The applause was thunderous. It made the whole building shake, Andy felt the vibrations through the floor. The cheering was deafening so much so he could barely hear any of the backstage crew.
"You ready?" asked Mike, his tag team partner.
Andy Nash, one half of the pro-wrestling team the Space Marines was more than ready. Both he and Mike had spent the last two years building themselves as the top tag team in the sport, they had the longest reigning championship before it all came crashing down last week when they lost. And now it was time for the twist in the story.
Their music hit. The drums began billowing through the arena. Andy and Mike nodded to each other, one last thumbs up from the guy with the headset on. And then they both burst through the curtain. The cacophony of pumping music, pyrotechnic displays and a horde of a hundred thousand cheering bug aliens was enough to make anyone freeze.
Andy began pumping his fist in the air, cheering and shouting anything that came to mind. He didn't need anything to hype him up, the music, the crowd and fireworks was enough to make him feel like he could fight anything.
The Space Marines charged down the ramp, slapping the aliens' weird disgusting hands as they went. The Arad-Shi had spared Earth for one reason, they loved professional wrestling. Who would have guessed that all the other species they wiped out had to do was put on a few fake matches every week.
The Space Marines slid in under the bottom ropes, jumped up on the turnbuckles and saluted the crowd. The little bugs, their children were especially disgusting. Andy had to look away when he caught one open its mandibles to suck down popcorn like a vacuum. He never wanted to see things things procreate.
He shook off the thoughts and slipped back into character. This was the first match the Space Marines had without the championship belt around their waists in over a year and a half. Their first match post losing the belt was against the Heavy Dudes. A pair of massive men famous for just body slamming the shit out every other tag team. Mike started off against Igor. They started slow, doing a bit of classic old school lock ups and holds. Igor and Frank kept tagging each other in, while keeping Mike in their corner to wear him down. It was a pretty standard story they were telling, nothing unusual or exceptional. Andy would start cheering for Mike, clapping his hands above the head getting the alien crowd to join in. Eventually he broke free and tagged Andy in.
Andy Nash came flying in, clotheslining Igor then drop kicking Frank who fell over the top rope and out the ring. The screeching cheers was incredible. He went to the top rope, jumped, back flipped and landed on Igor. The crowd was getting pumped up, as was he. He flipped Igor over, sat on his back, grabbed his head and cranked it back in a camel clutch. The crowd was chanting, "tap, tap tap". Andy gritted his teeth, headbanging trying to look like he was breaking this man's back with all his effort. The ring bounced, Mike and Frank were doing something behind him. Then a boot cracked him in the back of the head. He let go of the submission old and rolled over. Frank and Igor hoisted him up, Andy's brown hair covering his face. He turned round, upside down and slammed back first onto the canvass. He had no idea if that looked good or not, he just hoped it was a half decent finish. He lay there while the referee counted to three and and the Heavy Dudes music kicked in.
Boos echoed around the arena. Andy writhed around on the floor pretending to be in pain. A little proud that the alien fans loved the Space Marines that much. The easy part was over. The match was a filler for the real event. The Heavy Dudes would dance their way up the ramp leaving Andy Nash lying in the ring with Mike Okenfault clutching his head in the corner. The crowd went silent.
The ring bounced slightly as Mike got to his feet, that was Andy's que to start stirring and slowly get to his feet. Andy's stomach was knotted. The Arad-Shi loved the Space Marines. Rince Voso's idea was insane. Andy and Mike had pleaded him not to go along with it, that he was playing with Earth's safety.
Andy got to his feet and met a boot to the face. Mike had hit him with his finisher, a superkick to the face. The crowd did a collective weird alien gasp. Now all Andy had to do was lie there like he had been knocked out.
"Oh boohoo" shouted Mike into the, the mic. "Don't blame me, this idiot here cost us the Tag Team Championship. You should be booing him!"
The alien bugs began a hissing, a noise Andy remembered from the battlefields of the war. His heart raced, he thought he'd die before he was surrounded by a hundred thousand of them.
"The Space Marines, are officially." Pause for dramatic effect. "Over!"
Mike threw down the, the mic and rolled under the rope. He marched off up the ramp. Now it was Andy's turn. He crawled over to where he left the microphone, still selling the superkick like he was just waking up.
"It's not over" his voice growled around the stadium. "Next week, at the Arad-Shi dome on these fans' home planet. You. Me. In a Ladder to the Stars match!."
The crowd went wild. They pumped their foam fists and shook their home made Space Marine signs.Their mandibles vibrated to simulate cheering. After Mike had disappeared behind the curtain Andy started to limp back up the entrance ramp. He stopped to take photos with some of the younger disgusting fans.
Behind closed doors the rest of the locker room was applauding Andy and Mike.
"Fantastic job boys" laughed Rince embracing the pair.
The trip to the Arad-Shi homeworld nearly five days aboard one of their motherships. Andy and Nick had already spent the first two days in the wrestling ring planning their match. The Arad-Shi had been kind enough to give the Earth Wrestling Federation a large open hall for training.
"I'm thinking of going for a new look for this" said Mike. "Since we're not a tag team and all, I need to make it look like i've truly separated from the Space Marines."
"Sure, just don't go with the speedos again" laughed Andy. That haddn't been a good night, as soon as their music hit, they stepped out from behind the curtain the entire arena panicked and it started a stampede to escape. The Stampeedo as Andy had named the event. SWAT and news teams turned up and everything. It was not a good night.
They needed to get back on track though, "worry about that later Mike, right now we need to come up with a finish".
Rince had already told them that Andy was the babyface and he was going over. Meaning he was the crowd favorite, and was the one who was going to win. All they needed to figure was the spots, the big moments and how they wanted to do the epic finish. They spent hours in the practice ring, performing moves working out which big move would go where. Since it was a ladder match they weren't limited to simple wrestling, chairs, ladder, tables, even cheese graters were all legal. And they had bought a shipping container full of stuff to use in creative ways to give the Arad-Shi a great show and a reason not to exterminate their species.
"I've got it" announced Mike. "So you've just hit me with a superkick of your own, I'm flat on my back. You look up the ladder, the crowd cheers. But you shake your head." Andy was getting excited, Mike always came up with the best finishes. "You drag me out the ring, roll me onto a pair of tables, go back in the ring, climb up the ladder, you pull down the star, then jump, do a flip and smash me through the table."
"That is fantastic!" declared Andy. It was exciting, a massive moment to end the night and make their alien overlords happy.
"Then we blow up the bomb under the ring" whispered Mike.
Andy laughed nervously. "Just tell me you're not going with the speedos again."
"Of course not, but you are prepared do this aren't you?"
"The bomb thing..." said Mike tilting his head slightly but losing his grin.
Mike pulled him out the ring, nodded to another pair of wrestlers that it was free for them to use. The pair knelt down beside it and he gently lifted the apron that hid the undersides. Andy peered inside, and low and behold in the centre, attached to the structure was a big fuck off bomb.
"Oh" said Andy trying not to offend his friend. "You're serious". This was not good. If the aliens found it they would all be executed and Earth destroyed.
"Of course, didn't Rince go through this with you?"
"No, he didn't" replied Andy starting to look around the large hall.
"We're all in on this." Some of the other wrestlers caught his eye and nodded. Mean Genie, Kick-Girl, Johnny Six, they somehow knew what the Space Marines were discussing.
"The Arad-Shi Queen and her children are going to be there" added Mike.
Andy took a deep breath and slowly lowered the apron cover, gently making sure there was no gaps for somebody to peer into. Apparently he was now taking part in a suicide mission. That was news to him. "Not that I don't think revolution is great and all" he started, "but...we kind of have a good thing going hear. The aliens leave us alone as long as we put on a wrestling show once a week" he smiled awkwardly. "That's not a bad deal" he added.
"Aren't you sick of it though?" asked Mike. "Being a performing monkey, for this disgusting things?"
"But what about Earth?"
"Earth has been preparing for this since the end of the war" explained Mike. "We're going to put on the match of our lives, die martyrs and ignite the fires of the biggest revolution in human history" he said beaming.
"Oh" nodded Andy, "sounds fantastic".
Mike pulled him in for a hug, "knew you'd be down for this brother."
The next few days were filled with Andy staring out the windows at the incredible sight of space travel. Just before the Arad-Shi showed up man was just about getting ready to go Mars, and now nearly ten years later here he was traveling across the galaxy getting close personal views of unexplored planets and black holes. They didn't get a chance to see the Arad-Shi homeworld, as soon as their ship landed they were taken to arena and had less than a day to set up the ring, pyros and the AV systems.
The show felt like it took forever. All the other wrestlers sat together watching everyone else's performance's throughout the night as they built up to main event. The home crowd was wild, the arena bigger than any he'd seen on Earth. Andy had taken a peak around the corner, the Arad-Shi sat at the top were just a blur of brown. And somewhere their Queen was sat watching.
"A lot of Andy Nash signs out there" laughed Kick-Girl. "You're a hero to these fucking things." Andy tried to laugh it off, but he'd be lying if he wasn't proud of it. These aliens were so powerful, their society so advanced yet they adored him tossing himself and other people around pretending to fight. They cheered for him, wore t-shirts, with four arm holes his name on.
Finally the night was coming to an end, without only the main event left. When Andy's music hit it euphoric, he came charging out, bursting with energy pumping his fists and head banging his way down the ramp. He hi-fived their disgusting hairy stick like hands. The match started, both he and Mike put on the greatest match of their careers. They hit each other with chairs, they climbed the guard rails and fought threw the crowd around the arena. Mike visibly shivered every time one patted him on the back or clicked its mandibles in his ear. They came back to the ring, jumped off the top rope, destroyed tables, trash cans and even pretended to use a staple gun on each others head. As if the Arad-Shi even knew what a staple gun was.
Eventually they came to the finish, Mike was lying on a pair of tables outside the ring. Andy unhooked the big plastic star hanging from the rope. The crowd roared and he executed the most beautiful swan dive of his life. Crashing into Mike and through the tables.
The Arad-Shi cheered, clapped and made whatever strange noises they could with their strange bodies. Lying in a pile on the floor, Mike patted Andy on the back.
"We did it" he sighed pretending to be knocked out.
The cheering went on it, it didn't stop.
The Star Marines lay there in a pile of wood splinters, blood and sweat until eventually Mike stirred, rolled over and peered under the ring.
"Andy, where's the bomb?"
YOU ARE READING
Lords & Ladies of the M'Verse: An Ooorah AnthologyScience Fiction
Each of the 100 stories featured herein will be set within a Universe of the writer's creation, all being a part of a larger, shared Multiverse. Writers have free reign to tell the story they wanna' tell and providing...