Death – The True Final Fantasy
Writing Prompt: Yes
Date: 18th Mar 2022
(This is the fourth part to a series. For the first part, click here: https://giwtwisted.proboards.com/thread/11342/distracted
For the second part of the series, click here: http://xwf99.com/showthread.php?tid=43148&pid=172534#pid172534
For the third part of the series, click here: http://xwf99.com/showthread.php?tid=43148&pid=172534#pid172534
——Wednesday, March 8, 2022. 9:00 AM——
This is it. The moment where Centurion’s life changes forever.
For the past five years, the guilt of his ex-wife’s death has hung over him. He didn’t know what happened. He didn’t know why. All he knew was, if he was just a better husband – if he was just a better person – she would never have gone back to Ukraine, and she’d still be alive today.
He can’t fix what happened. He will always have Nikita’s death on his conscience, and it will remain there until he leaves the Earth. All he can do is take his revenge on the person who killed her. Is it what Nikita would have wanted? Probably not, but she would have expected it.
So here Centurion sits, just moments away from a meeting he may not walk out from. He, as well as his Slavic friend Boris, have made it to the small village of Bepac, Belarus. There are less than a thousand people that live in this old farm town, which is further emphasized by the police force Bepac has – a whopping four officers. These of those officers are full time, patrolling the streets and solving crime type cops. The fourth is a position not unusual to militaristic countries – an officer in charge of investigating “anti-patriotic activities”. This fourth person also just happens to be the target – Ivan Traulko.
Centurion sits in the front seat of Boris’ Lada, holding his 1851 Navy Colt revolver. The loading process, which usually takes minutes to finish due to its old design and the need to add black powder and caps to the cylinder, was done hours ago, and now Centurion is slowly rotating the cylinder, stopping the hammer on each chamber before moving it to the next.
Boris has already gone inside. The plan was simple – at least, as simple as an assassination can possibly be. Boris goes in first. He says he has information regarding folks who have been saying negative things about Alexander Lukashenko, the current dictator of Belarus. They get to chatting, Centurion comes in, and…
It’s odd. Right now, Centurion should be feeling nervous. He should be second guessing himself, wondering if this was really what he wanted to do. And yet, there isn’t an ounce of hesitation in him. This doesn’t feel remotely unnatural. It’s almost as if this was destined to happen – that everything Centurion has been through up to this point was going to culminate in this very moment.
Centurion takes a deep breath and steps out of the car. He takes a second to take in the scenery. It’s a cold and foggy day, giving a sort of ominous feeling over the area. The office that Traulko operates out of is nothing more than an old trailer. The old, light blue paint is now chipped and faded, and he steps leading up to the front door are cracked, with the handrails being nothing more than rusty metal bars. The trailer shares a parking lot with a motel, but the motel has long since been abandoned. It is now overgrown with weeds, with most of the windows of the building shattered. There is no green grass to be seen – everything is brown and dead, with the exception of a couple of pine trees that have started to push themselves up against the side of the abandoned motel.
Centurion looks down the road, and there he sees an even more depressing sight – several old, wood houses, sotted around without much of a pattern to them. Most of the houses look abandoned, with the exception of clothes being hung outside to dry, and the odd person or two moving about outside their homes. This is an old, poor, dying village, though there is one thing Centurion notices almost right away…
…it’s quiet. That’s not a luxury afforded to a lot of other places in the region at this moment.
Centurion looks at his gun one last time before placing the hammer down on a notch between chambers. He walks up the cracked cement walkway and through the door.
The first thing Centurion notices about the building is the smell. The smoking bans that are almost universal in the United States don’t exist in Belarus, so the smell of stale cigarettes hits him like a ton of bricks. A thin brown carpet is put down throughout the building, but it is so old that is has almost faded away to nothing. The layout of the building is incredibly simple – a main lobby area, where Centurion is standing now, a hallway with a bathroom on the left side, and an office at the end of the hallway, where we can currently hear two men engaged in a conversation in Russian. Centurion walks down the hallway and enters the office, where he sees Boris, in his yellow track suit and ushanka, with his back to the door, and Ivan Traulko, dressed up in full officer garb, including a button down white shirt, tie, and medals that he may or may not have earned. His incredibly large hat sits on the table in front of him.
“я буду рядом с…” Traulko seems to be speaking to Centurion as he writes something down in his notebook, but the moment he raises his head and locks eyes with Centurion, he sits up in his seat and sets his pen down on his desk. He takes a deep breath before picking up the notebook he was writing in. “I suppose I do not need this anymore. I doubt you are here to discuss traitors in the Grodno Oblast.”
Centurion shakes his head and Traulko tosses the notebook to the side before folding his hands on the desk in front of him. “Do you know who I am?” Centurion asks.
“Of course.” Traulko says, confidently and without hesitation. “You are Andy Cortinovis. Otherwise known as Centurion. You can not wrestle for 20 years and be anonymous in Eastern Europe, Mr. Cortinovis.”
“Then do you know why I’m here?” Centurion asks, this time with a little more bitterness in his voice.
“I can’t say that I do.” Traulko says in an almost sarcastic voice. “I don’t think you have an appointment with me. Perhaps you were looking to move to Bepac, next time you decide to go off the grid and abandon your family?” Centurion quickly raises his revolver, causing Traulko to raise his hands. “Easy, easy! There’s no need to shoot me. Here…”
Traulko reaches to his right and grabs a pack of Fest Cigarettes. He pulls one out, then leans forward on the desk to offer Centurion one, as well. Centurion lowers his gun and grabs a cigarette. Traulko then offers one to Boris, who declines. Traulko pulls a lighter from his shirt pocket and lights both his and Centurion’s cigarette, and they both sit down, with Centurion sitting next to Boris on the opposite side of the desk to Traulko.
“You’re here because of Nikita.” Traulko says as he exhales the smoke from his cigarette and puts the lighter back in his pocket. “You want answers.”
“Not really.” Centurion says, calmly. “I used to want answers. I used to want to know everything. Now? Now I just want you dead.”
“Yes, I see you storming in here with your cowboy gun, looking like John Wayne.” Traulko says in a mocking tone. “That’s what amazes me about Americans. You so badly want to be in a movie. You dream of being Clint Eastwood, or James Bond, or Rambo. But this isn’t a fucking movie.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Centurion says as he takes a hit of his cigarette. “I jumped out of an airplane and met up with an undercover contact inside a hostile country. I’d say that’s pretty damn impressive.”
“Very true.” Traulko nods in agreement. “You’ve certainly gotten further than any of your compatriots would have. But it still takes a special kind of person to kill a man.” Traulko takes a another hit of his cigarette before tapping some ash into an ashtray in front of him. He sits back in his chair, looking completely relaxed, as if he does not have a care in the world. “So, what happens next? You shoot me, run to your piece of shit car, and drive across the border?”
“Something like that.” Centurion says as he also ashes his cigarette.
“Yes, well, good luck with that.” Traulko says with a slight laugh in his voice. “I don’t know if you know this, but we are at war. You won’t get 500 yards from the border before they gun you down. Trust me – a washed up wrestler and a Gopnik aren’t just going to come into Belarus and shoot a police officer and get out alive.”
Centurion takes another hit of his cigarette and looks at it for a second before exhaling. He glances over at Boris, who has not moved much since Centurion came into the room. “I don’t know – killing someone and running across the border seems pretty easy. I mean…you did it.”
Traulko smiles. “You think you and I are the same, Mr. Cortinovis?”
“No.” Centurion quickly answers, still without looking at Traulko. “I think I’m smarter than you.”
The smile fades from Traulko’s face. “You think that, do you?”
Centurion takes another hit of his cigarette and finally looks at Traulko as he exhales the smoke. “Do you know what ‘unforced errors’ are, Officer Traulko? It’s actions that you take that are detrimental to you – sometimes simple things – that can lead to terrible consequences. You have a life of unforced errors behind you. You had the opportunity to get a higher education and leave this shithole. Instead, you allowed yourself to be radicalized. You could have just gone home with your tail tucked between your knees. Instead, you decided to murder a prominent journalist, who just so happened to be the ex-wife of a crazy asshole who is willing to go through Hell and high water to avenge her death. You could have decided to live a quiet life, but you decided to take up a career in politics and law enforcement, thinking you can live on easy street for the rest of your life without ever paying for your crimes. Any one of those things you did, if done differently, could have changed your destiny. Instead, you’re staring across from someone who’s going to kill you. Yes, Ivan…I DO think I’m smarter than you.”
For the first time in the conversation, Traulko looks nervous. He swirls the cigarette around in between his fingers for a bit before taking another hit, thinking about the situation in front of him. He ashes the cigarette and rubs his forehead with his right hand. “Look…you’re not thinking rationally. I’m sorry about your ex-wife, but you don’t understand the danger she was to Belarus. You’re seeing it now! Millions of Ukrainian citizens, radicalized by lies perpetrated by the West, fighting Russian soldiers who look to liberate them. Nikita, she…she was a radical. An agent of NATO. She was a dangerous propagandist that was going to cost lives…”
“She was my wife…” Centurion says through gritted teeth. “You can take your geopolitical conflicts and shove them up your ass. You don’t give a shit about Lushanko, or Belarus, or Ukraine, or anything. You saw an opportunity to make something of yourself and you took it, and now the karma has come to collect on your sorry ass.”
“Fine.” Traulko says in a defeated tone. “Maybe. Maybe I’m just some evil guy who was looking to take a life that night. That doesn’t change the situation we’re in. I can help you get across the border. You can go home with the knowledge that you know how to get the me, and that you were just seconds away from extracting your revenge, but your sense of self preservation prevented you from doing so. If you kill me, you’ll have an entire country looking for you – a country you can’t safely leave without traveling to the Latvian border, hundreds of miles away. You’ll never make it.”
Centurion lets out a sigh, acknowledging that he’s in a tough situation. He glances back over at Boris, who gives a slight, sympathetic nod. Centurion takes the last hit of his cigarette before putting the cigarette out in the ashtray. He stands up and takes a look at his revolver one last time.
“You’re right.” Centurion says in a surrendered tone. “If an entire country of people were looking for us, we’d never make it to the Latvian border…thanks for letting us know that’s where we need to go, by the way.” Traulko’s eyes widen, but Centurion keeps speaking before he can talk. “But here’s one big thing you forgot. You’re not anyone important. You’re a nobody. You’re just some asshole in a badge that thinks he’s hot shit. Most people won’t notice you’re even gone, and by the time they do, we’ll be miles away from here. Hmm…sounds familiar, doesn’t it?”
Traulko goes to speak, but before he does….
The sound of the revolver going off echoes throughout the mostly abandoned building, and the only thing that can be seen through the smoke of the black powder billowing out of the gun is the sparks flying out of the end of the barrel. Traulko’s chair topples backwards, with Traulko in it, and after a few seconds, the sight of a bloody hand reaching up the desk can be seen. Traulko tries to pull himself up, but has no strength to do so, and instead, crawls to the side of the desk, clutching his abdomen. Centurion walks over to Traulko, who looks shocked that Centurion fired, and reaches out to him, but Centurion takes a step back and raises the gun once more.
After that, it’s just silence – the same silence Centurion heard before he walked into the building. Boris finally stands up from his chair and stretches his hands above his head as Centurion survey’s the scene in front of him. He reaches over and grabs Traulko’s hat, which he tosses on top of Traulko’s motionless head. Finally, after the smoke dissipates, Boris speaks up.
“Should I go start car blin?”
Centurion just slowly nods, and Boris whistles as he turns and walks back out the hallway. Centurion looks down next to Traulko’s prone body, and spots the cigarette he was holding, still lit. Centurion bends down and takes a quick look at it, before picking it back up. He slowly walks down the hallway and to the front lobby of the building, taking another hit of the cigarette. Before he steps out of the building, he looks at an old, worn out curtain that barely covers one of the front windows. Centurion takes the cigarette but and holds it to the end of the curtain, which immediately catches on fire. Centurion takes one final hit of the cigarette before tossing it on the floor behind him. He steps out of the building as the walls of the trailer start to catch on fire, and Boris cranks up the music in the car. Centurion looks over at Boris, who nods his head in the drivers seat, which causes Centurion to just laugh and shake his head. He steps into the passenger seat and Boris pulls out of the parking lot, with the building starting to catch fire, and “Fortunate Son” playing as loud as possible out of the Lada.
——I Ain’t No Senator Son——
We reopen inside a dark gym, like one you see in those inspirational fighter monologs. There, sitting on a chair in the middle of a ring, taping up his fists, sits Centurion. After a couple of times around, he snaps the end of the tape off and sets the roll down next to him as he speaks.
“Fight NYC. It’s incredible how quickly this little federation went from being nothing more than a concept to being one of the most prestigious promotions on the planet. It has been a long time since a company formed and collected talent as quickly as they have. Even more importantly, they’ve branched out and begun relationships with pretty much every other important wrestling company out there.
But it’s not just the talent of the roster that have given it its rightful place in this industry. It’s the toughness. It’s the things that need to be done in order to successfully compete in this federation. You can’t moonwalk your way through this roster. You’re not going to be shot to the top without having to go through hell to get there. You need to be a tough son of a bitch. You need to take your hits over and over again, and be able to survive. An outside, someone who barely has any reputation in this business, isn’t going to just show up and battle for gold in Fight.
And yet, here I am, on the eve of a title match. So what does that tell you?”
Centurion stands from the chair and walks forward to lean against the top rope, still facing the camera.
“It tells you that, no matter what people may say about me on the internet, in the locker room, or in interviews, I am still one of the most respected wrestlers on the planet. All I did was put out a tweet, saying that I want to wrestle another match in Fight. That’s it. I didn’t call my shot, I didn’t demand a main event spot, I didn’t do ANYTHING like that. I would have accepted an opening match against some scrub, if that’s what the people in charge of Fight wanted from me.
By the way, who IS in charge of Fight? I thought it was the Black family, but then there’s also this Miss F lady, and Serotonin is also something, and it’s all kind of dizzying. Then again, the XWF has six GMs, three owners, a board of directors, and several wrestlers who claim they don’t “work for anyone”, so who I am to judge?
Anyway, that’s not what happened. Brandon Moore, despite two days later claiming he has no recollection of doing this, called me out. That’s Brandon Moore, the Fight Bareknuckle Champion. He wanted me in a Texas deathmatch exploding ring shark cage filled with bloody meat match, and he wanted it when he wanted it, where he wanted it, with no questions asked. Here’s the thing about that.”
Centurion lets go of the top rope and slowly begins to pace around, back and forth in the ring, not looking directly into the camera as he speaks.
“I know there’s quite a few folks in this industry who get a few years under their belt and get a couple of touches at the gold and suddenly think they are the greatest thing to happen to professional wrestling since Frank Gotch beat George Hackenschmidt…and no, before you ask, I wasn’t there for that. I told Brandon Moore, yo, you’re a champion. Maybe it’s not the best idea to fight me while you’re the champion. Fight might not like the fact that I’m jumping the line over all these other challengers. And what was his response? Quote:
‘Sir, I’m Brandon fucking Moore. They call their shots and when I call mine they are answered.’
Alright, if you want to play that game, then we’ll play it. So I accepted the challenge…but no Texas Deathmatch, title on the line, and on the Venom of my choosing. Why?”
Centurion stops, grabs onto the top rope, and leans forward into the camera.
“Because I’m Andy fucking Cortinovis.
Yes, I’m sure it’s easy to push your weight around when the people who are normally challenging you are a couple of delusional morons like the Montouri’s, but you’re not talking to some clout chaser here. You’re talking to top shelf, Hall Of Fucking Fame talent, and most importantly, you’re looking in the eyes of someone who has stared down, and defeated, opponents much, MUCH stronger than you.”
Centurion lets go of the top rope and slowly turns around. He sits back down in the chair and faces the camera once more.
“And look, I get it. Your life is a whirlwind. You were with some girl, who left you for one of the Montouri’s, and while you and them are still chirping about it, you ended up hooking up with Druscilla, who…hold on a second.”
Centurion reaches under his chair and pulls up a small notebook. He opens it up and begins to read it.
“She’s a vampire, who died on a boat, and came back to life, but isn’t a zombie, and while she continues to feast on people, she’s also still wrestling.”
Centurion tosses the notebook over his head.
“Seesh, it’s like a young adult novel in your house, isn’t it, Brandon? I mean, I know I’ve been through some shit, but nothing like that. Perhaps that’s why people think I’m boring? Who knows. But, Druscilla aside, the rest of that is actually important, and it’s one of my main issues with Fight NYC as a whole.
It’s incestuous. You’re all connected. Everyone is either related to each other, or fucking each other, or in a 20 year long blood feud with each other, and while you may claim you all want to kill one another, you’d rather deal with that then allow anyone from the outside to step in and gain even a little bit of relevance. At least, that’s what the roster believes. The people in charge, they know the money that can be made with outside talent. They know that every event that features someone new is another event that breaks ratings records. But the “old guard”? The tough as nails, badasses who all think they can push a boulder up a mountain? They don’t think about that. They think the money is endless.
By the way, that’s another thing I don’t get about the dudes of Fight NYC. Why are you all the fucking same? All of you look like college dropouts, who shotgun Monster Energy Drinks and have nothing but Marlboro cigarettes and cocaine for dinner. Each and every one of you tries way too damn hard to act tough, but all I see are large muscles and tattoo’d skin covering a giant pile of fragile masculinity.”
Centurion jumps up from the chair and bounces back and forth on his heels, testing the canvass of the ring.
“You want to know why people think I’m boring? Truly? It’s because I’m so damn confident in myself that I don’t need to revert back to the old “spill your blood and lose your teeth” shit that everyone else feels the need to parrot. I have 21 years of greatness behind me. You don’t have to act tough when you ARE tough.
I don’t know what it is you’re chasing, Brandon. Maybe it’s greatness. Maybe it’s love. Maybe you just want to forget all the terrible things your father ever said to you. Whatever it is, I’m telling you right now, satisfactions isn’t going to be at the end of that rainbow. You’ll never truly accomplish what you’re looking to achieve. In the meantime, the actions that you’re taking in your life now will eventually catch up to you…just like your actions of challenging legends on Twitter is catching up to you now.”
Centurion stops bouncing and places one arm over the top rope of the ring.
“I’ll admit, Brandon. You’re really good at inflicting pain onto other people. Hell, you’re almost an expert at it. You’re a tough son of a bitch who can dish out as much punishment as you can take, and you’ve beaten some other tough sons of bitches to get to this point. I’m not going to say I’m tougher than anyone you’ve fought…
…but I am a hell of a lot smarter.
By the way, this whole “tortured soul” thing you’re doing now? With the poems and whatnot? It’s cute. I like it, but it’s missing something. I don’t consider myself an artist by any means, but if you’re trying to translate your artistic pain into something that can be consumed by a pro wrestling audience, I’d be a little less…vague? I’m sure “no bondage, the Chevrolet is blacker than the onyx” means a lot to you, but if you’re putting it out there for public consumption, expect a few folks to scratch their heads. These are wrestling fans, not consumers of fine wine.
Oh, and that whole “there’s two Brandon Moore’s inside me” thing? Bullshit. It’s bullshit when you do it, it’s bullshit when Dane Preston does it, it’s bullshit when everyone else does it. What you have are called “emotions”. Surprisingly, everyone has them. Going from happy to mad doesn’t mean you’ve completely changed as an individual. If you have amnesia, it’s because your brain has been fucked up by the years of abuse it’s gone through in the ring. But you’re still YOU. You have the same brain, the same body, and the same set of skills, and it doesn’t matter if I’m wrestling “mad Brandon” or “high Brandon” or “sad Brandon” – you’re still limited by your own body. You’re still only capable of certain things. You have the same weaknesses – weakness I plan to exploit for my own benefit.”
Centurion takes his arm off the rope and slowly turns back around to the chair. He takes his time as he walks up to the chair, and grabs a hold of the back, looking to sit down. Then, in one swift motion, Centurion tosses the chair out of the ring, causing a loud metal clang to be heard throughout the gym. Centurion looks down at the ground for a second and takes a deep breath before turning back around and facing the camera one more time.
“I want you to look me in the eyes, Brandon, and I want you to see what’s coming for you. I want you to understand EXACTLY what you got yourself into. This isn’t playtime. This isn’t some walk in the park. You’re not facing off against someone who has all these pent up feelings about you. You’re facing someone who doesn’t give a fuck about you. Who doesn’t truly know you from Adam, and who only sees you as one thing – a man, holding gold, that I want around my waist. You’re going to punch me? Great – I’ll punch harder. You’re going to make me bleed? Fantastic – I have plenty of blood to give. And when you’re done with that, and you’ve noticed that I haven’t fallen to the mat yet, you’re going to be out of options. And THAT, Brandon, is when you see your title reign flash before your eyes, and you become the first champion in Fight NYC to meet their…