She slumps onto the couch, looking everything like a corpse. Her war torn body aches, muscles throbbing with the slightest movement. Maybe being a corpse would be preferable? Her eyes clamp shut. She might enjoy the feeling of pain, but she certainly didn’t love it. Not this kind of pain, anyway.
Another match has come and gone, another loss the result. Ria Nightshade is under pressure. Yes, she fought with all she had. Sure, the trans woman was at a severe size disadvantage. A hollow victory and a pitiful excuse. How long could showing fortitude matter? Being stubborn, lacking fear, some might consider these things admirable. If it didn’t result in winning, what did it really amount to?
The size disadvantage was never going away. Excuses are the sanctuary for the weak. Ria isn’t interested in being weak. She’s despondent over the state of her career. It’s starting to feel like getting a win was akin to navigating a Labyrinth blindfolded.
She couldn’t help but wonder what she should do. There’s no easy answer, no obvious solution that would help push her forward or restore her confidence. Somebody in PRIME’s matchmaking committee must be psychic, for Ria has been given some silver lining. Unfortunately, the absolute murkiness of the cloud it surrounded makes that lining ever so slender.
There’s an old saying that won’t be repeated here. Simply put, Ria wasn’t careful. Her wish has been granted, with nightmarish results. No matter how much she tries to ignore the truth, it pierces her soft heart like the sharpest of spears.
Yes, she would be in the Intense Championship match. She would get her hands on The Anglo Luchador. It isn’t that painless, that clean. No, her own Great American Nightmare has taken shape. Mortimer Kjedelig has been added to the match, something that’s minorly annoying more than outright infuriating. He isn’t the issue. Anna Daniels is.
What would Ria do, what could she do? When having confessed that Anna acted as the big sister she had always wanted, it wasn’t flattery. From someone as antisocial as Ria, such words bear great weight.
She didn’t dare contemplate what might happen, the overall repercussions of this situation. Was this a cruel joke to someone? Was this vile machination the work of some suit that got a cackle out of this grouping? Was it Lindsay Troy, trying to drive further intrigue for the Intense Championship match? It didn’t really matter who ultimately made the choice. Ria loathes it.
As Nightshade alternates between physical and mental trauma, Ria Lockhart joins her on the couch. Nightshade feels her presence, choosing to ignore her. Her plate was already spilling over. Interacting with her other half is a stress she didn’t seek out.
Lockhart is initially silent, observing Nightshade. The boisterous, often proud woman looks deflated. Her manic energy is notably absent. Lockhart tentatively reaches towards her downtrodden personality, making an earnest attempt to show kindness.
“Don’t!” Nightshade spits towards Lockhart with as much vitriol as she could manage. Before Lockhart has even so much as grazed Nightshade, the Toxic Queen puts a stop to her intentions. There’s still some bite to her voice, though it’s more chihuahua than rottweiler.
If one wants to paint things with a pastel palette, this at least means there is some modicum of fight in her still. That betrays her appearance, an aura of gloom seeming to permeate off her. Lockhart draws her hand away, settling for the voyeurism she had previously been partaking in. She couldn’t leave it that, not with the obvious poor condition Nightshade seems to be in.
“Do you wanna talk about it?” Lockhart questions softly. An annoyed groan travels throughout the hotel room from Nightshade. Such a response should come as no shock to anyone, nor should the sigh of disappointment as a counter from Lockhart.
The two have maintained a contentious relationship. Lockhart is fully aware she holds her share of the blame. Unlike her counterpart, however, she made efforts to mend bridges. It may be a foolish endeavor, but this is the type of person Ria Lockhart is.
“You know, it could-” Lockhart is cut off.
“Shut up!… Did you hear that?” Nightshade half demands, half questions. Typically, this kind of banter between the women would have ended with the insult. This time, Nightshade’s put down has a purpose.
She struggles, raising her head and opening her eyes. What had she heard? Was it merely a strong breeze, whistling through the compact area? Maybe some noisy neighbors?
“Burn… Burn it all…” A voice calls out in growing volume. Nightshade locks her eyes onto the speaker. She jerks in panic, sending excruciating bolts throughout her body. Off to the left, standing in front of the kitchen island is Ria… A third Ria.
Contrasting as Nightshade is to Lockhart, this one also maintains her own unique appearance. Her upper body is covered by a leather jacket, lower half bearing a pair of tight leather pants. Her feet are adorned in black biker boots. Her jet black hair almost covers the modern looking sunglasses she wears on her face. The frames are black, with mirror lenses blood red in color. Her lips are painted burgundy.
Unlike Lockhart’s sad stoicism, or Nightshade’s sultry smirk, this Ria seems to have a scowl permanently etched on her face.
“Who the fuck are you?!” Nightshade growls.
“The who doesn’t matter.” The mystery Ria responds. “The why is what’s important.”
“I’d say the who is pretty fucking important!” Nightshade bellows in retort.
“It’s not exactly a minor detail.” Lockhart chimes in. Biker Ria slowly scans her face to Lockhart. She glowers at her for a moment.
“Fine. Remember, this was by your request.” The new Ria states, giving a very faint nod in the direction of Nightshade. “You know that one’s been lying to you, right?”
A combination of disgust and anger take residence on the Toxic Queen’s face prior to her snapping. “The hell are you babbling about?!”
“You’ve taken credit for my work. You, Nightshade, claim to be the one who takes control when Lockhart angers.” The third Ria sardonically explains. “That’s a complete fabrication. I’m the one in charge when that happens. I always have been, long before you came into being.”
Lockhart shoots a look that can only be described as confused and angry at Nightshade. The Hardcore Harlot gently drops her head back towards the top of the couch. Another groan, sounding more like a growl, escapes her throat. There’s a slight pause, most likely due to condition rather than a lack of response. That comes soon enough.
“Fine, I lied. Is that really that surprising?” Nightshade nonchalantly replies. Lockhart stares at the ground, as if the carpet will give her some kind of guidance for this melodramatic squabble. Could this really be considered a betrayal when the betrayer has always been upfront about their character?
Lockhart also feels as though this story has a few pages carelessly ripped out and discarded. There are times where one is better served staying quiet and observing to gain a full understanding of delicate situations. She makes the decision that such an approach to her current predicament is the right call.
“If you’re gonna bitch and moan about this shit, at the very least, give us a name!” Nightshade demands. Tertiary Ria retains her statue-like characteristics. Outside of the barely noticeable head movement, the only action since she made this shocking and obtrusive entrance has come from her mouth. Nightshade’s rude goading didn’t change that, not yet.
“You want a name, you babbling fool? Fine. You can call me… Rest In Agony.” The unwelcome guest informs the pair. If she weren’t in such physical distress, it’s likely Nightshade would have cackled relentlessly. As is, she still manages a light chuckle.
“Holy shit, seriously?! Oh man, you’re soooo edgy!” The Toxic Queen sarcastically replies. “What a dark, tortured soul you are! Jesus, when I’m dunking on you for shit like this, you know it’s bad! Also, an abbreviation to RIA? That’s… that’s so clever…”
RIA is unmoved by Nightshade’s taunting, quite literally. No change in expression, not a single hair of movement… if it weren’t for her breathing, you’d be forgiven for wondering how alive she is. This in and of itself is odd, seeing as how both Lockhart and RIA are only mental projections. Brief tangent aside, Lockhart is far less amused with this name reveal. Crossing her arms on her chest, Lockhart offers a stone cold glare RIA’s way.
“I might be making an assumption, but I’d wager this name was a deliberate choice. Why?” Lockhart inquires. “What’s the reasoning?”
“As I said, I am the creation of your repressed anger. I want nothing more than to spread pain and suffering.” RIA explained in a monotone manner. “That imbecile is too sympathetic, too soft to have ever done my job. I’ve had to fight to gain back enough of your mental space to become relevant.”
Lockhart’s head slowly cranks to the left. Answers leading to more questions. Her confusion is obvious, leading RIA to continue.
“When I would take over, you would black out. You were never supposed to know of my being. Some would call it long term planning.” The new entity drones on. “I would eventually take hold and eradicate your existence. THAT one ruined everything!”
There’s finally some more obvious signs of life from RIA, as she aggressively throws a finger of accusation towards Nightshade. For her part, Nightshade chortles and gives a subtle shrug.
“Sucks for you. Patience ain’t always a virtue, sweetheart!” Nightshade taunts. Just as rapidly as her outburst, RIA is back to her near comatose state. Slow, steady breathing, her face the only sign of the extreme discontent of her person.
“Your haughtiness is irritating, as you continue to misrepresent yourself. Your futile goal will not be fulfilled. You can’t continue to protect her.” RIA coldly states. Her words cause a shift in demeanor from Nightshade. Her cocky, mischievous smile fades to be replaced by faint simmering anger.
Lockhart, while intrigued by what’s been said, is ultimately in the dark without so much as a matchstick to give her light. Nightshade releases her quiet fury. “Shut the hell up!”
Though her words have clearly touched a nerve, RIA shows no signs of reveling in this smallest of victories. There’s a point, a bigger picture she’s masterfully creating. The taunts and ramblings from a buffoon were of no concern to her.
“You wish to keep your true nature hidden? Pathetic.” RIA scoffs before methodically turning her head towards the naive Lockhart. “That worthless fabrication has taken it upon herself to protect you. Her stated desire to have full control over your being is nothing more than subterfuge.”
Lockhart’s eyes swell wide, as if ready to rip open from shock. Nightshade sneers from the couch. Was this the truth? How much honesty is there in the words from this unknown part of Lockhart’s psyche? Lockhart moves her focus to Nightshade in a slow, jerky manner. Truth or not, what’s been spoken has clearly shaken her.
“Is this true?” Lockhart meekly asks. Nightshade refuses to meet Lockhart’s prying gaze. She stays quiet, though her stewing seems to give a rather clear answer to the question.
“Enough of this. No more unnecessary banter. I’ve appeared with purpose and it’s time for my ambition to start towards its conclusion.” RIA emphatically declares before stalking towards Nightshade. Though defiant in expression, Nightshade makes little effort to vacate her current spot.
Once close, RIA explodes forward and catches Nightshade around the throat with an outstretched hand! While one would think there’d be no physical effects from such an action, a curious thing begins to transpire. Nightshade’s left eyeball slowly starts to darken, to the point it resembles a smooth piece of coal. Her neon green pupil alters, alarmingly becoming blood red. Moments later, her right eyeball starts a similar metamorphosis…
RIA violently stumbles backwards, as if hit in the head with a mighty swing from a baseball bat. Though she does her best to maintain balance, her unsteady knees make it a challenge. Her murder filled eyes lock onto her assaulter… Ria Lockhart, who had just rocked her jaw with a Superkick! Lockhart returns her disdain with steely resolve.
“Get the hell out of here!” Lockhart harshly screams. Further examination of RIA’s eyes reveal them to be what she was attempting to infect Nightshade with. Still unsteady, she jolts a hand out towards Lockhart, who effortlessly swats it away. RIA recoils, taking a few calculated paces backward.
“Hm. I don’t seem to have any power over you…” RIA mostly speaks to herself with a mystified tone.
“Don’t make me repeat myself, or I’ll do worse next time!” Lockhart angrily demands. RIA, either fully recovered or at least putting forth a convincing act, casually scoops her glasses off the ground and returns them to her face. She withdrawals to the spot she originated in at a leisurely pace. She keeps her focus on the duo in front of her.
“You won’t be able to protect her forever. There will be a time when she’s vulnerable. When it happens, I’ll be ready.” RIA chillingly warns. “I am a predator and I will not be denied my prey for long. Your mind, your body, they’ll be mine soon enough. It’s inevitable.”
With that, RIA’s presence withers away until gone. Lockhart’s gaze lingers momentarily, almost as if she’s expecting some sort of ambush. When her senses are satiated, she slowly turns to look at Nightshade. The darker half is still in recovery from the events that just transpired. She wouldn’t get long, as Lockhart wanted answers.
“What the hell was that?!” Lockhart cries out.
“Look, can you just-” Nightshade begins before Lockhart quickly interrupts. “No! Why did you just sit there and let her do that? I know you’re in pain, but you can still defend yourself! So what the hell happened?”
Nightshade gives her head an annoyed shake.
“I couldn’t move…” Nightshade explains, embarrassment and shame in her voice.
“Bullshit!” Lockhart hotly retorts.
“No, seriously! When she got close, I was… frozen. Like, I literally couldn’t move.” The Hardcore Harlot informs her other half. Silence hangs in the air, like Damocles’ sword.
Looking to break the heavy awkwardness, Lockhart takes her previous seat on the couch beside Nightshade. She stares at the Toxic Queen, the want for more information blatant. Lockhart clears her throat and adjusts her posture.
“So she said you’re not actually a manifestation of my anger. Then what the hell are you?” Lockhart pries. Nightshade gives a half hearted shrug, refusing to turn and meet Lockhart’s eyes. It’s abundantly clear this isn’t a conversation she wants to have.
“Does it matter?” Nightshade demurely answers. The frustration in Lockhart is beginning to mount, clear by her body language. Dodging the question wasn’t an option for Nightshade, regardless of how much she wanted to.
“Yes, it matters!” Lockhart lashes out. “How can I understand you if I don’t even know what caused you to be?!”
“Oh, so you fucking care now?!” Nightshade comes back in haste, her own anger growing.
“I’ve always cared! You’re the one that constantly pushes me away, belittles me, treats me like garbage! Why?!” Lockhart’s voice shakes.
“Because I’m your fucking depression and sadness, you piece of shit!” Nightshade explodes. Quiet. The revelation, while not necessarily earth shattering, is still surprising on some level.
It explains a number of things while still leaving a multitude of others unknown. Lockhart leans forward, her eyes unfocused. She briefly peeps at Nightshade before allowing her gaze to wander once more. The words still echo in her mind.
“Can you help me learn? Help me understand you. Like it or not, we’re in this together. More so now than ever before.” The now level headed Lockhart beseeches. Nightshade slowly cranks her head back towards the ceiling once more, her eyes fluttering shut.
“When I’m ready. For now, fuck off and leave me alone. I have a whole lot of shit to process.” The Toxic Queen responds, a mix of a plea and an ultimatum. Though she initially hesitates, Lockhart soon departs. Ria Nightshade is now alone. She knows that the truth of the situation is that she’ll never really be alone, for better… and for worse.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be straightforward. I was supposed to get The Anglo Luchador, beat him half to death and get my vengeance. But no, heaven forbid ANYTHING ever be easy for me! Why? Why did it have to be like this?
Was it my record? If that’s the explanation, I guess I can’t argue. I’m lucky to even be fighting for a title in the first place. That still doesn’t placate me, doesn’t satisfy me. It’s not the fact that this is a multi-person match that has me pissed off. I’d would’ve been fine with two other randos catching my stray bullets. But a specific choice was made…
Mortimer, Rowan, whatever the fuck your name is… I owe you some payback. Between you being the reason I lost our last match, your stupid and nonsensical hatred of Anna, I don’t need motivation to hurt you. I might not detest you the way I do TAL, but you’re on my shit list! This time, you’re in my world. Barbwire is practically a security blanket for me! You’re the biggest person in the match. All that means to me is you have the most blood to shed!
You should probably bitch out management after this match. They put you in grave danger. Anna wants to knock your head off. I’m more than happy to help. TAL is gonna view you as an obstacle in his way to me. You’re pretty much fucked. Do yourself a favor; stick to taking your beating from Anna. If you so much as shoot a glance my way, I’ll make sure you have a very intimate relationship with those ropes.
Anna… Why? I don’t want to fight you… I don’t want to hurt you… I could make this very easy on myself. I could just give in to that darkness… RIA. You wouldn’t matter then. Nothing would. I could pursue as much violence at whatever level I want and there’d be nothing to stop me. It would be so easy. And yet… I won’t do that. I can’t do that. It’s embarrassing for me to say, but… Too many people matter to me to do that.
Jared, Baron Von Blackberry, Cally and Pulse, Timo… And you. I can’t and won’t sacrifice the bonds with those I care about. I won’t give myself away. So here’s the deal; I’ll fight you. I’ll give you my all. I will not use weapons on you. If you use them on me, that’s fine. I won’t hold it against you. It’s probably gonna cost me.
Whatever. There’s things I’m willing to part with. My blood, pieces of my body, I’m fine with whatever may happen there. I won’t part with you. I won’t endanger you. The Intense Championship, as much as I may want it, is not worth your pain.
The Anglo Luchador, however… It never should have gotten this far. If you had been honest with me from the start, I might have actually gone forward with your stupid little selfish plan. After all, I would have benefited in some form or another.
But no, you instead thought the best way to go about this whole fucking thing was to treat me as a pawn. The sad part is that you really don’t get it. You think I’m pissed off just because you lied, because you used me. You don’t get it. You’re looking at the end result, you’re looking only at my anger. You never stopped to ask why.
I TRUSTED you! I thought you cared… I can take physical pain. Those scars don’t bother me. The emotional ones… The ones you can’t see… I’ve had too many in my life. Getting more from someone I thought was a friend? I’m not sure I can ever forgive you for that.
Yet, you want to double down. You want to harness all your negative energy to hurt me. Uh, sweetheart, do you know who I am? You’re really gonna try to beat me at my own game?! On a scale of genius to fucking moron, you’re towards the crayon eating end with that idea.
I will have my revenge and you will pay with your blood. You may have been a hardcore badass in your hey day, but you’re the obsolete model now. I’m the one replacing you; better looking, better performance, less bugs. This didn’t have to happen. It shouldn’t have been like this. But this is where we are now. I’m gonna tear your fucking world to shreds!
I am not your sin.
I am not your penance.
I’m your fucking executioner!