AS 120 - Kagura versus Wren
RP Deadline Monday 11th September 23:59 (Central).
Extensions available upon request.
Match has been extended by 24 hours.
My whole body hurt. I could barely lift my head. My hands trembled as I reached out and grabbed the briefcase that the referee had gingerly handed to me. Cradling it like a newborn baby, I fell to my knees. I reached up and wiped the blood from my eyes. As the steel cell began to rise I caught a glimpse of my face on the overhead monitor. I was battered, bruised, and bloody. I had been through Hell. The fight would surely leave scars that would forever be a reminder of the sacrifice that I made to place my body on the line.
And for what?
Honor. Respect. Recognition. Sure, I did it for those things. I wasn’t going to lie. But as the fans chanted my name, I realized the thing that had driven me the hardest to succeed. Pride.
For months, I had scrambled, crawled, and fought tooth and nail for this opportunity, and with every ounce of my strength I kicked my way through that ocean of despair, the failures of my career weighing me down like an anchor, but I had refused to fail this time. Holding that briefcase in my arms, I suddenly felt whole. My pride swelled.
And perhaps too the pride that the fans had in me swelled as well. I didn’t care what they labelled me. Hero. Warrior of justice. A role model. Those things didn’t matter. I realized that after my fight with Titus. The fans placed me on a pedestal because they hated him so much. They were begging for someone to rise up and defeat him. And that person wasn’t me. They shunned me for my failures. And that’s why this victory tonight I would not share with them. This victory was mine, and mine alone. Call me selfish. I don’t care. As my pride swelled, so did my ego. This was the first step towards my rise to the top, and I was now a marked woman. I smiled.
World champion? I welcomed the challenge.
Within that demonic structure, I felt something deep within me start to break. Something unnatural pushing me forward. Something pushing me beyond my natural limits. I had entered with a lot of doubts, but when the match started something instinctual took over. Something primordial. The blood on my face felt like it was seeping into my skin, becoming a mask. The mist that I had used left a burning pain in my mouth. Saliva dripped from the corner of my cheeks. This feeling. This desire. This instinct. Driving me forward, allowing me to reach heights that I never dared think to be possible. Something that allowed me to go beyond my natural limits. I had to give it a name.
Youkai Kagura was born that night. A demon in form. A maiden in spirit. I would remember this feeling of pain. I would remember this instinctual, carnal desire pushing me forward. Driving me. I would need it once again, if I ever wanted to be world champion.
I had left California as a zombie. I was tired. I wasted no time getting out. Gone like the wind and a shadow in the night, I gave no post-match interviews. My whereabouts became unknown. I didn’t want to talk to people. Not right then. Because I now spoke no English. It was a nuisance having to rely on a translator. There was only one person; one man that I wanted to be my spokesperson. I had to visit him, one more time.
I took a connecting flight from Kansas back to Missouri, finding myself in front of that hospital. The one that had haunted me for months. Despite everything “going back to normal” so to speak, I still retained all those memories from the past two years. Everything that I had done. The good and the bad. What could I say, to the man that had awoken from a two-year long coma, when I had been the one that placed him there in the first place? Remembering every detail of that evening. I was terrified.
I gave my name to the nurse and walked towards his room. I knocked twice and slowly opened the door. He was awake, sitting up in his bed. It felt weird, seeing him breathing on his own without the aid of a machine. He was thin. His muscle mass greatly diminished. He looked like a shell of the strong man he once was. On the inside, it was crushing me to see him this way. I clenched my fist and walked forward.
“Good evening, Sasuke-sensei,” I said with a bleak greeting in my native tongue.
He grinned at me as I moved a chair to sit down beside me.
“Long time no see kid,” he replied.
We sat in silence. I wasn’t sure what to say. I didn’t know where to start. So many things had happened in the past two years. I stared into space, avoiding eye contact with the man. Then Sasuke did something completely unexpected. He spoke first…
“I know what you did, Kagura.”
My eyes widened. My mouth fell open in shock!
“How?” I asked in disbelief.
“Derrick visited me. He had a lot to say. I was surprised to see him. I figured he be long gone by now.”
More awkward silence. And then I spoke.
“Are you mad?”
That was the best I could do. I honestly didn’t know how else to respond. He looked at me dead in the eyes, and then smirked.
“No, I’m not mad.”
I was at a loss for words. I thought he'd be pissed beyond belief. And then he chuckled. It was kind of unsettling.
“Was it fun, pretending to be me?”
I shook my head, “I never wanted to be you, sensei. I just wanted to experience your talent and ability for myself. I wanted to see what would happen if I harnessed a little bit of your desire to succeed for myself.”
“And did it work? You don’t look satisfied.”
It was my turn to smirk as I shook my head. “No, it worked. I succeeded, in failing. Time and time again. To the point where I nearly forgot who I was in the process.”
“In all honesty, you look like shit. I can see it in your eyes. They are hollow. You’ve been through Hell, haven’t you?”
I nodded, “Yeah.”
He flashed me a devilish grin. It was absurd, but he could somehow see right through me.
“Be honest, you’d do it all again if given the choice.”
What a silly question. Suddenly I found myself with flashbacks of demons, curses, waking up in cold sweats thanks to night terrors. My health, gone. My paranoia, high. Flashbacks of seeing the worst parts of my personality manifesting as I lashed out at everything and everyone. Hitting rock bottom so viciously that I nearly died from an overdose. Rehab. Concussions. Sprained ankles. Neck pain. Back pain. Constant pain… love… a deep love that I thought I would never experience. A connection that saved me, and ultimately gave me the strength to break my chains and forge my own identity.
Really, what a stupid question…
I laughed. “Yeah, I’d do it all again.”
And then he laughed so hard, that it caused him to grab his sides in pain.
“That's a good enough answer for me. I saw the 10th Anniversary show. Or at least parts of it. I wanted to see your match. You looked like a completely different person. I didn’t even recognize you. I wondered, ‘what in the world had happened to my student?’ but then I caught a glimpse of your eyes as you fought and struggled, and that’s all I needed to answer that question. However, I do still have one.”
I raised an eyebrow.
“Where is it? The briefcase.”
I grinned from ear to ear. “It’s in my hotel room.”
“What will you do, if you win the world championship? Will you return to Japan?”
I shook my head. “I have no reason to.”
“The WZCW championship represents something far greater than my home country, or this one. It represents the world. If I win it, that means I have a claim to call myself the best. The king of the mountain. The empress. Whatever cliché title you want to give me. And I’m not doing this to please anyone. I’m only doing this because want to prove that I can. That I am that damn good. These past two years I realized something about myself. I love the conflict. I love the fighting. And the drama. I finally had to admit it to myself that I love living life on the edge. I suppose that’s the real reason why I became a wrestler. I lived a boring life at home. Following a path out of obligation to my family, and when I retire form the ring, I’ll return to follow that path, but for now this is the life I want to live. I have pride. I’ve learned how to be selfish. And I’ve awakened something deep inside of me that allows me to surpass all my limits and become better than I was before.”
He nodded. “Well said, kid.”
Once again, the room fell into silence as we reconnected. Though I had one thing that I really wanted to ask.
“Come back with me Sasuke. Please, be my mouth piece once more. Whatever it was that I took from you, that influence is gone. All that’s left is a memory. An awkward memory of things that I used to understand, but now don’t. I feel like a foreigner in my own body sometimes. I hate that damn translator that the company got for me. She never expresses my feelings the way I want. I might end up strangling her. I’m serious. Don’t you laugh at me, sensei.”
He sighed. “I can’t.”
“And it’s not a matter of you not needing me, I physically can’t. To be honest, I have no idea how I am alive right now. And my doctors don’t really know either. Apparently, I’m sort of celebrity in the local medical community, so thanks very fucking much for that.”
I could sense the frustration in his voice.
“I’ll have to undergo physical therapy to regain my motor and bodily functions. It’s a side effect from not moving for two years.”
I understood. There would come a point where I would have to let the guilt stop bothering me. It seemed as if Sasuke really didn’t hold any grudge against me. He really was a kind man. Or maybe our old bond was still that strong. I had forgotten that he once thought of me as kind of like a daughter. We were that close. I came fully prepared to grovel at his feet, but that wouldn’t have suited his style. He suppose he would have been upset if I had lied and said that I hated every moment of the past two years.
“It’s fine. Really. If all this stuff hadn’t of happened; with Derrick and the book, you would have stayed by my side as my manager. I know you. You breathe the wrestling industry just as much as I do. Maybe even more.”
He chuckled. “You got me. I suppose that I do. I’ve done a lot of thinking myself. When I heal, and get myself back in shape, then I’ll return. Until then, knock ‘em dead kid. Show the world what you can really do.”
I nodded. “Yeah. I still have that goal, to be a world champion. And that road won’t get any easier going forward. I have old foes to face. New ones to defeat. A massive target on my back that I have to defend. Everyone is expecting great things from me. And I am too. Watch me. When you return, you could be managing the world champion. The best in the world. How does that sound?”
He grinned, “It would be my privilege.”
I stood from my chair, and gave him a quick hug farewell. It was a weight off my shoulder, knowing that I could at least rest easy at night without having to deal that crushing guilt any longer.
Dark. Cold. Devoid of life.
“Embrace the dark.”
I didn’t know what to make of this. These voices wouldn’t go away. These voices wouldn’t die. What was going on?
A heavy storm wrapped itself around me, chipping away at my sanity, disintegrating it piece by piece.
I tried fighting out, but the more I struggled, the more it tightened its grip. I was helpless, defenseless, staring into abyss. My brain just couldn’t handle it anymore.
“WHAT DO YOU WANT!?”
Suddenly, everything went quiet. Deafening silence replaced the thunderous storm. It pierced through my mind.
“What we’ve always wanted.” The voices claimed.
My nights have been nothing but nightmares. With everything going on in WZCW, I wasn’t in a very good place. I wanted to break something, or someone. It was an unusual feeling. The more I wanted to run away from these nightmares, the stronger they were getting.
I was already morning. I had been skipping training for last couple days, but I had to get back into it. The failure to earn my shot at the EurAsian championship was weighing heavy on me. More importantly, not getting another shot at Titus was eating away at me. The longest reigning EurAsian champion continued his reign while the only person who pinned him in this time was sulking in her small apartment. I just needed to get back to it. Allison too hadn’t showed up for last couple of days. It started worrying me a little. But I couldn’t do anything by just sitting in my little apartment.
Before I could go anywhere though, my doorbell rang. It was Allison! I was relieved to see her. I did want to know where she had been, but didn’t know if it was the right time.
“Aren’t you going to ask where I was?”
“Guess what! I had been trying to get you a match for EurAsian championship.” What? How?
“Yes, I’ve been trying to get that match for you. I talked to Vance and Becky to see if they can accommodate you for a match for EurAsian championship.”
But why? Why would Allison even want to do that? Tony Mancini is the no.1 contender at this time and it becomes irrelevant if I deserve a championship match or not. I would have to wait at the back of the line.
“I know your self-righteous ass wouldn’t want to undercut anybody, but then I could also see how not getting that one more shot at the EurAsian title is killing you. You were so focused on trying to get to Titus that you couldn’t even focus on the Battle Royale properly at the Anniversary show. You seem so desperate to get into it.”
She did have a point. Being not able to beat Titus for that title did really bother me. And to think of it that he only ever pinned me clean once while being pinned twice by me really hung over my head. I was so focused on getting my hands on Titus again that I fucked up my chances. But do I get another chance?
“Well, no. They won’t budge. They say you had your chance and now you have to prove yourself again. It’s only option.” Never to back down from a challenge, but how do I do it?
“After a lot of discussion, they have granted a match against Kagura. They say that it’s going to be a tough ask beating her, but if you do, you may have a chance at that title again.”
May have a chance they say. It’s better than no chance at all I guess.
“Listen to me, Ellie. You can’t lose focus like how you did in that Battle Royale. You have faced her before and you know a little more about her than before. But remember this. She may be Japanese, but this isn’t Japan and not everything is played by the rules. She won the KFAD at the anniversary show, which means she has her title shot. You don’t. You have to make an opportunity for yourself so that we can look into that possibility of you getting back into the EurAsian championship picture.”
I wanted nothing less than a crack at that title again. Or more so a crack at Titus. The man, the legend. Kagura has my respect. She endured a lot in the steel chamber and somehow came out with that briefcase. And now I had a chance at her while she may still be recuperating from her match. Suddenly, this match means a lot more to me than I thought before.
A chance is all I want. This is a chance.
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