Back on the floor, looking upward. His head is spinning from a splitting headache as he returns back to the real world. He had taken the damn pin, again, by a band of feckless anarchists whom only want to cause trouble. He was reckless in his actions and approach, but he was also holding back too much. If only he had that damn cane on him. He grits his teeth and slowly turns onto his stomach, Mia and Shadow signalling the current tag team champions of their intentions to take what they held, unaware of blood and war in the flesh looking at them. None of them could see him, a perfect time to strike.
He grinds his teeth, his eyes narrow; he grips the mat, positions himself in a pouncing position--
--a sensation reaches his foot. He looks towards the source. Autumn, softly gripping his ankle, nodding her head: no. The two lock eyes, Silas with the determination that has never been extinguished, and Autumn with a stern look but also an expression of concern. He keeps looking at her for moments, then looks at Mia and Shadow, whom had already left the ring and were already halfway up the ramp.
He still grips the mat hard, but then lets go. He exhales, and rolls across to the edge of the ring, sitting on the apron itself. Autumn catches up quickly, meeting Silas eye to eye.
"Let's get out of here," she mutters, and places one hand on his arm.
He snaps it away quickly. "I can walk," he mutters deeply, as he jumps down and lands on his feet. He limps slightly at first, but quickly gains some comfort. He walks up the ramp, Autumn hovering behind.
"We'll get you patched up and we can start pre--"
"Don't talk. Not a word." He opens the back curtain and passes through, now entering the outer perimeter of the arena. Tara Robinson trails behind the two.
The staff entrance opens up, eliminating the barrier between the CWF roster and the outside world. The first to storm though was Silas Artoria, no longer sweating, and now fully dressed. His eyes are fixed to a nearby black vehicle, it's destination: back to Toronto. The footsteps of his boots echoes for seconds, with each one seemingly louder than the one before. His face was hard, cold, and emotionless. He had just been debunked on the closing moments of Evolution.
What he was sworn many, many weeks ago, has no evidence of potentially manifesting.
Autumn ran behind and caught up to him, slowing down before she as much as brushed his clothes. "What the hell was that about!?"
Silas keeps walking.
"In a fit of madness, you decide to march up onto the stage and demand a title shot, even though she has already accepted one! Are you blind? Deaf?"
"A man who remembers."
She shoves him up against a nearby truck, pinning him against it. The two stare at each other, defiant knives clashing against each other. "Silas, I don't know what the hell has gotten into you tonight," said Autumn, venom spitting out her teeth. "But your attitude has unsurprisingly made me a little sketchy about your motives. We dined last week, and you wasn't this reactionary or tetchy." She grabs his chin. "What the hell are you planning on achieving here? Because if I were a betting woman, I'd put it on trying to seperate yourself from the rest of us, and I'm not in the business in letting that happen."
Silas keeps his eyes on her, not changing his look, nor allowing her words to crawl in his skull, almost blanking her out. He keeps on looking at her with the same expression.
"Oi!" Sam shoves the two aside, clearly heading towards the vehicle. "I ain't got all bloody day to listen to you two yabberin' on and havin' a blue. I'm gettin' outta here."
Silas and Autumn keep their look, but ultimately breathe out carefully. "Get in the car," Silas ordered softly, leading the way to the vehicle he eyed earlier. He wanted to leave, he wanted to think, and he wanted to progress onward.
The door closes, with all three Coalition members inside.
"So, what the hell are you up to?" Autumn started.
“Fair dinkum. He's schemin' over the title!" Sam replied.
He turned towards Autumn. "Aye. Power is a pow’ful tool, bit like water in the middle of th' bush. So tantalisin', irresistible. You give one a lil' bit, and they'll want more, it's what 'lisha and Shadow sniffed an now they want it all, damn ev'rythin'."
"So…” Autumn takes a moment to process what Sam said, into something more coherent for her. “Silas got near the title and now he's fixated on it." She turned to Silas, whom is simply looking at the two of them firing their shots. "I get that you got an offer to give the title a try, but Flair doesn't hold the title anymore, and Caledonia isn't someone who would budge."
"She ain't willin' to lose a title. Would rather lose an arm then have 'er toy taken away."
"We're wasting time," Silas mutters before he bangs the separation surface. "Airport, now!" The vehicle starts up quickly after, and movement can clearly be felt. Back to Toronto he heads towards.
"You going to respond to any of this Silas?" Autumn asks.
Silas said nothing.
Autumn leans back, seatbelt on. "Answer me Silas? What are you going to do when Golden Intentions comes around? Huh?" She raises her tone, clearly getting more frustrated with the lack of response.
Sam tried to not pay attention, looking out the window, but did eye the conversation.
"Are you going to enter the rumble, or are you so addicted to that title that you literally have nothing else planned?" She leans forward, stern in expression. "Whatever you plan on doing, keeping us in the dark won't do you any favours. It's making me uncertain, and Sam here is in no position to accept uncertainty." She takes a deep breath, closes her eyes, and looks at the man with somber. "I don't want whatever mood you are in to cause another rift. We're not in the position to be on our own, especially with the amount of trouble certain...people...are causing to the company." She glances Sam, whom doesn't respond. "So my question, and I want an honest answer. What now?"
Silas keeps his eyes on her for what seems like several minutes, blinking at random intervals, before he closes his eyes and bows his head. No noise, except the subtle squish as Silas sucked the air out of his mouth. "I'm sorry."
Sam turns his head. "Hah!"
Silas rose his head. "You heard." He tilted his head. "I'm sorry. Sorry for my recent behaviour for the past several hours. I'm sorry for being so distant to the pair of you, without giving you a reasonable explanation." He sits back up, and his tone increases steadily in speed and instability as time goes on. "You see, if there's anything I learned from my match with Amber Ryan, it was what was holding me back. My attitude, my smiling approach, not working at all. So I had to change my approach, but the thing is that I also learned that individual talent, and record won't get you anywhere. You have to make a serious, bold, statement to be even in the vaguest of whispers."
He twists his shoulders, getting comfortable. "Caledonia was offered the shot on a silver platter with no qualifying effort fought. Amber Ryan has just been offered a shot on a silver platter, and instead of honoring an agreement set by Flair, Caledonia instead baulks at the opportunity to crown herself a true champion, and accepted the same, bland, tried and true formula. Sticking to her goddamn clique of insiders, and ensuring that it's passed between a select few, with no chance of true, fresh blood."
He grits his teeth and leans closer to the two stablemates. "You think they want a challenge? You think they'll keep the title in fair hands? No. We forget that Caledonia vacated the tag titles in a pathetic, cowardly fashion, and refused to lose honorably to the new breed."
Sam merely glances, but retreats back to his gaze outside.
"We will not sit idly by, and get eroded into dust, by the same female that did everything in her power to gredilly take the spotlight away from those poised to take her place. I will not let us be herded into a dark corner and made a complete laughing stock as I was tonight. If you're going to get a shot, you need to fire the bullets, you need to force their hand. You need to meet them with true force of rebellion, and it's the season."
He leaned back into his seat. "I'm going to dismantle their wonderful comfort zone that they have thunk their way into existing, and I'm going to burn it all down." The left corner of his mouth lifts up into a half smile, filled with loathing, dissatisfaction, and contempt. "I'll ensure they are aware of our position, and we're going to break them piece by piece." The half smile disappears. "It'll hurt, really, really, dreadfully."
I've made too many mistakes, the past few weeks.
I pranced around like a lunatic, I showboated to a crowd who don't care, and I paid for it dearly.
And as a consolation prize for my efforts, I get put into a match with goddamn clown.
I'm done with games, I'm done with respect for the otherside, I've realised all that is doing is bringing me misfortune.
So I get matched with Ataxia, a competitor whom has mostly eluded me on account of simply not being matched up. One tag match, that had his victorious side pin a man who had zero affiliation and is now currently in the shadows.
That seems to be a bit of a running trend, really. People with titles see me approaching them, and they cower away instead of confronting me.
I don't think you know this Ataxia, but my second week in the company had me go all the way to the final four of a goldrush rumble, throwing out competitors left and right for a title that is no longer with us. You know how that ended? Someone who spent most of their time on their backside charged in, and eliminated most of us while calling it a victory. He was promptly eliminated by a foul mouth, vile, pathetic excuse for a human being whom immediately balked at any form of challenge. He's no longer with us, neither is the man he threw out. They have simply whittled away into nothing.
Thankfully, you have the good sense to at least take on the challenge against me, but that isn't an achievement so much as a basic requirement.
Why did they retreat? I don't know. It was a common trend during my early days here. Competitors come here, against me, then whittle away for nothing. Is it because I have a problem with anger management?
I can assure you I don't have anything like that, medically cleared, sane as anyone, cleared to compete.
Yet you, someone who cackles around like a clown busking on the streets, opposite an abandoned theme park, are somehow allowed to come into the ring, soil the mat, and leave with a title that once represented respect. Around your waist, around your shoulders, the title means nothing. You have brought nothing but sheer disgrace by desecrating it with the fleas that inhabit the rotting bag you wear.
I would've said rotting flesh instead, but then I realised it would've been a huge improvement to what we currently have right here.
You want to know how much you've disgraced the title? You're defending it on free-tv. The powers that be see that you are not an attractive draw to put it on a pay-per-view. You have sucked all the prestige out of it, that even management doesn't want to pay you despite being the champion.
As far as I am concerned, you're pathetic. You've got this insatiable desire to let the people at home know what a malfunctioning toy sounds like when it's trigger-string is pulled. You've surrounded yourself with a bunch of suckers who take you seriously enough to allow you into their clubhouse of outdated Halloween costumes. So...very...stock.
It takes a fool with knockoff KISS makeup to allow someone riddled with unaccountable diseases into their house, and now I am here because no-one wanted to call the decontaminants, for fear that it might be cruel to the diseases.
I am here because you cannot do the job you accepted when you won that title. You cost money instead of draw, you make people recoil and change the channel when you are on the screen, and you’ve turned the Impact title into a ball of rust, where instead it should be shining brightly among the other championships.
I know what you’re going to do, Ataxia, in response.
You’re going to spout the same vulgar language like you do every week.
You’re going to pathetically try to dress me down in a lost effort to present yourself as a big deal.
You’re going to try and present yourself as a big deal, but likely resort to a cheap, car crash of a puppet show that can’t keep the audience’s attention.
And then you’ll end it with the same cackling giggles that you can buy from a stock sound effects CD at a C+ convenience store.
Not even quality enough to get one purchased from Walgreens, and they focus primarily on beauty and healthcare.
Maybe you should give them a call; your mother might finally take a glance at you at last.
I have big plans for that title, bigger than whatever plan you have thought. Your reign of mediocrity is coming to an end, and believe me when I say I shall take great pleasure cutting you down to the last toe.
After all...it’s no disqualification, right?
Bounce. Run. Bounce. Run. Faster. Harder. Bounce. Run. Slide under. Steps back. See dummy. Charge. Knee to it's chin.
Silas lands on one of his knees, and sees ahead the results of his routine.
The head of the doll lands on the unpadded marble that covers the original ballroom. The sound of contact reverbs throughout the relatively dusty room, and Silas stands up to inspect the damage.
"Chin," he mutters to himself, before he throws the damaged head to the side, along with the other dolls that met largely the same fate.
Gloves on, he drags a treadmill on a mat near a punch bag, and jumps on. Incline, 10kph, he starts the run, fixating his sights on the target. Up, up, left, down. The sounds of the footsteps and punches being his only known companion. Harder, hit, sprint, more hitting. The routine continued on for fifteen minutes before the treadmill started it’s cooldown. He jumps off, around the back, keeps hitting the bag, harder, increasingly harder. Grunts could be heard with each movement and with each punch. Breathing out his teeth, spit flying out. More punching, noises getting louder, before he let out all he had.
“AAARGHH!” he screams at the top of his lungs, before landing another punch, splitting the bag in two. The stuffing sprayed out both ends everywhere, adding a snow-like atmosphere to the already, mostly abandoned ballroom.
The dark chuckle rang through his head like a constant headache. ‘Good, you’re embracing it at last.’
“Not fast enough.” Silas storms towards the bag’s hook, takes it off it’s support, and throws it towards the destroyed dolls. “The exposure is taking it’s time.”
‘Simply the effects of that tome you were reading for those many months. It’s not an after affect that can simply vanish overnight. You simply have to give it time.’
“That time has already cost us. No crystal clear journey.” He marches back to the ring, and eyes the ropes. “And a goddamn rebuttal on top of that.” He ran, jumps on the rope, and flips backward. He lands awkwardly, but still on his feet. “Everything needs a counter. Everything has a counter.”
‘And you will learn it all, and you will embrace true ascension again in time.’
Silas eyes the corner. “Too bad I have to play with clowns in the meantime.”
‘He does hold a title, this ‘Ataxia’ character. He’ll know what you have to deliver.’
“Just need to not stagger long enough for him to land that goddamn kick.” He charges towards the turnbuckle. One, two, three. Flip backward, land on feet. Charge towards it again, jump over onto the apron, sprint along, one, two, three, jump back into the ring, roll. “Ataxia, a goddamn clown behaving like a child, crying out for love. Pathetic.” Back to the corner. One, two, three, jump onto the floor, roll, eye the broken doll still standing. “Just as weak as one too.” He charges, sliding baseball kick to the lower section of the doll, taking off a chunk of it. Silas stands up and looks back at his work. “Harder,” he mutters.
‘So, how do you deal with Ataxia?’
Silas jogs to the nearby rowing machine. “Know what I did right, and what I did wrong.” He started the machine, level 9 resistance. “Right...focus on back...use hair for control...reaction time...used commentary table...wrong…” he turns up the resistance to 10. “...showboating...not enough reversals...damaged spine...posing…”
‘It seems the showman within you is still kicking around.’
“Well...I have to...beat the weakness...out of me...gah!” He stops the machine. A drink is quickly gulped. “If there is anything this damn industry does to people, it’s condition you to show off every ounce of yourself. The physical form, and the charisma within you.” He spits to the side. “Fortunately Ataxia has the charisma of a sack of potatoes, but that face isn’t what got him that belt.” He stands up, and, again, approaches the ring. He slides inside, but instead rests against the turnbuckle, sweating like a waterfall and leaving marks on the once relatively clean mat.
‘It’s a no-disqualification match. What do you suppose you have in mind?”
Silas stretches his back. “One, I am going to demand an answer, even if I have to tear through security to get it. Two...”
Silas sighes. “Come in!”
The double doors open. Autumn. “I heard you from the other side of the compound. Everything alright?”
Silas looks at himself, then the state of the mat, then the pile of stuffing that’s spread all over the hall, and finally the pile of crash-test dolls he built up throughout the session. He looks back at Autumn. “Just more intense than usual, that’s all.”
‘Looks like those drones you dragged along might be useful after all.’
You don't know your spot.
This isn't a fight to protect your property, this a hand over.
A toddler with a sack on his head.
How about this?
I'll send you back to whatever hole you have been crawling in...
...in a bodybag.