GAVE IS SUCH A STRONG WORD
The scene is one that we’ve seen play out countless times in the history of PRIME. Angelica Brooks, the lead member of our intrepid news team, stands with a microphone in her hand in front of a simple backdrop.
Angelica Brooks: My guest at this time is one half of the longest reigning Tag Team champions in PRIME history, and tonight will be competing in her first main event without her traditional partner.
Tonight the subject of her attention is Justine Calvin.
Angelica Brooks: Justine, you’ve found yourself in the crosshairs of Ivan Stanislav and his Red Army over the last few months, first with his comments backstage, and then two weeks ago when things escalated to a whole new level. Could you give us a little insight into what this has been like for you?
Justine stands already dressed to compete. You might not know it to look at her, but on the inside she’s a flood of emotion. While part of her works to get in the right mindset for competition, still another part has to remain hypervigilant against whatever locker room threat tries to descend upon her this week. If there’s anything she’d learned in the year that she’s been here, it’s that you’re never truly safe.
Justine Calvin: That… that wasn’t a good time, and that’s about the nicest way I can say it. I know he likes to throw his weight around; use his size to push people into getting his way. It’s a lot easier to do when you’re four times as big as the person you’re trying to intimidate, I guess. Two weeks ago there was a plan in place, and they executed it perfectly. I’ll give them that. I don’t think anyone likes to have control taken away from them, but being stuck there not able to do anything was… Yeah. That was awful. You know, I’ve been trying to process it, but even now I still don’t know that I have the words for it.
Angelica Brooks: Medical reports after that attack have been sparse to say the least. Is there anything that you’re able to share with us about the health of either Jared or yourself?
Justine’s right hand reflexively, perhaps instinctively, reaches for her left and begins massaging the taped wrist.
Justine Calvin: I had a pretty nasty cut from the cuffs. No infection or anything like that. Thankfully it didn’t go deep enough to do any muscle or tendon damage. Feels well enough that I shouldn’t have any problem hitting anybody, if that’s what folks are concerned with.
Justine Calvin: About all I can say, really.
Angelica Brooks: And tonight you’re stepping into the ring against the newly-christened “Glueminati” in Cecilworth Farthington and Joe Fontaine.
Justine Calvin: Yep.
Despite the omnipresent danger that a locker room like this can present, she can’t help but to smile.
Justine Calvin: You know, I’ve been thinking about this recently. Joe and Sid, they got to learn from one of the best wrestlers of this generation in Coral Avalon, and they threw that all away when they didn’t get what they wanted fast enough. So now they’ve aligned themselves with Farthington, a world-class talent in his own right, and what’s the first thing that happens? Come up short again when it matters. I thought maybe I should send something nice to Dan Ryan and Jatt Starr for walking out of PWA-2 with those titles, because oh my god the expression on the Winds’ faces when that was over. Different mentor, same outcome, and now those boys are Joe-and-three when it counts. Thanks for the laugh, guys. Your girl needed it.
Angelica Brooks: As we all know, Joe Fontaine is someone you’re very familiar with, but this will be your first time in a ring with Cecilworth Farthington.
Justine draws a long breath and lets it out slowly, nodding to herself before she starts her answer.
Justine Calvin: It will, yeah. I wasn’t blowing smoke when I said he was world-class. The man has the pedigree and the list of accolades to back it up. My style doesn’t match-up so great next to his, so I need to be careful about overextending and getting caught. He’s a dangerous man in his own right, but now he’s got a collection of lost children to watch his back which means there’s a numbers game to worry about. But here’s the thing… I’m not going out there alone. Tonight I’m going to be standing side-by-side with the PRIME Universal Champion, which means I’ve got the best wrestler in the world watching my back. I hope those guys like suplexes, because they’re about to learn a few first-hand.
Angie nods and raises the microphone again, then stops as a third figure enters the frame. Jared Sykes looks quite relaxed for a man who’s spent the better part of the last few months as the target for a very large, very angry Russian. He’s dressed in street clothes tonight. One hand is buried in the pocket of his hoodie, but the other twirls a set of keys attached to a large metal ring.
Jared Sykes: Sorry to interrupt. Need to borrow Justine, if that’s cool.
It’s the first thing his partner notices.
Justine Calvin: I feel like I should be worried right now. Should I be worried? Who gave you their keys?
Jared Sykes: “Gave” is such a stro-
He cuts himself off when he sees the glare aimed in his direction. It’s not uncommon for him to refer to her eyes as “The Death Star,” both because of their tractor beam-like qualities, and also their ability to destroy a planet.
Jared Sykes: Yeah, you know what? Let’s go with “gave”. “Gave” works.
Justine Calvin: Jared.
Jared Sykes: It’s going to be fine, I swear. (pause) I think.
Now wide-eyed and nervous, Justine turns back to Angie.
Justine Calvin: I’m sorry, but I think I need to cut this short. I think something’s about to go sideways. Call it a hunch, or intuition, or… whatever.
The grin on Jared’s face does little to assuage her concerns. For her part Angie simply nods.
Jared Sykes: Sideways… Sideways might work, now that you mention it.
His grin blooms into a full-blown smile, which is disconcerting on its own. But it’s his next words that send a shiver screaming the length of Justine’s spine. To anyone who knows him well enough, it’s the scariest thing he can ever possibly say.
Jared Sykes: Relax. I have an idea.
And with that, we fade to the ringside area.