Progression is a desirable trait, one that measures not only your skill at performing your task but also predicts what could can do within a period of time. People’s progression curves may be lighter or steeper than others, but in the CWF, the best way to measure how much an athlete has improved over the past year is to simply observe the Modern Warfare tournament.
Last year, Silas was promptly taken out of the tournament in the first round by Amber Ryan, and today he has survived the same hurdle. Nina was out of the picture, and for now he can only hope that the rest of V.E.N.O.M. are too preoccupied to try and retaliate against the Canadian.
And yet, he still felt hollow. He was greeted with some clapping and congratulations from the CWF staff once he got through the curtain, but he didn’t feel the much needed elation that was just taken away. His ribs still hurt like crazy, and the desire to not distract himself from anything but the tournament is currently hampered by the bewildering presence of KC3. He appeared, observed, then vanished. What was his goal? Why is he coming out to see Silas? Was he coming out to see Nina? The questions were simply too distracting.
He didn’t make eye contact with anyone; even if they wanted to express even a token gesture for winning the tournament opener, they wouldn’t get anything back. Instead, he gripped his ribs with one hand through gritted teeth, and walked down the freezing cold arena concourse; it’s concrete and steel architecture serving as a perfect windtunnel for the freezing cold weather.
A staff member, wearing a snow-white jacket to indicate their profession, was walking towards the gorilla position, when they looked up from their clipboard and saw Silas. They shoot a smile.
MEDICAL ASSISTANT: Silas, congratulations on your victor--
SILAS ARTORIA: Where is Dr. Leggett?
Silas stopped to ask the question, without a hint of antagonism or emotion beyond exhaustion and light pain. The assistant seemed confused, glancing beyond Silas and back as it was clear they were needed elsewhere.
MEDICAL ASSISTANT: I’m afraid he’s busy at the moment. I’ve got to go, I’ve got to check the ne--
SILAS ARTORIA: Please. Can you point in the direction he’s at? Is he in his office?
The medical assistant froze in thought for a moment, but relents. They point in further down the concourse, specifically at a black prop-up wall in the distance.
MEDICAL ASSISTANT: His office is just near the black wall. If he’s not there, then I don’t know where he would be. I’ll see you later Mr Artoria.
No more words to distract them, the assistant quickly heads towards the gorilla position as the next match begins. The staff and other athletes watch keenly as Autumn Raven took on one of the Carnage invaders. Their champion was certainly a towering behemoth but Silas couldn’t keep his eyes on the screen for long as he progressed further towards he desired destination. The door near the black wall had Harmon’s name on in, and after a few quick knocks, the vague sound of a bell emanated from several nearby sources.
Silas turned to see that Autumn had fallen, and the Carnage Champion, Jack Michaels, would be waiting for him next week.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas?
The canadian turned back around to see the doctor poking his head through the door.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: You don’t need to see me until after the show is over, you know?
SILAS ARTORIA: Can we please talk? Just the two of us.
Harmon is reluctant, almost looking around in his mind to find the best excuse to send Silas away, or at least delay their scheduled meeting, but alas he could find nothing. He opened the door, and invited the tired competitor inside.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: So Silas, how are the ribs?
Silas calmly closed the door behind him as the good doctor took a seat behind his desk.
SILAS ARTORIA: Stings a little.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: From breathing or from physical exertion?
SILAS ARTORIA: Bit of both.
There is a prolonged pause, as if the two are waiting for the other to talk about anything, with the silence deafening both men.
SILAS ARTORIA: Doc, I need to apologise.
Harmon simply smiled and nodded politely.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: You’ve got nothing to apologise for.
SILAS ARTORIA: But I do! My behaviour last wee--
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Is perfectly normal.
Silas seemed astonished, as if the point of his meeting was being washed over without the meaning being absorbed.
SILAS ARTORIA: For me!? I shouldn’t have acted like that! I left you worried? Why should I act like that towards you?
Harmon chuckled lightly, almost playfully, without being dismissive of Silas’ apology.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas, I’ve been a part of this business for at least a decade. I’ve seen impact fractures and people dying in front of me. I’ve seen catastrophic injuries that left athletes with permanent damage in some way. A change of behaviour tone isn’t something I cannot handle.
SILAS ARTORIA: Bu--
DR HARMON LEGGETT: It’s fine, Silas. It’s understandable. I should've acted more mature, admittingly, but there is nothing you need to come up with an excuse fore. You’ll be repeating yourself if you continue insisting on apologising and making excuses to apologise more, as confusing as that may sound.
A brief silence as Silas looks on the roof, contemplating on what to say next.
SILAS ARTORIA: I shouldn’t push you--
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas…
He indicates the chair on the opposite side of his desk, with a stuttering Silas struggling to continue speaking without further wasting the good doctor’s time. He already had done with his checkup last week, and he was already doing so with his stereotypically canadian behaviour. Not another word. He pulls up the chair and sits down, getting comfortable as the doctor continued to observe the clearly bothered athlete.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Silas, your behaviour last week was normal. You felt like you was on cloud nine after finally finding an approach you were comfortable with after feeling trapped in a downward spiral. The voice inside your head certainly didn’t help matters, but you were a new you. You felt elated by your newfound success as a CWF staple.
Silas breathed out as he listened to what felt like a therapist’s hypothesis; a pattern they pieced together which felt like was proving to be accurate. They weren’t wrong, but Silas felt there was something missing from Harmon’s address.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: And then December came along and you felt neutered, and the match that felt like the biggest match of your career to you ended not only unfavourably, but disastrously even.
Silas bowed his head from embarrassment and shame.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: It’s hard taking loss from a match that important to you, and your head is trying to find someway to cope with it. Modern Warfare is perfect for it.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s just not the same doctor.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: We take losses. I’ve taken a few when it comes to dealing with other federations before arriving here, and I’ve had to face the emotional consequences of failure.
Harmon tilts his head to the side.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Hey, look at me.
The warm, comforting tone grasped Silas’ chin, and almost subconsciously, lifted him up to look at the good doctor. His face remained empty, but at least there was an apologetic look on his face.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: I’ve had to cope with witnessing people get permanently scarred because I was unable to prevent them from entering the ring in less than peak condition, and I’ve had to cope with the results. Failure defines us, Silas.
Silas’ look changed. A light hint of confusion slowly emerged on his face, whilst Harmon’s look never changed from the same welcoming tone that he started the conversation with.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Success is desired, but failure is a learning opportunity.
SILAS ARTORIA: I know doctor, it’s just...it’s just…
Silas paused for a moment, this thoughts lapsing as she struggled to come up with something else to describe his emotional situation. He should be elated that he demonstrated that he could bounce back from a big loss, but he was still empty and hollow. There was improvement, for sure, but only on a minute scale.
A deep sigh escapes him.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve got everything I need doctor. Money, a platform, security, nice house, great position in a company I love working for, and yet—
DR HARMON LEGGETT: You feel as if you have failed, it’s understandable after that loss—
SILAS ARTORIA: But it’s as if that loss to Autumn made something inside me realise something, like it was a wake up call on my current situation or something. I...I don’t know what it is?
Silas seemed panicked, like he was prey and was backed into a corner by a large predator. It felt like he was lost, directionless for what seems like the first time in his career. His year was spent going from objective to objective, a clear path forward towards something, and when the path was shattered, he descended into arguably the worst period of both his career and life.
Silas was clearly afraid, trying to come up with something substantial to put him out of what he felt was inevitable. It was fortunate the Modern Warfare tournament came along, otherwise he might has reverted back to his old self.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: What do you want Silas?
Silas looked at Harmon, almost as in in shock. The good doctor simply smiled and looked at Silas, no pressure; just a man looking out for someone under his care, trying to extinguish worries that might lead him towards the path of injury. Desperation can lead to unforeseen consequences.
Silas throws up his hands with little energy, almost as if he’s given up.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don’t know, doc.
SILAS ARTORIA: I want something that isn’t this.
Harmon’s expression changed suddenly, one of confusion.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: You don’t want to be with us?
SILAS ARTORIA: No, not like that! I love my current situation. Go prominence here and abroad, a name etched in stone, even a ballet I funded is opening this weekend back home! I’m living the dream!
Another pause, this one slightly longer than the last.
SILAS ARTORIA: But at the same time, I want to be a good man, and I feel that I am torn between two different instincts with no end to it.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Is your Passenger to partially blame?
SILAS ARTORIA: Maybe?
PASSENGER: Just pulling you back in the right direction.
SILAS ARTORIA: Maybe.
Hard to describe. The Passenger hasn’t been vocally active recently, but still is, without a shadow of doubt, still present. It never rests, still crawling within the flesh and blood of Silas Artoria, pushing his mind and soul in a direction that favoured chaotic violence. Broken bones and shattered bodies is what it craved, doing what it can to ensure the vessel performed to feed it’s bloodlust.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: I’m no shrink, but you seem addicted to chaos.
SILAS ARTORIA: You think?
DR HARMON LEGGETT: It would explain why you intimidated the production team into disobeying my clearance order. It was a Hell in a Cell match after all, the king of chaotic matches.
SILAS ARTORIA: Yeah...maybe...maybe.
Harmon looked at Silas, concerned as the man who was defined as a flamboyant-if-strange individual opened up to him.
It almost felt human.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Is there anything I can help you with that could put you back in the right direction?
Silas stood up slowly.
SILAS ARTORIA: I appreciate the offer, but you’ve already done enough.
He turned around and started to walk towards the door, soberly and slightly apprehensive. The meeting did what it needed to do, and he still gave his apologies to the good doctor. He rested his hand on the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: I just….need to find something you can’t provide doc.
Deep sigh as he opened the door.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve got Jack Michaels next, wish me look.
DR HARMON LEGGETT: Will do. Get some rest. Good night.
The door closed, separating the lost, directionless psychopath, from the doctor keeping him safe.
The Four Seasons Centre For The Performing Arts, the decently sized theatre that houses the national opera and ballet companies, was relatively quiet tonight. The musicians took their seats as the lights went down, dark blue, preparing for a performance that no one was watching. It was a dress rehearsal, the final round of practice performances before the doors open.
The only people present were the small number of musicians, a vocalist, the conductor, the director and choreographer, the ballet dancers themselves, and on the second tier reserved for the more wealthy audience members, sits the patron of the show.
Silas Artoria sits comfortably in his chair, paying no attention to anyone or anything but the stage, with the direction chatter from below simply not registering. He is completely immersed.
SILAS ARTORIA: A couple of months ago, I decided to do something with what I was hoarding. I more money than what I would ever spend, and thus decided to make some good use of it.
The chatter below dies down.
SILAS ARTORIA: I looked around Toronto for places and projects that would have my attention, places that would benefit and wisely make fantastic use of my patronage. I’ve looked at coffee stops, antique shops, museums, schools, numerous places and establishments in Toronto and the surrounding area. But in the end, I selfishly ended up looking at what interested me the most. I’m a lover of arts, my varied collection within my compound would showcase it, but I’m also an avid follower of the performing arts. My mother use to take me to the theatre regularly, mainly for opera, but I’ve had a particular fascination of dance.
SILAS ARTORIA: And in the end I thought, ‘what could benefit not only the sponsored, but also myself?’ And then I wrote a cheque.
Four taps from below, then the piano started playing. The lights come up, and in a neat line the ballet dancers gracefully enter the stage. Their stone faces had a sense of beauty to them, as their focus on their moves could not be rivalled by seemingly anyone.
Silas sat on his chair, observing the dancers express a story that the director and choreographer spent months meticulously outlining, showing one dancer in white and one dancer in dark red gracefully moving together as one unit, yet clearly battling each other.
SILAS ARTORIA: Seem familiar?
The song continued, and the two dancers stood adjacent from each other with equal numbers of dancers supporting them, as if the two sides were going to war.
SILAS ARTORIA: There’s a certain beauty with the art of dance, observing thee people who spend their entire lives learning, practising, and perfecting their moves and routines to the point that their audience looks past the moves and immerses themselves with the story they are telling. It’s hypnotic, and when all the elements come together, you come out having witness pure greatness in action.
The chord changed, and the two sides embracing while their upper halves struggle to detach itself from their forced partner. The two in colour stay in the middle of the choreographed fracas, embracing each other without a hint of antagonism, while the others eventually envelop around them. The one in red soon guides the one in white out of the enclosure, and the two spin, twist, and twirl with each other. The other dancers simply observe, witnessing one being guided by the other.
SILAS ARTORIA: I chose this project in particular because I want others to understand the battle within me. The never ending battle between my conscious, and the bloodlusting entity that has stood by my side since I was a child. Indescribable in purpose, yet so easy to paint given the canvas.
The white dancer turns to leave, but the red dancer takes hold of her wrist, preventing her from doing so.
SILAS ARTORIA: They pitched this particular concept to me, and I thought, ‘wow, this is exactly what it feels like. This must be shown to the world unfamiliar with my war.’ I added a few specific notes, and they accepted my donation. Here are the results, open to the public tomorrow night.
The violins and cellos play on, as the battle between the two sides continues with the outstanding beauty that could only come from two dancers that know each other intimately.
SILAS ARTORIA: Just look at them. Their moves, their agility, their sequencing. It’s elegance, grace, and fluidity is something that anyone could learn from.
One of the two dancers slides under the other, before leaping back towards their partner.
SILAS ARTORIA: Like that.
He glances at the frame, giving out a light smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: What? Did you think I became a patron solely for artistic purposes?
He returns his attention to the dance. The coordination is outstanding, with nothing breaking his attention from something very personal to him. It could almost tear him up, witness such an abstract yet alluring adaptation.
SILAS ARTORIA: When I leave, retire, or die, my legacy will extend beyond the CWF. I have prepared myself for that incoming reality. This performance will live forever, but I won’t.
The two dancers continue the pattern of trying to seperate, but only end up locking themselves back together again and again, no thanks to the other dancers preventing the white dancer from escaping the clutches of the red dancer.
SILAS ARTORIA: What is you legacy, Jack Michaels? You’ve been among us for twenty...thirty years? You’ve been all types of matches with varying degrees of pain, and you have risen to be the king of Carnage.
Pause, as the music resonates throughout the theatre.
SILAS ARTORIA: And yet, I’ve never heard of you.
He continues watching the performance, his look going from one of an audience member, to one of a student, paying attention to each intricate detail that the performers put into their craft. Their movement, their relationship to their partner, anything that Silas could translate into his profession.
SILAS ARTORIA: Is your legacy to be one that is contained within the Carnage bubble, or do you desire one that breaks into other forms of medium? Do you want your name with decay and wither away overtime? Is that why you are here, Mr Michaels? To break down the barriers that confine you to a backyard wrestling promotion?
He lets out a light chuckle.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’ve certainly entered at the right time.
The music ends it’s second chorus, as a different cord, alongside an underlining drum beat, kicks in as the two dancers become more and more distant from each other.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve listened to your address, and I’ll be the first to congratulate you for defeating the woman who has put me down a path I never wanted to return to, but you made the mistake in believing that going through the Modern Warfare brackets is a moment to moment matter. False, completely and utterly false.
The two dancers nearly separate again, but the vocals beckon the dancer in white to be drawn back to the one in red; walking back to them almost hopelessly as the other dancers follow behind, like a wall closing in behind her.
SILAS ARTORIA: Modern Warfare isn’t a tournament that requires one to survive match-by-match. It’s an endurance test. You have the cards in your hand, the dealer won’t give you any more. Play your cards right, the world championship is yours to take, but I personally question if you have played your hand too early.
SILAS ARTORIA: Take it from someone whom has been in this tournament before, and whom also delt his hand too early. Your mindset favours you less beyond round one, and you’re in the unfortunate position on taking on someone whose existence favours prolonged engagements. One tires, the other takes the wheel, whilst you only have one soul to drive you to success.
The two dancers are back together, the white one tiring out while the one in red gracefully carrying her across the stage.
SILAS ARTORIA: Nina was a challenge, but you represent more than just a stepping stone to redemption. You beat the woman who beat me and whom drove me into the abyss, and I fear that abyss. Appropriate that you are the gatekeeper to moving onto better pastures. You are talented, no doubt. There’s obviously a reason why you are holding Carnage’s top title.
He continues observing the dance, as the white dancer finally regains some energy, and embraces the dancer whom she spent to good part of several minutes trying to escape from.
SILAS ARTORIA: But I fear I may not recover from an unfavourable conclusion. You may have several accomplishments under your name, as you said, but you’ve been in the business almost ten times longer than I have. You can comment on my appearance and behaviour, it won’t change the fact that by the time the two of us collide, it’ll be a battle between desire and redemption. And like you said, you’re an old man.
The song slowly comes to an end, with the two principal dancers touching each other forehead to forehead, finally accepting that one cannot live without the other.
SILAS ARTORIA: And time will always catch up in the end.
Silas raises from his seat as the dancers freeze.
SILAS ARTORIA: Have you built a legacy that’ll live forever?
SILAS ARTORIA: Because mine is right here, immortal.
He starts to clap at the dancers, with the sound echoing throughout the theatre in an almost haunting, foreboding tone. He smiled at what he saw, and the dancers line up to take a bow.
SILAS ARTORIA: Good luck dancers. May you portray the struggle forevermore.
Thank you for booking with Japan Airways.