The ambulance had arrived to take away some poor man who had the misfortune of being on the wrong side of a fight. Silas Artoria was already in bad shape when he entered the match but KC3 recklessly exacerbated his injuries, and for what? It accomplished very little and did nothing but paint a target in their head.
Still, it was humiliating for the aristocrat, and his moments of reflection didn’t help. He had very little comfort; the ambulance ride was rocky at best, the gurney was uncomfortable, and there was no familiar or friendly face he could comfortably talk to. Dr Leggett was on vacation, and Silas wasn’t in the position to seek someone like Tara Robinson. He could barely breathe as it was!
The arrival wasn’t too great either. It felt almost routine now, with only different faces and different accents. Quick process before being pushed into a private ward, away from the common folk akin to kings and their subjects. Alas, Silas simply laid on the bed as the minutes and eventually hours clocked on and on, but the ward became eventually empty, leaving a patched up Silas alone.
He turned his head, looking around the small room to ensure he wasn’t being watched by a doctor or CWF official in a corner somewhere.
Silas breathed out in relief, albeit through his teeth.
SILAS ARTORIA: Finally.
He settled in after much discomfort, finally getting comfortable within the indentation of the mattress; eroded after many years and many bodies using it. He closed his eyes, and his body became heavy, embedding itself in the bed. The deep breaths finally elicit calmness instead of chest pain, the tenseness of his joins subsided into nothing, and the anxiety of the situation escaped him.
He was alone with no thoughts; just the infinite cosmos within his dreams. He was a simple athlete within the ring with a banged up body, but here, here he was the king.
This was his kingdom, and the outside world could not fathom its existence.
He laid on the bed without moving an inch, all the while the music that his mind settled on echoed throughout his psyche.
It seeped into his mind as his body grew heavier and heavier, as the memories of his time with her comforted him further. The stars watched over him, and the arms from the music wrapped around him.
There was no pain here, not in his dreams.
???: Miss me?
Silas shot awake but his arms and legs were quickly bound to the bed. The music quickly faded away like tears in the rain, before a familiar figure came into his eyesight. Nicely dressed and suited up, but their figure was completely distorted by black vines and red, pulsating features all over his body.
His corrupted spitting image.
SILAS ARTORIA: This space is private!
PASSENGER: Nothing is private, boy. Everything you see, smell, eat, thought, dream, I see it.
The bed starts rotating before stopping upright, with the distorted figure cackling with a sick sense of glee.
PASSENGER: You should be used to it by now.
SILAS ARTORIA: Is there anything you won’t inva--
His mouth quickly quietens as tar-like corrupting ink crosses his face. The Passenger simply looks at him with a smirk, satisfying look.
PASSENGER: There, much better don’t you think?
Silas pushes himself around, front-to-back side-by-side, but the restraints were strong. His fury meant nothing, as the Passenger simply looked on.
PASSENGER: You really are pathetic. Such a shame. Now…
The distortion raises his arm.
PASSENGER: ...let’s see what your little library has in store for me.
Drums begin. Sythesized drums.
The Passenger seemed satisfied.
PASSENGER: I must admit, your tastes are varied and interesting at times.
He hits down on a chair of his interference’s making, crossing their legs and quickly getting comfortable, as the bound Silas could only look on.
PASSENGER: Hall and Oates. She loved them didn’t she?
Silas’ eyes narrowed, almost piercing his distorted self’s skull.
PASSENGER: Hey! There’s no need for unpleasantries, we’re civilised aren’t we?
PASSENGER: I’ll take that as a positive response.
They rub their hands together and simply leans forward towards his trapped host.
PASSENGER: Why do you hate me Silas? We’ve known each other almost back to front for at least two decades. I know what you like, what you dislike, what you like to listen to and do; doesn’t that make us friends? Why the animosity?
Silas couldn’t respond, but his facial expressions make his answer clear.
PASSENGER: Is it because I’m trying to push you towards a certain direction that involves a more visceral pathway to glory, or is it because you’re sick of me?
Just a mere blink in reply.
PASSENGER: Look, I apologise if I need to continue butting in on your conversations, even if your recipient doesn’t possess the means to hear me.
The Passenger’s smile slowly fades away into a frown-like state.
PASSENGER: Silas, I have exhausted every ounce of my patience to try and nudge you in the correct direction, so if you don’t mind, I would to access some of your most recent memories. Would you prefer that?
*Snap*. The vines over Silas’ mouth move away.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re going to nudge me through persuasion?
PASSENGER: Quite unlike me, I know, but clearly whispering through your ear isn’t working.
Pause, the Passenger sits up.
PASSENGER: You’re recent behaviour and actions remind me of a advertisement I saw during one of the shows. A world of chaos, blood, everything that would appeal to an audience that would watch the sport, and juxtaposing against that suffering is a character with a demon within him, continuously acting carefree.
They tilt their head.
PASSENGER: Your memories, if I may? Just match memories, nothing too personal. I’m sure you wouldn’t like to relive the memor--
SILAS ARTORIA: Get the damn point.
The smile returns to the Passenger.
PASSENGER: With pleasure.
*Snap.* The music faded away and the cosmic atmosphere twists and turns to make way for a blend of desaturated colours; blurred by the sight of combat taking place within the sanctions of the CWF. Vague noises of physical contact and crowd reaction spill into the one-on-one meeting.
PASSENGER: Tell me, of all the names you’ve given me, why has ‘The Passenger’ stuck out for you?
Silas thinks briefly, before lightly smirking.
SILAS ARTORIA: You have any preference?
PASSENGER: Bloodletter sounds appealing. Darkbeast Kravalla was a favourite in a past life, or Shadow Scourge.
SILAS ARTORIA: And you call me pathetic?
The Passenger shuts down his smile and glares at the host.
PASSENGER: It’s a more appealing name.
SILAS ARTORIA: They sound more like mythological beings and courtesy names.
SILAS ARTORIA: ‘Passenger’ is what you are.
Pause. Silas wiggles a little within his restraints.
SILAS ARTORIA: Since we are taking a ‘pleasantries’ route, could I please be unbound from your bondage?
He shoots a wicked smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: I prefer to be in motion while talking to another. Just a habit you get when working for a wrestling company.
The Passenger maintains his look on his prey, although getting more irritated as the time went on. While Silas is pinned to the bed, his smile slowly chipped away at the bravado his inner demon decided to coath themselves with.
This is his dream, not theirs.
He snaps his fingers, and Silas briskly walks free, unable to feel the pain Autumn inflicted upon him. He brushes himself off, before walking towards his captor.
SILAS ARTORIA: Tell me, my ‘Passenger’. If a rat were to scamper through the front door of your home, would you offer them hospitality or a place to stay?
SILAS ARTORIA: I don’t like rats. They are repulsive.
A smile escapes Silas as he is coming closer to his mirror image, looking less intimidating by the second.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s sad that rats have to live in this world. Not only do they survive, they thrive, and the reason why is because they have survival instincts that surpass the most basic of human beings. They hide in the walls, they hide in the cupboards, they hide wherever they could travel to.
Face to face, the wicked smile of Silas looking down at the shadowed Passenger.
SILAS ARTORIA: But their survival instincts soon lead them into an inescapable predicament. They are caught in a trap and are at the complete will of it’s hunter. It lost the long term battle and is now at their mercy. Would you treat them with dignity or respect, shower them with praise and treat them like kings?
SILAS ARTORIA: Thought not, Passenger.
The Passenger looks at him with near shaking anger, but it’s not fazing the host.
SILAS ARTORIA: Consider yourself lucky that you get some occasional breathing time. Now, what did you want to show me? What have you combed out from my memories?
The Passenger growls before snapping his fingers; the skyline now flooded with much clearer images of Silas recent matches.
PASSENGER: Your new attitude to certainly eye opening but it hasn’t yielded success. You have been continuously defeated since the start or the “new year”, and have simply relegated to obscurity. Observe.
The room is filled with clearer sound, as the images of his matches replay in this fragmented world. Tag team tournament ends in failure before his head gets caved in, his entry into a different match was caused by a third party, the Hell in a Cell match ending in failure, and his endurance test with Autumn nearly killing him. Silas witnessed the same events, again and again, carefully curated to highlight the low points of his recent career.
PASSENGER: Your current track record does not inspire much confidence, but I know you can do much better than that.
Footage of the Autumn match rewinds back to a brief moment. He was constantly slammed into a chair before being placed in a painful submission, but during said submission, a brief twitch caused his opponent to instinctively back away. The look of fear from Autumn caught Silas’ eye, and the Passenger looked at his host.
PASSENGER: Even after your so called reformation, they still fear you. Nothing has changed, and nothing will change. Visceral or not, they won’t look at you differently or treat you differently. You are the same Silas Artoria to them in reality.
SILAS ARTORIA: And you believe your involvement will fix this?
PASSENGER: At least change the outcome. You have a prime opportunity with this ‘Paramount Grand Prix’ to make a statement, regardless of your behaviour.
SILAS ARTORIA: And you’re going to demand involvement. Sunrise, sunset I guess.
PASSENGER: I’m not demanding it….I’m asking for involvement.
Silas’ eyes widened, and he quickly turns his head towards the captor.
SILAS ARTORIA: Not like you to ask politely.
PASSENGER: You’re not responding to my demands, so it’s the best I can do. ‘Placating’ would be a suitable word.
Silas smirks at the Passenger before returning his look to the memories summoned. That moment of failure replayed over and over again, because it wasn’t just a normal loss. It was the destruction of everything he had built up. One season has come and gone, and with one tournament for the titles comes another in a different format. Round robin instead of single elimination. More chances but it wasn’t a reason to take it easy.
He knew these moments he was watching were cherry-picked, pushing the narrative of failure while ignoring any form of victory he had. He survived a 5 man elimination match, he’s improved from his last Modern Warfare bout, and arguably put on the most lauded match in company history for the top title. The uplifting attitude was having some form of effect on him, and he was feeling healthier.
On the other hand, it was hard to argue with him. The Hell in a Cell loss lowered his prestige, and the Autumn humiliation proved once and for all that he was doomed to remain below the top. It was a position he crazed, and his biggest successes and prominence came with their assistance.
Then again, some of those great successes came with them.
Silas turned his head to the Passenger.
SILAS ARTORIA: You know you're weakened immediately after showing yourself, lest you forget.
PASSENGER: Then pick your opponent wisely.
Jimmy Allen, Nathan Paradine, and KC3. All were lined up to face him in the coming weeks, and with one opportunity, he had to pick the ideal target.
He shoots a grin.
SILAS ARTORIA: I know just the victim.
Nothing glamorous, nothing fancy. Just a banged up Silas sitting in a hospital bed with a nice meal by his side. His eye is still bandaged up, and it’s clear he is still breathing through his teeth. He looks at the camera, and simply smiles.
SILAS ARTORIA: Well...as you can see here I am still not in apex shape. Eye still damaged from our visitor, ribs still cracked, and breathing is still painful. But fear not! Doctors have assured me that I’ll be able to enter the Paramount Grand Prix against all opponents, and that should be celebrated.
He raises his hand and points upward.
SILAS ARTORIA: Before I get to the tournament and my block opponents, I should probably address the nature of what got me in this hospital bed to begin with.
He sits uptight, gets comfortable.
SILAS ARTORIA: Let’s quickly discuss that tag match. First of all, I’d like to send my congratulations to the rookies for leaving a lasting impression in the “veterans” by defeating them. Even discounting the condition I was in when you three won, it takes great strength and endurance when going up against s group far more experienced than you. For that, I eagerly await for you come the Grand Prix final. You’ll see a very different Silas Artoria come then.
SILAS ARTORIA: Unfortunately I cannot congratulate your individual actions in the match, because I don’t remember a vast majority of our encounter.
He takes a brief moment to think.
SILAS ARTORIA: I remember that foolish idiot whom has been stalking me throughout Modern Warfare clocking my head and ribs to the point where my head turned into a haze of dizziness and pain. For what I heard, I was trying to get to the back but that doesn’t really sound like me. Medical emergency, I would, but I wouldn’t walk out of a match, even with a handicap. I remember looking at the lights before being dragged out on a gurney to a hospital, which is never pleasant.
He holds his hands up.
SILAS ARTORIA: Sincere apologies, but the only way I can praise you individually is if we come face each other in the finals, and please don’t disappoint me.
His hands rest back down.
SILAS ARTORIA: But I also have to make that trip to meet one of you, and with great difficulty. Doctors say I cannot remove the bandages so, literally, I’m going in half blind until further notice. Starting with one Jimmy Allen.
SILAS ARTORIA: To be honest, when Modern Warfare was announced, a part of me wanted to take on Jimmy Allen again. He’s been a bit of a curiosity to me, even if his choice of language is not exactly my cup of coffee. Last time we met he was brash, rude, and swore like a sailor; yet that encounter was one of the most interesting matches I had recently. In my top five actually, and when you consider the matches I’ve had since WrestleFest, it’s an inclusion that warrants mention.
SILAS ARTORIA: Our last match ended in a DQ, essentially a win with a big caviat, but the two of us have changed significantly since. We’ve gone through dynamic-changing events and our allegiances have changed wildly, some with long lasting consequences, but it means that we are living proof of how fast this business can change people. It turns boys into men, girls into women, and weak into strong. I’ve been here substantially longer than you, but you’ve gone through the same trials and tribulations that come to every member of the roster.
A quick smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: And now, for the two of us, the next trial awaits us. For me, to show the world that even when hampered, I am still a force to be reckoned with. And for you, final resolution over our last encounter that ultimately robbed you of an opportunity. I’ll promise you some things.
He leans in.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re getting Silas Artoria. It’s only fair, and it wouldn’t be proper closure if one had a significant advantage over the other, regardless of injuries. You’re not going to get what you correctly assumed to be a being within me, and I can assure you that your offer for a handshake, in your address, will be met.
His look turns grim.
SILAS ARTORIA: Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do with my Passenger. It turns people mad, and it’s a miracle my psyche has survived this long.
Back to a smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re right about many things, Mr Allen, but you’ve got an uphill battle in the Paramount Grand Prix, and it’s truly a shame that your first obstacle is the steepest part of the mountain.
He sits back in the bed, clenching his patched up ribs and breathing through his teeth. He finally relaxes, and breathes a sigh of relief.
SILAS ARTORIA: Oh, one final thing, Mr Allen. Don’t call someone who is in their mid to late twenties an ‘old man’. You’d be best to do some research on that front.
He chuckles to himself.
SILAS ARTORIA: Au revoir, Jimmy. Let's make the lost ‘found’.
The feed cuts off to a dead channel.