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Joined: December 23rd, 2011, 2:55 pm

July 20th, 2017, 1:57 am #1

So it turns out I couldn't quite put her away after all. I mean Callie, not Brenda. Brenda I've put away countless times! Anyway, these'll be a few short stories featuring my favourite character: Me. Enjoy!

Prof-iting from Damage

I let the rush catch me square in the face, closing my eyes as the hot water sluiced across me, tight and sore muscles finally taking the warmth as cue to relax a bit after the night's efforts. It had been a tough one, tonight. A singles match with Shannon McCourt, she saw it as a chance to get back into the title picture, and fought with every scrap she had. Not coincidentally, I saw it the same way, and did the same.

20 minutes earlier

Shannon's a bit like me in that while she's a technical specialist, she tries not to have too many other holes in her game. She's good on the mat, but a bit one-note. I don't think she's been out of America too much. She certainly hasn't trained under British, or Mexican, or Japanese grapplers like I have. It matters.

Of course numbers also matter, and Sara and Loretta at ringside had proved an equaliser. More than, if I'm honest, until Sara got caught removing the top turnbuckle pad, which got her and Loretta tossed out. Shannon lost her cool at that, and yelled at the ref so loud I was able to get back up, sneak in behind her and get her into a release German suplex.

The ref was about to put the pad back on as I lifted Shannon off of the mat, so I yelled “WATCH OUT!” before pressing my shoulder into Shannon's midsection and pistoning my boots into the mat. He thankfully heeded my advice, getting out of the way as I slammed her backwards into the corner. Shannon let out an agonized groan of pain as the metal buckle jabbed her right between the shoulder blades.

“OHHHH!!!” the crowd murmured in unison. “Callie!” the ref called out indignantly. I backed out of the corner, looked at him, and then at the hard camera, giving it an exaggerated shrug and an impish grin. Shannon stumbled out of the corner, slumping to the mat, right hand reaching around behind her, pressed up against her back. This next part seemed obvious enough, hooking her legs around mine and then reaching backwards, hands locking under her chin before bridging, bending her backwards. It only took a few seconds in the hold for her to slap the mat, and the referee called for the bell.

“THE WINNER OF THIS MATCH, BY SUBMISSION, CALLISTA QUINN!” It wasn't the thunderous applause I'd gotten before turning heel on Brenda all those months ago, but it wasn't a bad pop. No time to enjoy the plaudits, though. I released the hold quickly, not so much out of any compassion for Shannon and more because I figured...yep, right on time.

“Miseria Cantare”, which had barely had any time at all to get started, (I wondered if I could get Gabs to fund another music change? Seemed a long shot,) cut off when Sara Valentine and Loretta Diaz came charging down the aisle. Deciding for function over form, I rolled out of the ring on the side near the announcer's desk. I heard Jeff Krew calling me “smart” for “getting out of Dodge”. Heh.

In point of fact I did no such thing. What I did was lift the ring apron up, pulling the steel chair I'd stuck under there before (did you ever wondered who puts all that s**t under the rings just waiting to be used as weapons? Yep. Us wrestlers. Sneaky lil devils...) and instead went on the attack, running to the left and swinging the chair in Sara's direction.

Sara yelped in response and did a quick 180, heading away from me and towards Loretta. The two of them regrouped, only to see me still running towards them. I'll admit I wasn't running full speed, but I was still a six foot woman with a chair. The two women chose the better part of valour and ducked back up the aisle where they came from. I made a show of chasing them only to stop short at the stage, turning and giving the shouting crowd a wave before dropping the chair and heading on back.

“You're practice,” I murmured to myself in a gravel-voiced American accent, chuckling at my private joke as I walked backstage. Sara and Loretta were both there, as were Brooke Lennox, Amanda Breaker, Samantha Sinclair, Vicky Buckingham, and a smattering of PAs, techs, and arena security. That's right, a tag match was next. Loretta offered me a scowl but Sara made a show of not looking my way, pulling her partner off with her. Satisfied that I wouldn't see any backstage confrontation today, (Too Hott really weren't interested in fighting for free, a sentiment I wholeheartedly agreed with, now especially,)

10 minutes later

Finishing up both my shower and my mental run-through of the match, not for the first time was I questioning the wisdom of the low-key approach. I'd thought Gabrielle would appreciate both the subtlety I was displaying and the willingness to not go for the sort of blatant politicking Brenda and Yvonne both seemed prone to do. (Really, doing Shannon dirty like that by getting the office to force her to put her #1 contender's spot was just low.)

Now I had to worry whether Gabrielle had even noticed what I was up to. Not that I doubted the woman's perceptiveness, but even the most perceptive person can only see so many things happening at any one time. I had to worry whether what I was doing was even getting noticed. I had to worry...about Yvonne Carmichael walking into the shower.

I hadn't noticed anyone else enter. Had I been caught slipping? I thought a sort of détente had set in. Sun and I had a wary sort of mutual respect, and I continued to have no beef with Mancini. Still, my eyes glanced around the shower, just me and her. Yvonne, still in her ring gear with the Rival Angels title around her waist, chuckled, “Wise of you to check, but no. Just me.” Lovely. Just because it wasn't an attack, didn't mean it wasn't an ambush.

“Yes well, you're clothed and I'm naked,” I said, returning Yvonne's flat look with a challenging one. “so one way or another we should probably rectify that.” Really I was just trying to move things out of the shower. I had absolutely no idea what I'd do if she called this bluff. I wasn't exactly out, but I wasn't exactly hiding anything either. (especially at this particular moment,) and who knew what sources of information the Damage Inc. leader and Rival Angels champion had?

Yvonne took it in stride, shrugging magnanimously as if she had all the time in the world only not really. I towelled off and slipped into the kimono I used as a bathrobe. Not as practical as terry cloth, one might say, but feeling silk on my skin after a match was far more valuable to me than mere absorption of water. “Looks like something I'd buy in Omotesando,” she said as we walked back to the locker room area.

I suppose she thought that was complimentary to me. I declined to return the favour. “Omotesando is where gaijin go to show off how much wealthier and more tasteful they are than all the bourgeois types in Ginza,” I said with casual contempt. “I got this at Mitsukoshi, in the Nihonbashi.”

Somewhat surprisingly, to me at least, Yvonne chuckled at that as we stepped into the changing room area. There were others present, but they gave us a wide berth. Well, gave Yvonne a wide berth, I supposed. “That would have pissed me off so much before,” she said. “The casual assumption that you knew more about something than I did.”

“Did you spend a year as a young girl at a dojo? Work everywhere from tiny gyms in rural Hokkaido to the Tokyo Dome? Anata wa nihongo ga dekimasu?” I shot back. “If the answers aren't 'yes', 'yes', and at least 'hai, sukoshi dekimasu', then I think my assumption is a safe one.”

Yvonne shook her head. “I don't care if you actually do know more about Japan. The point is that you ALWAYS think you know more. About everything. Figuring that out meant that you weren't dismissing what I did know. You just always assume you know more regardless of the topic.”

“And what IS the topic, if I may speed this conversation along?”

Yvonne paused, then pursed her lips. She seemed to be stifling a smile. Gabs wouldn't mind THAT much if I punched her champion out, right? “You recall the offer I made before our match?”

“I recall AN offer,” I answered. “I also recall being highly sceptical of its sincerity.”

“Well suppose I made the offer again. With more sincerity this time?”

“Twice as much?” I said dryly.

“With total sincerity,” she answered, her tone matching mine. “Sun isn't gunning for you anymore, nor am I concerned about you making some power play to try to supplant me. What would you say?”

I tilted my head, giving the matter thought, but I couldn't get past the obvious. “I don't know what I'd say. Because I know you're not offering it.” Swelling groups for numbers' sake was pointless. There wasn't another four-woman faction in RA. And, ego aside, they didn't need me. I wouldn't help Yvonne's group dynamic any. I wasn't going to settle for being #2 and going for the TV championship.

Yvonne nodded. It didn't matter. She was just probing for information. The only way to avoid that is to lie constantly, and honestly I just couldn't be arsed. We knew what the other was doing. “What I actually came to tell you is you'll have to wait.”

Like now. I declined to pretend not to know what she meant. “Cote?” I asked. Yvonne nodded. Yeah, that figured. At least I could tweak Brenda's nose about it.

“Besides,” Yvonne said, “You don't want to beat ME, anyway.”

I had to let out a short laugh at that. “You get that from Brenda?” I asked.

Yvonne went stone-faced at that. Not a confirmation, she could easily have decided this on her own and figured she'd keep that from me. She said, “All your pretence of naked ambition and amorality is just that. You're like Brenda in that you don't want to WIN as much as you want to 'be the best'.” No lie, she raised her hands and did air quotes for that. I get it,” Yvonne said, “but the thing is, even if you had the title, are you really 'the best'? You'll never know. And even if you are, it's inevitable that at some point you won't be anymore. It's fool's gold. This is the real thing,” she said, tapping the faceplate of the title belt. “But I'm not going to change you. Just pointing out that even if you did manage to out-cheat Damage Inc, it wouldn't be what you really wanted.”

“Oh is this about my turning?” I asked. Evidently someone had noticed I'd been playing to the crowd more, trying to make my occasional rule-breaking less dastardly and more light-hearted. “Oh that wasn't for you,” I said, casting the line and seeing if I could hook a big one. “It's for Camille. I knew she'd get the shot. I expect her to win.”

Yvonne's mask slipped just a bit. I had her. “But...”

“The turn? Have you TALKED to that woman? She's got the light-hearted, fun-loving personality of a drill instructor crossed with the charismatic presence of a vending machine. Mark me, the crowd'll turn on her in short order,”

Yvonne sat silently, taking that in, before narrowing her eyes at me. I just smiled serenely. The best lie is the one that's entirely true, save a single omission. Everything I'd said about Camille was true. Once we got past 'Olympic medallist' and into 'stone bitch', her status as heel would be solidified. Which meant that either she or Yvonne would be best suited for a babyface competitor, next.

Yvonne wasn't wrong about me. I wanted to be the best. What she didn't grasp is that I didn't care how you defined “best”. Yvonne was the best right now because she out-schemed Brenda. I'd be just as happy to win the title by out-scheming her as I would have been to out-wrestle Brenda. Or Camille Cote.

The key to winning in gambling is to profit no matter the outcome.

Joined: January 3rd, 2009, 11:41 pm

July 23rd, 2017, 11:39 pm #2

Callie wrote: So it turns out I couldn't quite put her away after all. I mean Callie, not Brenda. Brenda I've put away countless times! Anyway, these'll be a few short stories featuring my favourite character: Me. Enjoy!

Prof-iting from Damage

I let the rush catch me square in the face, closing my eyes as the hot water sluiced across me, tight and sore muscles finally taking the warmth as cue to relax a bit after the night's efforts. It had been a tough one, tonight. A singles match with Shannon McCourt, she saw it as a chance to get back into the title picture, and fought with every scrap she had. Not coincidentally, I saw it the same way, and did the same.
You're gunning for Camille? Dang. I dropped you on your head once too many times!  This will be a treat for all of us.  Go for it! 

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Joined: October 9th, 2008, 9:19 am

July 24th, 2017, 8:57 pm #3

I'm so glad to get more Callie. And wonderful story interaction, I loved it. 

The bit about being the best, vs. being the champ is always a fun discussion. Sun and Sabrina usually sit at opposite sides of this particular conversation, but it's hard to say for sure who's right. 
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Joined: December 23rd, 2011, 2:55 pm

August 7th, 2017, 8:50 pm #4

Brunching with the Enemy

I pulled the Jaguar into the parking space. Street parking was not to be this Sunday morning (ish), even in the far-flung backwater that was the North West Side. Thankfully, the multiplex cinema across the street from the restaurant had a parking garage attached. A quick walk brought me to the door of the British-themed restaurant, which had a sign proclaiming its name, and a coat of arms featuring the phrase 'Sapiens qui vigilat'.

“She is wise who watches,” I translated to myself, altering the gender of the actual saying for my own purposes. I gave a little chuckle and made my way inside. I gave a look around, trusting that being 10 minutes late would ensure I was the last to arrive and allow for a minimum of contact with the other people in this little party. Well, person, really.

On cue, I spotted the table where two of the three occupants were giving me an enthusiastic wave. I made my way over to the table, sitting next to Victoria Buckingham on what was apparently the Rival Angels side of the table. Opposite me, Ian Alexander and his Trumpian spray-tan, and next to him, his sister Kaci, the miserable bottle-blonde bitch.

...Look, some people just don't get on, okay? People sometimes think I hate Brenda. I don't, and I try to explain that it's complicated, but they take that to mean I hate her but I'm being tactful. This confirms my belief that most people simply aren't very observant. While Brenda frequently gets on my nerves, I don't hate her. Kaci Alexander, though? HER I hate.

Kaci's been upset with me ever since that match where she was new and I was, well also new, but not nearly AS new, and things went poorly for her. For my part, I take exception to Kaci's waspish personality, her annoying thick Lanc accent, and her stupid, eminently punchable face.

Still, though. This was a business meeting (of sorts), and I would keep things professional. “Hello Vicky, Ian,” I said warmly as I approached the table. Taking my seat, I added, “Kaci, they can probably bring you a high chair or something...”

Kaci, who was of course a good five inches shorter than everyone else at the table, gave me a false smile, replying, “No thanks, Callie. I wouldn't want the altitude sickness that has long denied your brain any oxygen.”

Vicky looked in Ian's direction and she asked, “Remind me why you wanted them in the same place, again?”

Ian looked to the side at his sister before saying, “I thought it might be nice for all of us ex-pats working abroad to get a little touch of home,” he said, looking around the place.

I glanced at the menu. “A french toast sandwich with egg, cheese, ham, and maple syrup,” I commented dryly.

Kaci chimed in with a voice equally dry. “They've got a 'full English fry up', though, complete with 'tinned beans',” she said, making air quotes at the last. “That's not me,” she explained. “They've got quotes around 'tinned beans'.”

I looked down and confirmed that this was the case. At this point, the far too cheerful (and far too American) waitress arrived, asking if we'd like to have the full English. I ordered the fruit plate instead. Kaci did likewise, Vicky ordered the Korma, and Ian the steak and eggs.

“Come on, you two,” Ian said to me and his sister. “At least get a banger or two?” Two pairs of blue eyes glaring at him pinned him back in his seat.

“I will definitely have a glass of Rosè...” Vicky said, not hiding the rolling of her eyes. Hmmph. She was the only reason I'd accepted this invitation in the first place. I'd gotten the email Ian had sent to us (and to Samantha Sinclair, who escaped this nightmare of a brunch by virtue of being back home at the moment,) and Vicky had reached out to me. She'd wanted to go, but with the impending pay per view, would prefer not to have her meeting with a couple of MWA/BRA wrestlers misconstrued.

I'd really have preferred to tell the lot of them to sod off, but I can't really be that mean to Vicky. Even if she wasn't the TV champ, being mean to her just feels like kicking a puppy. So, here I was. I followed Vicky's lead, deciding this was definitely a good time for alcohol, getting a Pimm's Cup. Kaci ordered a glass of Brut, while Ian ordered a lager.

After a somewhat drawn-out silence, getting more uncomfortable by the second, I stood, pleading a need to visit the ladies room. I figured I could eat up some time just sitting on the loo with my phone, but after a glance between the other two women, Kaci stood as well. What was this, then?

Ian, as wary as I was, if less cognizant of the interplay, said to Vicky, “Should, uh, someone watch them?”

“Nah,” Vicky answered. “If those two are alone, it's best to be somewhere else and have a witness who can testify to that.”

Ian did not look reassured.

Well this was unexpected. I was beginning to regret not at least getting a bit of that drink first. I opened the door to the ladies wash room, trying to push down the imagined itch I felt in between my shoulder blades. This couldn't be an ambush. Vicky would never participate in that, and even if she were unaware, I had to admit Alexander was probably too professional for that anyway.

Which didn't mean I couldn't ambush HER, but, fun as bouncing her head off of porcelain might be, it seemed like the sort of thing that could get me thrown out of the country again, and didn't these lunatic Americans actually incorporate “three strikes” into their laws?

Instead, I turned back to look at Kaci, crossed my arms and looked at her quizzically. Kaci, for her part, seemed to be struggling a bit as well. One way or another, I wasn't going to break this silence. Eventually, she managed to push out, “What happened at our show...”

Oh for God's sake. “I had nothing to do with that.” Honestly she couldn't possibly think I was stupid enough to be party to that, could she?

“Of course you didn't,” she spat out, looking like she was angry at me for interrupting. Or possibly existing. “I'm asking about the Aussie.”

“Brooke?” In the mirror I'd glanced at, I could see undisguised confusion entirely take over my expression. Vicky didn't need a chaperone for the Alexanders. Kaci had called in a favour to get me here. All just to ask me about Lennox? “What, you're expecting me to give you a scouting report on RA wrestlers?” She couldn't seriously think that I'd help her with that. Then I remembered who Brooke's opponent at the pay per view was. “You're scouting for....Suki?” This made no sense. “Why? Suki's just McNair's f***-cushion. She's no wrestler. I could actually install Brooke's brain in Suki's head and it wouldn't matter. ...Probably wouldn't notice a difference, really.” 

Kaci's expression soured. “I'm not asking about her wrestling. I can watch tape just as easily as you can.”

“Assuming the tapes aren't on the top shelf....sorry, force of habit,” My apology did not seem to quell Kaci's ire as she bristled at the joke. I dunno why that always worked so well. She wasn't particularly short. She was just shorter than me. So were 99% of the women on the planet. “What ARE you asking, Kaci?”

“You went on that jaunt to Australia with her. You must have spent some time with her. What's she like?”

I was well confused by now. “Uh. Straight, for one...” Kaci's fists balled up and her teeth clenched. “Look what is this? You don't get to be stroppy with me for not answering a question I don't understand. What are...oh.”

“Yes, oh...” Kaci said through still-clenched teeth.

“Well why do you think I'd help with that, either?”

“I hadn't realised you liked having her around.”

That...was a very good point. After giving the question proper consideration, I shrugged and asked, “Favour owed?”

“Favour owed,” Kaci agreed. I really had no idea when, if ever, I'd actually need a favour from her, but having markers to collect never hurt.

“Well,” I said, taking a quick look around the wash room and making sure the stalls weren't occupied. For once those unnerving gaps Yanks left in their bathrooms actually came in useful. “Not quite as dumb as you'd think from talking to her, but make no mistake, definitely more than a bit thick...” I began.

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Joined: October 9th, 2008, 9:19 am

August 8th, 2017, 10:14 pm #5

Wow, very cool! I thought it might actually come to blows there for a minute and there's nothing to say that it still won't!
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My Wrestling Webcomic, Rival Angels! Updated everyWednesday and Friday.

Joined: December 23rd, 2011, 2:55 pm

August 15th, 2017, 10:30 pm #6

Folks, I'm going to be frank with you here. This one got a bit dark. It was something I needed to write, though. I'll post trigger warnings, and put the story itself behind a spoiler tag. If it's not something you need to read, I take no offence.

Additionally, for this story only I will not be editing profanity. This is a stylistic choice on my part.

Lastly, Al: This story takes one of your supporting characters into a bad place. To me it felt congruent with that character, and I endeavoured not to have said character cross any lines we haven't seen them cross in the comic, but if you don't agree with that character's portrayal, or for reasons of content would like me to take it down, I will do so without question.

And with all that ominous foreshadowing, the story:

Trigger Warnings: Harrassment, Assault
[+] spoiler
Shrugging At Atlas
Tokyo, Japan. 6 months ago

I softly closed the door behind me and took a deep breath. That...was harder than I had expected. Not due to Takashi Matsumora. He was nothing less than completely professional, accepting my decision and wishing me well in Rival Angels. He offered-slash-requested one last night's work from me, which I agreed to.

The RA contract promised to be one that finally got me into a position of future security, and jeopardising it was potentially a foolish decision, but he was in a bind, both short and longer term. Longer term I couldn't help him with. He needed to build BRA around a core of championship-calibre wrestlers. While any titles would of course have to be earned, it seemed like I'd have had the opportunity to win them had I stayed. Well, road not travelled.

Shorter term, a flu had knocked out half the women's division, and he was desperately short on women for tonight's MWA show. That, I could help with. Meanwhile, I had another meeting to attend, and while I never looked forward to having to talk to Atlas McNair, I would not be sorry to say “good bye” to the miserable twat.

I didn't watch a lot of American wrestling in the 80s. Back then for me it was World of Sport, with people like Mark Rocco, Marty Jones, Dave Finlay, and of course, the legendary Mancunian Escapologist, Johnny Saint. But even I had known who Atlas McNair was. You couldn't watch wrestling at all and NOT know. That said, in retrospect it was just as well I hadn't watched him, because that meant there was no great disillusionment once I found out what a complete tosspot he was.

'Right', I thought to myself as I approached his office door. 'Keep this quick.' All I needed to do was let him know I was leaving and that was it. I pushed the door open, seeing him seated behind his desk, watching something on a tablet. He looked up and waved me in, pointing at the couch. By the sound, it was a match. That was a good sign. When he actually had his mind on business, Atlas was generally almost tolerable. As I sat down, I could hear from the commentary that it was a BRA match, one apparently between the American who'd gotten that jammy win over me and Neko Suki. At least I knew I wouldn't be waiting long.

Not long at all, it turned out, as Atlas set the tablet on his desk and stood, moving over to a Steuben glass decanter that I happened to know contained the cheapest whisky Suntory made. He held a glass up in my direction. I tried to swallow my revulsion, shaking my head. “I just needed to let you know that tonight will be my last night. I've signed an offer from Rival Angels.”

Atlas smiled, but it was a pained smile. I could only hope whatever loss he felt was at least somewhat related to my wrestling ability. “So you're going to be working for Gabrielle, eh?” he said.

“Looks like it,” I answered.

“Pity,” he said, his expression unreadable. I didn't know what was going on here, but I was not getting a good vibe off of Atlas right now. I needed to extricate myself. I'd claim that I needed to go prepare, oh and by the way could I have a few minutes' promo time to say good-bye. That would be-

“You know I've heard rumours that you're a lesbian,” Atlas said casually.

I blinked. Plans for departing the room were immediately derailed. Also what the fuck? I'd had ONE date since coming to this country. Was there some kind of paparazzi culture I didn't know about? Or was this just coming from literally nowhere... “From whom?” I asked, my voice calm, though God alone knew how.

He didn't answer the question, instead saying, “I know how you could prove them wrong.”

Right, literally nowhere, then. 'Christ,' I thought, 'this is his version of negging, isn't it?' “I can't imagine this is really the most pressing duty you have to undertake,” I said, aiming for dryness but unable to fully stifle the tension I was feeling.

Undeterred, he continued. “Skip the show. Spend your last night in Tokyo here.”

I could literally taste bile in the back of my throat. “And this would prove it to whom, exactly? Or were you planning on recording and broadcasting it?” I tried to mix the revulsion with an equal measure of withering contempt.

For his part, Atlas looked contemplative. “Not the worst idea I've ever heard.” He took a step closer to the couch, looming over me.

I felt a moment of fear. Fear I hadn't felt in years. All women have to be careful when it comes to men, but being trained as I was, your average drunk fan or pub-goer didn't frighten me. This was a former world champion. And I might be tall, but he was BIG. If he turned violent... “I think I'll decline to be overly concerned with rumour, if that's alright,” I said, pushing off of the couch and up to my feet.

He put his hand on my stomach, and with seeming nonchalance, shoved me roughly backwards. My ten stone and a bit just wasn't that much to a man his size, and I dropped back down onto the couch. “Come on now, Callie,” he said in a voice I suppose he imagined was seductive but sounded nothing so much as fucking sociopathic to me. “Put away the ice queen routine for one night.”

My breath quickened. Bitter met sour as bile was usurped by the rush of adrenaline. It felt like my heart was about to pound itself loose from my rib cage. Fear...

And then searing anger.

A red mist descended. It was like in a match when you stopped thinking and fully lost yourself to the fight. I tried to claw back from it. How dare this...this...overgrown man-child...make me feel like that. I shot to my feet, meeting him eye to eye, spitting out angrily, “Do I need to literally kick you in the bollocks to get across my complete and utter disinterest in you?” I shouted, a far more coherent sentence than I'd thought myself capable of just now.

Relying on muscle memory to get me through. I let my fingers curl slowly, bending slightly at the knees. One wrong move here and I'd do my god-damn best to make “Former World Champion Gets His Arse Handed To Him By Rival Angels' Newest Signing” the headline on every bloody sports page in the world. I could sell that to Gabrielle, right? Whatever happened it wouldn't be quiet.

His eyes were as wide as mine. He seemed to be fumbling for words, but no sound was coming out. He took a half-step back from me. It might be a mistake, but I closed that gap. If he wanted to keep things quiet, he would need to BACK. THE FUCK. OFF. Which, thank whatever gods there be, he did. Falling into the classic stereotypical bully reaction, he stalked off behind his desk, glaring at me and spitting “Frigid bitch,” in my direction.

“Quite,” I answered through gritted teeth, not trusting myself to say anything else. Without another word, I turned and walked out of his office, managing to make it down the hell and through the door of the women's lav before nearly losing my footing, clutching at the counter top by the sinks to steady myself as I succumbed to paroxysms of shaking, biting my own arm to try to stifle the sounds of sobs.

3 hours later

I'd seen no sign of Atlas since leaving his office, and that suited me to the ground. I'd also seen no sign of Kaci Alexander, who was one of the women out sick, hopefully feeling half as miserable as it felt being around her when she was healthy, or Takashi, for that matter.

My usual pre-match routine was shot to hell, just like my nerves. Instead I just sat in a corner of the dressing room, my back to the wall. I had my hood down over my face, but only partly. I left myself enough field of view to see the legs of anyone walking through the room. I'd normally blast music at myself, but tonight I instead kept my hearing unoccupied.

I hated this. I hated feeling like this. I hated waiting, wondering what might happen next. It felt so empty in here. Was there even a show still happening, tonight?

I got the answer in the affirmative when I was approached by Sumeko, the company's female ref who mostly worked the BRA matches. “Atlas says you're in first match,” she said, indicating that I should make my way towards the ring area.

I stood, pulling my robe on and asked, “Who's my opponent?”

Sumeko shrugged, not an encouraging sign.

Right. I stood, pulling my hood back, and headed to the ring entrance area, eyes darting around to maintain awareness of my surroundings. When I got to the backstage entrance, I decided to keep my hood off. I didn't really want to do so, as dropping it was part of my entrance, but an ambush seemed possible. I also considered the possibility that he'd stick to petty revenge, screwing with my music, or the like.

That at least turned out not to be quite the case. Hood aside, my entrance went as usual, until I got into the ring, when it cut out immediately. I smiled wanly. That had Atlas' greasy fingerprints all over it. I wondered who my opponent would be. If the goal were to punish me, the obvious move might be Black Widow, and if it was so be it, but that was a risk on Atlas' part. Widow was his top heel. If she lost to me right before I departed, that wouldn't help BRA any. Did Atlas care?

My mind ran through other possibilities. The Brazilian with the jiu-jitsu background? That might be an interesting match. Mancini again? Hmmm, could I be sure he'd only send one opponent? The Syndicate seemed highly mercenary. If it was the three of them, I could just take the better part of valour. Wouldn't be the best look, but it wouldn't be an arse-kicking right before starting with a new company.

When the music hit, I knew: It wasn't the Syndicate. “SUKI SUKI NEKO-CHAN!” the singers shouted before the peppy pop track hit. As the ridiculously-garbed woman pranced down the aisle, I shook my head and chuckled. I had to give that loathsome pustule Atlas McNair some credit. He knew where to hurt me.

What did I care about most? My career, of course. Sure he could try to send Widow or the Syndicate to try to end it, but I knew how to protect myself, there. Neko Suki, though? There was literally nothing I could do in this match that would benefit me. Nothing. I could do whatever I want to try to bring the fans into it, and the best they'd say is “Well that was fun, what's next?”

“Well played, arsehole,” I murmured quietly, leaning against the ropes in my corner and pondering my options. As I watched the tall Japanese woman (I only had a couple inches on her) prance around (in a manner suggesting she'd maybe seen a real cat, once) I had to admit I felt a stab of pity for her.

Stuck as the “girlfriend” of a philandering, abusive cock, all because she was determined to follow her dream (however stupid it might be) and she'd had to make what were surely soul-crushingly difficult choices to chase them. And her reward? To be beaten up by professionally-trained women who didn't respect her. It seemed a very sad existence. Could I have fallen into such a life if I'd zigged instead of zagged? Look, I am TOO capable of empathy...

But then the silly bitch went and ruined it by talking.

“Gonna leave you smothered and covered!” she shouted across the ring.

I did a literal facepalm at that. I had wrestled all over the world, and that included the United States. This ludicrous twit got her catchphrase from THE FUCKING WAFFLE HOUSE. The only fear that place had ever put me in was of adult-onset heart disease. I turned away for a moment...and saw the hard camera halfway up the first section of seats. I knew what to do.

When the bell rang, Suki meowed loudly and raced towards me. This charge of the not-very-bright Brigade ended abruptly when I snapped off a front kick, my foot catching her right between her legs. Stopping dead in her tracks, Suki's eyes squeezed shut. Ironically, she made a sound that actually did resemble something a cat might make, albeit one that had its tail caught under a rocking chair, as she clutched at herself, falling down to the mat. “Callie!” Sumeko shouted, seeming as shocked by that as Suki was.

Me? I focused on that hard cam, giving it a little smirk before turning back to the referee. “Did Atlas say this was a wrestling match or a catfight?”

“Uh...” the woman said, looking back and forth between me and Suki, now laying on her back, tears leaking out of the corners of her eyes.

“Right,” I said, deciding that 'Uh' was not a disqualification and therefore I had my answer. I lifted my left boot off of the mat and pressed it down on Suki's upper chest. “Don't move, Suki, and that'll be the last thing I do to you that hurts,”

“Fuck you, bitch,” she answered, her words defiant but her body unmoving.

Sumeko stared at this before dropping down and counting the pin. There was a buzz about the crowd as she went to indicate for the bell to be rung once again, but I couldn't really call it cheering. More of a 'what the hell was that?' sort of noise.

I took advantage of (I hoped) EVERYONE'S confusion, and headed over to the ring announcers. “Microphone!” I said, leaning through the ropes and holding my hand out to the timekeeper, who looked back at me in, yes, confusion. “<Hurry!>” I said in Japanese, “<Atlas said I only have a minute!>”

Hearing Atlas' name invoked, the timekeeper grabbed a mic from the announcers' table, bringing it over to me. I'd only have so much time before Atlas came out of his office and got someone to shut it down. Have to keep it short and sweet. “Arigato!” I said loudly, giving the fans a wave. “<It has been an honour performing for you these last months. I'm very grateful for your patronage. This was my last match in BRA.>”

I gave the crowd another wave, said “Arigato!” again, and added “Sayonara!” before dropping the mic down and rolling underneath the bottom rope out of the ring, both unable and unwilling to keep the smug look off of my face.
Last edited by Callie on August 16th, 2017, 6:40 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Joined: October 9th, 2008, 9:19 am

August 16th, 2017, 8:54 am #7

An intense story! What an exit from BRA! I thought it was very well written and captured the other characters personalities, especially their unsavory qualities. But I also liked seeing the range of emotions on Callie herself, from the beginning through the end and to come out on top of both opponents, so to speak.
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Joined: January 3rd, 2009, 11:41 pm

August 16th, 2017, 9:56 am #8

Very nicely done, Callie.  Of course word will get around, and precede you to RA. That will take some managing.  I mean, there's heel, but then there's toe. LoL

I'm just a little disappointed that Atlas didn't get a knee where it counts. But it couldn't be helped. What he got served is as good.  But you might not be done with Suki now. Just say'n. (And no, I don't have her in my contacts list. Yet.) 

Joined: December 23rd, 2011, 2:55 pm

August 16th, 2017, 10:39 am #9

Al, thank you.

Bren: Eh, I wouldn't agree that what he got was "as good", but that was a definite conscious choice on my part as writer, there. The percentage of these sorts of things that ends with full justice in real life is depressingly small. 

Joined: December 23rd, 2011, 2:55 pm

August 16th, 2017, 11:39 pm #10

Ok, enough with dark and depressing! Here's a teaser from my next short story!
[+] spoiler
My Dinner With Callie
Have you ever seen the expression on someone's face with they step in animal droppings with their bare feet? I would have to assume that was the expression on my face, just now, having received the world's least appealing dinner invitation.

“Well?” the voice of Atlas McNair said, insistent as always.

“I'll have to check my schedule,” I said. “One moment,” and muted the phone. Of course this call would come while Michael was out running errands. I knew perfectly well there was nothing on my calendar tonight, but I also knew that Michael kept standing invitations on file for just such an occasion.

I found the folder, which listed the names of the invitations alphabetically with general categories of interest, passed up “Aaron's Title Belts: Sales” and “Bikini Waxing: Promotion” (over dinner? Some people had no sense of decorum!) and came to “CQ Industries: Business Opportunity”

Business opportunity? That wasn't one of Michael's usual categories. I looked at the contact info. No name or number, just an email address: Well at least I could hope I'd be meeting with the principle, whoever they were. Alright, any port in a storm. I fired off a quick email, “Last minute cancellation. Would be free tonight. LMK quickly. Window closing fast,” and hunted down other possibilities.

I had spotted a ring gear creator who actually had some striking samples, as well as a couple promotional offers that were worth a second look, when an reply came back from CQ Industries. “Reservation under your name at Grace for 8:30.”.

I blinked. That was one of the best restaurants in the city. I wasn't sure I could get a reservation there on such short notice. It was also quite close. Well, apparently I had a dinner appointment.

I picked up the phone again, unmuted it, and said, “Sorry, looks like I've got a business meeting this evening.” I was not sorry.

“You did that on purpose,” Atlas growled, angry at having been kept waiting.

“It's a big company,” I said, sighing tiredly, “There's a lot to do. Maybe another time. Bye.” After hanging up on him, I briefly fought down the urge to hurl the phone across my office, instead setting it gently down and taking a slow, deep breath. Not for the first time since getting ensnared into this cross-promotional pay-per-view have I wished for my employees' freedom to punch people.

After a moment's break, I turned back to my computer. Just who was it I had agreed to meet with? Going to proved to be little help. It had a logo, a teal-colored background, and the title “CQ Industries: A revolution in business management”. Nothing else. No links, no contacts. A DNS lookup showed anonymous registration from Chicago, IL.

Business management. Someone's agent? This seemed a little overblown for a job application, and being taken to a 3 Michelin star restaurant didn't mean I was going to hire someone that wasn't qualified. The takeover rumors? No. I knew what was behind those rumors. And whom.

Some tech bro startup trying to sell me on crap vaporware with a glitz pitch? Possible. This would be a painfully dull evening if that were the case, but it beat dinner with my ex-husband. Microwave popcorn and reruns beat dinner with my ex-husband.

I suppose I'd just have to wait and see. I reopened the spreadsheet on the month-over-month numbers.

5 hours later

I pulled in front of the unassuming red brick building and stepped out of the car, leaving the door open and handing the keys to the parking attendant before heading inside. I gave my name to the maitre'd, who promptly escorted me to my table, and my waiting dinner companion.

I pursed my lips. Of course. CQ. Callista Quinn was seated, wearing a black pantsuit with an open, gold-embroidered black jacket over a white blouse. She stood as I approached. Even more so than usual, she towered over me, care of the 4 inch black stiletto heels she was wearing. I couldn't recall ever having seen her wear those, before.

There was a smile on her face that seemed equal parts professional and amused. She offered a hand out and said, “I'm so pleased you accepted my invitation, Gabrielle.”

To Be Continued