The rapid ticking of a clock can be heard as the scene opens in a small, cramped office. Nathan Paradine is crouched behind a shoddy desk, twiddling his thumbs as he stares at the source of the ticking on the wall. His lawyer, Leigh Boetticher, is laying on a couch pushed against the wall opposite the desk, smoking a cigarette and staring at the ceiling through a haze of blue smoke.
This is the head office of the newly opened Hostility Battle Academy; the sole focus of all of Paradine's attention these last few weeks. Overlooking the training area, the office offers a commanding view of the entire warehouse Paradine has converted into his wrestling school. The walls of the office are plastered with various posters depicting former Hostility wrestlers, with the conspicuous absence of posters of Paradine himself. As the Australian Submission Machine taps his thumbs together Boetticher finishes his cigarette with a final raspy draw and stubs it out on the battered floor with a groan.
Leigh Boetticher: "Jesus Christ Nate, will you cut it out? They'll be here, alright?"
Boetticher glances at his client, who nods and places his hands palms down onto the desk. He remains staring intently at the clock however, and Boetticher rolls his eyes.
Leigh Boetticher: "For the past month all you've done is work on this place. You've hardly eaten, barely slept, and now if I didn't know any better I'd say you were worried that nobody was going to show. You said you had a booked out first class, didn't you?"
Nathan Paradine: "Ten students, all paid in advance."
Leigh Boetticher: "You've had me double and triple checking the permits and paperwork, making sure everything is in order to ensure this place succeeds. I haven't had a cigarette in fifteen years, and look at me! If I can relax and say it'll be alright, so can you. Okay?"
Paradine nods and takes a deep breath. It's highly unusual for the Australian grappler to be this tense, but with so much time and energy poured into the renovation it's understandable that he'd be a little bit on edge. He stands up and moves to the front of the desk, still focusing intently on the clock.
Nathan Paradine: "Yeah yeah, alright. You've got a point. At least I've got this week off Evolution, at least I'll have a bit of time to unwind after this first class. Once it's over and done with I can, what is it the kids say these days? Oh yeah, 'stress less'. Or something like that."
On the couch, Boetticher's eyes widen.
Leigh Boetticher: "Say what?"
Nathan Paradine: "I said, I'll be able to unwind after this class since I have the week off. I might go hiking, or fishing. You know, go out and enjoy doing something I haven't done in... well, a hell of a long time."
Leigh Boetticher: "Nathan... you don't have the week off."
Paradine pauses in his pacing and turns his head to face Boetticher, sliding his ever-present sunglasses down to the tip of his nose in order to fix his lawyer with a steely-eyed glare.
Nathan Paradine: "Excuse me? What the, and in fairness I don't say this lightly, actual fuck did you just say mate?"
Leigh Boetticher: "I'm your lawyer, not your secretary! I sort out your contracts and make sure you're not getting screwed over with bogus match stipulations, I don't organise your schedule. You want time off buddy, you go and ask Jaiden Rishel for it!"
Paradine runs a hand over the stubble on his head, scowling furiously.
Nathan Paradine: "Who am I wrestling?"
Leigh Boetticher: "Have you paid a single bit of attention to what has been happening in the CWF lately?"
Paradine indicates around at the warehouse.
Nathan Paradine: "As you can see, I've been a little bit bloody busy. Enlighten me."
Leigh Boetticher: "Half the roster quit during the last Evolution. You were there for that. You've been entered into this Alpha and Omega tournament that Rishel has cooked up. The... uh, the Alpha Block. This week you'll be wrestling a guy named Zolton."
Nathan Paradine: "Who?"
Leigh Boetticher: "I just read the paperwork when the CWF office sends it through. I don't know anything about this guy, I thought you might have heard of him."
Nathan Paradine: "No, never. Wait, hang on."
Paradine fishes his iPhone out from the pocket of his jeans and thumbs at the screen for several moments. Boetticher climbs up off the couch and peers over his shoulder, suddenly curious.
Leigh Boetticher: "What are you doing?"
Nathan Paradine: "I knew the roster profiles on the CWF website would come in handy one day. Here he is, Zolton... alright. Let's see. Trained in MMA disciples... orphaned at eleven... high marks in school... won the world title in his home promotion. Huh. Well."
Leigh Boetticher: "Well... this guy definitely sounds like something."
Paradine turns to look at Boetticher and tosses him the phone. Boetticher nearly fumbles the sleek glass but manages to retain his grip.
Nathan Paradine: "Look at the profile."
Leigh Boetticher: "Huh? But... oh. This is your roster profile! Is this what you were reading?"
Nathan Paradine: "I was orphaned at ten and raised by a foster family. I excelled in gymnastics and martial arts throughout high school and college, which formed the basis of my submission style throughout my years in Japan."
Leigh Boetticher: "Maybe you and this Zolton guy aren't all that different after all?"
Paradine laughs, a low, mean chuckle.
Nathan Paradine: "A bit of childhood trauma and some good school marks? That's about where our similarities end. This Zolton bloke thinks he's a god, Leigh. A god! What's a god to a nonbeliever like myself? Shall the heavens themselves open up and cast lightning to strike me down if I go for a pinfall? Will he call a swarm of locusts upon me as I walk down the ramp to the ring? He's delusional, and if he's delusional it means he's stupid. Stupid people make stupid bloody mistakes, and when it comes to capitalizing on mistakes I excel. Ask Lindsay Troy, ask Xander Daniels... oh. You can't do that, because their careers were as good as over after I beat them."
Paradine plucks his phone back from Boetticher's hand.
Nathan Paradine: "This guy is just a kid. A stupid kid, but a kid nonetheless. He might know a few fancy holds, but I'm a submission sensation. I'm actually a little bit giddy with the thought of knocking him down a peg or two in the ring. I need to get training to prepare."
Leigh Boetticher: "But... what about your first class?"
Nathan Paradine: "Ah... reschedule it for two weeks from now. YOU take care of it this time, alright? Just tell them school's out for the time being."
Paradine moves for the door to the office, leaving a befuddled Boetticher behind. The long-despairing lawyer pokes his head through the door after Paradine.
Leigh Boetticher: "I told you, I'm your lawyer not your secretary!"
Paradine ignores him, his attention focused entirely on the gym equipment in the training area. Will Paradine fare better in the Alpha and Omega tournament than he did in the Modern Warfare tournament? Or will his overconfidence once again be his downfall?