Well that was a bit of a waste, wasn’t it?
I’ve heard the podcasts, I’ve read the articles saying “losing to Mike Best in an HOFC fight is nothing to be ashamed of,” and frankly I call bullshit on that. I went through too much pain to be told “hey buddy, you tried your best”…least of all by people who don’t know the struggle.
If it was anyone else in my shoes, I’m sure they’d take the loss and simply move on…but not me.
I dwell on shit like that on the regular, this is nothing new. When I set out to do something, I see it through to completion…I refuse to let something stop me. It’s been ingrained in every fiber of my being, from the day I stepped into this business.
Thirteen years, coming up on fourteen, I’ve been toiling in fields of mediocrity. For the longest time, I was but a child simply looking to please those I considered my superior. I tried doing things the “normal” way, scratched and clawed my way into the spotlight…and for what? For people like Mike Best to shit all over my efforts, taunting and laughing as they go, and people watching from afar to pat me on the back for giving it my best effort? No thanks.
I lose sleep over the thought of what I could’ve done better. I knew the knee was coming, but I should’ve protected the arms better. I should’ve taken the short break before that third round. So many different things that could’ve gone differently, any one of them would have made the difference. Always be prepared. Keep your hands up. So on and so forth.
You know what the worst part is, though?
It’s not losing to Mike Best. It’s not even failing to capture the HOFC Championship.
It’s being made out to look like a liar. A damn hypocrite, even.
I’m nothing if not a man of my word.
I said I’d beat Mike and bring glory to my goddess…and I failed. Twice.
Losing that first time was bad enough, I at least had the excuse of underestimating the power of that stupid knee of his…but the second time? Absolutely disgraceful. I should’ve known better…hell, I had him all the way until the fourth round.
Sure, everyone will know I gave it my best…but my best wasn’t good enough.
Everything went quiet for me after that final count of ten at Refueled Sixty-Three. I’m not talking about the noise of the U.S.S. Octane’s idling engines, or the sound of Mike’s getaway chopper as he made off with what’s rightfully mine…I’m talking about her.
I haven’t heard from Eris since that night. I’ve angered her, that much is certain…and in her anger my goddess has given me the cold shoulder.
I suppose it’s what I get for writing checks I can’t cash.
So now, I’ve completely lost focus.
I’m like a boat without a rudder, drifting away from the very thing that keeps my head in the game. I’m falling back into old patterns, and flailing my arms in the ocean waiting for someone to save me.
I can barely even think straight, realizing she’s not around to guide me.
I can’t begin to describe just how angry I am right now.
I’d do anything to get back in her good graces, just to get her to speak to me again.
Long Beach, CA
“Gotta be honest, these weren’t the digs I had in mind when I imagined a weird, spoopy cult.”
In the midst of shipping containers that have been repurposed as sleeping quarters, training rooms, and places of worship, we find ourselves in a courtyard where a very important conversation is about to take place. The head disciple of the Eternal Circle was in the middle of a warm up session, sparring with a younger gentleman inside a cage remarkably similar to the HOFC structure we’ve grown accustomed to seeing him in, when the voice pulls his attention away from the proceedings.
Annoyed by the loss of focus, Xander quickly grabs a towel from a table outside the cage, wiping himself down in the hopes of not being an eyesore for whoever his guest may be…and his mood sours even more when he realizes who that guest is.
Standing before him–and surrounded by a few of the men and women who follow the way of the Eternal Circle–is Lindsay Troy, the co-leader of the Grapplers Local 214…a group he was only aware of in the periphery, due to their war with the Best Alliance. Xander was far too busy trying to make a statement in the DeNucci Cup to get involved in that war…but Lee Best said the roster would be split down the middle, and it looked as though this disciple of chaos would be choosing a side after all.
“I knew this day would come.”
In what has become a bad habit for Xander, this was a sentence thought out loud, much to the amusement of Troy.
“Did you?” The Queen laughed, in spite of herself. “Because I sure didn’t. Not until recently, anyway.”
Xander is slow to respond at first, a stoic look on his face hiding his concern for choosing his next words carefully. After all, the disciple had some choice words for not just one but two members of the Best Alliance in his short HOW career…but he thought for sure he was done with them after humbling them in HOFC fights, all for the sake of proving his worth in what can be considered the toughest competition on the planet.
Still, if there’s one thing Xander has learned since joining the ranks of the HOW roster, it’s that anything you say can and will be used against you in due time…and better that he be approached by the Alliance’s opposition, than confronted by the men he verbally tore down weeks ago. Xander felt he’d have had the numbers advantage if that moment had come…but would he have wanted to cross the boss in that scenario? That was a much harder quandary.
“I’m guessing from the fact you came all this way that you want something from me, Miss Troy. Another body for your war against the Alliance, I’m sure…but why me?”
Deep down, for all the confidence he has in his abilities, the question was valid. Of all the people on the roster, even with the likes of Arthur Pleasant already expressing some interest in the war, why approach a man whose sole focus has been the rough and tumble of fighting in a cage?
“Oh, I dunno….” Lindsay wandered over to the cage and stopped in front of the door. “Couldn’t have been because you beat the bricks off Harrison and Solex in the DeNucci Cup, and that got us thinking that you might want to do it again…and to more Best Alliance members than just them.”
Lindsay’s words struck enough of a cord with Xander, that he can’t help but smirk. It was nice to hear a direct compliment from someone, given the barrage of verbal abuse he endured preceding recent fights…especially from the very men she mentioned.
“Besides,” she looks down at her nails, “Lester Moregrimes said he was busy.”
Xander chuckles, almost relieved to hear the other shoe drop. Still, it meant a great deal that a peer would give him a verbal pat on the back, a far cry from the hollow words of some so-called analyst…but he also has a mission, and a quick change of demeanor indicates where his priorities lie.
“Well then, Miss Troy…the Eternal Circle is willing to entertain this proposal, but I must know what we get out of the deal. Something more than maybe a cool t-shirt and the promise of some Disney Channel Original Movie definition of friendship, because the bonds we have here are strong enough.”
Lindsay looks around with a bit of a smirk, making note of the group surrounding her. These men and women look to their leader, with an occasional murmur amongst the crowd indicating questions arising in the midst of this discussion.
“Far be it for me to question the devotion of your…compatriots, Xander. But that’s not quite what the 214 is about, anyway. No bullshitting or sugar coating…only the mission of giving Lee Best an aneurysm while taking him and his goons down a notch or two.”
Admittingly, Xander liked the sound of that. His was a mission of chaos, and he knew that it would eventually lead to a clash against the proverbial machine…now was as good a time as any. He nods with another smirk, before one more question nags at his mind.
“And what of Mike Best? I thought he was a buddy of yours, or something.”
To this, Lindsay offers a slight chuckle.
“Or something. Mike’s playing in his own sandbox now and, as good as he is and for as many wars as he’s waged against Lee, at the end of the day he’s still a Best. The 214 has a strategy; it doesn’t include him.”
This brings a full-on grin to Xander’s face.
“Fuck him, then. Count me in.”
After a moment of reflection from both parties, Lindsay and Xander give a knowing nod. Not quite a handshake, but an acknowledgement of the agreement made on this fateful day. The crowd stands aside, offering the 214 co-leader safe passage out of their home turf. As the crowd turns their attention back to their leader, they notice a new mood emanating from Xander…one of relief.
In the beginning, there was chaos.
Before this world came to be, before the stars were formed, there was pure, unadulterated discord…and at the helm, there was Eris.
She crafted the stars and planets you see in the sky, the trees and grass of the fields, the very hair on your head…all a part of the brilliant mess.
Existence was woven from the fabric of chaos, and standing at the loom is Eris. We hold this truth to be self-evident, as the world slowly unravels back to the chaos from whence it came.
This is the message we share, for those with ears to hear.
This is the purpose of the Eternal Circle.
This is our call to action, to prepare the world for what’s to come. A day of reckoning, when the world returns to discord, when we can look up at our goddess and smile.
We must share this truth, by any means necessary.
And now, after wandering this world with no direction for what’s felt like forever, I have found the necessary platform to share this truth…War Games.
On a battlefield with allies seeking just a similar enough goal to justify my allegiance…this is something I can tolerate.
The focus here is less on why we fight…and more on who we fight.
There is a machine at work, seeking to disrupt the natural order…a machine run by an Alliance that prides itself on being nothing less than the absolute Best.
There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so repulsive, so disgusting, that you can no longer support it…and when that day comes, you have to make it stop.
This machine has been well-oiled, prepared for every possible scenario by the man bankrolling its constant upgrades and fine-tuning…but this machine was not prepared for chaos.
That’s where I come in.
This is my call to action, to bring an element of chaos that will throw a monkey wrench smack dab in the middle of the machine, causing the gears to grind to a halt.
That’s really all the Best Alliance is, when you think about it…a machine, nothing more than the sum of its parts. Every member is just another cog in the machine, and the time has come to bring it all crashing down.
Time to rip out the wires, to throw myself upon the wheels and upon the levers, to make the whole thing stop. Every spark from the machine lights the path of a new era, a better world…one that Eris would be proud of.
Perhaps, after all this soul searching, this is the first step to finding my way back into the good graces of my goddess.
After all, I’m a sucker for attention…and hers is what I crave most of all.
Maybe, just maybe, Eris will be watching with a smile on her face. Maybe she’ll even speak to me again, just to let me know she’s there.
“Well done, my good and faithful servant.”
What a joyful message that would be.
Praise Eris, praise Discordia.