Title: The Next Generation
Featuring: Nathan Paradine
Date: 21/07/2019
Location: Companion, Minnesota



BOOM.

The door to Nathan Paradine's house swings open and Leigh Boetticher bursts into the living room, glancing around frantically. The curtains are drawn across the windows leaving the room in a state of semi-darkness, even in the middle of the day. Boetticher looks around, noticing immediately dozens of sheets of paper scattering the floor. The room looks as if it has been turned upside down, and in the corner of the room a large television screen is showing a selection of shows on Netflix having been left idle for hours. 

Leight Boetticher: "Nathan? Are you in here, buddy?"

Boetticher walks into the room, cautious of what he might find. It's been nearly a week since he's heard from his client and the manager-cum-lawyer of the Australian Submission Machine is fully aware that Paradine's mental health can be... tumultous. He was expecting excitement following the news that he'd secured Paradine a cushy spot in a match against a CWF newcomer, but the silence is definitely worrying. He peers around, pausing to pick up a paper from the ground.

Leigh Boetticher: "What the hell is this?"

He examines the hasty sketchings on the paper with a frown, before the sound of movement can be heard from the kitchen. He allows the paper to fall to the ground before attempting to locate the source of the noise, his jaw dropping at the scene that greets him when he steps into the dining room.

Leigh Boetticher: "Oh Christ. What the hell have you done?"

Nathan Paradine is sitting at the dining table, more sheets of paper scattered about in front of him. He's newly bald; his head shaved completely down to stubble, however his beard remains clinging to his jaw. He looks up as Boetticher enters the room, a puzzled expression on his face. At his feet lies Otis the corgi, fast asleep.

Nathan Paradine: "Leigh? What are you doing here?"

Leigh Boetticher: "What am I doing here!? You haven't answered your phone all week! I flew out here from New York to make sure nobody was going to find you hanging in your closet or something like that. I was worried, dammit! And instead of finding you dead, I find you sitting here sounded by... what, exactly? Drawings? And what's with the haircut? And the dog!?"

Nathan Paradine: "Otis? Oh, we bonded on a plane flight last week. I bought him off his owner and then brought him back to the States with me, he's become my little buddy. But that's not important, what is important is that I've discovered a fantastic television show. Tell me... have you ever heard of Star Trek?"

Boetticher's eyes widen at this question. He blinks twice, unsure of how to respond to Paradine.

Leigh Boetticher: "Of course I've heard of Star Trek. I watched it when I was younger, back in college."

Nathan Paradine: "I've never seen it. I was always more of a Star Wars guy myself... but anyway. I've watched The Next Generation over the last two weeks and I've had an epiphany."

Leigh Boetticher: "Wait, what? What do you mean? How did this all come about?"

Nathan Paradine: "Well, it all started when I was doing an interview for a reporter before Paradise. They were asking me about my career in Hostility and the Sanctioned Violence Organization and they told me that I pulled a Riker since I was clean shaven, then I grew a beard and started winning titles and acclaim in the US. I was curious about what he meant, so I looked it up. Apparently it was a reference to Star Trek: The Next Generation, so I gave it a watch."

Leigh Boetticher: "You've seen all of it since just before Paradise?"

Paradine laughs and waves his hand at his lawyer. Otis twitches a leg in his sleep, almost in unison.

Nathan Paradine: "Nah mate! I started it the day after. I was bloody inspired. Patrick Stewart as Jean-Luc Picard has motivated me to do more with the gift that I've been given."

Leigh Boetticher: "And what gift is that?"

Nathan Paradine: "The gift of pro wrestling, of course. That's what these are for."

Paradine gestures around at the scattered sheets of paper.

Leigh Boetticher: "What are these, exactly?"

Nathan Paradine: "You're looking at your next task for me. These are the initial plans for the Hostility Battle Academy... my new pro wrestling school. I need you to go over the paperwork, dot the i's and cross the t's, that sort of thing."

Boetticher can't help it. He bursts out laughing, partly at Paradine's earnest expression at partly at the thought of his client trying to teach anything to anyone. Paradine, to his credit, doesn't appear to be too put out by this reaction.

Nathan Paradine: "What's so funny?"

Leigh Boetticher: "I'm sorry. It's just... you? As a teacher? You're not the most patient guy I know. I can't imagine you trying to teach a class of wannabe pro wrestlers."

Nathan Paradine: "Just get the paperwork sorted, Leigh. That's what I'm paying you for. Who knows, I might still surprise you."

Boetticher wipes tears of laughter from his eyes and claps Paradine on the shoulder.

Leigh Boetticher: "Fine, fine. I'll see what I can do, if you scan these documents over to my office. And for what it's worth... I'm glad you're not dead, buddy. I hope you do surprise me. And before I forget-"

Boetticher snatches up Paradine's iPhone from the kitchen table, ignoring a low battery icon and expertedly navigating to his messages. He throws the phone to the Australian Submission Machine, who throws up his arm to catch it in midair.

Nathan Paradine: "Oi careful, these things are like ninety per cent glass I swear."

Leigh Boetticher: "You might need to step away from the plans for your wrestling school for a moment and check your messages, you've got a match this week. Now it wasn't easy to get this set up for you, but after your showing at Paradise everybody seems to want a bit of Big Match Nathan. There's an opportunity coming up at WrestleFest, and you're going to be the one coming out on top again."

Nathan Paradine: "Against who?"

Leigh Boetticher: "Some newcomer named Starlight. Totally kooky, absolute crackpot, but she's another native of the land of the rising sun. You were busy beating her countrymen while she was still in diapers, so I can't imagine she'll pose too much of a challenge."

Nathan Paradine: "Another woman? Did the business with Lindsay Troy not deter the CWF bookers from putting me up against the fairer sex?"

Leigh Boetticher: 'Whoa, easy Nathan. In the current hashtag Me Too era, you have to be careful about what you say when it comes to your female co-workers."

Paradine rubs his chin thoughtfully.

Nathan Paradine: "So I can knock her teeth down her throat, but I can't say she's the fairer sex?"

Leigh Boetticher: "As your lawyer, I would advise against it."

Paradine shrugs.

Nathan Paradine: "Seems like political correctness gone wild to me, but what do I know? I'm a modern man, I'm all for equl opportunities. If she wants to lose to me just like a man would, so be it. I don't give a damn."

Leigh Boetticher: "That's the spirit. I know I can count on you to get the job done."

Nathan Paradine: "Hey, if you're going to count on anyone it might as well be your own damn self, am I right?"

The scene comes to an end as both men begin to gather the plans for the Hostility Battle Academy together, still engaged in a lively discussion. Come Evolution will Paradine prove to be the dominant one, or will Starlight dazzle her way to victory?



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