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knightforce
March 14th, 2013, 02:50 AM
Ajax cast a single fearful glance over his shoulder to look for the ones who pursued him.

There was nothing, nothing but the cold fury of the winter storm that raged everywhere about Ajax as he had pressed on through the night, beating down on him without mercy or quarter.

First he'd charged through the night, pounding the snow beneath his feet. Defiantly, he pitted his youthful, wiry strength against the blasting winds that whipped his unkempt brown hair about his face. The hood of the sweater he wore beneath his leather vest blew off constantly, so that he had to clutch it down with his hands. But eventually the storm's unrelenting onslaught had won out over him, sapping him of strength till all he could manage was a determined trudge.

A few cars passed him by, but the snow storm had left the streets mostly empty. Even the Michiganders had retreated to their homes for shelter, it seemed. And so it was more than passing strange when he saw the old man standing erect at the street corner, looking up at the swirling sky, as if in meditation. The beard he wore and the long hair that hung about his shoulders were an ancient silvery gray, but his shoulders sat on either end of his vast back like huge boulders at the summit of a mountain.

"Still running, Ajax...?"

"How do you know my name, man...? "

Though he very well knew himself to be unarmed, Ajax felt for the switchblade he'd dropped in the earlier brawl with his pursuers. Old or not, the man was nearly a giant and Ajax was tired to the point of collapse. And he had a way about himself that made Ajax nervous. Nonetheless, he raised up his fists.

"Lissen, if you're with The Reavers...you can bring it on, old man...me and The Outlaws didn't have nothing to do with Isaiah's death, I swear...we were set up...but if you wanna put the blame on us, I ain't going down into the night without a fight...!"

The old man turned to look at him fully and Ajax nearly gasped when he saw the vacancy where there should have been his left eye. His nose was beaten like a boxers and his whole face had the look of one whose long life had been lived almost entirely in combat.

"You think me some petty criminal, or worse, a coward who sends out others to do my bidding in matters of war?" thundered the old man, "Had I a problem with you, runt, I'd have already set upon you! But you're a brave one, Ajax...and I like you. Hurry on, little warrior...you're assailants are not far behind...but you'll find friends in that tavern over yonder..."

Ajax looked past the gray giant that stood before to see a the sign, "Logan's Pub" and the tiny, square building beneath it, a midget to the buildings that neighbored it on the block, smaller even than the nearly empty parking lot behind it. Somehow trusting the stranger's words, he found the strength to run once again. Not only for the promise of help, but for the mere fact of protection from the ferocity of the storm. Tugging down his hood, he charged forward as the wind blasted against him.

Just as he neared the tavern door, he heard a roar of engines. He looked over to see four women in studded leather jackets, whose long, yellow hair floated out on the wind behind them and whose icy blue eyes fixed ahead as if intent on some mission of ultimate importance. They blasted down the road as if the lethal mixture of ice and snow that covered over it were mere gravel. Ajax looked up and blinked his eyes...for a ghostly visage of the old man he'd just spoken to now loomed about the night sky, looking over the town like a child peering over his toys. He blinked his eyes again, rubbed them and looked once more, to see it gone.







After leaving the Fight Nation studios, KnightMask had dropped Natalia Rodrigo off and met up his fellow interviewees, Akira Nakamura, the collegiate and professional wrestling legend, and Paul Erikson, who was a legend in his own right, as the longest reigning champion to date in the Universal Vale Tudo Fighting Championships.

Nakamura and Erikson were thought by most, including one another, to bear a rivalry from the days when their respective organizations--whose founders were bitter and sworn enemies--feuded with one another, with Erikson's organization accusing Nakamura's of being composed entirely of fixes. However, placed under the shared microscope of T.J. Longstreet's obnoxious questioning and innuendo, the two found their old, inherited rivalry thawing and by the end, they each felt they'd discovered an old friend they didn't realize they had.

What they both realized was that they saw in the other an unfulfilled final note on which to end their careers; they each represented to the other the untapped possibility of one final, epic battle that perhaps every fighter yearns for. They also realized that, though their careers had already long past their twilight, that need still lay unquenched in the both of them. They'd both gone in and out of retirement for years, unable to perform in the ring as they once did and unable to live without it at the same time.

KnightMask was more than happy to spend time with two legends of the sport, and the hours passed like fleeting shadows in the night as they treated KnightMask to food and drink and advised him on everything from technique to women. He didn't drink alcohol and he normally stayed away from bar's, but he found something rugged and compelling about the stripped down, humble nature of Logan's Pub, manned by the eponymous Logan, a short, grizzled ex-Seal with wild black hair and deep side-burns who served as server, bartender and cook. They three were the sole patron's that night, but Logan didn't seem to be worried for the lack of business.

"T.J. Longstreet....man, what a jack-ass...I just hope he gets that XWF gig he's been preening for..."

Tyrone Gunder looked up from the steak he'd been shoveling into his face. He didn't even know that Longstreet was trying to get with the XWF, though it didn't surprise him. Guys like him were always trying to align themselves with whoever or whatever they saw as the winner.

"...so that Peter Gilmour can put him through the blasted commentary table with that crazy new jumping pile-driver of his. I'd hope for you to break his legs, KnightMask," Erikson referred to Tyrone by his wrestling name, even though he hadn't worn his mask into the bar, which was actually just perfect, because that's the name by which Tyrone referred to himself in his own mind, "But I don't think that's your bag."

"That's good, that's though," Akira Nakamura's face just barely revealed a hint of change and motion as he spoke. Watching him speak was almost like watching a ventriloquist, so unchanging was his constant, solemn poker face.

"You have honor. Many young wrestlers, they don't care about that anymore. Bah. Like Flynn. He is strong, yes, he is a champion, yes. But he has no honor."

"You might wanna leave the honor at home this Wednesday though, I tell yah."

Paul Erikson played with his glass, poured some more Johnnie Walker into it, chugged and continued.

"Your boy, World 1-International, he can fly...and he moves quicker than a fellah that just realized he accidentally walked into a gay bar on ex-cons only night! And then you got Chris MacBeth, the punk rocker/mixed martial artists/pro-wrestler..."

Akira Nakamura shook his head disapprovingly at the mention of Chris MacBeth.

"If he is serious about wrestling, he shouldn't be doing the music. Its a kind of a disrespect to his opponents...and to the business."

"Yeah, but you know what the fellah's concerts are like?" Erikson crooked an eyebrow, "I hear they make the Sex Pistols look like the Cheetah Girls...its as much about nut-job kids breakign glass over someone's head or their own head...as it is about music...it IS one huge Xtreme rules battle royal..."

"You been to one," KnightMask asked.

"Heck no! There's way better ways t'die than that, brother..."

Erikson threw back a clump of his blonde hair and went on.

"But now, Mark Flynn...that's the guy you really don't have to worry about..."

Akira Nakamura interrupted, "He cannot fight well with T.J. Longstreet's lips attached to his buttocks! Isn't it what you were going to say, Erikson...? You always say it..."

Paul Erikson chuckled.

"Yeah, I need new material....y'know though, KnightMask, Tyrone, whatever, if this is really what you love...and I'd say you must love wrestling 'cause 90% of the time anyone sees you you're seein' them through yer mask's vizor...but if this is what you do, truly, really love doing...then there ain't nothing to fear from the battle royal..."

"Waitasec, I thought you were just saying how tough all the guys in it were!"

"His point," Nakamura explained, "Is that it is not sad to die doing somethign you love. Though I can think it depends on if that love is misplaced or not. But if I had a choice, I suppose I would choose to die in the ring or on the mat. Or at least in battle."

"Yeah," Erikson agreed eagerly, "To heck with living until your body becomes a doggone prison cell...the worst kind of prison cell...the kind with a real nice window view of the free world...and all the stuff you can't do...or have....I couldn't live like that...."

"If your body ever feels like a prison cell, then perhaps the problem is that the things pertaining to the spirit have not been cultivated sufficiently. The body should never be allowed to imprison the soul."

"A spirit properly cultivated, Nakamura, wouldn't cower from death...and the body housing it wouldn't be around long enough to become a prison cell...a strong spirit doesn't overvalue its body so much that its afraid to die in combat..."

Dying in combat. On one hand, he loathed the idea that somebody else might love training, grappling, wrestling and fighting more than he did. Natalia's black hair and bronze skin danced before his eyes like a wispy ghost. If he died in the ring...if he died in battle...what of her and her father? What of Ratboy...? Didn't he need him too, in some strange way? Who would be his friend, if he wasn't around?

The door was then flung violently open, and a young man stumbled into the bar, nearly toppling over. He wore a sweater capped with snow and over it a leather vest with 'The Outsiders' emblazoned across its back. His eyes fixed upon the three wrestlers and relief flooded into them, as though he'd finally located the object a desperate search.

"You guys...you gotta be the ones he was telling me about...you...Holy crap...no way...Akira Nakamura? Paul Erikson....? I think I recognize you too...uhhh...Black Knight....?"

"Close enough, kid...what's going on...?"

"They're after me, man...The Reavers...they think my gang, The Outlaws, assassinated Isaiah...and they been cutting us down one by one for it...I'm the last one...the last...please help me...they're hot on my heels...you gotta help me..."

"Hey, this is police is business," KnightMask fumbled for his cell phone.


"Yeah, like fightin' that giant dude hopped up super-soldier serum that was wreckin' Lansing was police business...? Man, it takes less than a week for a woman to get a guy all civilized..."

"She's not my woman," KnightMask responded while he tried to dial 9-1-1, but found his phone, only recently recharged, dead. Akira Nakamura tried his phone, with the same result. Logan, who had hopped over the bar and now stood with them, tried his as well, also to no avail.

"Looks like the storm's knocked out all the towers around here...my land line's out too..."

A look passed around the four men, delivering in it the unspoken vow that if battle fell upon them, they would fight back to back and if need be, to the finish. Only in Tyrone Gunder's eyes was there any glimmer of reluctance. However, digging into his pockets, he produced his mask and then donned his mask. The door shook as something banged on it, then it exploded off its hinges. A torrent of men poured into the bar, vested in Kevlar body armor and face masks and armed with steel bats, knives and swords. They were known instantly to the four men as the Reavers and in their ruthlessly efficient, inhuman movements the wrestlers understood immediately and innately without knowing any more of Ajax and his tale that they were as firmly entrenched against the Reavers as if they'd been lifelong enemies.

A storm of combat every bit the equal of that with raged outside rocked the pub, shattering tables, smashing benches, breaking glass and leaving everywhere crimson stains. Erikson dashed amongst The Reavers, overwhelming them in whirlwind of kicks, punches and elbows that their armor was no protection against.

Logan brandished a katana blade that had hung from a wall behind the bar and seemed to disappear into the throws of a berserk fury, bestial instincts overcoming his training as he cut and sliced through the Reavers' ranks, his whole being devoted to offense and not a thought to the preservation of his own life. It was lucky then, that Nakamura stuck as close to him as a shadow, breaking the wrists of Reavers whose blows would have otherwise run the squat bartender through, suplexing those who thought to steal upon him from behind as if the big, armored men were mere children.

The speed at which the Japanese wrestler executed his maneuvers left his enemies with no time to take advantage of his engagement with one of their fellows, for he moved far quicker than only the most trained eye could follow, seeming to have scarcely taken hold of a Reaver before breaking them apart with his brutal craft.

KnightMask, alien to such brawls, relied on his acrobatic prowess to leap above and beneath the Reaver's singing steel swords and bats. More than one fell to his flying scissor take-down, executed with the intention on this singular occasion to destroy his opponent's knees upon impact. And yet, he also found himself at times too long on the ground, grappling with his opponent while others rushed to overwhelm him. Yet Ajax proved a stalwart ally, acquiring a broken chair leg and fending off any who sought to pile onto him while he was vulnerable. The adrenaline of the battle seemed to give the youth a renewed energy and vigor, so that while he seemed near to exhaustion earlier, he was now battling furiously.

A Reaver tackled Ajax to the ground and suddenly KnightMask felt his windpipe compressed with such force as no man could administer with the naked hand, and he realized he was being garroted. Stars dotted his line of vision as his head went hazy. His thoughts became a mad scramble, and yet common among was the question of what would happen to Natalia, should he die here. Then all thought faded away till all he knew was a rushing surge of will and spirit.

Ere he consciously knew what was happening, he'd landed behind the Reaver and spun him to the ground into the Gordian Leg-Knot, from where he overlapped one of the hostage legs atop the other and ground them together so that the Reaver's own shin was cutting into his Achilles tendon. The man screamed in pain as KnightMask cranked with a force he had never used before on the hold. When he relented, the man was writhing about on the ground as if he was caught on fire.

KnightMask looked around and realized that, amidst the wreckage of the pub, The Reavers had fallen to the last man. He knew that some, many of them, would never get up again. It was a strange, new and uneasy feeling to be part of such a conflict...it made him wonder if this would strengthen his resolve for Wednesday's battle royal or simply throw him into even greater doubt.

Somehow, he also knew that outside, the storm had finally let up.

"There's gonna be more of these guys comin'...I know how they are...they don't give up...they're like army ants...they just swarm and swarm until nothin' is left..."

Paul Erikson threw his hands up.

"Well, I guess the best thing for you to do, kid...is to get the heck out of Dodge...and who better to escort you, than a couple of old wrestlers and a Navy SEAL that can swing a katana with the best of 'em?"

"What about your bar, Logan....?"

Logan chuckled. He swept his hand around at the mess of wood shards, scattered glass and dead bodies.

"What about it, bub...?"

Nakamura's stoicism suddenly broke up, as the wrestling legend smiled, broadly and contentedly.

"I found it. Right here. Tonight."

"Found what?" asked KnightMask.

"The end," answered Erikson for Nakamura, who nodded his agreement.

"Whatever happens after this, I think I can be content. This was one helluva final chapter. We really rocked the pillars of Heaven, Nakamura."

"No crap, Paul," Akira said, letting out the words slowly and almost reverently.


"No crap, Akira."

"If you boys need to get somewhere fast, you may as well travel in style."


"Hey...if it ain't the biker babes I've been seeing everywhere lately..." laughed Erikson.

Standing where the door had once been, were the four golden haired, leather clad women KnightMask had seen earlier, when he stood with Natalia outside the Fight Nation studios.

Though they stood easy and relaxed, they exuded the confidence and formidability of one utterly certain of themselves. Their countenance was no longer icy and it seemed as if whatever they were seeking out in the road they had found inside the ruins of Logan's pub. There was something about them that, oddly enough, reminded KnightMask of ring girls presenting a trophy to the winner of a fight.

"You saw 'em too? They drove by me just before I can in here," Ajax put in, "Man, you ladies really can ride those things. What were you doin' out in that storm anyhow?"

"Waiting for you, Ajax. You Outlaws, you're good."

"....the best." Answered Ajax, his words full of solemnity, perhaps recalling his fallen comrades.

Nakamura patted Ajax on the back.

"So, young warrior...the beautiful woman waits on you. Congratulations."

The three fighters walked towards the women as if drawn to them by some weird, inexorable force. They left out of the bar together, but then one of the riders lingered and looked back at KnightMask.

"KnightMask, I guess you won't ride with us today, will you? But good on luck Wednesday...we'll be watching. Maybe you'll ride home with us then? Dad would love to meet you..."

KnightMask started to talk, but the woman cut him off.

"I know, I know...you and your obligations...get back to her, then. But maybe I'll see you Wednesday...after your match..."

KnightMask walked out of the pub to see the bikers and the men he'd just fought alongside riding off towards the rising sun. He had a feeling he wouldn't see the men he'd just fought for his life alongside ever again, but he couldn't help but be happy for them. They seemed so contented...and at peace. Above the city, a rainbow arched.

When KnightMask started up his car to drive away, Zeppelin's 'Immigrant Song' was playing again. Good thing, he'd missed it last time it'd been on. Suddenly, as if snapping from a dream, he realized that he had to call the police, to inform them of everything that had happened. What was he thinking? This wasn't the 10th century...

Behind was Logan's Pub, within whose doors lay the bodies of innumerable members of the street gang known as The Reavers, some living, some dead. And there also lay the lifeless bodies of Logan, Ajax, Akira Nakamura and Paul Erikson, slumbering in a crimson pool.

BluntAshwater
March 14th, 2013, 07:15 PM
Just had a quick scan, this sentence stood out for me:

"First he'd charged through the night, pounding the snow beneath his feet, defiantly pitting his youthful, wiry strength against the blasting winds that whipped his unkempt brown hair about his face and continually blew over the hood of the sweater he wore beneath his leather vest, so that he had to clutch it down with his hands."

This is far too heavy on the use of description for my tastes. Don't get me wrong, the imagery is all very effective - it just seems like an overload to have this much thrown at me all at once. It also makes the sentence seem a bit too long. Maybe try to introduce certain parts of the description in subsequent sentences?

I'll come back to give this a proper read later :)

hiatus
March 14th, 2013, 09:09 PM
Not bad at all. At first i was a bit bummed by the length, but after something in my head triggered about the old man i kept reading. You paint good pictures with your words, and have a pretty good way of storytelling. I can see a little research behind this too. I have a few questions that I'll pm you about.

Nice. Very nice