The Loser's Club
Part 8: Please Stand By
--Backstage of the Grand Arena, Verse City
Four television screens operated in unison by some tech operator named Steve or Chuck, or whatever. Amanda Waller didn’t care to remember his name. She could see the GCGBTC logo on his uniform and that told her all she needed to know. He was a lackey. A cog in the machine.
Waller crossed her arms, disinterested in the content of the feed. Instead, she watched the control operator edit the broadcast in real time. Removing M+ rated material on one screen, showcasing that same material in slow motion on another. He added advertisement banners of the sponsors on the bottom and top of the screens, broadcasting cheap products to the trillions watching around the multiverse. Fucking cosmic-capitalism.
“Isn’t this tournament supposed to be ‘live’?” Waller asked.
“It is, ma’am,” the operator responded. “Our cameras and transmitters are just so high-tech we can edit while they watch. Sort of like a delay in the feed as it travels across the multi--”
“I see,” Waller said. “Fascinating development in censorship.”
“I just do what I’m told... honestly,” The operator replied nervously. He continued maintaining the broadcast.
Waller turned her attention back to the screens. It was the Grand Cross-Galactic Budokai Tenkaichi, a tournament that spans the entire omniverse, to some degree, every V.C year.(Verse City Calendar year) The whole thing was just a show, of course. Entertainment to draw money to the fat pockets of Verse City. Waller didn’t judge, she’s in on this operation. Thanks to her status and reputation, she got involved at the beginning. Vince McMahon, the tournament’s creator and owner, reached out to her to offer a deal. First dibs on competitors for each and every show. She was happy to accept.
She watched the fight unfold, if you could even call it that. One of the commentators, Hercule, interjected himself into this tournament without permission and defeated another competitor. Now he’s in round two against Darth Maul, some mystical warrior type. It doesn’t take long for it to end. Hercule’s decapitated head rolled outside of the ring. Ring out or loss by death?
“Should we proceed with acquisition, Ma’am?” asked the operator.
“No. My inventory is already filled with buffoons. Send the corpse home.” Waller responded.
Waller watched the ring announcer Ainz Ooal Gown raise Darth Maul’s hand in victory, bringing the second round of the tournament to an end. The screen cut to a feed of the crowd in the arena as intermission began.
The operator finally took his hands off the keyboard, stretching his arms wide. “Break time,” he said.
“Let me see the acquisitions,” Waller said, standing behind the operator’s chair.
The man looked disappointed as he clicked away at the keys. Moments later, the screens flickered and changed to security footage. Instead of the open arena, it showed high-tech prison cells no bigger than a broom closet. Most of the prisoners were awake now, having just come from their implant surgery. Waller smiled as she counted them. Ten in all so far. She’d made quite the selection this year. She even acquired the last tournament winner, Wonder Woman. Waller made a mental note of the things she’ll need to keep her in line.
Her phone buzzed in her coat pocket. She tapped the operator’s shoulder, letting him know she was done. He resumed the old feed while Waller answered the call.
“You enjoying the show, Ms. Waller?” said the voice of Vince McMahon.
“Vince,” she answered playfully. “You know I hate to talk while I’m shopping.”
Vince gave his trademark laugh. “What a cold hearted bitch, you are. I love that. It’s a wonder you keep people employed.”
“I could say the same about you.” Waller retorted.
“Me? Please Waller, I’m a saint!” Vince said.
“Well, you have been generous,” Waller replied. “I haven’t had much issue in finding exceptional candidates.”
“Glad to hear you say that,” Vince said, smoothing his tone. “I’m looking forward to seeing your new task force in action.”
Waller raised her eyebrow. “Is that why you’re calling me?”
“I just thought I’d let you know I’ve received word of who you’ve plucked from my show. Looking at the papers right here. I didn’t get this information from you, it seems. I thought you would call.”
“I told you I’d keep you apprised out of courtesy, Vince. I’m not under your approval.” Waller bit her lip. She knew better to confront McMahon, especially when he’s in the position of power. She added, “Besides, we’ve still got two rounds before-”
“No need to wait on that,” Vince interrupted. “Those you’ve taken into your ‘custody’ have whole worlds up for grabs. I want to make a move on them today. Send me the final roster.”
“Of course,” said Waller. “I can send it to you now.”
“I’d appreciate that,” said Vince. “I’ll send the enforcement teams to gather those and a few others. I’m sure you’re aware of the handful of idiots that we’ve lost track of. I’m taking their worlds as well. Keep things clean.”
Waller compiled the list on her phone, not pausing to talk to Vince and sent him the file. Waller could hear him using a data-pad over the phone.
“Ah. These look promising,” Vince spoke slowly, reading each of the names before continuing. “They’ll make some fine heels, I’m sure. That reminds me... How’s that old squad of yours? The one you acquired from me last year? They’re raising hell?”
Waller rolled her eyes. Of course Vince wanted something else from her.
“Task Force V was just on assignment in the Himalayas,” she said.
“Well, I might have something for them. Keep them close by. I’ll have the commission send you the details of what I want. Have fun shopping, Ms. Waller.” Vince ended the call.
Amanda Waller returned the phone to her coat pocket. She shook the chill from her spine. Talking to that snake Vince McMahon was almost too much to stomach. If she wasn’t indebted to him…
She turned to see if the operator was listening in, but he’d already gone on break.
--Undisclosed Location inside Verse City
Vince McMahon kicked his feet off the desk and returned his cell to his pocket. He adjusted his tie and shouted, “Alright come in here, goddamnit.”
The door opened to reveal a tall and sinister looking man by the name of Donquixote Doflamingo. He wore a grimace on his face near 24/7. Like he had a secret he wouldn’t let anyone in on. Vince was hesitant to employ this man due to his pompous attitude, but he’d proven himself thus far. He was added to Vince’s executive commission. Doflamingo wore the commission’s membership pin on his collar.
“Vince McMahon,” Doflamingo said coolly. “What’s the idea keeping me waiting? You know we’re both impatient men.”
“I don’t give a damn what we have in common, Flamingo. Don’t bang down my door when I’m busy. Now what’s so important?” Vince asked.
“My agents have a report.” Doflamingo approached the desk and handed Vince a file. “They found the man you’re looking for. M.Bison. Seems like he’s taken a liking to your city.”
Vince eyed Doflamingo, then the file. According to this, M.Bison had been spotted wandering Verse City instead returning to his homeworld.
Vince smiled. “Of course he’s still here. This is the city of a billion dreams, after all. Okay, now. Go and find him.”
“One from my crew has eyes on him now. They can-” Doflamingo started, but Vince cut him off by standing. “No. I want you to go find him. Make it personal. Make him feel important enough that a member of our commission has gone looking for him. He’ll feel disrespected if we don’t present him with somebody capable.”
Vince watched Doflamingo’s trademark grin turn into an angry frown.
“You’re strong, tough as nails. If he can stand up to you, then he’s worth my money.” Vince finished.
Vince discarded the file and walked toward the exit.
“You want to offer him a seat? He’s a nobody. He didn’t make it past the preliminaries,” Doflamingo said.
Vince turned to him one last time. “I don’t have to answer you, Flamingo. I can ask you to do whatever the hell I want. I want you to find the guy. Test him and see what he’s made of. If there is potential, I want to claim it. Bring him to me and do it today.”
Vince didn’t wait for a response before leaving his office. Doflamingo made preparations to leave. He would find this M.Bison.
--Some abandoned warehouse in Verse City
M.Bison lifted Dellinger’s broken body off the ground. He gripped the man’s neck, squeezing until he got that appropriate attention.
“Why have you been following me. Who do you work for?” M.Bison asked.
Dellinger coughed blood before speaking, “I--- don’t know what you’re talking about..”
Psycho energy surrounded M.Bison. His grip tightened, raising Dellinger higher off the ground. “I don’t make it a habit of asking twice.”
Dellinger kicked his legs out to no avail. M.Bison noted the resistance.
“So be it then,” M.Bison snapped the boy’s neck.
He tossed the body aside. He’d made a small collection of bodies surrounding him by this point. Dismantled goons of some unknown mastermind thought they could get the better of the Shadaloo King.
M.Bison looked over the bodies and noticed their insignias. Nothing he recognized but that wasn’t unexpected. He was in a new land after all, Verse City. The city he’d been tossed out into after that unfortunate incident with that girl and the ogre. Those two had ruined his chances of winning the grand tournament. Revenge was on the menu for them.
But in due time. He needed a base of operations in this city if Shadaloo were to operate here. He was still getting his bearings when he noticed he was being followed. He led them here to this near empty warehouse so he could confront them. Possibly offer them work if they swore loyalty. Unfortunate.
Bison kicked over a corpse, finding just what he was looking for. A cell phone. He picked it up and seeing as it had EUS (extrauniversal service) he called his henchmen, Vega, from his homeworld.
“I need you to trace this phone,” Bison commanded. “You’ll find a few unimportant goon bodies that you need to examine. Find their boss. Search for this symbol they wear. Find out all you can.”
Vega’s response was cut short as the phone was cut in half. Bison turned in surprise. He could sense this was the work of someone in the shadows.
“Fuffuffuffuffu. Did I scare you, Bison?” Doflamingo revealed himself. He walked in with hands in his coat, but looked ready to fight.
Psycho energy built within M.Bison. “Your goons seem to be lacking. Clearly you know my name but have no idea who I am.”
“Fuffufuffu. I honestly could care less. You did kill my subordinate though and I don’t take kindly to that sort of behavior.” Doflamingo raised his hand and flicked but a single finger.
Bison felt a tug at his neck. Suddenly his limbs were not his own. He was stiff and ridget, as if his body was fighting itself. Like a puppet…
Doflamingo laughed, manipulating his fingers to bring Bison to heel. But the Shadaloo Leader resisted.
Bison flared his power, sending energy crashing into Doflamingo and cutting his string.
Now free, M.Bison began his counter attack.
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