A few hours after the lights went out in Evolution, the consequences became very clear to those in the locker room. Ataxia was officially on top of the chart, the supershow was likely to become the tipping point for the entire tournament, and that the gruelling endurance test that was Alpha and Omega was beginning to seep in. The card had been released, and Silas Artoria had fallen far from the main event spot that it was almost infuriating.
He was still with Amsterdam with Ito, although when they got back to their hotel he asked Ito to grab something nice to eat, something to occupy himself after the shock loss. There was uncertainty, but Ito was too polite not to say no.
Poor Ito. If only he knew what it truly feels like.
Silas stepped inside his hotel suite, dark as the summer sun started to give way to the winter moon, and exhaled with a layer of frustration and relief. He was out of the noisy arena and into something more subdued, but on the other hand he had lost a crucial advantage to the point that he had to rely on Ataxia to keep JC in check.
Finally, some alone time.
He approached the nearby remote on the counter, only illuminated by the lights that brushed through the nearby windows, and turned on the television. The CWF after report was on, going through tonight's events, the current standings, and the supershow next week.
JIM GUNT: ...which has given Kyuseishu a successful foothold in the upper-half of Omega block, whilst Starlight has unfortunately fallen from joint first to fifth place, near the bottom of the group with four points!
Jim Gunt was sitting on his commentary table with his partner, in addition to both Church and State. Front row seats to the show, best opportunity to analyse what transpired. He threw the remote to the side as the illumination barely lit the suite, including the small kitchen on the far side. He saw the refrigerator and calmly walked towards it, as the presenters and commentators continued on.
BLAKE CHURCH: It’s what happens when you finally have a firm chain of wins and losses, you get an accurate representation of rankings. We may have five people with four points, but looking at whom they won and loss to, that’s how we get our current standings.
He opened the fridge door and grabbed a carton of orange juice. A light shake, about half empty. Silas quickly closed the door and grabs a glass. He poured himself one cup, and started to drink.
CHARLES STATE: Ariel Shadows was defeated by Starlight, whom was defeated by Kyuseishu, whom himself was defeated by Silas Artoria in the first match, and with JC defeating him, he has firmly asserted himself in second place position. Ataxia now rules unopposed at the top of the table. The only thing we need to find out is whom is at the bottom of the table, as, quite disappointed, neither Autumn Raven nor Bubba Love have won any points!
JIM GUNT: We’ll come back to that in a moment, but I want to talk about our main event. The Psychotic Aristocrat vs the Answer. Ended with a surprise victory for JC!
MIKE ROLASH: I wouldn’t call it a surprise victory, Jim. He did swear that he would succeed in his address, he’s got the experience behind him, and Silas didn’t pull out his secret weapon! Complete stupidity!
At least someone is smart.
JIM GUNT: Maybe he was trying to control himself given it’s brief resurface?
MIKE ROLASH: Cowardly I say!
Silas bit his lip, staring intently towards the television screen as he slowly sipped his drink. Rolash wasn’t the most supportive of people after his change of tactics, but his words had gotten more and more vindictive. Surprising for a man whom one year before handed Silas a water bottle to assist him.
He tries to sip again as the chatter continued on the television, only to find that he ran out. He grabbed the carton quickly and emptied what was left of it into the glass.
CHARLES STATE: Regardless of what you think of Silas’ tactics, both past and present, this loss to JC has put him in a difficult situation. I’ve talked to some people in attendance over the past few weeks, and while they did expect JC to do well, about 99 out of 100 said that the Omega Block would be more or less dominated by Silas and Ataxia.
So much for that.
CHARLES STATE: In a way, Silas is relying on Ataxia at the supershow to potentially keep him in top title contention, because if JC wins the rest of his matches, and Silas does the same, JC would be heading to the main event of WrestleFest because he holds that crucial tiebreaker.
MIKE ROLASH: As if he’s relying on that sack-headed freak to keep him in the tournament.
Silas started to grip his glass tightly, as he glares at Rolash’s face.
MIKE ROLASH: Silas should’ve taken the initiative and let everything out! He should’ve tapped into whatever is within him to take down someone as skilled and calculative as JC. Instead, he fought conservatively, and he’s playing the ultimate price! If he has to rely on Ataxia just to keep him in the tournament, then he doesn’t deserve to be in not only the tournament, but also in this company.
Rolash looks cold into the camera.
MIKE ROLASH: Hear me clearly.
MIKE ROLASH: Silas has failed!
The television died as the shattered remains of the drinking glass scatters to the floor. Silas stared for what felt like years, as his face turned red and began to seethe with fury and frustration. His breathing became animalistic, and even exhaled a few growls from his untamed and unchecked anger. No one was around to see the mild destruction, but there was something that did witness to outburst.
Such a shame.
SILAS ARTORIA: You happy now? HUH!? HAPPY!??
Silence from within his head and Silas finally explodes in a bout of fustration and light mania-.
SILAS ARTORIA: You happy that you were proven right!? Past few weeks you’ve been subtly injecting the idea that if you didn’t crawl to the surface and exhale, promising quick victories in return. You said it was the best way to secure belts and points, and I’ve said no. I’ve got to keep you under control!
And am I not corre--
SILAS ARTORIA: OF COURSE YOU’RE CORRECT! AREN’T YOU HAPPY THAT YOU PROPHECY CAME TRUE!
It was alien, barking back at the Passenger without showing any resistance. For decades the Passenger had done all he wanted to do to drive Silas to the brink of insanity, and eventually claim vestige over him. Silas read the stories, of grown and functional men not lasting seconds with the skin crawling entity within them, but the young age Silas was proved to be the key factor. Now a more fully grown adult, his capacity to deal with it was becoming more of a struggle.
And yet, the entity was not responding to his outburst. No protestations, no bark backs, nothing.
And Silas couldn’t help but crack a small smile; his tone of voice becoming more calm.
SILAS ARTORIA: And now you’re as silent as the grave.
It wasn’t responding, and there was a hint of glee within the dark, barely lit atmosphere. And within the soundscape consisting of light traffic outside, the fridge humming, and the last loose shards of the television falling onto the laminate flooring, and dark, sinister, uncomfortable chuckle accompanied them.
SILAS ARTORIA: What’s the matter? Did I frighten you? Too scared to talk to the one you’ve been poking at for the past twenty years?
SILAS ARTORIA: Was that your last salvo?
You’ve finally got the message.
The Passenger didn’t reply with antagonism, but from within a hint of calm satisfaction. It didn’t scrape the skull, but was speaking to him with a relaxed voice, akin to a self help CD. It didn’t try to inflict pain from within, but instead created a sense of relaxation on specific parts of the body. It wasn’t being forceful, almost as if it was massaging Silas.
The Canadian initially stood still as his smile faded with time, but as he looked around the dark hotel suite, the Passenger changed it’s targets. Slowly, Silas begins figuring out the specific targeting, as he steadily moves around the outline of the suite, not wanting to cause an accident in the room.
The strange sense of direction pushed him towards the bathroom door, slightly ajar. Silas wasn’t concerned, but was certainly puzzled by the Passenger’s motivations. Still, he opened the bathroom door and pulled the wire.
In front of him, the mirror above the sink, reflecting the dishevelled Silas back at him. Uninteresting, certainly, but he was almost entranced by seeing him in such a state. He slowly walked closer to the mirror, as the damned voice finally spoke.
Look at that reflection, Silas. What do you see? Do you see someone able to overcome the odds to finish in top form? Do you see someone who can carry a company into the future…
He finally arrived at the sink, looking into his own eyes as they slowly but surely turn into the strong tinge of blood red. He felt the strain, as the voice continued.
...or do you see someone unwilling to utilise everything they have on hand. Look around you Silas. What is your motivation for keeping me in check? Your health? Your fears? Do those in the CWF have any concerns regarding your safety? They let you back in the ring after sustaining horrific injuries; does that describe a caring company?
Or is it your fear of what lies under being known? Are you really concerned about that? Listen to the commentary, listen to the people, watch yourself. Do you really think that I am such a secret? Your friend watches the show, doesn’t he? It’s likely that he knows not only what you’re capable of, but also of my existence.
As much as he hated to admit it, there was a point within the twisted words.of the Passenger. Everyone knew it existed, why shouldn’t Ito know? They weren’t blind, and it’s presence was continuous in some form or another.
Within thought, Silas bowed his head. It was beginning to overwhelm him in someway.
Do you think he’s disappointed that you blundered a high profile match? What if he thinks the same thing as I?
Silas sighed in defeat, and looked back at himself in the mirror.
The black spawn covered half his face, red writing of an unknown language covered the surface, lightly illuminated.
Use your potential!
The lights flickered, and the Passenger began it’s rest. Slowly, a black formation appeared on Silas’ arm.
Lesson number four: don’t let your guard down.
Silas had the feeling the tournament was already done. Koki Rei and Hidetaka Ito had such a commanding lead, winning their three matches, that there was a feeling he could no longer win the tournament. He didn’t expect to win, but he hoped his entry didn’t feel like a complete joke.
Still, he was up against Rei next, and whilst his opponent was a favourite to win, the knowledge he had against throughout the endurance test was proving to be valuable. He was able to cope with the stress of the travel and the demands of the matches more comfortably, and his encounters were getting longer. He was enduring the pain, but he knew progress was being made.
And it was showing when he was against Koki Rei. He delivered some swift blows and kicks, and was able to get in a snapdragon. He was adding to his repertoire every match, hoping that he would have the ultimate arsenal, and it looked like he would achieve a shock win that night.
A knee to the shoulder to take Koki down was successful, and he couldn’t help but freak out at the results. He was smiling for the first time in what seemed liked years, and he approached his downed opponent for a pin.
One, two, kickout. Silas was shocked, but didn’t have time to absorb it before he was flung backwards. He was forcibly tucked in and his legs were restrained, and the count of three ended it quickly.
A small package of all things. How could he be so stupid?
Cologne, Germany. The door opens to a middling suite in a hotel, orange lighting. It seems comfortable, as Silas and Ito enter with their cases in tow, ready for the following days events. Silas is quick to look at Ito, saying something along the lines of “get yourself comfortable”, before Ito rushes off with his case to one of the bedrooms. Alone, Silas breathes a sigh, likely troubled given the previous weeks events.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have no excuse.
Quick glide to the fridge to pour a glass of bottled water, disappointed given his preferred drink.
SILAS ARTORIA: One moment, I was entering the arena with a dosage of confidence despite my pressured reservations. JC was a man whom I had never faced before, but was comfortable in trusting that I would be able to stand tall.
Quick sip, his disappointment hasn’t vanish.
SILAS ARTORIA: I did say that the Alpha and Omega tournament was going to be the ultimate test regarding skill, endurance, and adaptability. We’re now in our week 4 lineups, and already the exhaustion has begun to settle in. You have Danny B giving out, and you have me looking at the lights.
Deep breath, another sip before frantically getting another bottle out.
SILAS ARTORIA: And thus, my relatively dominant run is now at the mercy of Ataxia of all people.
He grips the glass hard, almost too hard as a small crack begins to develop on the rim of the cup. He loosens before it could shatter, and a deep breath calms him down.
SILAS ARTORIA: No matter. What is done is done, and despite my reservations over certain characters, it’s in the past now. I’ve got to live with my failure.
Under his breath:
SILAS ARTORIA: Ataxia of all people.
Quick gulp down, he throws his glass in the sink, which cleanly breaks on impact.
SILAS ARTORIA: I have to look forward, see who is next, and prepare for my encounters with formidable opponents. There may be some whom may come across as complete jokes, but after my last match, one which the fans at home expected me to win, I’m not going to be taking chances with any of them.
He drives into his bag and rummages thoroughly through it. Clothes and ring gear mostly, but after a few seconds he starts to pull out individual binders. He carries them over to the nearby coffee table, and one by one he throws them down in tandem with his next words.
SILAS ARTORIA: PJ Blake, Ariel Shadows, Jay Mora, Bubba Love, Ataxia…
He holds the last folder in his hand for a few moments, before finally allow it to join it’s sisters on the table.
SILAS ARTORIA: ...Starlight.
He opens up the folder to reveal several photographs, professional printouts, scribbled notes, and a blank CD with “PAST MATCHES” written in black with a three harsh underlines. The notes are personal thoughts and questions, but the official documentation is what he focuses on. Common moves, potential counters, copious details clearly sources by respected officials in and out of the CWF.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’ve had to pull in a few favours, but it’s interesting what details you can get in exchange for some sweet words.
He looks to the frame, stoic and narrow eyed.
SILAS ARTORIA: On one hand, I could immediately dismiss you, considering your current record. You’ve beaten Ariel Shadows and Jay Mora. It’s no easy feat, and one of them has dabbled into the CWF for some time. It wasn’t like you defeated what MMA fans would call “trash cans”, you went toe to toe with respected names.
He moves one photograph to the side, a frame of Starlight facing Kyuseishu.
SILAS ARTORIA: But you came up short last week against Kyuseishu, a man I was able to put in his place in the tournament’s opening show. If you cannot beat Kyuseishu, what chance do you have against me? I’ve been in the CWF for the past two years, and I know every little trick in the book. You’re crisp, certainly, but it’s not something I cannot handle.
SILAS ARTORIA: However, I’ve beaten Ataxia before the tournament, Ataxia has already beaten JC, but JC has defeated me! If that isn’t a testament to how unpredictable this tournament can be. Someone with little respect from the audience and locker room could get an upset victory at any moment!
He delves quickly into his memory for a moment.
SILAS ARTORIA: There’s a man in japan--you might know precisely who--whom is treated like a clown. His wrestling is subpar, he regularly cheats, but is somehow able to constantly gain upset wins over some of the scariest, most brutal opponents to ever exist in our industry!
He leans in closely towards the frame, almost uncomfortably so.
SILAS ARTORIA: I’m not going to treat you like a nobody, because that is a one way ticket to defeat. But I will warn you that the battle you will face come Tuesday will be your toughest fight yet. There will be many knees to your face, there will be teeth knocked out, and come the end of our match, you will leave a changed, but broken, person.
He slams the folder shut, although he has the CD in his hand.
SILAS ARTORIA: I hope you do your research, just so you can prepare yourself for a fight beyond your comprehension.
SILAS ARTORIA: Lights out!
And a dark laugh is barely heard through the noise of a dead channel.