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Aberrant: 200X - Getting Charity from a Stone


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So, here we are, me and Monk, face to face with Ric Flair, multiple champion of professional wrestling titles and now second-in-command to BB Bartlett, mastermind of the XWF. Little known fact: flair is one of the few people out there capable of staring down a Nova. No mind tricks or radioactive charm can get through his defenses if he doesn't allow it. I liken it to an ego so massive that it's become a black hole. Ric Flair would laugh at that; his ego is so big that he wouldn't care.

How did we end up in this situation? Well, it started with me, talking on the OpNet with a bunch of fellow node-cases. In this case, one Jason "Bombshell" Bellefleur. As we all know, Victoria in British Columbia was wiped out by God only knows what, at this point. Well, there's a lot of people and property that need to get put back together, right? And so I thought that getting the XWF to hold a charity would be one hell of a coup for my business, and a good way to raise money the old-fashioned way: via entertainment. As the Ancient Romans would say,there's no better time to raise funds for a new aqueduct than before you commence feeding Christians to lions and having grown men kill each other for fun.

Which is kinda what I had in mind, only I had to figure out how to phrase it in a nicer way.

"Well, boys! Here I am at your disposal. They tell me you two have a big idea, and I want to hear it, preferably sooner rather than later. What you got?!" He was all leaned back in his big old leather chair, trying to look relaxed, but you could tell he was ready to pounce on any misstep we made. Comforting, just like old times.

Bulletproof began. "We've been thinking about organizing an event, a charity event, to raise money for the Big Crunch. Canada is a huge market for us, third behind the US and South America. And it would go over real well for everyone if we pitched in and made a big mark."

Flair nodded, still smiling. "Good, son! You did your homework! That'll be the first hurdle cleared when I try floating this to BB, which I'm not guaranteeing if that's all you got to give me."

That's vintage Flair, talking like he's on your side already without actually being on your side. And I can tell Bulletproof is kinda stymied, because he's new and doesn't quite know how the deals get done. I know, I just never sold one before.

I spoke up. "Mr. Flair, we know that BB's an overflowing barrel of human kindness and compassion..."

"Yup, yup! Friend of the common man, friend of all God's creatures, with a beating heart the size of Creation!"

"Absolutely. We also know that BB is a businessman, and that he's not going to risk a charity potentially busting his business, or otherwise he won't be able to give to any more charities. That's just common sense."

Flair nodded, trying not to bust out laughing. Everyone in the room knew that BB Bartlett would burst into flames, while making sweet love to his dear grandmother's corpse live on Pay-Per-View, before giving any money away without the promise of at least double rolling in. But, this is the dance we have to do. Bulletproof is looking at me with slowly dawning comprehension, and I can see the smirk coming on. Good, he's taking notes.

"So what we need is an event for this, an event that will put asses in seats, a Superbowl sized event for the XWF. But what we're here to figure out is: how do we make it so that we can guarantee profit for both the charity and ourselves, while minimizing the risks."

"I have an idea about that." I paused, getting my ducks lined up to quack in sync. "Okay, first of all, everyone and their cousin's on OpNet. We get a ton of ridiculous request letters for all sorts of matches that are either too dangerous, or too cheesy. Well, let's honor them this time. Get the OpNet team to put out a poll on most requested matches. Get the fans voting, get them worked up. Get the fans involved. Top 10 requests, say, we honor. But...if the fans really want their votes to count...they gotta pay in. Money talks, bullshit walks."

Flair nodded, this time looking like he was paying attention. "Now you're speaking the right language. This is good. Kid," this to Bulletproof, "I hope you're paying attention, because actually having a plan to sell is worth its weight in gold around here."

"Now, we gotta make this a charity event, right? And I know that BB Bartlett isn't going to just throw money in. So here's the deal...Whoever participates in those matches has to put up half of their prize money, because it's going to match the money the fans put in to bid on the matches. However, BB's gotta match the rest of it. So for every dollar the fans put out, we the fighters and the XWF proper have to match it. And maybe we can work something out like a telethon or something, to keep the money rolling in while the matches go on, like during the break."

"What do you think? Will he open up the vaults?" This was the million dollar question.

Flair stood up, and took a deep breath. "You could sell this to the crew? Let loose the dogs of OpNet on your sorry asses, and give up half the prize pouch?"

I nodded, not feeling the slightest bit confident.

"And as the architects of this event, you'll work out in broad strokes the events and the location, maybe throw the guys in advertising a bone and script some of the matches out, so that we can pump up some heat? I can count on you to run it overall?"

Bulletproof nodded. "Hell, I've got a head for planning. I could do that myself."

Flair looked at him. Then me. "Okay, well, you've set up an offer that BB Bartlett can't refuse. I know the man, and this has all the stuff that appeals to him. And if you're going to execute on the planning, he's as good as sold. You got a month to get the crew on board. Do me proud."

I left the office, not sure of what sweet hell I'd just uncorked.

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"Now, we deploy Phase 2."

"What's Phase 2? You mean we had a plan after that meeting? Why didn't you tell me sooner?!" Yeah, I can already tell I'm rubbing off on Bulletproof: he's becoming a certifiable smartass.

"We do now. His name is Bombshell. I figure we get him on board, the girls will follow because they like a man who knows what it's like to be a woman, and the guys will follow because he's got a sweet fucking rack."

"Ah." Bulletproof paused for a bit. "So, really, he's a guy? That's not some locker-room bullshit?"

"No, he was jerking off or whatever to that Knockout babe, who's a Canadian municipal defender? Yeah, her. And as we all know, the Node has a wicked sense of humor. So he's one of the few novas that made a full-on sex change. He's actually pretty laid-back about it, but i wouldn't recommend ragging on him about it until you get to know him better. You know, common sense."

At that point, I pulled out my OpPhone, scanned the registry, found Bombshell's PM box, and began describing the meeting I just had, starting with, "Hey, Bombshell? Remember we'd batted the breeze a bit about getting a charity set up? Well, guess what me and Bulletproof Monk did..."

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Jael was up visiting Alex - Sunshine - so Jason had spent the weekend in Calgary with Danielle. Thus, it was only on the flight back - first class, she had learned her lesson, and it was for both her and everyone else's benefit - when she bothered to pull out her opPhone and take a look at the various e-mails, voice-mails, and PMs she'd received.

Most of it was the usually junk: Job offers from Utopia, Northern Shield - including another proposition from Borealis - DeVries, various Adult Video labels and others. Hmm, after getting over the whole strippin'-nude-for-an-audience thing, Playboy was actually pretty fun. I wonder if I could get Danielle... The QNA wanted her and Danielle to attend a meeting, but she wasn't really inclined. She might have technically been a lesbian, but sje didn't really see herself as such. Semantics, but there is was.

Then there were the other proposals and propositions, of course. She was glad she had an blue-tooth earpiece because sheeshe some of them were graphic. There was the hate mail and threatened lawsuits - she made women feel adequate, she made men unable to perform with their wives and/or mistresses, one guy had gotten a sex-change and now regretted it - those always made her cringe. And somehow she still got the spam: Products guaranteed to add both length and girth - highly unlikely, that - and others that promised to add up to TWO cups sizes with all herbal ingredients - as if she didn't have enough already.

There was one PM of great interest though. Michael - Emperor Narcissist - had contacted about the Charity Event they had batted around on the OpNet, and had gotten the go ahead from The Man himself. She did have some concerns though, mostly about just what of her fans might request and the possibility that she would have to fulfill that request. Katya, bitch that she was, had sent her someone's fanfic staring Bombshell and she hadn't been able to stop reading it, and now, she couldn't unread it either. There would have to be some limits and other ground rules. But she was most definitely interested, and she knew a few others who were also.

Jason dropped her own message in Michael's XWF PM Box. "Sounds sweet, Michael. Awesome that you already got over the biggest hurdle, i.e. The Man. Some friends and I were thinking about doing a Celebrity Auction and I have an idea on how to roll the into the XWF Event. How about we meet face to face and work out more of the details? I'd suggest coming up here to Vancouver. We can take a look at the venues - they have plenty, especially with the Olympics here last year, and you can see The Crush for yourself. Understand why I want to do this. How about it?"

She was landing in Vancouver when she got a response, and wasn't too surprised when Michael answered so quickly, readily agreeing to meet. She looked down at herself with a wry smirk, very few were. He also seemed perfectly fine when she suggested they meet at the Juggz in downtown Vancouver on Tuesday. Hey! She liked both the food and the scenery.

Finally getting home, Jason found Jael and Sunshine on the couch, watching a movie. "Hey guys, didn't get into too much trouble while I was gone, I hope? Oh, by the way, I've been in contact with Michael, that guy from the XWF that's been on the boards recently? He's got the go-ahead on the Charity Event and he's coming up to Vancouver so we can work out more of the details. You still interested?"

"Absolutely. I can't fight, but I'll be happy to help," Jael offered immediately.

Jason snort, rolling her eyes. "Yeeeaah... Dependin' on how this goes, I'm not so sure I'm gonna want to fight either. Gotta call Kat, she'll want in too. Here's what he's got so far...


Two days later found three Nova women sitting in a reserved section of the downtown Vancouver Juggz, a huge platter of wings and nachos on the table as they waited for Emperor Narcissist and the Bulletproof Monk. Jason always felt like a prick taking so much room, but her days of just walking into a bar were over. Well... she could do it, but then they'd never get a meeting done.

Despite being in a sports bar that claimed no waitress was less than a 36DD, every set of eyes in the place, male and female, couldn't help but glance over at them and more than once. It wasn't hard to see why. All three women were attractive, even by nova standards.

Katya Skovskaya was a raven-haired, pale-skinned exemplar of a women, dressed in a gleaming, black skirt-suit, nylons and heels. Her green eyes flashed with wit and intelligence and her wicked grin was full of teasing sensuality.

Jael Carver was the epitome of the SoCal girl, blond, beautiful, openly and forthrightly sexual. Her long legs were highlighted by her flirty skirt that didn't even try to reach her knees and some nice cleavage poked through her cute, snug blouse.

And then there was Jason Bellefleur. It hadn't taken long for the term 'Bombshell' to mean one woman in particular. She looked like she had stepped out of a page from a comic book, her incredible figure, if not impossible, highly improbable, her long, silver hair pulled back in a simple pony-tail that reached her ass. Dressed in a pair of black jeans and wearing a cheap white shirt with the slogan 'Keep Staring (They Might Do A Trick)' written on in black letters heavily distorted her spectacular rack, Jason made it look the very height of fashion.

The other two were enough to make men's mouths go dry and to haunt their dreams, but Jason was a woman that made them seem merely pretty and made other women and homosexual men question their sexuality, and had a voice to match. Even more impressive, though she seemed well aware of her looks, she didn't appear in the least arrogant about them, nor took all the admiration, lust, and desire directed her way for granted.

Sipping their drinks, munching on the appetizers, Jason endured the girl-talk Jael and Katya were engaged in - purely for her benefit, she was sure - as they waited for their guests.

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Some days, it's like an angel sneaks up on you, sticks a cattle prod up your ass, and yells, "SURPRISE! IT'S A BEAUTIFUL WORLD AFTER ALL!" Then the flighty little fucker dashes back upstairs to play harp lessons while you're back on the ground trying to clear the aftershock out of your headspace. That's what it was like walking into Juggs. I don't know how the hell the waitresses keep from spilling their trays, or the patrons for that matter.

Bulletproof and myself had taken the time to tidy up a bit, seeing as this was a strategy session and not just a shoot-the-shit. He trained his Eufiber to make himself look like something between a jazz musician and a rising star in the Yazuka. Me, I'm seeing someone about business, I do it old-school: Solid shined (black) shoes, my Eufiber done up in business-suit black with a burnished copper-colored tie, and make sure the parts of my face that can be shaved are. (Can't lose my trademarked look; that's a contractual obligation.) I looked so out-of-fashion I was timeless, and that was a good mindset to get into.

And I think we were both glad we got our heads in the game early on. It wasn't hard at all to find Carver and Bombshell and that one woman...Katya? Yeah, she's the one...because all you had to do was figure out the precise center of everyone else's attentions. DAMN. To his credit, Bulletproof pulled himself together real quickly and casually walked over. I was gobsmacked for a second or two, seeing living proof of a merciful Creator at work.

I figured out the trick. It's a tough trick, but a workable one nonetheless. Jason was the easiest to get over, weirdly enough, largely because she--he, dammit--was so unreal. Just focusing on that unreality, and remembering he was a dude under all that, loosened the grip. Carver was the next; a So-Cal beauty whose type was my eternal drug, but I'd OD'ed too many times on that to fall off the wagon so easily. Katya was tough, largely because she was a bit of an unknown. It took a bit to get my brains (Yeah, and other parts) around the idea that she was, in her own way, as unreal as all the other lovely ladies at the table.

Then I adjusted my tie (which was fucking stupid because it was a part of my Eufiber suit), and strutted my way on over to the table. Bulletproof had just pulled up a chair, smiled at all the ladies, and said, "Hope you'l pardon me, ladies, but I've just discovered one hell of an appetite."

"That's okay, son, I'll admire the view for you." That was me being witty. If you blinked, you missed it. I slid into my chair with more grace than a muscle-sack like me should have. "Now that I can see you all here, I'm feeling 1000% better than I was about our chances of making this work. But what do you say to us having a bit to eat and drink first, and then we can make more introductions? Jason, I trust you've got your ideas for a charity auction worked out?"

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The three women shared a glance - one of those inscrutable, feminine looks that women were capable of, able to say so much with faint smiles and raised eyebrows - even Jason being included, as they watched the two men visible gird themselves for the lunch-meeting with the beauties. Jason had to admit they did a pretty good job of curtailing the slack-jaw, drooling tendencies she regularly endured, but then again, by all accounts, Michael was a good showman.

Katya's emerald eyes danced between Michael and Bulletproof, a sly smile on her lips. "We'd be disappointed if you didn't admire the view, and not to say, question your persona," she teased in her smokey, Russian-accented alto, gesturing at the platters of wings and nachos. Though Jason already had a growing plate of bones in front of her, Katya only had a glass of red wine. "Feel free, but be quick, Jason is chowing through them like she's pregnant."

Jason curled her lips up in an exasperated sneer at her former girlfriend, then stood up slightly and stretched a hand across the table to give Michael and Bulletproof a firm handshake. She'd noticed Bulletproof's fluid grace and the unique quality to Michael's movement that she and few others possessed. Not then innate, eye-catching sensuality - Thank God! On a man as big as Michael, that would have looked gratuitously... flamboyant - but rather an ease and power that she associated with Novas that were in the highest echelons of strength, agility, and endurance, including herself.

The only thing feminine about her grip was the shape of her hand. "Glad you guys could make it up here. And really, there's no rush. Eat, drink, be merry," Jason's easy grin tightened slightly as both men perked up, "but not that merry, eh?" She brushed a strand of silver hair from her face and raised a arm. Instantly, a bevy of bosomy waitresses were at their sides, hoping for big tips from a table full of Novas and trying to catch the men's eyes while attempting not to feel inadequate in front of the women. "I'd like a Guinness and the Triple-D burger, with extra bacon, with poutine for the side."

The others made their own orders - Katya only ordered another glass of wine - then exchanged introductions. Conversation was light, even when talk began to turn towards business. Jason rolled her faintly glowing, indigo eyes and jerked a thumb at Katya, but her grin said she was amused more than annoyed.

"They're more Kat's ideas than mine," Jason admitted in her rich, mellifluous soprano, grin turning wry. "I try to avoid anythin' they write about me on the OpNet, while she reads it all then tells me far too much about it. We got ideas batted around, even if they're not fully worked out yet. I think they'll mesh well with your proposal too. They'll be an alternative if the people we convince to join in this don't want to participate in what is sure to be embarrassin', fan-sanctioned matches. Also, we'll have to make sure the boys trollin' the sites for what the fans want know there are things some of won't cross, even for victims of The Crush."

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Ryusei was on the other side of the world, going over Sakurako's figures on the next shipment, and the beginnings of the trust charity for victims of the Crush. He pushed himself away from the desk and rubbed his face.

"This is the part I hate."

satisfied for now he showered and changed, thinking about seeing what katya was up to.

He pulled out his phone and dialed. "Come on Katya, after hours of reading and checking, i could use a good night out.." His words echoed as he waited for her to pick up, clad in eufiber formed into jeans and a light grey buttondown.

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Katya gave Jason a teasing smirk, then took a sip of her wine, just as her phone rang, the Tchaikovsky composition from Swan Lake telling her it was her boyfriend. "Keep talking, I'll follow along, but I need to take this," Katya explained as she slid gracefully to her feet and took a few steps away, stylish heels tick-tacking on the floor. She pulled out her phone, blowing a kiss into the receiver. "Hey, hon, how are you doing?"

"I could really use a night out after dealing with these numbers all day," Ryusei admitted. "You up to anything?"

Katya gave a rich chuckle. "Jason, Jael, and I, are talking with Michael and the Bulletproof Monk about making a Charity Event for The Crush a reality." Ryusei could hear the wicked amusement in her voice as Katya's eyes cut towards Jason and her awesome figure. "We're going see how far we can get Jason to accede to what the XWF fans want to see. I'm sure we can get her Jason to at least fight in a pair of stripper heels and her sexiest underwear. Seriously, we're working on the details, you want to join us?"

"Anything is better than being here, and if it's being in the company of three gorgeous women, all the better. If you don't think the guys from the XWF will mind. I'm in my office," Ryusei added, for Katya's benefit.

"I'm sure they won't," Katya said wryly. "Jason and Jael are enough eye candy for an army of men. The women need their eye candy too. One portal coming up - we'll talk about placing you on the auction block."

A black and green swirled open next to Katya and a moment stepped out a tall, raven-haired Asian man, young, graceful and gorgeous. His and Katya's twined together as she tilted her head up to give him a passionate kiss, then led him to the table.

"Hope you don't mind, my boyfriend was lonely and wanted my company." She slid back into the booth, Ryusei sitting next to her, and get Michael and Bulletproof a charming smile. "No worries, I'm sure we can find a use for him in the Charity Event, don't you?"

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Ryusei smiled and nodded to the others. "to see you again Jason, Jael."

To the two nova men, he nodded. "Same goes to the two of you."

He sat next to Katya and looked at them all. "So Katya tells me you're making the charity event a reality, that's great. The company has been sending aid and relief since it began, and even with the announcement, we're still trying to help everyone."

He left out how it was mostly being done as a massive pulicity campaign, you couldn't buy the good press it had generated for the company, and with it, no one was complaining, as profits had jumped twenty-eight percent.

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And let me tell you, I couldn't have been happier to see her with a boyfriend. Out of all the foxy ladies at the table, she was the newest shade of poison, and the one I'd built up the least resistance to.

Now with that out of the way...

"They're more Kat's ideas than mine," Jason admitted in her rich, mellifluous soprano, grin turning wry. "I try to avoid anythin' they write about me on the OpNet, while she reads it all then tells me far too much about it. We got ideas batted around, even if they're not fully worked out yet. I think they'll mesh well with your proposal too. They'll be an alternative if the people we convince to join in this don't want to participate in what is sure to be embarrassin', fan-sanctioned matches. Also, we'll have to make sure the boys trollin' the sites for what the fans want know there are things some of won't cross, even for victims of The Crush."

"Oh yeah, that reminds me. Hey Bulletproof, come up for air for a minute and tell them what you thought would work for the trolls!"

Bulletproof, grace in motion, managed to cleanse himself of wing sauce, hands and face, and managed a smile before elbowing me in the ribs. "Up for air, like you don't bankrupt all-you-can-eat buffets!"

"As to my suggestion, I was thinking of doing it in a way that reminds people that they're committing money to these matches. If they want to suggest a match, remember, they have to vote for it with their wallet. And so, any matches that we say are above and beyond the call of charity still have to be paid for regardless if the match in question is confirmed or denied. Now of course, BB is going to want to hold off denying anything until the last moment, which is fine with me, but we can legally do it if we color-code the suggestions, with something like 'Green is go, yellow is undecided, and red is risky to vote on,' or something like that. That, plus reminding people that we're doing this for a charity should discourage the worst of it. After all, OpNet thugs have the illusion of anonymity when they vote, but even the densest of them will realize that in order to sue, they have to give their names and appear in court. No one will be willing to do that, I think, particularly if any of you ladies are on the other side willing to explain in full detail what the clods were proposing."

"And that," I said with no small amount of pride, "is why I took this devious little man under my wing. He's going places." I took the opportunity to order a pitcher of beer and a triple-decker with with ham and Swiss, with a side of potato skins and a bottle of A1. "Of course, we don't have to explain this to any of the others, or your alternative proposals, if they seem recalcitrant to get in the ring. Nova auctioning is all well and good, but a lot of fans just want to see the ring rumble."

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"It's not like voting for a match is a binding contract anyway," Jael said, a fry held casually in one hand. "Especially if BB says it isn't. I'm sure that their legal team can come up with the appropriate legalese to avoid a lawsuit, even if some moron decides to try." She dunked her fry in the catsup, swirling it around a bit.

"I think that Ryusei can help me wrangle Escorts; he could even serve as one, if Katya doesn't mind someone borrowing him." Jael wouldn't have minded taking him for a spin, but Katya didn't seem in the sharing mindset. "Someone mentioned something - Katya was that your doing? Something about a charity auction. I had a further thought. Imagine that you're rich Joe Blow, XWF fan, maybe you dream of being in the ring yourself. What if there were special tickets auctioned off that came with an Escort? You get one of those expensive balcony seats and a date for the night." Jael smiled and popped the fry into her mouth. "BB gets to pull the cost of the seat out of the earnings, and what's left - essentially the 'cost' of the date - is the charity earnings."

"Aren't some of the Escorts linked to the fighters?" Katya asked.

"Sure," Jael said, pausing to lick a bit of catsup off her thumb. Something brushed Michael's leg - something that was definitely a foot. He honestly wasn't sure which of the three women (and did he hope it was one of the women) did it; if it was Jael, she was a master at playing footsy while talking, because she'd continued as soon as her pink tongue had flicked away the errant sauce. "But it's a charity thing. It's not so much a real date or prostitution as Joe Blow gets to sit at the match with a nova bombshell on his arm. Or," she added with a wink and a wicked grin at Ryusei, "Ms. Blow with a studmuffin."

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"Yeah, Michael said, "that's one of the things that we need to make explicit to the fans from the get-go: we do not prostitute for charity. Of course, BB and the Sunshine Boy will slant it so as to imply that, but I have faith that they'll know how to take a deserving sucker's money. I think Bulletproof's got the right idea as far as that goes."

Damn, now who was just playing footsie with me? I know not much, but I damn sure know about that, and I'm hoping like hell it isn't Katya. That hits a hard and fast rule of mine: no flirting with me while you've got someone to work on already. I know for damn sure it's not Jason; he doesn't take to doing that even if it's someone he's known all his life, and I only just got acquainted with him. Ryusei? Hell no, and neither is it Bulletproof. I mean, come on!

So, that leaves Carver, and that means I have to think a bit on how to handle this. Because quite frankly it's either going to be Friends with benefits, or it's going to get serious, and she'd damn quick better make up her mind and keep it made. "And now if you'll excuse me, I'll be right back." Heading for the can is a wonderful conversational pause button. I don't know why more guys don't use it.

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Jason gave Michael a nod as he got up for the can, pretty sure what the actual reason was, and appreciating his discretion in taking care of 'matters' rather than letting build up and become a distraction until he said or did something they'd all regret. She turned back to the table, giving Bulletproof a rueful smile in agreement.

"Say all you want about the XWF, they know how to sell stuff to the masses," Jason opined, then turning a smirk on Ryusei that reminded a bit of Kat. "So, you gonna the meat market too?"

Katya's green eyes almost glowed as she turned to him, giving him a quick kiss then a wicked smile. "You should, most definitely. It would be a shame to deny a yearning woman - or a man your company, Ryu, and for such a worthy cause," she all but purred.

Jason chuckled softly to herself, holding up her hands in surrender to the other women and giving Ryusei a look of commiseration. "Sorry, bud, you're on your own with this one. I'm sure I'm going to be busy enough."

Jason took a long pull of her Guinness, drawing eyes as her breasts rose and fell slightly with each swallow. To anyone who didn't know Jason, the way she licked the heady foam from her upper lip would have been completely gratuitous coming from a woman who looked her, when in actuality, she was simply cleaning her lip. It was an unfortunate truth that almost anything someone with her attractiveness did - and there were few enough - was often overlaid with the viewers desires. Jason had learned not to dwell on it too much, otherwise, she would be willing to do anything.

Katya pulled out her smartphone and began reviewing numbers, venues, thinking up ideas for drawing in the most donations and where the money from the Charity should go for the most benefit. She suggested releasing some of the proposed fights early, to draw interest and focus which direction some of them would go - it would also help them to have the venue already set up properly. She sounded for all the world like the sexiest accountant ever, which to Jason, was the case.

As Michael head back to the table, Jason set down her stout, her twilight eyes going around the table. "This is comin' together pretty damn good. So we have the Fantasy Fights and Escorted Box Seats. Anything else people want to propose for the Charity? We can still do the Auction after - or during - the main bouts, you know, for a predetermined night on the Town. I can see Fighters - who fought or not - and the Escorts involved in that, purely at their own discretion."

Jason gave Michael a twisted grin. "Yeah, people tune in for the fights, but just as many fantasize about getting closer, or even the illusion of getting closer. Take it from a model... and I can't believe I willingly just proposed that." She gave a long, wry sigh. "Anything else on the table?"

Katya quirked a raven brow, pondering. "How about a few little things to whet their appetites, maybe determined by phone-ins and texts, like that Idol show or whatever? Stuff like choosing a new fighter's stage-name, or say, their outfit, from a few, pre-selected choices?"

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"I don't see the harm in it, though there are lines I'm not going to cross, even for such a good cause." The Tall Japanese youth smiled.

"I think the predetermined outfits idea is a good one, maybe an idea could be pitched for a chance to be special guest referee in a match, or guest announcer at a major event. Some people would pay alot to be a part of that."

"Probably not as much as an evening of your company would draw Jason, but still just an idea."

He chuckled. "Why not a chance to spar with a nova. Not for real so to say, but maybe like a week of having a nova personal trainer or something?"

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"Getting them as part of the action...well, it does run the risk of liability, but what the hell? Those waivers have worked magic so far. And if worse comes to worse, we end up doing another charity thing." I chuckled at that, thinking back to my salad days as a wrestler, with all the "special guests" who ended up hurting themselves without any help from the wrestlers.

I'd done as much damage as I could on my burger and was working away on the hot wings. I kinda looked at Carver as I said, "So okay, what have we got so far. Tell me what's going on. What's the plan?"

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"Well, we have fan-picked fights," Jael said, holding up her fingers and ticking points off. "And we'll have charity donations, matching dollar for dollar. And the meat-festival, of course, where the Escorts and other pretty faces get sold like the choicest cuts of veal." She glanced at the others. "Did I miss anything?"

There was a sparkle in her eye that was interesting, to say the least. Especially to the two men, as all the stories they'd heard about this SoCal girl raced through their minds. The pictures of ravaged hotel rooms also spoke volumes about her private life; the brags from former lovers were also interesting.

"I'm sure if we keep banging at it, we'll come up with something else to add to the plan." The gray-eyed beauty took another fries's life as she smiled.

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Jason nodded along as Jael listed off what they had already, quirking a dark, flawless brow as another thought suddenly occurred to her. What if someone donates more to have me on their arm for the night than they do for setting a Fantasy Fight with me? Jason gave her head a brief shake, long, silver hair rippling like a waterfall, lips curving into a wry smile.

"I think that's good to start. I'm sure individuals could donate other things for their Charity too. I can probably get someone a walk-on part on Valkyrie and Rob - Superbeast? - he should be able to donate a couple of VIP tickets for a Süperbëast." The goddess-like beauty finished off her burger in one last, big bite, and even with her cheeks puffed out as she chewed, she still looked ravishing. She casually flicked some argent hair from her face with a long finger and swallowed before continuing, giving Katya a nod.

"But stuff like that and the other things Kat suggested - letting fans choose stage names and outfits and junk - will have to wait until we actually know who is participatin', eh? So, I think that's our next step, tell The Man what we got, then go out see which of the fighters and escorts - and anyone else we know - we can convince, cajole, or persuade to participate."

Her unconsciously ravishing grin tightened as she held up a finger in warning. "And I'm telling ya now, I ain't gonna be the one to talk with 'The Core.' Ass keeps offerin' my tits a personal 'Meltdown,' no matter how many times I say no. He offered Dani the same thing during her one fight - I think he doesn't realize we're two different people. Ain't surprising since he doesn't take his eyes of my boobs."

"We should tell the XWF what we have as soon as we can," Katya suggested smoothly, giving her ex-boyfriend an amused smirk. "It'll take their PR department a few weeks to build the proper interest and to come up with valid fights and other interesting things to draw donations."

Katya cocked her head to the side, pursing her lips musingly. "We might also consider taking a tour of The Crush, maybe filming it - that might help show the XWF stars what the Charity is for." Her smirk widened and she stuck her tongue out at Jason. "Most of us can fly, so we can get some really poignant shots. But no worries Jase, you can still contribute I'm sure - maybe borrow some of the equipment from the Studio, hmmm?"

Jason sighed, rolling her twilight eyes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

"That's not gonna get old, is it, Kat?" Jason grumped - as much as someone with a voice like hers could sound grumpy, which wasn't much - as she leaned around to reach into her jacket pocket and pull out her cell. Her lithe movement and dramatic profile drew awed admiration, even from those who were familiar with her appearance in person.

"Nope," Katya agreed impishly, waving a hand at her impossibly beautiful, former boyfriend. "After you already have so much, you should thank us for keeping you... grounded."

"Yuk it up," Jason groaned as Katya and Jael shared a laugh, the guys sharing grins. Jason arched a brow at Michael. "Welcome to the club - can juggle tanks and bounce missiles off our chests, but alas, it's for not, as we can't fly." It was nice to see that a woman like Jason was able to laugh at herself - it changed her from an aloof goddess to someone more... human, approachable. "Finish up eating guys, I'll make the call."

The others took her suggestion, eating and carrying on light conversation, Jason's mellifluous, dulcet voice a counterpoint as she murmured into her phone. Ten minutes later, she closed it with a snap, flashing the others a sharp edged grin as she stood up and slipped her jacket on.

"We're good to go. Was talking to Andy - great production assistant, by the way - she'll get us the equipment, and is arranging clearance to film in the Crush as we speak. But we have to bring her along - she wants the production and filming cred. Plus, she liable for the equipment, and let me tell ya, thse high-end, digital HD cameras ain't cheap. So I said it was fair."

The others readily agreed and while they gathered their things, Jason sashayed to the bar. Their waitresses were waiting attentively, in starlust or jealousy, and the other patrons stopped their eating and talking to drool at the ravishing sight.

"Thanks for the service, girls," Jason said with her own admiring once over. Sure, they couldn't compare with the women she was around during Nova modeling shoots and fashion shows, but they were still attractive. And since her own eruption, she gone from a leg-man to a woman who quite admired female frontal attributes. "Excellent as always. Yeah, just one bill today." Jason swiped her debit card through the reader, leaving a generous tip. "Toodles. I'm sure I'll be back before too long, though I can't promise such a crowd again."

To chorus of "aww's," and "if you wanted, you could, Jase," Jason returned to the table and gathered everyone up and lead them to her big pick-up. Being a friendly group, Katya sitting on Ryusei's lap and Jael sitting close to the Big Michael in the back, they all managed to fit. Bulletproof Monk wasn't sure if he had lucked out sharing the front with Jason - the silver-haired beauty couldn't be beat for the scenery she provided. On the other hand, he began to worry his pants were going to explode from the proximity.

Fifteen minutes later, they were pulling up to the extensive Studio grounds, the security guard manning the security booth giving Jason an exaggerated leer. Jason laughed, arching her back in ostentatious display. "Heya, Bill, what would your wife think?"

"Are you kiddin' J-Babe? She's still waitin' for ya to offer 'er a million bucks to spend a night with all 'dis?" Bill gestured down at himself, a big, black man, bald head and a neat goatee, muscular build covered in a layer of good living, he was a reasonably good looking guy. They shared a laugh, Bill pushing a button and pointing. "Andy called, she's at lot seven."

"Thanks Bill, seeya at the game when the Senators come back to town," Jason said as she began to drive pass the booth as the restraining bar started rising.

"Sorry J-Babe, but the Sens are done fer 'dis season," Bill called after her. "Leclair and 'is glass jaw's don'ya in."

Jason grumbled good-naturedly as she drove slowly through the lot, offering greetings to those she saw and knew. She parked in front of a hangar-like building, nothing identifying it as Lot Seven, though Jason assured them this was the place. She pointed at a woman lounging against a wall, smoking a cigarette.

Andy proved to be whip-cord thin woman anywhere in her mid-twenties to mid-thirties, cute in a mildly snarky ways. She had short black hair frosted with a variety of other vivid colours, multiple piercing perforating her ears and face, and somehow managed to pull off Goth-Business-Casual.

"Those things will kill ya, Andy," Jason teased, climbing gracefully out of the big truck, followed by the others.

"Pfft!" Andy scoffed, flicking away her butt and straightening up from the wall. "Meditobacco - tastes great and a vitamin supplement to boot. Us smokers will outlast you all. Come on, I've got all the stuff gathered inside."

Andy jerked a thumb over her shoulder, doing a good job of taking the sight of a plethora of gorgeous novas with casual nonchalance. Though her nipples poking stiffly against her concert T-shirt sort of gave away the lie. She led the way into the building, and pointed at the equipment.

"Jase said there's a pair of strong flyers among you, so I dug out the 'cockpit,'" Andy explained in her low, rough voice.

The 'cockpit' proved to be something akin to a well-padded reclined with a surrounding metal frame. On the steel frame were mounted a pair of expensive looking video cameras on swivel mounts, parabolic microphones - the controls seemed to be embedded in the armrests. The frame had obvious hand holds and other mountings to a variety of circumstances.

"Will it do?"

"Most definitely," Katya said after a quick, professional look.

"Excellent. Jason, go change," Andy demanded. "You're dressed down too much for this. Try for something rugged but chic, this is serious shit, but we want to draw interest, not scare people away, right?" Jason snorted but did as she was bid, her eufiber scrunchy beginning to distort as she headed for a nearby dressing room. Andy turned back to the others. "I've chartered us a 'copter-"

"No need," Katya interrupted, waving a hand, emerald and onyx light wavering into existence. "Where to?"

Andy gave her a sharp nod - this wasn't unknown, Katya had visited the set a number of times, showing interest in maybe having a small part on Valkyrie. "The Crescent Strip, Checkpoint Silverscreen. They're expecting us."

"Got it." The Portal swirled into existence. Jason came back, dressed in stylish, but worn, workboots, loose jeans and a heavy-button-down shirt under a close-fitting vest. The casual, rugged clothing somehow just emphasized her flawless beauty, but she wore the clothing naturally, it didn't seem like a mere affectation. She plucked up the Cockpit with a hand effortlessly, then all of them stepped through the Portal.

The Checkpoint Silverscreen was just that, a military checkpoint. A heavy-duty chain-link gate flanked by a pair of towers. The guards reacted with alert professionalism, but didn't bring any guns to bare. They might have been surprised by their method of arrival, but they seemed used to visitors, the guards even grinning at the sight of Andy and Jason.

Andy conferred with one of the guards, who led the group to a nearby garage and unlocked it, showing them an open-top, treaded APC. "Andy told us what this is for, Jason. We're all glad you're still helping out with the Crush, that it wasn't just another case of a celebrity doing it for the attention," the soldier said, taking a shuddering breath and forcing himself to meet Jason's eyes. "And we all can't wait to see you in the Event. All of you," he quickly added politely.

Andy got behind the wheel, everyone else piling into the back with the Cockpit and then they headed out for the Crush proper. A somber mood fell over the group of Novas. Most of them had been here before, but Michael and Bulletproof had only ever seen scenes on the OpNet. The sight struck them all deeply.

It was truly a scene of devastation, not lessened by the passage of time. The golden sun riding halfway to the horizon and the bright blue sky overhead standing as poignant counter-point to the bleak, broken desolation they drove through. The city was appeared to be mostly flat, every building a collapsed heap, rising to a high hill to the south at the former harbour. But it was in fact littered with hidden canyons, deep and narrow, caused by broken bedrock or cave-in basements and sewers. It looked like a scene only ever seen in the movies, but it was all too real.

Judging they had driven in deep enough, Andy parked the APC and climbing into the media Cockpit, running through a bit of what they wanted with the XWFers and Katya. Then she got Katya and Ryusei to take her up in the Cockpit, Michael and Bulletproof hanging from the frame below and Jael taking to the skies under her own power.

Jason glided over the broken ground, speaking directly at the camera with subdued, but emphatic feeling. It wasn't an act, or a politician's sly words to draw votes, Jason simply spoke from the heart, from someone had to dug through the Crush from the beginning, her unearthly appeal and amiable nature reaching through the camera to tug at the heartstrings without being cloying or saccharine.

Jason managed to pulled it off in one take, though there would have to be some editing work done. After two hours, Andy judged they had had enough to work with and they returned to the APC then drove back to Checkpoint Silverscreen. Katya opened another Portal, returning them to the Studio, then apologized, saying she had to leave to take care of a client, and Ryusei left with her through the other Portal she made. Jael had to leave too, wanting to meet Sunshine at school, even more after enduring the time at the Crush.

Andy promised to start on the editing the footage immediately and swore she would shoot to them over the OpNet before they touched down in Stamford, Connecticut, where the main headquarters for the XWF was located. She also promised to book the three XWF stars a direct flight there, on the Studio's dime.

And so, an hour and a half later, Jason 'Bombshell' Bellefleur, Michael 'Emperor Narcissist' Heller, and the Bulletproof Monk found themselve flying first class to try to wring charity from a stone, ie Bartlett and 'The Man' Ric Flair.

The promise of potential profit was a big thing in their favour.

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