Just for something different, it is raining over York, England. As the rain I oft want to do in this part of the world, it is falling quite heavily, heavy enough to force a construction crew hired for clean-up to remain off-site. Not that the contractors were ever really in any hurry to finish a job ‘on-time’. So, in theory there is no one scheduled to be on site, a ruined manor off the beaten track not far from York. Theory does not reflect reality however, as a figure, protected from the rain by his heavy motorcycle gear, which also helps to mask any discernible features, stands before the thin wired fence that acts as barrier around the ruin. He cocks his neck to acknowledge the sign upon the fence that condemns any who would seek to trespass on the grounds within the wire fence. The figure never took much notice of such warnings and isn’t about to start now. Undeterred and without hesitation he deftly scales the fence, entering the grounds. Before him lies what was once a proud and rustic manor, now little more than a charred skeleton. Seeing the fate of the old building once again brings forth feelings of regret and painful memories. The figure knows this place, or at least what it was once. They had made friends here. Had started a life’s journey here. But that all seemed like a lifetime ago, and that is the reason the figure has returned, standing amongst the ashes once more. They had to free themselves from the chains of those memories, to let go of the past in order to secure their future. They were a different person to the one who had closed those doors behind him. The figure picks up a handful of the ash and throws it into the air, saying a silent prayer as it fell back down to the sodden earth. The people who once resided in the manor, and those who had brought about its destruction were no more. Either dead or scattered across the globe, seemingly forever out of reach. But that doesn’t mean the figure couldn’t make good on the promise he made the day he left.
Funny how things have seemingly come full circle.
Call it luck, coincidence or divine intervention but one night after returning from his usual haunt in Tokyo to his current residence, a quaint little place Zach found on AirBnB, he was overcome with longing for home and nostalgia and on a whim the young man dials up a video call with Ataxia. It dials over several times, and Zach is all but about to give up when the familiar masked visage of Ataxia appears on the phone screen. Apparently the guy sleeps in his damn mask.
It’s hard for Zach to know if Ataxia legitimately didn’t recognise him, as it seemed, or was merely playing around.
“Zach who? Zach Galifianakis? Is this about the 100 you owe me?”
“No this isn’t-Wait. Zach Galifianakis owes you money? Wait. No. It’s me. Zach, from the CWF.”
“Nope. Doesn’t ring any bells.”
“C’mon Tax. You know, Impakt. With a k.”
“Oooooo. The kid running around like a green-and-black power ranger. What’s the haps kiddo?”
“Let me guess. You feeling the itch to come back?”
“I think so.”
“Well why else would you call up the CWF Commissioner out of the blue.”
“Comis-YOU’RE the Commissioner?”
“Yep. Crazy huh.”
“I’ve missed a lot!”
The CWF Commissioner then updates te young Zach, getting up to speed on all that has happened since Summer Games.
“We could really use you kid. The place is crawling with baddies, Mia-Baby has gone missing and this pendejo, Loki Synn, seems to get their kicks doing little else then coming after us Forsaken.”
“If you get a chance, watch WrestleFest and get back to me if you really want to come back. Not that I’d blame you if you didn’t.”
And the call ends, the blue-light of Zach’s phone extinguished, bathing him in the darkness of his hotel room.
His friends needed him, but is he ready to return? THAT is the big question. As anxious as he feels, as badly as he wants to come to the aid of the Forsaken, he needed to be sure it was the right time.
He needs a sign.
People find solace in different environments.
Some seek comfort in quiet solitude, distancing themselves from the problems of the world. Others prefer companionship and camaraderie, seeking empathy and a distraction.
Even when in contemplative and pensive mood, Zach from Philadelphia, is most at ease surrounded by the familiarity of frenetic activity and energy. Hence, given his current surroundings, his current Fortress of Solitude is the Bar PHANTOM Club, a colourful karaoke club in the electric core of Tokyo, Japan. The hub of all things nerd, Akibahara. The Club, with its bright lights flashing, people popping and grinding as they mill around the dance floor, dancing to a vastly tone-deaf performance of popular songs, performed by patrons too drunk to care, is a perfect reflection of Zach’s mind, his discordant thoughts racing at a million miles per second. As such Zach is seated at the bar in the centre of all the ‘action’, drinking his token ‘Health Potion’ (A simple glass of water) with a content smile upon his face. Coming to Japan had not been all fun and games, though with Zach MOST things are fun and games. An unplanned bonus from being affiliated with the Academy and later the Forsaken was the networking. Zach knows someone, well more like knows someone who knows someone, who was to be his new Mr Miyagi. It was all part of finding answers to the questions Zach had about himself following the Live Wire match at the PPV. His time in Japan was less ‘Wax On and Wax Off’, and more actual hard work, refining his abilities in readiness.
Not that he minded.
A crashing of glass grabs Zach’s attention and he sees one of the club’s serving girls getting roughly accosted by a rather inebriated party-goer. An American tourist from the look of things. Though not exactly a regular, Zach had been to the Club enough times to recognise the server as a friendly woman named Yuna, who is fighting valiantly against the advances but can’t compete to the size advantage of her accoster. He also knows that with the size of the crowd tonight, it’s going to take security a little while to intervene. Throwing back his water, Zach steps off his chair and makes a beeline for the commotion.
“Why don’t you try your charms on some of the other girls who actually came here to party.” Zach says. The drunk pauses, his hands firmly wrapped around Yuna’s waist, trying to pull her down onto his lap. He struggles to focus on Zach, his senses summarily affected by his desire for libation.
“Fuck off kid. This chick and I are fine.” He slurs, failing completely to look even the slightest bit intimidating.
“Trust me. She’s not your type.”
Zach offers his hand to Yuna and assists in pulling her away from the drunk and the two go to turn their backs on the drunk and leave him behind. Which he of course is not too pleased by.
“You wanna fucking go Kid?!.” Unsteadily the drunk gets to his feet and goes to advance towards Zach. The young, displaced Philadelphian is tensed and ready, though he hopes to avoid the fight. The sight of the approaching security guards is enough to sober up the drunk enough for him to see sense and not pursue the confrontation, instead throwing back the rest of his drink and taking his leave. Zach leads Yuna back to the bar, waving off the thanks from both the server and the bartender, graciously declining the offer of a drink on the house. He merely asks for another water and reclaims his seat. If Zach is being honest, the potential risk of a fight was rather exhilarating. The flicker of a tv set in the corner catches his eye.
“Hey ah…Sumimasen…Excuse me.”
He is still struggling to learn fluency in Japanese, trying to catch the attention of the bar tender, a fellow named Kaito.
“Could you please turn that up.”
By some coincidence the TV in question is showing the live events of WrestleFest, the CWFs biggest Pay-Per-View event of the year. Zach watches in rapt silence.
This is it.
The sign he’s been waiting for.
The sign to return.
What better reason to make a stunning return, then to come to the aid of those he considers his friends. Though he doesn’t really know who this Loki Synn is, they are messing with the Forsaken, and that is Loki’s first mistake, for naturally Zach is going to take significant umbrage to such villainy. Loki’s second mistake is not being prepared for Zach. A mistake that is going to bite Loki in the behind as soon as the first Evolution after WrestleFest.
With a final display of gratitude from the staff, Zach takes his leave, heading to a nearby carpark where a 2013 Yamaha WR250R motorcycle, with green-and-black decals awaits him. He is about done putting on his riding jacket and helmet when Zach’s Spidey-Senses tingle and he notices three figures crossing the yard, coming directly at him. He recognises the centre most figure immediately, the drunkard from the club.
“You fucking little cockblocker! You’re gonna pay for getting involved where you don’t belong.” He tries to growl, still mostly slurring his words.
“Yeah I get that a lot.” Zach responds, eyeing off each of the three would be assailants. “You guys ever see Roadhouse?”
This gives the three pause to look at one another before they shrug and return their attention to Zach, smirking.
“I guess not.”
With helmet in hand Zach swings at the nearest attacker.
After all, all work and no play makes Zach a dull boy.
Standing atop the rooftop of the Renaissance Hotel in Nashville, Tennesse, Zach looks out over the city-scape of Tennesse’s capital. Focusing mostly on the Bridgestonr Arena that was as close as the other side of the road known as Broadway. It is the night of Evolution 31, with the event fast approaching. Zach had made his presence felt the previous week, putting Loki on notice for their actions. But so too was it a message to the entire CWF.
“My name is Zach. For a couple of months I have left the CWF with only one goal. To better myself. To overcome and breaks my own limits. Now I come back to fulfil a promise I made long ago. A promise made to myself and those whom I hold close, and bring down those who would do them harm. To do this I have become someone else. I have become something else.”
His self-affirming whispers are carried by the wind, falling deaf to the city’s ear, amidst the cacophony of metropolitan life.
No matter, the whole world is about to witness the levelled up Zach. For he is not the same young man who left the CWF at Summer Games.
The Game has changed and the CWF has become Epic once more…