Saturday, May 18, 2013

Monkey Flip - NOVA 5/18/13

With a little more than a week to go before Smokin’ Aces, Alex is trying to take his mind off of the pressure he’s now only pretending doesn’t exist.  It’s there, just a lot different than it was a month ago.

Charlie Dawson, who is only Alex’s rival in his own head, will be competing in the tornado match, but in a lot of ways he’ll really be competing against his own father, the second of three generations who have made names for themselves in a wrestling ring.  Steve is competing tomorrow in the main event of the NWW card Carnage.  It’s a tag team match just like his son’s in a lot of ways, teaming with his old buddy Rob Holly in a reprise of the Thunder Mountain heel faction that was hot more than a decade ago.  Their competition is the team of Magnum and Jet Stevens.  Magnum is one of the hottest things going, while Stevens is another generational star, the son of “Shooter” Terry Stevens, one of the hottest heel wrestlers ever.  The funny thing is that Jet has taken a long way to discovering that he works far better as a face.  He and Magnum, as well as yet another generational star, Iron Henry, are doing far better than the new Thunder Mountain.  As the Untouchables, they’re the biggest act in wrestling right now.

If NOVA were that kind of promotion, he’d be worried about job security, wondering if his recent worries were really all about whether the market has the room for him like it seemed last fall.  Maybe this gig never really translate into a mass audience.  Maybe he’ll always be a niche sensation that’s doomed to consume itself.

NWW isn’t even the mainstream of fan interest.  It’s the mainstream’s main competition.  The mainstream is WPW, where the biggest card of the year, World Famous 22, was just a few months ago.  Terry Stevens had his retirement match, actually, on that card.  It was the match just below the main event, and the one just below that featured Paul Tugend, “Hustle,” who has the potential to become far bigger than the Untouchables could ever dream.  WPW has been a cluttered landscape, ever-expanding and suffering from the resulting growing pains, and it’s been looking for the new face of the company.  Tugend is that face.  Everyone knows it, but for some reason World Famous 22 looked toward the past, one last great push for Dean Reynolds (no relation to the newsman), in the last years of a comeback no one saw coming, a brilliant career that was sabotaged by politics and injuries.  WPW is holding its annual War Games tournament the same night as Smokin’ Aces (or perhaps it’s more truthful to say the reverse), which will feature many of the other bright young stars the company hopes will lead it into the future.  Tugend will be defending his Livewire title against Robbie Rhod, who is too brash for his own good, even in the world of professional wrestling.  You don’t need to know the ending is scripted to know Tugend will win that match, though Alex is one of Robbie’s few vocal supporters.

Still, there’s little chance that his opinions will influence WPW’s decisions.  That won’t happen for another five years, when Alex will be in the Tugend spot.

For now all he has to worry about is guiding Oliver Pine to making their match look good from the other end.  Last time it was all on him.  He didn’t trust Oliver at all, and that’s no way to handle things.  He’s been coming up with notes, suggestions on moves he knows Oliver can pull off and he can help sell.  Truth be told, Alex hasn’t always thought about how to sell to his opponents effectively, and now that’s exactly what he’s going to have to do, practice his bumping, the whole theatricality of it.  A few weeks ago he was worried about promos, making himself a character.  Now he has to put on a different kind of show.

In a lot of ways, the work he’s doing now isn’t so different from what fans can find in NWW and WPW.  NOVA may not be and may in fact never be the scale of its competition, but that doesn’t mean that it can’t reflect that kind of business.  The promotion’s fans and all the serious observers consider NOVA to feature, all in all, the best actual wrestling, and certainly the most dynamic, but sometimes that’s not enough.  Alex is only now realizing that, and this is what will set him on the journey to his greatest success.  The funny feeling at the back of his head is character growth.

A few weeks ago a lot of things were different.  He thought Colt Carson’s comedy act was holding everyone back.  Now he wants more and more to understand what Carson’s been thinking all these years.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


As I've noted before, I've got a sequel to Back from the Dead called Insidious, which looks at the basic zombie template that's been so popular from a different perspective, sort of merging it with the idea of demonic possession.  Hopefully I'll start writing that soon.  It'll be followed by Shooks Run, which is another sequel, this time to Leopold's Concentration and Roadkill Cafe (all three of these existing stories are featured in Monorama), completing a story I've been working on since high school, tying up all the loose ends of the mythology.

Now, obviously I've written a number of stories based on Star Trek (as well as other established properties).  The third serialized story I'll be working on is based on Firefly/Serenity, and it's called Browncoats.  It'll be based on thoughts I had while reading E.L. Doctorow's The March, and in fact parallels one of its subplots.

And whether you like it or not, but the NOVA wrestling story continues as well!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Captains Under the Bridge

Moa, son of Ahiqar, son of Moztar, followed in the footsteps of his uncle, a disgraced and forgotten warrior known as Gird.  Gird died as a crewman serving in Starfleet during the Dominion War, the victim not of a battle but Vorta experiments that were quickly abandoned.  He’d forsaken his own kind, an outcast who stumbled in his own way.  Moa was not yet at the age of ascension when his father told him.  He was born late in Ahiqar’s life, and thus the subject of a particular obsession to make him the perfect Klingon, anything but what his uncle had become.

Moa rebelled almost immediately.  He underwent the trial and then came up with the remotest colony in the empire to further his studies.  His father agreed, only because he had no idea how little Moa cared for his heritage.  When he was older, after spending time in the same Nyberrite Alliance fleet as his uncle, Moa decided to do his inspiration one better.  He applied to attend Starfleet Academy.

He excelled in his studies.  His unique perspective earned Moa the respect of his peers.  Within five years of graduating he had obtained the role of first officer aboard the Phoenix, serving under Lewis Rivera, who had once been first officer on the ship, the Copernicus, his uncle had been attached to at the time of his death.  Rivera was a generous man who took Moa under his wing, teaching him all the tricks necessary to navigate the realities of space.  When Rivera accepted promotion to field admiral at Epsilon Station, he made sure Moa was likewise shifted to the next available assignment, command of the Phoenix.

That was how he reentered Klingon affairs.  The Phoenix was assigned patrol duty around Epsilon Station, which sat along the Klingon border.  Ahiqar had died in the years since Moa’s departure, never knowing of his activities, although he was given to believing that his father wouldn’t have been as disappointed as he’d once believed.  It seemed that the role of ambassador to the Federation had given him opportunities to kindle tenuous respect for those who had once been rivals to the empire.

When he was given the mission to investigate claims that the late Duras Sisters had died trying to reclaim a sleeper agent, Moa at first didn’t take it too seriously.  Even among Klingons the name Duras had finally fallen out of favor, perhaps with the rise of Chancellor Martok, who was known to be a close friend of Worf, the only other Klingon to have walked between these two worlds successfully.  It wasn’t for several weeks that Moa learned the identity of the supposed agent: James Tiberius Kirk.

It was his own decision to call in some assistance to the investigation.  This was bigger than he cared to handle on his own, but he had to be discreet.  Not even Rivera knew about it.  He decided to cash in on an old favor from the captain of another ship, the Cusatis, Kit Quintane.  Quintane was human, like most of the officers in Starfleet, but his skin had a bluish tint to it, a gift of the Andorian DNA he carried.  He claimed that he could trace his lineage back to Archer and Shran, his father being the product of the marriage between their offspring.

Quintane always struck Moa as having far more Andorian in him than he let on.  He was the most ornery captain in the fleet.  He was another officer who had at one time served aboard the Copernicus.  Yet he could be trusted implicitly, something most of those officers couldn’t say for themselves, mostly because of the infamous reputation of that ship.  Rivera came out of it with his reputation intact mostly because he left well before the series of events that began during the Dominion War started to become common knowledge.

“You’re always finding yourself in trouble.”

“Only because I found it before you did.  This one’s serious, Kit.  It’s bigger than any of us and I don’t know what I should do.  Jim Kirk.  The legend of all legends.  A Klingon spy.”

“It doesn’t seem likely, does it?”

“We still have to take the allegation seriously.  Who knows what would happen if word of this got out.  Nearly a hundred years of history rewritten in an instant.”

“But who’s going to take it seriously?  His relationship with the Klingons is obvious.  They killed his son.  He stood accused of murdering Gorkon.”

“A son he barely even knew existed.  A murder that was part of a vast conspiracy.  You see how facts can be reinterpreted.”

“You’re grasping at straws.”

“That’s exactly the business of this enterprise.  The first thing is to examine the body.  There was once an incident where a Klingon agent was exposed thanks to the reaction of a Tribble.”

“Kirk was involved in that incident.  No report I’ve ever read suggests that the Tribble reacted to him any differently than the rest of the humans involved.”

“Or Vulcans.  Tribbles are born pregnant and apparently with an innate dislike for Klingons.  The feeling was mutual.  Did you ever hear about the Great Tribble War?  Probably not as much as I did growing up.”

“Those things disappeared for decades.”

“Now you know why.”

“Of course, they came back.”

“Rumor has it based on the same incident.  His body is still on Veridian III.  There were calls to have him interred on Earth, with full ceremony, but to have a whole planet dedicated to his memory seemed more appropriate.  There’s a memorial in Iowa purporting to possess his remains, but that’s a lie.  Those who know the truth flock to Veridian III”

“There were rumors of Romulan and Borg intrigue involving his body.”

“Rest assured those were only rumors.  Veridian III has more security than the Genesis Planet did in his day.  Every visitor is subjected to greater security precautions than Rura Penthe.  Kirk’s memory lives on in virtual prisoners.”

“Such are the quirks of life.  How do you propose we visit this peculiar shrine?”

“As Starfleet officers paying their respects.  We’ll have the necessary equipment to carry out the scans without anyone detecting our activities.”

“Equipment that your heavily-secured shrine won’t notice.”

“That’s the idea.”

“You’re still the craziest person I’ll ever know, and thank God I do.”

“Likewise, Kit.  You’re the only captain I’d trust for this.  Because of the security clearance needed, I’d have gone with any other officer, if only to avoid the scandal just to be seen with you, but it’s an acceptable compromise.”

“You’re the only person I know who can turn a compliment into an insult.”

“Klingons value honesty.”

“You’re as much Klingon as I am Andorian.”



The plan went without a hitch.  They traveled in Moa’s yacht, just the two of them.  The rusted framework of the El-Aurian scientist’s scaffolding was still intact.  Breaking away from the tour group, Kit guided them to spot deep into the cliffs where Kirk had fallen.  There were still traces of his blood.  Moa used his modified tricorder to collect a sample.  As they waited for analysis, the two captains took a moment to rest.  The sunlight was brutal.

“You ever wonder if it was true?”

“From the moment I was informed of the allegation.  The truth is usually far more interesting than fiction.  Kirk’s career is as famous among Klingons as within the Federation.  Still, imagine if all of his achievements were refracted through the career of a spy.  The House of Duras has tried this trick before.  It’s nothing new, and it smacks of the desperation of failure.  If it were true, the irony is that winners would be all Klingons.  The offspring of Duras would become an afterthought.”

“I bet they didn’t even consider that.”

“They were always fools.”

“Indeed.  I almost wish it was true, just to spite them.”

“Although this would still be a troubling development.”

“I get that.  But after all this time, it would still have to compete with the popular narrative.”

“In time, it could supplant it, even if it’s fiction.”

“Tricorder telling you anything?”

“Not yet.  Let’s head toward the grave.”

“No, let’s stay here in the shade.  I don’t know how anyone would have survived this.”

“Picard’s career is doing just fine.”

“You mean the Romulan spy?  That’s what some people say.  They claim Shinzon survived and Picard died.  Or that Shinzon was discarded by the Romulans because an earlier version had already proved successful.  You understand now why this is so dangerous.  Picard was kept out of the Dominion War because of it.”

“Shinzon’s existence wasn’t exposed until later.”

“Officially.  Section 31 always knew.  He’s been under constant surveillance since Wolf 359.”


“Inconclusive.  These results won’t tell us anything.”

“It’s like finding changelings all over again.”

“Or Suliban enhancements.”

“Or biomemetic duplicates.”

“Starfleet knows too many ways to make this plausible.  That’s why it’s being taken seriously.  Okay, let’s head off.”

“Fine.  This is starting to make me crazy.”

“You always were, Kit.”

“Thanks.  You always know how to cheer me up.”

“You Andorians thrive on conflict.”

“I’m human, you Klingon targ.”

“Targs make excellent pets.”

“You’re digging your own grave now, Moa.”

“There’s Kirk’s grave.”

“Those are the stones Picard laid down, aren’t they?”

“The originals.  I’m running my scan now.”

“When you’re done, we’re headed back down.”

“Agreed.  Okay, ready.”

“When this is over, we’re going to take time to relax and catch up.”

“That’s much of what we’re doing now.  All told, this is an easy assignment so far.”

“I wouldn’t mind complications.”

“I fear that Klingons and Andorians shouldn’t socialize.  You have me agreeing.”

“Anything yet?”

“The results are coming up now.  It’s clean.  Jim Kirk was fully human.”

“I never doubted it for a second.”

“You doubted it the whole time.”

“You know me well.”

“That means we’re done here.”

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Monkey Flip: NOVA 5/11/13

Alex has just learned that Charlie Dawson will be performing at the Smokin’ Aces iPPV.  Considering how drastically his own fortunes have shifted in the last few weeks, or at least his perception of these fortunes, he should be happy.  He has every reason to be happy. He’s just survived the greatest trial of his greatest success and is now positioned better than he ever has before.  There were plenty of people talking about him before, but now there’s new excitement, new awareness, and a new level of acclaim that may be impossible to forget.  He’s established a legacy.  If nothing else, he’ll be able to live off the notoriety of the blood-stained match with Oliver Pine for years to come.

Except he doesn’t want that.  He’s a student of the craft.  And yet he’s just a student.  Charlie Dawson is a scion.  He was born into the craft.  His legacy was assured by two previous generations of stars in the ring.  What bothers Alex is that hardly anyone seems to understand what Charlie has been doing, how he’s been taking for granted all the privilege that’s been heaped at him.  It’s the green-eyed face of jealously staring Alex in the face.

The problem is, all the anxiety he faces is something Charlie will never know.  He’s been given and will continue to be given every shortcut there is.  Even if wrestling is an art where the fans dictate success, it’s the opportunities that are presented to Charlie without any effort that bother Alex.  Charlie wouldn’t have had to worry about losing his job.  Even if he had, he would have been hired with the same quality of assurance by someone else.

Alex knows that by any objective standard he has it better right now than Charlie.  Charlie has never been a permanently featured star of a major promotion.  He flits around the country grabbing headlines on a consistent basis, but he’s basically a glorified journeyman.  It doesn’t seem to concern him, though, that he’s billed as “the son of Steve Dawson!” or “the grandson of Cowboy Dawson!” because he knows he’ll get the fans interested even just on that, the stories he’ll share without caring who he shares them with, just a lot of anonymous faces to him.  Alex is the one who has to prove himself every day.  Charlie just has to show up.

It’s silly to be worrying about this.  Alex knows this.  They won’t even be in the same match.  Charlie will be in the tornado match, the match designed for stars like him, to show up and look good without having to engineer the whole thing himself, just let the chaos dazzle the fans.  He’ll just have to make sure he has memorable spots.  If he has any signature moves, really that’s all he has to do.  In a match like that, the fans just aren’t very critical about that.

Alex will sometimes think about that.  When a wrestler puts a whole match together of the same basic moves, fans will either love him or hate him for it.  That’s all Charlie does in his matches anyway, and for him it really is just going through the motions.  And in that sense, Alex finally finds a way to feel superior, not because he has an ego, but because he knows that of the two of them, he’s the one who loves what he’s doing, is wrestling because he’s driven, not because it’s an obligation.  He feels sorry for Charlie.  Imagine wanting the acclaim but having no idea how to get it, because you’ve taken everything for granted.

He’s glad that he doesn’t have to perform in those tornado matches.  For someone like Scotty, they’re perfect.  Scotty is completely free of ego.  He’s the ultimate wrestler’s wrestler, who will sell against anyone without giving it a second thought.  Sometimes the fans will take that for granted, but Scotty’s fine with that.  In any other promotion he’d be a jobber, but in NOVA there’s a match made just for him, and that’s why everyone in the locker room and the fans have realized how special it is.

Fortune is once again favoring the bold.  The card for Smokin’ Aces is filling up, a lot more matches, a lot more of the roster getting a chance to perform.  That’s going to help with Alex’s return match against Oliver.  With less pressure, he won’t have as much of the burden.  Most of it will sell itself.  He just needs to make Oliver look good.  He’s finding himself consulting Scotty a lot these days.  Usually they’ll just let each other follow their separate instincts.  This is a special occasion.  Besides, Scotty will be in that match with Charlie.  He’s got the tornado championship again.  It’s all about making someone else look good.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Monkey Flip: NOVA 5/3/13

“Listen, I’m giving you the night off.  Come back on Friday.  Only, you won’t be wrestling then, either.  You’re gonna deliver a promo.”

Alex has been thinking about that all week.  He’s known all along, his whole life, that wrestling is its own peculiar art form.  Except now he’s been asked to do the one thing he’s never really developed in his repertoire, and all he’s been able to think is, Oh my god I wish I was Colt Carson.

The more he’s thought that, the more he realizes that this exactly what he’s going to say.  He spends every waking moment practicing.  Scotty is amused, and maybe not the right way.  He doesn’t offer much in the way of practical suggestions.  He just lets Alex yammer on and on, trying to get the feel of an actual personality the fans will care about.  He has everything it takes to make himself distinctive in the ring except the one thing that matters when it comes to selling t-shirts.  He doesn’t have a hook.

“I wish I was Colt Carson.  No, I’m glad I’m not Colt Carson.”

He keeps returning to that as his opening line.  “I’m not Colt Carson.  I never wanted to be Colt Carson.”

Is it enough?  Is it even good?  By the time Friday arrives, he has to believe that.  NOVA doesn’t have anyone to write scripts.  He’s heard that anyone who actually knows how to do promos hates the very idea, but to someone like him, being asked to give one for the first time, something more significant that “I’m the good guy!” or “I’m the bad guy!” kind of generalization, it’s a living terror to even consider trying to consider delivering a promo without one.

His music starts to play, “Nothing Lasts Forever” by Wiseguy, and Carson sends him through the curtain.  Alex is stumbling all the way to the ring, trying to pretend he’s the most confident he’s ever been.

He has a mic in hand.  He steps between the ropes and stands there a minute.  The reception is raucous, just as he was told it’d be.  He waits a full minute.

“I don’t know why you people are cheering.  I’m not Colt Carson.  I’m not some circus clown.  I’m not some punk like Oliver Pine.  He took my title.  I took his blood.”

The fans are still going wild.  They liked that last line.”

“I’m not finished!  Shut up and let me speak!  I’m not finished with him.  I haven’t bled him dry.  By the time I’m finished with him, he’ll need that title.  I let him win the match because as far as I’m concerned, the kendo championship is now nothing more than a glorified bandage.  That’s why I gave Sir Oliver Pine Soft the beating of his life.  It was all but a mercy killing.  I let him win because I’ve transcended all that.  I transcended the match, I transcended the title, and I’ve transcended NOVA itself.  I am bigger than you.  I’m better than you.  And I am done with you.”

The fans are getting crazy.  They’re starting to throw their trash in the ring.  Alex has never been anything but a babyface.  He’s just turned heel.

“The greatest trick the Devil ever played was convincing the world he didn’t exist.  I’m the Devil himself.  I’m the worst evil you’ve ever seen.  The new kendo champion is beneath me.  I’ve burned him.  I’ve bled him dry.  There’s nothing left to prove.  Don’t blame me.  You believed in me, and now you know what I am.  Nothing lasts forever.”

Carson has come down to the ring.  It should be Oliver Pine, but it’s Carson.  It’s the first time Alex knows for certain that they’ll have a match together.  Carson climbs into the ring.  He doesn’t have a mic.  He leaps at Alex.  That’s how the show ends.