Guest
Cue the intriguing, incidental music that leads us into the very beginning of Fight 2 Win's second episode of Melee. At the broad silver announce desk are Brad Stokes and Nate Hollis talking with each other, Brad in his usual black leather jacket and sunglasses, while Nate is dressed more formally, but wearing a Boston Red Sox baseball cap. The music fades.

NATE HOLLIS: Welcome, welcome folks, to the second episode of Fight 2 Win's Melee! With me as always is my perennially incomprehensible partner, Brad Stokes.

Brad nods, but barely.

NATE HOLLIS: And I'm Nate Hollis. And tonight it's all about settling old scores, and starting new grudges. We're going to see some new faces introducing themselves, and some old faces squaring off to try to put themselves ahead--

BRAD STOKES: Yeah, but isn't that pretty well every wrestling show, Nate?

Brad's got his feet up on the announce desk, hands folded in his lap looking belligerent and ready to argue.

NATE HOLLIS: Technically, but not really. It's subtle things, Brad. Nuance. Tonight we have a re-emerged Face of Wrestling, Brennan Devlin taking on the Fantanasy himself in The Bobby Franchise Center--

BRAD STOKES: For kids who can't read good, right? I've seen all this shit before, Nate. Give me something original, you know?

NATE HOLLIS: It's not actually called that, though.

BRAD STOKES: I don't care. I'm making a larger point here.

Nate eyes down Brad with a smoldering glare a moment.

NATE HOLLIS: Right. We also have Alfie Tenner set to do battle with Adam Wolfe in the much-hyped Puppet Pals Play Pen, and Angelica Vaughn will do battle with Elina Cartel once more in the Cincinnatti Hit Girls stadium.

BRAD STOKES: Not a single original thought running through any of what you just said, Nate. Some people's kids. A football rink? A play Pen? Might as well call it Remember the Titans and Rugrats remakes, Nate. Shit's stale. And I'm racking up the points up in here.

Brad mimics shooting a basketball flawlessly through a hoop.

NATE HOLLIS: ...If you think so. And lastly, we have the much anticipated rematch between--

The sound of gun fire out in the hallway startles both commentators. Shouting. Panic. The camera swings towards the studio doors, revealing the much revered fourth wall and shattering it. In a flash of light, the double doors explode, sending chunks of metal and wood throughout the studio. The workers gasp and scream as squad of commandos in glossy black armor with sinister-looking positron rifles in hand come bursting into the room.

The Fight 2 Win employees are corralled at gun-point to the center of the room. For a moment, there is nothing but chaos. Rifles firing into the air, burning soft-ball sized holes through the ceiling. Commandos shouting orders. People screaming.

NATE HOLLIS: What the hell-

Brad and Nate look on in shock as the armed commandos round up the studio crew, directors, and assistants and corrals them onto the floor, one poor fellow getting the butt end of a commando's rifle on the head. Guns are aimed, and Nate looks with concern to Brad who chews gum, unimpressed, like he's seen this before. And then none other than the Dark Lord of Scientology, Gravus Thet, strides in through the doors once the Scientology Squad pacifies the room with their pointed guns.

NATE HOLLIS: What's the meaning of--

A commando slams the butt end of his rifle into Nate's back and crumples him painfully back into his chair.

Gravus struts like a battlefield general out front of his Scientology Squadron. At his order, the commandos deploy a portable energy shield to seal the blown-out doorway. Sobs and whimpers and worry emanates from the assembly of now captive F2W employees. Gravus remains stoic.

GRAVUS: Ladies and gentleman...

His digitized voice whirs through the speech processor as the men and women fear loudly for their lives.

GRAVUS: Ladies and gentleman!

Slowly, they calm.

GRAVUS: Due to the Fight 2 Win company's reckless endeavors to sabotage a simple fight last Melee thus robbing the Scientologist Supreme, The Blackstar, of his rightful merit, and an inexcusable inability to be brought to account, they are about to be taught a lesson in the real use of power.

He looks around the room of terrified faces.

GRAVUS: You will be witnesses.

Though his eyes were hidden behind the two large, round black lenses of his mask, the assembled hostages felt his heavy gaze as it fell upon them, one by one. From the announce desk:

BRAD STOKES: See this is exactly what I'm talking about with the originality thing. Who hasn't seen Die Har--

GRAVUS: Brad Stokes. Born 1961, Dropped out of John F. Kennedy High School in 1976. Failed his GED five times. Bought his first album in 1981. Billy Squier's "Don't Say No." The rock singer's picture on the cover inspired the hair style you still wear today.

BRAD STOKES: Lonely is the Night is a bitchin' song!

GRAVUS: Spent ten days in jail in West Texas in an incident involving a horse and McDonald's honey mustard sauce--

BRAD STOKES: Hey! That's none of your business, Hans!

Stokes shuts up. Gravus' glare could melt steel. An agonized Nate Hollis looks to Brad before entreating Gravus.

NATE HOLLIS: We have a show to do. We had nothing to do with whatever happened to your spaceship. We're just commentators and studio staff.

GRAVUS: We're well aware, Mr. Hollis. Until we are given precise information as to whom boarded our vessel for the purpose of sabotage, you, and your fellow staff will be our hostages. You may, by all means, proceed with your precious show.

NATE HOLLIS: While your men aim guns at us? We can't work like this.

GRAVUS: You'll have to learn. We're not leaving until answers are given. You best hope Ms. Angelina Altamonte is concerned about your safety, or at least the safe-keeping of her precious programming.

Some collars are being loosed from the strain of hearing that. Angelina Altamonte is nowhere to be seen among them. Nate glares at Gravus, Brad takes a bite of a cheese danish, looking quite relaxed.

NATE HOLLIS: All right. Let's get this show started, shall we?

Gravus officiously glares and folds his arms.

Ric Greene exits out of a Range Rover and looks up at the sprawling Cosmopolitan.

NATE HOLLIS: We’re in a lot of trouble here, Stokes.

BRAD STOKES: SHHHHH! I’m watching the damn match.

NATE HOLLIS: We’re hostages, Brad!

BRAD STOKES: And I’m telling you, my uncanny ability to read situations tells me this whole thing will blow right over when I save the day. Don’t worry about it.

NATE HOLLIS: The studio’s on fire.

BRAD STOKES: I SAID I’D TAKE CARE OF IT.

He is right under the main club and looks at the huge monolith that supposedly holds many little clubs inside like a fully working clubberboy’s heart. He looks at the long line to get in and an employee directs him to the end of the block.

BRAD STOKES: I hear Ric Green is a one bad mother--

NATE HOLLIS: Would you shut your mouth, Stokes. I’m talking about saving our lives.

BRAD STOKES: Am I the only one that has seen enough cinema to know this will all work out? I keep telling you about originality. These Scientology Bozos are watching the match, so let’s just do what we do Nate, put this whole ‘we’re going to die’ bullshit out of your mind and call the match. Trust me.

NATE HOLLIS: Fine. This one’s Ric Greene taking on Kid Mega and Cross Recoba.

BRAD STOKES: See? So long hostage situation. Hello ass-kickings.

He goes to a side entrance where two hulking bouncers let them in. It seems to be a service entrance and another security guard escorts Greene inside. They go through a very busy kitchen and then through another small door and climb a stairway.

RIC GREENE: Where is this shit at?

GUARD: It is a busy night. Mr. Recoba would prefer it if this didn’t disrupt business and the fight happens in private. We’re going to his office.

BRAD STOKES: This is so badass. You know with a build like this we’re in for a kickass fight scene. You think our captors will let me brew up some popcorn?

NATE HOLLIS: I really doubt it, Brad.

They get to a catwalk and another bouncer comes in behind them. The thumping sounds of the club come alive and the crowd is pulsating to the music. Greene is awed by the spectacle of such a big party.

BRAD STOKES: I LOVE THIS TRACK!

NATE HOLLIS: That you’re so calm in the face of a hostage situation sickens me.

BRAD STOKES: Again, dude, this is all one giant movie. We’re inside it. Ours is a Bruce Willis Movie. I’m Bruce Willis. This one here is… I don’t know Grand Budapest Hotel. It’s going to be okay. It’s Hollywood, baby. Happy endings and all that.

At the end of the catwalk they go through a door to the other side of the building. In this quieter hall Greene stops in his tracks as six members of the security team line the walls. Ric Greene isn’t paying attention to them. The one thing that catches his eye is a snarling Cross Recoba in an elevator with a referee.

BRAD STOKES: SO BADASS! Cross Recoba is like the big boss!

NATE HOLLIS: What’s that make Ric Greene, Bruce Lee?

BRAD STOKES: Could be. Let’s watch and find out.

As the doors close Cross waves his hand and the security team rush at Ric. The bouncer behind him kicks him on the back but he knows not to stop and just uses the momentum to duck the first overhand right which completely crushes the next man’s nose. The guard flies back and his head cracks against the wall making the others flinch.

Greene isn’t here to play.

BRAD STOKES: SO BADASS!

NATE HOLLIS: I’m with you.

He steps back to the door as the remaining seven guards stare at their fallen comrade and back at Ric. Three of them take out batons from their suits and extend them with a snatch. He takes in their looks of awe and anger and slowly puts his guard up.  With two quick long steps he is at the first guard. Ric unleashes a quick flurry of punches that the guard manages to block until Greene slips through a flash uppercut. He grabs the dazed guards head and- Guard 2 grabs his arm and kicks him in the back of the knee. Ric goes down and gets a smack on the side of the face.

BRAD STOKES: The best action movie I’ve ever SEEN is what this is! Ric Greene taking a cadre of security!

NATE HOLLIS: Don’t get any ideas, my man.

BRAD STOKES: Too late. Even my ideas have ideas.

After another kick to his abdomen doubles him over he goes on to roll through and punches the guard on the side of his knee then right up in the groin. The squeal this man emits further demoralizes the group. Ric pushes him aside and with a growl he lunges for the first Guard’s head and finishes what he started by ramming his head against the wall two times and when he drops to his knees Ric kicks him down. Glass breaks.

At the end of the hall Guard 7 holds an axe from the fire safety box. Ric nods as things are finally getting interesting. He rushes Guard 3 and 4 and ducks a baton but goes right into a kick to his face. He comes up and punches wildly to catch Guard 3 in the temple and the jaw. Guard 4 catches his arm and punches the baton against his throat. He pushes Ric back until Ric puts a foot on the wall to stop himself, steps to the side and throws the guard against the wall. He grabs the baton and smacks him on the head two times until he slumps down.

BRAD STOKES: RIC GREENE IS SO BADASS!

NATE HOLLIS: I’m inclined to agree with you.

BRAD STOKES: Get outta here with that polite talk. Who you trying to impress, the Scientology Squad? Each of these goonies is about to nut in his metal power armor watching shit like this.

Three guards are left and Ric points his new baton at them. The are all armed but he smirks and throws his back. He returns to his boxing pose. Guard 5 and Guard 6 stare at each other and rush at Greene. Ric dashes forward at Guard 5 and steps on his foot. He hits him with six quick punches to the body and then headbutts him before finally putting an arm below his elbow and pushing him sideways to make him fall. Ric’s foot never budges and breaks the Guard’s ankle. Rick finally feels the two hits to his back that Guard 6 hit him with and blocks the next one with his arm. He grabs the guard’s hand and bends his arm back at the elbow. He punches the guard at his exposed side then pulls the arm all the way down to the ground forcing the guard to fall. Ric then pummels the guard’s body and head with forearms and fists ending it with a strike to the face.  He then gets decked with the axe handle on the chin.

BRAD STOKES: He wasn’t ready!

NATE HOLLIS: I think he’s literally out to kill them!

BRAD STOKES: And I am eternally grateful for that sentiment.

Guard 7 swings again forcing a dazed Ric back but he lunges forward and takes out the guard at the knees. He mounts the guard and punches the guard in the face repeatedly until he goes down. Ric gathers himself and spits out blood on the floor. He hears the elevator dinging and goes to wait by it. When the door opens the elevator is filled with more guards. They look at the carnage behind Ric. He grins at them.

BRAD STOKES: AKA: You’re in TROUBLE mofos, AHAHAHAHAHAHAH!

The referee didn’t know what was going on back in that hallway. All he saw was Cross Recoba’s face as he grew more and more frustrated at the surveillance footage on his ipad. Finally Cross shot up looking shocked and left a note at the desk before fleeing. At that moment the elevator dings and it is still full with the detail Cross sent down. Then the bodies peel away and fall into the office. Ric Greene is in the middle of the group and pushes a few more limp bodies out of the way. The elevator is in ruins with victims and their blood. Ric slowly approaches the desk and reads the note.

RIC GREENE: “Goodbye… bitch.”

Ric wipes blood from his nose and sighs.

BRAD STOKES: Cross Recoba just peaced.

NATE HOLLIS: I don’t blame him.

He motions for the referee to follow. They enter the elevator and Ric pushes the button for the dance floor. They make it there and Ric makes it through the crowd. He looks up at the catwalk to note where he was when he saw his other opponent and goes to that position through the dancing revelers. There is a clearing on the dance floor as a crazed Kid MEGA moves wildly to the beat like a shaman calling up some spirits. Everyone leaves him alone and gives him a wide berth as he flails and screams to the music. Ric parts the crowd and approaches Kid MEGA with the referee close by. He puts a hand up and Kid MEGA stops. When he points with recognition Ric punches him with a quick jab and a right hook. As Kid MEGA falls Ric grabs him up and hits him with a Tombstone Piledriver.

NATE HOLLIS: Ric covers KID MEGA!

1….

2……..

3!

BRAD STOKES: Should have killed him!

NATE HOLLIS: Remarkable restraint given what all we just witnessed!

Ric grabs a beer from a passing waitress and makes his way out.

BRAD STOKES: See? And we’re still all right, Ric Greene just won his first match, Cross Recoba escaped safely, and Kid Mega is high on ecstasy. This night is turning out just fine.

NATE HOLLIS: We’re still hostages.

BRAD STOKES: Always gotta find a downside.

A$hley Quid stands outside of a van, texting on her phone. She is not very happy. She slams the hood and dials a number.

A$HLEY QUID: What do you mean that is the situation now? Do they not have any security? What is Angelina doing about it? And Mr. Messing? Right. Should I call someone or- You do? Well fucking fine then.

She gets in the van and a driver starts the car.

A$HLEY QUID: Go on, then. Start the rubber duck. It’s still on. You doing alright back there, Alfie? Alfie?

She moves to the back of the van where Alfie Tenner writes feverishly in a notebook on the seat at the side. She tries to get his attention but he turns away.

 A$HLEY QUID: Don’t do that. It’s me, luv. It’s your little sis.

Alfie pushes her back and moves to the corner of the van.

A$HLEY QUID: I’m losing my patience now. Get back here and sit. Now.

Alfie glares at her and she shrinks back and looks away.

A$HLEY QUID: I just want to talk to ya, is all. Come on.

He reluctantly sits back down and she puts a hand on his shoulder. She glances at the book and it is filled with walls of tight knit sentences and sketches of demonic faces and animals. In the center of the page there is a drawing of Linda and it is done in meticulous detail and not scratched on the page like everything else. She covers the book with her hands. She speaks delicately.

A$HLEY QUID: Talk to me, yeah? Are you ready for the match? We’re nearly there… What is that on your face.

ALFIE TENNER: Protective runes.I am the lone walrus. Tear me apart and get to the oil inside me. They don’t know what they have.

A$HLEY QUID: Alfie? Stop it with that rubbish right now. I am not giving you any meds. Now listen. It’s gone tits up over at HQ. Those scientologists are mucking things up but we will still be getting to the fights. You’re still up for it, yeah?

ALFIE TENNER: She was mine. Then she went with the Snakeman.

A$HLEY QUID: Are you talking about that bird? She was a slag, mate. I am telling ya, you are better off. She’s happy too, yeah? She’s making money now and has all the skunk she needs. I make sure of that. Isn’t that what you wanted? For her to be happy?

ALFIE TENNER: She’s happy with the Snakeman?

A$HLEY QUID: Of course she is. She is a high maintenance bird, ya get me? You are better off. It’s just me and you ok? I need you now, Alfie. Sharpish.

A$HLEY QUID: You need me?

A$HLEY QUID: Yes. now come here. Wipe those tears. You look like a puff. Okay. Now let’s get you sorted out. You know what I’ve been telling you about Adam Wolfe all week?

ALFIE TENNER: That he’s a rapist and likes to make puppets of his victims.

A$HLEY QUID: Yeah. That’s all true and I need you to make him pay. He’s a rich geezer, you see, so he can get away with it. Now I have to deal with some business, yeah, going on. There’s a bit of a bother but it is nothing I can’t handle. You can help me so much by going into that perverts little house of horrors. Try to ignore everything and just focus on hurting that man. Can you do that?

ALFIE TENNER: I can do that. I’ve been fighting all me life and I hate bullies.

A$HLEY QUID: Of course you have. The show must go on, Alfie, so I need you to go beat him up. Remember to win too so I can show you off, yeah? Do the matchup and I’ll give you some pills and bring you down, ok?

Alfie nods and punches the roof.

ALFIE TENNER: Can I kill him?

A$HLEY QUID: You can try until he is unconscious or not able to stand. Otherwise just pin him. Try to keep him up as long as you can, yeah? Give us as much time as possible, ok? I love you, Alfie.

ALFIE TENNER: I love you too, Linda… A$hley.

A$hley stares at him with concern but when she removes the hand from his notebook he immediately starts writing again. The van stops and she exits out of the back. She looks around and her phone vibrates. Alfie Tenner jumps out. The markings on his face are almost rubbed off and he looks determined to fight. She sighs and pushes him on then gets on the phone.

A$HLEY QUID: Yea. mate. He’s ready.

BRAD STOKES: Starting to get the feeling A$hley Quid isn’t a good influence on Alfie Tenner, Nate.

NATE HOLLIS: What gave it away?

BRAD STOKES: The haircut? I don’t know.

NATE HOLLIS: I thought everything was a movie you’ve seen before.

BRAD STOKES: I don’t need to defend my every hypothesis to you, Nate. I’m going to get a soda.

NATE HOLLIS: You can’t. We’re locked in here. Remember? Hostages?

BRAD STOKES: For fuck sakes.

Alfie Tenner appears before the door of the Puppet Pals Play Pen looking confused before glancing back at the van with A$hley in it, on her phone likely. Alfie eyes up the peculiar looking building with uncertainty.
 
She’s sure this is the place?

ALFIE: He’s a rapist… makes puppets of his victims.
 
Alfie repeats to himself, psyching himself up and lifts a hand to knock but the door spills open with a spooky creak. Another glance back at the van and Alfie swears he sees A$hley wave him inside in a ‘conquer your fears’ gesture.
 
Alfie enters reluctantly.
 
Inside, Alfie lays eyes on the statue of the Franchinger in the center of the front hall and frowns quizzically at it before the sound of a piano confuses him further.
 
“Hold me closer Franchingerr Tony Danzaaaaaa!”
 
Alfie steps further inside the peculiar locale and looks towards a tiny room where he spies the back of Adam Wolfe playing, at least presumably the piano with one hand, the other elevated with the Franchinger puppet on it bobbing it’s little head in time to the bass piano line and then singing.
 
“Rocket maaaaaaaaan! Franchinger’s burning his fuse up here ALONE!”

BRAD STOKES: Okay, that’s messed up.

NATE HOLLIS: No shit.
 
Alfie stands there eyeing the mini performance with the obvious ‘this blokes a bloody nutter’ look on his face when the piano stops, and Alfie’s eyes widen to see the Franchinger puppet turn slowly to look straight at him.
 
FRANCHINGER: Hello, Alfie. Come and play with us. Forever. And ever. And ever. And ever.
 
Alfie’s mid-flashback to prison, or a hallucination brings about a steadily angering expression on his face.
 
ALFIE TENNER: Bloody fockin’ ‘ell.
 
And he rushes Wolfe and the Franchinger, crashing angrily into Wolfe’s back and slamming into the piano with a crash of keys. Alfie grits his teeth and manages an inverted guillotine choke. He’s trying to choke Wolfe, lifting him up to a stand and Alfie pulls back hard on Wolfe’s neck before spying the uncomfortable rise of the Franchinger past Wolfe’s shoulder.
 
FRANCHINGER: Hi, I’m Franchinger, wanna play?
 
Alfie flinches as the Franchinger strains to speak. Alfie’s grip loosens, is he tripping? Is the Franchinger Puppet talking? Wolfe reaches back suddenly, grips Alfie and lurches forward with enough momentum to fireman’s carry Alfie onto the top of the imitation grand piano with a less-than harmonious CLANG of keys and wood. Alfie’s weight brings the piano’s legs crashing down to the floor!
 
WOLFE: YOU BROKE IT!

NATE HOLLIS: Don’t think he lost much.
 
Wolfe loses his tentative composure, near sobbing.
 
WOLFE: Franchinger and I built that TOGETHER!

BRAD STOKES: It has sentimental value, Nate.
 
Wolfe slams a stomp down onto Alfie’s chest. And then lays a series of wicked kicks into Alfie’s head and shoulder, not caring what he kicks, or how hard. Wolfe leans down and grips Alfie to pull him up and then slam his head into a nearby wall then rushes in and slams some angry fists into Tenner’s side, some of which Alfie shrugs off or blocks, but some land and Alfie struggles to mount an adequate defence before Wolfe angrily irish whips Alfie square into the Franchinger statue. Alfie’s back glances painfully off the base of the statue. Alfie skids along the oddly out of place parquet floor with a groan to lay in pained heap.

NATE HOLLIS: Adam Wolfe may be a lot of things, but he’s not one you trifle with.
 
Wolfe stalks after Alfie who clutches his spine in obvious pain before taking a detour up the Franchinger Statue, climbing to the top to tower over the slowly recovering Alfie Tenner then Wolfe swan dives off at Alfie who is just making it to his feet, but not in time to catch a diving double stomp that could be mistaken for a dropkick due to the positioning of either men. Alfie stumbles backward and Wolfe lands with a pained groan on his back on the floor.

BRAD STOKES: I think this is the last place I’d want to have the shit kicked out of me in. It’s a funhouse, like Alfie has, except approved by the mind of Adam Wolfe, which makes it, like, stupid insane crazy.
 
Alfie catches his breath, leaned against a wall near a doorway he peers momentarily inside of to spy a darkened room with the ominous word: MIKAEL scrawled in blood red letters along the wall, and some sort of a shrine whereupon sits a dead wolf carcass.

BRAD STOKES: And that’s exactly what I’m talking about.
 
ALFIE TENNER: What the fockin’ ‘ell kinda place you got ‘ere, bruv…
 
Wolfe lifts to his feet before suddenly realizing he’s missing the Franchinger puppet. It’s a panic he finds himself as Alfie watches Wolfe completely disregard him in favor of furiously looking about himself for the Franchinger puppet before glaring at Alfie.
 
WOLFE: You did it.
 
ALFIE TENNER: Wot?
 
WOLFE: You killed the Franchinger!

NATE AND BRAD: Uh oh.
 
Alfie’s beyond confused, perplexed and a range of other emotions that are adding up to an increasingly unpleasant experience. Wolfe rushes him with pure rage in his eyes, aiming for a Howler but Alfie catches Wolfe and manages to use his momentum to swing his body against the wall!

BRAD STOKES: Liking the violence here so far. Guns. Hostages. Dead security guards and now this.

NATE HOLLIS: Definitely one for the books.

BRAD STOKES: Remember the time they hit you with their guns?

NATE HOLLIS: Yes, Brad.

BRAD STOKES: Haha! Man, that was great. I didn’t think he was gonna pop you one, but then POW right in the spine! HAHA

NATE HOLLIS: Yes. Thank you. Thanks for the reminder.

BRAD STOKES: I try.
 
Wolfe crumples in a heap and Alfie reaches down to grip Wolfe’s arm and twist it behind his back but Wolfe struggles free and swings an elbow into Alfie’s head knocking him sideways. Wolfe rises to his feet, crying at this point at the seeming loss of the Franchinger, and grips Alfie by the back of the head, gritting his teeth as he looks towards another open door.
 
WOLFE: YOU KILLED FRANCHINGER.
 
Alfie slams an elbow into Wolfe’s midsection. Wolfe responds with an elbow of his own then rushes Alfie towards the open door.
 
WOLFE: I’M TAKING YOU TO THE CARTWRIGHT!

NATE HOLLIS: The what?

BRAD STOKES: He calls toilets “Cartwrights”.

NATE HOLLIS: Why?

BRAD STOKES: You name a thing what it is, Nate.
 
Wolfe recklessly slams Alfie’s shoulder off the doorframe as he shoves Alfie inside to see the washroom. Wolfe has all the momentum in the world to slam Alfie’s face off the top of the toilet (Cartwright), then slams Alfie’s face down into the toilet bowl but not before Alfie manages to grip both sides of the bowl and fight back against Wolfe’s momentum.
 
WOLFE: YOU KILLED CARTWRIGHT!
 
Wolfe yells angrily at Alfie, trying to force Alfie’s face down into the toilet water. Alfie angrily pushes back, not willing to test his luck against that water.
 
ALFIE TENNER: YOU SAID FRANCHINGER!
 
WOLFE: I DON’T CARE!
 
Wolfe recognizes Alfie’s not going quietly and lets up on his hand and slams a series of stiff kicks into Alfie’s back before dropping an elbow immediately into his spine! As Wolfe’s arm is upraised, he notices the Franchinger right where he always was.
 
WOLFE: Haha! Look at that! There you are!

BRAD STOKES: Found him!

NATE HOLLIS: He was right there the whole time.

BRAD STOKES: It’s like some E.T. shit. Told you.
 
Wolfe admires his friend who looks safe as can be. Alfie’s not waiting around, he lifts up and forces Wolfe off him, and slams a kick back into Wolfe’s back that knocks Wolfe into the wall. It’s a tight confining room, and Alfie lifts onto his knees with renewed determination. Alfie rises up, grips Wolfe into an inverted headlock and hauls him up and over, slamming the back of Wolfe’s head and neck into the toilet bowl with an awful CRUNCH, the ceramic breaking under the impact, spurting water up and onto Wolfe.

NATE HOLLIS: Took him to the Cartwright?

BRAD STOKES: Excellent usage.
 
Wolfe is stunned but still struggles to rise up to his feet only to find himself caught suddenly in an argentine leg-lock by Alfie Tenner! Alfie curves Wolfe around to nearly hang face down into the shattered toilet bowl and begins to slam the heel of his foot off the back of Wolfe’s head repeatedly! The pain must be excruciating as Wolfe groans in agony at the kicks, and the awkward twist and pressure being applied to his spine.

NATE HOLLIS: Not looking good for Adam Wolfe.
 
Wolfe struggles, gripping the base of the broken toilet and pulling with gruesome leverage to knock Alfie backwards with him, losing his handle on Wolfe’s legs! Wolfe crawls free from the Cartwright, face soaking wet but Alfie rushes after him, once more gripping both of Wolfe’s legs and locking him unceremoniously into a Texas cloverleaf in the middle of the hallway!

NATE HOLLIS: Adam Wolfe might be one of the toughest human specimens I’ve ever seen.

BRAD STOKES: Oh, he’s definitely a specimen. I’m not sure he’s human, though.
 
Wolfe is in extreme pain and discomfort as Alfie wrenches back on his spine, more and more and Wolfe looks no closer to giving up, reaching back and slamming his fist off Alfie’s back!
 
ALFIE TENNER: Just give in, Bruv!
 
Wolfe’s not having it, clearly in a lot of pain, Alfie wrenches back harder on his spine until it’s clear Wolfe’s struggles are weakening. Alfie keeps up the pressure until it’s obvious Wolfe’s passed out.

NATE HOLLIS: I think Wolfe’s out.
 
After a few moments more of applying pressure to Wolfe’s spine, Alfie sits up and looks down at the unconscious Adam Wolfe, then looks around to see if anyone’s around to declare him the victor.

BRAD STOKES: No referee.
 
He nudges Wolfe’s arm, and looks to see if he’s still breathing, then exits back to the van.

NATE HOLLIS: I’m sure he’ll be all right.

BRAD STOKES: Damn, I’m thirsty.

NATE HOLLIS: Get a drink.

BRAD STOKES: I can’t, ya asshole!

NATE HOLLIS: Haha. I know.

“There MUST be something we can do to take back my company back!”

Kassandrah raised her eyes from the pile of papers on the desk to look blankly into space. The pause on her end of the phone line prompted Francis Ford Cuppola.

“I mean our company. Go team!” He quickly corrected himself.

“We’ve been looking through everything regarding the Altamonte family for days, Francis.” Kassandrah admitted. “We haven’t found anything we can use.”

“Well, keep looking. I’m sure there’s something.”

“What are you going to be doing?”

“Same thing I do every night Kassandrah.” A pause, as if Francis assumed she knew what that was. “Well, take care.” Francis clicked the phone off abruptly leaving Kassandrah alone in the library records room.

Rodney entered.

“Hey Kass, any luck?”

“No. Nothing so far.”

“Where’s Francis?”

“He’s out doing something with his new assistant.”

Rodney stopped short of Kass and frowned.

“New Assistant?”

Kass sat up, looking awkward.

“Y-yeah. He just said he was breaking in a new assistant with some special project where they--”

Rodney mulled it over with a hint of sadess before shrugging it off.

“Oh well. This letter’s addressed to you.”

Rodney plopped an envelope down in front of Kassandrah The fortune teller took the envelope and peered at it. No sender, no postage, only her name hand-written on the front.

“Someone knew you were here?” Rodney asked suspiciously.

“I didn’t tell a soul. But, somehow, they knew.”

“Maybe you’ve been followed. Maybe it’s Fight 2 Win, worried you’re onto them” Rodney joked.

“I guess there’s only a way to find out…” Kassandrah opened the envelope, pulling out a piece of paper. Rodney moved in beside her to stare down at the contents, puzzled.

“The truth hides behind the doors of perception.” The psychic repeated those words like a mantra, trying to get their meaning.

“What does that mean?” Rodney mumbled, momentarily drifting his thoughts to seeing Angelina Altamonte in a flowing, form-fitting dress inviting him to lay with her.

“The truth hides behind the door of perceptions.” Rodney echoed, a faint smile on his mouth.

“It sounds like they want to point us in some direction.” Kassandrah added, snapping Rodney from his stupor.

“It makes no sense to me… The only doors of perception I know are those mentioned by Jim Morrison.” Rodney added. “What about those pictures? Aren’t those tarot cards?” Rodney pointed at five images printed above the cryptic message.

“They are.” Kassandrah nodded. “ The High Priestess, The Hanged Man, The Magician, Justice and The Hierophant. I’m trying to interpret them, but I can’t find a meaning…”

Rodney shook his head growing ever more puzzled. Kassandrah continued after some thought.

“These cards are all Major Arcana, they are numbered from zero to twenty-one. Now, the High Priestess is number 2, 12 is the Hanged Man” Rodney was taking notes as she spoke. “The Magician is the first card, eleven is Justice and the Hierophant is number 5”

“2, 12, 1, 11, 5”” Rodney read the numbers slowly. “Coordinates maybe?”

“Not enough numbers.” Kassandrah stated.

“It must be something else, but what?”

“It sounds silly, but let me try something.” Kassandra grabbed a pen and looked at the numbers. Mumbling something she started writing a letter under each number.

B L A K E

“Blake…”  Rodney shrugged. “Blake… who exactly?”

And then an epiphany dawned on him. Rodney typed something on his laptop, turning the screen to the two women with a satisfied grin. The first result on Google Search solved the enigma. A quote from WIlliam Blake’s “The marriage of Heaven and Hell”

If the doors of perception were cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, Infinite. For man has closed himself up, till he sees all things thro' narrow chinks of his cavern.

“So, now what?” Rod sighed. A few minutes had passed and nobody was able to find another hint in this sort of treasure hunt.

“There must be something we’re missing here.” Kassandrah said, reading the quotes for the umpteenth time. “It’s taken from The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, maybe there’s something in that book. Can we get a copy?”

“I believe we should be able to find something online…” Rodney started typing on his computer.

Kassandrah stood up and walked to the window, looking outside. “Wait, what did you say?” She asked out of the blue.

“What?” Rodney glanced at her.

“The book. What was it?” Her eyes were staring at something in front of her.
Rodney and saw what he was seeing. Right across the street, in blue and red neon lights, the sign of a bar read Heaven and Hell “This can’t be a coincidence”

Rodney and Kassandrah rushed outside the door and walked into the bar. The place wasn’t too fancy, but it looked cozy. Not many patrons were there, and none of them stood out, or seemed to pay particular attention to them.

“Can I help you?” The bartender asked in that characteristic southern accent.

“We were looking for a person, but it doesn’t seem like whoever it was might be here.” Rodney stated. “Maybe we should order something,” Rodney thought aloud. “You know. Sit and wait.”

“I’ll pass. I’ll go back at Francis’ place, there’s something I want to check.” Kassandrah said dismissing herself from Rodney who now found himself alone in a strange bar.

Kassandrah headed to her car, looking at one flyer she took on the bar’s counter. The lemniscate, commonly known as the infinity symbol, was standing out at the center of the page. But what really caught her eye was the location where this event was meant to take place, whatever it was. Purity, Louisiana. A place she knew quite well.

The road to the Pure Amusement park was a real trip down Memory Lane for the psychic. And seeing what the place has become hit her like a punch to the stomach. After the closing of PAW, it was all downhill for Wicked Entertainment, and the park, crown jewel of the once thriving company, now looked like on of those abandoned carnivals you see in horror movies. She quickly headed towards the only light glowing in the Louisiana night. Needless to say, it was the fortune teller’s stand. The door was open, but nobody was inside. Kassandrah took sometime to look around, recalling all the good memories that place held. Someone else entered the stand, sneaking up behind her.

“Who are you? And what do you want from me?” She asked, before even turning.

“I think you know the answer to both questions already, Kassandrah.”

“You…”

Fade.

BRAD STOKES: Do you know what time it is, Nathanial Hollis?

NATE HOLLIS: Please don’t call me that.

BRAD STOKES: NO! It’s not time to watch you get absolutely rekt by these armored Scientology guys again, though that would be some crazy awesome fun!

NATE HOLLIS: Ugh. It’s time to watch your two favorite wrestlers go at it?

Brad has to think about that, as before us appears the interior of the Bobby Franchise Center for At-Risk Youth. Lining the walls, of course, are plaques and trophies, and around the ring are bleachers with a crowd in them, mostly of “at-risk youth”, some wearing Brennan Devlin costumes. Inside the ring, are the men themselves: Zack Fantana and Brennan Devlin, warming up in their respective corners.

BRAD STOKES: I guess, yes, it is that time, and I am quite appreciative of both of these GODS AMONG MEN, Nate, but it’s high time I lay down the law to our captors.

NATE HOLLIS: Are you serious?

BRAD STOKES: Of course I’m serious, Nate. While these two ELDER GODS go at it, I’m going to do exactly what my heroes would do and get this hostage situation resolved.

NATE HOLLIS: No you’re not!

BRAD STOKES: Yes, I am!

NATE HOLLIS: You’re not! You’ll get yourself killed. At least wait till this match is over.

Zack and Brennan circle one another, the crowd of kids hollaring as the two men close in for a collar and elbow tie-up.

BRAD STOKES: Fine. It’ll wait. But only because I want to see one of these two men die in front of children.

Zack goes for the tie-up, but Brennan fakes him out and lifts a knee into Zack’s midsection doubling him over. Brennan takes control of Zack’s head with a headlock, tight to his side, angling him around the ring before dropping Zack down with a snap DDT that gets the crowd roaring!

NATE HOLLIS: Clearly a bi-partisan crowd in the Bobby Franchise Center.

BRAD STOKES: Not sure those kids cheer for anyone in particular, Nate.

NATE HOLLIS: Shouldn’t they be cheering for Zack, on his home turf?

BRAD STOKES: Nah. Those kids are shit and I hate them. Zack’s a shit and I love him.

Brennan plays to the fans with a goading, smirking parade around one side of the ring, playing to the fans.

NATE HOLLIS: What about Brennan Devlin, you love him, too?

BRAD STOKES: Yes, he’s a shit and I love him.

NATE HOLLIS: Glad we covered that. And our captors?

BRAD STOKES: I haven’t made up my mind about them, yet, but they’re shits.

Zack is on his knees, but Brennan rushes him and slams a knee into Zack’s face to keep him down before forcing him up to his feet and slamming him back down onto the canvas with a gutwrench suplex pinning combo!

One…

NATE HOLLIS: Quick kickout there by Zack Fantana.

Brennan maintains control as he drags Zack up to his feet and fires a series of shots into Zack’s face before Zack blocks one and fires a shot of his own into Brennan that backs him up. Zack quickly slams a dropkick into Brennan’s chest to send him backwards into the ropes. Zack is up in a hurry and leaps up to balance on the ropes and nimbly rushes at Brennan diving for a bulldog but Brennan avoids it, letting Zack fall onto his back and Brennan follows him in with a swift soccer kick into Zack’s back!

NATE HOLLIS: Brennan’s too crafty to fall for some of Zack’s tricks. This is going to be a fight, fans.

BRAD STOKES: Well, duh. “Fight 2 Win” the first letter implies EXACTLY what this is going to be.

Brennan slams another kick into Zack’s back, then another before Zack turns and manages to grab a hold of Brennan’s leg and quickly pull it and the other leg out from under him, dropping Brennan onto his back! Zack is up in a hurry and sliding into an elbow drop-pin combo!

One…

NATE HOLLIS: Devlin is quick to kick out of that one!

Zack, now, grips Devlin up to his feet and whips him for the ropes. On the rebound Zack steps up with an enziguri that downs Brennan where he sits! Zack drops another elbow and is rapidly up to his feet, this time to climb the ropes popping the crowd up as he signals to them for a high risk maneuver.

BRAD STOKES: Glad I didn’t go deflate this hostage crisis, Nate. ZACK’S GOING AIRBORNE--AWWWW

Zack launches into a shooting star press, but Devlin is quickly out of the way and Zack catches the canvas hard on his chest and midsection. The crowd roars just as loud as they would had Zack landed that move flawlessly!

NATE HOLLIS Tough crowd….

BRAD STOKES: These kids are shits. Come on, Devlin! Give them something to cheer for since Zack is officially a shit!

NATE HOLLIS: You’re using that word a lot.

BRAD STOKES: I’m prepping for my upcoming heroism, Nate. I plan to use the word ‘shit’ a lot.

NATE HOLLIS: I never would have guessed.

BRAD STOKES: That’s right!

Devlin is on his feet, eyeing a pained Zack, and approaching with a cocky smirk, the same that has earned him a myriad of nicknames as he wrenches on a boston crab.

NATE HOLLIS: Zack Fantana is not liking that!

Zack struggles, eyeing the ropes, as Devlin holds onto Zack’s leg and twists it painfully backward ever harder, forcing pressure onto Zack’s spine!

BRAD STOKES: He’s gonna tap out!

NATE HOLLIS: He might!

BRAD STOKES: Wish he’d die!

NATE HOLLIS: You are incredibly sick.

BRAD STOKES: I’m Bruce Willis.

NATE HOLLIS: Excuse me?

BRAD STOKES: I’m the anti-hero. Here to save the day, kick ass, chew bubblegum and wish people were dead. Just like Bruce Willis.

Devlin wrenches the boston crab, and Zack is clearly wrestling to grip hold of the ropes for a presumed rope break, but Devlin drags him into the center of the ring and applies further pressure! Zack looks ready to tap but keeps fighting! Devlin works the hold but can feel Zack starting to power out of the boston crab! No amount of torque is going to prevent Zack from powering from the hold, and Devlin falls forward as Zack manages to free himself and crawl quickly for the ropes to roll outside to catch his breath.

Zack clutches his back, catching his breath but Devlin rushes him, diving through the ropes to slam into Zack’s back and both men crash down to the floor of the Bobby Franchise center amid a field of springboards and balance beams!

BRAD STOKES: Absolutely top-notch facilities.

NATE HOLLIS: Yeah, but guaging the fact those kids are cheering for blood, I’m not sure that center is doing much for those kids.

BRAD STOKES: You shut your mouth.

Devlin climbs to his feet, gripping Zack by the hair and whipping into the side of a balance beam which threatens to topple before Brennan charges and connects a dropkick into Zack’s back, the impact knocking him and the balance beam over onto the floor amid a RUSH of cheers from the kids in the stands!

NATE HOLLIS: The fight has left the ring officially with that. I hope Bobby Franchise doesn’t mind them messing up the equipment.

BRAD STOKES: It’s meant to be used, Nate. They knew what they were getting into when they signed up for this.

Brennan grips Zack up to his feet only to be met with a sudden fist to the jaw that rocks Devlin backward. Devlin aims a response but Zack blocks it and sends a flurry of rights and lefts that stops Devlin’s offence in its tracks before Zack angrily whips Devlin into the ring apron!

NATE HOLLIS: I don’t think Zack appreciates the broken equipment.

BRAD STOKES: It’s not broken. It fell over. Zack just needs to find his happy place and stop being such a shit.

Zack moves for Devlin who sends a kick into his chest that staggers Zack backward. Devlin rushes him and slams Zack into the concrete with a reverse neckbreaker! He goes for the cover!

NATE HOLLIS: Falls count anywhere!

One…

Two…

Thr--

NATE HOLLIS: Fantana kicks out!

Devlin is up to a knee, bringing Fantana up with him, slamming a punch into Zack to keep him rocked before whipping him for the ring apron only to find Zack reversing the irish whip instead sending Devlin once more into the apron. This time Zack moves in from the side and sends a stiff kick into Devlin’s midsection. Then another, then another about to slam Devlin’s face off the ring apron before catching sight of the children and thinking better of it. Zack rolls Devlin into the ring and follows after him.

BRAD STOKES: You see that? What a great role model. He could have smashed Devlin’s face into a pancake, but he didn’t. For the children.

NATE HOLLIS: Right.

Zack springsboards into the ring dropping a leg across Devlin’s chest and going for a quick cover!

One…

Two…

NATE HOLLIS: Devlin kicks out!

The under-age crowd is absolutely roaring as Zack drops a knee into Devlin’s chest before angling him for an Irish whip into the corner then charges in after him with a splash but Devlin moves out of the way letting Zack collide with the corner! Devlin takes the opportunity to shoot some fiery punches into Zack’s back before turning him around to face out of the corner, then gets some room and aims a running boot but Zack clears out of the way and Devlin’s leg draps over the corner awkwardly! Zack, slightly stunned and tired takes hold of Brennan and SLAMS him backward with a belly-to-back suplex he rolls into a cover!

One…

Two…

Thr---

NATE HOLLIS: Another Devlin kickout!

With force too, as Zack finds himself on his knees and Devlin is bracing himself up to his knees with the help of some nearby ropes. Zack rushes in only to be caught by a stunning sidekick that ignites the fans! Zack teeters like a tree ready to fall over and Brennan moves in for a diamond cutter!

NATE HOLLIS: The Faceoff--NO!

Zack pushes out of it before Zack spins Brennan around to face him and goes for the double knee facebreaker!

NATE HOLLIS: The Reverie--NO!

Brennan slams Zack down to the canvas before he can connect and rebounds off the ropes aiming for a jumping leg drop but Zack rolls out of the way, letting Brennan drop onto his tailbone! Zack is up to his feet and rushing Brennan and connects with a furious knee thrust that slams Brennan down to the canvas!

NATE HOLLIS: This crowd is going absolutely nuts!

BRAD STOKES: I WANT A SODA!

NATE HOLLIS: You can’t have one!

BRAD STOKES: THIS IS SHIT!

Zack climbs up top and has his moment before launching into a corkscrew shooting star press.

NATE HOLLIS: LUCID DREAMS!

It connects, stunning the crowd as Zack hooks the leg for the cover!

One…

Two…

Three!!!

NATE HOLLIS: Zack Fantana wins it!

BRAD STOKES: I never doubted him for a second.

NATE HOLLIS: Yes, you did.

BRAD STOKES: Sure, but that’s literally my gimmick!

Zack is up on his feet to celebrate.

Back inside the studio, the screen they were just watching with the Fantana/Devlin fight switches to an F2W logo. Brad and Nate glance back to one another, then to the studio where fires burn, and the portable energy field blocking the door for anyone to enter or exit, to the armed Scientology Squad commandos standing watch over the huddled mass of whimpering F2W hostages.

BRAD STOKES: That’s it. I’m gonna do it, Nate.

NATE HOLLIS: Think about this, Brad. These guys want Angelina Altamonte to address them personally. That’s it. They want information about who sabotaged their spaceship. You’re just Brad Stokes, the guy who calls the matches. You’re nobody.

Brad chews gum with a cocky smirk, flipping his sunglasses down over his eyes.

BRAD STOKES: Not in this episode, friend. I’ve seen Die Hard. In this episode… I’m Ellis.

Brad stands, popping the collar of his leather jacket. Nate thinks about it with a frown before clutching Brad’s sleeve, not letting him leave.

NATE HOLLIS: He dies, Brad!

Brad lifts his sunglasses and eyes Nate seriously.

BRAD STOKES: He what?

NATE HOLLIS: Ellis DIES in Die Hard. After he does EXACTLY what you’re planning on doing.

BRAD STOKES: Pffft. It’s not EXACTLY like the movie, Nate. Watch and learn.

Brad tugs his sleeve out of Nate’s grasp, sets his sunglasses back over his eyes, chews his gum, and struts off.

Black letters read DIRECTOR on the outside of the office door. It was slightly ajar, letting a slice of light escape out into the dark hallway. Inside, Lord Gravus sat behind a large desk, surrounded by messy stacks of scripts. He was shuffling notecards between his hands of hastily drawn storyboards for tonight’s Melee. He paused when on the card for the main event.

Gravus’ voice whirred through the speaker of his breather mask.

GRAVUS: Inform the Supreme Leader that all is going as planned.

A hologram of Captain David Miscavige stood before the desk, projected by a drone hovering over his head.

MISCAVIGE: This better work, Gravus, or there will be consequences. You have taken a risk exposing our Scientology Squad to the outside world. You know the lengths we have gone to keep the existence of the SS a church secret.

GRAVUS: The time for half-measures is over, Captain. Whoever attacked Starship Theta must be held accountable. There is no other—

A knock at the door cut him off. Through the hologram, Gravus saw Brad Stokes standing in the door frame. Behind him, an SS guard stood at attention in glossy, black armor, carrying a positron rifle.

The F2W announcer cooly flipped the collar of his leather jacket.

BRAD STOKES: Hope I’m not interrupting…

MISCAVIGE: Who is tha—

Gravus directed the drone to cut the connection. The Captain’s image flickered and then disappeared. The small drone returned to its dock on the forearm of his battlesuit. He spoke to the SS guard.

GRAVUS: What does he want?

Stokes didn’t give the guard a chance to answer.

BRAD STOKES: It’s not what I want. It’s what I can give ya.

The guard made a move with the rifle, aiming it at the prisoner. The Master of the Knights of Thet only need give the order and Stokes would be relieved of his head. Gravus, however, was curious. He shook his head to the guard, who immediately eased off the positron rifle’s trigger.

Stokes crossed the office confidently with the guard closely following behind.

BRAD STOKES: It’s obvious you’re not some dumb shmendrik up here to scare some TV execs, am I right?

GRAVUS: Shmendrik? What are you talking about?

BRAD STOKES: I’ve seen every episode of 24. You know: Kiefer Sutherland, events occur in real time, bad guys always kidnapping his daughter. I say to myself, these Scientologists are pros, they’re motivated, they’re happening. They want something. Now, I don’t care about your religion. Maybe you’re pissed at the Papists for hoggin’ all the Kennedys. Maybe it’s the Evangelicals or those goddamn Gideons. Maybe you’re tired of those fat man-baby statues the Buddhists build everywhere—no es mi problema, amigo. I say to myself, Brad Stokes, these guys are here to negotiate, am I right?

GRAVUS: (Amused) Perhaps you are smarter than you appear, Brad Stokes.

BRAD STOKES: Hey, this is show business. You use laser guns, I use a microphone. What’s the difference?

He gave a big smile.

BRAD STOKES: Let’s rap about this. Blackstar comes down to earth to fight these Maroon Five’s like a badass Rob Halford from space. Now, normally 80s heavy metal would trounce these hipster wanna-be’s every day of the week, but you didn’t expect some poison pill to hop aboard your spaceship and play Caitlyn Jenner behind the wheel.

Stokes held his arms out.

BRAD STOKES: Gravus…BOOBY…I’m your white knight!

GRAVUS: I have never seen 24. What are you saying?

Stokes plopped down into a chair and put his feet up on the desk.

BRAD STOKES: The guy who hijacked your ship? I can get him for you.

GRAVUS: (Dryly) Oh, can you? And how would you do that?

BRAD STOKES: I know him. He’s a friend of my cousin. Goes by Cyrus Grissom. It was him and this other guy named Diamond Dog that stole your spaceship. They were going to use it to pick up a bunch of their felonious buddies at Folsom and head down to Cancun. And get this, his house? Just a few miles from here. I can go get him right now, bring him back here, and end this thing.

GRAVUS: You would do that for me?

BRAD STOKES: Hey, it’s your barbecue man and it tastes good. Say the word and I go back to the booth. Or let the dog off the chain because I’m tired of barking. This dog has some bite.

GRAVUS: I have a better idea.

He waved his hand and in one smooth motion the guard raised the rifle and pressed its barrel into Brad Stokes’ temple. The announcer jerked in the chair, but dared not try to get up.

Gravus hissed a laugh through the tinny speaker.

GRAVUS: We captured the hijackers weeks ago. You truly are a pathetic example of your species and now your lies have sealed your fate. Say goodbye, Brad Stokes.

Stokes mumbled on the edge of terror.

STOKES: Goodbye, Brad Stokes…

A wide shot of the Cincinnati Hit Girls stadium.

NATE HOLLIS: Uh… okay… as soon as Brad Stokes returns we’ll get right to the next match.

You can hear Nate Hollis’ fingers drumming on the desk expectantly. A sigh into the microphone.

NATE HOLLIS: He’s not coming back…. I told him… I TOLD HIM.

In the stands, are a collection of Cincinnati Hit Girls players and fans, as well as a crew of folks drawn in by the promise of violence. At the 50-yard line stands Cincinnatti Hit Girls kicker and cornerback, and Fight 2 Win competitor, Angelica Vaughn standing tall amidst a tiny ovation from the assembled crowd. In one end zone stands her opponent, Elina Cartel, just arriving from the locker room.

NATE HOLLIS: So yeah. If Brad were he, he’d probably have made some kind of lewd comment about at least one of these two women. Never thought I’d say this, but I actually miss the guy. This could get sappy and boring, folks.
 
Their eyes meet without fanfare or ceremony. It’s 50 yards between them and Angelica takes off running, a win stands between them. Elina watches the leggy blonde foot it across the field, closing the gap between them far faster than Elina could have anticipated. Angelica is upon her, buoyed by the cheers of the fans lining the stands, Angelica lunges but with that distance the entire movement must’ve felt like it was slow motion for Elina Cartel. Elina dodges Angelica skids into the pitch and is forced to turn around in time to get taken down by a headscissor corkscrew takedown by Elina.

NATE HOLLIS: Nice takedown by Elina Cartel! If Brad Stokes were here he’d likely hint at how this isn’t an original setting, and he’d just received a series of nude pics from Angelica Vaughn, I bet. *sobs*
 
Elina keeps a handle on the headscissor, sitting up while maintaining Angelica’s head between her ankles and slams an unexpected series of punches that immediately has Angelica squirming to break free! She does with a quick kip up that forces Elina to relinquish the headscissor. And give Angelica a free moment to gather her bearing. Elina is on her, Angelica swinging a punch, but Elina quickly traps her arm and drags her back down to the ground with an armbar, quickly working to lock it in, but Angelica shimmies her arm free and rises up to a knee to glare at a confident Elina Cartel.

NATE HOLLIS: My god am I this boring? One of you Scientology Squad guys want to fill in for the guy you just killed? Give me someone to bounce commentary off of? You don’t. I see. Can’t talk? I see. Welp.
 
Angelica Vaughn, with a hint of frustration lunges once more, this time feinting an arm strike that catches Elina moving for another arm bar only to get caught with a strong knee right into her back the stumbles her forward leaving room for Angelica Vaughn to open up with a wicked bicycle kick that flattens Elina Cartel down into the grass!

NATE HOLLIS: Running out of gas here, gang. I mean this match kicks ass. These two women are kicking ass, but I’m kind of a Q without a U here, without Brad Stokes.
 
And the crowd goes wild as Vaughn drops down to mount Elina’s back and loops her arms around Elina’s neck for a rear-naked choke that immediately has Elina wrestling up to her knees! It could be a bad move as Angelica now works to get her legs wrapped around Elina’s midsection, but the positioning, and the difference in their height makes it difficult! Before Angelica can really assert much control Elina is dragging herself up, shakily, to her feet and ramming Angelica backwards into the nearby uprights with a back-shuddering thud that loosens Angelica’s grip! Elina attempts another ram of Angelica into the uprights but Angelica has enough sense to let go and drop so that Elina runs her own back into the uprights.

NATE HOLLIS: I don’t have any quips, fans. I’m being held hostage. Elina Cartel’s back has got to be hurting now. That’s it. It’s clinical. Without Brad Stokes I’m just an analyst.
 
Clutching her back, Angelica lets loose a stiff side kick that stumbles Elina backwards, then Angelica rushes her, slamming a football tackle into Elina that sends them both skidding into the tunnel leading into the locker rooms! There’s a loud array of boos from Angelica’s teammates who now have to find a better view as Angelica forces Elina up to her feet and swings a furious punch into the smaller woman’s jaw that knocks her further into the tunnel, and then plants a drop kick that staggers Elina right back into the visiting team’s locker room!

NATE HOLLIS: Nice! Here we go! Fighting in the locker room. If Brad were here--ahh forget it.
 
Angelica follows in after Elina only to find Elina rising to her feet in time to meet Angelica halfway and send a kick into the door sandwiching Angelica between the door frame and the door painfully! Elina lets Angelica out from between the doorway and swings her around to keep her off balance, sending Angelica down to a knee on the tiled locker room floor. Elina rushes her and aims a rising knee strike for Angelica’s head bound to decapitate the CoolKid, but Angelica drops backward and Elina’s attempt at a strike comes up with nothing but air and ends in a skidding misstep that gives Angelica time to lift a strong kick of her own into Elina’s back that sends Elina face first into the back of a row of lockers. Angelica slams another football tackle into Elina this time it connects with enough force to drive Elina back into the lip of the wall leading into the team showers.

NATE HOLLIS: Lot of damage happening to Elina’s back right here. Angelica’s trying to steer the flow of this match.
 
Elina doesn’t rest on the pain radiating up her spine, instead she slams a double axe handle down into Angelica’s back that topples her down to hands and knees but doesn’t keep Angelica down for long. As Elina reaches down to grip Angelica, Angelica busts free of Elina’s grip and slams a knee into Elina’s midsection and then plants her into the tiled floor with a sitout facebuster!

There’s a ref who’s slipped inside the locker room and there to administer the pin count as Angelica turns Elina over and hooks the leg!
 
One…
 
Tw—
 
NATE HOLLIS: A kickout by Elina Cartel!

Elina fires a shot up right into Angelica’s chin that knocks her backward, and Elina kips up with enough energy and force to swing a back kick into the back of Angelica’s head that sends her careening for the wall! Angelica catches herself and angles a kick of her own right into Elina’s midsection that doubles her over, and then lunges in for another thrusting knee strike but Elina evades that and slams Angelica down into the tiled floor once more, this time with a vicious DDT and quickly modifies her grip to apply a brutal crossface to Angelica Vaughn!
 
Vaughn’s in trouble, strugging against the crossface before slamming an elbow into Elina Cartel to try to force a let-up on the hold.

NATE HOLLIS: Not a good place to be right now for Angelica Vaughn! I bet she feels pretty well how I feel right now! Hahaha-ohh...
 
Another elbow! Another elbow!

NATE HOLLIS: Angelica’s fighting back! She can do this! I CAN DO THIS!
 
Elina is forced to let go and roll backwards away from a struggling Angelica who climbs to her knees in time to witness Elina moving in once more for an attack. Angelica slams a flexible donkey kick into Elina’s midsection that stops her in her tracks. Angelica turns and slams a hefty punch into Elina before pulling her down into a triangle choke!

NATE HOLLIS: Nice! Angelica Vaughn is turning the tide here right now!
 
Elina struggles valiantly but looks to be weakening! Angelica applies further pressure to Elina’s neck, applying a lot of pressure, but Elina seems to be doing her best to recover, to fight it off, heaving herself onto her knees in spite of the tremendous pressure being applied. Elina manages to slip her hands in between Angelica’s arms and begins to loosen the choke, much to Angelica’s surprise!

NATE HOLLIS: A possible turnaround here for Elina Cartel!

Elina manages leverage what little space she can get to further loosen Angelica’s grip on her neck, forcing Angelica to let up on the choke! Elina quickly repositions for some ground and pound that has Angelica stunned, but not before she collects her knees together and manages to shove Elina off of her with her feet. Elina stumbles backward, and Angelica uses the moment to climb to a stand, albeit sluggish and pained. She charges Elina with a clothesline attempt but Elina ducks it, spins Angelica around and SLAMS her down with a double knee facebreaker!

NATE HOLLIS: Elina goes for the cover!
 
One…
 
Two….
 
Three!
 
NATE HOLLIS: Elina does it!

She rises to her feet looking sore and tired.

NATE HOLLIS: Big battle there. And uh…. Yea….

From the control booth in F2W, Lord Gravus callously regards the big screens switching back to F2W logos, some displaying  rooms around the studio, one overlooking all the hostages under the watchful glare of the Scientology Squad positron rifles, then eyes Nate Hollis.

GRAVUS: And I suppose, after yet another lackluster battle it’s time for your main event, Mr. Hollis. Perhaps you should commentate for us.

Nate Hollis eyes Gravus with defeat with a heavy sigh.

NATE HOLLIS: Alright. Down a man. But the show goes on. Last show, Melee number 1, we saw Natalie King take on The Blackstar on The Blackstar’s spaceshi—

GRAVUS: —Redacted.

Nate eyes Gravus once more.

NATE HOLLIS: Right. So, anyway, this is the rematch to settle the score. To see which of these two fine, stand-up competitors is going to walk away from this, our second, —and possibly last— show with the Melee championship belt. We throw you now to Natalie King’s personal venue, THE WHALE, where Blackstar should be—

GRAVUS: Correction.

Nate’s shoulders slump, exhausted under the weight of this hostage crisis.

GRAVUS: This fight is unworthy of the Scientologist Supreme. This fight demeans his greatness. We have reorganized this fight.

NATE HOLLIS: What?!

Nate’s about to stand up in protest then catches the laser sight of an SS guard’s positron rifle. He can almost feel Gravus smiling behind the face mask.

GRAVUS: We have sent a more suitable opponent for your “Melee Champion”. Three SS Commandos should do it. They’re already on site, Mr. Hollis. Why don’t you ‘call the show’ as they kill Natalie King, and exterminate her venue.

Nate swallows. It’s cheating! It’s horrid, like everything else that’s taken place in this studio tonight and yet, the big screen blinks on to display the Whale. Gravus turns to watch the screen, his face turning at once to a frown at the closeup of Natalie King’s face, and a finger binking off the screen.

NATALIE KING: Yoo hoo.

BINK--BINK--BINK.

NATALIE KING: These guys belong to you?

The shot pulls back to reveal the same SS Commandos sent to kill her and destroy her venue, tied to chairs with three dark-suited men standing behind them aiming guns at their heads.

GRAVUS: Impossible...

Gravus barely flinches. Joey, Natalie’s friend, and numero uno in this organization comes into the frame to stand beside, Nat.

JOEY: To whomever sent them, I can’t see you through the camera, but they sure look like tough customers. Here’s the thing, though. You’re gonna need some new ones unless Blackstar shows up to fulfill his fight commitments, understand?

In the broadcast studio, Gravus eyes the screen calmly. Nate eyes him hiding a smile at his being outmaneuvered. Slowly, Gravus lifts an arm and activates a communication device that sends his voice into the Whale.

GRAVUS: To whom it may concern, next time pick better hostages.

Bursts of compressed smoke exhausts out of the necks of the suits of the three commandos as each of them convulse unexpectedly in the throes of their suicide protocols, much to the surprise of the armed men threatening them with death. Helmets are removed to reveal each of them men are indeed dead, evidently victims of cyanide tablets.

You can almost see Gravus smirking through the face mask. In the whale, on screen, Natalie shifts uneasily and eyes Joey who doesn’t flinch.

JOEY: Touche. You’re right. We should’ve picked better hostages. Let’s try this again.

Without so much as a nudge, two men bring the figure of a woman with a hood over head out from a back room and toss her in front of the camera. Joey eyes the camera as he grips the obviously stunned, confused and scared hooded woman and then tears off the hood to reveal…

NATE HOLLIS: What the fu-- Is--is that? No… They got you, babe?!

It is long-lived singing sensation, CHER! Evidently Nate’s a huge fan. In the F2W studio, this time Gravus flinches. From the ashes of Sonny Bono was born this twisted servant of Scientology, though his thetan quakes at the sight of his former love.

JOEY: How’s this?

Joey smiles, holding a gun to Cher’s head. And then, on cue, Lord Gravus appears inside the whale confronting him.

JOEY: Ah. So, it appears you lot got skin we can get under. Where’s the leather-clad supreme leader freak?

GRAVUS: Nothing has changed. You are unworthy to face the Master of the Cosmos. Release the woman.

JOEY: We can find a way to get to you, we found a way to get to your ship, we will find a way to get to your leader. One body at a time.

The gun metal presses into Cher’s neck as she grimaces, seeing her beloved in this new form she whimpers wanting to call out to him! Joey grips her tighter, enough to make even Gravus wince.

GRAVUS: Release her now!

Gravus steps forward only to be stopped by a backhand punch right into his armored chest by Natalie King. She hides a wince at the pain in her knuckles.

NATALIE KING: Your boss doesn’t want to show up and fight me? Then you’re up.

Gravus is noticeably irritated, his eyes falling on Cher as Joey, Irving Messing’s number 1, pulls her back to clear room for combat. Gravus glares at them, before eyeing down Natalie King, and then in his other hand, holding a black metal handgrip, extends a red, humming particle beam almost a meter long. Natalie blinks at the sight of it just as Gravus takes a violent swing, the beam crackling through the air. She narrowly dodges and watches it burn a hole into the hardwood floor of the Whale!

GRAVUS: Be careful what you wish for.

He swings an expert arc of the particle beam for Natalie’s rib cage, she just barely dodges feeling the white hot blast of the particle beam swipe through the midriff of her top tearing a hole into it. And she backs up again as Gravus takes another swing, dangerously close to her head.

From off to the side, a whimper from Cher draws Gravus’ attention as Joey clutches her ever tighter. Natalie takes the moment to lunge in and slam a hard kick into Gravus’ midsection that doubles him over. She moves in for a thrusting knee strike but Gravus stumbles backwards narrowly dodging her attack! Natalie presses her advantage and rushes Gravus, leaping up for a spin kick but Gravus stumbles backward, not expecting Natalie to take the fight to him. Off-balance, he swings the particle beam at her narrowly singeing a lock of Natalie’s hair. Once landed, Natalie swings a back kick that knocks into Gravus’ back that once against staggers him. He gets some room to recover, eyeing Natalie, then Joey with Cher. His gun angles tight to her temple, the pressure enough to send tears running down Cher’s cheek.

GRAVUS: You will not harm—

Natalie rushes him and slams a kick into his side hard enough to knock Gravus into the bar, his particle beam falls from his hands. Natalie grits her teeth and moves in, slamming an elbow into the spine of Gravus’ suit before gripping him and spilling him over the bar counter top into the servery station. Gravus rises and slams a stiff punch into Natalie’s face sending her staggering backward. Unexpectedly, he unleashes a surge of jet fuel and propels himself off the bar at her, but Natalie leaps up, locks on a headscissor and uses his own momentum to launch Gravus hard into the wall!

Natalie lands and watches Gravus rise and glance down at sparks flaring up from his suit, wear and tear from being smashed into brick. He grimaces then charges Natalie, swinging a series of brutal punches that Natalie manages to dodge just barely before gripping his arm and throwing him back at the bar with a hard SLAM!

Gravus rises, imposing himself on top of the bar. Natalie rushes him once more and slams a jumping straight kick into Gravus’ chest knocking him back into the wall of booze and liquor with a loud angry SMASH!

Gravus crashes onto the floor behind the bar with liquor falling on him, bottles drop from their former placement. Something on Gravus’ suit sparks, something must’ve gotten exposed at some point, wires, something, for smoke suddenly rises up off him and the sound of an electrical burst pops from behind the bar. Natalie blinks, stunned, watching the smoke rise, looking over the bar at the downed Lord Gravus who shudders in the midst of a grievous malfunction.

Joey, gripping Cher watches, with curiosity to see Lord Gravus shudder and spark spectacularly for a few moments more before only smoke rises off the downed dark lord.

With disinterest, Joey eyes Nat.

JOEY: That was anticlimactic.

Natalie eyes Gravus with a sense of concern before watching Joey motion to the other made men, before he shoves Cher to the ground.

JOEY: I think that’s enough. This guy ain’t worth it. Come on.

Joey and the others file out through the exit. Nat lingers, watching the crying Cher, and the downed, seemingly dead Gravus before following them, slinging her Melee Championship back over her shoulder.

The man once known as Sonny Bono requires the life support systems of his battle suit to survive outside the Exus Tank located on his personal starship, the Devastator. With the onboard systems of his suit malfunctioning, his life force suffocates in the darkness beneath the layers of armor and machinery.

Cher weeps with her face buried in his uniform, the second time she has cried over his death, only this time it wasn’t on some secluded mountainside far away from her, but before her very eyes.

CHER: (Sobbing) Sonny, come back to me. Please…

Cold silence, until…

A low-pitched hum emanates from the suit. Cher lifts her head. The durasteel chest unit is lit up and running. She looks up at the emotionless mask and wonders if there is hope. Suddenly, the speaker crackled with what almost sounded like a void.

She covers her mouth, then grabs his arm and shakes it.

CHER: Sonny, can you hear me?

A voice fizzles from the speaker…

GRAVUS: Cher?

His right hand lifts from the ground. It slowly crosses over his body to touch her face briefly, before the weight becomes too much for his weakened body and it crashes back to his side.

CHER: Sonny, it’s me, baby. It’s Cher.

She interlocks her fingers with his left hand and holds it to her chest.

GRAVUS: Sonny is gone. He was weak, foolish, and a terrible skier, just like his father.

His reply was abounding with rage and pity.

CHER: No, baby. That’s what those Scientology assholes want you to think. Miscavige, Tom Cruise, the Blackstar—they all want you to think that because you’re strong. Stronger than they ever could be. So they keep you down so they can use you.

GRAVUS: No, the Supreme Leader has the wisdom of the entire Cosmos. He sees my thetans. He knows my purpose.

CHER: Thetans? (Scoffs) Listen to yourself. There’s no such thing. You’re just a man. A wonderful man who deserves another chance.

GRAVUS: It’s too late for me, Cher…

CHER: Oh, Sonny. It’s never too late. Come home with me. Chaz misses you…I miss you…

He has a feeling within him. A great, terrible feeling. A command that he must answer.

GRAVUS: (Coldly) Yes, I will do it.

His right hand, stronger than before, moves from his side along the floor, reaching.

CHER: Oh, Sonny. (Lovingly) You got me. And babe, I got you—

Then, as the happiness seems into the flecks of hazel and brown in Cher’s deep, dark eyes, Gravus retrieves the hilt of his sword and ignites the particle beam. The red energy blade lances outward to pierce Cher’s chest from front to back.

The happiness in her eyes begins to swirl into a tenebrous maelstrom, twisting around her expanding pupils, filled with enough sadness to fill a galaxy.

Ferociousness returns to the digitized voice of Lord Gravus.

GRAVUS: Thank you, babe. You have helped me more than you will ever know.

Nate Hollis launches out of his chair and stares in disbelief. His hands clutch at his sides and he screams into the air.

NATE HOLLIS: NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! NOT YOU TOO!!!!

Cher searches the metal face of the man she once loved one last time, and there was nothing to see, only darkness. An alien, unfeeling shadow of what once was. Gravus extinguishes the particle beam and she falls to her side, dead even before her body slumps on the cold floor.

Gravus rises to his feet with an impressive amount of strength for a man returned to life twice now, but weakness still pervaded him. He leaned on the bar for support, yet the opaque lenses of his mask never moved from Cher.

The remainder of his SS Commandos funneled into the Whale, rifles ready to fire as they formed a protective shield around the Dark Lord of Scientology.

GRAVUS: Return me to my shuttle. My Master calls to me.

Back in the studio, Nate glances back to his fellow F2W employees to note that their captors have all faded away, likely beamed back to their ship. An anticlimactic end were Nate Hollis not so readily aware of the losses mounting this night.

Cher. Deceased. He watched it happen.

Brad Stokes. Deceased.

And what was it all for? What did they gain? Nate felt his shoulders trembling with a mixture of anger and resignation. The studio fires raged on as, slowly, his fellow employees rose from their uncomfortable seat on the floor. Nate moved to help them before,

“...HOLLISSSSSSS!”

Nate looked up onto one of the screens to see the man, without his leather jacket, sunglasses busted on his face, clearly wounded, in a blood-smeared tank top limping through the hallway..

“HOLLISSSSSSS!”

NATE HOLLIS: Brad Stokes!

Nate ran in a hurry to open the door for Brad who limped in looking like shit, suddenly swarmed by a horde of his overjoyed and relieved coworkers.

NATE HOLLIS: Brad! We thought you were dead!

Brad breathes heavily. Nate glances down to see Brad’s bare feet.

NATE HOLLIS: Why’d you take your shoes off?

BRAD STOKES: I HAVE NO IDEA, MAN. DID WE WIN?

He cried, wounded, beat up. Nate could see glass shards jutting from the soles of his feet.

NATE HOLLIS: ...yea…. We...we won.

BRAD STOKES: Sweet. So glad it’s over.

The studio looks like a bomb went off inside it.

It’s been ages since Thirteen enjoyed something akin to a moment’s peace. She walked on the sidewalk in broad daylight enjoying the chirping of birds.

Master of Puppets roars out of the speakers of the black van as it jumps a boulevard of grass and storms down the street towards her. She blinks, turning slowly to see it swerving dangerously towards her before screeching to a stop and 4 men in masks she doesn’t get a good look at pull her kicking and screaming into the van. They close the door and roar off.

Inside, Thirteen looks up at her captors, one wearing a Saddam Hussein Mask, the other a Josef Stalin mask, and two identical looking French Mimes hiding under identical William Shatner masks painted white. Thirteen manages a look at the driver, Mister Mississagi.

THIRTEEN: Francis?!

Saddam Hussein shakes his head.

“I’m sorry. For the purposes of this mission I will be known as Saddam. This here is Uncle Joe. And you remember the mimes. They were gonna be matching Hitlers but apparently they don’t make masks of him so we improvised.”

Thirteen grimaced, realizing she could stop fighting these men off.

THIRTEEN: What are you doing?

The eyes, Francis Ford Cuppola’s eyes, behind the mask looked confused a moment.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): What does it look like we’re doing? It’s Point Break.

Thirteen frowns.

THIRTEEN: What?

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): Patrick Swayze and the other guy. Point Break. Remember?

THIRTEEN: You’re robbing a bank?

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): No! We’re taking my company back, silly. You’re gonna help.

The van swerves to a stop.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): Come on. Put this on.

Francis forced a mask onto Thirteen.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): You can be Pol Pot. I couldn’t find a Fulgencio Batista mask, sorry. I know how much you love Cuba. Let’s roll.

Before Thirteen can protest the van door slides open and the 4 of them, Josef Stalin, Two William Shatners, and Saddam Hussein usher Pol Pot out and into the double doors of the office building containing the Fight 2 Win office space.

It’s an awkwardly silent elevator ride up to the Fight 2 Win floor. The elevator doors ding open and just like they’d practiced it repeatedly, The Mimes rush out and pull out M-16s firing them into the air.

Brad Stokes, Nate Hollis and the other recently freed captives of the last hostage crisis are immediately in a panic once more as they find themselves once more staring down the barrels of firearms, and masks they can’t quite figure out. They’re all round up and forced to the floor before Saddam Hussein, Francis Ford Cuppola, comes to stand over them.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): Ladies and gentleman.

They panic.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): Due to the Fight 2 Win company's reckless endeavors taking my rightful company from me they are about to be taught a lesson in the real use of power.

He looks ominously amongst the captives.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): You will be witnesses.

You can almost see him smirking behind the mask.

NATE HOLLIS: Francis, we literally just did this.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): How do you know who I am behind this mask-- I mean, SILENCE, EARTHLING. I AM DARTH VADER.

Francis makes up a salute. You’ve seen it before.

BRAD STOKES: You’ve got to be the only person oblivious enough to do the EXACT SAME THING someone just did, only dumber.

Awkward glances are exchanged between the eyes behind the masks before Francis pulls his Saddam mask with defeat.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA: Okay, I’m sorry. What? Jake? What the hell’s going on?

Josef Stalin removes his mask to reveal recently fired F2W talent, Jake.

JAKE: I don’t know, Mr. Cuppola. I swear this should work.

Francis stands there uncomfortably.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA: By the way, everybody. This is Jake. He’s my new assistant after recently getting fired from Fight 2 Win. I don't see anything suspicious about his potential double-dealings, so put that stuff out of your mind.

The mimes threaten the captives, who by now have done this once already and are all panicked out. Francis has to think about it his next move.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA: All right. No big deal. Rookie mistake from our boy Jake here. We just came at the wrong time, that’s all. Could happen to anyone. Let’s saddle up, men. We’ll try again tomorrow.

Francis readies to set his Saddam mask back into place when an assistant not previously corraled approaches him.

ASSISTANT: Excuse me, can you give this to Brennan Devlin?

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA: What? Who?

ASSISTANT: Brennan Devlin. He won it.

He hands Francis a shirt. Francis holds up the shirt.

Then he eyes the assistant.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA: All right. We can do that.

JAKE: We can do it tomorrow when we come back for another hostage crisis.

Francis nods and slips his mask back on.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): Good thinking, Uncle Joe. Let’s roll out.

Francis, the mimes, and Jake head back for the elevator. Thirteen removes her bizarre Pol Pot mask and looks with pure concern to the captives.

THIRTEEN: I am SO sorry. Truly. TRULY Sorry.

BRAD STOKES: *resigned* It’s okay. It’s fine. Just need medical attention. It’s no big deal.

Thirteen winces emphatically.

FRANCIS FORD CUPPOLA (SADDAM): COME ON, ‘TEEN!

Francis shouts from the elevator.

THIRTEEN: Sorry. REALLY sorry.

She apologizes then joins them in the elevator.