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X-treme Wrestling Federation BOARDS » Pay Per View Boards » Relentless Night Three 2023 RP Board
Thanatopsis Redux
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Corey Smith Offline
Active in XWF

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Some of everyone

(cheered; very rarely plays dirty but isn't lame either; many likable qualities)

09-12-2023, 03:38 PM

The Morning of September 11
Madison Square Garden

If Corey’s recent worries and insecurities were a temple, then it was a crowded one, with a fat collection plate and so, so many hosannah’s sung to the lord of inadequacy. As Corey pulled up to Madison Square Garden, his thoughts were a maelstrom of such second guessing. The danger he had put the people of the commune in, this new Engineer lurking on the periphery, and now, in a moment of hubris, he had come damn close to losing the Universal Championship.

How ironic that such thoughts would preoccupy him just outside this wrestling mecca. But it was the cold hard truth. Corey had taken Isaiah King for granted, and if not for Thunder Knuckles' intervention there was a chance he might not have been walking into Relentless with the championship hung so confidently over his shoulder. The ending of that match gnawed at him like a dog on a bone. Corey was used to his match endings being definitive, usually with his hand raised. But that was…an anomaly. An anomaly he couldn’t accept so close to Relentless. So close to Thunder Knuckles.

But Corey had arrived at this hallowed ground of the sport for much different reasons. Today his preoccupation was with The Engineer, and who the shadowy operator was that lurked behind it. And to that end, he was visiting a long time friend and wealth of knowledge about the military-industrial complex.

Corey had barely stepped from his car when a familiar voice called out.

You parked yourself? We have a valet you know! Thad Duke called out as he walked the length of the parking garage towards him.

Wow, Madness must be moving up in the world.

You’re damn right. Thad reached Corey and wasted little time wrapping him in a strong hug and he made a playful show of breathing in deeply of Corey’s shoulder. Mmmmm….I missed that. Smells like Downy and Super Twink.

Corey playfully pushed Thad away. Hey, smells aren’t free.

And there’s my little venture capitalist. Just when I thought you’d spent too much time in your socialist Utopia.

Yeah, about that…

Thad’s eyes widened. Ah shit, I’m sorry. I wasn’t even thinking. I’m an asshole.

Well, you are, but not for that.

Thad chuckled.

It’s fine though. I’m coming to accept it.

What? Accept that your house burnt down because of that scumbag Thunder Knuckles? Thad pointed back in the direction of the door. Let’s walk and talk. My intel is in my office.

Corey followed Thad in kind, keeping step with him as they left the parking garage and entered the arena. I’ll never accept what Thunder Knuckles did. Which is why I’m punishing him like I am at Relentless…

Yeahhhh, meant to ask you about that stipulation, man. Thad scrunched up his face in concern. That’s, like, some SAW shit. Are you sure you’re okay?

I’m pretty far from being okay lately. Corey paused, piecing together the next statement from a place in his mind that was still thoroughly rejecting it. I’m closing the commune.

Thad stopped in his tracks, leaving Corey to take a few steps in front of him. Corey wheeled on him. What?

Whaddya mean, “what”? Thad looked flabbergasted. Corey, that place is your life’s blood. It’s what keeps you going. I’ve seen how you look when you’re there. You’re…you’re…at peace. It’s tough to describe. But there’s a glow about you there, man. I…I…I don’t know what to say.

I don’t know what to say anymore either. But what I do know is that I can’t keep putting those people in danger. Sometimes I feel like that’s all I do is put people in danger, Thad. I got Joachim killed. Lux died and I couldn’t stop it. Christian left me because he felt like my life was too much, too dangerous. And now I’ve got pricks from the XWF targetting my home! Corey looked despondent. Thad, tell me…what do I do?

Thad’s features had dropped into an expression of sad contemplation. I guess I don’t have an answer for you, bud. I mean, if you think you’re doing the right thing, I support you 100%. Thad breathed out a deep sigh. Why don’t I show you what I’ve got and we go from there? Okay? Maybe if we can put the kibosh on this new Engineer bullshit you’ll feel better about keeping the commune open.

Corey, wordless, just shook his head and followed Thad further into the corridors of Madison Square Garden.

A Little Later…

Reappearing in Thad’s temporary office for this episode of Madness, Thad wheels around his desk towards an open laptop, and he gestures for Corey to follow him.

So, to recap, you’re looking for someone with the wealth and power to not only continue Shane ’s Engineer project, but also make clones of Dexter Bright to house those Engineers. Did I hit the nail on the head?

Yes, you did indeed hit my sci-fi nightmare of a life on the head.

Excellent! Well, as you can imagine the list of names that would be able to accomplish such a feat is quite small. And it starts with…Thad hits a key on the keyboard bringing up a picture of…

…Elon Musk?

Corey crinkles up his nose. Really? I don’t think so. That guy hangs out with Mark Flynn, I don’t think he has the intelligence to do this, regardless of his billions.

I’m inclined to agree. Except for the Mark Flynn stuff. He hangs out with….oh, nevermind. Here’s some of the others we dug up as potential candidates. Thad starts flashing through a series of images, giving brief explanations of each. Until, four suspects in, he lands on…

[Image: 17359053_10154153792525146_3820585634003654363_o.jpg]

Wait a minute….stop! Corey leans in towards the monitor further. Holy shit, I think I know this guy.

You know Ambrose Wainscott?

Yeah. Corey stands back up. And you can erase him from the list. He’s dead.

Thad looks at Corey strangely. You wanna provide me some backstory here?

Corey’s gaze lingers on the man on the screen for a moment longer. And before too long, he’s whisked away into a memory long forgotten.

Four Years Ago…

The room is ablaze. And it’s that stultifying heat that convinces Corey to emerge from the creche in his mind where he hid when Lux carried out her gruesome “points of contact”. Corey couldn’t stomach the killing, so to avoid it he withdrew into his mind, ceding full control of his body to Lux in the process so she could carry out her vicious duties. But this time, something was different. Corey could feel the intensity of the heat reddening his flesh. Sensing danger, he came to the fore. And saw that Lux had a man in a headlock.

Your life is forfeit, Ambrose. This is for all the children you’ve murdered, and have yet to murder!

And with that, a deep sounding crack emanates from the man’s neck. His body goes limp and Lux disdainfully drops him to the floor. Corey, now sharing their mindspace, speaks to Lux.

We need to get out of here!

Working on it. Lux replied, with rapidly fleeing traces of confidence. She looked around the room for a means of escape. But as she did so, Corey noted something else entirely.

Holy shit, that guy is still alive!

What? Lux looked down at the prostrate form of Ambrose Wainscott. His lips fluttered ever so slightly, and the finger on his right hand was bouncing up and down spasmodically. But his eyes are what really had it. There was no pleading there, none of the desperation you might expect to see. No. It was instead a cold rage, hatred billowing out from those now bloodshot eyes in waves threatening to crash against their shores and destroy them entirely.

You gotta finish him off.

Let him burn.

Corey, shocked into a brief silence, finally found his voice. Jesus Lux, that’s inhumane!

You don’t know what he’s done! What he still has yet to do! He’s a monster Corey. Now can we please focus on getting out of here alive?

Jesus, Lux!



Corey! It was another voice breaking him from his revelry. Thad.

Earth to Corey. Man, where did you go?

Corey snapped out of it. Sorry. I was…remembering.

Remembering what?

Lux. She killed this guy. He was on her list.

Thad looks at the screen for a moment and then back at Corey, seeming a bit incredulous. Well, I hate to break it to ya but this guy is alive. Kind of a hermit though. He hasn’t been seen in public in years. But all of my sources tell me he’s still very much in control of the day to day operations of his business.

Christ, how much he must have suffered.


Ambrose. Lux left him to die in a burning building. With his neck broken.

Thad’s eyes widened. Jesus. What a way to go.

It’s him, Thad. It’s him. Corey said stolidly. But why would he want to make me into an Engineer and not kill me?

That….I do not now. Thad looks back at the picture of a more fresh faced Ambrose. God, he must have hid what happened all these years. What keeps a man together after all that?


Thad looks back to Corey. Corey, if this is your guy, you need to be very careful. What’s your next move?

Corey pauses a moment before replying. I think I’m going to pay him a visit.

That sounds foolhardy and dangerous.

So you like it?

Well, yeah. Naturally. Thad smirked. But don’t think for a second I’m letting you do this without me.

Corey shook his head. No. Absolutely not. I’m not endangering anyone else.

Corey! I’m not one of the residents of your commune. I’m Thad fucking DUKE. You think I don’t got you on this? Thad smiled wider, letting a bit of the old ego show while lending Corey his support.

I know you can defend yourself, but Thad, I’ll never be able to focus on getting to Wainscott if I’m worrying about you.

Then don’t worry about me! Thad replied, sounding a bit frustrated.

I cant help it! Corey retorted, also sounding frustrated. He blew out a breath of air slowly. Let’s just walk this back a moment. Okay?

Thad, sounding calmer, acquesced. So you’re really not letting me go? Fine. I can accept that. But will you at least let me send you with something that’ll help your cause?

Corey smirked. Is it explodey?

More or less.

Then why are you even asking?


We reopen on the interior of an old, disused warehouse. It’s drab colors and murky environs lend further bad energy to an already grim scene populated by one Ambrose Wainscott. He’s being pushed in a wheelchair by a slim Asian woman wearing a white coat, and flanked on either side by a bodyguard.

The center of the warehouse is still pitch black, and the group meets a heavyset Hispanic man on the periphery of that darkness.

Javier, how are we doing on the side project? Wainscott asks, his voice sounding throaty but no less laced with malice.

The heavyset man takes out a controller and presses a button, and the center of the warehouse comes to life. High intensity lighting ignites, turning it’s gaze on a massive cage. It almost resembles a bird cage, ironically enough. But inside it, is a nightmare. Six men, if you can call them that still, are huddling against the sides of the cage. They’re covered in their own filth and excrement. What’s more, each one looks like Dexter Bright.

Javier takes out a metal bar and starts cracking it against the bars of the cage, shouting out, Buenos Dias! Buenos Dias! The clanking sound of steel on steel rouses the men, and they all lunge at the side of the cage Ambrose is on, slavering like beasts.

Look into those eyes… Ambrose marvels.

And indeed, upon doing so. It’s impossible not to see what he sees. A mindless, ravenous, animalistic nothing existed deep inside these men. They had been thoroughly stripped of anything resembling humanity, leaving only the animal behind. Ambrose’s entourage felt the urge to look away. But not Ambrose himself. Nor Javier, who seemed to be their trainer of sorts.

Javier then pulled out a cooler and popped it open with his foot, revealing slabs of raw meat. Javier reached into the cooler, pulling out one sodden crimson mass, and he tossed it into the cage. The feral men turned and lunged at it, starting to fight and bark amongst themselves in their mad scramble to be fed. Javier continued throwing meat into the cage until each were satiated. Ambrose watched this with a sort of awe.

It’s amazing what you get when you make a man with half a brain. In fact, these were what Ambrose referred to as his “whoopsie clan”. A group of clones mistakenly born without the higher order thinking regions of the brain. Are they going to be ready for their final meal when it comes?

Si, si…

English, you fucking imbecile!

Julio cringed, and then started speaking in broken English. Ah, yes, yes, sir.

Will they eat human flesh?!

Yes sir.

Excellent. Ambrose purred. He was already envisioning lowering Corey Smith into the cage, feet first to maximize the amount of time he had to be alive as he was devoured. Ambrose could hear the chorus of agony already, the rending of flesh, the popping of bones from socket, and above all else, the screams.

Oh, he couldn’t have Lux. But he would have the next best thing. That was for damn sure.


Corey Smith was sitting in the center of a burning cage. He was stripped to the waist, with perspiration rolling down his chest and back. His sodden hair stuck to his forehead in wet messy clumps. The camera’s view honed in on him as the inferno raged ominously in the background.

The first stages of heat stroke are nausea, weakness, thirst, sweating and dizziness. And if those symptoms are not addressed? Confusion, and eventually unconsciousness. Call it a public service announcement, because few people realize how insidious exposure to heat, even when you’re not directly beside it, can be.

I doubt you’re prepping the way I am Thunder Knuckles, so let me advise you. This cage? It’s hot as shit. Heat stroke is a real possibility in here. Which is why I’m in here acclimating to warmer climes. But when you factor in the pain, the agony, the BLOOD LOSS that will also accompany these flames, well…”torment” isn’t even an adequate enough word.

Corey stops, taking a moment to lick the sweat off his lips before continuing.

You’re about to get a moment of humility out of me, which I admit has been a long time coming.

Isaiah King was a teacher. He was an asshole too. But he was a teacher. And just what did he teach me?

That I need to remember what man is capable of.

You see, I dismissed Isaiah out of hand because of his record. I wrote him off as not a serious challenge. And it was a mistake. Because I almost lost my Universal Championship. In fact TK, your interference made sure that we’ll never know who would have really won that match. And that tears me up, because I wanted that win so bad.

But despite my frustration, it was a demonstrative experience for me, for sure. Because I saw how deep down King dug. And he surprised me. He did. In fact, he surprised me to the point that I owe him an apology for dismissing him. So, KIng, I apologize.

But I’m sure you’re wondering what the hell this has to do with you, TK. Well, here’s the brass tacks. That experience made me stronger. It made me wiser. And it made me more cautious. Because before that match, I was prepared to do the same thing to you that I did to King. I was prepared to write you off as just another mid carder punching above his weight class. But after that match? Well…

…I know man is capable of anything.

And that’s a lesson I SHOULD have already had down pat. Hell, it’s a lesson Lux herself taught me.I forgot. But now I remember.

And me remembering is the worst thing that could have possibly happened to you.

It’s changed my whole game plan. My whole approach. You see, I’ve pruned away all the unnecessary, dangerous ego. And I’m not the flailing, rage monster I was before. I need to focus. I need to hone myself.

I need to remember that Thunder Knuckles is a beast.

Because after all, what kind of man does that to innocent men, women and children? And what wouldn’t a man like that do to me, given half the chance?


I need to remember that Thunder Knuckles is dangerous.

Because after all, the man is a former XTreme Champion, a two time Television Champion, and one of the longest reigning tag team champions of all time.

And lastly, I need to remember that Thunder Knuckles is every bit the threat to my Universal Championship.

Because you are.

Corey wipes his brow, clearing it of sweat.

You may be tempted to deride my new mindset as weakness. I hope you do. I want you to make the same mistake I did. So if you're fixing to step in that very same shit pile who am I to stop you.

But I can also tell you this. I have never, never had more fuel in my tank than I do right now. Because as I fight, suffer and BLEED in this match, I'll be seeing every one of those faces. The faces of the people who were in my charge who lost their homes. The people who believed in me until I couldn't keep them safe anymore.

Oh TK, please don't err. The anger? It's still there. But what was once a wild conflagration is now focused as a laser beam directed at your heart. A bright shining arrow of righteous energy that will pierce the darkness and open it up to the light.

There. Now I'm starting to sound like Kido. Heh.

Corey scans the burning cage around him, the firelight reflected in his eyes creates a haunting image.

I suppose I should spare a few more words for this nightmare I've created. You know, I've had a lot of people ask me "why". Why would I put myself in such danger. Why am I willing to do this to myself to get at Thunder Knuckles. And beside the obvious, the answer is simple.

I have every advantage in this match.

Oh, on the surface it probably doesn't seem so. I did just get done talking about how dangerous TK is. But to those worriers, those naysayers, those doubters, ask yourselves this:

For a man who took a buyout at War Games rather than try to fight his way through, just how much resilience do you think he's going to show in this match?

Corey perks his eyebrows up and shrugs.

I mean, War Games didn't call for half the level of sacrifice that this match does. And he still sold his team up river for some scratch.

So I ask you TK, how much are YOU personally willing to sacrifice? Your flesh? Your blood? Are you willing to sacrifice years of your career? Because make no mistake, that's exactly what this match is going to make you give up.

There won't be any buyout when things get too hard. I'm not going to wave some cash under your nose when your flesh is cooking, your bones are fractured and your sinew is torn. Nah man, this goes down HARD WAY. And I can't wait to see how the man who CHOSE to FAIL at War Games handles those conditions. I'm guessing it won't go well for you.

But aside from that I'm sure we can expect the usual brand of ad hominem attacks, crude innuendo, and other horse shit that's light on facts. Right TK?

But that's not what I want to hear. No. What I DEMAND to hear is why we should bank on the man who took the easy way out at War Games. Why we should bank on the man sipping Mai Tais on a beach somewhere while I was putting my Universal Championship on the line and hyping this match. In short…

Why is the smart money on you?

I can't wait to hear the answer. But in the meantime TK, I sure as hell hope you're getting that cardio in. Because this match is going to eat you alive if you don't.


This is barbaric, Corey. A familiar voice spoke evenly from just outside the inferno. Pan. Corey stood up in surprise, looking for the source of the voice but having difficulty seeing through the flames.

I agree. It is barbaric. It’s also necessary. Thunder Knuckles needs to know that what he did was unacceptable. Corey’s eyes finally settled on Pan standing just outside the door to the cell. He reached through the flames with nary a mark on him and opened the door.

Can you step out?

Yeah. Corey existed the cage, inwardly glad to be rid of the heat. Then, giving the cage a wide berth, they conversed. Thunder Knuckles is a monster.

So your solution is to do something monstrous?

Corey stopped and shot Pan a glare, knowing precisely where this was going. I suppose so.

So it’s a race to the bottom, then?

Corey handwaved away Pan’s assertion. Look, I know you didn’t just come here to lecture me.

You’re right. Pan eased. I came to give you my support. I know you spoke with Thad…


Scrying. Pan corrected, with a touch of mirth, which was good to see. Anyway, I know you spoke to Thad and you figured out who’s behind this Engineer business. And I’m going to help you.

Not “I want to help you.” It was “I’m GOING to help you.” Corey couldn’t miss the dichotomy. Well if you saw my conversation with Thad then you know I can’t allow you to…

Endanger myself. Yeah, yeah….Pan bemoaned. I’m not human, Corey. You know what I can do. Plus, by your own admission, you’re all screwed up right now. Pan pointed at Corey’s head. I don’t think you’re in any state to handle this on your own.

You’re not going.


Corey threw his hands in the air, finally succumbing to frustration. You dumped ME, man! What the hell do you care?

I’m going to pretend I didn’t…

No, don’t pretend. I’ve had enough of that. Just be honest with me. Do you want to try “us” again or not?

I….don’t know. Pan relented. But I also already told you I still count you as a friend. And I don’t want anything bad to happen to you. Is that so wrong?

No….of course it’s not.

Then let me help.

Corey looked back at the fiery cage, realizing in that moment how much it symbolized the turmoil raging within him. The cavalcade of feelings that flitted about inside him: anger, exhaustion, disappointment, confusion, loss.

You know I can just follow you wherever you go. This is a moot point.

Stalking much? On top of spying? Corey retorted, half joking.

Call it what you will. I won’t let you die.

Finally, Corey nodded, and extended his hand. Okay, you’re in.

Pan took Corey’s hand in his and for the first time in too long, he saw Pan smile.

[Image: CoreySig6A.png?width=270&height=406]
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