Lindsay Troy thrust a palm of her hand into the chest of Dan Ryan where, in no small quantity, Marcus Westcott's blood was splashed a few minutes earlier. Ryan looked through her, an empty stare hearing the words but not fully registering any of them.
"Are you listening to me? Goddammit, Dan...."
Troy backed away only a step or two.
"I don't like Marcus any more than you do, but this has gone way too far. You're shutting the company down? Are you serious??"
For the first time, Ryan looks at her, leaning in, eyes intense.
"He's the one the made it personal, Lindz. He's the one that sent that idiot into Empire Pro and tried to play games with my company, my livelihood. I don't believe in fighting back with equal force. When I get punched in the face, I crack his fucking skull, do you hear me?? He gives me a paper cut and I CUT HIS FUCKING THROAT."
Troy takes a deep breath. "Dan...."
Ryan cuts her off, enraged. "DO YOU HEAR ME??"
A piece of wood goes flying past her head and slams into the wall behind her as Ryan rips a small shelf from the wall and flings it. Troy, herself a decade-long veteran of the ring, for her part barely flinches. She's not new to Dan Ryan's temper.
"Dan.... I get it, okay? But there are a lot of people around here who had nothing to do with that. Marcus may be running the show, but we all have a stake in what you're doing right now. You may be trying to hit him where it's hurts... and you're probably right on with your target, but there's so much more to consider."
Ryan, still seething, chest still heaving, leans in again.
"I will not stop until I have Marcus Westcott's head on a platter, and there's nothing you or anyone else can say that can save him. So -- do me a favor and save your breath."
Ryan turns away, roughly ripping his elbow pad from his arm and slamming it into an open bag.
"Paul will stand up for this company, you know."
No physical reaction, just words. "Let him try."
"Dan, he's your best friend......"
"....He's your best friend... but he loves this place. He won't let you do this."
Ryan stops and slowly turns around. "Like I said, let him try. If that's the choice he's making, I'll make him bleed as well."
"Dan...." Troy puts a hand on his shoulder. "Think this through. Let's talk about this... there has to be another way."
Ryan slowly and methodically picks up her hand and removes it from his shoulder.
"I've done enough talking. I've done enough listening. I've made my decision... and it's final. And truthfully? -- I'm sick of listening to you, too..." The bag quickly goes from the bench up and over his shoulder as he turns to the door. "If you want any memories of this place, I suggest you start snapping some pictures now...."
Ryan throws one more glance over his shoulder as he goes out the door.
"They may have started it -- but I'm finishing it...."
Eight Years Later...
"I'm glad you could make it."
Dan Ryan throws a couple bags into the back of a pickup truck, momentarily to be on its way to the arena. Lindsay Troy leans against it, smiling. "Someone's gotta watch my niece while you go get your head bashed in."
Ryan raises an eyebrow. "Who says I'm the one whose head gets bashed in tonight?"
"Who knows? I know very little about Bronson Box, but I've heard the same things you've heard. Isn't he something of a big deal?"
Ryan looks her straight in the eyes. "As far as DEFIANCE goes, he's as big a deal as there is."
"I see..." Troy nods knowingly. "That explains it then."
Ryan smiles, amused. "You know me."
"Damn right I know you." Troy puts a hand on his shoulder and smiles. "You never could turn down a good fight."
Ryan chuckles, turning back to the truck and making sure everything is in its place.
"If it isn't a good fight -- then what's the point? Good fights are all that matter. I could show up in Viking Wrestling tomorrow if I wanted to dominate a place. Domination from a sheer overwhelming lack of competition is too easy. This is where the good fights ARE."
Trademark Lindsay Troy smirk. "Well, I'll make sure your child continues to live in blissful ignorance that her father injures other men for a living."
Ryan opens the front door, ready to head out. "I appreciate that. Alaina's away at a conference or else she'd be home with her."
"Hey..." Lindsay Troy held her hands wide, a half-sincere mock smile on her face. "What are sister-in-laws for? You just take care of yourself."
Ryan climbs in, buckling up and turning the engine over.
"Bronson Box likes to start shit up...." Ryan picks up a pair of sunglasses and puts them on, looking forward.
Lindsay holds a hand up, smiling.
"I know. You'll finish it."
Ryan smirks, looking forward, then drives off.
Six More Years Down the Road...
Video games, huh?
Dan Ryan looks down at the file on his desk and facepalms, going full Picard.
Ryan looks up.
Why is it that every time I get invited to participate in some tournament or some event, inevitably I'm faced with one of these guys who talks in video game metaphors, talking about cheat codes or saved games or some other nonsense? I had more than my share of this foolishness with Eugene Dewey in DEFIANCE, and swear to God, Zach Van Owen, if you pull a Zach Van Owen mask off and reveal yourself to be Eugene Dewey under there, I'm gonna be very very unhappy.
Ryan starts to tap his right thumb on the desk as he leans forward, looking into the camera.
Look. Van Owen. Zach. Impact with a K. Whatever. I know it's a long, involved sad story with you, filled with cut scenes and cosplay and interesting stories about the time you bonked Sailor Moon at Comic-Con. And I know there's some sort of thing about your father and unfulfilled expectations and him rolling around in a wheelchair like Professor X telling you how you aren't a good boy. And there's you, desperately hoping for him to drop just a few scraps of approval on the floor for you to lap up. I know it's all very important to you. And, I suppose, it's very important to some other people, too.
I know you're the 'run to the rescue' type. Loki is after your friends? Something about being Forsaken and a Shadow. I assume you lost your shadow and have been desperately trying to sew it back onto yourself, but everything went awry because you accidentally woke up Wendy, and John and Michael wouldn't shut the fuck up. So, you ended up taking the lot of them to Neverland or something. I'm sure I muddled some of the details up, but needless to say, it's super dramatic.
Ryan raises a hand though, super ready to make a super important point.
But alas, I've made my way to the third round of this tournament, so that means I'm starting to break into the bubble of the more important people in this company. And yes, here you are, the former Impact with a K, the current Impakt with a C Champion. You are a man affiliated with even more of the important people, and thus it seems as though this is an excellent opportunity to make a mark. And, by mark of course, I mean a mark on your head from my fist.
You keep talking about striving for the End-Game.
What if the End-Game is now? What if you make one wrong move and next thing you know, you go all Dirk the Daring and collapse into a pile of bones -- and all in GLORIOUS laserdisc color graphics? What if your destiny is to be relieved of your duties here in this tournament, so you can go focus on your true calling, finally cracking the code on how to effortlessly go to the bathroom with all of that spandex on?
See, as far as I can tell, while you call yourself the Game-Changer, mostly what people do when you come on their TV screen is reach for the Channel-Changer.
I'm not really interested in your ongoing quest, and my friend, I assure you that no one else is either. What I am interested in is stepping into that ring, like I've done my entire life, and tossing you around like a ragdoll. I have a greater purpose, too. It's called being the best wrestler in the entire world. It's called focusing on the task at hand and not filling my head with irrelevant nonsense. Your life is more complicated than an All My Children marathon.
Ryan leans back, hands out.
Mine is orderly. It is handled. I would pity you if not for the fact that your Johnny-Five vocabulary and Lord of the Rings analogies are so tiresome. Appropriate though, since weighing in at a buck-seventy makes it very likely that I'll just pick you up and toss you into the crowd like a dwarf.
Ryan looks into the camera, sympathetically.
I know how you're feeling right now. You probably don't like me, an outsider, disrespecting you in this way. "Who do you think you are anyway??", you said, clutching your joystick and blowing into your cartridge. And I get that. It's okay. So I'll tell you this.
You aren't the first. Knowing my luck, you won't be the last.
But no matter the frills and fancy window dressing, when all is said and done, when I lift you up and spike you on your neck, there isn't a power-up in the world that will help you stand back up. You'll stay down just like all the rest. That's your true destiny, Zach. Embrace it.
Even with someone living a fantasy such as yours...
We all have to wake up sometime.