AS 114 - Constantine versus Mark Keaton
RP deadline is Monday the 20th of February at 23:59 EST.
REMARKABLE MARK KEATON in.....
Remarkable Mark Keaton threw open the curtain in the backstage area of Kingdom Come 8. The new WZCW Heavyweight Champion Justin Cooper followed him with the title resting on his shoulder. He was covered in sweat and the emotion was still heavy on his face.
“Please make way for your NEW HEAVYWEIGHT CHAMPION! SUPER JUSTIN COOPER! Ya baby!” Mark grabbed Cooper's hand and raised it. Cooper was battle worn with red welts on his chest from hard chops earlier in the match and dried up blood around the edge of his left nostril. Dozens of backstage staff gave Cooper a cheer and clapped loud for him. Mark Keaton’s father, Dallas O. Keaton jogged up to his son in a black suit, he grabbed Mark’s shoulder and hauled him in for a strong hug. A couple of attractive, blonde women walked up to both Cooper and Mark. Another staff member opened a bottle of champagne and started pouring drinks for everyone celebrating. Mark grabbed the bottle and gave it a long chug. He kissed the blonde woman closest to him and laughed at Cooper staring at the title on his shoulder.
“This is something I’ve been working for years to get Mark,” Cooper breathed, just loud enough for Mark to hear over all the yelling and celebrating,“Nothing can possibly top this, mate.” He then gave his friend a big smile and a tear rolled down his cheek.
“Tonight’s party will come pretty close, dude.” Mark returned the smile and quickly posed for a picture with Cooper. The World Heavyweight Champion was taken aside for a one on one interview with Leon Kensworth. Mark watched him talk about the journey, the Lethal Lottery and the match that just happened. Cooper’s voice started to fade into the background though and Mark’s face slowly twisted into hatred as he saw Mikey Stormrage walking towards his locker room with a white towel draped around his neck.
“HEY LARDRAGE! How does it feel to lose Eve Taylor and now the WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP?!?!” Mark roared and everyone in the room went silent as Stormrage grabbed the towel from his neck and stared death beams at Mark Keaton.
Meanwhile…….. At nearly the same time……
John Constantine sat in the lounge area of the production team, located near the backstage area. He was freshly showered and wore a casual attire of a black (Vis Imperium) T-shirt and a black pair of dress pants. The T-shirt was free for him and he didn't have to pay any shipping or handling, did I mention you could be the coolest kid on the block with one of these T-shirts?! ANYWAY...He had the WZCW Tag Team Championship on his lap and he was polishing a scuffed area around the -W- portion of the front face plate with a hand towel. Mark Keaton left his tag team title draped over a chair by the Pepsi Machine. He smiled at the assortment of diamonds the kid had mounted around the side - RMK- plates and the front plate. Not entirely noticeable until the big lights hit the belt and it practically glittered when handled down the ramp way. He knew he’d get more E-Mails from Banks telling him to remove the diamonds, the kid certainly had ambition for dramatics….or he just liked stirring the pot.
He stopped polishing the title when he heard dozens of voices out in the hall, it sounded like a huge argument had broken out from the sound of it. He stood up and walked to the door, he pushed it open and all the chaos assaulted his ears like walking on to a trading floor in New York for the first time. He saw five or six big men trying their hardest to hold back a seething Mikey Stormrage, who was covered in sweat and staring hard in the direction of another man who was blocked from John’s view. A few men moved away from Stormrage’s desired attention and John saw that it was his tag team partner who was doing all the yelling and challenging at Stormrage. He shook his head and made his way through the crowd. He moved close to Mark and spoke harshly in his ear, “Come with me, in the name of Vis Imperium. Now!”
The door to the upper sections in the arena opened and Keaton entered, he picked up an empty pop can and threw it off the seat and sat down hard. People were still leaving the arena down below and some lights were dimming in their section. Constantine let out a big breath, straitened his T-shirt and sat down next to the young man.
“What’s your deal kid?”
“Fat Mikey Stormrage is my deal,” Mark said without looking at John, he lit a smoke and continued, “I just hate the guy, you know what I mean eh? You must have hated him when you guys fought.”
“Everyone has people like that Mark. I’ve battled the man, I know how much damage he can take, and how much he can give. He’s a serious bear in this business.”
“Serious Bear Stormrage.”
“A bear I don’t want you poking right now. You seem to think your actions don’t have any consequence. You lose focus and pick on the biggest guy in the room or you wink at the prettiest girl in the hall. To be Vis Imperium material, you have to have a steel focus, you must be goal driven. I’m going to mature you Mark, if it takes me ten years.”
“I am mature, Johnstantine! I’ll prove it! I have a steel focus, man!”
“I just might have the perfect test for you too. I’m meeting a very important VI investor in a couple of days in New York. I want you to come with me. It’ll calm any chaos in your head and you shouldn’t get into any trouble.”
“Don’t you worry, man. I’ll impress you so much you’ll kick your own ass wondering why you ever doubted me.”
“Have fun at your party.” Constantine clapped Mark on the back.
2 Days later - New York City- The Grand Fair Hotel -
The Grand Fair Hotel dominated the street it sat on, the huge hotel was for the super rich and famous. The entryway parking lot was empty except for one vehicle. A 1985 Harley Davidson Super Glide Low Rider FXRS. The bike had a red and white Canadian theme with a stark red -RMK- right on the gas tank. Leaning on the bike was Remarkable Mark Keaton himself, decked out in a light gray suit and a white fedora, he had bright red sunglasses on and a smoke hanging out of his mouth. He checked his golden Rolex and let out a little sigh.
A black 2016 Lincoln Continental pulled into the parking lot. It had gold trimmings and diamond rims that sparkled in the sun. Mark whistled at the beauty of the car. An old man got out of the drivers side and waited by the door.
John Constantine walked from the Hotel in a pitch black suit and black sunglasses. He was loudly talking on his cellphone as he walked towards Mark. John angrily hung up the phone and put it in his pocket. Mark flicked his smoke and approached The Power Trip. John grabbed the fedora off of Mark’s head and threw it in a nearby trash can.
“Never wear that again. I’m driving Eric, your services won’t be needed.” John said as he sat in the driver’s seat of the Lincoln.
“Excellent, sir.” The old man Eric bowed and walked into the hotel.
“That hat cost me five thousand dollars man!” Mark protested as he sat in the passenger seat of the comfortable car. He started combing his golden hair so it wasn’t standing straight up.
“Who were you talking to on the cell phone?”
“I’ll tell you later. Sorry Mark, the hat looked stupid. Now listen, the man we’re meeting is one of the richest men in Japan. His name is Yoshi Sakamoto. He’ll have one or two aides with him to hold briefcase and soft security. He’s meeting with us at Lawyer’s Crest Building in the center of New York. We’ll be talking about Vis Imperium investments and future dealings with Japan.” John changed lanes, it was fascinating to Mark how quiet the car was, it cut out the outside noise brilliantly and it still had that strong, new car smell.
“Sakamoto might address you, just give him short answers. No - DUDE- or - MAN-. Be professional. If I feel you’ve strayed from my instructions and are possibly offending Sakamoto, I’ll give a little cough for you to correct yourself.”
A car honked nearby and it traveled through the barely opened driver’s side window and if it wasn’t for the super quiet car, nobody would have heard it. Mark moved his hand to open his window, he had a few choice curse words already picked out but then caught himself. He nodded microscopically at his small victory.
“Now, give me a few minutes to get myself centered.” Constantine took in a deep breath and pressed a button near the radio. Classical, instrumental music blared through the car. Mark watched The Power Trip drive and take measured breaths. He mimicked John’s breathing and looked out of his own window. John continued to focus and breath, he started mouthing some of the conversation he was going to have with one of the world’s wealthiest men.
Girls, girls girls suddenly came on the radio. Mark removed his finger from the radio and started to bang his head.
“Mark! Cut it out!”
“Couldn’t help it, man! That classical stuff really sucked.”
They arrived at the massive skyscraper called Lawyer’s Crest Building. A huge rental, multipurpose business complex. A place meetings are held, decisions are made and adventures began……
John parked the car and got out. He prayed with all his mental might that Mark would behave and pass the test so he wouldn’t have to kick him out of Vis Imperium and find his own power dwindle to nothing. They walked towards a long, black limo parked right in front of the entrance of the building.
The young driver ran around the back of the limo and opened a door. Yoshi Sakamoto stood up from the car and removed his sunglasses. The man barely stood five feet tall and had a heavily wrinkled face. Constantine gulped as he continued to walk towards the limo, Keaton keeping pace with him. The door on the other side of the limo opened. A humongous Japanese man climbed out of the car, he was nearly seven feet tall with long red hair and a bushy goatee. Mu Kudo, the one man security force. Famous in the business circle for being the most feared man in Japan, and strongest. A bead of sweat appeared on John’s forehead after seeing Kudo. Then it just got worse……
.….. a beautiful twenty four year old Japanese woman got out of the car behind Kudo. Chun Sakamoto was Yoshi’s stunning daughter, a long black haired girl with an innocent, oval face.
Time slowed to a near stop for Mark Keaton. Lionel Richie immediately sung the line.."Hello, is it me you’re looking for?" in his head. He watched Chun Sakamoto slowly turn her head and her black hair curled under her jaw. Her lips were moist with red lipstick and her figure thin, but voluptuous. She was wearing a business, dress suit with the too tight gray skirt just above her knees. She was wearing dangerous looking high heels that supported her smooth, stalking covered legs.
“My name is Mark.” He whispered.
“What?” Constantine whispered back, “did you say something?”
Time returned to normal speed.
“No, let’s keep walking towards the limo. It’s taking pretty long though, how long is this parking lot anyway?”
Yoshi Sakamoto smiled and bowed his head as Constantine and Keaton arrived in front of him.
“Ah, John Constantine. It is wonderful to finally meet you in person. You are much taller than I imagined.” The elderly man said in Japanese as he looked up at The Power Trip.
“The honor is all mine.” John answered in Chinese, shocking Mark.
“Please,” Yoshi looked at Mark, “we can speak English from now on. There is no need to confuse your new associate with our language barrier.”
“Mr. Sakamoto. This is Mark Keaton.”
“A pleasure.” Mark bowed his head.
“Let me introduce you both to my daughter. Chun Sakamoto.” Yoshi made a motion with his hand and his daughter walked over to the group. She smiled at Mark and shyly looked away.
“Chun is learning the ropes of my business. She just split with her crazy husband and now I’m keeping a close eye on her. Her husband has threatened to attack her and the entire Sakamoto family. That is why I have brought Mu Kudo along.”
A shadow fell over the group as the massive skyscraper of a man approached them, he was holding Yoshi’s briefcases for the meeting.
“Fuck ya.” Mu Kudo bowed.
“No, it’s - hello-.” Yoshi Sakamoto corrected him, “I’m sorry, he’s still having difficulty grasping the English language.”
“Me too.” Mark smirked.
“Cough!” Constantine covered his mouth, but was surprised as Yoshi smirked at the comment. They soon made their way into the huge building. They traveled a flight of stairs and walked down a hallway to a conference room selected for it’s spacious view of the horizon from a huge window at the back of the building. Mu Kudo grabbed a walnut from the bowl on the table and sat down.
Yoshi and Mu Kudo sat at the head of the table, John sat near Mu Kudo. Mark and Chun sat half way down the table, out of respect to the business men to conduct their duties.
“Now, John. I want to talk about Vis Imperium the brand. What are your…” Yoshi started the meeting and the conversation droned on and on about stuff Mark didn’t care about at all. He noticed the huge Mu Kudo staring a hole in him though and he was starting to get angry. The huge Chinese man moved a strand of red hair away from his face and pulled a walnut out of his breast pocket. He placed the walnut on the table, then crushed it easily with his thumb, all the while giving Mark a challenging look.
Mark saw a bowl of walnuts nearby and grabbed one. He placed the walnut down in front of him on the table. He then pressed his thumb into the walnut and sneered at the giant. The walnut didn’t break and he pressed harder, his thumb slipped and the walnut shot to the left and bounced off of Yoshi’s hand. The old man looked around confused. Constantine immediately coughed, then the meeting continued, both men waving their hands to illustrate their points. Mu Kudo made a shameful head shake motion at Keaton.
Then a delicate hand fell on Mark’s right lap. It started moving upward. He deflected the hand away. Mu Kudo held a spoon on the bridge of his nose, he then proceeded to bend the spoon with his eyebrows. Mark let out an exasperated breath. He grabbed a spoon, but then saw Constantine give him a quick -no- look while he was talking.
The soft, delicate hand fell on his right lap again. He tried to deflect the hand away but Chun had a counter slap prepared, she made it to his zipper.
“With a thirty percent interest in over seas….” Yoshi was interrupted by a loud zipper opening noise.
“What was that?” He asked Keaton directly.
“Sorry, Mr Yakamoto. The material in my shirt rubbed on the table and made a noise. It won’t happen again.” Keaton bowed.
“Very respectable. A nice young man John. Very polite.” Yoshi smiled.
Chun’s left shoulder was now visibly moving and Keaton’s face was starting to react to the actions going on under the table.
Mu Kudo picked up a fork on the table, he pointed the fork at Mark and then at his own throat. Mark rolled his eyes at the giant. Kudo put the entire fork inside his mouth, he made some motions with his cheeks, then he removed the fork that was now tied in a knot. He then gave Mark a flirtatious wink. Mark gave the man a sideways confused look, Chun got angered from her work being ignored under the table and she amped up the intensity, banging her hand on the table underneath.
“Ah….” Mark went wide eyed. But Yoshi and Constantine didn’t notice and were too deep into the meeting.
“What do you think of hands on assets Mr. Keaton?” Yoshi suddenly asked him.
“Huh!” Mark let out a breath and sweat poured down his face, his face was visibly red from the action. Constantine mouthed a - come on- to him.
“Um, h-hands on a-a-ass-assets are good. You..uh ya, I like that. You um, ugh! Y-y-you c-can keep you’re a-assets in y-y-your h-hands?” Mark was vibrating now, sweat pouring down his face.
“Very good answer Mr. Keaton. You will go far.” Yoshi bowed.
“FUCK YA!” Keaton yelled and knocked over the bowl of walnuts on the table as he rolled his eyes into the back of his head and shook. He let out a big breath and smiled at Chun. She grabbed a napkin off of the table with her right hand.
Constantine covered his face. But then looked through his fingers as he heard something that nobody has heard from Yoshi in a long time. Laughter.
“Very funny Mark! Ha ha ha. Making fun of Mu Kudo! I like it.” Yoshi laughed again and slapped the table. Constantine joined in and laughed with him.
“I try, Mr. Yakamoto.” Mark gave him a thumbs up.
“As for YOU, Mu Kudo. Your actions cause me great dishonor. You will be driving back in the car of hatred. This meeting is over.” Everyone stood up. Mark quickly sat back down to zip up his fly, then stood up again. Mu Kudo gave Mark an evil eye. They walked out to the parking lot. Constantine and Yoshi said goodbye to each other, Mark and Chun gave each other flirtatious winks. Mu Kudo continued to stare evilly at Mark as he got in a rusty, Mazda 323.
Constantine and Mark walked through a wave of car exhaust that came from the car of hatred. The Power Trip was holding a little black box, the kind that would hold an expensive looking bracelet. They sat in the Lincoln. Constantine let Mark drive this time.
“See this?” Constantine held up the black box,“this is a gift from Yoshi, it’s the last thing his dying father held in his hand before he passed.” He opened the box, in the middle sat a fully intact, Lay’s Potato Chip.
“Wow.That’s deep, dude.” Mark smiled as he selected an eighties radio station,“thanks for letting me drive this thing man. It’s a nice car.”
Constantine placed the box in between them, “You deserve it Mark. There were a couple of hiccups, but you seemed to have everything well in hand. I’m impressed, you controlled your chaos mind, you kept with the game plan and didn’t poke the bear. And what a bear, that guy would make a serious wrestler in WZCW…”
“Aww man! That is so stale!” Mark spit out half the potato chip and threw the other half on the floor.
Constantine searched for it, “What do you expect? His father’s been dead for ten years. And stop being a slob, this is an expensive car.”
Keaton looked in his rear view mirror as the car of hatred changed lanes behind him, spewing clouds of blue smoke. Keaton changed to the right lane as he spotted an approaching bus drive through the intersection ahead, when the rusted Mazda started to gain on their left side, he quickly changed back into that lane, cutting off Mu Kudo and causing him to veer wildly into oncoming traffic. The bus smashed through the old car and cut it clean in half. The front part of the car spun around and landed on the sidewalk. The giant Mu Kuda was visibly shaken as he sat in the half of car.
“Did you hear something?” Constantine sat back up with the old chip.
“Nah, but this car is pretty quiet eh? So what was that phone call about earlier, John Bon Jovi?”
The Power Trip ran his hand through his hair and sat silent for a moment. He nodded to himself and turned to Mark, “They’re punishing us for our actions at Kingdom Come, kid. It’s me vs you on Ascension.”
“Oh...,” Mark grabbed a smoke but it slipped through his fingers on to the floor of the car, “ I see.”
The Power Trip sat quietly again, thinking hard about Ascension. He let out a breath and he had an idea, he turned to Mark to propose it, “How about….”
“I think you should lay down for me on Ascension. No need to get into an hour long grudge match.” Mark nodded as he was certain it was the best idea available.
John covered his mouth, visibly laughing at his idea stolen.
SIG SPACE FOR RENT
TALK TO JIM
Last edited by Jeff Deliverer of Mail : 02-18-2017 at 06:55 PM.
Constantine and Mark Keaton sat in the drawing room of Constantine's New York penthouse. On the wall, the clock struck 5 o'clock and was met with a loud “BONG” in recognition. It may have only reached 5 but it had already been a productive, yet confusing, day in the world of Vis Imperium. The meeting with Yoshi Sakamoto, Constantine's long-time business partner and friend, had gone well – perhaps even better than he had expected. What's more, the decision to bring his protégé, Mark Keaton, had been proved to be the right one. Constantine had been worried beforehand that Yoshi might not take to Keaton all that well. But Keaton had handled himself extraordinarily well and Yoshi had taken a shine to him.
But the news of a match scheduled for Ascension this week weighted heavily on the mind of The Power Trip. News that, undoubtedly, spoiled his day. The Power Trip, John Constantine, would go one-on-one with Mark Keaton.
Constantine could not keep his emotions from appearing on his face as his pensive nature simmered away in silence. Everything he had planned for Vis Imperium, everything that he had created from scratch, potentially frittered away by the powers that be for nothing more than ratings. Constantine could not help but worry about the future and what this match meant for Vis Imperium. Could this be the end of the line before the real mission had been accomplished? Could this be the-
Keaton: You know, man, I wouldn't worry about Ascension.
Keaton's words interrupted The Power Trip's train of thought enough to bring his attention back into the room. Looking around the room and getting his bearings, Constantine wet his lips with angst smeared all over his face.
Constantine: And how do you know that I was thinking about Ascension, Mark? You're a mind reader now, huh?
Keaton let out a laugh that Constantine had come to know all too well. Keaton didn't take anything seriously, not least his interactions with Constantine. Maybe he felt that The Power Trip was too highly strung. Or maybe it was his way of diffusing situations. But Constantine had come to know it well and today, of all days, was not the time for it. Keaton raised both of his hands to plead his innocence as Constantine stared a hole through him, waiting for his reply. With no reply forthcoming, Constantine decided to carry the conversation himself.
Constantine: Don't worry about Ascension? Very well, Mark, that's what I'll do. I mean, it's not as if I have been building plans to bring Vis Imperium into a whole new world of business opportunities!
The Power Trip continues to stare a hole through Keaton as he shakes his head in anger and disbelief.
Constantine: You know what this is, don't you? This is Bateman and Serra's way of taking us out of the game. They know that we are the best team to ever grace the company and, what's more, they know that we will never be defeated.
Keaton tilts his head to the right a little and nods his head in agreement slightly.
Keaton: That does sound right, I suppose.
Constantine: Oh, it's right, Mark! You know that after Kingdom Come, Tony Mancini and the rest of the WZCW locker room marched right into Vance and Becky, bitching about just how bad their luck is and how we controlled Kingdom Come. You just know that this is the gutless General Managers doing anything to let the weak-willed have their say for a moment. And who pays the price? We do!
Constantine's final yell leaves his lips and the room dissolves into silence once more. The anger of The Power Trip remains in the air like a toxin, however, forcing Mark Keaton to move in his chair, rather uncomfortably.
Keaton: So I was right?
Constantine screws his face up for a moment as he turns to face Keaton.
Constantine: Right about what?
Keaton: That you were thinking about Ascension?
Keaton allows a smile to appear on his face as his hunch is proved to be correct after all. Constantine tries his best to remain angry but Keaton's cheesy smile is enough to get a sigh and a soft smile from the amped-up Power Trip. Constantine shakes his head in disbelief once more and gets out of his seat. Keaton's eyes follow The Power Trip as he moves across the floor to the far window. Silence once again fills the room as Constantine looks over the city, a glaze in his eyes.
Constantine: Yes. It seems that you were...
Keaton allows his smile to grow wider as he sinks back into his chair, releasing a pump of his arm in celebration as he does. Constantine continues to peer out of the window as he brain functions at a million miles per hour...
* * *
A lot of time had passed that same evening before Constantine got some time to himself. Truth be told, it was both comforting and a nuisance to Constantine that Mark Keaton wanted to spend so much time with him. In some ways, having Keaton around was a shot in the arm to The Power Trip, who had grown weary and tired of pushing against the ceiling in WZCW. Having someone around with so much intent, passion and energy had inspired the former politician to be much the same. But what The Power Trip really needed now was some time to decompress – some time to digest everything that had happened over the last few days and weeks.
Sure, Constantine and Mark Keaton had retained the WZCW Tag Team Championship but to what end? Constantine had heard it from the horse's mouth, he and Mark Keaton were set to go up against one another at Ascension this week – it was concrete. But the things that Constantine did not know were what troubled him that evening. Kingdom Come had raised so many more questions than it had answered. What was supposed to be Vis Imperium's final destination proved to be nothing more than a rest stop on a much bigger journey.
What of Austin Reynolds? His intrusion into the Tag Team Championship match showed that he had unfinished business with The Power Trip. After everything that Constantine, Keaton and Hunnicutt had done to Reynolds, perhaps getting involved in Constantine's match was the least he could expect.
More importantly though, what of Abel Hunnicutt?
Since his loss to Austin Reynolds, Constantine had heard nothing from the hulking giant of Vis Imperium. Hunnicutt had always proved to be a quiet reclusive type. But post-Kingdom Come, something was different. It was for that reason that Constantine found himself where he did that night. On the doorstep of Steven Holmes' mansion as the door swung open to reveal The Elite.
Holmes: I suppose you had better come in.
The time to decompress would have to wait.
* * *
It could never be said that Steven Holmes was not a good host, even to his worst enemy. Constantine should know that better than anyone and Holmes stayed true to form as he poured a small glass of brandy into his own glass and offered one to Constantine. With a shake of his head, Constantine refused the offer and found a seat by the roaring fireplace he had come to know so well. Soon enough, Constantine was joined by his long time friend and foe. Holmes slumped into the brown leather chair and let out a hearty sigh.
Holmes: I know why you're here. But you're going to be disappointed with what I have to tell you.
Constantine dips his chin to his chest and lets out a sigh of his own.
Constantine: I don't expect you to tell me where he is, Steven. Truth be told, I'm not even sure that I want to know.
Holmes studies Constantine as he brings his glass to his lips and sinks some of the brown liquid – never daring to take his eyes from the eyes of The Power Trip.
Silence falls over the two WZCW veterans and clouds the atmosphere like a toxin. As the seconds tick away, it is unclear whether both men remain silent through fright, or whether both men have become so comfortable with each other that there is no pressure to break the silence. Soon enough though, the answer to that question becomes clear.
Holmes: I know it was you...
Constantine finally raises his head at both the tone and nature of Holmes' statement. He turns his head to his left and purses his lips, studying his longest friend in WZCW.
Constantine: I'm afraid, Steven, that you are going to have to be rather more specific than that. I sense you are hurt over some level of betrayal from me. But we have double-crossed each other so frequently that I am having problems focussing on which one you are referring to.
Holmes lets out an amused laugh. Constantine soon joins him in a laugh but the tension soon rises as Holmes immediately tosses his glass against the near wall, shattering it into pieces and getting to his feet all in the one motion.
Holmes: You know exactly what I am talking about, John! Admit it!
Constantine looks deep into the fiery eyes of Steven Holmes as he towers above him, holding onto his walking stick for dear life – his knuckles turning white against the handle as he struggles to contain his rage. Constantine opens his mouth to speak but suddenly stops himself before his usual spin and lies begin to leave his mouth. Closing his mouth and letting out a small sigh, Constantine nods his head in agreement.
Constantine: Yes, it was me, Steven. I was the one who leaked your business ventures to the media. It was me, John Constantine, that told the world about your involvement in G.L.I.L. It was me all along, Steven. What's more, I am truly sorry for all of it.
The Power Trip's sudden apology is met with a look of shock from Steven Holmes. With his mouth slightly ajar, Holmes continues to study Constantine in silence, his eyes still full of fire and his lips dry with anticipation. After a few moments of silence, Holmes finally moves his eyes from those of Constantine. Holmes nods his head in amusement as he hobbles towards his chair once more, slumping down into it one final time.
Holmes: I knew it was you all along, John... I just wanted to hear it from your own mouth.
Holmes turns his head away from Constantine, relaxing into the realisation that he was right all along. His disappointment that it all happened in the first place, slowly subsiding as Constantine admits to his past transgressions.
Holmes: How could it really be anyone else? After all, it was too complex a plan for anyone else to have conceived. Too few mistakes left in the wake of my destruction for it to have been someone else. You could say that the lack of evidence was the thing that damned you from the off, John boy.
Constantine screws up his face as the weight of his actions come crashing down on top of him.
Holmes: But even after your admission of guilt, I regret to inform you that Abel Hunnicutt will still not be returning to your side. An idea that I'm sure a man of your intellect and standing will have guessed by now.
Constantine turns his head back to Holmes, staring through him with vacant eyes.
Holmes: Abel Hunnicutt is gone, John. To where? Not even I know the answer to that, I'm afraid. But with news of dear Abel's disappearance, comes an even greater realisation that you must come to terms with. A realisation that I'm sure has dawned on you before now? The realisation that Vis Imperium has come to an end.
The Power Trip continues to stare at Holmes, his hands balled into fists as Holmes' calm demeanour does nothing to hide the venom in his words.
Holmes: You took Abel from me, John. But I don't blame you for it. You see, I had become too unaware of the things happening around me. In my haste to bring Vis Imperium to a whole new level of attention and success, I could not see that I was overlooking what was important. I didn't realise that, as I made friends and allies on different shores, that my biggest enemy was right on my doorstep. That's you, John...
Holmes flashes a smile at Constantine that only serves to confuse The Power Trip more than anything else.
Holmes: We've been through everything together, John. For the better part of a decade, we have traded allegiance and ammunition alike. We have been the best of friends and we have been the most bitter of enemies. But what always brought us back together, I thought, was our lust to achieve something bigger than ourselves. Our egos, our personalities. They don't mean anything at the end of the day. In 20 years time, people will have forgotten about John Constantine and Steven Holmes. What they will remember, above all else, is the legacy that we leave behind. And that's what Vis Imperium was supposed to be. Our lasting legacy.
Holmes sits forward in his chair, staring at Constantine as he does. The Power Trip remains quiet as the true impact of Holmes' emotion and thoughts ring true.
Holmes: Vis Imperium was more than any of us, John, bigger than the sum of it's parts. But with Austin Reynolds gone and Abel now following, you have to ask yourself what it stands for now. With WZCW, seemingly, done with Vis Imperium you have to ask yourself what you want to accomplish. The daggers have been drawn and they will not rest until they have tasted blood. Whatever is left of Vis Imperium will surely die at Ascension.
With that, Constantine bursts from his seat into a standing position. His eyes are bright and full of passion as he stares down at Steven Holmes.
Constantine: Do you know why I leaked your business acumen, Steven? It's not because I was jealous of anything you had done outside of WZCW. You are a businessman and I am somewhat the same. Wrestling will not last forever and I know it as well as you. But you're foolish if you believe it was down to jealousy!
Holmes: Come now, John, you and I both know it was nothing more than that!
Constantine: You're wrong! I wasn't jealous of you and anything you had going. The truth is, Steven, that you had become weak. Your hunger for war had been extinguished by the cries of a newborn baby and the comforts of a loving family. But you couldn't just keep it to yourself, huh?
Constantine begins pacing the floor, his silhouette dancing on the walls thanks to the nearby fire.
Constantine: You didn't even realise that Abel was the real treasure of Vis Imperium! My time in WZCW is growing short, I can feel it in my body. But Abel could have been something that you and I never were. He could have been bigger than Ty Burna and Everest. He could have been more successful than Titus! But your appetite for destruction had subsided and that made you weak! And that, Steven, is why you had to go...
This time, it is the turn of Steven Holmes to feel the gravity of Constantine's words. The Power Trip takes a breath to compose himself before turning to face Holmes once more.
Constantine: You are right, Steven, we have been through everything in WZCW and, what's more, we have been through it together. But when the fire in your heart has gone out, then it is time to stop. You have everything you could ever have wanted in life now. When I think of you, I don't pity you like I once did, I am proud of you. You took wrestling and turned it into a life, no one would have thought that of you when you started in the Crashin Movement.
Holmes gives a small chortle.
Constantine: But you should know that Vis Imperium lives on in your absence. The barbs between us have stopped and, for my part, will be forever stopped. The rivalry between us brought us to a whole new level of despair and, in equal measure, success. You made me the man and the wrestler that I am today.
Holmes nods his head slowly is approval.
Constantine: But tonight is the night, Steven. Tonight is the night that we go our separate ways and our paths stop crossing. Vis Imperium is not over, nor will it ever be. The match on Ascension will only bring Vis Imperium closer together. And when it is all said and done, Vis Imperium will remain. Strong. Unyielding in the face of peril. In Mark Keaton, I have found a prodigy the likes of which will never be seen again. Vis Imperium flows through his blood like it gives him life itself. His passion for destruction is more than we ever had. It is through him that Vis Imperium will live on, Steven, not through us.
Constantine fixes his tie for a moment as Holmes gets to his feet. The two men meet face to face, a whole history of battles won and lost together, and apart, playing on their minds.
Constantine: Vis Imperium endures!
Holmes allows a small smile to appear on his face.
Holmes: Indeed it does.
After a moment, Holmes outstretches his hand and Constantine takes it. The two men shake hands, possibly, for the final time. And with a final nod of the head from Constantine, he turns on his heels and leaves. In the room he leaves, stands a man with immense legacy, respect and fortitude. Constantine's best friend and most bitter enemy. A man Constantine would never see again. A man who knew that Constantine meant business and that a storm was coming...
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