I will put it in terms anyone can understand.
Tonight, I will play multiple choice.
Of course, others may call it rolling the dice, Russian roulette or playing with fire. A few will even say it’s a sure death wish. If you’re asking me, however, (and nobody is) I would say it’s like finding a warp zone, where there are three pipes set up to take you to the next level…
All equally terrifying. All with Level Eight Bosses waiting at the end of their castle.
One swears a lot. He evokes fear through a God-complex but backs it up with wins.
One is cool with anything. Also, he likes eggs.
The other is a grizzled vet, highly respected… an Ego Buster as some may call him.
I wonder, does he still go by that mantra?
That’s the thing with me. My front is all fun and games. Conor Fuse, the guy who hides behind a screen, uses the help of a muscular freak and eats Fruit Roll Ups like they’re going out of style.
(Side note: they are going out of style. But that’s for another time…)
What I find funny is people typecast me quickly. I’m annoying and childish with OCD.
They say it’s all fun and games with me, at least until someone gets hurt. Or until someone has something to lose.
Dan Ryan. ICON Champion.
I never picked your warp tunnel. I was simply presented the opportunity to jump down the pipe. And I will happily take that opportunity.
But why was I presented with this game of chance? I only scored a few wins here and there. I beat four mini bosses. Then again, perhaps calling James Storm a mini boss discredits someone like Zeb Martin.
Regardless, my ICON, I simply beat the levels I was presented… and now, on this DEFINITIVE EDITION of Refueled, I’ve been given the ultimate task.
Slide down the green pipe. Fight Dan Ryan in his castle.
And that’s why I grin.
I know more about you, Dan Ryan, than you’d ever guess. I read the manuals on anyone who steps into the ring with me. Like a good gamer, I hide behind a screen. I put up a “face”, if you will. But just like the rest of the High Octane roster, you don’t really know a thing about me. The real me.
I may speak in metaphors. I may think I’m clever. But I don’t need to present this angry, pissed-off, tough-guy attitude to think I’ve got someone shaking in their boots. Nothing you say can worry me.
I hope you change your attitude when you confront me this weekend. You better take The Vintage very seriously or I’ll send you back to the Magnavox years, where your life will be an odyssey.
You don’t know a thing about me. But here’s the thing, none of you do.
That’s what they say and maybe they’re right.
Dan, I heard you once mention there are three versions of ourselves. Who we think we are, who others think we are and who we actually are. Well, you’ve got your opinion of me and I’ve told you what everyone else typically says.
I wonder, however, if those traits of mine truly represent reality. I guess we’ll find out soon.
Conor Fuse: Gamer. Free-spirited. ICON. I like the sound of that almost just as much.
Dan Ryan, I will show you a great deal of respect. But know this… every Boss has their weak point. And you of all people should know never to tread too lightly.
So, if you can look past the mischief and the fun and games, therein lies a story. A two-part story. We’re gonna start slow and then we’re gonna pick up. You’ll have to open up that PlayStation and throw in a second disc but for now, let’s stick with just one.
This is the rise of “The Vintage”…
“Six-foot-seven. Over three-hundred pounds.”
“Six-foot-seven. Over three-hundred pounds.”
“Six-foot-seven. Over three-hundred pounds.”
The words repeat themselves over and over as Conor Fuse, dressed in his typical lime green Adidas track pants and his “8-BIT BADASS” t-shirt, walks back and forth in what looks like an abandoned kids playground. The sun is setting and the wind has picked up but none of this seems to register with the man who’s told he’s been granted an ICON title shot.
“Guy is a tank. He’s gonna kill me. I’m not ready for this!”
Hands in his pockets, Conor continues to work himself into anxiety. If he could have created a large groove in the ground to show how long he’s been pacing, he would have. Except this isn’t a cartoon, so that isn’t possible.
The Game Boy is present, although this time the atmosphere seems different. Conor isn’t directly talking to him, nor is The Game Boy anywhere particularly close to The Vintage. Instead, The DPad Destroyer sits far off in the distance, on the broken down bench near the swing set. It doesn’t look like anyone has stepped foot on this playground in years.
“Of course, I know who Dan is. He’s the man with two first names.” Conor’s poor attempt at a joke even falls on his own deaf ears. “I know his history in Japan, Empire Pro Wrestling, I know it all. I have literally watched all the tapes. I put in the work. I always do my research. I read the manuals. I read them every, single, time.”
Fuse pauses to run a hand through his messy blonde hair. At the best of times, his hair looks like it could use a combing but this evening it’s even more puffy than normal.
“Then again,” He starts, “you don’t want to start off too strong.”
Conor stops walking back and forth. The boundless energy he typically displays knows no limits. However, this time, he seems to be slowing down… at least physically.
In reality, it’s all a strategy to let his mind do more thinking. He needs his will power now more than ever. This is what Conor has advocated for since he started the game. Level Eight, straight to the Boss.
He’s put his money where his mouth is, or his mouth where the controller is and he received his wish.
Fuse lets out a huff. Conor knows he will eventually find the answers in his head. It’s just a matter of getting there.
A mischievous smile slowly creeps across Fuse’s face but he’s still not 100% bought into what he’s thinking of just yet.
“Okay. Pretty sure that can work.” He says to himself. “I don’t want to start off too strong. I don’t want to sound like I know everything about this guy. Sucker him in. I’m a dumbass with two good thumbs and that’s it. Yeah, yeah I like that.”
As Fuse talks to himself, you can see the confidence building in his eyes.
“Yeah. I like that a lot.”
Another deep breath. Conor turns to where The Game Boy is sitting in the far off distance. By now, the sun is almost down and the sky is growing orange. To some, this may signify the end of their day and a chance to wind down and recover, before it’s back to work tomorrow. For Conor, however, this typically means things are just getting started. He doesn’t have a bodyclock like others. He truly marches to the beat of his own drum.
The ICON challenger takes another moment to run through his thoughts. Then he wastes little time and power-walks towards his henchman. Upon arriving, The Game Boy looks up, almost anticipating The Vintage to arrive at the exact moment he did.
“I think the best idea is to play dumb.” Conor remarks. The Game Boy, as always, doesn’t respond but moves in a way that not only anticipated Conor approaching him right at this moment but also speaking those exact same words.
“Dumbass kid. Likes his video games. About to play in the big boy world and he’s WAY out of his league!” Conor pokes his finger towards The Halo From Hell, clearly talking about himself in third person. “We overwhelm him by underwhelming him. No swearing. No provoking. No history.”
The Game Boy gives the slightest of nods before he leans down and places a lime green backpack on his lap. He carefully unzips the top, reaches inside and takes out three manila folders. The tabs on them read “WORLD”, “ICON” and “LSD” as he spreads them out for the upcoming challenger to see. There looks to be enough papers in all of them. However, in particular, the WORLD folder is overflowing with papers but before your mind goes crazy, that could mean many things. Not all the manuals contain the same material.
“Just ICON for now.”
The Game Boy nods and puts the other two where they came from. Next, TGB takes out three more manila folders, with the tabs “IRON”, “LT CO-OP” and “BOX”.
Conor puts a thumb to his chin and strokes it lightly. He knew this was coming.
“Give me the Iron Man Match please.” He says as The Game Boy lays that folder on top of the ICON one and then places the other two back inside the pack.
Lastly, Conor is presented with three final folders. Although, these ones are lime green in color. There are no words on the tabs, either, only numbers in its place. “120”, “709” and “26”.
Conor eyes all of them. He’s looking very intense as his eyebrows are close together and he doesn’t even contemplate blinking. He and he only knows what The Game Boy is trying to tell him.
“Choices.” Conor mumbles. “All about choices.”
Fuse has decided. He pushes the “709” and “26” folders away. The Game Boy follows the same steps he did with the other decisions.
“You know what to do.” Conor remarks. “I know what to do, too.”
The Game Boy stands up and hands Conor the backpack. The Vintage immediately puts it on his back and leans over, picking up all three folders before they walk off into the distance.
“I’ll get the equipment and I’ll meet you there in two hours, starting… now.”
Conor Fuse marches to his left. The Game Boy marches to his right. They are out of the scene.
“Multiple choice…” You can hear Conor’s voice as he starts to trail off. “We’re just playing a game of multiple choice…”