The sterile white walls of the local medical facility flew by as Silas and a series of doctors and medical staff ran with the gurney towards a designated ward; a worried and concern look plastered on his face.
The problem with being on the receiving end of a surprise attack is that there is no time to prepare for it. Even the smallest amount of time to brace themselves would alleviate the damage done, a complete ambush can take out even the most well built of people.
Silas knew Hidetaka Ito well from his time in Japan. Despite his age, the man is akin to a legendary greek god; immaculately sculptured to the industry and his common moves are able to put any fool who would cross him out. Clotheslines, teeth likely to be knocked out. Big boot, good luck if your brain isn’t rattled. His Burning Hammer, his weapon of last resort that has been used only eight times in his decades long career. To go against him would be like taking on a tank with a pen knife.
But even the greatest of gods are still bound by the rules of this earth, so when Lindsay Troy took him by surprises, she inflicted a devastating amount of damage to the point that a local ambulance had to be called.
And so, here was the god, the teacher, the man who never lost faith in Silas Artoria, being made to resemble a broken down man like those more akin to his age. He is quickly hooked to a heartbeat monitor, showing the local staff that his heart is beating faster than normal but not dangerously enough to warrant additional medical attention. Oxygen mask applied, a drip hooked up to him. All anyone could do was wait, and all but Silas left the ward.
Silas never really had a father figure. They were more concerned with upholding the legacy of his ancestors archaeological discoveries, all the while Viscountess Artoria took care of the small boy. The father soon indulged in whoring, drinking, then drugs after he became aware of what was inside Silas, until the last two eventually killed him. There wasn’t any form of uncles, grandfathers, or teachers Silas could look up to, leaving the poor Viscountess to take care of Silas alone until the natural order caught up to her.
At least he had a mother who could teach him the important lessons of life and leisure, but the hole the Viscount Artoria left behind ended up becoming occupied by a dormant entity that his ancestors found in some of the northernmost parts of Canada.
Maybe that was why when Ito came along it became much easier to suppress the entity, with the hole within his soul now finally occupied by someone whom not only taught him some of the more important lessons in his career, but also shared largely the same interests while knowing how to properly take care of him, even within adulthood.
And now that same man, Hidetaka Ito, is confined to an all too familiar hospital bed with all familiar equipment. Alive, mostly unharmed, but certainly unconscious until further notice. Did the attack just knock him out? Is there any internal damage we don’t know about?
Regardless of whatever the answers may be, there is always one constant.
PASSENGER: Poor Ito.
The Passenger never leaves their seat, and it was enough for Silas to widen his eyes in worry.
PASSENGER: Don’t worry Silas. Ito may be out of it, but I’ll always be by your side.
Silas looked around quickly, ensuring that the only aware being in the room was him and only him. Ito was knocked out cold, and the nearest doctors or visitors are merely passing by the entrance into the ward, seen through a narrow window on the doors. Next, he looked around for a sink, for where there may be a sink there will be a mirror, and as expected, there was one by the ward entrance.
Without missing a beat, Silas frantically dashed to the mirror and threw his hat and coat aside. His hands reach out to the sink, stopping his momentum before he could hurt himself. He checked his eyes first, and a brief check under his eyelids confirmed some of his worst fears.
SILAS ARTORIA: Impossible to be rid of you.
PASSENGER: Well, I am you, Silas. I know you intimately, and I know how your feel.
He looked further around his eye, and saw that the familiar bloodshot was slowly growing, and that the abomination within had already started to corrupt the eyelids around the right eye. Black, inklike formations started to appear, with rose-red pulsating lines beginning to emerge. Silas was still aware of everything and was still the same man, but he was all too familiar with the influence the Passenger could reign if given the opportunity.
No should see this, and he turned to look at Ito to ensure he could not see what was starting to crawl out.
PASSENGER: Look at him. He’s badly beaten up, and somewhere out there, Lindsay Troy keeps on moving. Walking wild and free, with little consequence.
As much as he wanted to turn away quick, the sight of Ito couldn’t escape Silas’ gaze. Just looking upon his knocked out mentor instilled something he hadn’t felt in a long time.
MJ brought reinvigoration.
The Shadow brought humility.
Autumn brought sadness.
But Lindsay brought anger.
PASSENGER: I know what you want, and all you have to do is set me free.
His lips hardened, and one by one his fingers contorted stiffly. It shaked lightly, before finally relaxing and forming a fist. It didn’t take a glimpse to know what was happening to his hands, he knew that appearance wise it would eventually turn into the same texture that was starting to plague his right eye. Even though he was aware, he didn’t fight it. He didn’t resist it. He simply took a deep breath and relaxed, likely bringing down some of barriers he had built up to lock away his lifelong companion.
He calmly walked towards Ito, picking up and putting on his hat and coat in a way that would best conceal the congeries until he gathered appropriate gear. He, again, gazed at Ito, before solemnly placing his hand on his head. He closed his eyes, and a deep regret escaped him.
Eyes back open, and he made his way to the exit with long, forceful strides.
PASSENGER: Now, let’s make an impression.
First, some glasses, then some gloves.
Located deep within the compound exists an entrance. Behind it lies the legacy of the House Artoria, one established through exploration and archeology, and to date they remain the only Canadian Viscounts of the British Commonwealth. Even though the name is purely decorative, the story behind it most assuredly isn’t, even if the findings now exist as a decoration.
The door opens and the silhouette of the last member of the family casts down into the chasm.
SILAS ARTORIA: Oh, Miss Troy, Miss Troy, Miss Lindsay Troy…
He lights a fire, and a torch nearby illuminates his face as the door closes behind him, enclosing him in complete darkness. A sly smirk is on his face, and half his face is bathed in darkness.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...have you ever heard of the phrase “don’t poke the bear”?
A darkly chuckle echoes throughout the room, it’s volume describing how large this room is. At the top are a series of blinds that has a halo-like outline, successfully blocking out all light. Silas starts to walk down the entrance pathway, but stops to look at an enclosed stone. He doesn’t know the story behind the finding, or how old it truly is, but the primitive drawing depicts two stick figures fighting while a small crowd watched.
How things don’t change.
SILAS ARTORIA: You know, I was content with letting you have a shot at the Paramount Championship, just because you was the only person who wanted to take their chance against me while also heading into the Golden Intentions rumble. Takes courage to take on two hard bouts in a single night. Very admiring.
He takes another second to look at the relic, before he continues his walk down the hall, gesturing with his free hand as the other keeps hold of the fire that illuminated the small area around him.
SILAS ARTORIA: I was going to give you my answer soon. I have a flair for the theatrics and I thought the late answer would add some...drama, suspense, elements that would have the people at home at the edge. I love to give the people whom have been behind me since my...rehabilitation a show, since they love entertainment, I love the audience, and I love to give them what they want!
He stops, turns, and looks at another relic. Another drawing, although one with a much darker narrative. Figure run away, as a dark, formless beast follows them closely behind. This one certainly had a story, only because he was told it from an entity whom was actually there. Silas’ smile fades, as the tone of his voice pitches lower.
SILAS ARTORIA: Of course, you weren’t a patient one, were you Miss Troy. You had to stroll on in and attack not only myself from behind, but also my mentor!
He could hear the screams from the relic. The fire, the desperation, but most of all, glee from the hunt that he couldn’t relate to.
SILAS ARTORIA: All actions have consequences, and the sad part is that you are completely in the blind in regards to what lurks under my skin.
He continues his walk, and his footsteps become much more authoritative, almost as if he is commanding the frame’s attention. Likewise, his voice becomes more authoritative.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve been suppressing my little passenger since I started to improve myself, but I guess I’ve forgotten that outside factors may… contribute to how effective that suppression is.
He looks directly into the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re new, Miss Troy, so allow me to refresh on what awaits you this coming pay-per-view.
He finally reaches the end of the hallway, and at the end lies arguably the most influential relic he has in his possession. A totem pole like structure that’s immaculately carved to depict a primal evil that lurked within it. Impossible descriptions, alien depictions, and endless spirals depicting the demise of those whom the entity came across.
There was a glass case here. The shattered glass was cleaned up long ago.
SILAS ARTORIA: The Passenger is an entity of focus, will, strength, commitment, and unrelenting in it’s desire to inflict harm on their enemies.
He reaches out, and brushes a layer of dust to the side that depicts a different story, one of control and eternal anguish of it’s subject, and most importantly, the fate of those who fought the individual.
Silas ponders in thought momentarily.
SILAS ARTORIA: It took three athletes and a pile of tables to put him away for thirty seconds.
SILAS ARTORIA: Just...thirty...seconds.
His finger slowly crawls to a carving border, separating one story of what was once caged within the stone structure. Deliberately, he violently jerks his finger downward in parallel to the border. He looks at his work, blood firmly drawn from his finger, yet not even flinching at the sudden pain.
SILAS ARTORIA: Of course, I knew the dangers of letting him out of the cage, and so I hid him away; locked within the deepest vaults within my head, barely to be seen again.
SILAS ARTORIA: That all changed, when you decided to make this very, very personal.
Finally, a smile starts to crawl back on his face. Not one of sincerity or one that gently invites the audience into his compound, but one of desire, the desire to inflict the pain that he continuously feels, now exacerbated by recent events. His finger was covered in blood, and he quickly sucks it, cleaning it.
He turns back towards the entrance, swapping the torches from one hand to the other, finally illuminating the other side of his face. His features becoming clearer as he starts to walk. His smile hasn’t faded, and his voice has grown ever so darker and vindictive.
SILAS ARTORIA: So, you demand a title shot…
SILAS ARTORIA: ...you attack my mentor…
Black void surfacing.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...and decided to swim into the deep end.
The growth starting to surface from his eyelids.
SILAS ARTORIA: Stupid fool!
His other hand brushes against the corruption. His slight reaction suggests he could feel something was different, but he neither hesitated nor objected to the presence. Instead, he simply let out a deep chuckle, as if a plan was coming together.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’m not going to give you the benefit of the full might of the Passenger, and I am not going to give you the benefit of an extensive and competitive PPV match, with dearest apologies to those at home.
His eyes finch, as if a sharp pain shot through his cheek and eye, but he doesn’t make an effort to soothe the impacted surface. The corruption grows, and soon red, crawling lines started to grow.
SILAS ARTORIA: But the pent up, seething rage that is boiling within me must be let out, and the Passenger is thirsty for violence.
The small squint from his eyelid relaxes, and his hand slowly starts to lower. Just as he chuckles to himself, his hand grabs the torch and moves it to the other side, showing a purer and unimpacted half. The black void on his skin, descending back into darkness, and his attitude turns lighter, albeit with an undertone of bitterness, as he finally reaches the entrance to the hall.
SILAS ARTORIA: I would’ve commented on your skill and passion, but how can I compliment someone when that same person decided to attack those who matter the most to me? It’s impossible!
He opens the door, illuminating his full face to show that the corruption has subsided. His smile turns from sinister to comforting, and he turns back towards the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: You asked for a Paramount Championship shot and you’ve bitten off more than you can chew…
The fire from the torch goes out from lack of fuel.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...and it’s time that you learned your lesson.
He places it back where he picked it up from, and walks through the doorway. His hands grip the door, but he pauses and looks at the frame. Finally, to leave us, his smile turns much more darker.
SILAS ARTORIA: Provided you survive.
Finally, he let out an uproarious laughter, as he slams the door shut, plunging the frame into the dark and unforgiving void of his small museum.
As if to escape from the enclosure, the frame abruptly cuts out.
He charged into the private locker room and slammed the door, quickly locking it and running towards the sink. Glasses, coat, hat, and gloves off. Rushing water to the point that his undercoat was getting some splashback, he quickly washed his face until the seething warmth of within started to cool off.
PASSENGER: Feels wondrous, doesn’t it?
He won’t lie, finally getting his hands on Lindsay felt cathartic and immensely satisfying. Just seeing her on her knees as he pressed his cane into her hands brought in some form of euphoria, and yet shame. This wasn’t him, not anymore, but the drastic measures were needed to bring Lindsay back down to earth.
Still, he vigorously scrubbed his face to the point of nearly ripping the skin of his face.
PASSENGER: Don’t you miss it? The visceral joy of taking someone and powderising them? The sense of hopelessness that comes with your ability, their dread of inevitable harm, and the sensation of victory over the insolent cretin. Doesn’t it bring joy to your heart?
He stopped scrubbing to quickly spit, with pulsating black bile substituting saliva.
PASSENGER: She attacked your mentor, and you dragged her back to your level.
He was quick to ensure the bile was washed down the plughole, and get back to washing his hands and face, which still had the essence of the Passenger visible and continuously pulsating.
PASSENGER: I think it’ll be mutually beneficial for everyone if we...continue this approach come our next confrontation. Don’t you agree?
As much as he hated the idea, in practice it turned out beneficial. Sure, it might’ve given Lindsay Troy an idea of what to expect and maybe some time to prepare, but it also served as a stern warning. She, too, was entering the Golden Intentions rumble, and regardless of what happens in their Paramount Championship match, he would be walking into it fresh and crisp thanks to the exhaustion being passed to his companion, and Troy would be able to barely walk to the ring.
He had to agree with the Passenger, if only this one time, because when it gets personal, no one should sit on their hands and cry to their mother about the mean floridian.
He just hoped that he could handle the consequences, outside the ring.
He looked at the mirror. His face was finally clean and purified, if only for a time.
PASSENGER: I’ll return, you’ll thank me in due time.
A pause, as a hushed Silas spoke.
SILAS ARTORIA: Maybe, but I doubt I’ll feel euphoric about it.
A more familiar setting within the compound, the main hall. Repurposes as a homemade training room, the layout has remained unchanged since the time when Autumn Raven stepped foot into then Artoria home. The namesake himself was leaning over the top rope, gazing towards the marble wall of which a collage of images throughout his time are stuck to. The small blue-tack balls near the individual images suggest that there was once many photographs. What they were, we don’t know. They’re gone now, and the most glaring image currently is Silas sat on his backside at a CWF show, looking like a child with a smacked backside.
He speaks softly, as if reminiscing on memories he wished never happened.
SILAS ARTORIA: I remember the last time I was in the Golden Intentions rumble, not my finest hour.
He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath, before addressing the camera without a hint of cynicism or aggression.
SILAS ARTORIA: Of course, anyone who doesn’t win the rumble can arguably say that their entry wasn’t their finest hour, but my participation was during one of the worst periods of my career.
SILAS ARTORIA: If you take a look at my match record, you can see that I have joint second for the most losses in the company with 18. I cannot recall the exact amounts but I can take a good guess that ten of them occurred during a stint last year.
He slides out of the ring and starts to carefully and gently walk towards the collage; no sign of outside, or in this case inside, interference in action or appearance.
SILAS ARTORIA: Part of me blames Amber Ryan for humiliating me at Paradise, for that loss sent me down a spiral that served to only hurt others around me in addition to myself.
SILAS ARTORIA: It wasn’t enough that the Coalition of myself, Autumn, Braxton, and Coulter was on a thin line, but that loss just pushed it over the edge. I burned everything that I thought was holding my back. The Coalition died, I isolated myself, other things that served to alienate myself from every other person in the CWF, staff and athlete.
There was a hint of sorrow within his tone. The Lost Boys may have started to form the cracks of the group and Autumn may have made a serious attempt on his life, but the initial experience will be one he’ll continuously reference. It’s always darkest just before the dawn, but this darkness lasted far longer than it should’ve.
SILAS ARTORIA: Yet, no matter what I did, it just wasn’t enough. There was something that was still weighing me down.
He looks upon the picture. A year younger he was, far more hostile and naive, a foolish boy he was.
SILAS ARTORIA: Go back and watch the Golden Intentions Rumble from last year and observe my entrance. Pure apathy, from not only myself but from everyone in and out of the ring. I did nothing of note as Flair methodically worked on me, and I might as well not have entered given how memorable my entry ended up being.
He gazes upon the image. The memory of his entrance flowed through him, and before the pause could last longer, he violently rips the image of his sulking state from the wall. There is a rush of anger, but he quickly cools before calmly ripping the photograph to small pieces. They flutter to the floor.
SILAS ARTORIA: I can’t watch that match. It was in the middle of the worst period of my career, and if I was to highlight the lowest point in my career, it would be this match. Just because of pure nothingness.
He turns back to the frame.
SILAS ARTORIA: The road since then has been extremely rocky, but it was a learning experience.
His hand emerges into frame, as he circles the outside of the ring. One by one, his fingers are used to count his situations that follows, without a hint of sarcasm. Like a teacher passing knowledge to a student.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve been through a Hell in a Cell match, an Ironman match, a Last Man Standing match, numerous matches with various stipulations but each and every time I was dragged back into the abyss.
He lingered upon his last words, lamenting the results, but within his thoughts he is able to pull something out of it. A sense of optimism or acceptance. Happiness? Maybe, and it becomes clear when continues his talk.
SILAS ARTORIA: Since the start of the year, I vowed that through pain and my trials that I would make 2019 my year. It would be the year that I would finally make a lasting impression while also learning from my past mistakes in and out of the ring. I needed to make up for the sour taste I left in everyone’s mouths.
End of the horrible road, and now at the pearly gates itself.
SILAS ARTORIA: And finally, we are at the complete apex of my mistakes, the rumble. I’ve won matches, but the Golden Intentions rumble is an opportunity to not only elevate an athlete into the upper echelons of the card, but for me, it’s the match were I can finally have my redemption.
He turns towards the frame, with sheer confidence and conviction to the point that he spins on his heels.
SILAS ARTORIA: It’s an opportunity for every athlete to throw what they have at me, and pay back for what I’ve done to them undeservedly.
His voice increases with pitch, albeit with more conviction rather than a declaration of hostilities. His posture is relaxed, and big beaming smile is on his face, like a child whom was just given candy.
SILAS ARTORIA: Twenty nine athletes, one of me. I’m up against not only people I’ve faced before, but against those who could squash me in mere moments. It’s a battlefield where it is I against a battalion of highly trained soldiers. The odds are, admittingly, not exactly in my favour.
SILAS ARTORIA: Still, regardless of the outcome, I have two aims.
He begins his walk towards the frame, hand held out in front of him to count his goals.
SILAS ARTORIA: One, I’m going to win this whole thing. I’m going to finally solidify myself as a top athlete in the CWF, and demonstrate that anyone, no matter how loathed and despised you may be, you can accomplish anything in a short amount of time. To go from the lowest point to arguably my highest in the span of the two Golden Intentions PPVs would be wonderfully poetic.
SILAS ARTORIA: And failing that…
Two fingers held up.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...two! I’m going to leave a memorable impression, unlike last year. No matter how much I am tossed around, injured, harmed, attacked, every word in the book and then some, despite my failure I will ensure that everyone who walks out of that arena will think, “wow...Silas really fought like a warrior.” I want my entry to be remembered, no stat wise, but though actions and accomplishment.
His hands form a soft fist as his eyes look upward, as if he was trying to find something to say. It doesn’t take long for him to reach a conclusion. He closes his eyes, and relaxes, looking upon the marble floor.
SILAS ARTORIA: I won’t lie, it’s going to be hard work surviving to become the victor of the Golden Intentions Rumble…
A prolonged pause fills the room, uninterrupted. Soon, he raises his head to look at the frame, and a playful smile emerges.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...then again, it wouldn’t be fun if it wasn’t.
A light chuckle. He starts to make his way to the exit, done for the night, ready for what’s to come.
SILAS ARTORIA: Sleep dreams, and remember me.
The doorway. Lights off.
SILAS ARTORIA: Remember, Silas Artoria.
He turns to the frame, fingers pointing towards the dead centre, gun formation.
SILAS ARTORIA: Bang!
The video feed slowly fades out, as Silas descends deeper into his home, ready for what’s to come.