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The scene opens in the OCW Combat Center where we find The Last Blacksmith and The Mantis inside the ring, having a sparring match before this week's Riot show tonight.


TLB: Is that all you got, Mantis? If I wanted to fight with something inanimate, I would have preferred the punching bag.


The Mantis: Well, if I wanted to fight with some smart-arse Italian with more balls than brains, I'd fight that bloke off that cake show. That fire must've really done a number on you.


The Last Blacksmith grimaces in surprise, after which The Mantis knocks him down with a running leg lariat.


TLB: You are good at answering in words. Less when you have to answer with facts...that's enough for today. I have to fix a chatty Frenchman tonight.


The Last Blacksmith comes out of the ring and sits on the edge, lighting up a cigarette. Shortly after, The Mantis exits with him.


TLB: Tell me something. What led you to fight, Mantis? What is it you are looking for?


The Mantis: I'm looking to give this company what it deserves. Transparency. Credibility. Dignity. Justice. Honour. What do you fight for? Your next championship, or your next pizza?


The Last Blacksmith gives a hint of a smile.


The Mantis: What're you smirking at?


TLB: I should bury you just for this pathetic joke. And I'm not talking about the pizza one. Transparency, credibility, dignity. And then there's that ridiculous costume. This isn't some superhero movie, Mantis. Come on, tell me what you really want…


The Last Blacksmith stares The Mantis in the eye as he takes a long drag on his cigarette. The Mantis leans against the apron.


The Mantis: Alright, fine...I'm here because...I don't have anything else in my life. I got into wrestling because of my father, God rest his soul. I did it because I wanted to support my grieving mother, to give my family the life they deserved to have.


The Mantis: As an only child, I knew that would be a tall order, but I had to do something for them, so that they wouldn't have to worry anymore, that they could be secure. Well, now, I can keep all that money for myself...though not exactly for all the right reasons.


The Mantis: You remember way back when Allen gave you that first check? That sense of bewilderment and excitement? The possibilities? Well, when he signed off on my check, I just stared at it, thinking of what could've been. What should've been. He must've thought I had a stroke in his office or something. But, it's a cruel world out there, where you have to fend for yourself. Play the hand you're dealt and all of that.


The Mantis: I think I finally realize it now...what good is fixing a world that is so fundamentally broken? Try as you might, you can't change people. Lord knows I've tried to, and you saw how that went...why do I even bother with all that rubbish anymore, you know?


The Last Blacksmith nods his head.


TLB: You know, I could just tell you that you are pathetic, that you are weak. And although that may be true…I want to be really honest with you right now.


TLB: The sense of bewilderment, of distrust of everything around us, is something that each of us feels at least once. The question: "Am I good enough"...Do you know why I fight, Mantis? I fight to forget.


The Mantis: Forget what? The accident?


The Last Blacksmith takes a deep breath.


TLB: No. I fight to keep my head busy. To keep my mind at ease. The pain I feel every time I face an extreme rules match, allows me to not face my worst enemy. My memory. Myself. This is what my secret is, Mantis. No one…no one can be a worse rival…


The Mantis: Why, though? Why do you substitute physical pain in place of your past mental pain? Pain you willingly bring upon yourself to forget pain others have brought to you? How is that any more valiant than what I've been standing for? It sounds reckless to me.


TLB: Heh, valiant…that's not the point. You said it yourself. The world is a bad place, you realized it. All your values ​​are worth nothing. You're alone. Fighting for others makes no sense, because no one will do it for you. The sooner you understand, the sooner you can move on. You can't trust anyone. Not even me...


The Mantis: I guess...I guess I'm just a stubborn bastard like that. I get it from my father. He thought he could trust people too...


TLB: And what happened to him? What did that trust give him in the end?


A long silence hangs in the air.


The Mantis: Death. They said it was a total accident, but...now I really know. Now I know why my mother was so afraid of me getting into this business...


The Last Blacksmith throws the cigarette to the floor, stamping it out.


TLB: Well, all I can say to you now? Don't make the same mistake your father did.


The Last Blacksmith gets up and heads for the exit. The Mantis remains at the ring for a moment, still leaning against the apron contemplating to himself, before trudging his way out of the centre, each step heavy with revelation.

  • Mark Out! 2
...for the OCW Universe are my loyal grasshoppers...and Turmoil...is my Dojo.
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