Game Thread Where the Ropes Know Your Name: Weeks 1–4 - Page 2 - RPG Crossing
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  #16  
Old Oct 6th, 2021, 09:38 PM
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Toast of the Town
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It comes in a hundred small ways, Swap Brothers.

The citizens of Midlin do not simply acknowledge that you are the toast of the town following your fabulous win, they express it in how they wave to you from across the streets, how lines suddenly disappear at the General Store when you walk in, how the price of your lab-soy-processed ice cream cone that you buy at the street corner suddenly just dropped in half, how doors seem to be held for you, how whenever you accidentally bump into someone they say "whoopsidaisies" and try to carry it off as if it was their fault and not your inattention, how dozens of young kids are running round town with makeshift shiny or creamy capes around their necks, how you've gone from "young man" or "buddy" to "Mr Henry" and "Mr Cain" whenever someone addresses you and even how Brandi ... well, okay, Brandi hasn't quite joined the Church of the Milk Man and the Holy Twister Brigade. And she's telling you that right now, this morning with a wet, rather unclean mop that swabs down your waking heads as much as it does the arena mats she is meant to be cleaning.

"Oh, apologies, heroes of the day, did I disturb your precious sleep?" she asks as she wrings out the mop over Cain's exposed toes. Quick! Duck! Incoming dirt mop again! But really, who can blame her for being bitter? You absolutely humiliated her team (though perhaps not her) in the ring, caused her to lose a bet to her mother, and—let's be blunt, minor celebrities—when you are sleeping later than the puppets, you really should be worried about how Midlin-level fame has gone to your heads.

Well, fame and plans for a royal ball.

The puppets, of course, are up for a ball. Once Henry raised that theme, they have been raising expectations and the standards of dress. Each of them now has a small tiara, a velvet cape and a fluffy boa for their costume. They've been debating the order of dances and who they will select as King and Queen of the Ball so that they know who they will take to the Royal Post-Party Guillotine Party. Swap Brothers, they do have a working guillotine--they proudly demonstrated it to you, and while so far it has been a nice tool for cutting into the petri-dish grown sausage that an admirer sent your way ... well, you just don't trust the certain look in the puppet's eyes as the blade speeds downward. Here's a random fact (or perhaps it is related), on the night of the match you would have sworn the puppet population was up to 16 ... now you see only 12 gathered together at best. Well, surely they can do no harm.

Some harm was done on Monday and Tuesday though. Two days of celebrations. Not just you brothers, of course. You had plans to propose and pensive moments to consider ... but the town took up your cause and half were drunk, half were reenacting your great fight, and a statistically significant amount were doing both!

So maybe, Swap Brothers, maybe a part of you recognized that Brandi's upbraiding of you was justified. Maybe the taste of that dirty mop backwash was the bitter medicine you thought you deserved and needed. Or maybe she was just a sore loser.

Good thing you had places to go to put some distance between you and the mopey mopper. Ever since your big win, you have not had to worry about getting your own grub. Proud townspeople have bought your breakfasts, lunches and dinner for you. Sometimes that means catfish casserole bakes brought to the gym, other times—like this morning—it has meant word that a hearty breakfast is awaiting you at Myrna's breakfast. Be still your beating heart, Henry! Be joyful your ever-restless tummy, Cain!

Do you take time for some self-care and grooming before you go? Or do you think the best way to impress a certain restaurateur is the "gruff and ready" morning look? These are weighty decisions, Swap Brothers ... and maybe you might be looking back on them and second-guessing yourself if bigger issues hadn't immediately arisen.

Huge issues.

Let's not say "obese" issues, because that seems to imply "unhealthy" and this guy is large, but also perfectly fit (for at least two rounds) and a potential champion ... but "enormous" and "gigantic" are certainly in play.

It's Big Boi Ninja, spread across three of the restaurant stools as you enter. He sizes you up and begins to snarl before one of you can even say: "Myrna, I know it is early times but you make my heart a sparrow who longs to sing; you are the winds that ever-change the flap of my heart, you are the..." (just kidding, "Hello, Ma'am, could I have a coffee" is more your love language, right?) ... Anyway, whatever romantic sub-text you were going to throw into your order, Big Boi beat you to it.

Henry, perhaps you see it first because for the past days you have seen only Myrna's face in your dreams. Or Cain, perhaps you see it first because well, you are a bit more perceptive than your brother. Or perhaps, Swap Brothers, like the best type of wrestling move, this realization hits you at the same time and double-hard ... you look at Big Boi's face, you look at Myrna's face, you look at Big Boi, at Big Myrna at ... there's no doubt ... this is a brother and sister.

Henry, all of the sudden, you don't feel like the Toast of the Town. You feel little. You feel like you're just a luchador, standing in front of another luchador, who is standing in front of a girl who is trying to peer over his Big shoulders.

Oh ... and if that wasn't enough. Just now you notice, over in the corner of the cafe, that guy constructing flower arrangements and wiener dog sculptures out of the restaurant straws ... that's Pete. The man. The clown. The legend.

The thing is, with this situation, there could be real danger.




 
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  #17  
Old Oct 6th, 2021, 10:12 PM
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In Which Henry Goes Over The Arrangements

Henry strides alongside his brother toward Stanky's, chattering out of excitement, or perhaps to hide his nervousness at going to Myrna's restaurant. "Uh, I-ya think we're gonna need a ballroom and-uh we're gonna need meeyooosicians, and-uh we're gonna need a footman, hey Cain what is a footman? Um, uh, we're gonna hafta send a, whatdyercallit, coach to pick up Myrna, oh yeah I gotta ask Marci if she will pick up Myrna!"

It never occurred to Henry that he might offer Myrna a bunch of flowers instead of offering her the Whole Town and a Night to Remember. Possibly because pollinator populations had been the first thing to crash at the start of The Troubles, and now the only flowers left were greenish, highly allergenic, tiny little things that relied on the wind to make their Love Connection. So you tended not to give them to people you liked.

Ah, but if you were creative, you could make your own flowers out of colorful straws. This was the first thing Henry noticed as the brothers finally entered the Bar and Grille. "Uh, Cain look at the purdy..." Then his gaze drifted upward to the arts-and-craftsman himself, and his eyes widened fit to fall out of their sockets. "Uh, gosh, it's Peyosi Pete!, Cain, look..." He turned his head to see if his brother was looking, and that's when he at last noticed the three-stool spanning Big Boi Ninja. "And Big Boi Ninja himse...uh, oh hullo Miss Myrna." Henry's complexion flushed, but the momentum of his thought processes carried him through the awkward moment and he took a step toward the barstools. "Ya gotta gimme your autograph Mister Big Boi, um, I-yuh am a wrassler just like you, ayuh, I am, Momma saw your poster and said you must've been a good boy and-uh ate all your algae, I wasn't gonna eat the green algae but she said lookit that healthy young man..." As Henry Unwittingly (of course) using "I Feel Stupid and Contagious" to defuse the situation.prattled on, he fumbled at his pockets, desperately searching for some paper and a crayon.

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Old Oct 7th, 2021, 11:39 AM
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So, you want to date my sister...
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Big Boi Ninja was looking forward to seeing his sister again when he found out he had an easy match lined up near her diner. The big match against a couple of relatively unknowns who were starting to make a name for themselves was scheduled the following week, so that meant he would have at least a whole week to spend with family.

"Hey Pete. You want to stay over at my sister's place while we are here? She is a really good cook. But I warn you, don't get any ideas about hooking up with her. She is off limits. There is no way I would let her get involved with a luchador, not even one as good as you. You hear?"

When Big Boi arrived in town and knocked on his sister's door, they greeted each other warmly.
Big Boi, "Myrna, you are still the prettiest sister I know."
Myrna, "I'm your only sister, you big fool."

They embraced each other, then Myrna threw Big Boi to the floor and Big Boi did a reversal to put her in a submission hold, which she escaped and threatened to retaliate with a kick to the face that he easily redirected into a table knocking over a picture. When the glass broke, they both stopped to look at the mess and then to each other, then (They had a funny way to showing their love for each other. If watching the scene unfold, it would have been hard to know who would have actually won if they were really fighting.)laughed.

After serving a Mystery Meat, but no one would notice if a few stray dogs went missing.big traditional dinner, all you ate were full and very satisfied. Big Boi stayed up late that night talking with his sister and catching up on events in her life. That is when he found out about the person he was supposed to be fighting next week was actually making moves on his sister.

The next morning, Big Boi went with Myrna to her diner, wanting to meet this boy who is pretending to be a man. When Henry walks in, Myrna gives a nod to identify him as the person they talked about. When he was about to get up to threaten him, something he said made him forget about his anger, something about an autograph. Without thinking, the want-to-be ninja pulled out one of his throwing stars, signed it and then threw it at Henry, hitting him square in the chest. Since the throwing star was made out of foam, it might have hurt a little bit because of the force, but it did not real damage.

Realizing he was treating this boy as a common fan, Big Boi shook his head and said, "Hey. Henry. Leave my sister alone!"

Not appreciating how Big Boi was handling the situation, Myrna piped up, "Big Boi, if you want seconds, you better sit yourself down and behave yourself."

That hurt Big Boi. Everyone knew he loved seconds just as much as he loved first helpings. With his meal at risk, he settled down, but kept glaring at the boy and muttered under his breath towards Henry, "It's not like she actually likes you. She would rather be with Cain, which isn't going to happen either."

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Old Oct 8th, 2021, 12:52 AM
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A ninja and a clown rolled into town
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Pete was just happy to have a gig again after what happened in Granite City. He still doesn't believe all the charges, some of that had to be his former partner Jacques the French Tickler, but since he can't remember anything about the week surrounding that particular incident who knows?

Traveling with Big Boi Ninja made it feel like old times. Back when he was on the fast track straight to the top and way before his knees cracked when he yawned. Where were they at again? Union City? No, Lawrence. Midland or something doesn't matter much really. But for some reason, Big Boi seemed more excited than usual.

"Your sister?! Oh, that's right, you're from here, aren't you? Who says you can't go home, huh?" Pete clapped the very large Ninja on the extra wide back, "I'd love to stay with your family Big Boi! Sure beats sleeping in the van. But don't worry, your sister's honor is safe. I learned a long time ago to keep my moves inside the ring. Remember what happened to Don Juan de Muerte? He was always trying to steal his opponent's girlfriends or sisters and now where is he? Nobody knows," Pete said with a chuckle and a conspiratorial wink, "not even the sheriffs."

The little town wasn't half as bad as he was expecting. Everyone recognized him and Big Boi wasn't lying about his sister's cooking. Pete ate until he was worried he would rip his trunks and fell into a deep sleep sprinkled with dreams of golden belts and screaming fans.

Morning broke and his appetite came roaring back so, at the diner, he ordered up a tall stack of flapjacks (the most hilarious breakfast food), a pot of coffee, and four raw eggs along with a lemon and an empty glass. Naturally, a small crowd formed as he demolished the pancakes and two steaming cups of coffee.

Now, if Pete knew anything it was how to work a crowd. He deftly twisted, bent, and inflated straws much like an arm or leg in the ring between signing coasters and flexing. The luchador was so in character that didn't notice the other wrestlers come in. He was in the middle of a joke when he heard Uh, gosh, it's Peyosi Pete!, Cain, look....

"So I says to her, I says listen. To be Frank, I'd have to change my name!" Pete said as he pulled a small beat-up silver flask from his trunks and poured some of its contents into his mug. He stirred it with the tip of his cigar while he sized up other luchadors. Henry and Cain? The local hopefuls? Pete downed his mug of spiked coffee in one gulp and then made a face before holding the mug up for a closer look, and a sniff.

That Brown was stronger than he remembered! Or maybe seeing the young wrestlers sparked some sentimental feelings deep inside because things He's maybe feeling a bit stupid and contagious herestarted getting warm and just a little fuzzy. "So, you've seen the rest, now you get to meet the best. Did you little guys come to see how champions do it?" Pete asked while he cracked all four eggs at once into the glass. He squeezed the lemon on top of the eggs and produced a bottle of hot sauce from his trunks. With a wink to one of the older ladies sipping tea in the booth opposite, he shook a few generous drops of the red liquid into his glass and gulped the mixture down.

Peyosa Pete sauntered across the diner with the swagger of luchador nobility and pulled a rolled-up poster of himself, in peak condition, out of his boot and spread it on the counter. He grabbed a nearby pen and wrote 'To my biggest little fans,' then looked to the Swap brothers with a wide grin. "Who are you two again?"
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Old Oct 9th, 2021, 11:05 PM
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In Which Henry Goes Over The Edge

Nothing seems to register with Henry other than the last words of Big Boi ringing in his ears. His affable face falls. He looks at Myrna, his dream and his plans plunging into an icy sea of disappointment like a calving glacier. After a few silent moments he croaks, "M-Myrna loves Cain?" He looks at his brother with blurring vision, moisture appearing at the corners of his eyes. He forces out, "Y-You said...we would...ha-have a-yuh Royal Ball." His face reddens. "We-yuh were...gonna live Ha-Happily Ever AFTER!"

The devastated Henry turns and runs out into the street. Then he starts to run faster, and as his despair grows he begins to spin. Slowly at first, then accelerating more and more until his motion makes the eyes water and the dust from the road whips about him in a brown, cloudy trail. A trail that appears to be making a straight line for the Goat Veterinarian's Laboratory. Although the details are as hazy to the younger Swap as his whirling form is to the onlookers, the mad scientist is linked in his mind to the start of his current troubles.




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Old Oct 10th, 2021, 04:07 PM
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A Work In Progress
Henry's suggestion had been a good one. They need to throw a proper party. The town loves them, but that is just for this week. The fortunes of furtive fans are fickle. Sausages and such are nice, but they're gonna need an audience that would follow them. They're gonna need Cash, too. Cain's better with animals than humans, always has been, but he's good at solving problems. He sits in his room surrounded by a new stack of blank fliers. He has to treat this as a series of problems that needed solving, instead of a collection of people to try to befriend... and ultimately be rejected by.

So, a checklist:
1) Fans that will follow them out of town. - Bein' the pride of this town is great, but that won't matter a lick once they gotta leave.
1a) Travel isn't always easy, or safe. They needed to minimize the number of fans that they lost to Rattle-Wasps.
1b) Now that we're thinkin' on it. We don't wanna get lost to Rattle-Wasps, neither.
2) Income that weren't just purse money. - Because that was just gamblin', and they needed more in their life than gamblin'.
2a) They needed to find sponsorships that reinforced their identities, instead of changing them.
2b) They might be able to do some odd jobs?
3) Henry's "Ball" - A fond farewell for Midlin, and a final chance to make/reinforce any important connections.
3a) Dance Floor, Musicians, Some Way for a Grand Entrance!
3b) Pyrotechnics! Before the collapse, the stands that sold those playful explosives were as ubiquitous as Dollar Stores and Methamphetamines.

Slants of dawn light slip into the room through the cracks in his wall and light up a dozen dancing dust orbs. They remind Cain that if he tries to sleep now, he'll just get yelled at again for sleeping late. Brandi has her own damages. While Cain isn't sure how many of her ring-side accusations that he wants to believe, he is certain that she believes them. Maybe she also knows that he's barely holding on trying to fill the shoes left behind by Timmy Masterson when he joined the list of people that abandoned them? Those are more things for his list of problems to be solved. He groans and falls backward on the bed. The bulky man only closes his eyes for a moment, before mopping water lands on his face. Again. Is there a sparkle in her eye, despite her grousing? Mad and bitter as she might be, Brandi's home now.
Will it be worth it? Probably.
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For the first part of the week, Cain moves around quietly and searches for the tools he needs to solve his problems. He is a silent ghost while the town, and perhaps Henry, parties around him. The Milk Man isn't mad, though. His younger brother has had few enough winning moments in his life and he is allowed to savor the ones he gets. Cain, however, knows that these celebrations won't last forever and that they surely won't pay his rent. He needs a good source of Fireworks, so he'll start at the General Store. Maybe, the fellow knew where he could start in his search for a good line on recreational explosives? Maybe, he'd be so kind to even spot the Luchador enough to make a spectacle at the party? What if they proudly announced that the party was brought to Midlin by the good graces of the General? There was definitely room on the fliers to announce the General's generosity and continuing support to the Town's entertainments. Yes, that part should get to the heart of the deal.

Next, he would need to find a spot for a proper party... well, they have the streets, don't they? Marci's gym was Marci's, not the Swaps. Cain went and found a moment to ask her what she thought about being at the center of a block party, come Luchador Night? Obviously, that would put more people coming in the door and that could only mean good things from those people who profited from the number of people coming in the door. The party itself will be held outside, of course. There's no way that the whole town can pack inside. That means that Cain's next stop is whatever counts as the local Constabulatory force... or whatever official is required to 'Permit' parades, block parties, and hastily established stages with sparklers and smoke bombs. That one is probably a harder sell... where Cain tries his best to leverage 'Elevating Midlin' to a vital part of the 'Luchador Touring Circuit'. Pointing out that he already has the support of Which would have been necessary to have gotten this farThe General and Marci might also have helped.

With all of that Assuming it could even be handledhandled, next comes the gathering of forces! The Puppeteers and their homicidal actors. "Your Ideas have been magnificent... now I come to you in hopes that you can wow us all with another round of inspiration. We're going to need musicians. Can't have a ball without music. It's in the rules." Cain nods with a firm look on his face. "Soo... do you think one of your number might be skilled in such a way? Do you think you might be able to find a band made of furtive felt before this weekend? Or... do you think that you can find a local group willing to entertain the masses?" So many moving parts, this plan has. So little time to get them all in order. When was the last time Cain got a proper night's sleep? Too long ago. Too long.

Parties can sometimes pay for themselves, but usually not. A conditional cover is often used to nudge the party in the right direction. It's easier to say that the cover of one bison will be waived if the entrant is wearing an homage to their favorite luchador's appearance than it is to simply request them to wear a costume. A few measly bisons might be made off of those who don't have the time or inclination... but there will be enough that dress up that Henry will get his Fancy Masquerade Ball. Gathering those coins would have been a job for Timmy. That darned boy. Why'd he have to leave them like everyone else?
Breakfast at Tiff...Myrna's
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By the time came for that fateful breakfast... Cain is running on fumes. His eyes are bloodshot, and he's paler than ever. Sounds come to him through muffled cotton. Still, even that doesn't deter him from feeling a tinge of excitement at seeing two honest-to-goodness Luchadors. Like Brandi, these guys are the real deal. Pete has been around long enough to be one of Cain's childhood heroes, and like Ruffy... whatever time has taken from him, he had every right to the fame he still carried. As the aging clown unrolled the poster to sign, a small grin spread across the exhausted Cain's face. "Oh, we're the Swap Brothers, sir! I didn't expect to see you here, or I surely would have tried to bring a gift." He speaks with an earnest demeanor that can only be mustered by fools and protagonists, "Boy, it sure would be swell to have a chance to meet up proper some time. I know a famous man like yourself is too busy for a couple of new kids like me and Henry... but maybe someday soon, alright? It would be a heck-of-a-thing to get to talk to one of the true masters someday."

He gestures to his brother, "This morning, I'm here to eat breakfast with my brother and this lady he has his heartstrings all aflutter over." He looks over just in time to see Henry's tear-streaked and reddened face turn towards him. The sleep-deprived Cain just stands there flustered, he had missed the whole interchange with Big Boi. He has no idea what was going on, only that something has set off his little brother. Cain blinks one sleep-bereft eye at a time, taking a moment to process what he is seeing. He turns back one last moment to one of his childhood heroes, "Sorry, sir... but I've gotta go check on my brother..." And with that, he goes dashing out of the restaurant.
STELLA!!!This is one of those times where it's supposed to be raining. And Dark. With a chill breeze wrapping around a lovelorn protagonist. But it isn't like that at all.. it is mid-morning and mid-week. People are going about their days. In amongst it all is the swirling and heartbroken form of the younger Swap brother. Down goes a cart full of Dust Cabbages, its owner crying out in consternation. Chasing through the street after him is the As-Tall-As-Wide Milk Man, who is sorely missing several nights' rest and now at least one breakfast.

"HENRY!!" He shouts. Will he be able to talk some sense into the boy? Only time will tell... and Cain has a sinking suspicion that he may be running low on it.
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Last edited by JustSomeGuy; Oct 11th, 2021 at 01:20 AM.
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Old Oct 10th, 2021, 10:56 PM
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Special Delivery–Sunday Morning
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Swap Brothers, let's be clear about this: Perhaps, if pressed, Brandi would admit to thinking both of you a bit hunky, but basically she hates your guts. Reasons aplenty. But even she was a tad impressed when a special delivery came to the gym from across the street.

"Rare stuff," said General Delivery Man. "Treat it with respect; and we'll send over our best artillery crew to help you on Sunday." And with that, General Delivery Man left the box in the gym, turned around, crossed the street and became, once again, General Cashier Guy. But it didn't matter if he didn't linger to explain, the package spoke for itself—FIREWORKS! Brandi, of course, had heard of these in old tales and stories. But she had never seen one in real life, not in a box and not in the air.

"Mom!" she calls out. "Mom! You'll never believe this."

At first, of course she didn't. And neither did anyone in Midlin. But word got out, and all day people stopped by to see the box, and all day messenger pigeons went out with the news and more and more people came into town. Marci's Gym not only had Payaso Pete and Big Boi Ninja ... it was going to set off fireworks. By early afternoon, Marci realized she would have to move the bout outside. By 4pm, the mats and ropes were set out in the middle of the street. It was the street party that Cain Swap had brainstormed ... though it wasn't clear where Cain was.

On any other week, perhaps, the diner drama of Henry and Cain might have been the talk of Midlin. But ... in case you hadn't heard—Midlin was going to shoot of some genuine, old-timey fireworks. And, really, what is anything compared to that?

Oh. There were other things in that same delivery.

 


 



Pre-Match Hype
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Pete, Big Boi ... whatever went down earlier in the diner didn't affect either of you. At least not as far as anyone could tell.

You two are professionals. Been there, power-slammed that.

But these puppets you met at the gym? Honestly, they freaked you out a bit—and you two are fairly freaky yourselves.

Oh! Mister Payaso Pete! Mister Big Boi Ninja they fan-puppeted all over you as soon as you entered the gym to check it out a few hours after you arrived. That's okay, you were used to that. You had already dealt with and dispatched dozens of admirers. But these guys were clingy. And they wanted you to see their show. Ok, ok, you stayed to see their show. You probably shouldn't have. You probably should have know from the posters they had put up around town.
 


"Oh, thank you! Thank you! Thank you!" they repeated perhaps 3 dozen times. And then they began the action with a dark gym, and one puppet coming to the center in candlelight. "This week, our creative consultant, the Great Luchador from Midlin ... the very Milk Man, asked us to bring to you a great musical number ... and so we have. Please, we present to you ... an old-time classic from before the collapse ... from the very edges of history: Dial the Logs of the Camel Lights!"

It was a classy beginning, you had to admit. Unfortunately that was the high point. It began with a puppet coming out and declaring that a Great Collapse had fallen France, and that the Dirt Farmers had found the secret order of the Rich Camel Lights, who were actually Caramel Nut eaters—imagine the luxury and wealth. The Dirt Farmers had captured them and were ready to lead them to ... and here some 30 candles were lit illuminating a knife-blade thing at center stage that they called Gill of Tin. At first one voice began singing, then the entire troupe of puppets began singing...and then some of the puppets dressed in the same white robes marched up to the Gill of Tin one by one as it fell down on them, one by one, slicing of their heads. The last voice died out when the blade fell for the last time. The candles were snuffed. The performance was done. Who the fork were these clowns?!

Fortunately, as you had probably heard. There were fireworks scheduled later that day. And just as the puppets were finished making everyone uncomfortable, the wagons with Pete's Pals were arriving not by the dozens as they used to, but at least 5 or 6 of them. You could smell the lizard-poop-bombs and the laughter. Happy times were here again.



The Bout
The stars began to appear as the bout began in the middle of Midlin's only main street, Main Street.

The challengers—bless their hearts—actually seemed optimistic as they strode into the ring, running a belligerent line of puppets who jeered at them and threw wet clay.

Bison Boy and Baby Bison, a large man and a ... not large man, both hairy with brown, raggedy masks and what must have been meant to be two horns sewed to the top of each of them, twirled in the ring before at least three dozen of Pete's Pals rushed to the center and pushed them aside. Bison Boy and Baby Bison seemed not to know what to do—you can't push back against children, can you? Well, you should if they are Pete's Pals, because otherwise they'll just keep pushing you ... pushing you ... pushing you ... yep, right out of the ring.

The ring cleared, Pete and Big Boi enter to thunderous applause. Oh, and had you heard ... fireworks! At least one of them went off and the crowd ooohhhed! and aweeeed! as Pete's Pals took turns peeing in Bison Boy's water pail. Those lovable rascals!

And then the match began ... Bison Facing off against Payaso Pete for Round 1

Round 1
Bison Boy crouches, steps in and ... falls flat on his face, not realizing that someones have tied his shoelaces together. Pete casually walks over, plants one foot on each of Bison Boy's arms, and body-slams into him.

"Insane Clown Ninjas 1, Bisons 0!" shouts the referee.

As Bison Boy struggles to untie his knots, Pete casually walks over, and tags Big Boi, who climbs upon the top of the corner ropes and launches himself into the air toward Bison Boy.


Round 2
Boom! Bang!

The "boom" is Big Boi's body flattening Bison Boi.
The "bang" is a flash of light, blinding everyone, except Pete who seems to have known to put on some shades and casually walks into the ring and begins kicking Bison Boy as Big Boi holds him down.

"Can't see nothing, but from what I hear...ICNs 2, Bisons 0!" shouts the referee as one of Pete's Pals hands him shades.


Round 3
"Hey! These shades are painted over!" screams the referee as Pete's Pals erupt in laughter and begin swarming Baby Bison on the sideline. They pull the smaller wrestler into the audience where the puppets begin pummeling him, preventing him from reaching Bison Boy who is desperately trying to tag out.

"Pete and Big Boi 3, Bisons 0. That's the match!" shouts a voice. It isn't the referee's voice, but everyone knows it is true.


Round 4
Beaten, broken and somewhat humiliated, Bison Boy tries to crawl out of the ring as Big Boi pelts him with foam stars and kicks him to add injury to insult.

Pete's Pals are in the audience holding up a big sign: "4 to Zero! Don't Stop Now!"

Bison Boy calls out to stop.

The referee calls for a stop.

Pete's Pals pour a pail over his head.

Fireworks erupt.


Round 5
In what might be the biggest small victory of the night, Baby Bison has fought his way past the ropes and onto the mats. He rushes at Pete, who squeezes the flower pinned (yes, literally pinned to his bare chest) and sprays water into his eyes as a prelude to a right hook.

"5 and Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!" shout Pete's Pals. The rest of the fireworks erupt.

Midlin...you're on the map.

Swap Brothers, are you ready to face this pair?



 
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Old Oct 11th, 2021, 03:53 PM
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Puppet
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The night after the match with the Bisons, Big Boi was reliving the event and enjoying their success. But every time he looked out into the crowd to get applause, the chairs were all filled with those creepy little puppets. As the dream went on, the cheers from the crowd slowly started turning into cries of dread as the sound of the puppets beheading themselves replaced what should have been a happy dream. Even though the event was outside in the middle of the day, darkness seem to close in all around him. Soon, his partner Pete was missing. Looking across the ring, he saw Pete's head in a pool of blood, next to the two Bison opponents. An evil laughter filled the arena as blades started to fly at him from all directions. Then he was looking up at his own headless body.

Waking up in a pool of sweet, Big Boi jumped out of bed and looked in a mirror to make sure he was still alive. He saw his partner sleeping on the couch. It was all just a dream. One very sick and evil dream. Then more thoughts of those creepy little puppets came back and he could feel them watching him in the dark. It felt like they were all around.

"I am a NINJA! The bringer of death in the dark. I am not the one that should be afraid of the dark. They should be afraid. Those little puppets need to die." Big Bio gathered his courage and bought out his real ninja gear. This time, his outfit actual fits him and is completely black. This time, his weapons are real and not made out of foam. This time, he is not putting on a show for a crowd. This was personal.

Slipping out into the night, Big Boi Ninja made his way over to the location the puppets were resting. Silently he made his way into their lair. And without making a noise, he gathered all the puppets into a bag that was soaked with knockout liquid. And just as quietly as he broke in, like a shadow he simply disappeared back into the night.

Once back at his sister's place, he pondered what to do with the creepy little things. Of course, with all the running around, he was also hungry, so it shouldn't be too much of a surprise he decided to cook the little things. Covering them with BBQ sauce and grilling them over an open fire, the crispy little creepers made a good late night snack. And with the evil that spawned his nightmares gone, Big Boi was able to go back to sleep, although this time with just a little bit of an upset stomach.

The next morning, he was back in his public persona costume of a dorky ninja outfit a couple of sizes too small. No one would ever suspect him of being an actual Ninja. It was all part of his plan. Greeting his sister for breakfast, Big Boi still had a bit of upset stomach, but nothing a good breakfast couldn't fix. If anyone should ask about the disappearance of the puppets, Big Boi was prepared to pretend he knew nothing about it.
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 12:54 AM
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Flawless victory, as expected
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Pete signed the poster for the Swap Brothers just before they each ran out shouting in the street. Ah, to be young and so full of life! There was a time he would've leaped off his barstool and chased after flipping carts and barrels while howling like a feral desert cat. But, that was a long time ago.

This older, more sophisticated version of Peyosa Pete simply poured another cup of steaming coffee, added a generous dash from his trusty silver flask, and signed a poster for the diner. While he was at it he did one for the gym too, as was customary of visiting champs.

Later, he moseyed on over to check out the gym and limber up a bit before the match. The gym itself was, well, it was a gym probably. Hey, there was a time when he started out wrasslin' in a dilapidated old barn. Pete was just glad they moved the ring outside to accommodate the expected crowd. The fireworks helped distract him. That and the puppets.

The show was good if just a bit dark. And bloody. It was one he'd never seen before but the passion those little blighters brought was undeniable! That bunch, with their tiger eyes and shark smiles, was one you were glad to have on your side. Much like his own Pals only, slightly more murderous.

After the show, Pete approached Cain Swap while the puppets were still bowing. It wasn't hard to pick the large dude decked out in all white from a town of dust farmers. "Hey, there! I heard you put all this together? Not bad, not bad at all considering what you're working with here," the clown put his hand on the milkman's shoulder. "But listen, those puppets, be careful. You've heard the stories of folk bringing in stray critters from the wastes. Everything is all warm and fuzzy until they sleep in a bit and miss a feeding only to wake up to their face being eaten."

Now, I'm not saying they're rabid face-eaters or anything but, I know the type some might even say creepy but, then again, some call clowns creepy so whadda they know? Heck, I keep 'em around me too! My little rascals should be rolling in soon. Just a tip from an old pro, keep feeding them what they like and you'll all be happy."

"Everyone loves a winner kid. Show weakness and they turn on you. But I'll let you in on another little secret, free of charge. It don't matter if they're cheering or jeering, they're still shouting your name." Pete patted Cain's shoulder, "and that's what it's all about!" With a wink he was off again, shaking hands and crackin' jokes.

The Bison Babies finally made an appearance and that was about the only showing they mustered. Pete's Pals did not disappoint, maybe the puppets were taking notes? But the match went as expected. Pete stood on the ropes shining with sweat and oil as the fireworks erupted and held Big Boi's arm high. They sent the jobbers packing and gave the people what they came to see. He lit up a cigar and pointed to the Swap brothers "That's how it's done fellas! Five and OH!" He chanted with his band of delinquents.

Pete slept the whole night through, peacefully and oblivious to any late-night assassination runs. When he woke there was a faint smell of campfire and molasses in the air. "Mornin'! How'd you sleep?" He asked his partner, Big Boi Ninja. He knew his friend was more than a little disturbed by last night's entertainment and possibly nervous from his big homecoming match. "Me, I slept like a log. Woke up in the fireplace!"
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Old Oct 13th, 2021, 08:43 PM
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There were Fireworks, On and Off the Stage
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A letter from Ma came, that was nice. Apparently, they had family here, or one of them did... if Brandi was to be believed. Cain made a note to swing by there soon. An abandoned Train Depot sounded like the kind of place he could go to kick his feet up... and surely she wouldn't miss a few snackin' Mushrooms. He would take Henry, and they would take a day to explore the Fungal Farms behind the heavy Storm Doors and the rusting train depot. There was a package from Timmy! Maybe he had sent back some of those coins he had left with, or Ruffy's Medallions. The box was far too quiet to hold that rooster, though. Another mental note, to look through that letter for a Code. Were there numbers hidden in it? Cain didn't rightly recall any hidden messages, but he was highly consternated his first time reading it. Too soon, though... those mental notes evaporated under the weight of his beloved brother's scorn.

What was said that sunbaked day was furtive and furious. Two brothers shouted over misgivings and misunderstandings. It's not worth bringing up the specifics now, because they seemed to have worked it out by the time they were through hollering at each other. Except... Except there are now a few lingering glances. Pursed lips and tightened jaws sit on faces that once beamed with smiling innocence. Cain was beginning to suspect that everyone in his life was destined to abandon him. He'd still spend his nights losing sleep in his room to ensure their fliers got made. He'd still wake up groggily with ink-stained and cramped hands to stagger into the Gym and get slapped about the head and shoulders. He'd still roll and twirl and throw with Henry... but the brothers weren't playing anymore. They were working. The first cracks had appeared in the House of Usher.
Finding One's Self

'In a Mood' is how Mamma would have described Cain that Sunday. He stood quietly to the side, watching his carnivorous puppets put on their show. He wondered again what the real relationship was between the puppets and their puppeteers. Which one animated the other? The story they told was Dark, but Cain was in a Dark Mood... and he liked it. It rang true. Perhaps we do not die for ourselves, but for someone else? What if Death was just a doorway into greater service? What made service so great, anyway? How many times would betrayal come bearing a knife, seeking what it only thinks it wants? Brooding became a comfortable place for Cain. There aren't any cows or dogs or other beasts of the farm here to lick away the darkness. No, those were the sweet parts of a living ranch hand's life... and those parts went away when he died.

Having Pete grab him by the shoulder was nice. One of his heroes told him that he had done a good thing and that warning about taking in face chewing critters didn't fall on deaf ears. The puppets had to be fed. The fireworks were perfect. This was the kind of Shenanigans that Midlin needed. Let the word spread. Let the Luchadors come here. Let Marci's Gym be synonymous with Glory. The Swaps didn't need the Glory. Midlin did. Not just Midlin, but all of these survivors scraping by from one day to the next under the scorn of the sun. Glory was something that made everyone who witnessed it step a little lighter the next day. Watching one of his childhood idols absolutely dominate in the ring, backlit by his pyrotechnics and surrounded by the cheers of the crowd that he helped gather. That there was something worth witnessing.

He also got to see Pete's Pals in action. There was something there. Some idea was lurking just outside his conscious thoughts. It would wait for now. When the night ended, he gave his brother a curt nod and left holding a jar of his star-gazing mushrooms. He would find himself that night. Alone. He searched, and peered, and explored, and grappled with what it meant to be himself. What was left of himself? Why was he even here? If Henry could run off on him like that... if he could just walk away from a lifetime of brotherhood at the drop of a hat... who was he wrestling for?

He wasn't as dumb as he made himself out to be, he knew that much. It was just easier to be stupid, yanno? People expected you to take your time coming up with answers, and they didn't go too hard on you if you had nothin' to say or got something wrong. He liked having a full belly and being alone under the stars. He liked having something curled up beside him when he slept... someone or something that wouldn't complain about how much room he took up. He liked hearing the cheers of people used to being sad and overworked... even when it wasn't for meant him.

Somewhere around the point in time where the stars were fading into the dawn's light and the dew collectors were coming online, the howling started. He was pretty sure it was his own howling, but it might have belonged to an animal, or the animal in himself, or something else entirely. By the time the dawn had fully come, he was covered in his own sweat and he had the answer he had come lookin' for.

He was the Man of Milk.
He was the Wraith of Midlin.
He was the Ghost of Cain Swap
.
On to BusinessHe was both tired and invigorated when he came into the Gym that Monday. The Puppets were missing! Perhaps they had gone on a murder spree, without inviting their puppeteers? No... there was foul play involved, for sure, and what a wonderful way to repay that foul play than to up the ante? What did you say? How?? does one Up the Ante on a pure expression of bloodthirsty and theatrical nightmare fuel? When you remind their creators that one of the Swap Brothers is a ghost. "Remake them exactly in their former image.... and here, take a few extra Bisons to ensure you have the proper materials. Whoever might be responsible should be shaken at their return. In fact... let us spend this week hiding their existence, let us bemoan their loss, let whoever tried to steal them from us rest easy for a week... knowing that their dark work was done. ... and let them QUAKE at the sight of their VICTIMS walking once more! Let them KNOW who the VICTIMS will be!" He turned to walk away from the shaken group of costume designers and puppeteers but turned to look over his shoulder, "Oh... and replace their fake weapons with the real thing. No fan of mine should be caught with a wooden sword." ... and like that, a new Cain Swap walked back into the closet he called his office.

Timmy's safe still sat there. Waiting. Cain, his vision still wiggling a bit in the periphery, grabbed Timmy's original letter and skimmed over it. The spelling wasn't perfect, nobody's was... but he did make the most errors when it came to numbers, didn't he? How about 1224.... no, 12244. That should be it.

 
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 09:07 AM
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Henry
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He had arrived at the door of the goat vet's in a thunderous mood, his personal dust storm settling and a shallow furrow in the dirt road tracing his path back to the gym. Henry wiped the tears from his eyes and prepared to open the door, ready to offer himself up as the Goat Twister. His mind obsessively ticked back and forth like the pen-jilum on Momma's antique clock. Myrna...Cain...Myrna...Cain...Myrna...Cain...Henry ...Henry...Henry? "Hennnnnry!"

He turned. There was Cain a few feet behind him, red-faced and grime-streaked, yelling his name. There were words, and because it was Cain they were reasonable and assuring words, and he gradually came to the conclusion that he had been A Little Slow. Momma had explained it once when a sad Henry had told her what he overheard Doc Maggie calling him. But it wasn't as bad as Henry had thought. Momma's Momma was Agnes Slow of the Couer d'Alene Slows. They were decent folk, but they were famous for letting their feelings get hurt too easily. So Henry knew that about himself, because lots of people had pointed out his ancestry to him over the years.

"Uh, Cain, I-yam just A Little Slow," he pleaded. But maybe Cain had some Slow blood as well, because now his older brother didn't want to talk any more. Henry reasoned that he and Cain had the same Grammaw. So Henry knowingly decided to Give Him Some Space and then everything would be all right. The brothers focused on their training and didn't talk much. But just when folks wondered if the strain between the two brothers would ever relax, that great unifier reared its ugly head: a common enemy. Someone had kidnapped their fan base. Cain dealt with it as practically as always, by getting them replaced. Henry, who loved the puppets dearly, went out into the Town with vengeance in his heart, and one name in his head. One man had torn his happiness from him once, and a man like that would stoop to anything...

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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 06:46 PM
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And another thing…It was one of those days where the weather made his hands swell. There was a dust storm brewin’ somewhere. He was waiting for Brandi… a thought had burbled to the surface of that stewing swamp that was Cain’s mind. “When we fought… you did a thing… where you knew you were going to take the hit… and used your opportunity to properly land one…” He ran his thick sausage fingers through his hair, “Can you show me?”
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Old Oct 14th, 2021, 10:56 PM
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Once Cain recalled it was a four-number combination, everything slid into place. As he rotated the last "4" in the 2-2-4-4, the box opened with a small >>pop<< to reveal a key with the marking "US POST," a letter, and one of the two Rooster Medallions.

 

 


There was also the voice of Marci No Mercy. Unfortunately that wasn't contained in the box.

"Oh, so you do have one of those medallions after all. Never knew what I was more jealous of, Annette or that rooster. If you're going to use it, use it after practice—I'm the only coach in my gym. Now then ... I hear you and Henry are working on a new move. That's good, we're going to need everything we got to go up against Pete and Big Boi. Did you see how they fought? Powerful...and though they themselves are flashy, they stick to the basics—just look at those tag-offs. They're nothing special but they never, ever fail. No ... tell me if you saw where they are vulnerable"?

If you start to answer, she isn't having it.

"Tell me in the ring, Milk Man...in the ring."



The Quick and the Dead, The Slow and the Dread
Henry ... Momma has told you, though maybe you thought she was just being a mom when she did ... but there isn't anything wrong with being slow.

Slow doesn't do rash. Slow often avoids regrets. Slow commits when its ready, be it to a fight or to love. And it doesn't back down.

But here's a thought that has slowly reached you. What if you aren't the Swap? Well, that would mean you also aren't of the House of Slows of the of the Couer d'Alene Slows ... it would mean ... you're just you're own type of slow? This is something to ponder ... but you don't have much time for that now.

Big Boi has become a big barrier to you and Myrna. Cain is off brooding and the costume designers and the actors are arguing and holding heated 2-1 votes on everything from whether or not they will pick up and leave, to what type of costumes should they make ...

Eventually, you hear them agree to stay (a 2-1 decision, but a different 2 and a different 1), and they all begin furiously creating wraith puppets.

"We hope you don't mind," says the costume designer. "Material is short, so your cape is now shorter, too."

And sure enough, the new puppets are a dash of silver and a dash of cream, and your capes are now capelets, or really just glorified boas. And one, you notice is a cow. "Barnyard theme," says the designer with a wink. "We thought maybe...yes?"

"By the way ..." says one of the actors (you've never really been able to tell them apart). "We were going to the diner for lunch today. Nice service. We tip them so they might know us. But I don't think they really know us. We could, you know ... pass on any regards or instructions for a rendezvous?"

Perhaps these puppets are better souls, because when the actor says that last bit, they look to you with rapt attention, and not even one sideways glance at their sharpened little sticks.



Big Boi
It's good to be with your sister.

To the entire world, you're some big buffoon. The luchador promoters spread stories about how you literally steal candy from kids and get caught breaking into the protein-factories, where you dip yourself in vats of synthetic pork. Sure, sure, ain't it funny.

But Myrna knows that's all an act, and she's perhaps the only one beside Pete who gets who intelligent and—let's be honest—how agile you are in mind and body. Hey! There's nothing weird about that. That isn't where we're going with this. You feel yourself compelled to shout to an inner-not-fully digested puppet. What you are thinking is just, family is nice. And it's been awhile since you've been with your own.

Given that, you have no regrets you ate the loony puppets of that farm boy sweet on your sister. He might not be all that dangerous, but his pals were. The bloat, the discomfort, the hours you expect to spend in the outhouse tonight...all worth it.

You have three days until your big match on Sunday. You and Pete are performing like you've known each other 100 years. So maybe you can take a few days off and ... take your missions to the night? There's a sleek, black outfit calling you. Surely even this sleepy old town deserves one shot at hosting a big-city ninja mission.




Divertissement
Pete ... when a clown looks back at his life, what does he see? How does he measure success?

For years, it seems you have measured success in the joy you have given audiences. Sure ... you won a few minor titles and staged a few upsets, but your real legacy has been that everyone who came to your bouts knew you were going to put on a show. And they loved you for it. They still do.

Some love you because you show off the moves they knew as a kid. Some love you because they are the kids of those who first saw your moves when they were kids, and they love seeing the old moves for the first time. And then there are those times when you pull out an entirely new trick ... as crisp and fresh as a fake bison bill.

But those new moves, they are coming harder and harder to you. You've thought about retiring this season or next. You know, get your own gym, find a worthy successor among the young luchadors. You might have done this earlier if you just weren't having so much fun.

And now, here you are in Midlin. You've got a good partner, but—let's be honest, Big Boi is secretly too balanced and too kind of a guy to be a real terror in the ring. He's got a contentment you never had, and you love and envy him for that. And your Pete's Pals ... well, like you said...they're always on the verge, always just about to make even you uncomfortable.

So here you are in Midlin. And you thought maybe one of these Swap Brothers might be someone you could acclaim as your successor. But the first meeting was awkward, even by weird fanboy standards. And Big Boi—who we've all agreed is just a gentle soul—really seems to hate one of them.

You have three days before your match. You could take it easy and dazzle the locals. You could indulge these Swap boys with some avuncular advice. You could (you know) ... flirt with Marci (dang! she's still go it) ... or you could let out that beast in yourself, the one that first drove you to this sport and tore through your forced circus smile as you broke arms and ruptured knee caps in your fury. You could train for the bout. You could go out showing this next generation what they don't know—but what a few well-placed blows could teach...that you never underestimate Payaso Pete.



 
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Old Oct 17th, 2021, 12:53 AM
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A midweek Midlin dream
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Pete slept in late the day after the match with the Bisons, he wouldn't admit it but, it was starting to take longer and longer to recover even after the easy exhibition bouts. He just played it off as a hangover and, so far, nobody really noticed the difference. He rarely had hangovers anymore but his joints screamed at him to hang up his proverbial crown.

That thought was weighing heavy on his mind. Later, at the diner, Pete said to Big Boi "Ya know, this place isn't half bad. One day, if I ever retire, I could see myself in a town like this." Retire; that was the first time he'd ever said that word out loud. Maybe it would be good to end it on a high note and hang it all up when they beat the Swap Bros. It would be better than to fade into obscurity and disappointment like Handsome Steve who, unfortunately, after that accident with the steel chair and mutant porcupine, left the game anything but.

If they somehow manage to lose to the rookies though... Is that something he could bounce back from? Pete took a slug from his flask and shook the thought from his head. losing, HA! "Aw, who am I kidding? I can't stop now, you heard the people last night. They need me, need us. No, this clown ain't settling down just yet."

Really, it was he who needed them. Over the years he'd grown accustomed to the frantic luchador lifestyle. The lights, adrenaline, and the wild crowds all made for a heady elixer. It wasn't something Pete was ready to give up.

The next day, he found himself drawn back to the gym. Was it a sudden need to train? Pete had never been the overly disciplined type, it was something else. He took a final puff off the gnarled cigar and then stamped it out with a comically oversized shoe as he saw her. Marci.

There she was, tossing mats around and generally glistening in the heat. Pete sucked in his gut, puffed his chest and stepped into her gym. "Marci! Been a long time, you haven't changed at all!" It was true, she still looked like she could hoist him over her head and toss him over the ropes. "So, you've been training those boys, eh? I'll try not to break 'em for you." He smiled a Peyosa Pete smile and flexed out of habit.

"Anyway, I just came in to see if I could warm up a little. Brush the rust off, unfortunately, those Bison Boys didn't even knock the dust loose. Whaddya say we jump into the squared circle? Just a friendly sparring sesh, for old times sake." He smiled, held out his silver flask, and raised an eyebrow. Marci No-Mercy, the debutante of destruction, he wouldn't mind being pinned by her. Not one bit.
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Old Oct 17th, 2021, 03:12 PM
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Yoshimi Yoshimi is offline
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Henry
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Henry had spent two days investigating the mysterious disappearance of his beloved puppets. His method entailed asking passers-by and bystanders if they knew anything about the matter, and ultimately knocking on doors in desperation. He might have gotten an answer if Big Boi Ninja had been home when he came a-knockin', but that was not the case.

Frustrated, the Swap boy threw himself into training with his brother, who still was treating him in a rather distant fashion. Henry was confused by Cain's behavior, since Momma had told them many times, "Girls may come and go, but brothers are forever." What's more, Henry's mind could usually only accommodate one track at a time, and with the loss of the puppets and the upcoming bout, Myrna no longer occupied his thoughts.

At least the two boys still had their chemistry in the sparring ring, and with Marci's guidance they attempted to attempt some new tricks before the bout against the formidable and experienced opponents. Henry called his "The Flying Cow", pointing proudly to the emblem on the front of his costume. "Uh, see, if I-yam spinnin' real good an' can grab a-holt of the other guy, I can toss him in the [i]air[i] and-uh he will go flying like a cow..." He starts to guffaw. "like a cow inna..." His laughter grows, "Like a cow in a...in a...twister." Henry's heart had a special place in it for animals, and the thought of harm befalling one would always strike him as a very grave matter. But sometimes laughter arises at inappropriate times, and just now he found it impossible to describe a cow flying through the sky without losing control of his Funny Bone. The sky was for birds!

Cain proved invaluable in perfecting the trick. By gradual conditioning, Henry found that his elder brother was teaching him to pick up and throw the most inert of opponents. Soon, with a little luck in getting a firm hold, Henry was sure he could toss cows like a read Twister. By the day of the match, it was all he could do to stop himself spinning continually in excitement.

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Last edited by Yoshimi; Oct 18th, 2021 at 12:30 PM.
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