The backstage area is a milling of the usual personnel that keep the show going smoothly and steadily as can be, putting out fires and rushing to the occasional emergency to handle a brawl, injury, or even bad lighting. Amidst the fracas of activity is one Simon Tillier, standing in front of a backdrop with the UltraViolence logo. He has his trusty microphone in hand, and a smile on his face, weathering the storm of assignments and tasks on his list with a sunnier disposition than others.
Simon Tillier: Well, PRIMEates, I think we should pause and appreciate that previous match, which was the final ReViVal match of Dusk’s career. It’s a bittersweet moment…
Out of his peripheral vision, he catches sight of someone who is off camera and further perks up.
Simon Tillier: Wait, hold on a second, please!
Giving chase, Simon closes the distance in short order. We find the intended recipient of his calls is none other than Larry Tact, who stops and casts leery eyes upon the junior interviewer of PRIME.
Larry Tact: What is it now? … Oh, Simon. I barely even saw you down there.
He gives a quick look downward before wincing and reaching for his neck, which has a soft brace around it. Larry’s face is not without bruises, but the brace is a glaring new accessory, and perfect bait for an intrepid young journalist.
Simon Tillier: Mr. Tact, I couldn’t help but notice your neck is in a brace. Is that a result of last week’s main event match for the Intense Title?
Larry Tact: Ever the observant reporter, aren’t you?
Simon Tillier: Actually, right now I’m just an intervi—
Simon finds himself spoken over by Larry, who completely ignores his response.
Larry Tact: It’s a fast-paced role, and you need to find your scoops, I’d imagine. Fortunately, you’ve found yourself in the right place at the right time.
The young interviewer raises an eyebrow, hopeful.
Simon Tillier: Why is that, Mr. Tact? Oh, you’re on your way to make some breaking news! Does it have anything to do with the last match, Cancer Jiles vs Dusk?
Larry shoots Simon a look at the name of The Lost Soul, but again raises his head back up and hisses, clutching his neck.
Larry Tact: Somehow I can’t remember to stop doing that when you make a dumb comment. Yes, I’m going to find that man, the one you just mentioned.
Simon Tillier: You mean Du—
Simon finds his mouth covered by Larry’s hand before he can finish. Tact motions with his other hand for Simon to follow, then proceeds down the corridor.
Larry Tact: I have to say, the timing is unfortunate. I suffered some contusions in my neck that were more serious than initially believed, according to my doctors. It’s even possible that I won’t be able to compete at UltraViolence.
Simon Tillier: That is big news! We wouldn’t want to miss such an anticipated match, especially with Dusk’s impending retirement.
Larry Tact: That’s why I want you to see this moment, and frame it as you reporters do.
Simon Tillier: I’m flattered you think highly of me, Mr. Tact, but I really am just an int—
Larry Tact: Don’t get chummy. Here we are.
Turning around a corner, we find ourselves near the Argyle position. There, Larry waves an arm in the air, getting the attention of a wrestler who just finished being administered their standard post-match check by the medical staff.
Larry Tact: Hey hold it just a second, Dusk!
Dusk turns and looks at the approaching Larry, with Simon in tow.
Dusk: You looking to fight now, Larry? Because I’ve got no problem going right here, right now. I don’t need to wait for two weeks, I don’t need to wait for a referee.
Surprisingly, Tact holds his hands up to relieve the tension.
Larry Tact: I only want to discuss the circumstances around our match. I know a lot’s been said, and done, and I’m sure you intended on making your retirement match one that would shut me up.
Dusk: No, Larry. I intended to retire 56 days ago. I intended to walk away from this sport until a pompous jackass decided that he couldn’t handle the spotlight not being on him for a fraction of a second. I intended to let my loss against Atken be the last time I stepped foot in that ring, only for you to decide to make everything about you.
Larry Tact: You’ve got it wrong, though. That’s why I wanted this meeting between us. I’ve got an injury here that could endanger all of your plans, and mine. I’m sure I’m not the lone wrestler to want to challenge your mettle, claim that you’re past your time in the ring. Dusk, understand that was merely a way to get your fire lit. You even had to admit that the flame has been flickering for some time. You know what it means to be on the other side of the horizon, am I right?
Dusk: Larry, walk a mile in my shoes. I didn’t join PRIME to coast by. I came back to PRIME to be challenged against the very best. I could be World Champion just about anywhere else, but I chose to be here, knowing that every match would push me to my very limits. This was a choice for me much like it was a choice for me to announce my retirement back on July 15, because I knew my body wasn’t going to rebound the way that I needed it to. Because Phil Atken was the first one to decide I didn’t belong. You’re just the latest in a long line of people who think they get to decide for me. Phil didn’t. You don’t.
Tact nods with a look that, for the first time, doesn’t hold animosity towards Dusk.
Larry Tact: I don’t know if we’re going to even have a match, at this point. I think, maybe, it’s time to de-escalate, in case we cannot have the match. I don’t want you to walk into the sunset on a countout victory. I never wanted your final moment at UltraViolence to be bland and dull. Believe me, if we had a match, it would be anything but. I think you’d agree with me there. Let’s sit down and hash things out.
The PRIME Faithful begin booing as they see Larry extend a hand outwards. He doesn’t look happy about it, but holds his hand out for Dusk nonetheless.
Larry Tact: All the aggression and differences? They need to be diffused if we aren’t going to compete. If I end up able to compete, I’m positive it won’t be anything less than a match worthy of UltraViolence, but with things up in the air, I don’t want to leave things the way they are now.
Dusk looks at the extended hand of Tact and then at his face.
Dusk: If you’re serious about this Larry, then I appreciate it.
He then shakes Larry’s hand.
As they break the brief handshake, Simon Tillier comes into picture, looking like he won a lottery.
Simon Tillier: Exciting news, PRIMEates! It looks like Dusk and Larry Tact are reaching common ground. A big change ahead of UltraViolence.
Larry gives a nod to Simon and pats Dusk on the shoulder as he leaves the picture. Tillier turns to Dusk with the mic.
SImon Tillier: Dusk, what do you think this means for UV? Will there be a match between you and Larry?
Before Dusk can respond, Larry Tact blasts him from behind and almost sends him into Simon, who manages to get away. Instead, Dusk goes smashing into a pile of steel beams and wiring. He’s slow to get up as Tact approaches, holding the brace around his neck.
Larry Tact: I don’t suppose any of your moral angels are still swimming around in that otherwise vacant space between your ears. If they are, you can thank them for convincing you no one will make you pay for your piss poor takes, and this myth that you had a one-of-a-kind legendary career. If they don’t believe me?
With a rip, the brace comes off from around Tact’s neck. From inside, he picks out brass knuckles and puts them on, discarding the brace as Dusk gets to his knees.
Larry Tact: I’ll bludgeon them into silence, right through your skull. Like always, you’d fall short of the mark. Just like you would even if given a Universal Championship match. Just like you will at UltraViolence, when I power pound you into silence. In fact, I’ll give a sneak preview, right now.
Pulling back his hand with the brass knuckles on, Larry’s other hand grabs Dusk’s ear and forces his head up. Suddenly Dusk comes alive and charges on Larry, catching him in the midsection with a takedown! Larry immediately flails with the loaded fist and Dusk catches him with an elbow to the shoulder that sends the strike off course. Larry bucks Dusk off of him and neither one gets to full standing before charging at the other.
After an exchange of blows, Larry manages to lift Dusk onto his shoulder, looking for a running powerslam. As he runs, Dusk elbows him in the neck and Larry halts. Dusk lands another elbow to break free. He looks for a superkick, but Larry swats it away and upends Dusk onto the ground. The two begin throwing hands with fury at point blank range.
Suddenly, the Enemigos are on the scene and begin intervening and separating the two. They briefly lose grip of the situation, as Tact powers free and charges at Dusk. At the moment Larry was about on top of Dusk with a clean shot, he opens his guard. Dusk launches himself, fist cocked, and crushes Tact with a European uppercut! Larry’s bowled back, taken by surprise and stunned. He falls to the ground and as Dusk goes to pounce, the Enemigos regain control, dragging Larry backwards while he’s still on the ground, and holding Dusk in containment.
At that moment, Lindsay Troy steps into the space between the two restrained wrestlers. She gives a cross look to Tact, one that roiled ominously. She then shoots Dusk an equally disdainful look.
Lindsay Troy: Y’know, I haven’t had a very good night, and this bullshit isn’t helping.
Her scowl intensifies.
Lindsay Troy: I’d advise you both to take a hike for the remainder of the evening and start prepping yourselves for UltraViolence, because you two are going to be dancing in a Last Man Standing match.
The PRIMEates in attendance pop BIG for this announcement. Larry’s not happy at this decree. Dusk, however, looks pretty pleased.
Lindsay Troy: Enemigos, please get them out of my sight and out of this building.
The security squad hauls Tact and Dusk away with Troy looking after them.