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X-treme Wrestling Federation BOARDS » XWF PPV Boards » March Madness 2020 RP Board
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Paradiso: Symphony
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ENGINEER.EXE Offline
Virus



XWF FanBase:
The 'cool' kliq fans

(booed by casual fans; opportunistic; often plays dirty while setting the trends)


Post: #1
03-22-2020 07:39 AM




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It was all wrong. The wrongness of it was like a sickly poisoned air leaving an oily sheen on his skin that could not be washed off. Corey huddled behind a carnival game booth and tried to drown it out, palms pressed into his ears until they hurt, eyes pinched shut against the camp nightmare carnival that was no doubt the latest bit of psychological torture cooked up by his otherworldly tormentor to break him.

And as much as he hated to admit it, it was working. Searching within himself to see what was left, what vitality or spark remained within, the only word Corey could come up with to describe the essence that was still there was tired. His year plus long odyssey had been one of nonstop physical and mental warfare so expansive it felt as though he had endured multiple lifetimes in naught but 14 months. He didn't blame Lux for it. Not anymore. Her fight was just and necessary, and the fact that Corey had unwittingly been brought along for the ride was something he had accepted a long time ago.

But Lux was gone. No, she was murdered. And now he was stuck in here with THIS and the reserves were running low and Corey wondered what exactly would become of him when what little he had left ran dry.

A tingle at the back of his neck alerted him to the fact that he had garnered some attention. Reluctantly opening his eyes, he saw a little girl standing in front of him. She was holding a white balloon, but something bright red and viscous was improbably sloshing around inside of it. The girl smiled at him, and as she did so the veins in her face radiating out from her mouth started to thicken, grow course, and turn black with decay. It was like a accelerated time lapse then, her teeth started to rot and fall out of her mouth but still she stood there, smiling and oblivious as her incisors dribbled down the front of her pink dress, trailing pus in their wake, before stopping to litter the ground at her feet.

Corey closed his eyes again. Just more torture. More games. He remained there for a moment longer before a familiar voice sounded out.

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Corey.

Why are you doing this to me? Corey bit back without even looking at The Engineer.

Just because you close your eyes doesn't mean I'm not here.

It provides me a small measure of relief.

Fine. Corey could hear his tormentor breathing. He was close. Probably crouched down right next to him. A serpent's tongue in his ear. Have it your way. A pause. I'm not here to fight.

And yet you've put me here.

I like it. There was a touch of mirth there.

It's a bit on the nose.

A snort of laughter. Have you MET me? Look.... Corey could hear him shifting a bit, and then a pressure on his knee. His hand was there. For what it's worth, the way Aiwass handled things with you, it's not what I would have done.

Despite the anger building in his belly, Corey doesn't give him the satisfaction of looking at him. “Not what I would have done.” he spits the words mockingly. Fuck you. Corey curses, but even the epithet sounds exhausted.

We're not friends Corey. We never will be. But we need to come to an agreement now, and the way Aiwass handled things wasn't exactly amenable to negotiation. I would have taken much less of a brute force approach.

Corey's eyes snap open and he finally looks at The Engineer. His pupils speak daggers. You IMPRISONED me!

The Engineer looks conciliatory. I did. And it was the wrong move.

Corey rolls back on his bottom and shakes his head incredulously. You have no goddamn shame whatsoever, do you? The only reason you want to make nice is because I'm out again and you can't put me back in. So what is this some “good cop, bad cop” shit? Huh? Gettin' all those bases covered? His teeth clench together. What the fuck do you want?

Standing upright, Aiwass' servant extends a hand to the boy. Let's go for a ride on The Ferris Wheel!

Corey looks at his hand, and then back at The Engineer, and in the blink of an eye, a transformation has come over him. The Engineer suddenly looks slightly younger, his long locks shorn and more contemporary. All in all, it's a subtle mollifying effect that Corey is simultaneously aware of on a conscious level, but calmed by on an instinctual level. Still distrusting this feeling, he doesn't take The Engineer's hand. You got a hair cut.

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Trying something new.

Hm. The boy stands up on his own. If I play along with this bullshit for a few moments will you leave me alone the rest of the day?

Play your cards right and soon enough I'll leave you alone forever.

Interest piqued, he turns towards the other. What do you mean?

The Engineer steps out into the fair proper, and they are flanked by carnival games and concession stands on either side. But each booth bears an unworldly sense of unease to it. The stuffed animals on display are held together with surgical stitching, and their pelts look a little too authentic. A food vendor has a rotating spit of meat in the window, but it bears a sickly looking green tinge and flies buzz about it hungrily. The people passing by pay them little mind, but even their color is flaxen and oily, and every once in a while Corey could swear he saw an individual vein on each of their faces briefly pump with a blackened ooze in unison before dissipating. The Engineer's voice reorients him back to the present. I mean that, in time, I can give you what you want. Your freedom. But you have to be patient and agree to some other...terms....

There's always a catch....

It's not a catch, Corey. This isn't some kind of “monkey's paw, be careful what you wish for” type of chicanery. I'm just saying I'll give you your complete freedom from me in time in exchange for certain concessions from you that protect my interests. The Engineer approaches a ticket booth, and Corey crinkles his nose in disgust because the interior smells vaguely of death. A decrepit, obese old woman sits on a swivel stool, her sallow yellow skin is a paunchy mass of open sores. A cigarette hangs from her mouth and in a flash an angry vein in her forehead pumps with that black ichor before returning to normal. Two please. The Engineer slides a fresh bill over to the woman and receives two ride tickets in turn.

Following him away from the booth, Corey sees a Ferris Wheel in the distance, towering over the other shadowy rides. It's a far cry from what he's used to, looking less like a fun amusement than a towering monolith of soulless ebon steel.

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The Engineer continues. As I'm sure you're aware, I DO have a replacement body waiting in the wings. But he's not quite ready yet. Meaning I need you to mind your P's and Q's at March Madness.

You almost sound like you're not confident you can beat Ned Kaye.

He laughs. Ned's not the issue. I can beat Ned. It's YOU I'm worried about. I can't have you interfering in that match, distracting me or trying to use the match as an opening to retake control.

So you admit I'm capable of retaking control?

Nothing of the sort. But your attempts are taxing and could leave me in a precarious position during the match. He points ahead. We're here.

Indeed, the ride looms above them now. Stepping up onto the platform, The Engineer hands their ride tickets to an emaciated ride operator who looks like he's in the end stages of terminal cancer. The Engineer steps up to an enclosed ride car and gestures inside. After you.

With a suspicious glance, Corey gets inside the car, scooting to the end of the U shaped seat inside to put maximum distance between himself and The Engineer. The Engineer then boards, and the car sways a bit as he does. The ghoulish looking ride operator is along shortly thereafter to shut the door after him, and Corey can't help but imbue that with an unnerving sort of finality. He cants his head to hear the cars above him. Normally one can hear the laughter and chittering of excitement from the other riders, but instead it's just a bizarre silence. Soon after, the car jerks into motion and they rise into the night sky.

The boy turns to The Engineer. You keep saying Malcolm is your back up, but are you sure he really wants that?

I'm certain he does. He's a true blue believer. He crosses one leg over the other casually, causing another gentle sway to their car. Have you seen something that would suggest otherwise?

Corey doesn't answer at first, but then drags out a reply. I don't think he's like you. Not completely.

A mischievous grin forms. Do you watch Malcolm a lot?

...huh?

Do you like what you see? A predatory head tilt, belayed by a friendly sort of prodding smile. Are you there when he's fucking us?

Corey's expression sours. If you're trying to get in my head it's....

It's just a question! I mean, I don't mind if you are....

I think he's a decent person you're corrupting. And I think that matters to you more than you're letting on.

The Engineer's confident expression wavers a bit. What do you mean?

I'm a part of you. I humanize you. Corey's gaze hits the floor, but he seems sincere. I think you feel human emotions more than you would have us believe.

That's....an interesting perspective. He shifts his weight, again jostling the car a bit as it crests the top of the wheel. But why does any of that matter to you? Who Malcolm is or is not, and how I do or do not feel is largely irrelevant to your freedom.

Corey snorts derisively. Yeah....you're right.....

The Engineer considers Corey appraisingly but moves on to his offer. So here's the deal Corey. Give me one more month to get Malcolm ready. That will take us into roughly mid April, get me through March Madness and any protracted victory celebrations I so desire. All you need to do until then is POOF....disappear. He chuckles. No interference, no distracting behaviors, no plays at trying to regain control. Nothing. Nada. Zilch. In other words, all you have to do to get your LIFE back...is nothing. The Engineer grins. A helluva deal, is it not?

The wheel rounds the bottom again and once more they are plunged aloft. Corey's response is practiced. It IS....

The Engineer sighs. I feel like there's a “but” coming....

Corey looks over the side of The Ferris Wheel, taking in the malignant scenery unfurling below them before responding. Do you remember what Ned said at Savage after he laid you out?

Do I...? He questions, but then his body slumps and he rolls his eyes as the tea leaves are read. Oh for God's sake, Corey..... He smacks his lips disdainfully. So what? Were you motivated by that pablum? That fuzzy wuzzy feel good horseshit about how we can all join hands together and sing “Imagine” like those vapid celebrities and somehow everything will turn out alright? Or...OR! He jabs a finger in Corey's direction. Maybe you're just not done being Lux's little knight errant? Still fighting her good fight? He throws his hands up in the air. So just what ARE you saying Corey?!

Corey smiles. How's that quote go? He looks almost wistfully off into the distance. “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

Their car reaches its nadir and suddenly it stops. Their momentum causes the car to swing violently and Corey is thrown from his seat, towards The Engineer's feet. The Engineer braces himself, grasping hold of the pole in the center to retain a bit more dignity. As this happens, all the lights on The Ferris Wheel are abruptly extinguished. Corey scrambles back up and falls back into his seat, his breathing heavy. The Engineer leans in towards him wearing a vulgar grin. So, to be clear, you are saying you will opt to fight me rather than have your freedom? Do I understand you?

Corey nervously plays with his hands, avoiding the other's gaze. Then drawing in a deep breath, he steels himself and meets The Engineer's eye. Yes. That is what I am saying.

The Engineer's upper lip curls in an approximation of a snarl. I came to you with civility. In good faith.

Nothing you do is in good faith. He scoffs.

That's when the first body hits the car. Corey shouts in surprise as the car is violently rocked by something striking it from above. A violent thud sounds out on the roof of the car before a man's body slides down and collapses into a heap below them. The Engineer reclines again, his newly boyish face looking somehow placid and cruel at the same time.

So what is this supposed to....?

With a sickening slap, another passenger from higher up on the Ferris Wheel plunges and hits the roof of their car. Corey cries out again, and this time as the body rolls off the top of their car blood rains down with it, splattering the seat next to him.

How soon you forget....

A dolorous clang sounds out then and Corey looks outside to see a woman tumbling down the entire length of the Ferris Wheel, her body crunching mercilessly on the girders as she falls. The sound of bones snapping creates a grim chorus that echoes through the length of the ride.

…..this isn't just about YOU.

More and more riders tumble from each car, more than even seem possible. Body's battered and broken by the cross beams of the ride before landing into grim piles at the base. The wheel shudders as though delighted as it's whetted with the blood of its riders, drinking of them and hungry for the sacrifice.

We can make so, so many suffer. Ned will suffer. Lux's friends in the XWF will suffer. Your family will SUFFER!

More bodies keep falling, falling like a ghastly rain. Corey shuts his eyes once more, trying to will it all away. His heart hammers in his chest and he can feel the panic inside him building to a crescendo.

This is your FINAL opportunity to make a sensible choice, Corey! So I ask you again, will you stand in my way?!

The boy fights to regain composure, even as his mind reels with the possibilities, the self recrimination, the doubt. Is it worth it? Is it all worth it to keep fighting when freedom could be so near at hand? Just how much of a difference can he truly make?

How much?

And then, a warmth radiates out from within. A calmness, a sense of inner tranquility. And in his mind's eye she is clear as day: her face, her voice, that strength that buoyed him and bore him aloft even in his darkest times.

It was as though Lux was there, holding his hand.

Corey opened his eyes and steeled himself, drawing on HER strength. And he spoke.

Get fucked.

The Engineer lunged at him then, grabbing him by the throat and squeezing. But Corey was not afraid, could not be. He embraced it, sublimating the fear even as the darkness encroached, as the psychic pain about his throat threatened to undo him. Because he knew he wasn't going anywhere in the long run. He was here to stay. To fight this.

For as long as he could.


LATER....


Chaos was in bloom.

“....another 102 dead in Italy today as the Coronavirus continues to ravage....”

“....unemployment numbers expected to increase exponentially....”

“....the governor has ordered all non-essential businesses to reduce their workforce....”

The Engineer stands amidst a room surrounded by screens, each screen providing it's own insight into the pandemic response and mounting sense of urgency and fear that is spreading virally alongside the actual sickness. The champion's eyes are closed and his face bespeaks a paradoxical sense of calm amidst the furor. His head tilted slightly to one side, he listens in as the frenzied reporting persists.

“....the prime minister has declared a state of emergency....”

“.....testing supplies have run out. I don't know when we will get more....”

He steps one leg out, and then arcs one arm downwards gracefully. Slowly, his body starts to catch a rhythm, his body starts to move and sway. A placid smile overtakes his lips as he transitions into a slow, sensuous dance.

“.....8 dead in the same retirement community....”

“....ventilators in critically short supply.....”
“.....the death toll is expected to increase....”

It occurs to you that you've never seen your champion like this, beset with this ease and sense of calm. He continues to dance, not histrionically, but as though under the influence of some kind of narcotic.

“.....I'm afraid for my family....”

“....I don't know what I'm going to do, we are out of money....”
“...send help....”

And yet he continues to dance, fluidly, to the downbeat of all this lunacy. It's music to him. It's beauty, this carnage. This suffering.

Let's dance, Ned. He extends his hands into the empty air. After waiting a moment, he pulls them back. No? Bummer. He stops moving, and his expression shifts ever so slightly. This bothers you, doesn't it? He points dismissively back at the wall of screens. I know it does. You're an inherently empathic person. A decent sort, you are. So, in a way, this is the worst possible time for you to arrive at my doorstep.

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I'm lovin' it. That vile, noxious smirk. So I, uhhhh, caught that whatever it was that you did. Really coming out of the gate strong, aren't you Neddy? Thrilling us with that shot of you....watching TV? Relieving your glory days? Or maybe just wondering what the fuck you've been doing with yourself since then.

He pulls a remote out of his pocket and hits a button on it, shutting down all the screens.

You see, Ned, a prelude is only a “prelude” when it comes before something noteworthy. Otherwise, it's just the first sniff of a shit sandwich. Which is what I think is going on here. I mean, I know how much you want me to be shook that James Raven has decided once again to take pity on you and pluck you up out of the doldrums, but honestly you've known the guy for HOW LONG and his shine still hasn't rubbed off on you?

“It's time.”
He speaks the words mockingly. Dipshit, it should have been “your time” months ago. But instead you've sat on that briefcase doing NOTHING but piss your pants over the prospect of making a move. Oh but now....NOW....we're expected to believe that you're serious. That this is the moment where Ned puts his game face on and rallies and all that other feel good “retard finally gets to join the team and prove himself” Hallmark Channel brand bullshit.

And such confidence you've inspired already, Ned. I've waited all week to hear what dewdrops of saintly wisdom thy grace was going to gift us with but instead we get you acting like a sad sack again, hovering in front of screen and looking like a nervous kitten. Oh there's that gumption, there's that fire!
He laughs mockingly.

And you know what else? It is just so, so on brand for you that you would need James Raven to come along and lift you up again, to be that motivating force for you. To instill in you a confidence that you naturally lack. Just how THOROUGHLY on brand.

Worthless. Completely worthless.


He shakes his head wearily.

So what now? Are we going to be treated to endless training montages? Inspiring scenes of James Raven telling you you can do it? Telling you to push through all that physical and emotional pain? Telling you it's “your time”? Ask yourself though, do you think James ACTUALLY believes that? Because here's what I think James really feels. I think James feels obligated. I think he feels that because he's formed this friendship with this dopey clumsy puppy it would make him a bad person to turn you down in your time of need. I think he feels...no, KNOWS...deep down inside that you can't do this. That you're not good enough. Hell, he probably wishes that you were someone more capable.

Yeah, he knows where this is headed. Knows he's wasting his time. But what else does he have to fill his schedule with aside from lording his superiority over fucking Mastermind of all people and banging super models? Not a bad life, James!
He smirks and gives a thumbs up. And don't worry Ned, I'm sure James will have a ready shoulder for you to cry on when this is all said and done. He'll help you pack up your things as you get ready to walk out that door one last time, tell you you “gave it your all” and “you have nothing to be ashamed of” and all those other trite feel good empty aphorisms that ultimately mean nothing at all. Yeah, he'll do all that. But the one thing he won't do? Admit he was never really helping you.

Because if James really wanted to help you, he wouldn't be setting you up for this failure right now. A true friend would be telling you what you NEED to hear, and not what you WANT to hear. A true blue dyed in the wool friend would be giving you the TRUTH.

And the truth is, you ain't ready. And HONESTLY, you never would have been. Some people would. There's a couple young upstarts on the roster right now that I think with a few more months of spit and polish could be a viable contender for my title. Hey Atara.
The Engineer winks playfully. But you? Never. Because you never even believed in YOURSELF. You're a timid mousy little man. You're the kind of guy who laughs along with all the jokes directed at your expense even when they hurt. And you have never expected much from yourself as evidenced by the last year of your career.

Until now. When you have oh so wisely decided to jump right into the deep end of the pool.

That feeling you're experiencing, Ned? That incapacitating cold chill? That fresh rush of panic? It's drowning. It's drowning. You're in my end of the pool and you just remembered you never learned to swim good and proper. And James might might throw you a life preserver, try to anyway, but it won't be enough. It'll never be enough for you. Because you're already at the bottom Ned. Dead and cold.
He mimics waving down at something. Good night sweet prince.

Goodnight.


He withdraws the remote from his pocket once more and turns the screens back on. The calm smile returns and he starts to play at being a conductor, directing a symphony of pain and terror and unease as the scene slowly fades to black.

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[Image: Engy1.png?width=650&height=420]

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