Just like that, in the blink of an eye, glory had shifted from one man’s hands to the others. It would be Leyenda de Ocho, The Legend of Eight, that would reach the heavens and pluck down God’s favor to face the Intergalactic champion. Meanwhile it would be The SuperBeast, a legend in many ways, who would fall toward the gaping maw of hell and watch glory slip away. The strange thing was at that point in time it wasn’t hatred or jealousy the Human Natural Disaster felt, no, it was respect. Ocho had overcome everyone in the ring and had earned his right.
But that day wasn’t a day when good triumphed evil. Evil still existed in a much different form. Ocho would fall to the champion; the hero would fall to the villain, and Sylo would fall to a self entitled moronic oaf that needed help to get his SECOND chance at the champion. Evil would face Evil with no ying to balance the yang. Now it would be heroes facing one another. Maybe their morals and tactics were different but to the people they both stood as heroes. Where did things go from here? The world needs balance.
Sylo would sit in the middle of an octagon, yes; you read right, an octagon. His passion for wrestling had moved him into the world of Mixed Martial Arts as well. The years he had devoted to training in the various arts of fighting, of war, would prove to pay off inside the ring as well. Undefeated inside an octagon but not inside a ring, a ring where he had started, and that thought alone ate at him just a tiny bit. To be honest it was more than just a tiny bit, it ate at him to the point of insanity at times. It was like having a festering zit, boiling over with puss; just ready to explode yet it was just out of reach no matter what angle of attack you chose. To be honest the whole IGC infrastructure ate at Sylo.
The Beast would raise his head, teeth bared and gnashing as his snake-like pupils glowed like ice blue flames. Sylo had lost control. His anger had reached a point that not even he could control and at that point all that was left was the SuperBeast.
“Leyenda…de…Ocho,” Sylo pronounced his name emphasizing as he spoke his name. “If the IGC had their way this would be the part where I told you why I chose to come to the ring, why I chose to distract your opponent and why I chose to help you win but the honest truth is everything I do is for a reason. I respect you, Ocho, and that’s why I won’t sit here and bad mouth you, it’s why I won’t roar like some mentally dysfunctional roid tard, and it’s why I won’t talk about the danger you face because Ocho, you know the danger but I’ll get to you in a moment.” Sylo growled a little rolling his neck before standing up.
He paced around the inside of the octagon, in his gear, but he didn’t resemble a man in an octagon training. He resembled an enraged bull trapped in a pen ready to be unleashed. He ran both hands through his long black hair with the matching blue streak on each side before running both hands down his face.
“When Magnus had his little gimp hold my legs down and laid his fat ass down on top of me for three seconds I asked myself: really? Did I really lose to Magnus? Did he really deserve to take my crown of being THE monster that I had worked so many years to earn? Magnus really had everything to gain and nothing to lose didn’t he? I wonder why that is but then again I’m not a mindless moron. Leyenda, I want you to listen to what I’m about to say because it rings true for you my masked friend.” Sylo stopped dead in his tracks and stood perfectly still.
“The IGC wants to put asses in the seats or so they claim yet the biggest match they’ll ever have will be Leyenda and Sylo one on one but who’s had two title shots? You came within a cunt hair of winning that title Leyenda and I had Magnus dead to rights yet where was the IGC Committee when you were fucked over? Where were they when I was fucked over? I can tell you where they were…they were backstage just waiting to get those two men’s cocks so far down their throats they could practically taste the pre-cum like an over ambitious street walker. “Sylo spit to the side before glaring back with that same rage.
“You’re one win away from taking on Magnus, Leyenda. The problem is you have to get past me and I don’t just hand out wins. I know enough about you, as well, to know you don’t take hand outs so you’ll either learn to beat Magnus through me or you’ll die trying. I will put you through every layer of hell conceivable and if you walk out of that hell with your hand held high at that point you’ll be ready.”
“Leyenda, what I want, no, what I need you to understand is that you live in a world of video games where somehow, even through tragedy, the good guy prevails and now it’s my job to bring you back to the real world. You and I are bigger than the IGC, this match is bigger than the IGC, because at the end of it you’ll either walk out of hell and give Magnus the beating of his life or you’ll have, yet again, fallen short because you didn’t go to that place inside that’s filled with darkness and destruction. To put an animal down you must first understand the animal. You first must understand the fact that Magnus couldn’t beat me without help but if you, one on one, beat me you’ll have everything you need.”
Sylo balled up his fists, staring at them for a moment as the veins pressed against the skin. When he opened his hands drops of blood trickled from his palms where he dug his fingers into his own hands. Slowly, he turned, holding both palms up.
“Blood demands blood, Leyenda. It’s either you or me but one of us must collect the blood debt that Magnus owes. If you fall to me then I’ll take my payment from him match or not. I’ll collect on that blood debt but if it’s you, Leyenda, I expect you to come calling for what is owed not only to you, not only to me, but to everyone that has supported us in this hell hole while backstage politics ran ramped and they were fucked out of what they deserved.”
Sylo turned his back to the camera, staring at the palms of his hands, watching blood pool in both.
“Either beat me Leyenda or I’ll break you. Either way, in this game that we’ve become tangled up in, there are no extra lives and you can’t just restart.”
With that Sylo kicked the octagon door open and marched away. The camera panned down showing a trail of blood, Sylo’s blood, left behind as he disappeared from view.
“They say you learn more about yourself when you lose than when you win…”
(The camera opens to Leyenda de Ocho wearing a firetruck-red Ocho-style mask with a Mario-style M in the center of his forehead and bright blue wrestling tights. Somewhat unusually, he sits on a stool before a very pixelated IGC backdrop. A plain white bag sits on a table next to him, its contents not revealed to the camera.)
Ocho: “…and I think they might be right.
I’ve tasted the worst kind of defeat a man can take in the IGC two times. One loss, you can think it’s a fluke – especially when it comes at the end of an epic clash that could have gone either way. When it’s your first title match, and you’ve got a barrel of butterflies in your belly because you’re standing on the biggest stage in all of wrestling and you’re barely 6 months into your career. The second loss?
That’s when you start thinking. That’s when you start realizing: maybe something you’re doing is off, and that hair’s-breadth of distance can feel like a hundred miles. And it’s dawned on me; the grand lesson Phil Atken has revealed to me, whether intentionally or not…”
(Ocho buries his right hand into the bag and lifts it up; he holds a handful of sand, a few grains cascading between his fingertips.)
Ocho: “When it comes to these precious opportunities, it’s important to understand: if you want something TOO hard…”
(Ocho squeezes his hand into a fist; the sand very quickly escapes through his fingers.)
Ocho: “It becomes THAT MUCH EASIER to lose everything. If you go in to a war with all the heart in the world and hope that your will alone will take you to the mountaintop, you will fall short to someone who has planned better; to someone who has the experience, who knows how to hone that adrenaline and that passion and that fire into a laser-like focus on the task at hand.
I’ve been naïve in my rookie year, Sylo. I’ve been a wide-eyed and eager kid who’s been in way over his own head. And don’t get me wrong – being a fiery kid with a lot of raw talent can get you pretty far in this game. It’s true – I’ve lived it. But I understand now…being raw isn’t good enough.
It’s been a fun rookie year for me, Sylo. But the time for being a rookie is over.
The time for being a MAN…is now.”
(Ocho stands from his stool and looks upon the bag of sand, nodding. He turns his focused gaze to the camera.)
Ocho: “Sylo, I respect the hell out of you. You’re a champion. You are a monster – nay, THE monster, no matter what Magnus Destructo and his demonic horde may scream out at the top of their lungs. And the biggest reason for your success? The biggest reason you’re a living legend, a horrifying beast of pure pain and terror?
You stay true to your strengths.
When you’re a fantastically freakish giant of a man, and you cover yourself with tattoos and your eyes glow demonically, you become a natural monster. That is who you are. That is why you are as great of a wrestler as you’ve become.
And it’s the exact reason why I respectfully decline your advice.
You say, like dozens before you, that ‘this is not a game’ and ‘there are no extra lives’ and every other cursory thing you can think of because you see me as surface-level; you see my first and second dimensions, and not my third. Maybe that’s my fault. It doesn’t matter.
What you need to understand is the MAN beneath this mask.
I’ve been through some hard-ass times, Sylo. I have seen things that cannot be unseen. All the stories you hear about Chicago? They’re true. It’s a hard place to grow up when you’re like me…small, nerdy, different. The truth is, it’s shaped who I am as a human being. There is VALIDITY in WHO I AM. And while you say I must embrace some sort of perceived darkness to defeat the screaming behemoth who holds the Space Invader belt, I say you’re wrong. I say that I will not change a THING about who lives inside of here,” (Ocho pounds his chest) “because doing that would be to reject everything about ME.
And I say…no.
The naivete? It’s absolutely time to be rid of that hindrance. The blind, I’m-gonna-win-because-I-want-it-more attitude that’s gotten me nothing but failed chances? I rid myself of this burden.
I recognize you for who you are, Sylo. A hero, a grand warrior, a truly grandiose mountain to climb.
But my failures have taught me even more. The path is clearer, though the road may be more complex than I used to believe.
You’re an artist whose medium is blood-on-canvas…well, I’ve got about six quarts of Mario Paint for you. Do with it what you will – in the end, the power you exert, the champion’s expertise that you deliver will strengthen me as I continue on my own road…a road that you crossed yourself many years before. The road that led you to become what you are today…
OOC Note: Sorry, I've been so busy with work I haven't had a chance to really write. This is my last IGC match possibly so, Ben, buddy I'm glad it's against you. Voss man, thank you for letting us do this.
Everything would start off with blaring static. Slowly film would roll up until an image finally took over completely. It would be none other than the Arena of Champions during jOlt’s special event that just took place: All or Nothing.
All the way up the entrance ramp Sylo slammed fists and elbows into Chris Titan's neck and back. Now, back on the stage Sylo had Titan hooked in a suplex position at the very edge. He called out to the Arena of Champions. "S! S!"
Two letters that meant so much more than the sum of their parts. The Superbeast lifted Chris Titan high into the air and that's when it happened.
Sylo tossed Titan off the side of the stage with the most devastating of his manuevers. This match was over. All that was left was for Sylo to hop down and cover Chris Titan for the three-count. But ... he didn't. Instead, the Superbeast surveyed the entire stage area. His eyes stopped at the jOltVision and the fans went ballistic.
"I can't believe this," Michael Buhrman said, "he's climbing the jOltVision. Sylo is climbing up the side of the jOltVision!"
"What in the hell is he thinking?!"
With the jOlt Champion halfway up the tron his challenger began to pull himself up using a nearby equipment box. He looked around for the champion, going as far as to ask the referee if he had lost the match. Darius Underwood assured Titan he had not lost but that he should look up. So Titan did ...
... and with the Arena of Champions he shared a collective gasp.
"OH MY GOD! Sylo just Moonsaulted off the jOltVision and onto that high voltage equipment where Titan was laying! We need to get somebody out here to make sure both these men are still breathing!"
A cigarette burn would eventually encompass the scene burning it away as another opened. It would open up to a large lake but not just any lake; it was the largest lake in Arkansas; Lake Ouachita which was the exact same place The SuperBeast would face off with Ocho at in Hot Springs. Sylo stood next to the lake decked out in his street clothes. He was never really the fashion coinsure as he stood looking out over the lake in his military boots, jeans that had seen better days, a t-shirt with the Venom logo from Spider-Man on it, and of course a Swedish shearling coat.
“Ocho, this will be the last time I get to address you before the arena lights come on and you and I go toe to toe. I know you feel it in the air, I know you feel it in your soul, but what we’re about to do is go beyond two men facing one another inside a ring. We’ll transcend to the level of titans. You may have heard before there isn’t any extra lives nor any restarts but when I say it Ocho, it isn’t a threat, it’s a warning. If you don’t beat me, if you don’t get past me, you’ll fall into obscurity and no real hero will fall into that world without a fight.” Sylo turned away and looked at the sun starting to rise a little higher from behind the lake.
He exhaled before pulling off the jacket he wore letting it fall to the ground. Following not far behind was the shirt he wore. With Sylo’s upper body exposed the heavy bandages and various burns that marred Sylo’s body were visible. The most visible bandages were the heavy wrap on the left shoulder and around the ribs; it was obvious Sylo was nowhere near one hundred percent.
Slowly, he turned back around, but his eyes showed no pain, no fear, nor any sign of anxiety, no, instead they remained solid blue, predatory, and burning behind them was nothing but hatred, intensity, and most of all a deadly calm.
“ I've had millions of fans going nuts over what happened in jOlt at All or Nothing but the one question that everyone has asked the most is simply why? Why risk it all when the match was already won? The simple answer is this: Sometimes “just enough” isn't good enough. Sometimes, when a fight becomes a war, and it keeps you up at night you do whatever it takes to bury the other side. It doesn't matter if your body is broken, it doesn't matter if you've almost been drained of every drop of blood,” Sylo’s demeanor had started to change into something a lot more intense.
“IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE RISK! IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE COST! IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT TAKES YEARS OFF YOUR CAREER! IT DOESN'T FUCKING…MATTER IF IT TAKES YEARS OFF YOUR OWN FUCKING LIFE! YOU DO IT TO WIN THE WAR! YOU DO IT TO STOP THE DARKNESS FROM SPREADING! AND WHEN WE’RE DONE OCHO, WIN OR LOSE, YOU WILL KNOW THE DARKNESS AND IT WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER! IT WILL MAKE YOU INTO EVEN MORE OF A WEAPON! IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER! AND ONLY THEN, THROUGH ME, WILL YOU BE ABLE TO COLLECT ON THE BLOOD DEBT THAT IS OWED TO EVERYONE THAT’S GIVEN A CENT TO THE IGC AND THEIR SO CALLED CHAMPION!” Sylo roared. A few birds even decided it would be a good time to scatter from a nearby tree.
Sylo ran a finger through his long black hair as he shuddered, closing that door into the Beast’s world, and regaining his composure.
“Simply put, Ocho, this is it. You have no choice. You have no say. You have to beat me because I won’t let you beat me. I won’t let you win. If you want this as much as you claim you do then heed my words, listen to what I've said, and most of all understand that we all have a monster inside of us and sometimes…sometimes we have to use that monster instead of contain it. We have to let go, we have to live in the darkness, and only then can we do what must be done in order for what is right to prevail.”
Sylo was calm again as he stared not at a camera but through it to Ocho himself.
“You’re a man that I would call my friend but when we stand inside that ring, Ocho, you’re my enemy and I’ll do EVERYTHING to make you beat me or I’ll destroy everything you’ve worked so hard for in the blink of an eye. This shoulder may need surgery, my ribs may be broken, and I may be covered in burns and lacerations but none of it will matter from the time that bell sounds until the last drop of blood and sweat is spilt,” Sylo reached into his pocket as he spoke and pulled out an old trademark of his.
His old WAR dog tags, something he hadn't wore in the IGC. The very same dog tags he wore every time, win or lose, he went to war.
“So let me end this in a way you’ll understand the most, Ocho. I’m the last boss fight you have before you reach the end of this game. Either win, no matter the cost, or it’s game over for Leyenda de Ocho.”
Sylo stared at the camera and almost as if the heavens themselves knew, slowly, dark clouds would roll over the sky and the morning sun would be lost behind them. The darkness stood in the way and de Ocho would have to cross through that darkness or fall trying.
(The camera slowly, slowly fades open to Leyenda de Ocho, seated on a stool in the middle of an old, dusty, seemingly abandoned arcade. It’s unclear if any machines in the arcade are functional - they look ancient and beat up. At least a few of them large holes in their screens.
He wears the same bright red Mario-style mask with his IGC “1Up” t-shirt and clean, if inexpensive, jeans. Audio from Sylo’s final message blares from behind Ocho.
Sylo: “IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE RISK! IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT THE COST! IT DOESN'T MATTER IF IT TAKES YEARS OFF YOUR CAREER! IT DOESN'T FUCKING…MATTER IF IT TAKES YEARS OFF YOUR OWN FUCKING LIFE! YOU DO IT TO WIN THE WAR! YOU DO IT TO STOP THE DARKNESS FROM SPREADING!”
Ocho’s head raises.)
Ocho: “Good. We’re in agreement, then.
Since my first day in an IGC ring, I’ve experienced match after match where my opponents and I put our bodies on the line in some of the most intense and dangerous circumstances around. Triangle Rules. Fatal Fourway. Tables, Ladders and Chairs. Three Stages of Zelda.
We put our bodies through this torture and this torment for something greater than ourselves - the title of Intergalactic Champion. It is IMPORTANT. It is INVALUABLE.
Space Invader design aside, it’s a title I consider to be among the most powerful in our entire industry - and it’s BECAUSE of the blood, the sweat and the tears that people like you and I have poured into that canvas week after week. No one gets to coast to the top. No one skates by. It is an INCREDIBLY difficult honor to earn.
Men like you and I make SURE it stays that way.”
(A flicker of electricity from the Donkey Kong Machine behind Ocho’s right shoulder. The screen seems to want to turn on, but isn’t there yet.
More audio rumbles like an earthquake throughout the arcade, shaking dust off of nearby tables.
Sylo:“AND WHEN WE’RE DONE OCHO, WIN OR LOSE, YOU WILL KNOW THE DARKNESS AND IT WILL MAKE YOU STRONGER! IT WILL MAKE YOU INTO EVEN MORE OF A WEAPON! IT’LL MAKE YOU STRONGER!”)
Ocho: “Darkness. It’s spoken to me before. I have fought battles with masks in the IGC that have given me a view into the depths of myself, into the pitch black wreckage that exists in the pit of all our minds. It’s spoken to me…it’s reached out. INSISTED, like you and so many others, that channeling this darkness is the only way forward…the only path to greatness…the ONLY WAY to overthrow an evil system with cheats for champions and corruption as currency.
I’ve railed against it at every turn. Denied it blindly, said it’s the cheap way out, the wrong way to go about your life, and every other childish, naïve and otherwise ignorant argument you can think of.
Where’s it gotten me?
Defeated, while attempting to hold my head high. Defeated by men willing to go further and delve deeper into their trick-bags than I.
Defeated, because I refused to acknowledge that being a ruthless bastard is a skill.
It’s a difficult thought to overcome, but I’m beginning to see the light about the fact that some people will ALWAYS exploit my good intentions. Some people are sociopaths. Some people are, simply, THE WORST. They won’t listen to hope - they’ll take your hope and spit down your gullet because your shame is their source of power. Your white hat is their easy target.”
(More shocks of electricity, as a half dozen machines flicker on for a moment, sounds jingling boisterously, before shutting off once again. The final decree from the maw of the SuperBeast rumbles through the arcade, sending almost a gust of wind across the room.
Sylo: “AND ONLY THEN, THROUGH ME, WILL YOU BE ABLE TO COLLECT ON THE BLOOD DEBT THAT IS OWED TO EVERYONE THAT’S GIVEN A CENT TO THE IGC AND THEIR SO CALLED CHAMPION!”
Ocho: “Through you, huh? Because you’re the legendary SuperBeast, because you’ve faced the demon that is Magnus Destructo and been swatted down like so many other challengers, because by God if you don’t get a chance to gain retribution on the man who took the title of King of All Monsters away from you it damn well better be me?
…if that’s what you want, Sylo, so be it.
You see, I’m getting REALLY tired of these narrow-minded threats. It’s at the point now where I can set my watch to the next time someone tells me 'there are no extra lives' or 'cheat codes' or 'game sharks' when I face them, because the bottom line is, they NEVER understand why I wear the masks I wear. The torment I’ve carried with me since I was a skinny kid growing up in a bad part of town, where my only escapes were in wrestling and video games.
I wear these masks as a symbol to everyone out there who’s been bullied, who’s felt as alone as I’ve long felt and CONTINUE to feel every time my wrist gets bitten or my title shots stolen away by a DQ, or ganged up on by 5 guys who want nothing more than to destroy everything I stand for - a symbol that you are not alone. That there are those who will stand up and FIGHT for what’s right, who will do everything in their power to tear down the darkness that seeks to consume them.
And Sylo, if the only way to get this concept through that majestic black and blue mane of yours is to put. you. DOWN?”
(Ocho kicks his stool down as a fire lights up in his eyes. The machines in the arcade, broken and decrepit, turn on all at once, turning a sea of darkness into a cavalcade of flashing lights, 8-bit sounds and absurd musical themes.)
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