THE (MULTIDIMENSIONAL) COST OF STICKY FINGERS
A night that didn’t go his way. That was a theme of late, but Larry Tact refused to allow his head to be hanging as he gathered his things and exited the locker room. If anything, he was fuming at the fact there was always one critical misstep that spelled his fate in most of his matches. He had gotten close… so tantalizingly close… in several contests, yet somehow found defeat. It had been cultivated into a bad habit, and Larry needed to search his mind for whatever was blinding him to the cause, and scrub it off.
As he was in thought, he didn’t realize where he was going, and found himself standing across from Lindsay Troy’s office. Larry could feel the weight of his suitcase, the lost sleep from a hotel bed, and the thought of where this odyssey had led him. After the UltraViolence match with Dusk, Larry wasn’t sure where he was going next. That was supposed to be a statement for Larry, regardless of the ultimate outcome. He had literally poured his blood into it, and it felt as if he was now unable to capitalize. There was still a piece that came and went, and for once Larry wasn’t entirely confident he could pin it.
Growling, he turns away. No, he wouldn’t allow the doubters to get in his ear with their drivel. He was going to show them all how harsh the backlash would be.
Somehow, Larry’s exit from the arena had began taking him through the irredeemable PRIMEporium merchandise area. Most recently, that had led to a particularly bizarre scene unfolding – in his mind – thanks to something around Anna Daniels’ region. It had been an unnerving experience, and Larry revolts at feeling such… vulnerability. It was then he decided to make his way back to Anna Daniels’ merchandising area. He rolled his suitcase along with enthusiasm to get to the bottom of why this incident even occurred.
Still, Larry made a cautious approach upon reaching their table. After seeing some possible, alternate universe to this one, with his own child being transformed? It was enough for pause, and even gave his skin a bit of a sheen. Looking at the t-shirts on display, he can’t help himself, deciding that the “NEW NEW ERA” t-shirt is just as bad an idea as its predecessor. Come to think of it, Larry envisioned an ‘improved upon’ design, which he could then return on display here.
The last time he removed a t-shirt, of course, he had been transported. He was determined to reverse some mistakes around here, and Anna was inadvertently going to help him with a t-shirt donation towards the cause….
… Or would they?
He reached toward the stack of shirts that just so happened to be left there unsupervised. His fingertips touched the fabric and just for a moment, he began to feel like something had…shifted? Tact shook his head violently, trying to get the feeling out of his head as he goes to grab the merch.
Only to be met with an intense pain.
Larry Tact screamed in agony as his eyes were momentary blinded by the moment that overtook him. He took a few deep breaths to stabilize himself as his vision faded back in. Pain was replaced with horror as he looked at his hand, comically smashed with what felt like a giant mallet. Bones were clearly broken. It ached again viciously and he grit his teeth in a hope to not give another howl of suffering. He was so focused on that, he failed to notice what just glitched back in.
“Can. We. Help. You. Sir?”
The vessel of Anna Daniels sat behind the table, feet propped up. She gave the aura of being casual. Relaxed. Calm. However, the look on her face showed anything but. A slight malicious smirk and a wildness in the pupils. Larry looked at his hand again.
His hand was fine.
At once terrifying and remarkable, it dawns on Larry that he’s in the midst of a powerful force. That would always grab his attention, especially if he could find a way of harnessing it.
Slowly, Larry looks up at Anna and, perhaps surprisingly, a small smirk creeps onto his face.
“You are no mere wrestler, are you?” he tentatively comments while raising his pseudo-smashed hand. “A couple of weeks ago, I felt how easily it cut to my core, my very recollections thrown into question. That was merely a defense mechanism of yours, wasn’t it. Just now, this searing, smashing force… you’re clearly not here to merely hock merchandise, are you? What is it you’ve appeared in PRIME for?” Larry points a finger to directly address the Multitudes. “Where do you get this power from?”
“Different questions with separate answers.” The Muse ironically mused. The smirk never left through Larry’s rambling. “No, sir. We are not a mere wrestler, much as we would’ve liked to have been once upon a time. We’re so much more than that. And, no. We did not come here to simply sell our wares although it doesn’t hurt matters any.” A subconscious rub of the wedding band. “As for why we’ve come to the PRIMEverse…”
There was a pause as they took the time to sip from a tea cup. A tea cup that wasn’t there before either.
“We would imagine for similar reasons to you, Larry Tact.” There was a note, however subtle to those words. As Larry cocked an eyebrow at the remark, the Multitudes knew that he wasn’t from here either. “We were bored. The other ‘verses we’ve either dominated already or are on our way of doing so. We needed a fresh challenge and a whole new world to leave our imprint on. A clean state to paint a masterpiece on. A place to alter, actively or otherwise. What better place than a resurrected corpse of a promotion hungering for something to hold on to when the dust settles?” The vessel pointed to the logo on the shirt. The now glitched and altered NEW ERA. “And our power…our wondrous power…”
It is here that her eyes turned into something else. Not eyes at all, but swirling dueling portals of red and blue. Past and future. Madness and genius. “Anna, as many call her, was born empty and clueless amongst duo suns. She stared at the orange night sky and craved to become one with it. Once she stared into the Schism, the Schism stared back and we planted our seed in her brains. Some of this is because of her, some because of us. Some is due to what society made us and the better parts are what we make of ourself. That is how a full person is made. Sugar-spice-everythingnice-snips-snails-puppydogtails.” The smirk was replaced by a grin, almost mocking the whole proceedings. “And chemical X, of course. That’s how an individual is formed.”
As he listened, Larry lowered his hand and made an effort to keep his mouth from falling agape. He worked to maintain a static countenance, not wanting to betray the impact they were having on him. In reality, what he was hearing was beyond his full comprehension. Conveniently, it was also tailor-made for an intriguing rationale.
“I have to admit… that’s a lot to take in,” Larry confided, crossing his arms and taking a half step backwards. “There’s so much more I could ask. However, sometimes it’s best to leave things to be revealed at the tactful moment. From what you’re telling me, it sounds like you’re operating sol– uh, well, without anyone else here in PRIME. I can relate, somewhat. Despite the setbacks I’ve had here, I would still rather unlock the answers myself, rather than with one of the scum-sucking, under the bridge dwelling ingrates who happen to have a physical talent for in-ring competition,” Larry growls, feeling the weight of his recent troubles stoking the fire within. Another glance at his hand, then back to Anna keeps Larry’s tone diplomatic. “But you? There’s a much different aura about you. There isn’t desperation, or even disgust, nor many other common emotions. You’re quite atypical. Regardless of what may be happening under the skin, there’s… something… more worldly about your approach. Perhaps that would allow us some common ground to operate on, and help each other out in these rough waters.”
“Uh huh.” The snark of Firebug started to seep through as the vessel leaned forward. He wasn’t wrong. They were also seekers of answers, seekers of truth no matter how much failure would take. But this offer was suspicious. The taint of him emerged from his pores. “There’s no point in us being desperate. Everything comes our way soon enough. But what is in this for you?”
It isn’t exactly the response Larry was looking for, and not entirely surprising. This Anna has been going at it alone, and like Larry, is likely wise to machinations and betrayal. He measures how far he wants to go in his response before spreading his arms open. “For me? I’ll be honest. I saw something the last time I took one of your t-shirts, and yes, I did. It’s possible I felt a bit of your true power transfer over. I want to embrace that force, and I won’t let it nor its possessor drive me away from it. Typically, I haven’t received premium treatment from the universe, much less the idiot PRIMEates or anyone in the locker room. With you, I see a different path. So what’s in this partnership for me? Possibilities. A different approach. A whole different world of possibilities.”
“And there is a price that must be paid for those possibilities. Nothing worth having is possible without it.” He knew that. Would have to know that in order to attempt that slight slice of woe-is-me reasoning. “You have seen one instance and in your power lusting self, in your angst in not wanting to be a failure to your child or yourself, you make this proclamation to us…even though you were planning to what? Steal another one of our shirts? Make more mockery of us in your mind? Deface it just like you did this?”
Unfurled instantly before Tact was another shirt. One he knew quite well. An old white NEW ERA shirt, used by him as a rag to wipe off Dusk’s blood from his hands. The hand that was struck began to throb again. He had to look away from it and the vessel lest the look the Multitudes gave him forced his blood to run cold. With a shake of his head, he feels perspiration breaking out onto his skin’s surface. He tries to push past it, “I was… nngh… acting out of frustration. There’s another way for us, this… *huff* can’t be happening. It’s a ruse… grk…” Larry grits his teeth and struggles to cope with the pain pulsing mass that is his extremity. When he finds he cannot move his fingers, a pang of panic hits. “You’re crushing…”
“You got a glimpse into what lies beyond and instead of being the smart man you assume yourself to be, you stumble back into our domain to be an absolute prick!” The words crashed about him, sending a blow to his ego. They weren’t done. Not even close. “Then we catch you in the act and you try to pull the whole team up schtick. As if we don’t already know you’re a deceitful little shit who would stab us in the back the moment you get your way. We’ve seen it more times than we care to count!” Cornered, Larry couldn’t help but get the feeling that he was a rat caught in a trap.
As a matter of fact, he was.
The pain that came across his back was very much like the metal snap of the mouse trap. Another howl in pain as his knees gave in. The PRIMEporium was now a void, a beginning and an end. Larry’s mind was spiralling. His vision was blurring, and he no longer had his bearings about him. He was swimming in pain and confusion, all the while watching the Multitudes at work, helpless.
The voice was overhead. Larry craned his head to see. Logan? Morgan? It was unclear. His brain was on fire again as a finger placed itself atop his head. The simple touch was like a knife through his skull, creating a burst of light in his mind that nearly caused him to pass out. His eyes began rolling back into his head as Logan/Morgan stepped aside for another figure to pass by, running towards him. At that moment, Larry couldn’t focus on the lean man barreling down the not-hall. He can only focus on his son.
If he couldn’t remember his family, whichever version of it, he’d be entirely consumed by the chasm of chaos he was presently swirling around in. “Logan… Morgan…”
And yes, Lindz. Tact did get punted in the head.
Barely able to stand, aching, and split open. This time, his fresh blood was the donation dripping on an already tainted t-shirt. The Multitudes shifted. The voice that comes out of the vessel is emotionless. “If we were you, we would give an honest think about yourself. About…things. We think you need it, Lawrence. When you’re done with that, come and see us again.”
Even if he could see clearly, Larry would have found his assailant too elusive to catch up with. Instead, he laid on the ground of the PRIMEporium, a victim of the very force he sought to wrangle. He watched as an official spotted him and ran over, shaking Larry’s prone form and calling for assistance on a com unit. His protests were a murmur, and garbled at best, as he continued to think on his family as he sought shelter from his mind, and the agony wracking his body.
Then, mercifully, he was out.