The One Where They Meet.
Posted on 04/02/22 at 11:42pm by Randall Schwartz
Event: CULTURE SHOCK 2022
Los Angeles, CA
“If you feel you still need to protect something you told me was in safe hands, you can go find someone else to run your errands.”
These words echo throughout time and space, landing in the ears of a curious-looking fellow wandering downtown LA on St. Patrick’s Day. The man shudders at the message sent to him, suddenly realizing the importance of what he must do as he enters a coffee shop, nearly overwhelmed by the noise inside.
Customers are rushing through the line, ordering their favorite drinks and enjoying conversation. This man, however, wants none of it as he approaches the pick-up window where he stares down the barista fulfilling orders, another gentleman with some remarkable sideburns…but the hair is not what our intruder is interested in.
The barista pays no mind to the inquiry, still minding his own business before the stranger clears his throat, speaking louder.
This gets the barista’s attention finally, a small sigh escaping his mouth before he steps over to the window.
“Yessir, how can I help ya?”
“I need to speak to you. My name is Aeon Khronos, and…”
Without missing a beat, Randall takes a look at the drinks close by. He shakes his head as he turns back to Aeon.
“Sorry buddy, I don’t have your drink here yet.”
“What? No, I need to talk to you about something important.”
This confuses the barista, a fitting look on his face as a result.
“Coffee is important. If you’re not here for coffee, I can’t help you.”
Randall turns his attention back to his work duty, forcing Aeon to step away for a moment as he ponders how to approach this situation. He considers all the possible things he can present to this man, someone oddly familiar to him for some reason…and then it clicks, as he approaches Randall at the counter once more.
“I know you’ve been through hard times lately, so I want to offer you something.”
This doesn’t get nearly the response Aeon was expecting, as Randall just stares him down with a look of confusion. Sensing a need to clarify, Aeon presses on.
“I’m aware of your ventures outside this establishment, Randall. I know you want to do more than just serve coffee…I’ve seen you out on the indie wrestling circuit.”
From seemingly out of nowhere, this comment raises the ire of Randall, resulting in a furrowed brow as he tries his best to keep his voice down despite the stern message that follows.
“You keep my weekend gig out your freakin’ mouth.”
This response catches Aeon by surprise, but he knows he now has Randall listening.
“I have something you might find intriguing, Mr. Schwartz. All I need you to do is meet me at this location after you’ve finished work for the day, and I’ll tell you all about it.”
With that, Aeon grabs the nearest pen and napkin, dribbling an address down before handing the napkin over to Randall. He looks it over, starting to shake his head…but notices that Aeon has already made his exit before he can respond.
Later That Night
The Address Aeon Scribbled Down
We find ourselves at an abandoned warehouse, away from the hustle and bustle of downtown on a chilly evening. We see Randall approaching the front door, reaching for the handle when it suddenly opens on its own.
Looking a bit nervous about the whole ordeal, Randall cautiously steps through the doorway, where he finds what appears to be a boy watching footage of old pro wrestling matches. Randall grows more and more confused by the second, until Aeon steps through from behind him.
“Good to have ya here, Randall.”
This naturally gives Randall a good startle as he steps away from Aeon, who walks toward the center of the room motioning toward the boy, who now turns his attention to Randall and waves.
“Randall, I want you to meet Kenny Freeman. Social media influencer and indy wrestler extraordinaire, and much like you he is seeking to make a name for himself.”
The mention of Kenny’s name draws a surprisingly angry response from Randall, whose face twists into a snarl as he points and shouts at the young man.
“You! You cost me a booking two months ago by tweeting that I was out of touch!”
This surprises Aeon and Kenny alike, especially as Aeon quickly has to pivot away from this.
“Listen, Randall…I need you to calm down. I’ve called you both here because I have a favor to ask, and I have something to offer in return.”
Randall stops himself from shouting any further abuse, but still stares Kenny down as Aeon continues.
“I’m on a mission to protect something near and dear to me…the multiverse.”
Kenny can’t help himself as he chimes in with a look of glee on his face.
“Oh man, I love those movies!”
Randall snaps at Kenny for a second time.
“You shut it!”
Taken aback by the hostility, Aeon persists nonetheless.
“I once had a duo helping me with this mission, but despite my best efforts they have gone their separate ways…so, I need your assistance.”
Kenny looks confused by what is being presented here.
“Wait, so you need like…a B-Team?”
Aeon thinks about this for a moment before shrugging his shoulders.
“Well, I wouldn’t call it that necessarily…”
Kenny looks pleased by the idea, however.
“Oh no, that’s fine. I’d be more than happy to join a B-Team!”
Randall, on the other hand, doesn’t look nearly as thrilled as he chimes in once more.
“What’s in it for me, Mr. Khronos?”
This sets off a proverbial lightbulb for Aeon, who pulls out a flyer promoting a very specific type of event…
“Kenny, Randall, if you want to get off the indie circuit and really make a name for yourselves, I have just the thing. One of the biggest promotions in the world is offering a unique opportunity for tag teams, a Survivor Tag Team Challenge if you will. If you’re feeling primed for the big time, there’s no better place than, well…PRIME!”
Kenny looks amped up for the opportunity, though Randall clearly still has his doubts.
“Right, but how does this help you and your little multiverse mission?”
Aeon just smiles at the question, happy to finally address that elephant in the room.
“Because you boys will be helping me figure out where to find the inflection points to travel across the multiverse once again. I got left behind here in Los Angeles, but Culture Shock and most future PRIME events are happening in Las Vegas…and I have a feeling that somewhere inside the MGM Grand is exactly what I’m looking for. So, you’ll have your opportunity, and I’ll be able to go look for a way to travel once again.”
“And what happens then?”
Aeon turns his attention to Kenny, whose genuinely curious inquiry does not go unanswered.
“There’s only one way to find out. So, fellas, are you in?”
Kenny nods immediately, extending a hand as he and Aeon make their verbal agreement. They turn their attention toward Randall, who weighs his options in his head before letting out a small sigh.
“Oh, what the hell. Coffee gets boring after a while, anyway.”
The three eventually all shake hands, setting the stage for things to come as we fade to black.