Flashbulbs pop, the blinding white lights filling most of the scene for a few moments. The hi constant murmur of a gathered crowd buzzes like so much background noise.
The scene resolves itself as the light of the camera flashes fades into something less harsh. Jacob Mephisto stands in front of a large PRIME banner as several crew members rush back and forth, the MGM logo splashed across the backs of their black shirts.
Though he’d never admit it to anyone, Jacob Mephisto hates public appearances. He hates interacting with liaisons and press and… well… mostly everyone else too.
Still, obligation is obligation. So, here he is, participating in a photo shoot at the MGM Grand. The Twins are somewhere close by, as always, with Decius probably keeping Patience from lashing out at someone just for fun. Meanwhile, the vulture-like press continue taking their pictures for their magazines and dirt sheets. Even the SHOOT Project sent a few photographers.
It’s a small comfort that half of the first round of the tournament has already taken place at ReVival 1. There’s less press here than there was before. Still, he’s more annoyed than anxious at the whole thing.
“Alright. That should just about do it.”
The voice, belonging to the man who’s been assigned to manage Mephisto’s schedule for the day, sounds almost as annoyed and bored as Mephisto feels. What was his name again? Mike? Mark? Mitch, maybe? Mephisto doesn’t particularly care.
“You’ve got an interview next with an ACE Network correspondent. Diane something or other.”
Mephisto falls into step with his “handler” as they head towards their destination, his phone buzzing with what is probably the hundredth text from Blaze Claymore.
“You plan on including your, uh, Twins in this?”
Mephisto shakes his head, smirking.
“No. They’ve got other matters to attend to.”
The handler nods, barely listening.
“Yea, ok. Anyway, here we are.”
The handler steps away and Mephisto stands facing a young woman in a simple black pantsuit, an ACE Network pin affixed over the left side of her chest. Her short, blonde hair is cut in a pageboy style and her makeup is of sufficient quality and quantity that one could hardly tell she was wearing any at all.
“Ah, Mr. Mephisto, we’re all set up here. Just going to ask some questions and get your thoughts on being in the main event at ReVival 2.”
A few moments go by and the setup is complete. Diane stands next to Mephisto, microphone in hand. Mephisto shakes his head and chuckles.
“You know, Diane, let’s skip the pleasantries, shall we? Listen, nobody cares how Jacob Mephisto feels about being in the main event of ReVival 2. I mean, it’s really more than that right? It’s the last match of the first round. It’s the return of Nova, right?”
She begins to respond, but he simply shakes his head again.
“So instead of talking about a bunch of nonsense and all of that? Let’s get to the heart of the matter.”
Diane takes a moment to recover after having her initial prepared questions preempted.
“Of course. This is a huge opportunity for you. After all, Nova is…”
Mephisto sighs heavily.
“Yes, yes, we know. Nova is a hall of famer and a former champion, right? He’s probably the biggest name in this tournament from PRIME’s past. We know. I’ll tell you what, why don’t I ask the most important question here?”
It’s Diane’s turn to sigh. She gestures for him to continue. Mephisto smirks, the gesture never quite making it to his pale, grey eyes.
“What if? What if this is Nova’s big moment, right? If what I’ve heard about the man is true, he’s been through a whole lot since his glory days. He’s been through one tragedy after another. I hear that he’s in a position for his own personal ReVival.”
Mephisto pauses for a beat, allowing his pun to settle in for those who are slower to catch on.
“What if Nova comes back from all of that? What if he beats Jacob Mephisto, a man who he just sees as an afterthought or a creepy little obstacle? What if Nova goes on and wins again and again in this thing? He could go on to reclaim the Universal Championship and sit at the top of PRIME once again. That would be quite the redemption story. It would certainly add a great new chapter in the book of Nova, PRIME hall of famer, wouldn’t it?”
Diane smiles at the idea.
“It would certainly be quite the story and it would probably be the talk of the wrestling worl…”
Mephisto holds up his hand to silence her. The smirk is gone from his face, replaced with a cold, calculating look. Those gray eyes practically sparkle with malice.
“But, what if he doesn’t do that?”
His voice is cold, almost cruel. He lets the question linger.
“What if Nova isn’t the same anymore? Maybe everything he’s been through hasn’t strengthened his resolve. Maybe it’s make him weak. Sure, he’ll come out there and the PRIMEates will go ballistic and eat it right up. He’ll look like the real thing. He’ll get those famous ‘you still got it’ chants. But, what if he isn’t physically Nova anymore?”
The pause here is almost awkward, before Mephisto continues, his voice becoming more mellow.
“What if Nova is put out in the first round? Maybe Jacob Mephisto is just better. See, while Nova has been a living pity party, I’ve been winning championships and making my own legacy in professional wrestling. Diehard PRIMEates may not be familiar with me, but if you’re a fan of our sport in Las Vegas, you know who I am. Let Nova overlook me. I say let everyone overlook me and write me off as a footnote in Nova’s story.”
He casts a quick glance at Diane again before looking directly into the camera again.
“It will make it much sweeter when the hall of famer’s return story comes to an abrupt end at ReVival. So yes, Diane. What if?”
He begins to walk away when Diane turns quickly.
“Oh! One more question. What about Solomon Richards and everything he had to say about you?”
Mephisto stops and turns his head. He doesn’t say a word, but he starts laughing. He shakes his head and stalks off, laughing all the way.