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Master of None Part II
Author Message
Lux Online now or has been in the last 30 mins
Pretty Deadly
TITLE - The TV Champion



XWF FanBase:
Some of everyone

(cheered; very rarely plays dirty but isn't lame either; many likable qualities)


Post: #1
03-14-2019 04:57 PM

OOC: A quick OOC note, I'm not sure how things are handled here, but obviously Lux would not broadcast herself killing two people. That part is more character development background information on what is going on behind the scenes. However, other aspects of Lux's gimmick are fair game as always.



The shot is set simply enough in Lux's hotel suite, a few miles from the location of this week's Savage. She looks partially dressed, wearing a white tank top and some nice black slacks. Eyes ahead on the camera, she sets in on Mastermind.

I'm going to start off by saying that I'm really disappointed in myself. Everybody's wrong every once in a while, but rarely is one as catastrophically wrong as I was in my last promo. Thank God you were there to set me straight. And by “set me straight”, I mean show that I grossly overestimated you. Yeah. I thought you were a smart guy with a bit of a hubris problem. It turns out you're just a petty gaslighter with a bit of a bullshit problem. But I guess the only experience required to apply for the position of “Mastermind” is the ability to make up a mountain of lies about your opposition, declare yourself king of mind games and go about your day.

You know what “gaslighting” is, don't you? Smart guy like yourself, I'm sure you do. But for those who don't, I'll spend some time explaining. Gaslighting is when you manipulate someone into questioning their own sanity. Sounds pretty profound, right? Not really. It's just a poor man's mind control, typically used by small insecure men looking to cover their tracks. Gaslighting is the go-to tool of choice for cheating spouses for example. “Oh, you think I'm cheating on you? Honey, you're just being paranoid. I'm really starting to worry about you. Maybe you should go talk to someone.” You see how that works? It's shifting the locus of blame from the real wrongdoer to the one calling them out on it, and trying to minimize the experience, stability, and integrity of the one who's actually in the right. Does that sound familiar to you? Congratulations Mastermind, you're officially in the same league of pathetic arm chair psychologists looking to score some strange on the side.

The other problem with gaslighting is that it only works on people who aren't sure of themselves in the first place. Which is why people who use it for emotional manipulation are so slimy. It's a way of targeting people who are insecure and making them doubt themselves even more. It won't work on me. I KNOW who I am. I know what I've seen and what I've experienced. I've faced down people a lot scarier than you. A lot smarter than you and your woman to boot. And speaking of Maria, I'll admit, I'm not even quite sure what to do with your purposeless “men talk to men and women talk to women” rules. I just....can't even. I mean, does that extend to your personal lives too? Is it some kind of religious thing? Because I hate to break it to you, but extreme religious orthodoxy is kind of one of the things that sends civilization spiraling down the toilet in the not so distant future. So Maria, I would recommend setting down your bonnet and butter churn and getting yourself a driver's license before people like your husband vote to usher in the end of days.

Sorry, was that a cheap shot? Well, eye for an eye and all that.

Oh yeah, the future. The place I can't prove that I'm from because I don't have an encyclopedic knowledge of 30 year old lotto numbers. That's something people do, right? Memorize decades-old lotto numbers. Well, I'm terribly sorry I can't up your odds of building another gaudy McMansion to host episodes of Warfare from. And you know what, I feel really, really bad for you if all you want from me is sports stats and get rich quick schemes. I realize you don't (and never will) believe me in the first place, but if your first thought when it comes to meeting someone from the future is “how can I make bank off of it”, I'd say the problem is more with your imagination than anything else. I mean, the XWF is full of strange and terrible and magnificent beings. It's part of what drew me to it in the first place. That and another reason I divulge at my peril. But it's a place someone like me could hide in plain sight, so to speak. This place has men back from the dead, prehistoric bush warriors, aliens, teenage wrestling prodigies who beat people three times their size, immortals, demi-Gods, and whatever Tommy Wish is. And you draw the line at ME? Even with all that, I'M the one that's hard to believe? Surely you've faced some of these people before and experienced their strangeness first hand? Your own wife admitted you were once controlled by this mysterious Doctor D'Ville. That's what makes it hard to believe you or your wife actually believe what you're saying.

Now before I hand the proverbial baton over to Corey (who is VERY excited to be making his promotional debut), there's one more thing that you said, Maria, that I just have to address. You claimed I killed my former comrade in arms, Victor. Well....you got me. I did it. I killed Victor. I inhabited his body and made him kill himself. I made one of the best and most loyal people in my platoon kill himself because I was jealous of him. Jealous why? Well, just jealous I suppose. Because reasons. There now, I've spent just as much time rehashing what you said as you spent thinking that paltry story up in the first place. I eagerly look forward to part 2 of this fantastical tale of purposeless vengeance. I'm sitting on the edge of my seat wondering what my motivation was. I'm terribly sorry Maria, but I'm not sure you have this whole “mind mastering” thing down yet. Maybe you should tag your husband back in, unless your doctrine won't permit it.

Tag.

Lux's eyes flutter, and her head nods a bit. Then, she abruptly lifts her head back up, and the features on her face seem somehow changed in a way that is just shy of explicable.

Yo.

Even the cadence of the voice is different. A bit more jovial perhaps. Corey Smith eyes the camera, and breathes out a deeply held breath.

Yeah, little bit more nervous than I anticipated. Deep breaths. Just like we practiced. Corey allows himself one more deep breath before proceeding. I'm Corey. Hi world. Sooooo, Mastermind, do we have to keep it just between us guys? I hate to think me talking to your wife would give her any lusty ideas and get her to loosen her chastity belt. Oh, we're good? Okay.

Hey, you know what my favorite part of your promo was? It was the part where you “sorry-not sorry'ed” your way through saying “I'm not here to mock people with mental illness, but hold my beer while I run down this kid with a mental illness.” Well, turns out your half right. I DO have a mental illness, just not the one you think. I had bipolar-disorder. Not clear on if I still have it present tense, but in my first life it's basically what drove me to drugs and led to my overdose, which put me...well, right here. You know what disorder I don't have? Dissociative identity disorder. Which is the real name for “split personality disorder”. Which even though you're a master mind super genius, is a fact that eluded your Google-fu.

Look man, all joking aside, I know me not being crazy is a tough sell. But think about it for half a second. If I was actually seriously mentally ill, don't you think somebody would be looking for me? Don't you think somebody would be blowing up Mr. Lane's phone saying “Hey, please don't let my crazy kid humiliate himself on national television anymore?” Don't you think the men in white coats would have been here post-haste after my first (or second, or third, or by gosh FOURTH) broadcast appearance to haul my skinny ass back to the funny farm? But no. Nobody's doing that. Why? Because everything Lux has said, as crazy as it sounds, is true. My parents aren't looking for me, because here and now in the year 2019, I'm still a little boy with my very worst years ahead of me. Seventeen year old Corey Smith should not be here, because SEVEN year old Corey Smith already is. And SEVENTEEN year old Corey Smith is a boy without a family.
Corey stops talking, his eyes drifting downward for a bit before he struggles to turn his attention back to the camera. Sorry....that was an unexpected hit to the feels.

But hey, I'm probably wasting my breath. You don't seem like the type to listen to reason, despite your nickname suggesting otherwise. And I'm not gonna prove my future cred by talking rugby because I'm a dumb uncultured American who doesn't follow European sports. Oh, but I do follow football and I CAN tell you who wins the next few Superbowls! Uhhhh...lessseeee

2020. Patriots. AGAIN. Brady's a beast.
2021. Ravens.
2022. The Colts.
2023. Patriots. But Brady was retired by then.
2024. Broncos.
2025. The Bills (I know, right?! BUFFALO WENT NUTS, FIRES EVERYWHERE, LOST THEY DAMN MINDS!)
2026. Patriots.

And that's the last year I paid attention, my life slid downhill pretty fast after that. Beyond that, I just don't know what else is going to convince you, or what kind of hard evidence that we are absolutely 100% from the future will suffice.

HELPER floats into view, stage left. Hi Mr. Corey, is there anything I can HELP you with?

Oh, hey HELPER. No, I'm pretty good for right now. Just talking to a camera.

Oh okay. See you later! HELPER drifts out of the shot.

Corey shoots a cheeky look at the camera. It's all good, Mister M. That's probably just some incredibly elaborate CGI we cooked up in the last 48 hours.

Ok, so maybe I'm not doing a very good job of proving I'm from the future, but one thing I can do is stick up for Lux. Which, might seem weird. After all, I did kind of get stuck with her consciousness and had zero choice in the matter. Yeah, it's been an adjustment. To say the very least. But she's not a monster. She didn't want this either. And you both are seriously doing her dirty trying to portray her in a negative light. You accused her of murder, and of “molesting” bodies. You accused her of “mastering my mind” and using me. And that's when you weren't accusing her of being a figment of my crazy. Look, if you would have asked me years earlier if I would have ever been in this situation, I would have said no, absolutely not, it sounds wholesale bat shit. But here I am. And it's real. And Lux is real. And she's stuck in the same shitty situation I am but trying to make the best of it.

Call me naïve, but the things she's told me. The thing's she showed me! I believe her. And I think she's a hero. She's not using me, or manipulating me. She's cooperating with me. Yes, she has to use my body to fight. But she doesn't own my thoughts or my feelings. My mind is my own! We're two distinct people in the same body. And when she's not fighting, or doing recon, she gives my body back to me. But hell, if I was in her shoes, facing down what she's facing, I'm not sure I wouldn't have just taken control of this body whole hog and done what I needed to do. So much is at stake. But she doesn't do that. She respects me. She gives a shit about me. And it's a whole lot more than I could say for the majority of people I knew in my first life.

So whatever Mastermind. Believe us. Or don't. Either way, you're hosed. Because either you're pissing off somebody who's majorly deranged, or you're dumb enough to shit talk the person who's going to make sure your children have a future.


Later, hater. Corey flashes the camera a peace sign as the promo ends.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~A SHORT TIME LATER~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Alright, we've had our fun at Mastermind's expense, but now it's time to get serious. We see Lux, illuminated by the light of a single lamp in their hotel room, as she puts the finishing touches on some fancy attire.

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Corey Smith's mental image watches her pull the tie taught. I know. And I thought about it. I'll go to the beach while you're working.

Lux smiles warmly at the mental image of her counterpart. Thank you. I really do think it's for the best.

But you got to promise me something. Corey steps closer to her, looking determined. You got to promise me you're bringing my body back in one piece.

Lux returns Corey's serious countenance. I promise you. She speaks the words solemnly, and then reaches out towards Corey, holding out her hand. Corey reaches out too, and goes to take her hand, but as immaterial as it is, it just ends up merging with hers. I know the sacrifice you're making. I don't want you to have to make any more. And then, Lux cracks a smile. But we are going to have a talk about the whole HELPER appearing on camera thing.

Oh come on, you KNOW it was good. Corey smiles mischievously.

Am I in trouble? HELPER suddenly pops up next to them, his “ears” down like a puppy caught with a shoe torn asunder. Lux smiles at him as well.

I'll think about it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~EVEN LATER~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



A haunting electronic tune rings in the scene as we appear inside a night club. Inebriated men's bodies gyrate and sway in rhythm with the ghostly melody as strobes play out over a sea of under dressed, glistening torsos and wispy club kids. Lux dances in the thick of it, hips gyrating amongst the masses. A toned shirtless man close to middle age sidles up behind her and brings his lips to her ear. His breath is laden with the sharp tang of mixed drinks as he lustily tells her all the things he wants to do with Corey's body. But she isn't here for him, and she gives him just enough of a playful smile to remain in character while simultaneously putting some space between them. Thankfully, he doesn't pursue.

Lux scans the throngs in search of Wilson Stokes but finding him is easier said than done. Taking a glance at the upper level perched atop the dance floor, she resolves to head there for a better vantage point and begins picking her way through the crowd. But she doesn't have to go far, spotting Wilson at the bar before she makes it halfway to the stairs. She takes a seat at the bar, strategically positioning herself to be directly across from him, impossible to miss. The bartender looks in her direction, taking stock of her youthful appearance and making a mental calculation that it would be better for business to allow a pretty young thing to remain rather than ask her to abdicate. Lux couldn't help but smirk at the notion of just how much play Corey's body got her here. Sometimes it pays to be cute.

It took a few moments before Wilson looked up and noticed her. Lux tried to carefully measure his reaction, but the environment wasn't making it easy. But to her trained eye it did indeed look like a measure of surprise. Perhaps even fear. A cold mass formed in her stomach. Did he just recognize me? Was he expecting me? Perhaps she was being too hasty, but the fear she had harbored since the day prior lingered. Stokes had been acting spooked, but it simply wasn't possible for him to be aware of her existence. Was it? At this point it didn't matter. He had noticed her. And whether or not he was ready forr her, tonight had to be the night.

Lux broke her gaze with Stokes, and then chanced another shy, furtive glance. Just enough to suggest interest without being too overt. Drumming her fingers on the counter top, she anxiously waited to see if he took the bait. It didn't take long, and came in the form of a mint julep served by an uneasy looking bartender who was still taking note of her age but refused to question the desires of the good senator.

Lux accepted the drink, taking a sip. She looked up at Stokes again, smiled, and turned her gaze bashfully away once more. Stokes couldn't help himself anymore, and he picked up his own drink and traversed the length of the bar to take a seat next to her. Temporarily surprised by his brazenness, Lux reconsidered whether he did know who truly inhabited this body after all.

I took a gamble on the julep. I hope you like it. Stokes said turning on the stool to face her.

No, it's good. I'm surprised they served me. Lux replied.

Don't worry about that. They know me here. They won't give you any shit. Stokes paused to return to his own drink before proceeding. I've never seen you here. Are you new to the area?

Lux turned to her mentally prepared script. Sort of. I've been in town for about a week. I'm sort of between places, you know?

Oh?

It's complicated. A lot of bullshit. I don't want to bore you.

Stokes' expression opened up, and something subtle changed in him. No, it's ok. I've got time. If you want to talk that is.

Lux continued with her script. Hey, you asked for it. A light chuckle. It's kind of the same old story though. I just came out and my parents weren't cool with it. A pause, and a deep throaty swallow. Sorry, it's....

Stokes leaned in, ever so slightly. It's ok. I get it.

So, I hoped on a Greyhound and came up here. I met some people on an online support group and one of them agreed to let me stay with him for a while.

Kind of risky, isn't it?

Yeah. But, I mean, I trust him. He hasn't tried to make me do anything I'm not comfortable with. And there was no way I could stay with any family without word getting back to my parents. If it wasn't for him I'd be kinda screwed.

So what's your plan, long term?

Lux chuckled. Beats me. I honestly don't know. I just...don't know.... A measured trail off, followed by an uncomfortable silence.

Stokes filled in the gap quite eagerly. Look, I don't want to sound like “that guy”, but I know people and I'm pretty well connected.

Is that so? Allowing just the right of skepticism in while still managing to sound a tad hopeful.

I know, I know how it sounds. Stokes let out a good natured chuckle. But I was in your spot at your age. And I volunteer at some local LGBTQ youth groups, so I meet a lot of kids in your position.

Lux bit down her disgust. I'll bet you do. Forcing on a smile, she continued baiting the hook. Really? So you know how to help?

Yes. I'm Wilson by the way. He extended his hand.

Lux took it. Bryan. Wilson's finger lingered on her wrist before he broke contact.

Bryan, there's a youth shelter not far from here. I know some of the staff there and I can take you if you want. It would probably be safer than with somebody you met off the internet.

Lux pretended to ponder the offer. I guess that sounds ok. I'd need to go pick up some of my stuff though.

It's no problem. The staff could get it in the morning. Give me a few minutes and I can call my driver to come pick us up. Is that ok?

Yeah, sure. I'll be here. Lux did her best to smile at him warmly. Thanks. I'm not used to...this. You know?

It's no problem. Just give me a few, I'll be right back out.

Wilson got up from the stool and retreated towards the rest rooms. Lux watched him go, tapping her fingertips on the glass in front of her but not taking another drink. As expected, Wilson returned a few minutes later, stepping up behind her and putting a hand on her shoulder. We're good to go. There's a back entrance we can use. You ready?

Sure. Lux got up and followed Wilson out the back, the tension in her gut peaking as the uncertainty returned. Undeniably concerned about the phone call, she steeled herself for the possibility she was walking into a trap. They reached the rear parking lot, where a smaller sized limo was already waiting, it's halogen headlights beating back the night. There was no one else back here. Stokes opened the door for Lux and gestured for her to get in. Smiling, Lux tried to keep the tension at bay as she accepted the offer.

It was as she dreaded. Her first sight was a gun leveled at her. It was the heavy with the concealed firearm from the day before. Get in and close the door. Don't say a fucking word. He growled. Lux got in, eyes never leaving the gun. Stokes followed her in, his expression noticeably changed. He looked annoyed and maybe a little scared now. The heavy gestured towards a seat with his gun and Lux dutifully took it. Stokes took the seat furthest from her, across the way.

What...what is this...? Lux stammered, attempting to stay in character.

Oh save it. Stokes spat. I know you're here to kill me. Jesus Christ... He definitely seemed annoyed now, rolling his eyes and leaning back in his seat. So what the fuck is it? Huh? Did I kill your boyfriend or something?

Lux reeled a bit internally. He knew I was coming but doesn't know why? Who told you I was coming to kill you? I don't know who's feeding you this bullshit, but....

Nope. Go fuck yourself. I'm asking the questions. The senator responded irritably. Why are you here?

What are you planning to do with me?

Depends how compliant you are. If you're a good boy you might just get off with a slap on the wrist. There was something predatory in Wilson Stokes' eyes now, feral and unforgiving. It was a look Lux was familiar with. If she didn't take charge now there was no way she or Corey was getting out of this alive.

Lux started to push forth tears, and enforced a terrified quaver into her voice. Look...I-I'm sorry okay. Yeah...fine, I was here to hurt you. Okay? I wasn't gonna like, kill you though! A choked sob. You hurt one of my friends real bad and I was angry but...look, please I don't want to die! Please! A forced terrified shudder as a prelude to kicking it up a notch. I'll do anything you want okay! I won't say a fucking word!

Keep your fucking voice down. The gunman menaced.

Oh no, no, no.....I'm gonna die, aren't I?! Lux panicked, sobbing. The gunman inched forward, his body primed to make a move, and that's when Lux struck. Dropping the pretense of terror like a spent garment, she lunged for the gun, taking hold of the man's wrist with one hand and the barrel of the gun with the other, she pushed her weight into him and spun. The gun discharged into the floor harmlessly and Lux's ears immediately began to ring from the clap of the gun in a small confined space. But it was old hat for her. Peeling the gun away from Stokes' heavy, she turned it back on him and emptied another shot right into his forehead without hesitation, coloring the fine black leather with crimson. Then, she trained it on Stokes, who was still covering his ears and wearing an expression of pure terror.

Jesus fucking Christ!

The heavy's body tipped over in the seat as it lost all muscle control, spilling pooling brain matter onto the rug as it did so. This drew Stokes' attention momentarily, and Lux used the brief distraction to look out the tinted windows and ensure no one had been alerted. She was also now able to note the fact that there was no driver visible through the tinted partition either. The heavy must have been driving. Things were looking up.

Look at me. Lux ordered cooly. Stokes obliged, slowly pulling his hands away from his ears. Can you hear me? Stokes nodded numbly. Lux could barely hear herself above the ringing, but she had learned to cope with it. Who told you I was coming?

I-I don't know his name.... Stokes stammered.

You know something!


Okay, okay! He called himself Number 44! Don't ask me what it means. Hey, look kid, we're good here, right? Nobody else has to get hurt.

Lux paid no heed as the begging set in. Number 44? Why did he tell you I was coming?

He didn't say why! He just gave me your picture and said you'd be coming to kill me and that I should be ready! Stokes put his hands out pleadingly. Can we please work something out here? Did I hurt somebody you know? I'll turn myself in or....

None of this makes sense. Shut up. Tell me what he looked like. Did anyone travel with him? I want literally everything you know about this person. There must be something else....

Stokes closed his eyes, and tried to get his rapid breathing under control. Jesus....uhhh, ok. Fuck, you won't believe me....

Try me.

I can't describe what he looked like. He just kind of looked like everybody.

What?

I know how it sounds! But he looked like....like....generic? Ok! Every time I met with him I could barely remember what he looked like.

I will put this bullet through your goddamn skull. Lux growled.

I'M TELLING THE TRUTH! Stokes responded shrilly. I know....God, I know how it sounds. Look, we had been working together for about 6 months. He helped me with my political campaign, but would never answer any of my questions. Not directly anyway. I always just thought he was CIA or something, but I never really questioned it because he got me results. I won my election because of him. He made certain....problems....go away. He dug up dirt on my enemies. He fixed things for me. I should have asked more questions, I know....

Lux paused to reflect on what he was saying, but it was like grasping at ghosts. She couldn't make sense of it. Unless........

....oh no.

What...what's wrong?

Lux reclaimed control, cursing inwardly that she had allowed her worries to rise to the surface. Is there anything else you remember? Anything at all? It's important.

Stokes looked to the side, eyes ticing wildly back and forth as he struggled to remember. Then, he hit on something. There was one other strange thing! Yeah! It was weird, but he told me you were a girl disguised as a boy, or something like that. But you're not....you're not....so....! He laughed nervously.

FUCK! Lux swallowed down the bile that threatened to creep up her throat as her nervous system spiked. FUCK, FUCK, FUCK! Are you sure....that's it? She said slowly, trying not to let her thrush of anxiety bleed out.

Yes! Yes, that's it, I swear! Stokes pleaded. Hey, what if we team up? I could keep trying to pump this guy for information and feed it back to you! We can figure this out together!

Lux wordlessly blew his brains out across the back of the limo, and stole into the driver's seat, driving the car full of corpses into oblivion. Wilson Stokes' body would never be found.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~5 AM~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

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Lux drank in the sensation of water drumming the top of her head as she stood transfixed, watching the blood of her enemies wash down the shower drain. The icy dread that clutched her earlier though still had not abated. She was wrong, somehow someone in the present knew who she was and was warning her targets in advance. The code name Number 44 held no meaning to her whatsoever, but she had HELPER hard at work on it anyway.

The XWF Tournament seemed a distant second place now, focusing on it would be a near insurmountable challenge. But Lux knew how important the appearance of unflappability would be given the eyes she now knew were watching from the dark.

One thing was for sure, life for her and Corey Smith just became a hell of a lot more treacherous.

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