The definition of insanity is repeating the same actions and expecting a different result, but lately all that Leona had to hold onto was the blind hope that Zach would find his sense and return to her. To this spot. So every night she returns to the roof of Walter B. Saul High School. It used to be THEIR spot; a place both Leona and Zach shared to escape reality and just be together, no one but the two of them relaxing and watching the stars in each other arms. But with the sudden changes in her boyfriend they hadn’t set foot on the grounds in some time. Zach isn’t returning her calls and his dad turns her away at the door every time she tries to visit. The worst part is Zach isn’t speaking up against his dad and sticking up for her, or worse himself. He almost seems ok with letting things go the way they are. Or he doesn’t realise how badly his own father is manipulating him. It’s as if Adam now has the controller in hand. The Lioness of Philly however is not one to give up, especially when the love of her life is concerned. She is and always has been a fighter, it’s not even close to the Final Round, so she will continue to button bash and come to this place, waiting for him to come to his senses.
As long as it takes…
“What have I told you about being on the roof? Get down at once!” Roars ‘Atomic’ Adam Vaughn and directs the full force of his blustering toward his son, Zach. It creates quite the spectacle for the neighbours. The former CWF Impact Champion seems content to sit upon the roof of the Vaughn home in suburban Philadelphia and stare plaintively into the horizon. It isn’t the usual spot he would share with Leona, but with that no longer an option he had to improvise. Zach has the look of a young man conflicted, waging an unseen, internal war within himself. Truth be told the Game-Changer is struggling to reconcile the man he is being moulded into by his dad, and the expectations inherent with that, with the stalwart man of honour he hoped to be, fighting for truth and justice and actually standing for something outside himself. Just like his position upon the roof of his family house, Zach is dancing on the edge, the fine line between ambition and integrity, conviction and pride. The real million-dollar questions needing to be asked and answered are;
1. Was the original Zach van Owen really as insignificant and insufficient as Adam Vaughn adamantly claims?
2. Were the risks and results worth all the sacrifices Zach is being forced to make? On the day he manages to reach the top, would he really still be Zach and who will be there to share in the moment?
Unfortunately the rooftop fails horribly as a Fortress of Solitude, the callous abrasiveness of Adam Vaughn’s bellows making it hard for the young man to piece together cohesive thoughts.
“Stop your moping. We have to get you ready for your next match. And this one you’ll actually be fighting in.”
That piques Zach’s interest, enough to draw him back to the present. With a resigned sigh he ties to quash down his doubts and misgivings into the deepest recesses of his mind and drops down from his perch, standing beside his dad. After all this time, Adam is finally noticing his son and Zach is getting a hint of what he wanted growing up; the support of his dad and acknowledgement of the aspirations to become the second wrestling icon in the Vaughn family. However it is a shallow moment because Adam clearly does not conclusively support or respect Zach, his style and his current accomplishments. If he weathers the storm will things get better?
“Don’t even know why you’re so moody, you’re showing some real progress.”
“If I were to open up my quest log, I somehow doubt this would be on there! How is any of this progress?”
“You’re finally getting serious. You’re letting go and stoking the fires. Because of it the CWF is starting to learn that Zach van Owen is not a kid to be trifled with.”
Adam pats his son half-heartedly on the shoulder.
“But at what cost?”
Zach brushes him off.
“Greatness requires sacrifice.”
“But the sacrifice of my friends? My girlfriend? And everything that I am and stand for? How is that worth any of this?”
Adam resists the urge to bite back at his son, fighting to suppress his prodigious anger.
“Not this fucking nonsense again! Look, you can either go back to being that saintly little prick, wallowing under the shadows of most of the roster. Or you can sack up and embrace the Vaughn you really are. I’m here to make a real man out of you Zach and those friends of yours were little more than obstacles, hurdles in your way. They would have held you back, gotten in your way and prevented you from reaching your true potential.”
“And how would you know MY potential? You don’t believe in me!”
“Or perhaps I was pushing you, using your desire to prove me wrong as a motivator. But lo and behold you couldn’t even manage that.”
Zach rounds on his own dad. The enraged fire in his eyes has Adam Vaughn taken aback.
“Go on. Embrace your anger.”
Zach grabs his dad by the shirt.
“Strike me. I know you want to.”
Adam holds his breath, eagerly awaiting the attack, but to his disappointment it doesn’t come and Zach eventually loosens his hold and takes a step back. Adam shakes his head.
“Always one step forward and two steps back with you. But there’s still a chance. In your upcoming match you get to finish what you started last week, with the added bonus of continuing to prove your worth and confirming MY time and effort towards you.”
“Cause it’s all about you…” Zach grumbles under his breath before “It’s just like Ataxia to not listen to fair warning.”
“He probably reckons he can reach you in a fight. You never really know someone til you fight them. But he won’t be your only concern. First you got some Australian prick teaming with Taxia, Nathan or something. And then your partner.”
“Yeah your teaming up with one of your so-called ‘friends’. The Shadow.”
Zach pauses, stopping dead in his tracks and going completely still.
“Why would he be a concern? He’s a teammate, and one of the few I’d want by my side.”
“Haven’t you been listening? Any interference by those Forsaken fools could undermine all of my hard-work and have you fall into your old habits.”
“No buts! He may be your tag partner, but the Shadow is as much your enemy as Ataxia and Nathan Paradine.”
“You don’t know what you’re talking about. Ataxia is definitely gonna be a concern, he’s been around since the age of the Commodore 64, he was born in wrestling tights. He’s a master of the mind games and an unpredictable force of chaos in the ring, the kind of guy who’d use his own Health Bar to beat the shit out of you. Chances are he’s gonna poke and prod me, trying to get me to Hulk Up. But he forgets that the Hulk is good at one thing, smashing. That Masked Menace seems to forget that I’m not some green-eyed level 1 noob. I could go on all day if need be. I know my way around the ring, I know the right button combinations for all the special moves, and I’ve always got an Ultra handy if I need to break it out. I can handle Ataxia. And Nathan Paradine…I may not have faced him before, but his Character Sheet speaks for itself and unlike the other Aussies we have on the roster this guy is super serious, all business. If he can get any of his submission holds locked in then I’m in serious trouble. The one thing I don’t want to be is grounded against him, it’ like my Kryptonite. His expertise is unparalleled, at like Epic Proportions. But then again, he’s gonna have to keep up to do it. No easy task, better competitors have tried and failed. To lock in a hold he’s gonna have to get in real close, well within my striking distance, and I’m damn certain my Initiative Score is higher. See, if nothing else I’m always pushing myself, breaking the limits and looking for that moment to Mega-Evolve. And don’t you go pretending like you know a lick of what’s going on here, you’ve skipped all the Dialogue and Cut Scenes. This ain’t about Nathan, Shadow or Ataxia. This about me. My fight. My climb up the proverbial fucking mountain.”
“This is about so much more, this is about legacy and destiny. And forgive my doubts Zach, but you spoke confidently about your Impact Title Defence and look where that got you.”
For a young man who prides himself on breaking limits, he’s clearly reached his for the moment and turns his back on his dad, shaking his head as he walks away. Adam surges forward, awkwardly on his cane, and grabs Zach by the shoulder.
“Don’t walk away-“
Zach sweeps the leg, Adam crying out in pain as he falls to the pavement.
Shocked Zach is frozen in place, torn between helping his dad or leaving him. Giving in to his anger and not thinking clearly, Zach kicks the cane out of his dad’s reach and walks away, Adam yelling at his back all the way.
“You know I’m right you ungrateful little shit! And you’ll come crawling back!”
If Adam wants Zach to fight then your damn right he is going to fight!
Even if it means using up all his Mana the week before Twilight of the Gods, then so be it. Win or lose, ‘Atomic’ Adam Vaughn, along with the rest of the world, will recognise Zach, will acknowledge what he is truly capable of on his own. He isn’t Luigi or Tales, not anymore, he’s the Main Character, Player One, and it’s time to bring about the Endgame…