“Better to reign in Hell, than to serve in Heaven.”
Paradise Lost by John Milton
Paradise Lost by John Milton
A camera finds Amber Keys inside of the world famous LEGO House museum in Billund, Denmark—a few hours drive from her Copenhagen hotel and the site of this week’s episode of Empire. She sits at the edge of a large tub filled with Legos of all different shapes and sizes, focusing intently on the small build of bricks she holds in her hands, forming an unidentifiable and motley shape with the bricks at her disposal. As she stacks her Legos, the camera settles on Amber and in the background, we see the hustle and bustle of children and their families delighted by the impressive displays and colorful structures filling the inside of the overcrowded LEGO House. Her focus breaks the moment she notices the camera, sighing to herself and setting her Lego project down carefully on the surface in front of her, preparing herself to address the EAW Universe and her Empire opponents, Fatal Destiny.
“I almost wish you hadn’t opened your mouth, Celes. You embarrass yourself, the way you spit on my name, the way you speak down to Cleopatra. You sound like a fool. Ignorance of this magnitude could only manifest by choice—or perhaps it’s caused by disability, brought on by severe mental insufficiency which you so obviously suffer from. You are blinded. You don’t even see how hard we work to provide for a fledgling like yourself. Everything we, The Queen’s Court do is for your benefit. To secure a place for women in EAW. For the emancipation of Empire. To ensure that our business, this ring, the division we elevated together continues to flourish, so that you, our offspring, could be nourished—could feed for centuries off of the industry we built, the opportunities we allowed for tenderfoots like you. We do nothing but provide for the young and the weak, to give you all mentors to look up to, people to learn from, an opportunity to acquire knowledge that is beyond your pea-brained comprehension. But alas...
“Like everyone else, Fatal Destiny, you two are ungrateful. Vain. Greedy, and for whose benefit? Certainly not yours, as your hubris has only brought you a fortune in shame thus far. And once you face The Queen’s Court? Once you are forced to experience the full force of our authority for yourselves? You will learn a valuable lesson, and will be devoted to your makers.
“You said it yourself—you, Celes, are what cost your team a victory on Empire. It’s your inexperience at this level, your incapability to commit yourself fully that makes your team look like jobbers compared to Cleopatra and I. Celes, you are the weakest link. Your overconfidence, your incompetence is the reason your team was defeated by a team as disjointed as The Pride. Yet you think you’re going to fare any better against a unit such as The Queen’s Court? The team of Cleopatra and Amber Keys, who together overcame the odds and defeated two other teams, four other woman under the circumstances of a brutal, relentless TLC match in order to secure their championships? The women who helped Madison Kaline, Hall-of-Famer, put an end to Stephanie Matsuda’s career? The trio who had their way with SG1, a former Vixens Champion, and took the liberty to rid Empire of her presence—simply because we felt like it?” Amber giggles. “I’m not at all intimidated by you, or your seemingly uncontrollable moments of mental instability which cause angry outbursts that would put the former Specialists Champion to shame. This is a no contest. It’s us who hold total control over Empire—we are the women with influence, with power, with the freedom to do as we please without a moment’s notice. No, we don’t need FOX to do it either. We’ve been changing the course of history long before Stephon stepped into Flannery’s office—-and will continue to do what we feel, even without FOX network’s support. Don't insult me by suggesting we need their approval to do anything. We are independent of any outside influence. We took back control of our own destiny, while you two, Karina and Celes, can’t do anything as you watch your destinies unfold, and you flounder and fail to give yourself a purpose on my show.”
Amber pauses. She picks up a medium-sized Lego, tossing it in the air and allowing it to fall back onto her palm. She repeats the motion a few more times, continuing to fiddle with the Lego brick as she speaks.
“We do not need instruction, or guidance. We, The Queen’s Court, are the women who wrote the instruction manual all of you abide by, we set the conventions—with the power of our own imagination and will power. We are the forerunners of this industry, the architects—the Master Builders, if you will, set apart from the rest of the world, with the ability to build and make profit off of the little resources we had back in the beginning, back before we made women’s wrestling meaningful, or fruitful. Just look around you, at the Empire locker room, the world of women’s wrestling—those are our seeds. Our fruit. Our garden of Eden. Our paradise.”
“And in our paradise, our Eden, we are in control. You will only eat from and take from what we give you—nothing more than what we say, and you will be allowed residency, so long as you abide by our rules. Should you disobey, however, and steal from what is reserved for those more deserving?” Amber smirks. “You will soon find yourself expelled from paradise.”
Amber flicks the Lego brick with her pointer finger, watching as it bounces on the ground. “Now, Celes Dumont is exactly the kind of woman I love to hear these sort of ramblings from, just the type I would love to share the squared circle with, at least once, so that I may grant her some of my extensive knowledge. And Celes seems to be in dire need of said knowledge, because she’s entirely unaware, apparently, of just how revered I am in this industry. She even went so far as to suggest that I have to earn respect from a nonentity like herself. It isn’t my current Empire Tag Team Championship that determines whether or not you should give me respect, Celes. No. It’s the fact that I built the goddamn framework for the Elite Answers Wrestling Women’s Division back when you were too busy suckling teat. Arrogant cunts like you are the reason why I returned after so many years, to remind you who your makers are, to make it clear that it is me you need thank for granting you the privilege to compete in my ring. I eat pip-squeaks like you for breakfast. You don’t offend me when you look through that camera lens, throw on your big girl panties, and claim that a walking, living legend is not worthy of your respect—as if that means anything to an icon like me. It only makes me pity you and what will soon come to you after we share a ring. As if you could even fully understand the term 'respect', or the weight that my legacy holds due to your obvious physical disability brought on by the varying mutations in your genetic makeup. But that’s okay. It’s exactly why I’m here, Celes. I’m here to educate. To enlighten. To bring knowledge and awareness to the less-informed and narrow minded. To broaden your understanding, to strengthen the foundation I created and allow you to live in. And then take it all away from you for being so fucking unbelievably senseless.
“The opportunity to tutor you two in the ring—it excites me. Especially you, Celes. Because I can see so clearly where you draw your inspiration from. The tattoos, the punk rocker, hardcore attitude. It's cute. And who do you think it was that made blondes so unbelievably sexy again? Certainly not you, Karina—Cleopatra is the woman who worked wonders by separating herself from the stereotypes set before her and made it possible for beautiful women and the pretty faces in wrestling to be taken seriously. After we look down at you two flat on the mat, it’ll almost be like looking in the mirror. The imitators like you two are what get me out of bed in the morning. It’s so satisfying to look onward and watch all of my haters validate my arguments for me—we are 100% the women who inspired more than half of that locker room. It’s obvious—and you need not hide from it any longer. Whether you want to admit it or not, Celes, you know deep down that you have nothing but respect for me. You can’t help it—you admire me. Even though you can’t seem to get my last name right, you know the enormity of whose it is that you speak, you know the legacy that I’ve built, the aura that surrounds me, the prestige following my appearances each week. You know who and what I am. And by speaking so poorly of me?" Amber slowly shakes her head.
“You won’t be spared, you’ll be dismissed. Excommunicated. Without question. And will lose your place in paradise.
“As for Karina-Ann’s ignorance and her thrice as irritating hyphenated name? Your logic or lack thereof is infuriating. Don’t ever speak on The Queen’s Court’s ideology if you have such little understanding of our purpose, our mission. You do us no harm by stating the obvious, by admitting to yourself just how strong our alliance has become. Even as impeccable and monumental as we are individually—together? Together, our movement is allowed to reach new heights that may not have been possible should we went about our mission differently, or solo. The lone wolf dies, but the pack survives. It’s exactly why we are our strongest as a unit, why we thrive so much on each other’s energy, why it is so important that we remain unified and celebrate togetherness, because together, we are strong. Together, we are an indestructible fortress. Together, we will take clumsy, out-of-place misfortunes in women’s wrestling and remove every last trace of you. You don’t deserve to dance with legends like us. You aren’t worthy to carry the weight of the Empire Tag Team Championship legacy that has been amplifying ever since I first laid a finger on this belt. Don’t you understand what you’re dealing with? Haven’t you been paying attention? There’s zero chance at you ever dominating the world of wrestling, Karina, until you learn from your mistakes, from your inexperience, from your failure to deliver each week all because you chose the side of treason, of disloyalty.
“And I’m happy to help educate you. So long as you bow down to your Queens.”
Amber sighs. “You know...when Madison first suggested that I embark on a three hour drive just to have a look at the famous LEGO House museum while we were here in Denmark, I immediately questioned her judgement. What business could I possibly have amongst lay-people in a toy factory? She’s usually the one out of the three of us who'd be most likely to indulge in these kind of juvenile activities that I suppose are meant to bring on some sense of nostalgia that I can’t necessarily relate to—but I digress. Yet, after spending my morning here, it couldn’t be more clear to me why she wanted me to see this place—and I love her for suggesting it. I'm so happy I did the right thing and listened to my Queen. She knew this place had something to tell me. Maddie wanted to inspire me, to open my eyes, to help me understand the significance behind tag team challengers such as Fatal Destiny. She wanted to tell me—in her own way—that no matter how well-put together or interlocked the participants of this tag team resurgence may seem, as easy as they seem to fit together…”
She looks down at the small Lego sculpture she was fiddling with moments ago, suddenly smashing it with her first, allowing the small, colorful bricks to splatter around the scene and scatter in front of the lens like splashes of paint. The camera focuses in on her fist, her knuckles now dripping with blood from the impact of the Lego bricks. The frame rises to capture her face, Amber grinning widely as she now sports a few small cuts on her face from the edges of Lego bricks, boys and girls of all ages turning their heads in her direction, people stopping in their tracks at the sound of the explosion of plastic, startled and unsteady at the sight of Amber Keys.
“They will break just as easily.”
Amber stands, allowing a few Lego bricks that rested on her lap to fall to the floor, the plastic bricks clinking on the ground. She walks through the still and tense crowd, the silence of the museum allowing for her boots to echo as she walks as the camera fades to black.