An Empire State of Mind
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 25th Jan 2022
28th January, 2022 – The Magic Kingdom, Disney World
For an event like Blood Money, preparation is key. Dietary requirements must be met, research must be done and not to mention sustaining the perfect balance between training and rest in order to ensure that one’s body is in tip-top condition. Sebastian Everett-Bryce knew this, without a shadow of a doubt. His preparation for nights like this one would be perfectly planned and routinely scheduled down to the absolute last moment before he stepped through the curtain. He was, he had told himself on numerous occasions, a consummate professional.
And so, it was not out of the question that such a consummate professional would begin to ask himself whether or not he’d fully thought through the idea of bringing one of the most fanatical Disney enthusiasts he’d ever met to Disney World, four days before he made his FIGHT! NYC debut at the aforementioned Blood Money event.
Thus far, his day had begun not with a healthy, balanced breakfast, but with candifloss and some kind of strange pink drink that had mixed with Sloane’s visible excitement and caused her to almost vibrate in her seat.
Of course, he was rethinking his life choices during his third hour of standing outside the Bibbidi Bobbidi Boutique in the Magic Kingdom theme park at Disney World whilst waiting for Sloane to be given a full princess makeover. Yes, he was fully aware that this was usually an experience reserved for children no older than twelve, however a word in the right ear and a suitable donation could buy almost anything these days.
He was also rethinking his agreement to engage in cosplay during their visit – the Starlord outfit he’d slipped into during hour one of Sloane’s makeover had garnered some attention as he stood waiting for the pampering session to come to an end. Several children had asked for photographs. He’d obliged, of course, he wasn’t an animal. He was, however, less comfortable when a number of the parents of the same children had asked whether or not he was available for ‘private sessions’.
Having dismissed the advances of a number of couples politely early on, Seb had slowly started to lose his patience, telling the most recent requestors that they would have to supply “their own lubricant, three thousand dollars and a ritual sacrifice to his Lord and Saviour Beelzebub.” He had been concerned for a moment when the couple had trotted a few yards away to discuss the offer. Thankfully, they rescinded their advance.
Seb had, however, started to master some quite impressive blaster-handling tricks. He had managed to perfectly spin the guns forwards and backwards whilst also managing to perfect the horizontal spin too – and he was really quite pleased with himself. And it was as Seb was spinning his blaster that the doors of the Boutique opened. Seb turned around to find himself looking not at Sloane, but by a member of staff with a small trumpet in hand. He lifted it to his lips and played the trumpet before taking a deep breath and then…
“Ladies and gentlemen, may I present to you… Princess Sloanederella of Chicago!” He called loudly. Seb looked around as passersby stopped. And then he saw a number of little girls gasp and put their hands to their mouths. Some of the mothers do likewise, and one particular father muttered the words “fuck me” before getting slapped across the arm by his less impressed looking wife. Seb turned around and blinked rapidly.
From the Boutique stepped Sloane in a beautiful floor length blue dress – she looked as though she’d been plucked from the movie screen and placed outside the store. Seb’s breath caught in his throat as she looked towards him and did an excited little dance from foot to foot as she hitched up the skirt and ran towards him.
“OhmygodSebthisisamazingIcan’tbelieveyoudidthis!” She said before flinging her arms around his neck. “I’m sorry, I can’t kiss you yet, my lipstick will smudge.”
“It’s fine…” he said, still a little breath-taken. “You look amazing.”
“I feel amazing.” She said.
“I don’t remember paying extra for a herald though…” Seb said with a furrowed brow.
“Oh no, that wasn’t included, he just offered to do it.” Sloane said, turning around and waving at the staffer who for some reason was still stood outside of the Boutique staring. He waved back. Seb tilted his head and offered a single wave – the staffer’s eyes widened before he gulped and shot back inside the store.
“I think you have a fan…” Seb said quietly.
“Hmm? Oh no – he’s a sweetheart. Kept asking me if I was sure I wasn’t single.” Sloane giggled.
“Is that right?” Seb asked, leaning to one side to check if he could still see him. He couldn’t be sure, but he could have sworn he saw a shape disappear from just around the corner.
“You’re cute when you’re jealous…” Sloane said, kissing him on the cheek, and leaving a little smudge of lipstick. “Oh shoot!”
A few seconds later, she pulled away from him, his face devoid of her lip print and looked him up and down.
“Speaking of cute… I like the outfit, but who exactly are you supposed to be?” She asked him.
“Star Lord.” Said Seb, stepping back before pulling out his blaster and beginning to show off his skills. When he noticed Sloane’s arms crossed and her brow furrowed, he placed the blaster back in its holster. “Not the reaction I expected ?”
“Star Lord?” She said. “Seb we’re supposed to be doing Princes and Princesses!”
“Star Lord is kind of a prince if you think about it – Ego was kind of like the king of that planet he made. And Star Lord was his son, soooooo…” Seb began.
“Sebastian Everett-Bryce you know full well that Ego was a Celestial, not a king!” Sloane said – the crowd wasn’t dispersing, clearly under the false impression that this was some kind of small show.
“Nothing to see folks.” Seb said with a wave of his hand and smile before turning Sloane around so his back was to the crowd. “Look, fine – I like Star Lord. He reminds me of me. He comes from a family with an overbearing father who he had to overcome in order to live the life he wanted to live, he fell in with a strange group of people from all walks of life and managed to somehow get along with most of them. And, lest we not forget, he had a dance-off to save the universe.”
“You had a dance off to save Travis Pierce from getting his butt kicked.” Said Sloane, looking mad.
“Okay, fine, but my point still stands. He’s kind of a maverick and doesn’t always do the right thing – but his heart is in the right place. And most of all, he’s fiercely loyal to those who matter to him.” Seb said. “Plus… Jess calls me Star Lord and I knew she’d get a kick out of seeing me in the outfit…”
Sloane eyed him for a second.
“Fine – but he’s still not a prince.” Sloane said, looking suddenly determined. “So we need to find out which Disney Prince you are.”
“Pointless.” Said Seb, with the wave of a hand.
“And why is that?” Sloane asked, looking stern again.
“Because we established which Disney Prince I was on the tenth of September in twenty nineteen.” Seb said with a nod.
“… We did?” Sloane asked blankly.
“We… We did…?!” Seb asked incredulously before pulling out his phone and beginning to tsk and huff repeatedly until he paused and thrust his phone in Sloane’s direction.
Sloane blinked at the screen for a second, before she began to giggle.
“Oh yeah… Prince Charming bitch… Heh.” She said in a whisper.
“Exactly!” Said Seb with a boyish grin. “So… No point.”
“And yet…” Said Sloane, her own phone in her hand. “They have a quiz thing – I can find out exactly which Disney prince you are. Not afraid to be proven wrong are you, baby?”
“Preposterous.” Seb said with the wave of a hand. “As if anyone could ever be more charming than me.”
“Okay, good! Oh I’m so excited!” She said. “Okay, so I’ve signed up. I’ll start getting texts with questions over the course of your stay – you should find out who you are on Sunday.”
“This seems quite involved.” Said Seb suspiciously. “How many questions are there?”
“No idea – but it’s supposed to be fun, so let’s not get too worked up about it.” Sloane said.
“Fine.” Said Seb, extending his arm. “Shall we?”
“We shall.” Said Sloane as they began their walk through the park. A few moments later, Sloane’s phone beeped.
“Oh this is a good one!” She said with a little skip. “Okay, so, you’re going out for the day to do princely things – which accessory is a must? A cape, a stylish hat, meggings or a vest?”
“Who wears a vest?!” Seb asked incredulously. “I do enjoy a good hat – rule out meggings, I like to let the crown jewels have some breathing room. No, it has to be a cape – a good quality cape makes for dramatic exit opportunities, and you know how I like to flounce.”
Sloane began to giggle.
“Okay, question two – you need to choose a sidekick. Which type of animal do you choose?” Sloane asked, but before she could begin Seb cut her off.
“Easy. A hedgehog – Lord Quilliam and I would ride into battle in an instant. And I’d keep him much, much safer than Sahara ever could.” Seb said with an assured nod.
“Um… Hedgehog isn’t an option, Seb. You can have a Frog, a Horse, a Dog or none.” Sloane asked.
“How utterly preposterous – it’s a hedgehog or nothing!” Seb said, waving his hand dramatically.
“Alright, none it is…” Sloane said. “Alright – next… What is your favourite song? I See the Light, Kiss the Girl, Once Upon a Dream or A Whole New World?”
Seb paused in the middle of the pathway and pulled Sloane around before smirking.
“Why, Kiss the Girl of course…” He said leaning in towards her. Sloane didn’t move until the last possible moment when she squealed.
“Nononono… Lipstick, Seb. Lipstick!” She said.
“Fine, but I swear to god I’m messing it up later.” He said looking not just a little frustrated.
“Deal.” She said, reaching up and booping him on the nose. They began to walk further when Sloane glanced up at him. “Seb?”
“Mmhmm?” He asked.
“Have you spoken to your parents? Since we… Got together?” Sloane asked.
“Not directly.” Seb said, feeling himself starting to clam up. “Wesley came to visit me.”
“What?” Sloane asked, turning to face him. “When?”
“Last week – whilst you were at lunch with Kit.” Seb said. “Told me that dad’s having some trouble because I cut myself off from the family and he’s wanting to build bridges.”
“But… That’s good, isn’t it?” Sloane asked. “I know he’s done some terrible things…”
“Sloane, if he’d done nothing else, he flew my comatosed grandfather to London so that I couldn’t visit him out of spite.” Seb said. “If everything else about him wasn’t true, that would have been enough. I’m finally happy, we’re happy. And I’m not going to subject our relationship to his toxic bullshit.”
“Seb… He’s still…” Sloane began. “He’s your dad.”
“Sloane, I know… And I know what you’d give to be able to speak to your dad even once more. But the facts don’t change – Tasha tried to blackmail me into marrying her. He could have stopped it with a single word, but he encouraged it to try and force me back home. Instead of him stopping it, you had to get up on that stage at the engagement party and tell everyone a secret that you thought could end your career.” Seb said. Sloane let out a little chuckle.
“I know, he could have. But I’d do it again in a heartbeat for you.” Sloane said.
“You should never have had to do it – should never have had to take that risk.” Seb said shaking his head.
“Seb, it’s okay – being a sugar baby doesn’t seem quite so outrageous these days.” Sloane said with a little chuckle. “But I understand…”
“I’m not dragging you into his world.” Seb said.
“Okay, okay…” Sloane said, respecting the finality in his voice, before looking up at him suspiciously. “Anything else you haven’t told me?”
Seb cast her a sideways look before clearing his throat.
“Alright, so… Maybe when Wes visited me, he told me that my mother was in town and she wanted to meet us.” Seb said.
“Oh my god Seb!” Sloane said, looking murderous. “Please tell me you didn’t refuse.”
“I could not tell you that, for sure.” Said Seb. “But that would only be something else I wasn’t telling you…”
“Sebastian… Everett… Bryce…” Sloanse said, punctuating each word with a slap to his arm. “I cannot believe you let your mother travel all the way to Chicago and refused to see her.”
“It wouldn’t change anything!” Seb said, looking stern. “She’d just be trying to whisper in my ear. Get around me. I’m not interested.”
“She’s your mother and you miss her!” Sloane said, her arms folded.
“Maybe I do.” Said Seb. “But she got on that plane with dad and Bastian and did nothing to stop it. She made her bed, Sloane.” Seb said.
Sloane paused for a second, before shaking her head.
“Fine.” She said. “Just… Fine. Let’s drop it.”
“Yes. Lets.” Said Seb smiling. “Because what I really want to know…”
He said starting to slowly crouch.
“… Is what Princess Sloanederella wears underneath her dress?” He asked.
“Sebastain Everett-Bryce, don’t you dare!” Sloane said with a shriek of delight, before she turned on her heels and began to run with Seb chasing behind.
Come one, come all – gather around and listen to my tale. For it is a tale that shall inspire and delight whilst simultaneously drawing forth frustration and anger. It is a tale that will make you laugh, a tale that will make you cry, and one with a hero at its centre, one of undeniable skill and charisma, because those are the best kind. So sit comfortably with your favourite refreshment and listen to the story of an Empire… But not the one that you would expect.
Hello. Now I know that some of you know me well and some of you barely know me at all, but one thing I know for sure is that every last one of you have heard of me. However, just in case you’ve been living beneath some large, primordial rock for the last few months, allow me to make your acquaintance.
My name is Sebastian Everett-Bryce, and this Monday night, I will make my Fight! NYC debut at Blood Money 2 – and I’m here to win.
Now, I’m not usually one for handing out spoilers, it tends to ruin the build up and takes away the element of surprise. Because I know for some of you, the idea of any outsider – nevermind this outsider – stepping up to claim victory is unpalatable at best and unacceptable at worst. So it’s best to get this out of the way nice and early – make sure you can cleanse those palates in advance and give ample opportunity for all of you to prepare yourself for the inevitable truth.
I’m going to win.
“Now Seb…” I hear you cry with arms raised in indignation. “How could you possibly make such a bold and outlandish claim?” And I understand your shock that I would be so audacious and risk the ire of so many talented superstars. Ire, I may add, that comes only because there are those who fail to see outside their own talented ranks to look at the external dangers. There are exceptions to that rule – he would deny it, I’m sure… But Shawn Warstein knows the threat I pose at Blood Money. James Raven, too. Atara Themis for a third.
In fact the reason that I’m here has everything to do with those three names. You see, I was destined to be here. The moment Atara Themis asked me to join her team, it was preordained that I would come to Fight! The second that I looked James Raven in the eye after our match at Horizons, it loomed. And it was written in the stars at the very moment that Shawn Warstein told me that I was living the dream – and he just loves to crush dreams.
Is this some kind of statement of intention? Hardly – this is merely my statement of interest. I’m not going to write out a list of accomplishments, because it means nothing. I can’t hit any of you with my Grand Slam… Oops, last one, I promise. But what I can do is tell you that… I’ve been watching closely these past months. It all began the moment that my music played on that stage at Fight Tower – the moment that I heard that crowd made my hair stand on end.
I didn’t realise it at the time – I was a touch in my feels, or lack thereof. But the moment I heard that New York crowd there wasn’t anywhere else I planned to go. I wanted to feel that all over again – the roar, the excitement. And when I watched what happened at Countdown? When I heard glass shatter and I saw worlds almost end, I should have been afraid. Instead, I took a deep breath, felt the smirk crawl across my lips, and allowed one singular thought to cross my mind.
I want this…
I’ve been doing this for some time now – and there’s little better than the roar of a crowd entirely invested in everything that they’re seeing. I’ve felt that – I’ve felt that in World Title matches, I’ve felt that in tournaments, I’ve felt that in one-off events. I thought I’d felt everything there was to feel in this business of ours, until I stood at a shattered window and watched a crowd refuse to leave. I understood because I had to be pulled away while I stood looking out with the wind hitting me in the face and I could think only one thing.
I want this…
But before all that – when I heard the reactions for Atara and Anne, for Chris and Cent, for Raven and Reynolds, for Moore and Montouri, for Todrick and Ricky? I felt a fire in my veins that had nothing to do with the good quality whiskey I’d been drinking. It had everything to do with the atmosphere and the passion I could feel through every single molecule of this company and there was one thing I could never deny.
I… Want… This. And I’m pretty good at getting what I want.
This, right here, is the next step in the evolution of my Empire – an expansion, if you will, and I want you all to know I have no issue with a solid show of force. We’re days away from what will be a defining moment for me, but more so for every last one of you, because when I win at Blood Money, I will change everything. For me, for CCP Enterprises, and for anyone who is brave enough to suggest otherwise.
See the mistake that’s been made is to give me the chance – an opportunity. That’s all I need – an opening. One single moment and I’ll do everything and anything to win. I have no qualms in going above and beyond to be a success. I’ve always had one single mantra – the win is all that matters. We can talk about the hows and whys afterwards, but the result will still be the same which is another victory for me and just another reason for the rest of you to bitch about how bitterly unfair things are for you.
How sad. Allow me to satiate your pain with my victory.
And bask in the glow of my Empire’s growth.
29th January, 2022 – Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, Disney World
Seb stood looking out of the window of the hotel room he shared with Sloane, blaster in hand, spinning it this way and that as he watched the people milling around below. This time in three days it would all be over – the nerves, the excitement. All the ‘what ifs’ would be answered, and Seb had to admit to wondering what was expected of him, especially from his CCP Enterprises representative, Chris Page. There was a lot of CCP talent taking part in Blood Money, not least Chris himself. Page, J Mont, Bam Miller, Sahara – they were all members of the Fight roster already. There had to be more likely winners within CCP Enterprises than him, and yet whenever he spoke to Page, he ended the conversation with a feeling like he could do anything, win anything.
He looked across at the tablet set up on the desk behind him – he was due another one of those calls at any time. Seb and the man who would convince him he could walk on water. He wanted to believe it – but those doubts that had plagued his mind at the end of last year would still find voice every now and again.
You’re going to embarrass yourself.
You’re going to be humiliated.
You’re going to fail.
And how could he not? He’d faced James Raven twice and lost twice – and this was his home. Time and again he’d stepped up only to be knocked back down. Chris would tell him that it’s not about the fall, it’s about the landing. About the rebound. And yet… Generic Fuckboy. Knox-lite. Unfulfilled potential. Undeserving. All words that had been thrown at him in just the past two weeks.
He could still feel those old wounds, still open and vulnerable to probing fingers. Barbs found their mark more readily than they had in the past – it wasn’t quite the water off a duck’s back that it once had been. And then would come Chris Page, like a warm blanket on a freezing night and make everything feel… Better.
Personally, Seb couldn’t have it any better. He had Sloane, he had friends, he had a life that six months earlier he’d never have dreamed of. He was travelling the world, meeting new people. It was a perfect balance of old and new Seb with Sloane just making everything better.
And yet when he stepped through that curtain it was just him – just Seb. And no matter how many pretty words he used or how hard Chris promoted him, when he stopped for a second and allowed himself to think? He could hear his father’s voice telling him he’d failed. He could hear the voices of every naysayer he’d ever had. His ex-Tasha. His former best friend, Grant. Ollie…
He couldn’t let himself think of Ollie. Ollie’s voice had been the loudest during the dark days, calling out to him from beyond the grave. Blaming Seb for his death. Blaming Seb for everything that happened between them.
Seb closed his eyes tightly as the voices started to play again.
You failed us.
You failed me.
You’ll fail her too…
“… Helloooo?” Seb heard shaking his head. He opened his eyes and looked up at Sloane and blinked. Why was she green?
“Why are you green?” Seb asked.
“You didn’t listen to a word I said, did you?!” Sloane said, hands on hips. “I asked what you’re wearing?!”
Seb looked down at his black vest over a white full length t-shirt and black trousers. He was wearing a brown gun belt which wrapped around his thigh.
“I’m Han Solo…” Said Seb, as if there should never have been so much as a question.
“Why are you Han Solo?!” Sloane groaned.
“Because you wanted a Disney Prince!” He said defensively. “And as he married a Princess, I’d say it’s kind of official that he’s a Disney Prince – plus he’s a handsome rogue like me. Mercilessly slaying bad guys in a cool and nonchalant way whilst charming the beautiful princess who was clearly kissing the wrong guy…”
“I don’t mean why did you choose Han… Seb, look at me!” She said.
“I mean, I am and I did have questions – for example, why are you green?” He asked.
“Because yesterday you were Star Lord so today I dressed up as Gamora!” Sloane said.
“And you decided to go full green?” Seb asked.
“Yes!” Sloane said.
“You do know that stuff stains your skin, right?” Seb asked.
“… What?!” Sloane said, turning and looking in the mirror.
“Did you just do the hands and face?” Seb asked, trying not to laugh.
“No!” Sloane said. And Seb suspected that if she could, she’d be blushing right now. “No I went all over… Thought maybe later… Anyway, that’s not important! Why didn’t you tell me that you were going to be Han?!”
“Well you said Star Lord wasn’t suitable, and I thought that Han was a better Prince – it was supposed to be a surprise. You like surprises…”
“I do… But… Han is a terrible choice. I mean he’s not, but he’s just not a traditional Disney Prince and it really wasn’t what I was going for. But either way – now we’re Han and Gamora and that doesn’t work at all!”
“And you’re probably stained green…” Seb said.
“YES SEB I’M PROBABLY STAINED GREEN!” Sloane snapped.
“Don’t panic – we can fix this. We’ll pick up some turps, should fix you right up.”
“Turps?” Sloane asked.
“Yes, Sloane. Turps, Turpentine? It’s a solvent. You’ll smell like a painter’s brush pot afterwards, but at least you won’t be green.” Seb said.
“Is it safe?” She asked, her eyes widening. “You know… On sensitive areas?”
“You really went all in, didn’t you?” Seb said, raising his eyebrows.
“Oh shut up!” She said, slapping him on the arm. “I’m going to finish getting ready – best make the most of it before I have to smell like a chemical plant.”
Sloane disappeared back into the bathroom and closed the door as the tablet began to chime. Seb turned around and spotted the call from Chris Page and quickly dropped into his seat.
“Hello there!” Said Seb.
“Hey brother – how are you doing, you good?” Page responded. Seb nodded.
“Absolutely, just getting in some Disney time before Blood Money.” Seb said
“Got to let your hair down, man – stay relaxed. But nothing too strenuous – this is a big night for CCP Enterprises and I expect us all to play our part.” Page said. Seb paused. “Everything alright?”
“It is a big night, Chris – a lot of us in this match, including you.” Seb said. He let his intention hang to see if Page would catch it, and of course he did.
“You’re worried about where I stand as Chronic Chris Page the wrestler versus Chris Page the representative.” Page said. Seb didn’t answer. “Look, I’m not going to lie to you, Seb – I’m here to win. I don’t expect that we’ll get through this event without a few of us going toe to toe – hell, I’d put good money that more than one of us will be there at the end. But the key is how we deal with that – we don’t fuck each other. We work together where we can so we guarantee victory for CCP Enterprises. Whoever comes out on top gets a round of applause and guard of honour.”
“Here’s my issue – how am I supposed to sit here and tell you how I really feel? Deep down – how I feel about this match knowing it could be you standing between me and victory? How are you not going to use what I say when we talk against me?” Seb asked, shaking his head. “There’s part of me that thinks maybe we should just… See what happens at Blood Money and pick up after.”
“Seb, I need you to recognise that CCP Enterprises is bigger than any single victory for me. Yes, I am in this to win, but at the expense of the relationships I’ve built so far? Absolutely not – I selected all of you because I know how good you are, but I also know you’re mentally strong enough to deal with the drawback of losing against someone you’re associated with. I didn’t pick titty babies who come crying to me because someone else didn’t get out of their way. I expect tension. I expect fire. What I’m here to do is make sure that all of that rage is aimed in the correct direction.” Page said. “I saw you at your lowest, Seb – and even then, I knew what the future held for you. I’ll beat you if I need to – the same way I would expect you to beat me if you need to. But it’s all business. CCPE has a chance to make a huge statement with this event; the way I see it is it doesn’t matter WHICH one of us is standing tall come the close of this party as long as ONE of us is.” Chris states as he looks though his screen seemingly into the soul of Sebastian. “Let’s not fool ourselves here Sebastian, I’m not getting any younger nor can I keep cutting the schedule I’ve been cutting. Thirty-two years, eighteen major World Titles, countless tags and secondary championships… I say that while I want to win this event I don’t need to win it. WE need to win it.”
Seb took a deep breath. If this relationship was going to work, he knew he had to trust. He had to put faith in the man who believed in him at his lowest. He closed his eyes tight, took a deep breath and then looked up at the screen.
“I’m not… Back to normal. Not entirely – I’m better, for sure, but… I can’t shake all of the demons loose.” He said rubbing the bridge of his nose. “The doubt is quieter. And I can keep it down for a while but then it bursts through and shines a spotlight on every single failure I’ve had.”
“We’ve been over this, Seb – it’s not about the failures…” Page started, but Seb cut him off.
“I know, I know…” He said leaning back in his seat. “I’m proud of what I accomplished at Horizons – and the last couple of weeks since I’ve been back. I’m just… I can’t fight all the time. And until something big happens – I don’t think I’ll shake them completely.”
“Then we make something big happen.” Said Page with a smile. “Plenty in the works for you, kid – don’t think I’m resting on all that potential. You’re not sweating Monday, right? The Coop match with Cent?”
“Not about the losses right?” Seb added with a smirk.
“You’re learning, kid.” Page said with a smile of his own.
“Maybe.” Replied Seb, looking back up at the screen.
“As for Blood Money, I have all the faith in the world that you’ll go far – after that, we see how the chips land. But the most important thing is that we don’t turn on each other. Any of us. And that at the end of the night, CCP Enterprises has made the kind of impact that we know we can make. Everyone is already expecting this Enterprise to combust… as a matter of fact kid, they’re praying for it to happen because CCPE is the biggest threat on the market today, and you sir, you’re a part of the reason why.” Page said.
“Yeah… You’re right… Thank you, Chris – this really helps.” Seb said smiling.
“No problem brother, it’s what I’m here for.” Page said as the bathroom door opened and Sloane stepped outside in full Gamorra regalia.
“Hi Chris!” She shouted as she passed through the view of the camera.
“Hey Sloane – good to see you.” Chris replied, before lowering his voice. “Is she green?”
“Yeah she is.” Said Seb with a chuckle.
“That’ll stain, you know?” Page said with a smirk.
“Yes, Chris! So I’ve been informed!” Said Sloane.
“Wellll it was a pleasure catching up Chris…” Seb said with a small shake of his head, sensing the conversation was taking a trip in a direction that wasn’t likely to help Sloane’s mood. “Good luck tomorrow night.”
“Thanks, Seb.” Page said. “But luck isn’t necessary, I’m a vet for a reason.”
Seb smirked as Page winked at him
“Well then, we’ll see you on Monday.” Seb said
“See you Monday, brother.” Page said before disconnecting. Seb closed the tablet and turned around to face Sloane who was tapping her foot and looking out of the window.
“I can’t believe I’ll be green forever…” Sloane said, dropping onto the bed.
“Don’t be dramatic, you won’t be green forever.” Seb said, rolling his eyes.
“I need cheering up. Oh…” Sloane said, before sitting up bright-eyed. “We had more prince questions.”
Seb rolled his eyes, but turned around and smiled.
“Fine. Hit me.” He said.
“Alright – first one – Pick a Location to sing at. Enchanted Forest, Magical Castle, Under the sea or City Rooftop.” She said.
“Hmmm…. Not under the sea – there are terrible things in the sea. And a rooftop seems too… Normal. Castles are usually drafty, so… Enchanted Forest. I’ll assume it’s been enchanted to stay nice and warm.” Seb said with an assured nod.
“Okay, next up – Which would you rather battle? Dragon, All-powerful genie, sea witch or Sorcerer.” Asked Sloane.
“Knowing my luck, it would be like the dragon out of Shrek and want to… befriend me. And not the sea witch – told you there are terrible things in the sea. Maybe a genie? But then again, they could go full Jafar and no-one should go full Jafar…” Seb rubbed his chin. “A sorcerer. Got to be a sorcerer.”
“Coolio.” Said Sloane. “Question three – Where would you rather live? Castle, Palace, Cottage or Tower?”
“Okay who chooses to live in a tower?! That’s ridiculous – and castles are, as mentioned, drafty – cottage doesn’t feel grand enough so I suppose my shocking answer would be a big, expensive, bougie palace!” Seb said with a wink. Sloane giggled.
“Alright – next…” She said as she moved to the next question. “What is your greatest dream? True love, Riches, Success or Happiness.”
“Oh well that’s easy.” Seb said, climbing out of his seat and walking towards Sloane. He reached out and pulled her out of her up off the bed. “That would have to be true love – which means my greatest dream has already come true.”
“Even when I’m weird and green?” Sloane pouted.
“Especially when you’re weird and green.” Seb said with a smirk. “Now… Let’s take a look at just how thorough you really were.”
But as Seb spoke, there was a light tap upon the door. Seb broke away from Sloane to watch an envelope getting slid through the gap beneath. He walked towards it and picked it up.
“What is it?” Sloane asked.
“It would appear my x-ray vision is failing me.” Seb said, casting her a look. She rolled her eyes as he broke the seal on the back. He pulled from within a card.
“Dear Sebastian and Sloane.” Seb read. “You are both cordially invited to dinner with the Mistress of All Evil, Maleficent, on the eve of your Blood Money battle. Please dress accordingly – regards, her loyal servant Diaval.”
“Oh… My… God…” Said Sloane, biting her lip.
“Well this isn’t at all weird.” Seb said, looking for more. But all he found was a note with the name of the restaurant. Seb looked around at Sloane who was biting her green lip nervously.
“Everything okay?” He asked.
“Of course.” She said, shaking off her nerves. “Maleficent is just kind of intimidating, that’s all.”
“You’ll be fine, Sloanederella.” He said smiling. “She’s not even in your story.”
“Heh.” Said Sloane, leaning up and kissing him on the cheek. “Let’s go – this place won’t explore itself.”
Seb smiled as she walked away, looking down one last time at the invitation – for some reason he was ill at ease, but couldn’t place his finger on why. He shook his head a little to drive the thought away, before following Sloane. He dropped the invitation on the bed, leaving it something to worry about later.
I know what you’ll all be thinking – “that’s ridiculous, Seb, how could you possibly win? You couldn’t even beat James Raven with a home court advantage” or some other nonsense sport analogy that adds absolutely no weight to your argument. And to that I would say… You’re right. On the face of things, the idea that I could beat your field when I’ve never beaten a single one of you before should lean heavily against me… Except, I saw that look in Raven’s eye. An inch either way, and you’d be looking at the victour.
Instead, I failed, and that should work against me, but the reality is that the unknown has a lot of benefits for me. Some of you know my work, those of you I’ve faced. And I suppose, that fills you with some confidence. Afterall – Raven has beaten me twice now, so I can’t imagine he’d be concerned about facing me again. Though you know what they say – third time’s the charm, right? Every time I’ve fought Raven, I’ve learned a little more about him – of course he’s good. He’s great. The greatest of all time as they say – but my reality is that I’m adaptable. The first time was easy – the second time I made him work. Third time? Well, there’s no way he’s making it out unscathed again.
And let’s be honest – Shawn is Shawn. He can like you without respecting you and he can respect you without liking you. But you don’t gain his respect without putting in the hours. And I know Shawn – in his eyes, I’ve not done that yet. It’s cool, I know what he’s capable of, and I do respect him and everything he’s achieved. But that doesn’t change the fact that I have every intention of getting the respect that I’m owed. And if I have to do that with the heel of my boot, I’ve got no problem delivering that message at high speed.
I stand by what I’ve said before about Betsey Granger – she’s a talented wrestler. No matter where she goes she’s in demand, aligned with The New Status Quo here in Fight and with CCP Enterprises signees in TPW. That tells me all I need to know – everyone sees something in The Traveller. And I see it too – she’s the little something different that gives every group an edge. Not because of her extracurricular activities, but because she can shift gears at a moment’s notice. I saw that at Countdown – congratulations on your win, by the way.
And whilst I’ve never been in the ring with Kasey or Aiden, you can always be judged by the strength of those that surround you. Raven doesn’t trust just anyone to have his back, and despite what I’ve heard, I don’t believe for one moment that Warstein puts his dick before business. So without having interacted with either of you, I know that you’re a threat – but knowing that it’s true and it becoming relevant are two very different things. For you to be a threat to me, you have to recognise my threat – and I have a feeling like so many others who haven’t dealt with me before, you’ll recognise it way too late.
And then there’s Dickie – hey Dickie. I’ll save my introductions for when we meet in person. You’ve been on a tear since you won the Empire Championship, right? Damn near untouchable. Dane tried, Montuori tried… One by one they come, and one by one they fall. It’s all getting a little… Samey, right? Don’t you worry, friend, I know you’re looking for fresh blood. Something new, something exciting. Faces that you haven’t seen before, and mine is a face that you’ll want to remember. I’m sure you’ll be confident – you have every reason to be. But just know this – I’ll happily walk into your house and burn it to the ground to get what I want.
And that’s just your… New Status Quo. The rogue band that snuck in and changed the game for everyone in Fight. Except they didn’t sneak, did they? They did it right in front of your faces. You all had the chance to stop them… But you failed. FYA, Dynasty, The Cure… Barely remembered names, because you failed… To stop them? To Step up? And now, you’re all faced with a group of outsiders that could well do the same thing again – and which of you are going to step up and stop it… Anyone? Or will it be left to NSQ all over again?
I was there to watch Dane Preston crushed by a cage – to see him even think about competing at Blood Money shows what kind of competitor he is. And yet he failed. I watched Paul Montouri and Brandon Moore strike through the armour of their grand overlords at Countdown and still… They failed. I saw Anne Boleyn lose the fight of, what is it, her second life now? I witnessed Apathy leave nothing in the back to win the Bareknuckle Championship. I watched Michelle Moore almost choke to death on a ladder trying to retain the Manhattan Championship. They all failed. Your champions, great and good, past and present, came out in force and still couldn’t defend their home turf. And yet you all expect it to be different at Blood Money?
I could spend hours focused on listing names for name’s sake – but the reality is that how this match ends has little to do with all of you, and more to do with me. Because I came… To… Win. And I don’t care if you’re an outsider or you’re on home turf, it makes little or no difference. You’re faces all feel the same when my boot connects. Your skulls all sound the same when they collide with the ground. One by one you’ll come. One by one you’ll fall. There’s no other way to cut it.
Dave the Dinosaur is pretty fucking cool though – a Dinosaur?! As the Bronx Champion? Who doesn’t love to see that?
Oh… And while I remember.
Alright fine – one last one, but only because she’s so very special…
Hello, Atara. Oh captain, my captain. We have something of an odd relationship, you and I, and surprisingly enough given that we have actually been in the same company before, we’ve never fought. It will always mean a lot to me that in your hour of need it was I you came to for help all those months ago, even if I was something of an afterthought. Granted, I suppose I could probably blame you for putting me into the match that helped to accelerate my descent into self-loathing and sad song tweets, but that is by the by. When you needed my help, I was there to provide. Sadly, that’s not going to be the case at Blood Money. No hard feelings, love. I’ll make you one promise – when I put you down, I’ll at least feel bad about it, okay?
But here’s the deal – and it’s important, so listen carefully. I’m on no-one’s most wanted list around here – there’s no-one scrambling to include me in their supergroup. And that’s all good with me – save for a few choice exceptions or one offs, my ego is problematic when it comes to playing nice with others. I joined CCP Enterprises because Chris Page will help to elevate me to a new level, not because I wanted to surround myself with people to do my fighting for me. Whilst we’re under the same umbrella, I have no problem putting any of them to the sword. Not Pete. Not Bam. Not J Mont. Not even Ricky or Sahara.
And especially not Chris Page – there’s no disrespect there. And I hope you see that – but if I’m not here to win, then I shouldn’t be here at all, am I right Chris? So when the time comes, I’ll do what’s right – I’ll do what I have to do to make sure that CCP Enterprises stands tall with a hand raised at the end of the night. And it will be mine – because it’s what I do. I stand tall when no-one thinks that I stand a chance.
And I’m invested in this. In Fight. In Blood Money. More than I can put into words.
Forget everything I’ve done before and everything I’ve done elsewhere, this, right here, is the version of Seb that belongs to Fight! now. And in return I ask nothing but the chance to prove to everyone that’s here that doubts me that to do so is at their own risk. Because I give no quarter – you’re all on notice. I don’t care about your Status Quo. I don’t care about the bitching and complaining. I’m not here to play nice or play with friends, and I’m certainly not here to beg favours from the people I know.
I’m here to fight… NYC. And if you know nothing else about me, there’s one thing you all need to recognise – I’ve got an Empire state of mind.
Welcome to mine.
28th January, 2022 – Epcot, Disney World
Day three at Disney World had been just as fun as day two, and with Seb having done a thoroughly professional job of ensuring every last inch of skin had been carefully checked for a lingering sea green hue, Sloane had returned to her natural shade before they’d ventured out into the world in their civies.
While Sloane was changing for dinner, Seb had decided it would be altogether more amusing for him to crack the pin on Sloane’s phone, and change her message tone. Seb chuckled to himself as he placed her phone back on the table and set himself to change for the evening – they had decided to save their cosplay costumes for the dinner with Maleficent later that night.
It was not surprising therefore that once again, Sebastian had managed to misread the situation entirely. Dressed in a white and gold dress suit, Seb extended his arms wide as his Prince Charming greeted Sloanederella – except, Sloane wasn’t Sloanederella at all.
“You dressed as Princess Leia…” Seb had said, as Sloane’s shoulders fell.
“Yep.” Said Sloane.
“Because I dressed like Han Solo yesterday…” Seb added.
“Yep.” Replied Sloane.
“Well we’re really going to have to work on our communication.” Seb joked, trying to lighten the mood before the inevitable moment her protests burst his eardrums.
“It’s fine – I should have checked.” Sloane replied, rolling her eyes. “You look amazing. We should go… Don’t want to be late.”
“… Right…” Said Seb. He’d paused for a moment, waiting for the other shoe to drop. And when it didn’t, he’d followed her out of the room
Sloane’s almost immediate acceptance of Seb having made the same error twice in two days should have been a warning sign that something was wrong. Sloane’s inability to sit still should have been another. But the most telling sign should have been the near constant nail biting as they’d travelled from the hotel to Epcot.
As they approached Takumi-Tei, Sloane reached out and gripped Seb by the arm. She led him to a nearby bench.
“Everything okay?” He asked.
“Yeah I just… I need to tell you something.” She added biting her lip. “So, don’t be mad with me, okay?”
“Usually I’d be loath to make that kind of promise before I knew what I’m getting into, but seeing as it’s you… I promise.” Seb said with a smile.
“So you know how you told me that your mom wanted to see you and you said no?” She asked.
“Yes…” Said Seb, suddenly wishing he’d maintained his usual stance.
“Well… I may have gotten her number off your phone and told her that we were at Disney – and that if she made the dinner themed, you’d never turn it down because if you did I’d be disappointed…” She said before breaking out into a wide smile, as if she hadn’t dropped a bombshell.
“So what you’re telling me is that my mother is in there?” Seb asked.
“Yes…” Said Sloane carefully.
“Dressed as Maleficent?” Seb continued.
“… Yes…” Said Sloane, a touch more concerned.
“Well at least her character is true to life…” Seb said.
“Seb, stop – she’s your mom.” Sloane said. “Just… See what she has to say.”
“I know what she has to say!” Seb said, standing up and throwing his arms in the air. “And I know what will happen – she’ll charm you. She’ll make you think everything is okay, and so starts the slippery path to being dragged back in.”
“Maybe.” Said Sloane, standing up to meet him. She stopped him from pacing and held his hands. “And whatever comes next? We do it together, hand in hand. Whatever it is, Seb – good or bad.”
He looked down into her eyes – those strong, powerful eyes, and knew that she was right. Whatever came next they would be side by side. He shook his head and pulled away.
“I’m sorry, Seb…” She said, “I shouldn’t have interfered.
“We’re here now.” He said with a smile as he sat down on the bench. “Might work out for the best – might not. Either way, not worth dwelling on what can’t be changed.”
“Yeah…” Said Sloane, slowly sitting down next to him.
“Is that why I got away with getting the costume wrong?” Seb asked.
“It is.” Said Sloane, chuckling.
“Thank heavens for small mercies.” He said with a smile. He knew they had to go in soon, but he wasn’t quite ready to face his mother yet. “Any more of those questions?”
“Hmm?” Sloane said before realisation dawned. “Oh, yeah.”
She pulled her phone out, from where, Seb couldn’t imagine given the outfit she was wearing.
“Okay… So…” She paused to read. “What is your best quality? Bravery, Humor, Charm or…”
She stopped and rolled her eyes.
“Smolder.” She asked. “Not sure I even need to ask you to answer that one.”
“Smolder it is, love.” Seb said with his best intense gaze. Sloane let out a small giggle and then cleared her throat.
“Alright, next… What is your preferred mode of transport?” She asked, shooting Seb a look that warned him to behave. “Horse, Carriage, Walking or Ship?”
“Not much of a fan of boats… Carriage is too pretentious and walking isn’t pretentious enough… So horse it is.” Seb said with a smile.
“Horse…” Sloane said “Oh, and this is the last one!”
“And here I thought our fun would never end.” Said Seb with a dramatic eye roll.
“Pick a princely catchphrase – Do you trust me? The perfect day to be at Sea! Kissing would be nice, yes? Or… Oh come on…”
“What?” Asked Seb.
“Or… Here comes the Smolder…” Sloane said with a groan.
“When did Knox get hired as part of the Disney Experience team?” Seb chuckled.”Well obviously it’s…”
“I’ve already picked it.” Sloane said.” And that’s it… Should have your results within the hour.”
“You’re going to be so disappointed when it tells you what we’ve known all along.” Seb said as he climbed to his feet.
“That you’re Prince Charming, bitch?” Sloane said as he helped her to stand.
“That’s right.” Seb said with a wink. “Now… Let us go face to face with pure, unadulterated evil.”
Sloane rolled her eyes as they approached the entrance to the restaurant, and stepped inside. The inside of the restaurant was buzzing with activity – Seb moved towards the maitre’d and told him of their dinner with the Mistress of All Evil, and he immediately softened to their choice of attire – including, but not limited to, Sloane’s full length white dress.
As they moved into the dining room, it was quickly apparent to which table they were being led. Secret Service style security surrounded the large round table. Facing them, was a woman in black, her hair covered with what appeared to be two fantastic black horns. Sloane gripped Seb’s hand even tighter and he stopped. He slowly turned to face her.
“Hey… Relax.” He said.
“I’m just nervous… She’s your mom…” Sloane said through gritted teeth.
“She has no power here – we do.” Seb said quietly. “She’s the one who has to make a good impression – there’s no one here that you should ever feel you have to impress.”
“Except you.” She said with a smile of ease.
“You always impress me, love.” He said leaning down and pressing a kiss upon her cheek. Sloane took a deep breath, but her head was raised high as she moved towards the table. She reached the table first, as their host raised from the table and offered Sloane her hand.
“You look magnificent, darling.” She said.
“Thank you, Mrs. Everett-Bryce – you look amazing!” Sloane said with a beaming smile.
“Thank you, but please- call me Sofia.” Seb’s mother replied. And then she turned to face her son. “Hello Sebastian…”
“Seb, if you don’t mind, Sebastian is the sperm donor.” He replied.
“Seb!” Said Sloane.
“It’s okay, dear – one thing you learn about the Everett-Bryce men is that the more upset they are, the more cruel they can be. In this instance, I can’t entirely disagree with my son’s feelings on his father.” Sofia said.
“Hello mother.” Seb said, stepping forward and placing a kiss upon her check. To her right, and stood just behind her seat was Wesley – the former head of security for his father. He too was dressed in black. “Diaval I assume?”
“You assume correctly.” Wesley said. “I like to play my part.”
“Careful, Wesley – my history with Raven’s hasn’t always been good.” Said Seb with a smirk.
“Rarely get the better of them though, do you?” Wesley replied with a wink.
“Third time’s the charm, Wes.” Seb said as he took his seat.
“Now, boys – let’s be civil.” Said Sofia. “This dinner is about trying to mend fences, not burning bridges.”
“All in jest, madame.” Said Wesley with a smile in Seb’s direction.
“Mending fences?” Said Seb with a smirk. “That’s… Interesting.”
“How so?” Asked his mother.
“Coincidental that my father finds himself in the midst of a crisis, and suddenly you’re here to, what, apologise?” Seb asked.
“I miss you.” Sofia said with an unexpected vulnerability. “There’s no more to it than that.”
“Of course that’s all it is.” Said Seb with a smile. “And I suppose that’s why you suddenly agree with me that my father is awful – and not just as a father, but as a human being?”
“I didn’t say that.” Said Sofia. “I accept that your father has made some poor choices…”
“That’s putting it mildly.” Seb said.
“I… Am… Talking.” Said Sofia, sternly. Seb swelled with indignation, but Sloane’s calming hand upon his own helped to take some of his steam away. “Your father has made some poor choices, and for terrible reasons, and for that he must pay whatever penance you see fit, but I will not sit back whilst you cut yourself off from our family.”
“Afraid that you’ll have to downsize the Estate to a simple mansion, Sofia?” Seb said bitterly.
“I am your mother, Seb.” She replied, and this time the sternness in her voice gave way for tears. “I know I may not have always done right by you either, but I have always loved you and I have always supported your choices.”
Seb adjusted himself in his seat, trying very hard to maintain his composure.
“You stood there whilst he had my grandfather taken away from me…” Seb said.
“I know. A moment I will regret for the rest of my days.” Said Sofia, dabbing at her eye with a tissue. “How… How is he?”
“Oh he’s doing great. Couldn’t make it for my match tomorrow, because his doctors didn’t recommend him flying especially having done so TWICE whilst recovering from OPEN HEART SURGERY!” Seb snapped.
“Seb…” Said Sloane, and without words she ran her fingers up his wrist.
“Sorry…” He said, turning to smile at her. She returned it, and gave his hand another squeeze. “I appreciate you making the effort to come here, mother, and as much as I miss you – I will do nothing to help smooth over whatever difficulties have come from that man forcing me to choose to live a life without family.”
“Fuck your father.” Said Sofia. “And fuck his company.”
“Sofia!” Said Sloane. “Language!”
“I’m sorry my dear…” Sofia said with a slight chuckle. And Sloane quickly followed suit. Seb’s mother turned to face him again. “I don’t care if you ever make any statement – I don’t care if you ever speak to him again. All I care about is that I want to be there for you… As your mother… As I always should have been.”
Seb paused for a moment, looking for the loophole… The gotcha moment, but for the life of him he couldn’t think of what it could be.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Seb said.
“Yes…” Said his mother, reaching out for his hand. And in a moment he would never have expected just a month earlier, Seb was hand in hand with the love of his life and the woman who brought him into the world.
“I…” Seb began, but he wasn’t sure what to say. And as he opened his mouth to speak again, he was interrupted by a sound that wasn’t at all fitting for the moment.
‘Oh yeah, spank me daddy.’
Seb paused, his eyes widening as Sloane began to look around with incredulity.
“Oh my god – that is NOT the kind of message tone someone should have at Disney World!” Sloane said.
“Sloane…” Seb began, but she cut him off.
“No, Seb – that’s terrible. We don’t kink shame around here, but change your tone while you’re in the Magic Kingdom…” Sloane carried on.
“Well we’re in Epcot, but somehow I don’t think that was your point…” Seb added.
“This is no time for jokes, Seb – help me find out whose phone that was.” Sloane said.
“It was yours.” Seb said. Sloane paused, her head slowly turning towards him.
“What?” She said, through gritted teeth, turning to face Sofia. “I’m sorry, Seb’s mistaken – there’s no way that came from…”
“It was your phone.” Seb said, cutting her off and leaning back in his seat. “I changed your message tone. Totally forgot – you know, after you broke the news that I was here to meet my mother just minutes before the event?”
Sloane’s cheeks were flushed red, but given that she’d set up this entire dinner without Seb’s knowledge, she seemed to feel it prudent not to engage in an argument.
“Right well… That was… Hilarious, Sebastian.” She said, before looking down at her phone. “Oh, it’s the result of your quiz!”
“What quiz?” Asked Sofia.
“Sloane wanted me to take a quiz to find out which Disney Prince I am, but it was pointless. We all know that I’m…”
“Prince Charming, Bitch…” Said Sloane and Sofia together before bursting into a fit of giggles.
“Very drole.” Said Seb rolling his eyes.
“So is he right?” Asked Sofia.
“Oh… Oh my…” Said Sloane, covering her mouth.
“What…? What is it?” Asked Seb.
“Well… According to Disney… The Disney Prince that you’re most like is..” Sloane paused and turned her phone towards Seb who stared, blinking for what felt like an eternity before.
“The BEAST!?” He exclaimed. “This has to be a joke – this can’t be serious?!”
“I checked your answers! They were all what you gave!” Sloane said.
“This is preposterous – I can’t be The Beast! Look at me!” Said Seb.
“Well now, hold on my dear.” Said Sofia, her fingers pressed against her chin. “You were quite the arrogant, overbearing and, if I might say, selfish young man…”
“That does sound like the Seb I met…” Said Sloane, her forefinger pressed against her thumb thoughtfully
“And let’s not forget, you were almost cursed into eternal misery by a terrible hag.” Added Sofia.
“Oh yeah! Tasha!” Replied Sloane, gesturing wildly. Her acting was truly appalling.
“A handsome and all together debonair individual was desperate to see your downfall..” Sophia mused.
“That sounds just like Grant!” Exclaimed Sloane wildly.
“You tend to lean towards over dramatic flourishes when trying to show your displeasure.” Said his mother.
“Ohmygod, the flouncing!” Said Sloane, really starting to enjoy herself.
“And let’s not forget, your damaged and broken heart was healed and your curse was broken when you met a charming, beautiful young woman who changed your world.” Said Sofia, now reaching out to grip Sloane’s hand
“Oh Sofia…” Sloane said, her eyes starting to fill with happy tears. “You’re going to make me cry…”.
Seb looked from one to the other.
“Could you both… Could you not… Could we please focus on me?! This says The Beast! The Beast!” Seb said, throwing his hands in the air.
“Sloane, my dear, If we’re going to make it through the rest of this night, we’re going to need alcohol…” Said Sofia.
“Lot of alcohol…” Said Sloane, before the two women burst into even more laughter, while Seb stared into the middle distance muttering ‘The Beast, I can’t be The Beast..’ over and over again.
What had life become?
A Prince and A Beast coming to Fight! NYC. And coming for blood.