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 The Challenge

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Faulerro

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PostSubject: The Challenge    Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:05 am

It’s January, 2011. Over two years since this all began, since I decided to go back to that world for one last shot at making my name truly matter, and hopefully fixing my mental state in the process.

I’m far from home again, after so much time spent there, preparing myself mentally and physically. America is my destination for a second time, specifically Montana. A rented truck takes me further into the land owned by my friend, and I become very aware of how heavy the air is around this place, or it feels that way. You might think it’s the lack of civilisation for so many miles that’s creating that illusion, as I’m certainly not used to being this far out in the countryside, especially in a whole other country altogether.
 
Let’s be realistic here, though. It’s because of him. David Shand, the Soul Reaper as he is often called. His ranch, which I’m hoping to find as the night begins to fall around me in this unfamiliar terrain, is the place we’re going to meet to discuss my plans. To say I’m nervous is an understatement, as a lot hangs in the balance in regards to this, and the fact that I have to go see him only adds to the tension. I’d thought ahead of time exactly what I was going to say when I met him, I pre-prepared a strategy to make sure I get what I want, and practiced it in my head over and over, but now I’m on the way there I just know it’s going to fall apart.
  
David Shand alone is intimidating to even the most hardened individuals. A towering man, with refined muscle packed into a gigantic frame, his physical presence would be enough to scare off anyone, but there’s more to him than that – so much more. Having come from a business background, under a wealthy but oppressive father, David had defied this powerful figure for the sake of living life the way he wanted. Using the very methods he learned from his dad, he managed to pull the rug from right underneath him and render the man practically penniless. He even covertly pursued his passion for professional wrestling, despite the protestations of his parent. Not only that, but even while juggling his head position in the financial juggernaut Shand Holdings, he became a top name in the world of wrestling. His incredible drive, insanely hard work and talent for absorbing techniques earned him an unshakable spot at the top of the ladder in both business worlds.
 
I’m just fortunate to be friends with him, having connected over our affinity for professional wrestling when we both worked under the banner of the CWA. Especially when one considers the other side of the coin, the dark side. The true David Shand that lies underneath the surface, forged through years upon years of having to meet the unfair expectations of his father. There’s a monster dwelling inside him - some have called it a dragon. Those in the professional wrestling business have another name for it, though.
 
The Reaper.
 
If one faced him in the ring, they would have to face that very monster. The personification of his suppressed rage, the Reaper tore apart opponents as if they bore the face of the man who tried to dictate his every step in life. Professional wrestling was his outlet; the sport he was so very fond of became his catalyst for unleashing his seemingly endless frustration. That’s not to say it didn’t spill over into his work for Shand Holdings – there are companies who experienced his ruthlessness in the business world who could attest to that - but I could tell any time I saw Shand out there in the ring that when he adopted that Reaper persona, it became far more than just a gimmick. It was the core of that man’s very being.
 
I never had to take that beast on. The David I knew was far more amiable, as we never wrestled a match together. It’s not as though I didn’t know the Reaper, as I’d seen him out there taking men apart, but I never experienced that beast personally. That incredible force was the main eventer, the one who brutalised even the strongest of adversaries and names in the wrestling world, the one who bloodied and battered superstars, the one who made even the proudest men beg for mercy.
  
I was terrified of the very concept of fighting him, if I’m being brutally honest.
  
So yeah, I’m a bit on edge to say the least now. While this has been my goal, and I’ve focused on this almost non-stop (if you don’t include my side preparations for encountering another formidable force, but that’s another story, related though it might be), actually approaching David about this cannot be truly prepared for. He may be my friend, but the moment I let him know what I want of him, that’s not going to matter.
  
Especially with all those rumours going around. About his disappearance for so many months; his sojourn into the wilderness, some called it. He returned at the end of last year, and left an instant mark on his company. He tossed aside Nick McIntyre, the savvy lawyer who ran Shand Holdings since David decided to step down two years ago to spend more time with his family, and took the reins right back for himself. Those who encountered David suspected there was something new there, an almost inhuman determination that left them feeling shaken just by sharing the room with him. It had been joked that he struck a deal with Satan to return Shand Holdings to its former glory, though never when he was in earshot.
 
Those who truly knew David were wiser, however. There was nothing new, and he didn’t need to bargain with the beast. The Reaper, having been dormant since his retirement from wrestling, was back.
  
That makes matters all the worse for me. I thought asking him to get back in the ring one more time would potentially revive that monster, but if these rumours are true then it’s already waiting for me at his ranch.
 
The ranch comes into view, dimly lit at this time of night. I realise it took me much longer than I’d hoped to find my way here, and hope this doesn’t make things more awkward than they’re likely to be. Once I’m close enough, I park the car in what passes for a driveway out here, and approach the building itself. It’s certainly large, as one would expect of somebody like David Shand, but the very fact that it’s a simple, almost rustic ranch like this would fool you into thinking it inappropriate. I know David though, and for he and his family this is a fine place to live. Still, it’s a whole different animal from Asterson House, that’s for sure.
  
I peer around the darkened surroundings, and the night crept up on me quicker than I’d anticipated. There’s no sign of human life to be seen, not even David’s wife or son, though I wonder if it they’ve simply retired to bed at this hour. There’s still a light on inside, that much I can tell. I walk over to the illumination, and I find myself at an open door. It’s wedged open in fact, seemingly left that way on purpose. It seems strange for it to be like this, but then out here I suppose there’s less concern for burglars.
 
Nonetheless I feel ill at ease, and only feel more so as I reluctantly step inside. I wonder if David left it as such on purpose so I could walk in, providing he hadn’t lost hope in my arrival with how late I am. As I step into his home, the lack of lighting unsettles me. I feel as though I’m entering the cave of a dragon.
 
Is the family even home? I try my best to find the source of the light, and as I do my mind wanders. It’s only natural with what lies ahead, but also with what lay behind me. I came here not at a hundred percent, due to an argument I recently had with Melanie. It was a week ago, and I try not to dwell on the details, but suffice it to say the person who had become my strength has left me to go about this journey on my own. I don’t blame her, either.
 
So I have to find strength within myself, or through something else. It’s the only option I have, just like my acquaintance Orland Zacconi had a long time ago. I’m trying my best to follow his advice, unorthodox though it may be. Unlike David, I can’t use professional wrestling as a means of releasing my inner self – not until it and I are on good terms again.
 
As I become lost in my thoughts, I become equally lost in David’s home. That is until I hear a deep voice from behind me, and I jump quite dramatically in response.
 
“You’re late, Chris.”
 
I turn as quickly as I can to face the owner of the voice, and as I predicted, it is Shand himself. He sits by a study desk, a small lamp being the source of light. It just illuminates his frame in such a way that casts numerous shadows about his face. It’s not exactly the most endearing sight, and part of me wonders if this was done intentionally. David was not beyond the theatrics if the situation called for it, though I had to wonder about how appropriate they are in what was meant to be a friendly meeting.
 
Meant to be, and I’m hoping it ends up that way.
 
I do my best to compose myself, which takes a good amount of effort considering how thrown I was by the surprise.
 
“Apologies, David,” I tell him, my voice already a tad shaky, and I would worry he’d pick up on that if he hadn’t already seen me launch up into the air like a firework, “I had a little trouble finding my way here.”
 
“Really, not an inconvenience, was it?” he asks, studying me carefully with those icy blue eyes that pierce through me like daggers, despite how calm his voice and mannerisms are. It gives me a shiver. This is definitely more than the David I met up with last.
 
“Nah, I can handle it,” I reply, shifting a little uncomfortably as I stand, feeling like a toddler being reprimanded without having real reason to, “Made for an eventful journey.”
 
David nods, and motions to a sofa nearby, “Oh I don’t believe the journey is quite over yet. Take a seat.”
 
I silently thank him and oblige. I need all the comfort I can get right now, despite how tired of sitting down I am after the truck drive here. As I sit down, I notice he’s positioned in a way where he has full view of me. It’s unnerving to say the least, and not what I’m used to from previous meetings.
 
“I’m not getting in the way of work, am I?” I ask him, trying to soothe the tension somewhat by being considerate, “I wouldn’t want to hold up business by being slow.”
 
David doesn’t answer for a moment, still intently watching me. He takes his time before giving me the response I need, “Not at all. I’ve been working from home”, he nods towards a phone on the desk, “Now that I’ve made my expectations fully known, I don’t always need to physically be in London in order to ensure things get done.”
 
I nod, not feeling that much better. As I’m sure is David’s intention. I’m starting to wonder if he’s already worked out why I’m here.
 
“How’s Dan?” he asks, hitting me point-blank, right off the mark, “I hear he’s trained some youngsters with real potential these past few years.”
 
Although I’m clearly struck hard by this, I try to laugh it off, “You always do your homework, don’t you David?”
 
“Yes always. I wouldn’t be where I am now if I didn’t,” is his humourless response.
  
“Mr. Kildel’s doing fine,” I follow up, trying to maintain my composure, “As great a teacher as I remember.”
 
David doesn’t say anything else. He seems to be waiting for me to continue, as if waiting for me to say every line he’s expecting from a script he’s already read.
 
“These past two years I’ve started from scratch,” I carry on, hesitantly at first, “I guess I figured it was high time I became Chio Reto again.”
 
“Retirement not good enough for you?” David questions me, still no notable emotion behind his voice.
 
“It’s not that,” I struggle to reply, wondering if he’s accusing me of questioning his absence from the sport, “I feel as though I have more of a mark to make.”
 
“Really,” is his response, “And how exactly do you intend to do that?”
 
Okay, he must know exactly why I’m here. Maybe it was when I called him about a meeting, and he picked it up from my voice, or maybe his research has extended beyond simply finding out where I’ve been lately. Knowing David, it’s not too far out of the realm of possibility that it’s both.
 
“I think you’ve already found out,” I call him out, without meaning to be so blunt, but I guess the deliberate vagueness was starting to get to me. He doesn’t seem surprised or bothered by my directness, but takes a few moments before voicing anything further.
 
“This is not a game, Chris,” is what he has to tell me. Again, no emotion behind his voice, just simple and direct, eyes firmly placed on me.
 
“Why would I even think that?” I ask him, and I feel myself bristling unintentionally.

“Fair enough. But there are a few things I need to make clear, and a few questions I need to ask. Firstly, since we are friends I will give you fair warning,” he goes on, not answering my question, presumably on purpose, “What you have in mind is not as simple as you think it is. Just ask any man who has ever asked of me the same thing you are looking to ask tonight.”
  
“I’ve been through a lot to prepare for it,” I add before he can continue, “I know this is not easy, not even in the slightest, but I also know it’s what I need to do. I respect the hell out of you – you should know that already – which is why you’re the one I want to face.”
 
Again, David goes silent. He continues to observe me. Seems I need to assure him some more.
 
“I’m in my late twenties now, but I already feel like an old man. Not just because of the hell my body’s experienced just by the virtue of being a pro wrestler, but because of how quickly my time in the limelight came and went. It’s my own fault - I won’t deny that for a second – and I want to make up for that. That’s why I want to have this one shot, you know? Simply by being in there with you, that alone would make me feel like I’d become the guy for once.”
 
“I’ll repeat myself,” David says, and there is firmness to his tone this time, “This is not as simple as you think it is.”
 
I don’t quite know what to say, but David quickly swoops in before I can even think of anything, “One match, Chris? Do you really believe that is all it will take? As much of a challenge as it would be, and I let me assure you right here and now that if you start down this path it would be an incredible one, do you honestly think that it will make up for a career of missed opportunity?”
 
Ouch. He makes a valid point, harsh though it may be. I have thought this all through, however, and now I’m getting to grips with the conversation, I come back with exactly the answer I’d struggled over the past few years.
 
“I know, going back to the business full-time and working my arse off harder than I ever did before might seem like the better option to make a name for myself. This isn’t just about being seen as a top guy, though. It’s about feeling that way. Throughout my time in CWA, I always looked at you as the man, the guy to beat. Just participating in a match with you there meant you had worked your way to the top. I never had that opportunity, and to me, even getting it now, years after the fact, would mean I had made it.”
  
“I’m retired, Chris,” he informs me, barely seeming to acknowledge my explanation, “I have a business to run and a family to care for. You come here and you tell me why you want this to happen, but why should I? Why should I go back on my vow to the wrestling world just to make you feel like a star?”
  
“Running a business and having a family never stopped you before. You’re a man who craves the frantic lifestyle, who is more than happy to lace up your boots and hit the canvas before attending a board meeting. That’s why you’re back on the forefront of Shand Holdings, because to use your own words, retirement isn’t good enough for you either.”
 
David almost seems surprised for a moment, but he quickly covers it up. He seems to have underestimated my own research ability, combined with just plain knowing him too well.
 
“I saw Soudouki the other week,” he attacks me with, just waiting for a reaction, “She looked well.”
 
He’s not changing the subject. There’s a very specific purpose behind him bringing her up. He was the first person I’d told about our breakup, after all, and he knew first-hand just how much it affected me.
 
“So did I, in fact,” I inform him, not letting him bait me into losing my cool, “Though our meeting didn’t do too well.” It didn’t. It was the reason Melanie and I had our disagreement.
 
“Your leaving wrestling was linked to her,” he says, this time with no vagueness whatsoever, “To let a woman affect your profession so dramatically, it doesn’t speak well of how serious you took it.”
 
“You know very well how Soudouki herself is ingrained in wrestling. It was only natural for it to grow distant from it through association.”
 
“So how, might I ask, can a man who drifted from wrestling because of a relationship, regardless of how deeply it may be connected to it, expect to ever become a name in the business, let alone take on a competitor who is practically synonymous with it?”
 
Good question. Thankfully, I’d thought this one through too. So many times.
 
“For the longest time, they were one and the same to me. That is why I’m dealing with them both now. I need to overcome these issues, even though I’ll suffer in the process. It’s what I have to do.”
 
“You’ll suffer, all right. Particularly if you want to fight me. You know that.” He leans back forward in his seat, bringing the full powers of those eyes down on me like a weight pressing on the top of my head. “Chris, I don’t wish to insult you, but allow me to be frank for a moment and ask you a very direct question. If you could never fight your way to the top during your career, what makes you think you stand a chance at beating me?”
 
“When my mind’s in the right place, I can pull off amazing feats,” I respond, not letting that verbal joust wound me, “It will be when I face you, that is for certain.”
 
David pauses, but not for too long this time. Or maybe it’s as long as before, but I haven’t noticed because of how much more confident I’m feeling now. He looks like he’s reaching a decision.
 
“Very well,” he says, “But. I have to make matters perfectly clear, though.”
 
I nod, and David continues.
 
“Firstly, like I said before, this is not a game. If you and I have this match, I will not be lenient. The moment you walk out of this door tonight, everything changes Chris. It’s like I don’t know you, it’s like I never even met you. I will treat you the same way as I have treated opponents in the past, and I expect you to extend unto me the same courtesy. The moment I see you falter because of our friendship is the moment I will take you down. You are not entering a simple sporting contest, or a simple wrestling match. I will be doing everything I can to destroy every fibre of your being. You doubt for a moment how far I will go, I’ll give you Myron Fox’s number, and you can call him and find out. Understand that in doing this you choose to awaken something darker and more inhumane that you have ever seen in your life. I can promise you with absolute certainty that you will have to fight for your life out there. Any distractions will only result in a loss, and it will undoubtedly be a humiliating one and agonizingly painful one. There may be no way back from the place you need to put yourself in. I want you to understand that.”

“I understand all too well,” I reply, and I mean it. I don’t want anything less than David’s best, even if it means going face to face with that monster, the Soul Reaper. This is what I’ve been preparing for all this time, so I have to give it everything I have.
 
“When I say no distractions, I absolutely mean it,” he goes on, “Whatever matters need to be resolved between yourself and Soudouki, take care of them immediately. If you’re not at a hundred percent before the match, I will call it off.”
 
Though I’m still dreading doing so, I nod my confirmation to the term, “That’s fine. I intend to take care of that as soon as I can.”

“Then I ask you one final time. With the warnings I have given you. Are you sure you want to do this?”

I pause just for a moment to take one final breath “Yes, absolutely”. And with those two words, I lock in my fate.

David smiles for the first time since I’d arrived. 

“Good. Very well. That’s settled. Now, as I said, when you leave here tonight, friendship ends, but you don’t have to leave yet, and while you are here, you are still my friend. So, can I get you a drink or anything - coffee maybe?”

The abrupt change of tone has totally thrown me. How does he do that? It’s like flipping a coin from head to tail It takes me a couple of seconds before I can answer, during which time he’s already got up from the desk and walked to a silver coffee pot resting on a side table.

“Umm, yes, yeah, coffee’s fine.”

David picks up the antique coffee pot, but then as he does so, he turns around, almost absent-mindedly.

“Oh, there’s one small tiny thing that I forgot to mention to you. Now, I’m sure you won’t have a problem with this - after all, I’m doing you a favour so I’m sure you’ll be happy to do me one in return?”

He pauses and almost involuntarily I find myself nodding, of course, “Good, well what it is, Chris, is that I’ve been thinking. If I am going to come out of retirement just to face you, I’d like to give the people a decent show....”

As he says this I feel all my confidence drain away, replaced with far more dread than I ever had up until now. It’s justified now as the smile spreads wider across his face. Except now it’s not such a pleasant smile. It’s a wolfish one.

And before he says anything, I know the awful truth: that I’ve walked right into his trap.

“...So, our match will be a Trinity of Iron.”
 
If I could see myself now, I’m sure I would notice all of the colour draining out of my face. Trinity of Iron. The match that the Reaper made infamous. The ultimate battle of attrition. As if a bout against that monster wasn’t enough, to willingly take part under the damning rules of that match is like signing your own death warrant.
 
I hear myself say “Okay” and have no idea where it came from. Deep inside, perhaps. The real me that pulses from inside the currently terrified shell just spoke in my stead.
  
“Alright, then,” my evil tormentor grins. “The match is on. I’ll get my people to inform the people at CXA, and we can draw up a contract in the next couple of days.”
  
Just like that, it’s happening. And one thought runs through my worry-stricken mind...
 
”Just what have I gotten myself into?”
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NightStarX
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PostSubject: Re: The Challenge    Wed Feb 09, 2011 9:58 am

ooc: Trinity of Iron match with David Shand? .............oh dear. This will not end well.

Also, I have to give the intensity in this RP many props.
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PostSubject: Re: The Challenge    Wed Feb 09, 2011 10:35 am

ooc: It will end the show...Shand goes for show closer again...while the REAL money is in my match!
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PostSubject: Re: The Challenge    Wed Feb 09, 2011 11:36 am

Ooc: well the whole point of this storyline is Chio wanting to get that main event match, so I had to do something to make sure it logically goes last Very Happy

Plus, Shand doesn't curtain jerk for anyone Twisted Evil

And Fox, you had a lot of main events.....granted they were all when you were booked against me, but you at least got a few moments in the sun Wink

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PostSubject: Re: The Challenge    Wed Feb 09, 2011 3:04 pm

BTW, Chris says this was co-written by me, but it wasn't really. We discussed the general idea, and I tweaked a couple of lines of dialogue and played with the ending, but he should get the credit for it.

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PostSubject: Re: The Challenge    Thu Feb 24, 2011 9:02 am

OOC personally i think this is great, chris bless him has given me many things to read over the years and the trinity match is one i really enjoy reading almost as much as a flaming tables match he he this should be good
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