Maximillian Wilhelm Kael
A lifetime ago,
In an afterlife far, far away..
“So you really are all out here, huh?”
Max elbows Shell in the ribs before winking toward his eGG Bandit alter ego. The yolk eyed Shell shakes his head in annoyance before answering the question.
“Most of us are, not all of us. The Minister got out of here, you already know that.” Shell began as the two continued to walk across the desolate, empty landscape. “I don’t think Wilhelm made it or he went straight to hell, if we’re lucky. I don’t know how the rules work though, there could be hundreds of us spread out over this endless place.”
Scanning the flat, purple landscape Max tries to figure out how long they’ve been at this. A few minutes? A few hours? Days? With no sun and no stars, no need to drink or eat it was difficult to keep track of time.
“How much farther is it? We don’t seem to be going anywhere.” Max mutters with a bored tone.
“Distance doesn’t really mean anything here. We’ll get there when we get there, Max. This is Purgatory or Limbo.. Or that Church at the end of Lost I guess.”
Shell’s platitude was not an answer that Max found satisfying.
“I’ve never seen Lost.”
“Liar, I’ve seen it so you’ve seen it, remember?”
Max scowls, crossing his arms over his chest like a petulant child. He kicks at the purple dirt at his feet, dragging his feet along in his little temper tantrum. Getting called out for his bullshit by himself?
Outrageous! Looking up from from the ground, Max checks dull horizon. He is searching for anything along that distant line that separates the earth from the sky.
Nothing but dust and rocks forward.
Nothing to the left and right.
And behind him?
You guessed it.
The warning comes too late. Max’s intense scanning of the far horizon leaves him ill prepared for what happens next. A stone wall flashes into existence a feet in front of him. The collision is unavoidable. The rock architecture proves more than capable of repelling his astral body. Even in this place pain seems to exist as it lights up his mind. When the flash passes Max is staring back up at the sunless sky filled with distant blinking lights.
“Life comes at you fast, huh?”
Max blinks, unmoving as he lays in a pool of embarrassment. The soft strumming of Shell’s ukulele dances softly into his ear. The music carries the pain away and seduces his eyelids to shutter shop for the day.
Maybe, he thinks in his last moments of consciousness, he’ll just lay here for a minute and rest.
His eyes open to the ONE ACTION NEWS TEAM stage. Max sits behind his news desk with an old TV/VHS all in one unit set out in front of him. A stack of old VHS tapes line up again the tv. The tapes have dates on them, the vast majority of which appear to be from the 90ies and 00s. Max’s spidery fingers crawl over the stack of tapes before retrieving the oldest of the stack.
With great glee Max shoves it into the VHS port. Those familiar mechanical clicks and clunks fill Max’s ears. The set flickers to life as graining security footage begins to play. A young man in a straight jacket is being dragged down a long hallway by two medical attendants. We use the italics because these two men on either side of this patient look like thugs. Not like nurses or the kind of people that are going to help in any kind of recovery.
“I know, buddy, I know. Asylums are the worst.” Max laments
The hall has steel, reinforced doors with small, shuttered windows on them. The trio stop near one, opening it before depositing their ward. It isn’t a particularly kind act as the two more or less toss their patient through the threshold.
“Aw, poor kid. I hope this all works out for him.. Heh-heh..”
As Max giggles to himself the screen flickers. We are given a different view of the patient, this one from inside his sell. For a moment there is something familiar about his face. Unfortunately the footage is too grainy to get a good look. Max traces a single long finger around the patient on the screen. Not in a pleasant way, either. Like a spider coiling a paralyzed fly. A menacing, toothy grin stretches across the INTENSE Champion’s visage. While his wounds have healed the faint traces of scars remain, a reminder of the cost of victory.
Max’s peace breaks with a sudden and shrill scream in the far off distance.. Now one might have confused said screams with that of a young woman. Or a small child of around six or seven but no, you would have been wrong. For indeed this was the tell-tell screech of the Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Primrose-Farthington. He had no doubt gotten himself into some mischief, the little cad.
“Can you keep it down!? I’m watchin’ my stories ‘Ere!” Max bellowed, throwing a bad New York accent on for emphasis. Throwing on an accent always means serious business, Max had read that somewhere. Or more likely made it up as an excuse to use bad accents.
Running from some unlit part of the stage came the Herald, complete in his resplendent baby blue Herald outfit.
“There is poopie everywhere!” the Herald wails, scrambling along while trying to point at his cut little be-tasseled slipper. “Bird poopie! It’s happening! It’s finally happening! Lindsay Troy and Ami! They’re coming for revenge! They’ve dispatch the first wave! Owls, oh great and glorious Max Kael! OWLS!”
The fear driven Herald finally reaches Max, hopping up on one leg to show him the bird poop on his other foot. Narrowing his eyes Max flips off the tv and leans in to examine the slipper.
And what a slipper it was. Custom made, blue suede slippers that terminated in a curled tip. Dangling from the crescent moon shaped slipper was a dainty golden tassel that contained a tiny bell. T.H. embroidered in red silk along the side. Oh, and there was, in fact, a little bird poopie smeared into the side of it. The Lord of Kaelsalvania nods to himself before leaning back in his chair.
“That’s not Lindsay Troy, that blatherskite wouldn’t dare invade this sacred domain! Plus, since joining the Hall/Stanislav Coalition For War Games Domination In The Name Of Love or H/CFWGDitNoL for short, I’ve been.. expanding.. on our defenses. If that Trollope tries to come at me, I’ve got an old friend waiting for her.” Max snickers before pulling a crossbow up from beneath his desk.
The Herald applauds Max and almost puts his feces infected slipper down on the stage.
“Woah buddy, let’s keep that off my stage, thank you very much.” Max says while making a dismissive gesture with his hand. “Go run off and have Violent Purple help you with it or something.”
“Right! Uh.. “ The Herald begins to hop backward, his eyes on his slipper as if staring at it would assist his balance in some way. “Well if it’s not owls, why is there poop everywhere?”
“Well see, the Herald, one of our mutual friends asked for something. I might have misinterpreted what he asked for. Actually now that I ponder about it, he didn’t ask me for them. I think he was telling me something and I just zoned out until his mouth stopped moving. He said something about penguins so naturally I assumed he wanted some. Turns out he doesn’t need’em. So now I’ve got a live production of the Pebble and the Penguin going on in the MEAT? Wagon until I can unload the little bastards somewhere.” the INTENSE Champion admits while twiddling his thumbs thoughtfully. “Big whoops on my part.”
“Oh, wait, really? We have PENGu-eeeee!” The Herald’s excitement over the realization that there are penguins nearby is tragically cut short. Whilst hopping backward on one foot the Herald has misjudged the distance to the stage drop off. Frozen in panic as his foot clips the edge of the stage. Bentley can only let out a pathetic, high pitched whine as he vanishes over the end.
Max hears more than sees the results as the Herald crashes to the ground. A loud thud followed by a crescendo of tiny bells that causes Max to snicker. After a few moments a soft groan wafts up from the shadows at the edge of the WON ACTION NEWS TEAM stage.
“Weeeeell, little buddy, it’s been real fun but I’ve got literally anywhere else to be right now. Don’t forget to get Violent Purple to help you clean up the poop.” Max yawns, standing up from his desk. He looks toward the wall behind his news desk where the INTENSE TITLE hangs. The Lead Anchor’s eyes light up as he stares at the championship. HIS championship. Both Paxton Ray and his own dried blood was still splattered across its silvery surface. “I should probably have you cleaned as well. Who knows what that strange reptile child did to this thing while it was in his possession.”
A buzzing came from his coat pocket alerting Max that he had received a text on his phone. Fishing it from his pocket, Max’s brow arched in reaction to what he read.
“..actually, the Herald, I think I’ll join.” he mutters, slipping the phone back into his pocket. “I’ve got to see our woman about a Hessian..”
“Why would I know anything about cleaning shit out of suede?”
Violent Purple glares at the Herald, vitriol exuding from both her words.
“Uh, I.. uh.. Well.. Max, he told me to a-”
Before Bentley can stammer his way through his explanation Max cuts him off.
“I told him to come ask you, you know, because I assume you have a basic understanding of how to remove stains from things.” the INTENSE Champion asserts, a smug expression on his face.
Violent’s eyes swivel from the Herald to the much taller Max. Running her tongue over her gums she nods to herself, putting the pieces together. Still, she wants to give Max enough rope to hang himself. There are rules to this, after all.
“So why would I have a basic understanding of that, exactly?”
She asks the question with the tone one might mistake for actual concern and interest. Max is oblivious to the baited nature of the question. He’s only too eager to share his opinion with another human being.
“I thought it was pretty obvious, my sweet, naïve little Violent Purple.” the Lord of Kaelsalvania promulgates confidently. “You helped me clean the shit out of my pants after I regenerated in Ark-”.
Unfortunately before Max can finish Violent Purple drops down and full on Mortal Kombat style uppercuts your INTENSE Champion straight to gonads. The Herald’s jaw drops in surprise. Max himself seems a little perplexed about how to feel. His forehead furrows as his face turns white then a warm red.
VP dislodges her fist from Max’s groin causing Kael’s knees to buckle and cross. He doesn’t yell but he does gently lay on the floor. From there he curls up into a ball and does his best not to throw up.
“Yeah, that’s what you get you chauvinistic pig, thinking I can clean just because.. I’m.. a..” she looks down at the quivering grub that was Max Kael. “..wait he didn’t say anything about me being a woman did he?”
She looks up at the Herald who shakes his head vigorously while also instinctively covering his bait and tackle. This lady was locked, loaded and ready to solve overpopulation issues within the immediate vicinity, Bentley wasn’t ready to feel her touch..
Purple’s body tension relaxes as he lets her fists fall to her sides. It takes a few moments for Violent’s brain to process what is happening before she nods toward the Herald. With a smack of her lips she points a finger at the Herald.
“You. Let’s get that bird shit off your shoes.”
The Herald skips over the fallen Max Kael, joining Violent Purple as she leads him away down another hall. Wow, is it just me or is this place starting to grow? Remember when it was a MEAT? Wagon and a collapsible news stage?
Now Violent Purple and the Herald are cleaning shit together!
Then there’s Max.
Max’s voice is weak, barely above a whisper.
“…snuck a shit.. into my pants…”
“Ladies and Gentlemen.. BEHOLD..”
Max makes a flourishing motion toward a large curtain draped across the far wall at the end of a luxurious corporate boardroom. Seated at a long table at the center of the room was Ulsa N. Couth, Violent Purple and the Herald.
“My WAR GAMES CONSPIRACY WALL!”
Yanking on a nearby cord, the heavy curtain falls away to reveal the work of an impossibly unhealthy mind. Pictures of all four War Games team leaders took up the four corners of the wall. Spreading out from the Captains were pictures of their chosen team members.. From each participant sprung individuals close to them: family, friends, known associates and allies. Cords ran like the web of a drunken spider catching most of the PRIME universe in its shapeless chaos.
Shapeless unless you knew how to read it according to Maximillian Wilhelm Kael.
“Where the hell am I? And why am I here?!” the rotgum hag U.N. Couth grouses through a sneer. “I was trying to get to the toilet!”
“He’s done something, Aunt. I don’t know how but he’s made the staging area bigger and made it so doors don’t work like normal.” Purple whispers to Couth while keeping her eyes locked on Max. “Sorry about your balls from earlier!”
“No problem, I admit, it’s hard to pass up the chance to hit me in the junk.” the INTENSE champion waves off the apology from Violent Purple. A large ice pack strapped to his crotch with #D60000 red duct tape seems to be offering some relief. Max slaps his ice crotch with one hand while snapping a finger gun at Purple. “Everybody gets one. Do it again and I’ll beat ya until they call it character development! Kisses!”
He definitely winks at Purple who registers the threat but appears perplexed as to how to react to it.
“As for you my dear Miss Ulsa N. Couth, my life, my love, my Business Manager, you’re here because we’ve got BIG, BIG plans in the works.” the Prime Minister of Maxopotamia blathers while retrieving a collapsible conducting wand. With a flick of his wrist Max Kael the rod snaps out about a foot and a half in length.
“It starts here, with Coral Avalon’s team on ReVival 43. Coral Avalon can be identified by his elephantiasis of the forehead. Observe his robust brow and delayed hairline? He has both a wife and a newborn: Delightful, cherubic, tender cheeks that just scream eat me. Probably juicy, like veal.”
As though Max were casting some real Harry Potter level spell craft, he flicks his wand at the map. The tip of the pointer dances over two hand drawn pictures of what Max imagines Coral Avalon’s wife and kid might look like. Mostly its just two foreheads, one in a dress and one in a diaper.
“But he’s not important, it’s this big ass bastard here.”
There is a loud snapping sound as the tip of the point smacks against the photo of the Murder Show, Hessian. Max smashes a button on the table causing the WAR GAMES conspiracy map to slide into the ground. Behind it a brand new conspiracy web has been set up, this one centering on Hessian himself.
“BEHOLD! Our subject, the man who I will face in a cage at Culture Shock, the so-called Murder Show.. Angelus.. Von… Kelsig. Aka. Hessian.”
Max adjusts the ice pack around his groin with one hand while smacking Hessian’s picture with the end of the rod.
“Hessian came to me, a big man, strong man, tears in his eyes.” Max lamented as he recounts a fictitious encounter with his opponent for ReVival 43. “He told me, he said to me, Max you must be the greatest, hardest working INTENSE champion in the history of PRIME. He said, Max, Mister INTENSE Champion Kael, you’re so good and people are so unfair to you. Coral Avalon should have grabbed you for his team instead of me, the whole thing was rigged!”
“You met Hessian?” the Herald perks up, a broad grin on his masked face.
“No, sweetie, he’s lying.” Violent rightly catches, rolling her eyes with annoyance.
“Aw..” Bentley slumps back down into his chair, disappointed. He’s not even really sure why he’s disappointed because he’s already forgotten what just happened. After a few blinks he’s grinning back up at Max. His little pigeon brain dedicates a lot of processing power to breathing.
Like general Patton, Max marches back and forth before the three ready to continue his speech.
“Named after Godzilla’s best friend but piss poor ally, Anguirus, Angelus von Kelsig hails from the territory of Parts Unknown. This 370 pound sack of bad intentions has built his career around murder. I don’t know if that is metaphorical or if this guy is actually out there murdering people. Honestly it’s hard to keep track of all the seven foot tall murder machines running around in this business.”
In the corner of the Conspiracy map there is a picture of Ivan Stanislav and a note that reads “Ivan looks like this. Ivan is on your team.”.
“Should he try to murder me please, dear god, will somebody be near to shoot him. Preferably with large bore ammunition. This guy is fucking old, this guy is a former Universal Champion and he used to pitch tents as the INTENSE Champion. Can you believe this guy? Hangs out with that wet blanket, Wade Elliott, so he’s probably a no good, low down, cottage cheese eatin’, accent having.. I really lost track of where I was going there. Anyway, he hangs out with Wade Elliot so fuck him.”
Rapid tapping on an unflattering picture of Wade Elliot captured while he was walking down a hall.
“We can not allow this Hessian abomination to take my INTENSE title. Furthermore we need to come together and figure out what the hell I am going to rip out of this gimmickless buck’s big, dumb body once I keep my beautiful INTENSE title. I don’t want a Tesla. Plus I’ve got to further cement my legacy as the greatest Tent champion of all time. Before the end of my run I’ll be a LEGEND in the camping community.. heh-heh..”
Max is drawing some connection between the INTENSE Title and camping? Oh wait. We’re still doing the Tents thing with the title? Max seems married to this Intense/Tents/Tense thing huh? Well, good luck with that.
“We’re going to go for the knees. We’re going for the groin. We’re going to go for the EYES and the EARS and the NOSE! We can show no mercy to this opponent, no quarter given! As sure as his name is the Murder Show you can bet that this sockdolager is going to try and take what is rightfully mine! Not just because he’s friends with Wade Elliot! Not just because he’s so old fart trying to steal MY glory! Not just for that fascist forehead Coral Avalon and whatever the rest of his body is named! But.. but it’s probably some combination of those three things, so, you know, it’s not going to be easy. But I CAN and WILL get it done.. do you know why?!”
Ulsa N. Couth has gotten up and is currently checking the doors to see if they lead to a bathroom. Violent Purple is on her phone trying to see if she can get a signal, wherever Max has brought them. The Herald proves his value as he jumps at the rhetorical question.
“WHY, BRAVE AND BOLD MAX KAEL!?”
“Because the very thought of losing is h̸̛̫̣̬̠̮̑́͌̈̓̆͒̈̀̒̾̊̚̚͜͝͝a̸̡̝̹̖̾̓̐̚ţ̶͊̓͘͠ē̷͇̳̦̓f̵͉͍̂̅̾͗ṳ̸͍̜̩̥͌̾͠ļ̷̛̲̬̯̗͒͘ to INTENSE Title.. heh-heh…”
The soft giggle of Max roils over into a full fledged maniacal cackle. All that is missing is th-
The crashing of thunder punctuates the evil laugh as we..
..Fade to MEAT?..