"Right. Let me be fucking clear about one very important thing. Let me be crystal fucking clear. I have heard all the whispers, all the comments. I have seen all the subtweets and forum comments. I hear it all.
You all think I've lost it. Most of you didn't rate me in the first place, despite my accomplishments and pedigree, you all wrote me off. I'm not as fun as your new and precious toys. I can see why I am looked upon with disdain like I am. Here's that thing I want to be crystal fucking clear about. I don't give a single flying, sparkly fuck what you all think."
With that said Danny turns his head away from the camera, pulling a hood up over his head as he does so. The scene behind him is dimly lit, only a single dull lamp hanging from the dank ceiling giving any illumination whatsoever. Danny bounces on the spot, shaking out his arms as he does so. The shot seems to show him wearing nothing at all beneath his long hoodie. His bare feet bounce on their balls as they connect with the stone cold floor.
Ten feet from where he was waiting, a door opened with an almighty bang as it was smashed against the stone floor. No person was seen, no sound was made, but this was enough for Ripper to stop bouncing. With his eyes focused on the doorway, he walked towards it.
The other side of it was a long and narrow, dimly lit hallway, not unlike the room he had just left. Danny walked with purpose, his piercing green eyes focused on a slight rumble coming from the other end of the corridor. A moment later he burst through the curtain separating the corridor from the next room.
A chorus of cheers and jeers met his ears as he stepped out. This next room was considerably larger, much better lit, and was slightly more filled than the last two. A handful of people stood around what looked to be a makeshift square cage on the floor. Despite being a small and intimate affair, the crowd seemed quite ruckus as Ripper, still focused, removed the hoodie to show that he was indeed wearing a small tight pair of trunks underneath. He paced for a moment, tying up his long blonde hair into a tight and neat bun. Finally, he stepped into the cage and came face to face with the man already inside it.
Well, less like a man and more like an ogre really. Danny eyed him up and down. The guy was at least three inches taller than himself, and certainly quite a bit larger. Then there was the face, one that looked as if it had been punched many, many times. This was the kind of the person which you do not wish to step into a fight with, because they have nothing to lose. And this is what this whole thing was, it was a fight. Last man standing.
The cage door was slammed shut behind Ripper, and with no need for a referee to start the contest before them, the two men began to circle one another in the cage. This was a situation Danny knew all too well, a bigger and stronger opponent who thinks that sheer bulk and strength could win this thing. For the first time since this little vignette had begun, Danny cracked a little smile. That was until thoughts of his past fight crept into his head. Instinctively he twitched his right leg, remembering the beating he took at the hands of Zolton, the hyperextension from that match still plaguing the back of his mind. This momentary distraction allowed the bloody great ogre to launch in, and frankly, that’s all Danny remembered, was seeing the bloody great bastard coming at him. That moment of doubt, that moment of hesitation. It did it again.
The next day…
Now sporting a brand new shiner that encompassed a fair portion of the right hand side of his face, Danny walked into the large boardroom that had been rented out for today’s occasion.
For the first time in a very long time, The Ripper was about to come face to face with his mentor, trainer, fiancer and frankly, one of the people closest to his heart. That man of course, for those that have been around for a while, know to be the mythical Anubis. In fact, apparently, the entire family was due to be here in this room this afternoon. It had been years since he had seen even two members of this family together, and he had never seen all of them together at all. This was the main reason he had even bothered to show up, the intrigue alone.
He was the first to arrive, and so took himself over to the window to stare down at the ants below him. Being in a place like this gave him some fond memories. When his wrestling career had begun to wind down and the thought of retirement crept in, he had started to invest his already rather measurable wealth into a number of businesses, investments that paid off beyond most of his wildest dreams. All of this meant that just before he came out of retirement a few months ago, his portfolio was in the billions. Then he sold it all.
Nearly ten years of building an empire, and in some possibly misguided attempt to find himself again, he had sold it all away. Of course it meant that he would never have to question a bill for anything ever again, but the purpose behind the move had yet to show it itself.
He placed his hands in his jeans pockets as he looked down on the people below, going about their lawful business on this claggy, grey day. The thought wouldn’t stop running through his mind. He had decided to focus all in on wrestling, his moment to recapture everything that was ever great about himself, but that had seemingly come with one small glitch. He couldn’t do it.
Nope, these past few months returning to his old stomping grounds of The CWF had returned some mixed results, to say the least. He knew coming out of retirement and back to an environment that no longer suited his style would be tough, but with everything he had done, every accomplishment, every achievement, really, this couldn’t be as hard right?
Obviously he hadn’t quite found what he was looking for yet. Losses to Nathan Paradine and Zolton had shook his confidence. He wasn’t ready to let the world know it yet, but those two chumps in his heyday would have been nothing more than fodder. Frankly, no-one was ever anything more than fodder. He lined them all up, he knocked them all down. The world’s top prospects all fell, so what the hell was holding him back from taking down all of these two-bit, one dimensional nobodies? Maybe the answer would be here in this room, maybe it would come from the people within it, or maybe, no matter what else he tried, it just wasn't there to have.
His thoughts were interrupted as the door finally swung upon again, signalling the arrival of one of the other attendees of this family get together. Atlas Herakles scraped his way through the door, being nearly as wide as it, despite it being a double. He may not have the height of his father or brother, only clocking in at six foot four, but at near four hundred pounds of pure, lean muscle, he more than made up for it. Atlast may seem to any and all to be nothing more than a brute based on his size alone, but he was also one of the most intelligent men Ripper had ever met, a man that helped him take his businesses global when the time was right.
“Ripper? Father did not tell me that you would be with us this evening.”
“Did you father tell you at all why we’re here?”
“He did not, although I was under the assumption that it would be a serious matter to have all the family here, nevermind yourself.”
“Well isn’t that something special?”
Their conversation was interrupted as a rumble of noise travelled down the corridor outside the room. Danny didn’t need to be told who this was, he would recognise that voice anywhere, well at least one of them anyway.
A group burst through the door together, all four of them women, and all four of them vastly different from one another. The first through the door was Claudia Thorn, a tall, red-headed, take-no-shit Northern Cali bitch who just so happened to be Atlas’ younger half sister, and indeed the youngest of Anubis’ children. Alongside her was a shorter, pretty blonde who as always, had an ear to ear grin plastered on her face. This was Lexi Thorn, Claudia’s older half sister, who even though was no actual relation to the master, had been accepted as one of their own.
Behind the Thorn sisters was one girl he had met before, and one he didn’t, but it didn’t take rocket science to figure out who they were. Baby-blue haired Leighlah Rose, and the fierce Filippina, Kali Diyosa. These two ladies were Claudia’s trainee’s, and two that were coming along well.
The four of them bustled into the room, with both the Thorn sisters pulling Ripper into a tight bear hug as all of them greeted one another. The pleasantries continued for a few minutes until the doors swung open again.
As Alcis and Zelina, Anubis' eldest twin children, walked in the room, Ripper honestly began to think that this whole thing was set up so that all members of the scene would appear at perfectly timed intervals. Regardless, the two newcomers said their hellos to the rest of the congregation. The eldest pair were far more traditional and polite than Claudia and her entourage, far more like their father. Ripper couldn't help but smirk a little as seven foot tall Alcis was introducing himself to little five foot one Leighlah Rose.
"Thank you all for coming here this evening."
"Of course he fucking did…"
All of the group except for Ripper turned their attention to the head of the table, where the giant legendary Anubis had appeared seemingly out of thin air.
"Always gotta make a fucking entrance haven't ya?"
He spoke under his breath, not even loud enough to alert the people standing two feet from him, yet still felt his mentors eyes burning into the back of his head.
Anubis focused his eyes back on the rest of the group. His face more weathered than ever before, but his eyes still carried the same level of knowledge and intensity. The room may have been filled with relative giants, but the legendary head of the household still made all of them look small. His seven foot one, three hundred pound plus frame had not yet begun to diminish in his old age, still giving off the impression that he defied the very laws of the universe.
"Please, be seated, time is not our side this evening."
One by one they filed into the seats around the boardroom table, Atlas in particular taking his time. Danny, as you could probably guess, was the last to seat himself. Watching his mentor cautiously as he placed himself at the tail end of the table. The air in the room was a little on the tense, each of them attempting to suss out just what the situation is. A moment of curious silence passes, before Claudia, always unable to keep her tongue, speaks out first.
"So, you gonna let us know why we all flew all the way here. What's so important that we couldn't just speak on the phone?"
That was something Danny hadn't even taken into consideration. He might have already been in the states, but Atlas and the Twins must have come in from Europe, not to mention Diyosa's home was in the Philippines. This was part of the reason that these family meetings have been such a rare occurrence.
"Please ensure that you I am truly thankful for your attendance here evening. I imagine this may have been difficult for some of you at short notice. Please know that this is a matter of utmost importance, hence the gathering of both blood and new blood for this concourse."
Kali, Leighlah and Lexi stared in awe as he spoke. Another thing Danny had overlooked. These three would have never had a reason to meet him before. His public appearances are few and far between these days, and so this was quite the shock for them. So much so that they kinda missed the fact that he called them all 'new blood.'
"It is with a heavy heart that I must inform you of some sombre news. This information is pertinent to us all, and has required me to gather you in this one place. This family may soon be facing the greatest threat it has ever known… Young Ripper, I must insist from this point that this matter is personal, and cannot he shared with those beyond the confines of these walls."
Danny had known him well enough for long enough that an explanation wasn't needed, and a moment later, the live camera feed was cut abruptly.
The next day…
A dimly lit room, a light dangling from the ceiling, a hooded figure bouncing up and down on the balls of his feet.
Danny removed his hood from his head as he stops bouncing, allowing the camera to glimpse the still darkened right eye. He kept his focus on the door at the end of the room, and when he spoke, he did so in a very careful, deliberate way.
"Apologies for the abrupt ending to yesterday's portion of this little piece, the matters at hand were unfortunately private. Still, that was then and this is now, and there is one thing I still have yet to address. Jeff Jackson, don't you think for a second that I have forgotten about you kid.
You might be well be sitting in your cheap ass furniture, trying to control your inner urges, wondering what is coming next. After all, the guy standing opposite you this week is not all that impressive right? This guy keeps looking like he's gonna fall at every hurdle. That would be a fair, if not stupidly shortsighted assessment.
Jeffery, I haven't taken this whole thing as seriously as I should have done. I've allowed inferior beings to come into my world and make me eat my own half-baked words. No more though. I'm focused on you, oh boy I'm focused on you now.
You've been around the block kid, longer than I have to be fair, you've seen and done it all...ish. I mean, your travels have been long and your former employers are many, but what in all that time have you actually done?
You're some kind of wily veteran, but you can't string together any kind of momentum? I guess that sounds familiar roundabouts now, but the difference between you and I kid? I'm in a slump, you seem to be in your natural state.
I get it, must be hard living with your disorder. One side of you thinks you're a lonely, pathetic piece of shit, and then other thinks you're a pathetic, lonely piece of shit.
At least, I would. I've been watching you kid, your whole thing intrigued me for a while. Until I saw you lose every single match, every single opportunity. I kind of lost interest in you. That could have easily been my biggest mistake yet.
Now, you go from being an interesting opponent, to a perfect punch bag, a helluva good training sesh. I get to come into this match, having had to prepare for two different styles, adapting on the fly, all while showing what this overlooked, undervalued true legend of this business can do.
In my not so humble opinion, it doesn't fucking matter which side of you shows up in Boise, because either way, that trademark impression you like to give on the way to staring at the lights ain't coming anywhere near me.
You might be wondering what I'm doing back in this room after being sparko'd last time I was here. Simple really, when looking for a fight, it's best to know you can fight. That's what's coming on Tuesday mate. I'm coming for a fight. I'm coming to stamp my way through you, and reclaim my spot. This might well be my last chance in this tournament, and hell, my last chance at the CWF world title. That I cannot allow to happen. So you kid, you're the one I'm gonna make an example out of.
You might have felt a bit on the shit side taking L's from Freddie and Duce, but fella, at least you could walk away. I have no such plans for you. The Ripper was starting to forget himself, has been searching for all along. But yesterday, I got a stark and sharp reminder why that name had stuck with me for all these years. When you're nothing more than a footnote underneath my boot, the violence is coming, and it won't stop. It won't stop until I am fucking dead. You wanna try and get in the way of my rebirth Jeff? Fucking be my guest. I'm fucking untouchable. I dare you to make me prove it.
Jeff, Judge, it doesn't matter what your name is. Hear these words and mark them well my friend. Your time has come."
Again, Danny was interrupted by the door slamming open, creating an almighty echo around the stone room. Again Danny walked down that long corridor, albeit with a slight spring in his step. Again he walked through the curtain to a mix of jeers and cheers, and again, he stepped into the cage, faced the ogre and heard the cage shut behind him.
Again, the ogre lunged, but there was no seed of doubt this time. Ripper ducked, allowing the giant knuckles once set to collide with his orbital bone to collide with the steel instead. Danny turned to face his challenge, and with a sly and confident wink, went after his larger, stronger opponent…