The warmth covered Silas, as he gazed out into the sunset on a stunning Canadian countryside.
If there was anything Silas learned from his defeat at the hands of Kyuseishu, one of them would certainly be that there is a crucial difference between understanding what makes Strong Style what it is, and how to effectively use it. Silas may consider Japan a second home and a country he treasures, but it takes months or years to master a combat style.
The second was most assuredly that Strong Style still, without a doubt, is one of the most painful styles one can face. Silas had survived tall falls and had his limbs twisted until they nearly came out of their sockets, but at least their damage was more ‘under-the-surface’ than the heavy bruising he was reminded of every time he moved.
It was healing well, thanks in most part of Silas leaving Toronto for a secluded cabin in the countryside, with an outdoor hot-tub to view the sunsets and massage his battle scars. CWF was undergoing internal changes, and it was the best opportunity to catch a prolonged breather.
PASSENGER: How many times are you going to gaze at the sunset!?
Silas chuckled as he reached over to a flat surface to grab his prepared orange juice. Quick sip as his eyes gazed at the orange ball of light, as his shoulders became more relaxed thanks to the jets within the tub. The bruising was still there, but the pain was subsiding.
SILAS ARTORIA: As many times as I wish.
PASSENGER: It’s been over two weeks since you’ve fought anyone!
SILAS ARTORIA: I see as a comforting fact.
The Passenger got more irritated, and their screaming didn’t even make Silas flinch. The tub was too relaxing.
PASSENGER: WHAT’S SO COMFORTING ABOUT BEING MADE DORMANT FORCIBLY!?
SILAS ARTORIA: Well, why not come out for a bit? I haven’t been resisting.
PASSENGER: AND THEN WHAT!? There isn’t a living soul around for miles! Should I hunt birds, snails, snakes if I am lucky!?
SILAS ARTORIA: There’s beaver. It is Canada.
PASSENGER: THERE’S NO SATISFACTION TO DELIVERING BARBARITY TO THEM!
SILAS ARTORIA: Aww, poor you.
Still, he relaxed within the hot water.
SILAS ARTORIA: Is the evil entity not getting what it wants? Maybe I should find a lollipop. That’ll cheer them up!
Sarcasm wasn’t the best approach, but he didn’t care.
PASSENGER: If on--
SILAS ARTORIA: Shh!
The sun was in it’s final seconds, the light got dimmer and dimmer as the unseen shadow was approaching Silas. It was time.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re going to miss the best part!
He grabbed his orange juice again as he sunk further into the hot tub, shoulders under the water and a drink in hand. He took a sip and his relaxed demeanor ensured that nothing outside of a sudden tragedy would spoil his sunset. The tranquility washed over him, as the sun got lower and lower.
Finally, the sun left the day behind, and the brief, yet stunning green haze follows the sun into whatever the next day has for the world. A great wonder science can be, especially when natural spectacles like this happen.
The sky was red without the sun, but sound of uninterrupted ambience made up for what was los--
Silas left the door open. Goddamn it.
He turned towards it, with annoyance.
SILAS ARTORIA: Really!?
He gulped down the half glass of range juice that remained and quickly jumped out the hot tub. Dressing gown and slippers on, they dried his body as he paced himself quickly towards the phone. It wasn’t too far away, on a table right next to the door, just in case anyone wanted to call him.
Didn’t stop it from ruining what was a moment of pure tranquility.
He picked up the phone.
SILAS ARTORIA: Hello?
???: [[Evening, Silas.]]
SILAS ARTORIA: [[How’s my home been treating you?]]
HIDETAKA ITO: Very well, thank you. I trust that the sunset has concluded?
Silas looked out of the window. The sky was bright, but the sun was long gone.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’m that predictable?
HIDETAKA ITO: You and Kyuseishu beat each other to a pulp. He came out just as bad as you did.
SILAS ARTORIA: Except…
HIDETAKA ITO: ...he won. I know.
HIDETAKA ITO: I take it your vacation went well? Relaxing? Tranquil? Any words of similar nature?
Silas pondered on those for a few moments, before a long sigh escaped him.
SILAS ARTORIA: When, where, and who?
HIDETAKA ITO: The 6th, Charlotte, and Nathan Paradine.
The Australian submission machine. Brief encounter before, though that was at the turn of the year. Months have passed, and a lot of changes have happened since.
SILAS ARTORIA: North Carolina?
HIDETAKA ITO: Yes.
SILAS ARTORIA: First plane tomorrow. Anything else?
HIDETAKA ITO: Just one.
The tone had changed, from ticking of a checklist to one of far more graver importance.
What was going on?
SILAS ARTORIA: Shoot.
Seconds of painful silence ticked by.
HIDETAKA ITO: Do you remember ‘Crescendo’?
A chair and a glass table are present in an area lit by spotlights. The background is solid black.
Silas is there, sat down in a more formal two piece, open shirt suit, being padded down by an unknown female attendant. The room was hot, and the last thing anyone wants is a gloss overlay on Silas’ skin. A second attendant brings a glass of water and places it on the table, just as the first female finished brushing Silas off.
FEMALE ATTENDANT: All done.
Silas smiles and nods politely.
SILAS ARTORIA: Thank you, to the both of you.
The females faces cannot be seen as their backs are to the camera, but they don’t take long to leave the frame, leaving Silas alone with the glass of water.
He smiles, although he closes his eyes and exhales a deep sigh.
SILAS ARTORIA: Oh how things change in a short amount of time.
He opens his eyes, and looks into the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: The last time I was in the CWF, I was partaking in one of the hardest hitting matches to have taken place inside this company.
He holds up his hands, admitting fault with humility.
SILAS ARTORIA: I did lose that match, which was something that wasn’t planned considering I had never faced Kyuseishu before then, but the experience was certainly humbling.
He grabs his glass of water carefully, but with smooth quickness.
SILAS ARTORIA: The original plan was to take some time off if things didn’t go well, since Strong Style has a tendency to leave an uncomfortable after effect in the days, or in my case weeks, after the inflection. I’d come back, and compete again.
SILAS ARTORIA: But lo and behold! The CWF has certainly been busy over the past few weeks!
Another quick sip. Very jovial, with a welcoming yet carefree aura around him.
SILAS ARTORIA: Not only has the internal chemistry and structure of the company changed, but now we’re in a situation where the complete roster dynamic is going to undergo an overhaul! Skill levels between athletes will be more accurately calculated, and to the victor gain the spoils.
SILAS ARTORIA: But…
He puts the glass back on the table.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...at the time of this address, the full block details and the cards haven’t been released, so…
He leans back up.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...I cannot comment in regards to whom I might face. I could finally get a singles match against Duce Jones, with whom I have not had in my near two year tenure in the company. Or I could be giving Jay Mora a taste of his own medicine, since he has dodged me so many times during his stints with the company!
He adjusts himself.
SILAS ARTORIA: However, I cannot divulge my thoughts, simply because I don’t have the complete context, so I’ll save them for Evolution when I have all the details.
He clears his throat.
SILAS ARTORIA: What I can speak about is my match against Nathan Paradine.
SILAS ARTORIA: Strangely, speaking of tournaments, the last and only time I’ve had a singles match against the Australian Submission Machine was during the Paramount Grand Prix.
SILAS ARTORIA: He was victorious, without a shadow of a doubt, but there were...asterisks in that victory.
He leans forward, one finger.
SILAS ARTORIA: Number one, it wasn’t the first match of the tournament. As the people at home will discover, round robin tournaments have the nasty consequence of wearing down an individual’s psyche and stamina, and it was in that atmosphere that Paradine managed to get a victory.
SILAS ARTORIA: Number two, I was still recovering from a serious injury suffered at the hands of Autumn Raven. Cracked ribs, was nearly off the Grand Prix all together in fact.
Hand lowers, his face hardens as his voice became sharper and more authoritative.
SILAS ARTORIA: But...if there is anything you may have learned from me, it’s that no matter how far you grind me into the dirt, no matter how many broken bones and torn muscles you inflict on my body, and no matter what mind games you play on me.
SILAS ARTORIA: I...always...continue...walking.
The smile returns to Silas, as he grabs his water on the way back to an upright posture.
SILAS ARTORIA: Nathan Paradine. You’ve lost the homeland advantage, your facing a fully repaired machine, in addition to a well rested body and mind. Did you think about that, Nathan? Am I correct in assuming your arrogance?
SILAS ARTORIA: You probably thought it was going to be another easy win considering the last time the two of us were together that was the case. Is that right?
A moment passes.
SILAS ARTORIA: Well…
He takes a sip out of his glass.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve won a title, defended it several times, won and lost many bouts, lost the title, and lost a match to an opponent whose style I’ve now incorporated into my arsenal. What does that make me, Nathan? A desperate loser? Someone whom has fallen off a progression cliff?
The smile. That damned smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: Educated, is what it makes me.
He finishes the glass of water.
SILAS ARTORIA: One final question, Mr Paradine.
He places the glass on the table.
SILAS ARTORIA: Have you learned anything?
A moment of silence, before another light chuckle as he raises his hand, one last time.
SILAS ARTORIA: I guess we’ll find out.
SILAS ARTORIA: Goodnight!
The lights go out.