Lesson number three: don’t forget your roots.
Two matches against two japanese athletes, two losses. At least he was improving, even if only marginally, and today he was finally going to go up against someone more his level and style. Silas was far from being the first gaijin in the tournament, one even won the whole thing three years ago, and he was also not the only one in this year’s tournament.
Captain Justice MacLeod, scottish, a huge individual who relied on his size to gain the upper hand. Silas wasn’t small, but was dwarfed when placed against his opponent whom was at least one foot taller than him.
Still, he finally got to grips with the more Japanese style of wrestling, and knew exactly how to deal with such a giant.
The bell rang, and Silas got to work on MacLeod’s legs, but the larger man grabbed him and threw him in the air and on his shoulders. He wasn’t going to pass out again, and Silas started to elbow MacLeod’s head, only to be gorilla pressed onto the mat. His ribs immediately felt like they broke on impact, and a simple Vader Bomb was enough to squash Silas’ plans.
As much as things were done differently in Japan, gaijins act as a wrench in their system.
It was a lovely day to be inside in Amsterdam. The CWF had decided to stop in Ireland but Silas was not scheduled to appear, so he and Ito decided to jump on a ferry and make their way to Holland. Without much of a worry, the two took some time to relax and sightsee around the city. The architecture was stunning, the zoo was acceptable, and they got the opportunity to eat at some esteemed restaurants.
And yet, throughout the past ten days, the two of them never discussed the events that transpired in London. The match against Autumn Raven went well, and Silas could breath out a hint of satisfaction at the result, but what happened during the match was a worrying concern. Ito was knocked out for a moment, but he saw the replay during the boatride and saw a slither of what laid underneath the skin.
Ito never initiated the conversation regarding the matter, and Silas likewise never mentioned it. It wasn’t something latter was comfortable talking about. The damned voice beckoned for attention, and with each day it clawed inside his head, intensifying the effort to keep it in check. Ito’s downing might’ve tipped the balance.
For now, Silas saw sat inside his hotel room, watching an old match featuring him a Captain Justice MacLeod. The opponent had to retire from active competition following an unfortunate motorcycle accident, but it was a shame the two never crossed paths again. Might’ve been able to get his win back, show that he’s no longer the plucky fresh meat MacLeod faced two years ago, but alas, there are things that cannot be.
The door to the room opened up and Silas immediately turned towards it. Ito.
HIDETAKA ITO: Took some effort but I managed to purchase a variety of rice and prawns.
SILAS ARTORIA: Effort?
HIDETAKA ITO: They only spoke Chinese and Dutch. [[It’s not exactly my forte.]]
Ito placed the bags on the table and started to unpack; several plastic boxes of sealed, hot food, with a brand logo plastered on. The smell was nearly overwhelming, but with the window open to counteract the temperature, it became more or less a passing waft.
Ito grabbed some plates and began to serve his own food, all the while Silas remained fixated to his match against MacLeod, rewinding and rewatching it over and over again, all while writing notes with vigorous detail. His face was expressionless, albeit because he gave the footage his unrivalled attention.
Every move, every hold, every time one athlete did something to the other was vigorously dissected. What went wrong, right, and how to counter it three layers down. It became automated. Watch, write, rewind, repeat. He didn’t even make and attempt to grab food, despite protestations from his own stomache.
Ito observed this as he started to consume his own share of food, whose taste Ito completely ignored. Food was food, nutrition was nutrition, and a silent, completely iscolated Silas was a fire waiting to happen.
A fact that became much clearer the past Monday, and unless the two desire a world of pure ruination, it needed to be talked about. Ito had no plans to sugarcoat the subject. MacLeod hit his Vader Bomb.
HIDETAKA ITO: Are we going to talk about it?
SILAS ARTORIA: About what?
HIDETAKA ITO: Please don’t be dumb with me.
Ito snatched the remote before Silas had a chance to rewind, but Silas simply looks ahead at the screen, expression unchanged despite the confrontational nature. He didn’t raise his voice, nor did he acknowledge Ito.
HIDETAKA ITO: The show is televised and replayed. I saw what happened when I went down, with the sudden kip of energy and viciousness--
SILAS ARTORIA: I was furious when you went down--
HIDETAKA ITO: That was not fury, Silas!
Finally, Silas turns to Ito, still not changing his mood despite Ito clearly displaying a sense of dread and concern. Despite Silas maintaining his calm demeanor, Ito was starting to break down, as if what he saw on the screen, what lies within, was one of the horsemen of the apocalypse.
HIDETAKA ITO: I’ve seen you furious in the ring before, we’ve faced each other where your frustration got the better of you. You really think that a primal scream followed by a sudden burst of animalistic energy is comparable to being frustrated!? Autumn was quivering in fear and your last attack put her in the hospital--the GODDAMN HOSPITAL!
A brief moment goes by as Silas takes in every single word.
HIDETAKA ITO: When was the last time any move by you put someone in the hospital, Silas?
PASSENGER: I think we both know the answer to that. Wouldn’t you agree?
HIDETAKA ITO: I know you don’t want to talk about it, but it won’t help if you play ignorance to it.
Despite not wanting to talk about it, Ito was right on too many levels. The cretin within Silas had been continuously clawing on his mind and had made too many attempts to escape. The pressure needed to vent out, but in front of Ito, in front of the world, he couldn’t allow it to escape. It was painful, taking an enormous toll on his psyche, and there was no escape from it.
But what was more important to Silas? His image or his mind? He had saught to reinvent himself and atone for the sins he committed, on behalf of himself and of the Passenger inside him. It took blood, sweat, tears, and catastophic injuries before he was able to get the crowd on respected members of the roster to support him with his ventures. He was finally winning, a decorated athlete after a long period of mediocrity and mockery.
However, it required great suppression of something powerful within him that grew with each passing day, and in the past few days the pressure was reaching fever pitch. Compounding with the pressure from the tournament and from international travel, it was a toxic mixture that was bound to cause damage. Silas had not prepared for this eventuality, and he needed to find a way to keep his passenger in check.
In the meantime, he needed to answer Itom and whilst it was truthful, it was thickly sugar coated.
SILAS ARTORIA: You coming back onto the scene resurrected me in more ways than one. What happened was the exact same thing that happened when Lindsay Troy knocked you out of the picture, albeit temporarily.
Silas leaned forward and rested his arms on his legs. A deep sigh, he continued.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re a tough S.O.B, but that doesn’t change the fact that I hate it when you are attacked unnecessarily. I want you ringside, equally as much as I don’t want you getting hurt. That’s all.
It wasn’t all. Silas craved for a release, one grand explosion that would finally put the creature inside him to rest, but he knew that doing so would alienate him from the entire world. No one would accept him, and he would be left to rot within the compound for the rest of his days.
Silas looked at his hands, as if he was about to let his emotions out, but in actuality it was to observe what he knew would come.
The skin, the tips of his fingers blackened with an ink-like texture, one of the many attempts to escape.
Silas quickly closed his hands to hide this, and returned his attention to Ito.
SILAS ARTORIA: Shall we continue our observations?
Ito didn’t show an ounce of comfort, completely unsatisfied with the answer he got. Still, he was Silas’ mentor, and as such he needed to analyse Silas’ patterns and moveset. His eyes made it clear that the subject would return eventually, and that Silas better have a different and more pronounced answer than what he got. He threw Silas the remote, and turned to face the television.
HIDETAKA ITO: [[I guess.]]
Silas looked upon Ito for only a brief moment and sighed in near defeat. All he could do was simply continue analysing his match with MacLeod.
And still, the damn voice clawed away from within.
PASSENGER: Emotional? Pathetic.
Maybe so, but it won’t change the truth.
Amsterdam is home to many comforts, but the one that satisfies Silas was the calm canals at nighttime. No one was around, just the breeze of a cool night to accompany him. He’s leaning over one of the bridges, looking down at his reflection as if he was lamenting something. Strange, considering his current position in the tournament and in the CWF as a whole.
A deep sigh escapes him.
SILAS ARTORIA: Even if you live in comfort, you should indulge in something different once in a while.
He slowly turns his head towards the camera, and slowly his mouth turns into a smile. He stands up straight and dusts off.
SILAS ARTORIA: I figured after addressing you guys at home from within abstract locations that you would appreciate something more...local.
He gestures his surroundings.
SILAS ARTORIA: Amsterdam! The home of the largest collection of van Gogh paintings on the planet, it’s numerous cultural museums, birthplace of the stock exchange, and paid-for intimacy!
He faces back to the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: Isn’t this city wonderful? It’s a peaceful community with endearing oddities that wouldn’t pass in North America, which makes it one of the most ideal destinations for Americans.
SILAS ARTORIA: But today, we’re not sightseeing. We’re partaking in the next leg of the Alpha and Omega tournament.
Slowly but surely, he starts to walk towards the camera, with the frame maintaining the same distance and positioning throughout, almost guiding Silas throughout the stunning streets of Amsterdam.
SILAS ARTORIA: First, let’s take some time to address our cousins in the other block. The CWF is not a collection of insular bubbles, after all. On one hand, I’m a little disappointed that Zolton didn’t win his match against Freddie Styles. It would’ve been the upset of the tournament! “Plucky underdog beats established talent,” a very attractive headline that gravitates the audience towards you! Alas, it was not to be, but the great thing about this tournament is that there is enough time to make up for the losses taken.
SILAS ARTORIA: No one has been eliminated from the tournament prizes yet, there’s time to gain wins to compete for the top two prizes in the company, and for those unfortunate enough to not get in the tournament, Mr Rishel has opened up a new avenue that’ll allow them to get a share of the spotlight.
SILAS ARTORIA: There is always enough time to make a name for yourself, and to leave a lasting impression upon our audience and our roster. I can certainly speak for myself when I say that I eagerly await for an athlete to shine.
Beat, smile drops a little.
SILAS ARTORIA: Unfortunately for me, even though I was pleasantly surprised to learn that I would be taking the main event spot for the week, it was to be against JC of Carnage-fame.
His walk continues as his head falls, diving deep into thought as he looks within his memories.
SILAS ARTORIA: You know…
He turns back to the camera, no smile.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...the last time a Carnage member went head to head with me, I got my backside handed to me. I was utterly crushed that day, diving deeper and deeper into complete dispair, which took weeks upon weeks to recover.
SILAS ARTORIA: That was their champion, their top dog, their greatest weapon! Effective, and a perfect representative for Carnage.
Beat. Small smirk.
SILAS ARTORIA: He is my baseline when it comes to Carnage, and a few months later, two more enter the fray. They may have big shoes to fill, but if JC is even a small percentage like Jack Michaels, then they are an imposing machine who has the ability to squash anyone. If I make a mistake, they will make a complete fool out of me, despite having won two high profile matches before.
Smile goes, he points to himself.
SILAS ARTORIA: I already have enough stress on my shoulders without imposing dread to be added to it!
Beat, moments go by, and his arms drop.
SILAS ARTORIA: But on the other hand, practically speaking, what do I have to fear?
A smirk, skin crawling in nature.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have won every single match in the tournament so far, I have conquered old demons, and I have survived both hard hitting roadblocks and a woman who knows me inside out! What are you compared to them?
SILAS ARTORIA: Two points. That’s all you have. One win, and you flubbed your tag team match that could’ve kept you in first place. I’m quite disappointed that the best match on this card, to be taken place in the middle of this beautiful city, is you against me!
SILAS ARTORIA: I kind of wish my match with Starlight was this week! That way it could’ve determined who truly is undefeated in Omega block, similar to the Zolton and Styles match! But alas, I’ll have to wait until next week for that opportunity.
He’s getting closer to the camera.
SILAS ARTORIA: I find it insulting that you are in the main event of a CWF show, because as far as I am concerned, you have not earned the spot.
He points to himself, his voice intensifies.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have had to claw my way up from the bottom of the card, and prove that I belong on the main event, and compared to you, you might as well have a “get-out-jail-free” card before the first dice rolls! I worked, you didn’t, I have the most wins in the CWF out of everyone, and you don’t have a fraction of that!
SILAS ARTORIA: “But Silas!”, you might say! “I could easily squash your stressed ass! You don’t know me!”
A long pause follows, and Silas stops walking. His face is hardened, a completely stoic expression screaming distaste for the conditions he has been placed in, and for the chosen opponent.
SILAS ARTORIA: You’re right.
SILAS ARTORIA: I don’t know you.
SILAS ARTORIA: But you don’t know me.
He gets close to the camera, too close for comfort. Voice hushed.
SILAS ARTORIA: You might’ve gotten a sneak preview, but as Autumn can attest, that is nothing compared to the true horrors that come with what lays under my skin. You come face to face with it, and you leave a completely changed person. You can run from it, you can hide from it, but there is no escape until it gets what it wants.
SILAS ARTORIA: I am what your mother has always warned you about. I am more than mere monsters under your bed...
SILAS ARTORIA: ...and when it’s over, the Ballad of JC will descend into an eternal silence.
A long pause follows, and his facial expression doesn’t change, shooting daggers down the lens.
SILAS ARTORIA: This exchange is over--
"The concession stands are now selling those cheap hotel room round soap disks that I have personally blessed for $100’s a bar….AND SINNERS….I suggest you buy one, and use it, because if you think your God wants you in his heaven smelling like a 3am New York City uber ride you got another thing coming."