ll look down at the other teams and laugh into their dismay as we shout from the actual rooftop:

We told you so.

Shawn tried to warn you long before now; one word and he can call in the forces. And no one could argue that he chose wisely. Look what we have that the other teams in this contest lack. I’ll keep going on the man, the myth, the legend himself, Shawn Warstein. Unlike Chronic Chris Page, who feels the need to inject himself wherever we go, Shawn was the one always being chased down. Where many have swallowed their pride and called around looking for more, anyone with business savvy was already blowing up Warstein’s cellular. Shawn never needed to follow the crowd in a vain attempt to keep his spotlight. Everywhere he goes, gold and glory start to chase him, not the other way around. Young upstarts and veterans alike call HIM out, hoping to topple the legend that still roams the halls of the business. When you ask among wrestlers and fans alike on who the measuring stick of the business is, I’m willing to bet money that the name Shawn Warstein leaves their lips nine times out of ten.”

Betsy’s face contorts playfully for a moment as she coughs slightly.

“Let me move on before someone accuses me of sucking his dick; I can guarantee you that’s not a job I’m here to pick up. I could use this as a cheap transition into Kasey Winterborn, but she revels in the task… Or so I believe. The point is, it wouldn’t be an insult to her and I don’t need Brother Mine to introduce his woman; my favorite Scarlet Murder Machine has made a name for herself. Don’t mistake her friendly personality for being a pushover, this hot mama will tear the skin off your face before you even know she struck. From co-star, to friend, to sister, to co-champion… In a short time, Kasey and I have been through more than most friends do a lifetime. And if I’ve learned anything about this feisty gal, it’s that she’s got the biggest heart of anyone I’ve ever known. No matter the challenge, this vixen faces it with the courage and strength of the best members of any of the other teams put together. There’s a reason she and I, with Brother Mine of course, were able to overcome a Montuori and the Riggs pair.

They can’t fucking touch us.”

Her eyes begin to glimmer as a wicked grin touches her lips.

“And then we have the Commonwealth themselves, Dickie Watson and Aiden Reynolds. Their success, past and recent, are a credit to themselves as well as the New Status Quo.

When Shawn, Kasey, and I were wondering who else to bring it, there was little debate over who was going to fill the other spots. Of course, my beloved James Raven was an option, but we won’t touch that one… It may or may not still be a bit of a sore subject for him. Moving right along…

Truth be told, when the question was put out there, Shawn and I were in rather quick agreement. I knew if we could get Dickie onboard with us, Aiden would be right behind him. It just didn’t seem right to have one without the other, and let’s be real here, folks. The two of them working together is the two of them at the very top of their game. Am I saying they can’t get it done separately? Clearly not, the evidence to that speaks otherwise and if you aren’t caught up on their histories, you should get familiar. A force to be reckoned with, I’ve watched the two of them rise through the ranks wherever they’ve gone and make quick work of the top fighters every company had to offer. It baffles me to no end that Watson and Reynolds are still two of the most underestimated talents I’ve ever seen grace the ring when they’ve proven time and again why they are the ones to beat.”

A troubled look crosses her face for a moment before it clears up again into her usual confident grin.

“There’s rumors that as a full team, New Status Quo won’t be able to get our shit together. That there’s some… dissension over who should be in the leadership role.

Allow me to put those rumors to rest once and for all.

Unlike the rest of y’all, New Status Quo is as strong as oak and tighter than virgin pussy.”

The cameraman looks at her almost expectantly and Betsy bestows him with a wolfish grin.

“Oh, and as for me? I’m here for the violence and the chaos this event promises. I’ve seen the names; I’ve studied the talent and I’m ready to get my hands dirty. Todrick baby, I hope you’re ready, because I’ve been itching to get down and dirty with you for a while. Nothing heated or personal, you just look like a good time and I want to find out if I’m right. You might be hanging with the Dynasty, but it can’t touch what I’ve brought in my Legacy. Then there’s that soap opera joke of a crew, FYA. I haven’t even bothered to figure out what that’s supposed to stand for yet. Hey Dane, you ready to taste these fists again? I didn’t know you were into public humiliation like that, but hey, who am I to kink shame anyone? I mean, anyone who has a wife that looks like ARP but slips into something like Sahara must have a fetish, or you’re just a blundering fucking moron. I really can’t tell sometimes.

Speaking of the latter, congrats on the win. I said so on Twitter, but something tells me you might have missed it. You won that night… It won’t happen again. I hope your victory didn’t make you too cocky, it was a temporary high that’s about to send you crashing back to reality.

I’ve already beat one of those Montuori brothers, the one that looks like a walking scrotum. The other one gets the next taste of these fists, but he seems to focus his rage boner on Dickie. Maybe I should let those two have it out, there’s plenty of others to focus on. Like that entire joke of a group that calls themselves The Cure; the only thing I’ve been alleviated from by watching and listening to them is insomnia. I’ve seen Depeche Mode groupie types before and they didn’t last very long either. Consider Ascension your groups last hurrah, because the Impossible Traveler is going to send you all scattering into parts unknown.

Honestly, it doesn’t matter who you’ve been or what you thought you would become. If you aren’t in with New Status Quo, you aren’t among the best.

Period.

Sorry about your luck, but it’s time the rest of you finally recognized the truth of your situation.

You’re entering into a losing game.”

Betsy cackles and holds out her arms in invitation.

“But if you insist on it….

Cure… Dynasty… FYA…

Come out and plaaaaaaaaaaaaay.”

******

Pounding on the door, Betsy can’t help but chuckle at the irony of the moment. It had only been mere minutes since Shawn had been hammering away on the doors of Excellence, hollaring to be let inside. Now her heart pounded in her chest as she heard footsteps from within. But the face that answered was not the one she had expected… At all.

“Adelaide?”

“What the fuck?” Betsy’s older sister looked back at her, reflecting her Betsy’s own surprise.

Grabbing Betsy by the arm, Addy yanks her inside and takes a good look around the hall before closing the door shut again. The sisters take each other in, Betsy taking note of the military tactical gear her sister was donning. She also spotted the massive rifle in the corner and the knives hung around the walls.

“Addy, what the heck happened? Where is Shawn?”

Addy’s face contorts with a wide range of emotions that go from joy to sorrow to fury. Finally, she pulls Betsy in for a tight hug. “You’re coming was foretold… But we haven’t much time.”

Pulling herself from her sister’s arms, Addy gestures for Betsy to follow her through the living room. Approaching the fireplace, Addy lights a candle on the mantle, which springs open a secret door. Betsy can’t help but chuckle as she follows her sister through it. “Leave it to Shawn to have a secret room.”

“His war room, or so he called it towards the end.” As they started down a long dirt trail, squeezed tightly in by the stone walls, Adelaide begins to explain. “Ten years ago, the world fell apart because one group of people couldn’t make things work as a team. It was you… And that stubborn determination to do everything on your own. You spat in the face of Shawn’s insistence that the five of you stay together. You rejected the help of the Commonwealth when they were ready to come in clutch. And you couldn’t have hurt Kasey worse when turned her away for the final time.”

“I wouldn’t…” Betsy stammers, unable to believe she would turn on her friends so callously.

“But you did… You thought the only way to defeat the Grand Admiral was to separate yourself from your friends. All of them… Not only did you fail, you destroyed the planet in the process.” Adelaide glances back at Betsy as they approach a door. “You allowed the Grand Admiral to get into your head; once he had you alone, it didn’t take him long to seduce you with the power he offered. You saw an opportunity to reach the height of your goals quickly and you took it. You lost any belief that good could conquer all and in doing so, turned your back on the group of people you should have kept your faith in.”

“And I really thought it was worth all this?” Betsy asks incredulously, her mind moving back to the empty streets of Brooklyn.

She falls into stunned silence, allowing the dark words of her sister to paint the picture of her betrayal in her mind. Nodding, Addy pushes open the door and reveal a dimly lit room similar to their father’s little workshop on their farm home. This was stocked to the brim with heavier artillery, as well as various photographs and newspaper clippings. A family photo of the two of the with their parents catches Betsy’s eye as Adelaide begins to rummage through a particular set of drawers. As Betsy observes the contents of the room, Adelaide continues on.

“Luckily, the wibbly-wobbly, timey-wimey bullshit you got into allowed you to foresee the potential of this conclusion. That’s why you left this.” Turning back to Betsy, Addy holds out another photograph. Taking it, Betsy looks down into the faces of herself and the rest of the New Status Quo, standing high atop the roof of Fight Tower. “Whichever version of you it was, you said it was imperative that the version of you that was arriving needed it. Everything depends on this photo. A reminder to have faith in other’s… to believe in the ones that surround you.” Gunshots ring out from outside as voices begin calling out from outside the apartments. Dashing over to a set of screens, Adelaide looks out the window and sighs heavily. “You must have been spotted long before you decided to come here. They’ve got us surrounded.”

“What do we do?” Betsy inquires, tucking the photographs safely into her hoodie pocket.

Before the question could be answered, a familiar churning sound could be heard behind them. Turning, the girls back away as Excellence materializes before them, completely of her own volition. Adelaide’s smile is knowing even though the pain in her eyes is very clear. “You go back to your time and choose the right path. Keep that photograph on your person, everything depends on that image coming to pass.” Pushing Betsy towards the doors of the ship, she gives her sister one last tight hug. “Make it right, Betsy; you may not realize what you’ve done, make it so that you never have to. I know you can… I can still see my sister in you. My baby sister isn’t dead yet.”

Hugging Addy back, she turns quickly to enter the ship before turning back. A group of people crash through the doors above their heads and begin tearing the place apart to look for the girls. Betsy and Addy lock eyes, identical sets of emerald green orbs expressing years of sisterly affection. “Come with me.”

Addy shakes her head defiantly. “Can’t, lil sis; you said yourself that’s against the rules. There’s still an Adelaide in your time, you wouldn’t want to create a paradox.” The sounds get louder as the intruders discover the secret door at the top of the passage. “I’ll be safer than you think, but it’s time for you to go. With any luck, this will never come to pass.”

Pushing Betsy gently through the doors, Addy pulls them shut tightly. Wasting no time, Excellence begins to chug merrily, disappearing as the door to the safe room was kicked open.

As Excellence whizzes through the time vortex, Betsy begins to feel a burning sensation within her shirt. Pulling out the photograph tucked inside, she watches in wonder as it begins to incinerate before her very eyes. Pieces of the photo disintegrate in her fingers, leaving only her own face and Shawn Warstein’s behind. As she marvels what just happened, a loud bang against the doors causes her to just about jump out of her skin. Racing for the doors, she opens them up and gasps seeing Shawn himself, stumbling slightly. Before he could fully catch his balance, Betsy grabs him by both arms and yanks him into Excellence, hugging him tightly as relief floods through her.

“Oh no you don’t.” Shawn pulls her away and looks into her face, holding up a piece of photograph in his fist. “You have a lot of explaining to do, Sister Mine…”