Title: What Lies Within
Featuring: Silas Artoria
Date: June
Location: Providence/Philadelphia
Show: Golden Intentions GI- The Road to Wrestle Fest IV



12th June - Providence, Rhode Island

Through the curtain, past the staff, and back into the long corridor that circles the entire arena. Silas Artoria had, once again, lost, and in an near act of desperation he tried to get one up and assert himself on the card, but it backfired. The people hated it, the roster hated it, and hated it. His announcement for the Golden Intentions rumble was left as a side note, and he was once again lost in the shuffle. His track record since Paradise was dismal, all losses with one exception that needed to be resolved in Philadelphia.

Silas dragged his coat behind him, snatching a nearby towel and wiping the sweat off his brow. Once again, he eyed for the exit, and Autumn was following behind.

“You’re losing yourself Silas, you’re losing them all.”

“You presume I don’t know that?” Silas muttered, barely raising his voice.

“You didn’t think this through? The hell did you think was going to happen when you start spouting out shallow words--”

Silas quickly turned to his partner. “Then what should I do? Hmm?”

Autumn looked at him in surprise, with her taller comrad towering over her.

“Should I just take the loss against a B+ at best athlete and let it be? Should I let my clear motivation be forgotten in the wind?” He grabbed her jaw. “I took a back full of barbed wire and other unspeakable things both in and out of this company. I dragged you out of undercard hell and made you a star, so I should go to the back and say ‘oh well’?”

She grabbed his wrist to try and pull it away.

“So let me make this clear, Autumn, unless you have a better idea on how I should’ve dealt with it, you keep quiet. You got that?”

He finally let go, but quickly received a strike for her. His head tilted to the side thanks to the sheer force Autumn placed in her slap. He rubbed his cheek, gritting his teeth as the stinging pain manifested itself. He bit his lip to contain the sudden sensation, before narrowly breathing out through his pursed lips. He stood up tall, and turned his head back towards it’s original position.

Autumn stood defiantly, swallowing only slightly as Silas glared into her skull. She maintained her posture, as the handprint started to reveal itself on his face, crossing over the eyebrow and over his entire eyelid. He said nothing, but she knew her act did nothing but exacerbated his current bitterness.

He slowly raised his hand, his palm completely extended, but he suddenly turned his head to the side. Several people, staff members, had witnessed Autumn’s act of defiance, and looked to see if Silas was going to retaliate. He turned his head the opposite way, and the same was true there. People, different creeds and different positions, saw the man get struck. He looked back at Autumn with no emotion on his face but pure frenzy in his eyes.

His palm became a simple, pointed finger that he pressed against Autumn’s chest. In quiet ire, he spoke softly. “Don’t you ever, EVER...”

Autumn shifted back slightly in reaction.

“...strike me like that again. You understand?”

Autumn kept her eyes on Silas, still in defiance, causing him to tilt his head slightly. Her breath briefly quickened, but soon answered. “Yes.”

“Good.” His hand released the pressure from her chest, and he dusted himself off. His jacket soon back around his upper body, making him look like what he was moments before going against Christian Starr. He toyed with his hair momentarily, before he returned his look to his partner. “I’m going to say this once, and only once.” He bent down to her level. “You are not going to question my judgement, you are not going to assault me, and you are not going to oppose me, because if you do, I’ll ensure you head back to the deserted school gyms, working for scraps.”

Silas started to continue his original journey, with his partner taking a few seconds before hesitantly following him towards the car that would take them to the nearby airport.

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Silas sat in the car with Autumn, just looking onward towards the airport to return to Toronto. The rain started to pour outside, and only got worse as time went on. Traffic began to pile up, and the sun had finally set on Rhode Island, not by the earth, but by the clouds the storm came from. He observed the traffic, the lights from cars in front becoming unfocused before the wipers cleared the water.

“What time does your plane leave, sir?” asked the driver in front, barely seen or audible due to the downpour.

Silas paused, keeping his expression unchanging. “We have enough, just do your job.”

Silence. “No problem sir.” The car started to move again, before a hard jolt stopped the engine. “Dammit.”

“What is it?”

“Engine’s gone sir!”

Silas curled his lips and spat, “Can you get it going?”

The driver tried to restart it, but only succeeded in getting the engine to chug with anticipation. “Looks like the battery is fine, it’s just not sustaining.” He opened the door, flicking a small handle under his seat as he did. “Give me a moment.” He left the vehicle, taking the keys with him, and approached the bonnet. He opened it, and he disappeared from Silas’ view.

Silas growled lightly, almost impatiently at the situation. Seconds passed before be grabbed his cane and opened the door. “Such a drag.” The rain poured rivers onto his leg before he completely left the vehicle, and when he got out he took no notice of other vehicles nearby.

“Hey jackass!” yelled the the driver of the cab behind his. “Yet your broken ass off the ro--”

Silas climbed carefully on the cabs bonnet before standing on the roof, taking no notice of the driver. He looked around, observing every facet of detail he needed. The rain made visibility low but it wasn’t needed to know that the roads were gridlocked almost to the horizon, and his vehicle was going to make it worse.

“Punk! Get your ass off my cab!”

Silas took a deep breath, and looked down at the driver’s side of the car; the bearded driver looking up at him.

“Do I have to tell you again? Move!”

“Where is the nearest drinking establishment?” Silas asked

The cab driver got confused. “I’m not a phonebook, just get off my car!”

“Give me a good establishment, then I will.”

“And what makes you think I’ll know a place?” The driver asked with an increasingly irritating vibe.

“You’re a cab driver.”

The driver himself kept looking at Silas, before muttering, “Dammit.” He pointed further down the street, past Silas’ vehicle. “The Dirty Rat, look like trash but it’s welcoming. Now can you please get off my cab already!?”

Silas jumped down and turned to look at the cab driver, whom was taken aback by the responsiveness if the Canadian. “Of course.” He strived towards the pavement before beginning his journey to the recommended establishment.

“Mr Artoria!”

Silas turned to see his driver running towards him. “Yes?”

“Spark plugs. Got some on the way but with this traffic--”

“How long will it take?”

The driver shrugged. “No idea. Forty five minutes?”

“So be it.” He stepped towards the driver. “And ensure Autumn doesn’t follow me, I need to drink.” He turned back around and continued his trip towards the Dirty Rat. He was, by now, completely drenched, as the rain continued pouring down with seemingly larger drops as time went by, lacking an umbrella to save himself from a possible cold.

‘Vexed?’

“How couldn’t I be?” Silas muttered.

‘Not questioning your validity, just a mere observation.’

Finally, he reached the Dirty Rat, whose only presence was a barely working neon sign that simply displayed the name, and an outline of it’s namesake. Windows on it’s sides were blacked out, the bouncer completely absent from his station, and no one barely giving the establishment any attention.

‘Nothing like a little drink, don’t you think?’

Silas opened the door. Not many people around, five or six maybe, not including the bartender on the other side. The interior lived up to the cab drivers description, warm and welcoming. Paved with wood and parts draped in red curtain, with paintings of a gallian surrounding the establishment. Silas was a little surprised by the lack of dreaded, stale stench that plagued public drinking holes, but the smell was much, much cleaner. Wooden chairs and tables scattered the floor, with booths and a pool table filling out whatever empty space was left. There were televisions all over, all of them showing whatever sport the proprietor was forced to show as per their contract. Silas looked to the left, then to the right. Those whom were already inside took a quick look at him, before returning to whatever activity they were previously doing.

‘Almost insulting to call this ‘The Dirty Rat’.’

Silas stepped inside, closing the door in the process, and approached the bar itself. He took off his coat and took a seat, before resting himself against the surface.

“Welcome to the Dirty Rat young sir, what can I do for you?”

Silas looked up to see the bearded bartender, friendly and smiling while cleaning a glass. “Dirty Rat isn’t what I’d call this place.”

“Ahh! Canadian fellow,” the bartender replied, lightening up. “Well, we like to ward off undesirables so we present a presentation paradox. Rich folk stay away, while ruffians take a look and immediately turn away.”

“Isn’t that bad for business?”

The bartender chuckled. “We have a loyal consumer base who like the privacy. Now, what can I get you?”

Silas looked a little behind the counter, still displaying the cold face he walked in with. “Anything non-alcoholic?”

“Driving?”

“Not a drinker.”

“Ahh, well we have soda water on the house, orange, both pure and cordial, cola, lemonade, tonic water--”

“Lemonade.”

“Coming up.” The bartender was quick with the glass. “Ice?”

“Please.”

“Lemon?”

“No.” Silas pulled out some money. “Keep the change.” The pint of lemonade arrived, and Silas started sipping slowly. Cool, welcoming, pleasant, something he needed after the past few weeks. Something he wasn’t going to get thanks to the television screens.

“Yo Paul! Turn up the TV, I wanna hear this!” yelled one of the occupants, sat in one of the booths nearby.

The bartender sighed. “Five minutes.” He picked up the nearby controller and turned up the volume on a television near the booths.

“...of course that’s simply the opinion of the analysis, but what we’ve seen here on the floor yielded different results.”

The voice, the man presumed to be on television, piqued Silas’ attention. He didn’t turn towards the television, nor make any indication that he was paying attention to the words. It was distinct, unforgettable, and one that Silas was very familiar with.

“But for now, back to you Church!”

“Thanks Jim. Moving on from the results was the statement that might have sounded interesting or impactful in his head, but simply showed that Mr Silas Artoria is in complete denial of his downward spiral. Don’t you agree, Charles?”

“As weird as it may sound, Blake, but I do agree with you. The problem is that after the loss to Amber, Silas has been in nothing else than a holding pattern. He’s been facing very capable athletes, he gives us an interesting perspective in theory, but what we’ve seen for the past few weeks is that theory turning into nothing but white noise. When was the last time we heard something so repetitive and redundant on Evolution? Likely several months ago, and all anyone will remember from that statement is that Shadow came out and, as is in the name, completely overshadowed him. And Silas announced that he would be in the Golden Intentions rumble! He’s a prominent fixture, but if he continues like this he’s going to be completely out of the title picture, since the Coalition are no longer the upcoming dreaded force. Let’s take a listen to his statement for those who likely forgot about it.”

Silas gritted his teeth and lightly growled, sipping on the lemonade as he tried to ignore his voices on the screen.

“Last week, Ataxia decided to let his puppet master come out to ringside, and supervise him just in case he was close to losing the one thing the Forsaken had left that they could physically present. Shadow just sat on his backside, waiting to pounce at the opportunity just in case, and I'm the bad guy for taking matters into my own hands? I'm the one punished for having the audacity to drag an unfair advantage back to catering, instead of being given the opportunity to finish the damn match. I'm still here. I've been here every goddamn week while the person at the top of the card and her buddy sit on their backside for weeks on end, cashing in cheques and immediately jump into opportunities while others, true competitors bleed their way just to have a sniff at the title.”

The sound of Church returned. “And that’s about the time his credibility started to break down. Yes, Caledonia was out for a few weeks, but having something like a broken limb is good cause to take you out of the ring, and it wasn’t like she was gone for several weeks or months.”

“Do you know what I think?” asked State. “I think after tonight, we’re going to see Mr Artoria get decimated by Ataxia at the PPV. His promo has completely exposed him as someone so insecure that he begs for attention. He’s going to have to do well in both matches he’s lined up for.”

“If not, we’ll wish him the best of luck in his future endeavours.” The two of them howled in laughter--

SMASH!

The television suddenly exploded, with the shrapnel going everywhere from the tables to the empty chairs, to a piece landing on the bar itself.

Silas was still sat at the bar, facing the bar itself, no longer having a glass of lemonade in their possession.

“What the fuck, dude!” shouted the man Silas presumed to be Solovan. “I was watching that!”

Silas didn’t move as the sound of heavy footsteps approached his location.

“You got a fucking problem!?” He grabbed Silas’ shoulders and forced him around. “You better be--” He took at look at Silas, still showing the emotionless expression that had not left him for the past several weeks. Solomon took several seconds to look at him, before a smirk appeared on his face. “Ahh, didn’t like what they said about you?”

Silas gently grabbed his hand, and waved it to the side. “The discussion is over.” He turned back to the bar, as Solomon dragged up a bar stool next to him.

His breath smelled terrible and clouded with alcohol. “What happened to you, big man?” He sat down. “You marched in with the grandiose and pompous attitude that went with your outfit and now you’re stuck in a watering hole in the middle of Providence.”

“Hey now!” called out Paul.

“Just saying Paul. This guy is supposed to be a big guy in the wrestling scene, and all that’s followed him is a trail of failure after failure. He talks big but nothing comes, and he’s ignoring a lot of things around him.” He leaned forward. “You can’t escape it Silas. You know you don’t deserve this match, they only tossed you a sympathy bone because everyone else better then you had more important things to do. You were just the first person they found. When was the last time you actually won?” he asked mockingly. “How’s that ‘Coalition’ going for you? Last I checked the two actually good athletes abandoned you to fight each other, leaving the rut of the litter behind!”

“Do you have a death by any chance?” asked Silas darkly, still not acknowledging Solomon’s existence.

But he laughed it off. “And there it is again. All talk and no substance. You’re a nobody with a shitton of money that you didn’t even work for! Just some rich pretty boy!” He stood up. “I could slap him and he’ll fall flat on his ass!” He lightly struck Silas’ forehead, to no reaction. He laughed again. “Look at him! He knows he can’t do anything!”

Paul piped it, noticing Silas’ expression become more irritated. “Solomon, I wouldn’t--”

“He’s not going to do anything, Paul, because he never has! Some moronic ant who stumbled onto a stage by accident.” He patted Silas’ shoulder. “Don’t worry, I’m sure you’ll do OK in Canada. After all, you can’t do much wrong when you crawl into a hole and cry--”

Silas grabbed Solomon’s arm, tightly this time, and slowly looked up at him. His eyebrows hardened, and his breathing was deep. “You want to fight?”

Solomon, once again, laughed. “Daww, the little puppy grew some teeth--”

Silas pulled him down, kneeing his chest in the process, before pushing the man backward. “So be it.”

He shoved Solomon hard, and the latter tumbled over a stool. He looked back up at the Canadian, now clearly furious. “Motherfucker!” he muttered, and threw the stool at Silas.

He blocked it with both arms, but Solomon got up and charged at him, tackling him to the ground. He positioned himself over Silas, firing some punches towards his head. Two landed, but Silas positioned his arm to block the rest before landing a well placed stroke at his liver. He shoved him back, before jumping to his feet. His left eye stung, blood trickling down and slowly ruining his waistcoat. He approached Solomon, but he grabbed the fallen barstool and struck it against Silas’ leg, hard. He fell on one knee, and Solomon punched his head again. Silas tumbled back, with Solomon, slowly following suit.

‘Embrace.’

Solomon threw a punch, put Silas caught it, gripping the fist tightly. Solomon threw another one using his free hand, with the same results. Silas gritted his teeth maintaining the hold, before suddenly twisting them both and yanking it upwards. Solomon screamed as he staggered backwards. Silas approached him quickly, landing a knee strike to his stomach and uppercutting his jaw. Solomon’s stumble was blocked by Silas, whom grabbed his collar and headbutted him. Solomon went for another punch, this time with little energy behind it.

Silas grabbed the provoker’s arm, twisted it, then kicked his shin. The commoner was on his knees, and a quick kick to their front got them laying flat on their back. Silas looked at the bloody nosed man, observing his struggle to comprehend what was going on in their slightly drunken haze, and he gently pressed their foot on their lower jaw. As time went on, he pressed harder and harder, with the man frantically grabbing Silas’ leg trying to gain freedom. The man struggled, yelling and telling Silas to take his foot off his head, almost begging.

“Please! Let me go! I’ll leave you be, just stop hurting me!”

But Silas didn’t move. He just kept up the pressure. “Shame you didn’t foresee the consequences.” Still, no expression other then contempt. “Are you so out of touch with what’s happening that you would blindly lay your hands upon those ascendent?”

The sound of charging footsteps were heard. “LET GO OF HIM!”

Silas quickly took the pressure off the downed gentlemen and turned his attention to another, charging at him with a wooden chair. With the flow of his motion, Silas tensed his arms, and swiped for the charging man’s chest. The charge came to a complete stop, having been nanoseconds from completion, and on the floor curled up the man. He was screaming, gripping his chest, as the splinters of the chair he had held laid resting around him.

The Dirty Rat’s only noise was that of the two men in pain, with some ambience coming from the cowering punters nearby. Silas took note of the two people on the floor, Solomon included, before he took a look at his hand. Pulsating black spots, appearing and disappearing at a consistent temp. Silas tilted his head in curiosity, rotating his hand to catch more of the phenomenon. “Is this...is this what lies within?”

‘As it always has. You have simply started to resume its purpose.’

Silas kelt down, picked up one of the larger splinters of the chair, no bigger than his hand. He then looked at the recoiling man, now weakly making eye contact with the Canadian.

“You...you think that--”

The splinter shattered into a thousand pieces at the tension of Silas’ hand, some of them embedded into the skin. The man froze, as Silas maintained eye contact. “I was beginning to doubt myself, you know? So many setbacks, so much emotion clouding my judgement, and out of all the places to find clarity, it had to be in this bastion of rats.” He stood up, towering over the two men. “The pair of you should consider yourselves fortunate that you’re still breathing.” He paused. “I wouldn’t want to provoke my companion or even make eye contact with me again, unless…” He walked silently and carefully to his coat and cane and grabbed them. The coat was quickly draped over his shoulders, before focusing his attention to the cane. He inspected it, copiously, and without error to the details he had grown to know their origins. “...unless you wish to orphan your children or make widows out of your loved ones.”

He turned around, the front door. He started his steady pace towards the outside world, with little regard to what was in his way. The two on the floor, he ignored, the debris he contributed to, he simply marched through, without even taking a second to glance at anything or anyone else. “I guess I should thank you for opening an avenue, but all you did was merely served your life’s only purpose.” He opened the door to a static and damp exterior., and vanished into the sheer density of the ongoing rain.

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Footsteps can be heard, echoing throughout the presumed marble room, and Silas slowly enters the frame through the darkness behind him. The approach towards the camera is slow with a deliberate pace to it.

“Allow me to declaim you a tale.”

He got closer, but his voice is crisp, sharp, and soft.

“A man who made their fortune in distributing vice, was awarded with seat with some of the highest power in the country. He had a title that he could hold for as long as possible, and didn’t need to act upon it. It came with prestige, and soon he was able to indulge in his favourite past time, international digging.

He craved treasures of a time gone by, and with the political power behind him, he set forth to a country he knew very little about, bringing in people of different talents and professions. He landed and erected a complex and got royal ascension to make it his homeland, before setting to work. He found wonderous objects of differing backgrounds, some of them unheard of, and stored them in the complex to gaze upon.

But he found one item deep in the northern territories that almost...spoke to him. He was able to dust the dirt off it, but couldn’t take hold of it. Each of his company tried to take hold of it, but they would all suffer the same fate. They screamed and cried and tore their fingernail off in sheer madness, some of them going so far as biting their own fingers off. They were all contained to be studied, but each one of them simply wailed into each other until the floors of their containment were covered in their blood.

But the artifact itself was a sight to behold, and thus not one they could leave behind, so the lord decided to have it carefully transported and stored away for display, never to be encountered again. It was a crowning treasure, one whose sight was a thing of beauty.”

Silas stops walking, his face and profile now in shot. He keeps his eye on the lens, expression unchanged as he held up a polaroid photograph of a toddler.

“Until one day, a curious young child wondered within the displays and saw the monolith that towered them all. It spoke to him, it whispered to him, and the child got distressed. He wanted to find out more, and was able to break the glass that separates the two. He touched it, got the same effect as all the others had before, and soon the artifact tumbled to the floor and shattered.”

He rubs the photograph, revealing another one hidden behind it. A teenage.

“He survived the madness that was brought upon him, but it wasn’t something that could simply be locked away. What laid within the object had demands for blood, one that would torment the human soul unless it was satisfied, but whereas those who found it were subjected to immediate torture, the boy learned to adapt, to satisfy, and to control it to some degree.”

He places the photographs next to his head, revealing the evolution of the small boy.

“I’ve survived a lot of things by skill, but I was very lucky to bear the brunt of something much more terrifying. Something even more terrifying than you can even imagine. Your nightmares would turn to ashes, then quickly to pure dust at even the glance of what lies within.”

He throws the photographs behind him, then pulls up another. Ataxia, from two weeks ago, stretchered out.

“See this, Ataxia? This is the image of someone who only scratched the surface of a bigger threat. You did fight hard, but you merely escaped the inevitable. You escaped from something that only one other person in the company has encountered, and it didn’t end well for them. They were left broken and battered and left for dead, and they were never the same again.”

He rubs his fingers again, revealing a more complete picture of Ataxia’s profile.

“You’re not the most pleasant thing to look at, but even that bag you treasure so dear will be much more desirable than the debris you will become when we step inside the cage. The walls will become graters to your skin, and the flesh will be ripped apart from your bones.”

He pulls out a lighter.

“Do you seriously want this, Ataxia? Do you seriously want to meet a grizzly fate? Because that’s the direction you are currently heading towards, thanks to a managerial decision the last time we met.”

He sets the photographs on fire.

“You’re not going to like what is coming, and neither will the audience, but I have just warned you what is on the horizon, because people have died confront what lies within. Crucifixions, flailing, and decapitation, all of these were documented as being caused by the afflicted, except I am the one who successfully contained the raw fury of the Passenger.

Thing is, your fate is justified. Your presence brought nothing but negative energy, and because of that and the fact that I am not in total control, I won’t face any additional consequences.

It’s not assault, it’s not murder, it’s going to be a justified homicide.”

The photograph turns to ashes, and Silas turns to blow the remains away.

“Golden Intentions. A time of upcoming mourning, and a time of celebration. We’re going to find out who will headline the biggest event of the year.”

He turns back to the camera.

“And when I announced my entry, all of you laughed at me. I don’t blame you all. My presentation was...pathetic, shallow, hollow, and that’s on top of the fact that since Paradise, my record has been less than stellar.”

Blink.

“To put it most politely. So let me clear the air.”

He clears his throat.

“I’m entering the rumble, and I plan to win the whole thing, with contendership for the top title on the biggest stage on the line. I plan on taking out every single one of the roster and swim in the satisfaction on hearing every single one of your feet hit that padded concrete.

I’m not the only one looking forward to that feel. What I just said almost echoes the words of MJ Flair. It’s words I can respect, because Flair is at least respectful and someone who goes by their word. They know that when you say you’re going to do something, you better do it. It’s a moral I try to live by, even if it hits certain...set backs.

I look forward to my time in the ring with you MJ, because you’re someone who lives by their word, unlike a few other people I’ll proudly list off.”

He shows another photograph.

“Dean...oh Dean...how appropriate that your proud name is ‘Judas’. Someone who stabbed their saviour in the back solely for the offer of riches. We fought in the ring against each other Dean, and you took the bond that you, me, Sam, and Autumn built, and lit it on fire. You betrayed us, you betrayed your brother, and you’ve destroyed your integrity.”

He leans closer to the camera.

“How does your other half feel, Dean? How does your family feel knowing that that the person they look up to is nothing more than a snake? Someone willing to slap their partner in the face just for exposure. I may have left you to Sam but I will feel pure euphoria in pummeling you to the ground to the point that the ring will break.”

Another photograph on the same hand.

“Christian Starr, a half decent bag of flesh who completely disoriented me. I’ve met you in the ring, Starr, and now I know your every move, every tactic, everything about you. I know your weaknesses, and I am going to ensure that even if I enter towards the beginning or towards the end of the rumble, I will ensure that the pain you take will carry over until Christmas. Your win was a fluke, and the condition you will leave in to be a private message from me, to you.”

Another photograph.

“Shadow…”

He takes a deep breath, but exhales instead. He tries again, only getting out a light stutter.

“You’ve been a thorn in my side for far too long. You’ve interrupted my matches, you stepped on top of me during victories, and you’re more than happy to show yourself when I am crafting something. You want to meet in the ring? This is your chance. You might even avenge the slaughter of Ataxia if you really cared about him.”

Pause.

“You and I could take this further, but I have a rumble to win, and when the consequences of that are completed, maybe I’ll allow you my attention.”

He throws the photographs away.

“There are some many others to speak of but are of little relevance to my past. I have one match with Revenant during his much more...intimidating phase, I’ve have brief encounters with others, and there’s Sam Baxton too! I don’t have anything against him, but I do aim to win, and I can only hope he understands that.”

Pause.

“Maybe we could deal with Dean, if he’s up for it.”

Cough.

“There are teased surprises and the little rumour mill has begun to spin, but I can only speculate. I have a feeling who might turn up from the past, but that would mean spoiling it for you at home.”

He starts to step back.

“Oh, if I can just see your faces when your favourite athlete gets thrown over the ropes. I could’ve revelled in your reactions for eternity. But in the meantime, I only have those in Philadelphia to bathe in.”

He extends his arms as his footsteps become more audible again.

“A golden opportunity arises, and I intend to break every last athlete in half to secure it.”

One arm drops, and the other points to the camera.

“I’ll see every one of you in the ring.”

He turns around, and walks towards the darkness. A door opens, and a white box appears for the camera. Silas’ silhouette is clear. He placed his hands across the door frame.

“Time for you all to meet them.”

SLAM!

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24th June - Wells Fargo Centre, Philadelphia

The car pulled up at the staff entrance, featuring a crowd that contained staff members, security, temporary event staff, and the occasional roster member going through the process of having their bag scanned. It was still relatively bright, as the summer daytime dictated, but the entrance was under the shade of the arena.

“We’re here, sir,” the driver said with a sense of joy, looking in the rear mirror to get a good view of Silas Artoria and Autumn Raven. “Anything else you’d like sir?”

“Leave us,” Silas said, staring coldly at the native Philadelphian. “Return in 20 minutes and wait for us.”

The driver’s friendly smile disappeared as Silas spoke, going from friendly to nerved. “OK,” he replied quietly, turning off the ignition and leaving the vehicle.

It was just Silas and Autumn now, with the latter slowly turning her head to Silas. A face of concern, one that determined her mood since the aftermath of Paradise. She observed him, his eyes locked onto the entrance he would inevitably have to go through. She swallowed, blinked, and took a deep breath. “So...anything you want to discuss?”

Silas did nothing but maintained his eye contact with the doorway far ahead.

Autumn shifted, turning to face the man whom she allied herself with at the beginning of the year. Six months on, still together, but presence felt more like a source of friction. “You have...anything in mind?” She was running out of things to ask, unable to get to Silas, whom just maintained his look. “Do you want me to go inside?”

Finally, Silas opened his mouth. “That would be preferable.”

Autumn kept her look, before sighing to herself and grabbed her bag. All she could do is frown. “Silas, please talk to me? Please tell me what’s wrong with you? Tell me how I can help?”

“Why?” Silas said bluntly. “Why do you want to help me Autumn? Why are you still here, standing by me?”

Autumn opened her mouth, but there was no sound. A little creek emitted itself, but spoke of nothing. She closed her mouth, her eyes too, then opened the door. “I’ll be inside,” she said softly, closing the door behind her.

Silas didn’t budge one inch, watching Autumn as she hesitantly crossed over to the staff entrance of the Wells Fargo Centre. Her posture was stiff, striding towards the two guarding the door without changing her approach. One of them asked her something, hard to figure out what it was, but needless to say she wasn’t happy. She grabbed the man’s collar, whispered something in his ear, before letting go of him. She passed the metal detector, and looked back at the vehicle. Her face was very sombre, but quickly hardened up whenever someone was around.

And Silas just watched it unfolded. Not moving even in the slightest, and observed the activities of the staff as he controlled his breathing. More people arrived, and he did not acknowledge any of them, as if he was watching goldfish in a tank. A few minutes went on by without as much as a thought presenting itself to the Canadian.

Finally, he closed his eyes, a let out a deep breath.

‘Ready?’

Silas opens his eyes, quickly glancing at yet another roster member entering the arena, before his focus turned to his arm. With his hand, he rolled up his sleeve to slowly expose the skin beneath, with the element of the Passenger within barely scratching the surface. It shifted within his bones and flesh, but remained idle, almost dormant. It had been growing, fighting the scripture that acted against it, but there was something clearly substantial if Silas was willing bring it out. Silas rolled his sleeve back down carefully, before looking at the entrance once again. He looked at his watch, then back at the entrance.

Car door opened, he stepped out, and closed it with an optimal but audible slam. He redid one of his coat buttons, gripped his cane, and made his way towards the Wells Fargo Centre.

His steps were soft, his expression completely absent. No glancing at nearby people, no words that demanded his presence, only him heading towards what fate had planned for him. Everyone in his way quickly saw him, and shuffled to the side as Silas strided through the double doors, and towards the locker room.

“Yes.”



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