It’s dark in the old warehouse. Shafts of morning sunlight come through the windows of the place, providing brief respite from the gloom of the place. Dust caked up in certain spots, though other spots look like they’d seen recent traffic. A fog of dry ice wafted along the floor of the place. The doors open up, and two men are being dragged inside, their heads hooded. The people dragging them in are shrouded in the shadows, though one of them is considerably slower than the other due to some sort of ailment that may or may not be mega-arthritis.
With the two individuals inside the warehouse, their hoods are yanked off of their heads.
It’s Joe Fontaine and Sid Phillips.
The two of them look around at their surroundings, confused as to what’s going on. They slowly walk towards the center of the room, where the light is the brightest. The other side of the warehouse past this light is almost unusually pitch black. When Joe and Sid walk into the light, a single spotlight shines down within the darkness, revealing a huge man.
His shirtless body reveals ebony skin with heavy tattoos depicting various Egyptian mythology imagery. He wears a mask over his head in the image of a jackal, which is highlighted by the Nemes-style headdress worn around it. He carries a staff nearly as long as he is tall, with a set of scales set in perfect balance at one end.
He speaks in a loud, commanding voice that catches the attention of all who hear it.
Powerslam Anubis: O woeful mortals who have found your way here before me, welcome! Welcome! WELCOME! Today heralds your judgement before the watchful eye of the great Powerslam Anubis!
Joe and Sid exchange bewildered looks to each other. Sid has an eyebrow raised as he turns his attention back to the man in the jackal mask.
Sid Phillips: The fuck is a powerslam?
Both Anubis and Joe stare at Sid before all parties mutually decide to ignore that question.
Powerslam Anubis: You have arrived here by the will of the first King, long may he reign. You remain here by the grace of the second King, long may she reign. I, the great Powerslam Anubis, am here to ascertain your credentials for the dauntless kingdom that stands before you.
Joe Fontaine: In an abandoned warehouse?
Powerslam Anubis: Yes.
Joe Fontaine: Covered in dust?
Powerslam Anubis: This was on… short notice.
Joe Fontaine: Is that a fucking rat?
All parties look off in the direction that Joe is pointing. Sure enough…
Powerslam Anubis: Indeed, I have judged this to be a rat.
Joe Fontaine: Gross.
Powerslam Anubis: NONETHELESS!
Joe Fontaine: GAH!
Joe staggers back from the sheer force of Anubis’s proclamation. Anubis continues undaunted from his reaction.
Powerslam Anubis: The great Powerslam Anubis serves as arbiter to your fate on this fine morning. You shall be judged accordingly in the court of the Kingdom! Fortunately, we have provided you with a lawyer.
A spotlight shines down at a spot several feet away from Anubis. The wiry man standing there in the nice black suit adjusts his tie, which suspiciously looks like a large dinner napkin. His bowler hat highlights a gaunt, unattractive face that nonetheless smiles congenially.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: Cheers, mates!
Joe and Sid stare at Lord Gavin Yum, Esq. for a hot minute. In front of him is a plate of steamed buns, still steaming as though there’s a good steamed bun place within the vicinity of this meeting.
Tenting his fingers in front of him, yet conspicuously over the buns, the Lunch Lawyer of the Crownless Kingdom smiles his ugly smile.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: Seems like I am not the only one who is looking the join the good guys!
Powerslam Anubis: I refuse to accept that we embody the concept of good or evil. Such matters do not concern the great Powerslam Anubis. They are mortal matters, meaningless to the pursuit of arbitration!
Joe feels the need the interrupt these two morons, because when you’ve got two morons having a discussion and Joe’s in the room, he’d feel like a third moron makes everything better!
Joe Fontaine: Okay, so all we got was a question from Avy about whether we wanted to join this whole Kingdom thing he’s got going on. Then we said yes and next thing we know, we’re hooded by a bunch of Bonafides and brought here.
Sid Phillips: I could have powerbombed our way out.
Joe Fontaine: We need you to save your powerbombing strength for the not-berries, big buddy.
Sid Phillips: Wouldn’t have taken but a couple of seconds.
Joe Fontaine: I don’t need you pulling a powerbomb muscle before we need it.
Sid Phillips: Ridiculous. You can’t pull a powerbomb muscle. You can only powerbomb it.
Joe Fontaine: Well, I don’t want you to powerbomb your powerbomb muscle, then.
A woman’s sharp voice interrupted them, colored by her mild Quebecois accent.
Claire Merci: Mon dieu, do any of you morons think before you speak?
A spotlight shines directly behind and above where Powerslam Anubis is standing at his podium. This place is positioned higher, on a throne seemingly built from broken crowns. It looks very uncomfortable to sit upon, though it is cushioned to high hell.
The woman who sits upon the throne is tall, with short blonde hair in a pixie cut and dressed in jeans and a T-shirt. No frills for the queen of the Crownless Kingdom, Claire Merci. She turns to her right.
Claire Merci: Avalon, are you serious about this?
A fourth spotlight. This one shines down at a spot just to Claire’s right, also on a platform. Coral Avalon has his own throne. This one is also of the same type as the one Claire sits upon, only less grand. Likely, this is because Coral is the only member of his end of the Kingdom. Likely, also, is that he’s not really one for thrones. Unless it’s for an entrance, I suppose. Anyway, Coral is not dressed to compete, because that’s tomorrow.
Coral Avalon: Yes.
Claire reaches over by the side of her throne and pulls out two objects. One is a shot glass. The other is a very large bottle of bourbon. Who knows where she’d been hiding that, but she’s decided she’s not going to get through this meeting sober.
Joe Fontaine: Oh, cool, is Iggy here, too?
The last spotlight shines just to Anubis’s right. There, reclining in his seat and looking mildly irritated, is Ignacio el Jaguar. He’s dressed in a white suit, with a black dress shirt, and he looks dangerously attractive. He’s also wearing the face of a man who’s very annoyed.
Ignacio el Jaguar: You know, I had this whole introduction planned out, but sure. Whatever.
He looks up at Claire, perched on her throne.
Ignacio el Jaguar: Got any more of that?
Claire Merci: Get your own.
Ignacio el Jaguar: Fair enough.
Anubis speaks up in his deep baritone.
Powerslam Anubis: Joe Fontaine. Sid Phillips. The great Powerslam Anubis acknowledges you. You have traveled far in PRIME, battled everything from bandits to infinite multiversial foes to solid gold rock and rollers whose legends are beyond that of the ring.
Joe Fontaine: So, how do you feel about Dirtbags and Vagabonds?
Sid looks like he’s about to have a migraine.
Powerslam Anubis: Let us put aside the powerful vocals of Mr. Trent Sadikaj, as near to the realm from which I come from as they are. You two have been nominated to join the Crownless Kingdom by the old king. Which means that we must conduct a… trial of sorts to determine your worthiness.
Joe points at Iggy.
Joe Fontaine: You guys let this guy into the Kingdom, though! He’s been around, what, a year? Tops?
Ignacio el Jaguar: Yeah, but I passed the trial.
Claire Merci: Je vous déteste tous… I just said “yes”, there was no trial!
Ignacio el Jaguar: Sounds like I passed the trial to me, boss.
Claire glares at him, silently pouring more bourbon into her shot glass.
Powerslam Anubis: ENOUGH!
This gets everyone’s attention, because when a nearly seven-foot-tall living god shouts “enough”, you listen.
Powerslam Anubis: The great Powerslam Anubis shall now, right here, right now, determine your viability to join the Crownless Kingdom!
Joe Fontaine: Sounds cool.
Powerslam Anubis: First, I will need your still-beating hearts.
Joe Fontaine: Sounds less cool.
Powerslam Anubis: Then, I shall weigh them upon my scales against this feather.
He holds up a feather. We don’t know what bird it comes from, but assume it comes from an owl. They’re pretty common around PRIME these days. Joe sees it and involuntarily shudders. He remembers what happened when he asked for popcorn reimbursement.
Powerslam Anubis: Should the weight of the sins of your heart tip the scales against the feather, you will be judged most harshly, your heart will be devoured by Abdominal Stretch Ammit!
Joe Fontaine: Sounds the least cool.
Sid Phillips: I am without sin, only powerbombs.
Ignacio el Jaguar: You can’t be serious.
Sid Phillips: It’s in the Bible. Let he who is without sin cast the first powerbomb.
Ignacio el Jaguar: I’m gonna fight you.
He starts to get out of his chair, only to be stopped when Coral calls down at Iggy.
Coral Avalon: Iggy, calm down, we kinda need Sid intact for tonight.
Ignacio looks up at Coral, sighs, then points two fingers at his own eyes and then points them back at Sid – the international sign of “watch your ass”. He sits back down, one leg up on the armrest, and crosses his arms.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: I say, dear Anubis, could we perhaps think of a different avenue for judgement that is less… ah, grisly? I would hate to get their blood on my meal!
Lord Yum is taking a fork and knife to his steamed buns, by the way.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: For example, we could always ask them a series of very simple questions about the Kingdom. For example, what is my favorite color?
Joe Fontaine: Periwinkle?
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: Ah, delightful! You got it in one. Truly, a man of true taste!
Powerslam Anubis: It would be most irregular to not weigh their hearts, but… I suppose they would have to be dead and before me in the Duat for that to work out, and Powerslam Anubis does not take lives. He merely judges them harshly, upon wings of powerslams.
Anubis strokes his chin underneath the jackal mask, deep in thought. Joe takes the opportunity to plead his case.
Joe Fontaine: Okay, so… I don’t know why all four of you decided to show up in Dallas just to say “yes” or anything, but I think my pitch for this trial is that you guys just say “yes” and you’ll give us your complimentary fancy robes and scepters. Oh! And a sword. I know it’s completely unheard of for anyone in PRIME to ask for a sword, but I think I should get one. I’m kinda partial to those Middle Eastern curved swords, myself.
Sid Phillips: Those two-headed giant battle axes are the powerbombs of the medieval weaponry world, so I’ll take two of those.
Joe Fontaine: Yeah. Those come with the package, right?
Claire glares down at the two of them from her perch on high. If glares could be made manifest, it would be clear that she deals less in owls and more in attack falcons.
Claire Merci: No.
She pauses, staring at her empty shot glass and contemplating another shot. She decides, perhaps heroically, that it’s not yet time.
Claire Merci: Fuck that.
No, wait. It is time. Nevermind. Drink that beautiful bourbon-y beverage, you crazy French-Canadian, you.
Joe Fontaine: Can’t help but notice that’s not a “yes”. I’m assuming you’re saying “no, you’re not getting a sword or cool two-headed axes or scepters or robes” and not “you’re not joining the Kingdom”.
Claire doesn’t say a word. Instead, she glares daggers at the entire reason for this meeting. His name is Coral Avalon, and he’s looking like he needs bourbon that he’s never going to drink.
Coral Avalon: Look, Claire, I know how it is with me, but a lot of the daffy idiots I know turn out to be very good pro wrestlers.
Claire Merci: You know Mega Job.
Coral Avalon: Okay, you got me there. I’m not even sure that Beef or Janito even know what wrestling holds are. But I mean… you seem fine with Anubis and Gavin, and they’re the way they are. You’re fine with Iggy, who…
Ignacio el Jaguar: Holmes, Imma fight you too if you lump me in with some of these bozos.
Coral Avalon: …is perfectly normal.
Ignacio el Jaguar: Yeah, you know what’s up.
Coral Avalon: But I’m just saying, these guys put in the work. They’ve only lost once in PRIME, and they’re gonna go avenge that one loss tonight. And yeah, on paper, they probably aren’t the kinds of guys that belong in the Kingdom. Not because they’re doofuses, but because they already have a legacy to live up to, what with who their fathers are. Chances are, they’d be fine wherever they went once the tag division here goes belly up. And I mean, the Crownless Kingdom of Japan shouldn’t care that much about the Crownless Kingdom of America… who is just me, right now. So why not let them into the club?
Joe raises his hand high into the sky, shouting “Ooh! Ooh!” as he does.
Joe Fontaine: Look, if you want credibility, how about “soon-to-be forever PRIME tag champions”?
Sid Phillips: Pretty big credential, you ask me.
Joe Fontaine: The biggest.
Sid Phillips: The most biggest.
Joe Fontaine: The biggerest.
Sid opens his mouth to try and top that, but he can’t. Joe’s won this little game. For now. He continues, victorious and unabated.
Joe Fontaine: So, really, everybody’s gonna want a piece of the soon-to-be forever PRIME tag team champs. Sure that the phone’ll ring off the hook for us. The Gluebois, the Mississippi Gang, the Alliance to End Clay Byrd… hey, do you think the Pirates of Dark Tuber are hi—
Coral Avalon: (interrupting) Joe. We don’t talk about the Pirates of Dark Tuber.
Lord Gavin looks even gaunter than usual hearing that name.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: Heavens no, sir! The crimes they commit with spuds violate many articles of lunch law, and also of good taste!
Powerslam Anubis: They would face swift judgement should they cross paths with me… though I admit that I would prefer that our paths never cross. Some other god can judge them. Hopefully Astraea.
Joe Fontaine: Hm. Pirates, though… that gives me an idea…
Joe thinks. And I think we all know what comes from all of this thinking he’s doing. I’ll give you a hint: It doesn’t involve ninjas. Because Tyler Rayne would sue him. Well, probably. The legalities of ninja law are beyond the scope of lunch law, to be honest. Pirates don’t really have a law so much as a code, really, and I think we all know from the film documentary Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl that the pirate code is really more of a guideline.
But then, we’re getting off track. Assuming, of course, that we’d been on rails to begin with.
Claire Merci: Don’t make me drink any more than I already have, you fucking imbéciles. It is not even noon yet.
Joe Fontaine: Why are you drinking?
Claire Merci: Shut up.
Joe Fontaine: ‘Kay.
Sid Phillips: Alright, I’ll tell you what I bring to the table, you can say “yes” after that.
Ignacio el Jaguar: Oh, boy, here we go…
Sid clears his throat.
Sid Phillips: Tonight, in front of tens of thousands of screaming fans, I will perform the majesty of the double reverse quadruple wheelbarrow powerbomb. Before now, it was only theoretical. Powerbomb scientists around the world, which is mainly just me and this guy from Estonia that doesn’t speak a lot of English, have debated its existence for decades. Long before even I was born, so it was just that one Estonian guy when you think about it. Many have wondered if such a thing is even possible, if perhaps the powerbomb gods thought this flew too close to the sun for mankind. A perpetual powerbomb engine. Once its secrets are unlocked, anything is possible. I will achieve similar powers that a Time Lord does, only far greater, and be able to powerbomb through space and time. No one would be safe. Nothing would be safe. All has been powerbombs. All is powerbombs. All will become powerbombs. That is the power at my fingertips. That is what makes me worthy of becoming the Powerbomb King, First of His Powerbomb. Amen… no. A-Powerbomb-men.
There is a long silence, with six other gawking faces staring at Sid Phillips.
Ignacio el Jaguar: Yup.
Claire Merci stares at the shot glass in her hands, and throws it over her shoulder and into the darkness behind her. It shatters several moments later, a distant sound only made audible by the silence of the room. She starts drinking straight from the goddamn bottle.
Powerslam Anubis: …Magnificent. You pass, Mortal Sid.
Sid raises his arms in triumph, as though he is powerbombing the very air itself. Joe looks at Sid and then Anubis in bewilderment, because he knows that Anubis only specified that Sid has passed the trial. Meanwhile, behind him, Claire clearly considers chucking her bottle at the back of Anubis’s head, and only thinks better of it because it’d be a waste of perfectly good bourbon.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: Ah, but there is still the matter of the other one, innit?
The “other one” being Joe Fontaine in this instance.
Powerslam Anubis: Indeed.
Anubis turns towards Joe, his steely gaze well-hidden behind his jackal mask. Joe finds himself a little uncomfortable under the watchful eye of the Judgement King of the Crownless Kingdom.
Powerslam Anubis: Mortal Joe. The gaze of the great Powerslam Anubis is upon you. Before the Kingdom may provide to you, we must know what you can provide to the Kingdom.
Joe Fontaine: Well, I bring fabulousness, an overactive imagination, sick Jabber skills, and the most psychic Shoryukens in all of PRIME.
Sid Phillips: You don’t even play a shoto.
Powerslam Anubis: Silence.
There is silence, for Powerslam Anubis has willed it.
Powerslam Anubis: Mortal, none of those serve the Kingdom the same way that your partner’s predilection for powerbombs does. You speak of trivialities, mere garnish on the Superkick Set’s plate!
That’s Lord Yum, by the way.
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: On my steamed buns? Surely, you jest!
Powerslam Anubis: No, I ask what you bring to the Kingdom beyond such petty, meaningless baubles such as these. What do you have beyond wit and charisma?
Joe reaches into his pockets and pulls out a handful of bills.
Joe Fontaine: I got seven dollars, thirty-six cents, and a pocket of lint. Oh, and a five dollar gift card for Denny’s that I’ve never used.
There is a long pause.
Powerslam Anubis: Acceptable. Welcome to the Kingdom.
Claire comes out of her throne so quickly that her bottle of bourbon tumbles to the floor by her feet.
Claire Merci: Mère de dieu et tous ses enfants stupides, I’m out of here. Induct them, I don’t care. I’ll see you dumbasses from the audience.
She walks off, disappearing into the darkness to climb down. Considering her state of inebriation… eh, I’m sure she’ll be fine.
Joe Fontaine: Cool. So, we’re in?
Powerslam Anubis: You’re in.
Joe’s fists shoot in the air in triumph.
Joe Fontaine: WHOO!
Lord Gavin Yum, Esq.: Welcome to the club, mate!
Ignacio can only shake his head.
Ignacio el Jaguar: Oh, good. I can’t escape you dipshits, can I?
Coral Avalon: Don’t worry about it, Iggy.
With the Winds of Change formally inducted into the Crownless Kingdom, everything is all well and good, and we have no reason to stick around to hear Joe Fontaine’s enthusiastic shouting.