A damp little seaside town perched on the edge of Banff Bay on the eastern coast. We find ourselves standing in an old derelict train yard near the docks, rust red and dirt brown being the color palette we’re treated to. A feast for the eyes, truly. More specifically, we’re standing in front of one of the less dilapidated buildings in the vicinity. A large warehouse of some kind. No broken windows, the doors seem to have working locks on them… this place isn’t abandoned. Through the inescapable sound of the bay just a stone's throw away we hear sound emanating from the warehouse.
The unmistakable sound of bodies hitting turnbuckle and canvas.
As we focus in on the small sign near the main door…
“The Conclave Training Camp”
… a lunch-pail sized hand attached to an arm clad in brown and grey pinstripes reaches out and quietly yanks the door open, stepping inside the facility. The gym equipment and rings are set up in the far end of the huge empty warehouse, around what looks to be a small sectioned off office or locker room area. A dressed down Bombastic Bronson Box, clad in a black tank top and track pant, stands quietly in the dim light of the empty area around the doorway and watches his school for a few moments.
In the main ring Bronson’s sparring partner, a handsome, blond, lantern jawed German man in his mid to late thirties Reinhardt Hoffman, runs a group of nameless, faceless rookies through the paces. The savage “weeding out phase” as Reinhardt’s dubbed it. Some if not most… sometimes all of the probably nine or ten trainees Hoffman is working with will leave voluntarily by the end of the first morning.
Just like Bronson likes it. Brutal. Relentless.
A satisfied chuckle as one of the random rookies rolls out of the ring and starts violently puking his guts out. He looks over to the older secondary ring and his sadistic smile softens. His mentor, a dried up prune of an old journeyman grappler by the name of Spud Collins. Still tough as boot leather, Spud is in the ring silently watching two men go hold for hold down on the canvas. He seems rather put out that the smaller of the two men, a dark haired young man, is getting absolutely manhandled by a HUGE barefoot grappler with a dapper mustache.
Spud leans over slightly at the pile of humanity that includes his now quite purple blood nephew, Rhys Collins.
Spud Collins: Oh for FUCK sake Rhys, what are you doin’, boy? You gunna’ let that big German prick just sit on your head like that or you gunna’ DO somethin’ about it?
The huge bare-foot and classically mustachioed German, Gunther Adler, chuckles as he cynches his hold a little tighter.
Gunther Adler: It’s like wrestling a baby. Are you a baby, Rhys?
Choking out the words as Gunther cranks back even harder.
Rhys Collins: You… *hurk* can both go… go fuck ye’ selves ya’… *gack*... cunts...
Still quietly watching over it all unobserved from the wings Bronson is startled as a ivory pale arm reaches out and laces with his, a warm body sidling up to The Wargod. Without even a glance at the figure beside him, he speaks at a near whisper so as not to draw attention.
Bronson Box: Ginny.
Five feet, five inches of buxom, red haired fury. All wrapped in green and black leather pants and a loose green top.
The toughest woman he’d ever met, with a bullet.
Ever dated. And broken UP with, for that matter… several times in fact, over the years.
It’s a very complicated relationship, these two.
The Blackpool Widow isn’t not classically beautiful. Still, she’s the girl you can’t stop glancing at out at the pub. “Just something about her” ... You know the type. Trouble with a capital, bolded and italicised T. And the mouth on her. Quick witted, razor sharp tongue. Not only could she verbally spar with the best of them, but she’s probably smarter than you too. A devastating combination of attributes. Wielded like a weapon during the many years she stepped out with one of the most sadistic, self absorbed villains to ever lace up a pair of wrestling boots.
His christian name rolls off her very proper British tongue like velvet.
Couple years ago Gin had her neck broken by a giant beast of a human being named Dan Ryan. Like a twig. But did that stop this girl? Lord no. She worked hard after surgery and found her path back into a wrestling ring. No longer a spotty high flyer, but a nasty underhanded brawler. Reckless, brutal, cruel to her opponents.
She learned from the best, after all. Box himself.
Other than Spud, Box actually had a hand in training everyone of note currently in the gym. In addition to a small army of indie wrestling and MMA’s finest all over Europe, Japan and the US that utilize The Conclave’s “open door policy” to come and train with Bronson and his team.
Well… lately just his team, come to think of it. Life as a CWF superstar is a demanding racket that’s kept him far far away from his beloved school for a number of weeks now.
Ginny: It’s ever so much less fun around here without you, love. How’s America? Still dreadful, I take it?
Proper in accent only, this one. Boxer can feel the little knife she always keeps strapped to her thigh as she pulls herself in close to The Wagod’s side.
Bronson Box: Aye.
His one syllable answer clearly bristles Gin slightly as she looks over at Bronson, his eyes glued on Gunther and Rhys still rolling in the secondary ring across the warehouse. The younger Collins escapes from the massive German’s hold only to find himself fending off another. Cursing his bad luck as big Adler locks on a vice-like leg lock around Rhys’ head.
She watches him for a beat, how content he looks watching the action unfold.
Ginny: You miss this sooo much. Don’t lie either. I can see it all over your face like it’s written in bloomin’ Sharpie, Hollis.
He chews on that for a few moments.
Bronson Box: Aye, I do…
He finally looks over at her.
Bronson Box: And I still don’t regret it one fookin’ bit.
She shakes her head and looks away from him, back to the men sparring in the ring across the way. She mutters out of the side of her mouth, obviously frustrated at the mere thought of the individual that inspired Bronson’s latest jaunt into active competition.
Ginny: What is it, exactly, with you and Eric Dane anyway?
His upper lip curls at that.
She holds up a hand in weak resignation.
Ginny: I’m not saying what Spud said… [she gropes at Bronson’s bicep] as far as I’m concerned you’re fit as a fiddle and able to pillage any poor bloke you wish.
The Wargod narrows his eyes.
Bronson Box: But….
Ginny: But. I think he’s using you.
He turns to look at her square in the eyes.
His response is so quick it causes her to blink in silent shock for a moment.
Bronson Box: I know for a fact he is. I’m fookin’ bankin’ on it, dear.
The Red Queen sighs a deep sigh. Resigned at the reality of it all.
Ginny: You two and your bloody mind games, it’s frankly ridiculous. Him dangling carrot after carrot just stringing you on like a loon, you desperately seeking both his approval and his scalp depending on which way the blasted wind is blowing… I mean…
She looks over at him again with pure, unfiltered incredulousness.
Ginny: Golden Paradigm? That was HIS idea, wasn’t it?
The STARMAKER grins and shrugs.
Bronson Box: He could call us fookin’ bosom buddies for all I bloody care, love. Bein’ out there again, scrappin’ in the fuckin’ mix again. It’s like I’m refueled. Aye, bein’ here is somethin’.
His grin fades. Determined.
Something to prove swirling in his bloodshot brown eyes.
Bronson Box: But bein’ out there is somethin’ ELSE entirely, Gin. Uncorkin’ the fookin’ bottle and losin’ myself in that FIRE in my belly again. Lettin’ some cretin get under my skin and just… just fookin’ RAGEIN’... bloody tear their tendons and crack their BONES, it fills me up in a way even all this… [he looks out over his gym]
Her face awash in emotions. Admiration for his dedication.
Envy of his boundless fire and passion for the beautiful anarchy that follows his wake.
And yeah, probably a little “flushed” … they did date, after all.
Ginny: Hollis, I…
He reaches over and runs a thumb down and across her chin.
Bronson Box: Much to your and Spud’s dismay, love, I’ll be chasin’ that particular dragon until you lot are forced to scrape me off the canvas and plant me in the family plot just outside town.
Spud’s thick Welsh accent cuts through the din of the gym like a well whetted knife.
He’s been noticed.
The old journeyman is leaning on the top rope facing the “couple” flanked by his nephew Rhys and the big German Gunther.
Spud Collins: Oye, yer’ back ya’ bastard. You gunna’ stand over there and play goo-goo kissy face with yer’ blasted ex all mornin’ or are you gunna’ get over here and get back to work? Aye? Hell, if Reinhardt manages to drop the rest of those green as gooseshit pricks and frees himself up we can have ourselves a proper tag match. Rhys was just sayin’ the other day how much he wanted to square off with you again, my boy.
The old man turns to look at his now stunned nephew.
Spud Collins: Oooh weren’t ya’ Rhys? Somethin’ about “well if that Shadow prick can pin him, why can’t I?” Some daft nonsense like that.
The lanky but obviously well put together young technician scoffs and narrows his eyes at his uncle. Then turning back to Box with a weak chuckle.
Rhys Collins: Fuuuuck you, ye’ daft old bastard… don’t believe a word he says, Boxer. Good to have ye’ back in house, mate. Good on ya’ taggin’ that Shadow prick back.
Boxer feels a sharp elbow in his side.
Ginny: Go on then.
Box thinks about joining the three men down in ring two… but hazards a glance towards Reinhardt still in the process of drilling this mornings crop of rookies into the canvas. The pain and suffering etched in each and every man and woman’s face. The look of satisfaction on Reinhardt’s as he calls out drills one after another. Each and every one meant to demoralize and suss out the weak from the oh so very few strong enough to survive The Conclave’s… curriculum.
Bronson Box: Nah… I’ve a better idea.
The Wargod takes a deep breath and starts off towards ring one, rolling under the bottom rope.
You can see each and every eyeball other than Reinhardt’s follow Boxer as he navigates the sweaty piles of fresh meat dotting his ring.
Bronson Box: I’ll take it from here, Hoff…
That sadistic smile.
The one that causes his mustache to twitch like the broken hand of a clock stuck at 10:10.
It’s much later in the day now. We can see from the banks of windows that line the upper reaches of the warehouse turned gym it’s almost dark outside. The Wargod is alone.
He sits perched atop one of the turnbuckles in the main ring where not a few hours ago fifteen full grown men and women all cried for their mommies, said sod it to their down payments and left of their own free will. What a racket.
Bronson Box: Before the CWF’s world got turned on its ear and we were steamin’ towards a very different Evolution 26 that human canker sore Mikey Unlikely managed to squat down and untethered one of his trademark ”promos”
He cocks his head to the side and purses his lips. Raising an index finger.
Bronson Box: Where usually so very much is spoken but so precious little is actually SAID… but this time. This time that insipid cretin managed to dribble just a wee nugget of truth. He spoke of history. Our… history. DEFIANCE history. He said it d’nah matter. And would you bloody know it… he’s right. None of it matters. Team DEFIANCE? Nah, boy’o. Eric’s got us a brand new name. Changin’ the bloody Paradigm, we are.
His lips smile. But his eyes tell a different story.
Bronson Box: Aye, the pleasure of puttin’ a hurtin’ on quite literally the worst cunt walkin’ God’s green ripped away from me thanks to a bunch of pricks at the top of this place havin’ better FOOKIN’ things to do than bloody WRESTLE. So they’re all gone, title’s vacant and I don’t get te’ HURT YOU MIKEY! … and that… that FRUSTRATES me to no end, ye’ see.
He pauses for a few beats. His bloodshot brown eyes locked on the camera.
Bronson Box: I’m frustrated. Frustrated I don’t get what I want. What I wanted was to beat Mikey Unlikely to death with that Dorian Hawkhurst pricks severed FOOKIN’ arms. Thankfully the incompetent pricks that run this place, knowing full well I’d need a place to DIRECT all this pent up anger and frustration they gave me a… [chuckling] willing receptacle.
Running his tongue over his bottom teeth as he mulls over his words.
He shakes his head, almost apologetically.
Bronson Box: Xander. What’s going to happen to you come Evolution 26, boy’o, is goin’ te’ be called a fookin’ SHAME by those that witness it happen. There’s one simple undeniable fact when ye’ look at you. And ye’ look at ME. I carve the skin of this fookin’ planet with my every action, my every STEP. And you? You’re a bloody vapor, a whisp, a NOTHING…
He produces a white gym towel and tosses it around the back of his neck.
Bronson Box: Come 26 I’m gunna’ step right through you, Haze. Easier than walkin’ through a fookin’ door. Coupled with mine and Eric’s sound trouncin’ of the reigning tag team champions this last week I’ll be on to bigger and better things... and where does that leave you? Once I’ve swatted you across yer’ mangled gob and left you layin’ like so much trash?
He hooks both hands onto the ends of the towel as he hops deftly from his seat atop the turnbuckle.
Bronson Box: Well, you’ll be in the familiar position of pickin’ yer’ wee self up by those adorable little bootstraps and go about tryin’ te’ make another go of it all from the very fookin’ bottom of the pile. Hey, bright side, you’ll get to add yet another sad dronin’ chapter to that pathetic little life story o’ yer’s ya’ insignificant little twat
A look of disdain as he looks over the tops of his eyes down at the camera.
Bronson Box: Abandon all hope, boy’o. Abandon all bloody hope.
He almost hisses the words.
Bronson Box: You’re just sad little cripple, Xander. An’ I’m Bronson Box.
Do the FOOKIN’ math.