Chapter View


The Crown Jewel Shines


Go Away

No Distractions. And No Swords.


Exit Strategy

Exit Strategy

(Hornet is sitting on the bed inside what looks to be one of the ship’s cabin. Hands behind his bed, his head rested against the headboard, Hornet isn’t paying attention to the camera, which appears to be lower quality than usual. He has an uncharacteristic growth of beard on his face – more than a five o’clock shadow, as if he hasn’t shaved in two or three days. The dark circles under his eyes show that, whatever has been going on, it hasn’t been a vacation for the former US Champ. As he begins to speak, he looks straight up at the ceiling.)

You know, for eighteen years in this company, I’ve been taking orders. Go here for this on-sale. Catch this plane to get to a merch signing. Defend your belt here. Wrestle in the NFW. Wrestle this guy. Do this interview. Make this commercial.

But no complaints, at least not many. I’ve been paid very well for it. It’s part of the price of a big paycheck. A life in the public eye where every nuance of your life – who you date, what you drive, what you wear, what groceries you buy – is captured, sifted, analyzed and regurgitated back to the public, with ‘commentators’ judging and giving their opinion.

The orders have usually come from Merritt or Thomas or both of them. I’ve been accused of being a company yes-man, and I’ve been told I’m a liability. And sometimes I’ve even rebelled, staking my own claim, so to speak. But now, now the orders come from a disembodied voice from a speaker, like I’m some sort of bizarre Charlie’s Angel. Somebody’s idea of a cruel prank – let’s throw Hornet in with two women who hate each other and who aren’t too fond of him. And then, let’s get our jollies by seeing what they do.

I don’t know if this’ll ever be aired, and I don’t care. I was supposed to have a match against Triple X and Shane Southern, but our host decided it was more important or more fun to keep me locked in here like some sort of hostage. I’m told that next I’m supposed to have a tag match against the men who cost me the US Title. So I suppose, like a good little soldier, I should say something about them… even though I don’t know whether I’ll be allowed out of here by then or not.

Kevin Powers. Kin Hiroshi. Someone’s sad idea of a dumbed down “Powers of Love,” without the part that made it famous. “Good God” and the “Muffin Man” – a team for the ages. But who am I to talk? They were good enough to take the US Title away from me… well, with an assist from Ruben Ross, of course.

KP – I’m used to being told I’m too old, too washed up, too broken to make a difference. And yet, I just had the United States gold around my waist. What have you done lately, ‘Good God?’ You’ve teased us with two retirements… but you haven’t held the US Title or the tag titles since your heyday? Don’t tell me that you’re ‘washed up’ too?

Or maybe you’re just back to your old tricks? Mouthing off enough to look like you’re the one in the lead… but really hiding behind Kin Hiroshi… Eddy Love… Steve Radder… Apocalypse. Whoever it takes, so that when you fail, you’ve got somebody to blame. A sucker to throw under the bus as you try to salvage what’s left of your so-called legend.

And speaking of suckers – there’s Kin Hiroshi. The poor, unfortunate soul that Kevin Powers has attached himself to. But now you’re the US Champion. So all is well, right? Except that you’ve got Steve Radder coming after you. And… assuming I get out of this room, you’ve got to deal with me too.

(Hornet lowers his voice as he slides down the bed and stands up in the small cabin. The obviously hand-held camera follows him with some big jiggles. Teri Melton is sitting in the background in the new angle. Near her, there is what looks to be a hole in the wall.)

But I’ve got a little secret for you. In fact, I’ve got two.

I don’t take orders anymore.

There’s nothing left that the two of you, or Ruben Ross, or Stephen Thomas, can take away from me.

And the other secret?

(Even quieter.)

I know how to get out of here. And I’m coming.

(Hornet grabs the television off its built-in shelf in the small cabin and tips it onto the floor as the camera goes dark.)