Maximillian Wilhelm Kael
“Gets everyone chuckling then slits their throats.” – Cecilworth Farthington, an Endorsement.
Max toggles the switch back on as life flushes back through to Dave Gibson. It had been for just a few moments. Even then listening to the old man’s laboring, gurgling breaths had turned Max’s stomach.
The pitchy voice of the Herald snaps Max out of his momentary malaise. He looks up at the periwinkle blue clad lad as he lowered his phone, sending the video to Violent Purple.
“Yeah, we should probably get out of here before somebody notices.”
Nodding along, the Herald quickly shuffles toward the door. As Max passes Dave’s bed he pauses.
“Wait for me in the hall.”
“Oooh are you going to do something spooky?”
“Wait in the Hall!” Max snarls toward the Herald. The Sub-Marquis giggles to himself before slipping out. The Questionable Kael stares at the door for a moment longer to ensure the annoying little man would not return. Satisfied he looked back down at the ashen face of Dave Gibson in the gentle repose of his coma.
Something in the back of his mind whispered into his head. It wasn’t intelligible, more like a cloud of sound demanding to be heard. He understood the intent though. It wants him to further break the man in front of him. Wants him to grab a limb and twist it till the meat and bone pop free of each other. Wants him to throttle his lifeless body until all the machines around him shriek in horror of his truth.
And then it was gone. Like a flash mob in the folds of his brain, as soon as the thought was there it had vanished. Taking in a sharp breath Max brushed the experience off and returned his attention to Dave.
“I just want you to know being dead isn’t so bad.” he says quietly as he runs his finger along the side of Dave’s face. “But dying is a real bitch. I hope when Death finds you finally, it’s quick and painless.”
He boops Dave on the nose before discreetly slinking out the exit. Just outside the door the Herald greets him with his phone.
“We have our next mission! This should be really exciting too!”
Max’s brow furrows as he stares down at the funny little man who appeared to worship the ground he walked on.
“I thought Violent Purple wanted us to meet back up with them at the MEAT? Wagon/WON ACTION NEWS TEAM van immediately following this?” Kael inquires, curious.
“Change of plans! Don’t worry, I know the way!” the Herald gleefully exclaims.
That was odd, Violent Purple and U.N. Couth were rarely ones to change plans. U.N. Couth took a shit, like clockwork at 8 am, 12pm and 6pm like clockwork. Max could set his watch to her bowel movements, that was how consistent she was with her day to day.
“That is odd, why did they tell you but not me?” Max asks as the two of them begin to leave the hospital.
“No clue, you’ll have to ask them when you see them next I guess! Quickly! No time to spare, oh Curious and Courageous Max Kael?!” the Sub-Marquis Bentley Tennyson Fartington-Primrose declares in his pitchy, unhinged, poor volume control voice.
“..I am curious and courageous, aren’t I?”
For all his strengths Max Kael? was, at the end of the day, an idiot.
“So what are we doing out here, again?”
Max Kael? stared at the collection of old posters that covered the back of the 7-11. He scratches his chin in thought as he took in the stained display.
“We’re meeting somebody, oh Thoughtful and Thronely Max Kael?” the Herald proclaims as he hops up and down in place excitedly.
“Meeting someone? I like meeting people.” Max reflects as he nods to himself. “Meeting who?”
The voice was both cold and strangely disorienting for Max?. It was almost as though the Questionable Kael could feel a sharp blade pressing against the back, scrambling to crawl out. Wincing, Max turned to find the owner of this terrible sound maker.
Standing before him was a diminutive woman who looked more like a backwater bog witch than whatever he was expecting to meet up with. She wore a black and white gothic style dress with a dark veil that covered part of her face. What was exposed of her face was pale flesh and dark lips. An eyepatch covered her left eye while the right?
It was difficult for Max to look at her eye and thus he had no idea what color it was.
“..you are.. Uh?..” Max stumbled over his words as he let his hands come to his hips. He was trying his best to look nonchalant. The arrival of this mysterious individual had pushed him far out of his comfort zone. That was quite a thing for a man who had just committed a lite felony.
The blackened lips of the woman twitch as she held her hand aloof toward the Herald, beckoning him forward.
“She is the Lady Mina Starr-Kael, the Last Shepherd of the Old Ways, the One Who Is Many, the Great Red Eye!” Tennyson excitedly proclaims while dancing in place.
Her mouth opens in delight revealing a broken, soured graveyard of teeth and periodontal disease. Max grimaces, unable to avoid recoiling in disgust at the sight of it.
“I’m an old friend, darling, that is all you need to know.” Mina hisses through her black lips. She takes a step forward, continuing to examine Max’s face with a critical eye. “We used to be very, very close, you and I. Or at least some part of you was.”
The thin smile on her face faded as she spotted something in Max’s face. Her hand quickly snatches Max’s chin forcing his eyes to meet her own blue eye.
The Questionable Kael squirms as he stares into her eye and for a moment he swears he sees a flash of crimson glow. After an uncomfortably long moment of silent study the claw releases its grip. Mina shoves Max away with a befuddled expression.
“Fucking rude.” Kael whines as he rubs his chin.
Mina Starr-Kael regards Max Kael? with that same confused expression before settling back into her false smile. Turning back toward the Herald she makes a dismissive motion with her hand.
“Take him back to his masters, Herald of Max Kael, I’ve seen what I need too.”
“You don’t want to take him with you back to Arkham?” the Herald asks with a hint of disappointment.
The dark woman gives Max one last glance before shaking her head.
“No, darling, he’s right where he needs to be.” she purrs, slithering away from the Herald and Max. “..for now.*
Sweat pours from Max’s brow as he continues to pump his legs on the bike Violent Purple had him working the last three hours. On the large screen in front of him he watches Daytona hesitate to hit Chandler with the chain wrapped around his wrist.
At this point when Max closed his eyes all he saw was Daytona Diamonds and Chandler Tsonda smashing out the last five minutes of their match on repeat. He blinks and the screen is now showing Diamonds head being dragged down into a Runaway Vault by Chandler Tsonda. Just as we see the light being knocked out of the Rhinestone Cowboy eyes the moment pauses.
“That’s the goal.”
Violent Purple points an indignant finger toward the screen.
“And how did the Patriarch of the Rodeo end up in this situation?”
Max rolls his eyes while his mind pushes away Violent’s question. Instead he focuses on the fiery sensation in his legs. They were burning, feeling like the bones were slowly turning to boiling liquid. A revelation Max had come to over the last few hours was that he hates cardio. Truly, deep down in his deepest, blackest heart despises cardio.
“Yo! Max, learn to split your focus.” VP snaps her fingers in his face. “How did he get here?”
His lip twitches as he looks back at her. Between the liquid hot magma running through his thighs and Violent’s badgering, the Question Mark Kael’s defenses slip. That cold feeling from back in Dave’s hospital room advances like a Winter storm.
And for a moment he doesn’t fight it. He lets those cold fingers snake around his heart, fingers of ice through his soul. The burning in his legs fades almost immediately, the chill on his heart squelching the pain. The fiery hot rage that immolates his mind is squelched by a sudden chilly logic; bitter, cruel and reasonable.
Best to answer the question first, he reasons, she had been inquisitive enough to ask, after all.
“He didn’t use the chain.” Max says in an even, irregular tone for the Questionable one to use. It doesn’t taste right in his mouth, like somebody else’s breath was used to say the words.
The world comes to a stop as he stares into Violent Purple’s eyes. That cold voice reasons with Max, reasons with him to reach out and break something. Maybe not kill, it’s on the table but it’s not a deal breaker. Snap an arm or break a tibia. Tear a shoulder muscle, rip an Achilles heel. It would make him feel better, the voice promises without words.
Then he blinks and the world rushes back. His legs burn, Violent Purple is a bitch and he’s got buckets of sweat pouring down his face.
“Exactly, he didn’t use the chain. Great, looks like you’re learning after all, pumpkin pie.” Purple’s sardonic voice calls out to Max.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.” Max grunted, letting the strange moment run away with the sweat. There was a whole package of complex emotions there and Max couldn’t be fucked to engage in a mental unboxing right now.
Fuck did his legs burn.
“Tonight’s top story? Daytona Diamonds.”
Max smiles as he stares at a picture of Daytona in his hand. His eyes move up toward the camera as he sets the picture down.
“The Rhinestone Cowboy, some call him the King of the Rodeo. But there is only one nickname that I want to focus on tonight. The Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line.”
The Questionable Kael manages to get through that whole line completely straight faced. He shuffles the papers on his desk before snapping his attention to Camera Two.
“Our crack team here at the WON ACTION NEWS TEAM has been deep diving into this story since it was announced that The Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line would be facing me! You know, giving that Cowboy’s past the kind of penetrative, elbow deep fisting that true, informative investigative journalism it deserves! Why, in the last few days I’ve learned more about Daytona Diamonds than a blood test and a poop sample can net you on the Dark Web!”
Max emphasizes this point by slamming his hands on his news desk. He nods to himself, satisfied with his controlled display of news emotion.
“Now while I want to focus on the TODTWTL nickname” Max nearly stumbles through the letters of The Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line but manages to force his tongue to play along. “Let’s take a minute to recognize how one nickname or moniker might relate to the other! The Rhinestone Cowboy, for example! Rhinestones! A fancy word for what jewelers in the actual gem market call PASTE! That’s right, paste! Why? Because certain cads would often try to cheat the value of jewelry by mixing glass and crystal gems with legitimate ones! Rhinestone is just a nice way of sayin’ counterfeit! So I guess that makes him an illegitimate cowboy..or a glass one.”
The words are charmingly slung through a loose smile as Max bounces up and down in his chair.
“But folks it does get worse. See, Daytona Diamonds has left a trail of bodies dragged across this country. The Only Daddy That’ll Walk The Line has left a line you can follow, like Hansel and Gretal leaving a path of breadcrumbs out of the forest, of men and women left devastated! Well.. “ Max stops, thinking for a moment before he shrugs. “Boys and girls at least! In one quick search we found seven.. After a more exhaustive effort, we uncovered as many as FIFTEEN!”
The Lord of Kaelsalvania holds all ten fingers up and forgets that fifteen requires another five for a moment. Looking down at his hands Max quickly corrects, flashing his left hand an additional time to indicate the next five. His smile never breaks even if somewhere Violent Purple’s does.
We are treated to a map of Canada, the United States and Mexico. Max hops up to the map though he immediately groans, grasping at his legs.
“Fucking exercise bike, thems for the birds.” Max grunts before snapping back up to his full posture. This action is accompanied with the sound of bones cracking and snapping. “OKAY! As you can see from this map, the Trail of Diamonds started off here, somewhere in Nevada which makes sense given he’s from Carson City.”
The map comes alive as an animated Daytona Diamonds seems to drag himself across the map squirting out little crying boys and girls as he moves along.
“As you can see from the official graphic he spawned from the tip of Grise Fiord, Canada to the mouth of the Suchiate River in Mexico. Voracious in his appetites, frivolous in his responsibilities, Daytona Diamond maybe a Daddy but the only line he is walking is the one out of a hooker’s bedroom. For that, “Cowboy” Day Diamonds, I must end you.”
Max’s expression takes on a somber tone as the map toggles off. After a moment the smile returns as Kael offers posture in line with a mea culpa.
“End you is a bit of a harsh line. Not end you, wouldn’t want to end a marvelous little monster like yourself. I don’t have a moral stance on where you store your sperm or what it ferments into. I just need to defeat you, hopefully in a dominant fashion so I can get my sights set on the real target of my most recent aggressions.”
Max holds his hands up into the universal sign for TIME OUT hoping to bring a pause to his current monologue or promo or whatever you fancy to call it.
“Psst, hi Eddie! Sorry I haven’t reached out, Violent and Couth are being real catch you next Tuesdays right now. I didn’t wanna do what I did but, hey, wrestling contracts are wild things! Besides, they told me this would help motivate you to bring up your game so really.. I’m helping you out! Once I’m done with this Daytona Diamonds fella it’ll just be you and me again, sport!”
He winks at the camera before continuing with his original point.
“Diamonds, that I’ve really gone out in this story for you! Why I even changed up a few of my own finishing techniques, really reaching back into time to pull up some golden winners! And as the President and C.E.O. of the Kael Adoption Agency, I just want you to know that all of those unwanted children you left scattered to the wind like piss in a hurricane will find new purposes!”
Max skitters off the stage with the darkened map and clamors back into his chair gleefully.
“You can show me How the West Was Won, Daytona Diamonds, but I’m not about that Blood Meridian life so let’s make a gentleman’s agreement between the two of us. Don’t use it. You don’t use that and I’ll do my best to avoid hitting you in the face with anything permanent, how does that sound? That’s a pretty great deal to me! Let me know by ReVival 40, Cowboy!”
Sweeping up the papers on the desk Max shuffles through them aggressively. Seeing nothing that interests him Max tosses the papers away, smiling back at the camera.
“That brings this special report on the Daddy That Walks The Line. I’ve been Max Kael? Stay PRIMEal!”
The camera cuts as the house lights come up. Max’s smile melts away as U.N. Couth waddled over chewing a fat cigar.
“What the fuck was that shit about Eddie Cross?” Couth snarled as she yanks the cigar from her veneered lips.
Max sheepishly grins toward Couth as his brain scrambles to put together an answer that will satisfy the old hag.
“Padding! We needed a little more time AND it keeps Cross listening to our every word. Gets into his head, mind games baby!” Max exclaims with excitement. His voice warbles with that normal, chaotic Max Kael? energy but there’s nothing in his eyes.
Couth sticks the cigar back into her mouth, chewing on it a little more before snorting.
“Don’t deviate from the fucking script again, Max. Eddie Cross ain’t your fuckin’ friend, she’s an asset. That’s all you people are. Assets. Investments.” A smile pops on her face when she considers the final words. “Profits. Now go eat your MEAT?.”
Couth walks away as the stage lighting all begins to get shut down for the day.
All the scenes were completed, all the video taken. Within a few minutes the entire WANT stage is shuddered in darkness save for the light over Max and his desk.
Alone, Max lets out a sad sigh.
With one final electrical crack, he too falls into shadow.
Mina glares out of the window, her singular icy blue eye fixed on the distant city of Arkham. Her expression was a mix of frustration and thoughtfulness, as if she had been running the rough edges of a millstone smooth since her meeting with Max Kael?.
“There is something there. Something buried deep in the back of his mind, I can see it.” She begins, her lips tightening into a sneer as she speaks. “One monster always recognizes another and more importantly, itself. When I peered into that man’s eyes I could see most certainly a monster staring back at me but..”
Reaching up she slowly removed the pins from her wild, gray hair. This caused the shabby mess to fall like ashfall after a violent eruption. She continued.
“It wasn’t us. The monster that is in Max Kael? isn’t of our making, at least not directly. We weren’t part of the original Max’s genetics, we came later, an artificial element added to the mix.”
A smile touched her blackened lips as she reminisced about the old days when she and Max had been the Minister. Burning lives to the ground while spreading their chaotic energy from one unlucky person to another.
“But somebody beat us to the punch with this Max Kael?. It was hard to see but I found it, squirming behind his eyes like a grub, just a worm still burrowing its way up from his subconscious. We could try to purge it, try to replace it with something more pure but..”
Her voice falters for a moment. She continues to stare out over Arkham but it’s clear that she’s not really looking at it. The pale eye is glazed over as her mind’s eye races through her encounter with the Question Mark Kael. The sneer on her lips unshackles into a black tooth grin.
“..I recognize that monster. I know it, boy.” she hisses with excitement, bloody saliva dribbled down her chin enthusiastically.
She turns to look over her shoulder as another figure shifts behind her. A young man half obscured by the shadows seems to linger just outside of visibility. His body is lean and muscular, his style looking like something dredged up from the late 90ies. Black leather, ripped shirt, the hallmark look of a rebellious youth.
“Which monster is it?” the young man asks in a cautionary tone.
“Oh Sutler, my boy, given the rumors of how he was created, you already know. You’ve experienced it yourself, when dealing with your Uncle, Michael Lee Best. No.. Not the Curse of Kael.. or Best Insanity..”
Sutler Reynolds-Kael stepped out of the shadows, brushing his long, black and red hair out of his angular, handsome face. Where years before his chin had been smooth and clean the beginnings of a beard were starting to fill in. He was older now, still young but with experience hardened in his eyes. A perfect smile with pearly white teeth flashed up on his face, the first one in years probably
He speaks the words he had thought about since Cecilworth Farthington had attacked him years ago.
“The Farthington Madness.”