Somewhere, there is the aging remains of a town.
As everything has started to go to pot for this humble little burg–crime, drugs, and poverty most likely being culprits–people have slowly but oh so steadily have left what was once considered home, in one form or another. Some left the living world for a grave. Others would leave their houses to start their own lives. With jobs no longer coming towards this small town, it has gotten hard to stick around if you aren’t a retiree.
Very rarely in this day and age does one get the opportunity to wander about in tired streets and looking through the broken windows of asbestos ridden buildings. Watching the last whispers of what is about to become a ghost town in real time. The Prime can feel this as the vessel walks past abandoned cars and unoccupied stoops, even under the grey skies above. Time is analog, a VCR tape that has been taped over several times. And on rare occasions, one can see remnants of what used to be walking past. In that moment, you are both an active part of the present and a ghost to the former. Amongst the past with the thinnest of veils keeping you from materializing there.
We could just travel there in Precious, of course. But that won’t be necessary. We are almost certain that what was found then can be found in the here and now. The key is to tune in to the correct frequency. The vessel stands in the middle of a road. If there was anybody around to run us over, that would be very bad indeed. Arms in front of us, hands spread wide. How to explain? It is like a cinematographer trying to visualise the perfect shot in their head.
The first thing to do is to activate the third eye. It is hideously dial-a-cliche, but they are cliches for a reason. With the proper training, implants, and a hideous mindfuck via staring into raw unfiltered timestream, you too can sandwich yourself between past and present. problem is last time we did this, Firebug begins to snark, we didn’t do it on purpose. we were on the right frequency naturally on that day in time and only for a few hours.
A few hours is all we need, says the Prime. Maybe not even that.
and what about the rest?
Do what we always do. Brute force the rust off and get the job done. Now shut up and help.
When we first came to PRIME, we weren’t planning on being as dominant as we ended up being.
We were going to keep it low key, ya see. PRIME, to us, is like a newborn. The skull is soft and subject to being permanently deformed. So what we were trying to do was observe. Let things settle for an arc or two. Get a nice clean feel for everybody involved. Let everybody sniff everybody’s ass like the dog we are. Then we would start our path of making an impact. We were expecting to have a pretty good showing in the confines of the Almasy Invitational. What we didn’t expect was what we ended up doing.
In short, we ruined our own damn plan by being so fucking good at what we do.
Insane, right? It certainly wasn’t something Firebug would’ve dreamt up in her wildest dreams when she first stepped into a wrestling ring all those many years ago. We never thought we would get to the point where we would not only have the skills to start crushing skulls with relative ease but also the confidence to back those skills up. People don’t understand. The latter wasn’t built into us. This isn’t one of these things where we came out of the serial numbered womb with. This was won. This was gained through our blood, our sweat, our tears, our pain, and quite a few revelations that we had to go through.
It took us this long to be this sure of ourselves. Because for the majority of our 400+ year life, we weren’t. We were a failure of a soldier, a failure in every since of the word on Gallifrey because we were wombed into a House dedicated to creating abominations (i.e. us and the rest of our kin, not to mention what they did to those before and after) for the defense of our dear beloved Homeworld. We were not meant to exist. We were not meant to be Time Lords. All of that was by pure happenstance. We were meant to get the barest minimum education possible until we can fly out into the War and die. Everybody there made sure we knew it.
Consider us like the cockroach. We’re something that couldn’t be killed no matter how much they wanted it or how much we wanted it. Eventually, we did what we weren’t supposed to. We found the dying remains of a timeship long thought to be destroyed, raised it as one of our own, and watched its resurrection. We began to do the impossible and when they finally gave us the robes–the very robes we go to battle wearing to this very moment– they did it begrudgingly. Never did such a scowl bring so much warmth to our hearts.
Yet we were still affected by what we were told every day, verbally and otherwise.
The walk is slow, the eyes half lidded. All we would need now is an abysmal tint to the skin and we could most likely pass for a zombie. In the very back, one smartass cannot help but wail BRAAAAAIIIINSS while another questions what kind of name would we have as a zombie? Most of the zombies we know tended to get a name like Chernobyl Zombie. Something that reeks of death or a place that was the forefront of the person’s past bad decisions. Or both. Most times both. So what would be ours? It would depend on what one considers “bad”.
hey, you scrubs. shut up and help.
Firebug repeating the Prime’s words is a certain type of irony that isn’t lost on the rest of us. Meanwhile, our fearless leader isn’t listening to us ramble. Her focus is on the edge of all things and the sound of the vessel’s own heartsbeat. Rum-pa-pa-pum, rum-pa-pa-pum. The Little Drummer Boy was one of us, after all. The vibration is in her fingertips. Color coated with intentions. They aren’t bad or good, for that matter. This whole thing is a matter of…curiosity. Nothing more.
We shrug. We begin our push towards the inbetween. The vessel bobs and weaves as the heartsbeat intensifies. Swiftly away from the cracks in concrete destined to trip up the foolish. There is the start of translucency around us. Up ahead, there is the faded memory of a girl. Her hair is tied in pigtails as it lays long a pink shirt. The faded look of her jeans is only made more depressing by her shoes that are much too big for her tiny feet. And oh! We can make a guess! Blue eyes? Bored? Eight years old?
Arcadia. Arcadia Zombie. That would be our name.
We would be a failure several times over after we were locked out of the War.
That’s the paradox. We could do the most magical of things and yet still be looked upon as nothing. Never could understand that, but it happened many times as we entered the wrestling business and started getting better at the whole damned thing. You can hold titles for literal years, beat up legends and icons whose names are now long forgotten along with their ‘verses. But every time, there’s that one little asshole. The one guy who can’t see the forest through the trees. The moron who takes one look at a threat and considers it a joke.
And for the longest time when faced with such a thing, as much as we wanted to strangle them, we kept our head down and kept right on going. We would go “aw shucks” through our entire career. Partly because we thought the overconfident bastards were annoying as all hell. But mostly, the reason we did it was because we thought we didn’t deserve the praise. A lot of our own hang ups have held us back, but that…that was the biggest factor.
Because we did deserve it. We deserve it even now.
Look at what we’ve done in PRIME thus far. It hasn’t even been a handful of matches yet but one can clearly see it. We entered our first match here as an unknown factor against a robot in a flesh suit that masterbates to Chris Benoit matches
(do people in this part of the multiverse even acknowledge he’s a thing or is he voldemort’d out of the collective consciousness? fuck knows. but that’s certainly something nathan would do anyway)
with your fans not knowing their asses from holes in the ground. We rolled out of that match with not only a victory, but a pretty decisive one. Same with the second as Nicolas Peppertaint proceeded to make his allegedly giant brain explode into a million pieces, showering the crowd in chunks of grey matter.
…okay, we’re exaggerating ever so slightly. Let’s not pretend that mental image isn’t ultimately more fun than him having a hissy fit. And yes, Teddy Palmer fluked himself to a win against us. We’ll admit that. Yet where, oh where, did it get him? Beaten by Cancer (the wrestler, unfortunately) and in the exact same place as we are now. Oh dear. All that talk about–a brief pause as we check our notes here–”Anna should attempt a more humble approach” and “shitting on PRIME, The Universal Championship and its rich history…is as classless and pathetic as it comes” certainly got him to the finals, eh?
It’s hilarious how he got all tilted over the words “it would’ve been a nice feather in the cap” when he’s the type of jackass that takes absolutely nothing seriously. Fancy that.
Her steps are plodding. She clearly doesn’t know where to go or what to do. Our guess is that wherever she’s going, it’s not home. This place is an absolute dumpster fire, both in her present and in ours. “How shitty does her home life have to be for her to wander the streets with no parental supervision?” says the equally shitty parent with a clone-daughter who doesn’t talk to anybody, a runaway sentient wrestling promotion who may or may not have been a child, and a newly-woven son who cannibalized himself into the skies.
Long stories. Looooong stories. Shut up. That’s why we’ll stick to being a dog mom for the foreseeable future. If we fuck Bucky up, just drown us in the sea. Hell, if we did mess up Bucky, Jacky probably would drown us in the sea. No, he wouldn’t! The chaos in him, however, might consider it.
We’re walking the tight rope between one and the other. We run the risk of falling on either side. Falling on our side would be irritating but falling on hers? Different matter. Our job here isn’t to disrupt anything in her life. Our job is to find what she found, thus the sneaking around and the secrecy and the ramblings. They remind us of who we are. The good, the bad, the ugly. Not finding what we want would be disappointment. Losing who we are would be much worse.
The girl looks up and so do we. To her, the storefront is somewhat clean. To us, there’s a good amount of vulgar graffiti and half repaintings. It is the story of this city; a fight between chaos and attempted new beginnings ending with nothing really settled. The fight goes on elsewhere in another town and in another time. She really doesn’t seem to mind. We see the awe in her face reflected in what’s left of a window.
As she climbs the stairs, we note that to her, this place is modest and worn but can easily pass for safe compared to the rest of her surroundings. To us, the windows are gone and the inside is open for the elements. Which means it’s also open to animals and crazed homeless people. Animals, we can handle. It’s the people that are the problem. Five-of-Four feels around in the pocket of our leather jacket and nods in confirmation that the de-mat gun is there. We really don’t want to erase anyone from history if we can help it. But if it comes down to them or us…
The girl pushes the old red door with all her might, getting it open and passing through the doorway. A few minutes later, we walk over its remains.
Whilst Redhead McGee proceeds to sell all of his earthly possessions and take out a loan from the Eighth National Bank of Whogivesadamn so he can rent more overused and boring insults, we would love to just whisper a little something in his ear. (As we refrain from saying that that would be the closest he’s gotten to a woman outside of a match for a good long while.)
That little something would be “it isn’t 2012 anymore, you braindead simian.”
On the grand scale of things, ten years really isn’t that long. But nobody lives on the grand scale. We all live on the small scale, boots flat upon the ground. In the small scale, so much has changed. If one was to be able to tell their past selves what would happen ten years from their present, they either wouldn’t believe you or gaslight themselves into thinking that you were a dream or a hallucination. That’s just the way brains work. They do their best to protect you from things you can’t/won’t/refuse to understand. For our money, they do it a little too well.
Even so, we know that the passage of time has happened. Many promotions have lived, died, resurrected, and died again in that decade since Colossus VIII aired and PRIME gasped its final breath. The PRIMEates got older, had kids or even grandkids. Went to school, graduated, saw the harshness of the world for themselves. We’re willing to wager that out of the 61,500 people in attendance for that event, one-fourth are most likely dead. And that’s a conservative figure coming from us. Could be a little less. Could be a lot more.
Another wager? That just as many, if not more, from the latest string of shows have never been to one of the original shows. They may have heard about it in passing as their parents talked about it. They may have tripped upon an uploaded match on…whatever this ‘verse’s equivalent of YouTube is. And one must also account for the fact that unless they’re really really into looking at old wrestling, most of them either don’t have the patience to dig through years of video and mothballs or they just don’t want to. That is the reality.
And this PRIME? The one that is currently broadcasting in the MGM Grand? It’s not the same promotion that was the worldwide phenomenon when it died. It may have roots in what used to be and living elements that are here to help bring about relevancy to the older fans who may want to watch wrestling again. But when you scrape off the surface paint, it hasn’t been touched by time. No pun intended.
Does our honesty really count as “shitting on rich history” when said history is in Schrödinger’s time capsule? What or who constitutes whether it is shat upon or not?
Somebody clearly thinks he’s more important than he actually is by making such a proclamation.
Did he see us?
That’s a stupid question. Of course he did. The ghost of a bookkeeper, deceased yet not, looked into our eyes even as we looked into his. Even in the thickness of his white beard, we can see the shifting of his knowing smile turn into a line of worry. We know what he’s thinking. You don’t have to personally know a man to figure out he has some knowledge. We raise a finger to our lips and mouth out the words “just here for a book, old man. not you.” It takes a moment to sink in, but the smile on our face is eventually shared by him.
Meanwhile, the girl bounds down aisles we have no choice but to creep through. Her eyes widen over the many tomes of knowledge on the shelves, half of which we have to tiptoe over. Along the way, we have to watch for holes from both above and below. In retrospect, it would’ve been smart to bring an umbrella. Even as a part of us keeps track of our young guide, the vessel’s ears listen for the slightest bit of warning. The building shifts a bit with the wind picking up and a mist of rain beginning to fall. We slog through the mess of loose paper, rotting books, and the effects of nature winning against civilization.
Then finally, she finds it.
The hardcover is heavy and nearly out of her reach. But fortune favors the bold. She shuffles the feet too small for their coverings and goes all the way up on her tippy toes. Her arm stretches to its limit, fingertips barely gripping the upper most edge of the spine. And if this was a public library worth its salt…
The book breaks free from her grasp, falling to the floor. As a matter of fact, it happened twice. Once because of her might. Twice because of the memory. Us and her both pick it up.
Though on our side, it seems to have smashed a rat. We’ll have to clean the cover later.
Now that we’re done allegedly wiping our ass with a left over Seymour Almasy 9×10 autographed by an Enemigo, we can get to the heart of the matter. Namely, this damned match.
We shook the hand of a man who is as big as a Frigidaire and more bald than a cue ball. We both made a deal with each other. He goes on and wins the gold and we go on and demolish whoever’s in front of us. Now did he know this was going to be a number one contenders match? Did he know there were going to be three bodies to go through instead of one? Probably not. But the conspiracy theorists would just love that.
We don’t really have any problem with Impulse. He seems okay, if a little bit boring. Julian Bathory seems to be fun even with him being a cult leader. But last time we’ve heard of a wrestling cult leader in Vegas, his followers ended up blowing up a sold out arena so they could try to kill one man. So on top of everything else, we are now forced to look out for bombs. Yet…this match isn’t about Impulse. Or Bathory. And despite our rambling, it’s not even about Teddy Palmer.
It’s about Anna Daniels. Or more specifically, the kid gloves officially coming off of Anna Daniels.
Because we’ve been trying to hold back just a little bit. Didn’t wanna suffocate them with our presence. However with that handshake and Youngblood’s talk about us being the “new era”, it just doesn’t feel right to do that anymore. Now that we know the expectations given to us, it would seem rather rude to even slightly underperform. And quite honestly? That would be damn disrespectful to our fellow combatants, wouldn’t it? When we enter that ring, it isn’t about making friends and playing nice. It’s all about the fight. Propelling yourself with a win and recovering after a loss.
It’s called a canvas for a reason. Every move we make is art, no matter how damaging and bone shattering they are. And in order for this promotion to survive one year let alone ten or twenty, one must learn to hang the old paintings and begin painting new ones. Our art must always evolve and we’re almost certain that those that were in what used to be know that. But do the rest of them?
This is not a match. This is a warning.
Aside from the collection of dust and the bits of squashed rat, the book is in pretty good condition. No water damage. The moths haven’t nibbled on it. The binding is still holding together. There are no torn pages, no folded corners, no scribbled on notes. In terms of a used book, this is about as pristine as one can get. But it does have one issue.
All the text is gone.
It was here once. One can guess what it used to say.
But it wants a new story.