Determination Above All (3 of 5)

By: Kasey Winterborn

Writing Prompt: No

Date: 13th Oct 2021

It is not in numbers, but in unity, that our great strength lies; yet our present numbers are sufficient to repel the force of all the world.” – Thomas Paine

—————————– I don’t know how I even got here, but I knew where I was, without actually knowing. It felt familiar to me, but in a way where nothing actually looked familiar. It was like I simply opened my eyes and had been dropped into this hellscape. Busted concrete crunched under my feet, while I gazed around at overturned cars littering the street and decrepit skyscrapers towering above me.

What the hell…” I whispered to myself, wide eyes taking in the scenery around me. I couldn’t begin to imagine what had happened to turn this place into something straight out of a dystopian nightmare.

Tightening the grip on my pouch of throwing knives (had they always been there in my hand?), I picked my way through the rubble trying to find any discernible landmarks. Anything to give me an idea of where (or even when) I was. But despite all of the overwhelming evidence that I was in a very serious situation, all I felt was an intense sense of determination. While someone else may have started panicking, I just kept pressing on. I had no doubt in my mind that eventually things would work out in my favor.

Which was a completely strange feeling to have, if I was being honest with myself. I mean sure, I’ve always been a determined person normally, but a lot of the time it came with those crippling moments of self-doubt.

But this time it was different. This time, I had a team backing me up. Not just any team, a team made up of the best and brightest this sport has to offer. And perhaps at one time, I would have had an extreme case of imposter syndrome (OK, so maybe I still feel a little like that). But now, I’m starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, I really do belong among them. It certainly helped when I was part of the winning team that was able to win the Islands championships. It was certainly a confidence booster, that was for sure. Having my hand raised, glancing to my side to see Shawn and Betsy standing tall with me while we all held championship gold…it’s an image that will stay in my mind forever.

Hopefully, forever wasn’t going to be spent in this place though. While I had been caught up in my own thoughts, I hadn’t paid much attention to where I had been wandering, and now I found myself at what seemed like a dead-end alleyway. Three high brick walls surrounded me, each with rusted-out fire escapes hanging precariously off of them. A few crates and piles of garbage completed the scene, and it looked like there was no way out other than the way I just came. A smirk curled up the corner of my mouth, as my eyes narrowed in on my target. I broke out into a run and dashed towards one of the wooden crates that was closest to one wall, vaulting off and leaping up to grab at the bottom of the rusted ladder. I pulled myself up rung by rung, until I was able to put my feet on the floor grate of the bottom level. But just as I did, I heard an ominous creaking, and knew I had only moments to act. Another short jump and I was on the edge of the railing, and just as I felt the balcony give way and collapse underneath me, I pushed off and hurtled towards the top of the brick wall in front of me. For a brief moment that almost felt like an eternity, I hung suspended in the air and worried that I hadn’t jumped far enough. But then my chest slammed into the wall, and I scrambled to keep a grip on it as I tried to hoist myself over. Finally, after much cursing and panting, I managed to get over the wall and drop to the other side. Looking around, I could see that it was an improvement from the last area, but not by much. The concrete was still cracked, but there was significantly less debris cluttering the streets and the buildings looked to be in somewhat better condition. Still, I had the feeling that I wasn’t where I needed to be, so I continued on with my journey. As I walked, my thoughts started wandering again, and I ended up thinking about the last year of my life. How, after years of bouncing from place to place and never truly finding a place to call home, I ended up somewhere where I was finally able to live up to all the potential I was told I had, but could never see in myself. I took that company by storm, and in the process ended up meeting three of the men that I now stood shoulder to shoulder with in a new company. It had certainly been one eventful journey for us all, but no one could have ever predicted the way it all came about. But of course, that was then and this is now. Now, we are the pinnacle of FIGHT. We are the name on everyone’s lips, and for damn good reason. Shawn is a certified legend in this industry. His is a name that I’ve seen around the circuit for many years, usually with the phrase “best ever” attached to it in some fashion. And I’m not just saying that as his significant other. The list of his accomplishments speaks for itself. His in-ring ability says more than I ever could. Ever since he stepped foot in this company, all eyes have been on him, and he’s made headlines every single time he’s stepped into that ring. Hell, even when he’s not in the ring, he keeps everyone talking about him. But of course, we can’t discount the fact that we also have the Empire champion among our ranks. Dickie Watson is someone that no one ever expects. His entire career, he’s been undervalued, overlooked and looked down on because he’s not what everyone’s “typical” idea of a professional wrestler is. But then, he walks into nearly every company he’s ever been in and within a matter of weeks, he becomes their top champion. Most of the time, their first-ever top champion. He literally flips off everyone’s expectations, and it’s brought him nothing but success and gold. I know, because more often than not I’ve watched him do it live. A lot of people may not know this, but Dickie and I have been in quite a few companies together. This is just the first time that we’ve ever been paired up on-screen. And there isn’t anyone else on this roster I want at my side as we quite literally charge into hell. Speaking of which… My footsteps slowed as I came to the edge of a seemingly insurmountable chasm in the middle of the road. The tips of my booted toes were hanging over the edge, and I cautiously tilted my head forward and peered down into the hole. It seemed to go on forever, the bottom swallowed up by darkness. Taking a careful step backwards to avoid plummeting to my doom, I glanced to either side of me, trying to determine if there was some way to go around the crack. But there was no such luck. The split traveled for what seemed like miles in each direction, disappearing over the horizon. The quickest way it seemed would be to cross it in some way.

The question now became, how? There was absolutely no way in hell I was going to be able to make a jump like that, no matter how athletically inclined I was. But there was also no way in hell I was just going to give up, not after how far I had already come. Hands on my hips and a slight frown on my face, I looked around to see if there was anything I could use as a footbridge of sorts. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a long two by four board, just wide enough for me to walk one foot in front of the other. It was risky, but appeared to be the only way to get the job done. So I dragged it over and slid it across the chasm, breathing a sigh of relief when it touched the other side. I took a tentative step onto it, willing myself not to look down at my feet as I began the slow trek across. A few times I felt my heart plummet to my feet as I wobbled unsteadily, but I kept going until I was safely on the other side. I let out a long breath that I hadn’t even known I was holding, and kept moving forward.

Once again, this area got a little bit cleaner, and even the concrete didn’t seem as cracked as it had before. The buildings were almost complete at this point, and there were even faint rays of sunlight breaking through the gloomy grey clouds above. A lightness filled my chest, and I had the feeling that I was nearing where I needed to be. The thought put a little spring in my step, and I even whistled a jaunty little tune as I continued on. The tune was something I had picked up from one of my many travels with Betsy, whom I was starting to really grow close to. She was another name that I had seen for years around the wrestling world, and someone whose successes rivaled that of Shawn’s. To be completely honest, while I have always been impressed by her larger-than-life persona, I was also quite intimidated by her as well. She seemed this untouchable goddess, and I was a mere peon in her presence. Of course, since Shawn and I became a couple and I started hanging out with her more, I discovered that she’s so much more than she appears. She’s smart, focused, and driven. She would lay down her life for those she considers family, but lucky for her she won’t have to. Because New Status Quo won’t be lying down for anyone. We’re riding this freight train together, and we’re running over anyone foolish enough to think they’re big enough to be on our tracks.

And then, you’ve got our wild card. The Aussie Wolf himself, Aiden Reynolds. He’s very much like Dickie, in that he isn’t what people ever expect. But he 100% plays that role to perfection. Sure, he acts loud and obnoxious, and people don’t ever take him seriously. But you put that man in a ring, and all doubt goes flying out the window. He’s a bloody menace (to borrow one of his terms) and he damn sure knows it. But he also gets the job done, no matter what. He was an absolute natural addition to our ragtag crew. The bonus part of that being that he’s the unknown factor. He’s walking into this match as the new kid, the untested variable. No one in FIGHT knows what he’s truly capable of, and the ones that do are on his team. When I tell you I’m looking forward to watching the unbridled chaos that this Australian lunatic is going to leave in his wake, that may be a slight understatement.

And once more, I’m interrupted by a roadblock. Only this time… I gape up at a massive wall ahead of me. Not brick, or stone, or anything man made. This is a thick covering of what looks like tree roots, snarled and tangled together with vicious looking thorns covering every square inch of available space. Much like the chasm I had crossed, this wall stretched out for miles on either side, ensuring that I would not be able to just go around. And looking at the thorns protruding at every angle and threatening to eviscerate me if I so much as thought about it, climbing was definitely out of the question. I let out an annoyed huff and pressed my hands to my hips, pacing for a few steps. There had to be some way to overcome this. I didn’t come this far just to come this far, dammit! Something inside me was telling me that whatever I needed was just on the other side of this wall, and I’d be damned if I wasn’t going to get there. This time, there was definitely nothing around that was going to help me with this particular scenario… …until my hand came down to rest on the pouch at my hip. I opened it up and pulled out my favourite set of throwing knives, turning them over in my hands. There was no way these rinky-dink little things were even going to make a dent in something that gargantuan. I knew that, every logical cell in my brain was screaming at me…and yet, it was all I had. And I had done crazier things than this before. With a shrug of my shoulders, I palmed one of the knives and turned towards the wall, eyeing up my shot, and then letting the knife fly. THWACK! While it hit the target dead centre, it didn’t do anything besides nick a miniscule hole in one of the thorns. And oddly enough, when I looked down at my hand, I had a full set of knives again. Well, insanity is doing the same thing over and over again in the hopes of a different outcome, so call me crazy, I guess. THWACK! Another direct hit, with no result. THWACK! THWACK! THWACK!

I had been so focused on my Sisyphean task that I didn’t hear the footsteps running towards me. I had just let another knife fly when a hand on my shoulder made me whirl around and immediately throw a strong right hook. I connected with a solid hit to a jaw, but when my eyes caught up with my fist I realized that it was Shawn standing behind me, rubbing the side of his face. “SHAWN!” I had never felt such relief in my life as I immediately grabbed him around the waist and pulled myself tight to his chest. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry!

It’s okay. It’s my fault. Should’ve tried to get your attention in a different way,” he mumbled while still caressing his slightly reddened jaw.

No, it’s fine, it’s just…I haven’t seen anyone else while I’ve been wandering around this…whatever this place is.” I gestured broadly with one hand. “And then I’ve been trying to figure out just how I’m supposed to deal with this monstrosity.” Only one finger was used while I gestured towards the root wall (I’ll let you guess which one.)

Well, you know I have a simple solution for that,” I heard Betsy say from somewhere behind Shawn, and I peeked over his shoulder to see the bubbly blonde smiling at me as she leaned against Excellence.

I returned her smile, but then my face set into a hard look of determination. “As much as I would appreciate the help Bets, I gotta do this on my own.” I stepped away from Shawn and readied myself to throw another knife, when a gentle hand on my arm stopped me. I looked up to see Shawn giving me a concerned look.

You know, you don’t have to do it alone,” he said. “You’ve got us now. Let us help you.

Another hand came to rest on my arm, and this time it was Betsy giving me her warm smile. “You know we’re here for you, and we’ve got your back no matter what.

And right there, in that moment, the damn light clicked on. I’d been so focused to get through this insurmountable task that it never even occurred to me that now I had people I could rely on to help me with it. Sure, just because theoretically I could do it by myself didn’t necessarily mean that I should. And even though I was ready to do whatever I needed to do to help everyone else in my life, I was never ready to accept that help when it was given to me, despite it being freely offered.

So this time, I looked at the two of them with a confident smile and a nod, and the three of us (somehow) managed to throw the knife together.

And as soon as it buried itself into the thickest root, the wall just…fell away. Everything crumbled into mulch at our feet, and we were left staring at a completely intact city. And a very irritated Australian.

Oi, ‘bout bloody time you all showed up!

As Betsy and Shawn hurried to catch up to Aiden, something caught my attention in the dirt at my feet. A glint caused by the full sunlight now streaming down on us from above made me tilt my head curiously, and I reached down to pluck it out of the mess. Gently brushing it clean with my fingertips, I was surprised to see a photo of myself, though I didn’t remember taking it at all. But the stranger thing about it was that it looked like it had been torn away from a larger photo, judging by the ragged edges and the fact that I could see evidence that other people had been in the larger picture at one time. I raised a curious eyebrow, but before I could give it any more thought, Shawn’s voice calling my name made me look up to see the three of them waiting on me expectantly. Pocketing the curious photo and making a mental note to mention it later, I hurried to catch up with everyone else…

You can give us your Cure, try to rule over us with a Dynasty, or send…whatever an FYA is. It won’t matter, because in the end…

It’s a New Status Quo.