AKA WHO IS LEFT BEHIND?
Ever since the arrival of Max Kael? in PRIME there had been heated debate about the identity of the Kael with a Question Mark. Fans, maybe, went on podcasts and dedicated three or four minutes to it. Victories helped keep his name hot and so far, victories had been rolling in. These wins pleased his legal handler, Ulsa N. Couth aly helped to swell the ego of Max Kael? yet they also drew more eyes to his existence.
The Cult of Kael had been hard at work the last two weeks while under the direction of the heinous Mina Starr-Kael. Over the last three years she had sequestered herself and contemplated the future of the cult and of the broken Kael lineage. With Maximillian Wilhelm Kael dead and his son, Sutler Reynolds-Kael, being adopted, the genetic legacy was dead.
“He is lost. You will help guide him back into our good, capable hands.”
Mina Starr-Kael hisses as she takes a deep drag from the cigarette she is clenching between her teeth. Since her last appearance she has clearly cleaned up considerably. Her hair is pulled back into a ponytail while her face has been scrubbed clean of filth. She wears a form fitting, pinstripe black suit that matches the eye patch she is wearing.
Standing in front of a large window that looked out over Chicago, Mina Starr-Kael smoked. Ribbons of silky smoke escape her nostrils as a smile crossed her pale, scarred visage. Despite the effort that went into cleaning her up, none was invested in her mouth. Black, gray rotting teeth stick out of bleeding gums like abandoned tombstones. Her and U.N. Couth must have the same dentist.
“He doesn’t even look like him very much!”
If a Chihuahua had a human’s voice it probably sounded akin to the mulling sound that came from behind Mina. With her one good eye Mina peers into the bejeweled mask of the young cult member that stood behind her.
“No but since when has the appearance of a Kael mattered to us?” Mina replies with her hands brushing against her own face. “He is young, impressionable. He will need a real friend and he will find that in you.”
The masked youth cocks his head to the side, much akin to a dog. Dark, curly locks fall across the gold and silver mask as he struggles to understand. Mina notices the boys difficulty and sighs.
“Do you remember what Maximillian Kael looked like when you first laid eyes upon his glorious form?” Mina asks.
There is a moment where the masked boy contemplates the question before nodding enthusiastically.
“Of course! That was my favorite version, encased in a full body brace! Long face, metal teeth, eye patch bolted right over his left eye!” he exclaims while fishing around in a leather jerkin for something. His grabby hands finally locate the item he is looking for and quickly whips it out to show Mina. In his hands was a folded promotional image from early 2020 showing then North Kaelrean General, Maximilian Kael. Next to him was his Herald, a sardonic youth who was way into screaming into peoples faces. Sound familiar?
Mina nods, a smile touching the corner of her lips as she peers at the image.
“Yes but that was not his final form was it?” Mina queries as she retrieves a phone from her pocket. She pulls up several images of the original Max Kael from history. She holds her phone out so the masked young man could see them. Since his inception into wrestling in the mid 90ies, Max’s appearance had shifted radically. First he was a feral youth with wild eyes, then a deranged, homeless monster and finally a genetically upgraded super soldier. Oh yeah, shit got weird.
The jaw on the masked youth drops as he stares at all the different versions of Max over the years. He had never even known there were more than one Max.
“So you are saying that this Max is just a new incarnation of my Max?” he asks with a touch of pensive excitement in his voice.
Mina turns her phone off and slips it back into her pocket with a sly smile on her lips.
“He could be. He’s the closest thing we can get to the original Max and even if he proves to be less than worthy we can use him as a catalyst to resurrect the true Maximillian Wilhelm Kael once again.” she hisses through a rotten smile.
The young masked man bows and skips away Mina turns her one good eye toward the sky.
It would all begin again..
“And that’s why you aren’t allowed to have a phone now.”
Ulsa N. Couth scolds the Kael with the Question Mark, dangling his phone with a picture of Ivan Stanislav on the home screen. Max himself sits in a chair looking miserable, akin to a child being lectured for looking at porn on his family computer.
“I’m just trying to make fr-”
Couth snaps her brittle fingers which surprisingly do not shatter to dust. In fact they snap with a particularly sharpness, cutting Max off. Ulsa’s expression remains unchanged.
“You don’t need friends, you got me and Purple! We’re the only people you can rely on in this shitty little world and certainly the only people with your best interests at heart. That Universal Champion, Iwan Stanleyslave, is just going to use, abuse and discard you like everyone else in this rotten wrestling business.” Couth complains with her shrill, old voice. “Just a bunch of suckers out there trying to turn a buck off their own bodies! Prostitutes, practically!”
“That’s not fair.” The voice of Violent Purple called out from behind Couth. The red haired niece of the old hag was lounging on a couch while watching what appeared to be some tape of Crash’s previous two matches. She wore a languid expression on her face as she studied up on the man she had run into two weeks in a row now. “Friends in any business can be beneficial, you just need the RIGHT friends, Auntie Couth.”
Ulsa turns to look at her red haired niece with that same chastising look she was giving Max but VP lets it roll off her back.
“Listen, I’m not saying Ivan is the guy to go with, I wouldn’t trust him or his little friend, Alexei, but there are other people in PRIME that could be useful, an extra pair of arms to help keep back up our boy here.” Violent continues, throwing a thumb toward Max peps up like a dog who just heard his name. “Especially given this big ass tournament that he is getting himself into.”
“That’s stupid, why would you need friends for a tournament? It’s one on one, right? And we’re ringside! Worse comes to worse, we can just hire security to keep our investment safe.” Couth replies, her sour expression turning more self important.
“Uh.. wrestling security? If you don’t think having friends in wrestling is helpful you’re going to be really disappointed in how bad wrestling security is.” Kael is quick to note. While he didn’t have a whole lot of experience, at least in this life, with wrestling security, the troupe was well known among fans.
“Well what is the point of security then?” the old crone inquired though the realization of the utter ineptitude of people professionally involved in wrestling was starting to set in. “Nevermind. You know what? If you’re so confident in the power of friendship then I’m putting you in charge of finding some friends for our investment.”
VP rolled her eyes, carefully out of sight of her aunt, before turning her attention back to the Crash tapes she was watching.
“Whatever you say.”
“I don’t wanna train..”
Seemed like a real mopey week for Max as we found him once again skulking about like a wounded child. Sitting cross legged in the middle of a training rain Max is rocking out in the kind of neon color palette you’d expect to see in a 1980ies arcade carpet. Crossing his arms across his chest he let a flat, frog-like frown squat on the lower part of his face.
“Suck it, the fuck, up, kiddo.”
Violent Purple makes her way into the ring wearing a form fitting black body glove, boots and a pair of MMA gloves.
“I have an entire lifetime of wrestling talent up in my head, I got the body of a hot twenty year old and I’m alive during a time when Door Dash can bring sex toys directly to your door. I. Don’t. Need. It.” he says while taking particular care to put an emphasis on the last few words. In his little brain he just assumed that saying the words slowly and succinctly would prove his point.
Max is completely taken off guard as Violent lives up to her name and sends a stiff kick across the side of Max’s head. His body rocks to the side as his head snaps back from the force of the blast.
“Hayes Hanlon doesn’t give a shit about your gimmicks, slapstick.” Purple chastises Max as she charges forward, kicking him square in the ribs. The force drives the air out of Max’s lungs cutting off any retort he was considering replying with.
Rolling over onto his side Max follows traditional wrestling protocol and shimmies out of the ring. Clutching at his ribs he turns a pair of hurt, hateful eyes at Violent Purple. Like a rabid dog, his lips peel back into a toothy snarl.
“You don’t take this shit seriously, Max, and it shows. You get sloppy, you get messy and so far you’ve managed to make it through on natural talent but that isn’t what you’re facing next.” Violent meets Max’s menacing gaze as a half smile stretches across her face. “You let your emotions get the better of you and make dumb mistakes. Like sitting in the middle of the ring and letting me kick you in the fucking face.”
Snarling, Max jumps back up onto the apron and slips between the ropes. He charges toward Violent but she easily side steps him and fires another kick at his mid thigh causing him to grunt. Spinning, he throws a wild right hand only to get arm dragged back down, crashing to the mat.
“Hayes isn’t some nobody, he’s no scrub baked up in some explorational sci-fi drama. He’s a wrestler. A fighter. And he just joined up with one of the most dangerous groups in the PRIME.” she whispers into Kael’s ear with no small amount of pleasure. As Max attempts to free himself she grapevines herself tighter around his upper torso. “He’s a real champion. He’s a real wrestler. He’s not just some gimmick.”
There is an awful, grating noise as Max grinds his pearly white teeth together. The anger and the rage fills his mind as he struggles further against the much smaller Violent Purple.
“I… am not…” Kael spits with venom between his lips.
The KFC Yum! Center in Louisville, Kentucky.
What a fucking name, who puts a punctuation mark in their name, seriously? Also who the fuck ever said Yum! after downing some KFC? You don’t eat the Colonel’s special recipe because you’re hungry, you eat it because the price point fits your paycheck. You think rich people eat KFC? They probably don’t even know what a Kentucky is.
And yet here at the Kentucky Fried Chicken Yum! Center was where the next round of one of the most prestigious tournaments in wrestling was going to be grinding on by. The Almasy, the chance to put everyone on an even footing as they fight for the right to be THE Superstar of PRIME.
But that was a long, long road and Max Kael’s journey would be harder than most, assuming he even managed to get off the starting line. And that starting line was at a place named after a fast food chain restaurant with the word Yum! thrown in there to really sell the quality of the greasy, over fried, over battered chicken that left enough grease in a bag to justify an American invasion.
Where were we?
Oh yeah! Promo time with Max Kael?!
Standing outside of the greasy chicken center was our prestigious young PRIME member, Max Kael?, the Kael with a Question Mark! Which is very different from Yum!, just throwing that out there. He was sporting a bruise on the side of his face, likely from his training with Violent Purple, and a simple three piece black suit.
“So I guess you people like to be called PRIME-apes? That’s..uh.. Cute?” Max begins, speaking with the formality and tone of a professional used car salesman. “Well I don’t like calling you that so we’re just going to call you all PRIMEvils. Has anyone ever called anyone that here? Don’t care, moving on.”
Reaching into his pocket Max retrieved a series of small note cards which he examined momentarily before continuing.
“I was going to make fun of this arena’s name but I think that got taken care of earlier so I won’t circle back to that. Man, I guess that just means I gotta focus on that opponent of mine, that mustache muzzled miscreant, Hayes Hanlon. I mean, just listen to that name, Hayes Hanlon, that’s got a great ring to it! I’d say the man deserves to win just based on his name alone but that’s not exactly how this works, is it?”
Max folds his arms across his chest as he narrows his brown eyes at the camera. Though his brow furrows in consideration he wears a bright, forced smile on his face.
“Violent Purple insists that Hayes is a real threat and actually made me train for this. Can you believe that!? Outrageous, who does that? I was pretty partial to doing nothing until the big match came up and then just improvising my way to victory. BUT apparently that tactic is not smiled upon by my Legal Guardian, U.N. Couth and my handler, Violent Purple.” he says as he spits on the ground. “Wasted several full afternoons getting acquainted with..”
He pauses once again and looks at his note cards before looking back up at the camera.
“Scoop slams and Choke Bombs! I know I already asked but what the fuck is up with the scoop slams? Anyway, moving on, I’ve been familiarizing myself with your move set, with your power and, of course, with your most recent decision to join the smarter side of the wrestling world. Now, granted, I wouldn’t trust the Glue Folks as far as I could throw them which, depending on which one, mileage will vary. BUT! I also know that in my last life a member of your new party whose name rhymes with Decilworth Garthington, sat by and let Mike Best, my brother, literally MURDER me on a Pay Per View. And I don’t even think he paid to watch, that scallywag! Hey, I’m sure he had a good reason, please note sarcasm. Oh and then he fucked my kid over, once again to help Mike and nobody fucks over Sutler Reynolds-Kael but his daddy! So all I am saying is I’d probably make sure he doesn’t have another friend in the wings he’d be willing to see you die to protect. Am I salty? Well I am standing in front of the KFC Yum! Center, home of chicken, grease and salt!”
The tone in Max’s voice does infer that he is quite a bit salty about dying. This is completely ignoring the fact that he agreed to the match, showed up for the match and then killed himself by running his head through an IV. Chances are very good Max Kael? just listens to podcast journalists discussing wrestling to get his news.
“So Hayes, I want you to bring that beautiful bushy mustache and those big muscles to this grease den so I can see if training is even worth it! If I lose, that is further proof that training is bullshit. If I win… well.. Fuck. Oh man.. That means that if I do win I have to train more?…ughh..”
This realization seems to hit Kael all of a sudden. He hadn’t considered this paradox of laziness into his earlier wrestling math.
“Wait.. wait.. No, no. If I win I have to train. If I lose I can skate.. Fuck me, nobody told me that!”
Realizing that he is now floundering on screen Max quickly recuperates, throwing his hands up into the air with one final word to his opponent.
“KFC YUM! CENTER IS A STUPID NAME! I’LL SEE YOU FRIDAY HANLON!”
As the camera cuts Max wipes his brow.
“I don’t remember promos being so hard.” he mutters to himself as he wanders away from the front steps of the Wendy’s Greaseball Delicious! Arena.
“IT REALLY IS YOU!”
Max stops and takes a defensive posture ready for any unexpected screaming ninja that had just identified him as YOU. What he saw was a young man, around his age, wearing a fancy looking bejeweled style Venetian mask and a dark leather outfit that screamed Renn Faire extra.
“Uh.. yeah.. It’s.. me? Oh, that actually works! It’s.. Me?” Kael giggles at his own stupid joke about his own name before he turns his distrusting glare back on the masked masquerader. “..who the hell are you?”
And there it was. The only question this masked person really ever wanted asked of him. The culmination of his life’s work is now called in. Puffing his chest out the young man set his fists on his hips and aggressively thrusts his chin high into the air.
“I am the Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Farthington-Primrose, the Herald of Glorious and Groovy Maximillian Wilhelm Kael, Lord of Kaelsalvania, Prime Minister of Maxopotamia, Lord Supreme Commander of North Kaelrea, First of his Name, LONG MAY HE MAIM!”
Blinking, Max slowly nods.