Post by Aiden Reynolds on Sept 20, 2021 3:38:19 GMT -5
The Biggest Mistake Part 3: The Wedding Day
And we’re back to the past. Not the future. But this was a day that was a landmark in Aiden’s life. It was late 2019. A moment where he had a choice, two roads to walk down. One that he knew was the right way, and one that wasn’t. One that trapped him. His hands shook as he stared down at the ground, oblivious to everything around him, every noise, every movement, it was all muted and dulled to the point of being a void. He closes his eyes, breathing deep to try and calm himself. His hands stop shaking, his body relaxing after being so tense he almost couldn’t move.
He opened his eyes, pushing from the wooden bench to his feet, moving across the room towards the window.
It was raining….
That should have been the first indicator this was a bad idea. That Aiden Reynolds needed to turn his ass around and walk out of the small hall in upstate New York where he and Florence were due to get married in just a few minutes. Aiden was pacing back and forth, his hands shaking as he tried to keep it together. He had been like this since he woke up. The hangover made things worse, and the fact he had to wash off a stripper body glitter from his hair didn’t help either.
He turned and looked in the mirror. His hair was combed to the side with a part on the left, he was clean shaven, his black suit was tailored to his body and his powder blue tie was done up perfectly.
He cleaned up nice.
Everything was in place; Florence had basically done everything and Aiden hadn’t had any input -- not that he was good at these things. But it didn’t sit right, the thought of him having no hand in planning any of his wedding: just got told when and where to be. This entire thing came together within a month at blistering breakneck pace. Aiden didn’t even have time to bring in his family. His siblings, cousins, parents. None of them were here.
It was all Florence's side. Except for one lone person...
Dickie. Fucking. Watson.
Aiden’s Best Man stood in the doorway, looking unimpressed in a matching suit to Aiden’s -- something Aiden damn near had to beg Dickie to not make a fuss about wearing. His wavy brown hair was slicked back like some kind of young mafia boss, and he had shaved for the occasion. Dickie looked Aiden up and down with a smirk and a small nod. “You clean up good. Guess you are taking this seriously.” Aiden smiled and nodded back, looking in the mirror again. He felt awkward. He felt like he was in another world. He hated the feeling, he hated the look and heavy pressure he had all around him. He felt like he was suffocating. “You okay? You seem...quiet. And that just isn’t you.”
He let out a sigh and turned, sitting down on the small chair in the corner. Dickie was right, he didn’t feel like him. He felt like a different person and Aiden hated it. “I just-- I’m nervous ya know, mate?”
Dickie laughed “I mean, I get it. You’re about to make a huge, life changing decision.”
And there it was, the shot to the stomach that made the butterflies already floating around go insane. It was in knots, his hand drifting down to his abdomen as he took a few deep breaths. “You okay? You’re looking a litt--”
Dickie didn’t even get to finish his sentence. Aiden shot up, moving across the room fast, pushing the brown door open into the bathroom slamming the door behind him. Dry heaving and choking noises were heard before the unmistakable sound of vomit hitting toilet water. After a few moments, the toilet flushed. Water ran, and then the door opened. Aiden’s tie was now a little loose, his hair was everywhere and he took a few deep breaths. “Dickie...mate...ya got a mint?”
“Wait, you mean to tell me they went to our former employers? Mate no matter how you feel about it we have to warn them“
Aiden turns towards the camera, he takes a deep breath and hold his arms over his chest. Dickie Watson who is standing next to him, looks over at Kallie Reznik standing in Aidens kitchen, a worried look on his face, what a great way to start this shitshow.
“Lads, ya got to-“
“Oi bruh no….”
Dickie reaches forward planting his hand over Aidens mouth. He shakes his head before pulling his hand back.
“We can’t say anything, we signed an NDA“
“NDA? What do those gun toting not jobs have to do with this?”
Suddenly Kallie, who has been quiet up till this point, pipes up.
“What? Right now?…but I’m cutting a promo….”
Kallie goes to say something, her hand up, her jaw quivers and instead all we hear is a squeak followed by a slapping noise as Dickie facepalms. ”Nah this is your turn bro….I’m just gonna...you know…”
Dickie stepped back and Aiden shrugs throwing his hands in the air.
“Fair enough...But, ya know what’s funny? This whole pick your poison thing, I kinda figured Sykes and Lyons would choose the other two members of Antithesis to face us. And I get it, I get why. See ol Jonny boredom Bones and Dio...Deo….Diocotomy…”
“I hate you…”
“I know… But those two are arguably the more dangerous members of Antithesis, Sanders is a champion and Dionysus is seven foot one. SEVEN FOOT ONE. That’s a big bloke. I mean, shit I’m a big guy but that’s insane.”
Dickie scoffs and nods laughing a little under his breath as he grabs a sandwich, raiding Aidens fridge again.
“But it’s kind of impressive the balls on that guy. Seven foot one, keeps his hair tied up the way he does, and wheres more eyeliner than you did in your high school days eh dickwad?“
Dickie stops midway through his first bite of his sandwich. Holding it in his left hand he slowly raises his right flipping off Aiden and shaking his head. Kallie can’t help but giggle.
“As we roll on down to dishonoured I have to question why we are doing this song and dance. Everyone knows that Lyons and Sykes can’t really step in the ring with myself and Dickie and make themselves look convincing as champions or even challengers. That whole crew of guys is being carried by Jonathan Sanders. Sanders has been able to push himself in this company and become the collateral damage champion. The title that was held by Heather Haze in one of the most confusing stupid moments of this company.”
“I mean come on, a former porn star turned wrestler becomes the champion of a violent division. Holding that championship for so long that it becomes synonymous with her name. But now Jonathan has been able to do the same dam thing and make that championship his. Do you think of Jonathan Sanders and all you can think of is that championship. But that being said, it doesn’t mean that Jonathan isn’t one of the most boring sons of bitches in this company.“
“He is just lucky this isn’t a charisma contest, because if it was I’m fairly certain even those two dumb bitches from the society would beat him.”
“But sending him after myself and Dickie was a smart move by Sykes and Lyons.”
Aiden felt his arms over his chest and shakes his head.
“Dionysus on the other hand? Yeah I made a few jokes about how big this guy is, he’s huge, but very disappointing. Name one top star that he has been. Name one title that he has one of been a serious contender for. He is simply a pound of muscle, used by that group to look intimidating and seem like they are more than they really are.”
“Let’s be honest here, what has antithesis done since they came to this company? We walked in, became tag team champions, got bored with the lack of competition and went somewhere else to set that company on fire. And, after realising the mistake we made we decided to come back to apex to try and help with the tagteam division be what it should be. But in our absence and teeth assess has done nothing. All they have done is gather around Jonathan Sanders and try to act like they are the top dogs here when every single time they have failed to make an impact.”
“You see, myself and Dickie, the Commonwealth, we are a team.”
“We are equals, and the rest of antithesis really say that? Or are they all just in Jonathan Sanders shadow?… after we get done with those two, Sykes and Lyons are next.”
Post by Jonathan Sanders on Sept 20, 2021 22:53:38 GMT -5
OOC NOTE: This is a joint roleplay written by both Josh and Jimmy.
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------PRELUDE: NOTHING ELSE MATTERS*Fade in. A night sky opens our shot, a blue-black void dotted with brilliant pinpricks of blinding white starlight. A jagged branch cuts through our scene, gnarled and mostly bereft of leaves, save a few stragglers here and there on the very tips. We pan slowly downwards to see more of this tree, as a building comes into view just behind it, some of its upper-storey windows visible through gaps in the branches. The slow opening notes of Metallica’s “Nothing Else Matters” fade in at this point, as our camera zooms towards the building we glimpsed behind the tree. We hold on the sign outside just long enough to read the words “King George I Home for Wayward Boys”, before the footage transitions into an interior shot. We’re greeted with a carpeted sitting room, furnished well but not expensively, full of basic toys and games that might appeal to children of varying ages. The playroom is lit only by one single standing lamp towards the far corner, and largely empty, save for one young boy - no more than four or five years old - who sits alone on one of the basic chairs with his head slumped towards the ground. The boy is not one we’ve seen before; he’s thin, with dark brown hair and hazel eyes rimmed with red wetness. The boy has clearly been crying, and his breath is still ragged as a result, but we can’t hear any of it over the background music which sets the mood for our scene. Apparently the boy DOES hear something, however, as his head suddenly perks up and he looks to his left, our camera panning around to see what he’s looking at; a full-length mirror. He hops down from his seat and slowly makes his way towards the mirror, glancing over his shoulder as he does, then turns to face his reflection...which we recognize as the boy with jet-black hair, a young Jonathan Sanders. The other boy looks puzzled, tilting his head to one side as his “reflection” does the same. He turns to look slowly over both shoulders, which young Sanders mimics again, then slowly reaches out to place his right hand on the glass, an action which young Jonathan also repeats. As they stand there, locking eyes through the looking glass, the backing track fades out just long enough to give us some narration.*“Mirror, mirror,
On the wall...”*With that, our image suddenly spins around, so the point-of-view is over Sanders’ shoulder now, looking into the full-length mirror in his childhood bedroom. The reflection continues to be the other boy in the orphanage, and the two slowly move around, mimicking each other’s movements and peering through the glass at one another as the song’s lyrics begin in earnest.*
“So close, no matter how far.*Suddenly the footage flickers and jumps, and young Sanders’ reflection in the mirror is replaced by the modern-day Jonathan Sanders, standing on some sort of beach in the middle of the night. He places his hand against the glass where the other young boy’s had been and his wicked grin blossoms, the camera closing in on his face.*
Couldn’t be much more from the heart.
Forever trusting who we are…”
“And nothing else matters.”*We now jump-cut, the footage flickering again, to a bright and sunny day in a paved schoolyard. The tarmac is slightly damp, dotted with the occasional puddle as to suggest it was perhaps raining earlier in the day, but the clouds have cleared and there’s no sign they’ll be returning. Children are out in force, running around playing games of tag, or hide-and-seek, some even kicking a soccer ball around in the spacious concrete yard. The focus of our shot, once again sitting apart from all the other kids at play, is the same little boy we followed earlier. He seems dejected, not ACTIVELY crying this time but clearly feeling left out. In the brief interlude between verses, we’re met with more narration.*“A lonely image,
Sad and small…”*The camera cuts so we’re looking from the young boy’s perspective, his view falling on a group of kids playing not too far away, laughing and smiling as they run around with one another.*
“Never opened myself this way.*The boy’s attention is suddenly caught by a puddle on the tarmac to his left, and glancing into it he sees two steel-grey eyes flash as young Jonathan Sanders looks back at him.*
Life is ours, we live it our way.
All these words I don’t just say…”
“And nothing else matters.”*As the boy locks eyes with his “reflection” for a brief moment, we get another bit of narration between the verses.*“Through the looking glass, a fleeting
Glimpse at what’s beneath.”*The song picks up again as the boy’s attention is drawn away from the puddle, but as he looks off to his right the reflection doesn’t mimic his movements, instead continuing to stare at him. We follow the boy’s gaze to see a young girl, blonde, smiling and waving him over to join the group we saw playing earlier. The boy beams, his eyes lighting up as he quickly stands up, running eagerly towards the girl and taking her hand as she leads him to the group.*
“Trust I seek, and I find in you;*We cut back to the puddle, now, and adult Jonathan Sanders is glaring through it in the direction that the young boy has just sauntered off with his female friend.*
Every day for us, something new.
Open mind for a different view…”
“And nothing else matters!”*As we focus on the puddle, in the brief break between verses, Sanders narrates once again.*“Mirror, mirror,
Cold and pale…”
*Our scene spins around again, vertically this time, to a similar-looking schoolyard on a rainy, dark, overcast afternoon. The focus of the shot is young Jonathan Sanders, who’s gazing into the distance and watching some other kids laughing and playing without him, his face contorted into a bitter and resentful sneer.*
*Young Sanders looks away from the children playing now, instead focusing on his reflection in the window on his right. We see adult Jonathan Sanders glaring back at him.*“The reflection never fails…”*Our scene changes once again, cutting back to the orphanage we glimpsed earlier. The boy is in his bedroom tying his shoes, then the girl he met on the schoolyard comes to the door and beckons him out. He moves to follow her, then turns back for a moment and faces his mirror, where we see young Jonathan Sanders in his own bedroom, sitting dejectedly on his bed. The scene spins around to see from Sanders’ perspective. He stands and looks up at the mirror as the other boy slowly approaches, placing his hand against the glass.*
“Never cared for what they do,
Never cared for what they know,
But I know…”
"So close, no matter how far.*Sanders manages one small, sad smile as he moves to take a step towards the mirror, but suddenly a hand appears on his shoulder and he stops, looking up to see adult Jonathan Sanders standing over him. Adult Sanders shakes his head, then young Sanders looks back at the mirror as the other boy frowns and slowly moves away, running out of his room with the girl.*
Couldn't be much more from the heart.
Forever trusting who we are…"
"And nothing else matters."*Here we shift to another perspective, the brief few seconds between verses filled again with narration.*“To reveal truth, as truth
Is perceived to be.”*As the lyrics pick up again, our viewpoint is kind of a tilted, over-the-shoulder shot of a group of kids - including the boy we’ve been following from the beginning, the girl who befriended him on the playground, and another boy with close-cropped brown hair and wearing an Australian flag t-shirt - sitting around a table in the cafeteria, laughing and joking over lunch. In the background we see a mirror where the door should be, and through this mirror we can see into Jonathan Sanders’ bedroom, with young Sanders watching the group in silence, adult Sanders still standing with one hand on his shoulder.*
“Never cared for what they do,*The song quietens slightly here, with a musical interlude picking up between the verses (3:03 - 3:43). During this time we see the surroundings slowly fall away, swallowed by shadow until there’s nothing left but young Jonathan Sanders, standing in the middle of an empty black void, with a spotlight on him. He looks around, frantically, trying to find any semblance of adult Sanders or the young boy and his friends from before, but finds nothing, running aimlessly through the darkness until another spotlight switches on, illuminating one lone mirror in the centre of the void.*
Never cared for what they know,
But I know…”
Full of lies…”*Sanders stops, eyeing the mirror suspiciously as he slowly makes his way towards it. Two malicious, steel-grey eyes glint back at him from the glass.*“What’s reflected in your eyes?”*As young Sanders reaches the mirror, we can see the other boy staring back at him, with a concerned look on his face. The boy mimics Sanders’ movements, as he begins feeling around the edges of the mirror, grasping and clawing, desperately trying to find some way through.*“Windows to the soul, they say…”*Young Sanders bends down to check the mirror’s frame and the image on the other side flickers and changes to adult Jonathan Sanders, wearing his devil mask. Young Sanders slowly stands up, gasping and taking a step back as he sees this new reflection.*“But whose soul do I see?”*Suddenly, as the guitar solo picks up, the reflection reaches through the mirror and grabs young Sanders by the shirt, pulling him through the looking glass.*“Mirror, mirror,
Tell me true…”*The camera follows young Jonathan through the mirror before jump-cutting to him falling through the open void, looking at his hands and body as he falls. The image of adult Sanders falling is superimposed over young Sanders, sort of fading and flickering back and forth between young and old.*
“Is this me, or is it you?”*Sanders looks down, now, as he’s falling, to see another mirror lying horizontally on the “ground” far below him. He raises his hands in front of his face to protect himself as he crashes through the glass, sending shards cascading into the void.*“Do you show me as I am,
Or only as I seem?”*Our scene cuts again as young Sanders falls into the mirror, now placing us squarely backstage at the PWS: Apex Arena. We see young Jonathan Sanders standing at the feet of his adult counterpart, as he glares across the aisle at Dicke Watson, with the other boy - now clearly a younger version of Dickie himself - standing at HIS feet.*
“Never opened myself this way.*Slowly, Sanders’ ANTITHESIS stable-mates move out of the shadows to stand by his side, surrounding young Jonathan.*
Life is ours, we live it our way.
All these words I don’t just say…”
“And nothing else matters.”*As ANTITHESIS looks on, Aiden Reynolds and Dickie’s girlfriend make their way out of a nearby dressing room, laughing and joking, and Dickie smiles brightly at them. The other children from the cafeteria also walk out with them, though the adults seem unable to see them, and join young Dickie at their feet.*
“Trust I seek, and I find in you.*The young Dickie looks over his shoulder at young Sanders, who takes a step towards him again but again gets held back by his adult self, who glares down at the boy.*
Every day for us, something new.
Open mind for a different view…”
“And nothing else matters.”*The footage suddenly slows as young Jonathan Sanders breaks away from his older self and ANTITHESIS, taking off at a run towards the group of other children at the Commonwealth’s feet. As he runs, the surroundings fade slowly into blackness with his footsteps, as though the void is “following” him at every turn.*
“Never cared for what they say;*The void now outpaces young Jonathan Sanders, causing everything around him to be plunged into shadow again. Hands shoot up out of the darkness and close around his ankles, pulling him down and stopping him in place. Young Jonathan struggles, screaming silently behind the music and reaching out for the child versions of the Commonwealth, but when young Dickie moves to help him he’s held back by young Aiden and Hannah. We close in on young Sanders’ face as his expression goes from shock and terror to a bitter, cynical smirk, zooming in on his steel-grey eyes as they harden. The footage flickers and jumps between the young Jonathan Sanders and his adult counterpart, cackling maniacally as the darkness fully consumes him.*
Never cared for games they play…”
“Never cared for what they do;*As the guitar solo picks up, the void suddenly explodes into a cacophony of flame, shooting out in every direction. Adult Jonathan Sanders rises from the void in the centre of the floor, devil mask on and clad in a long, black robe, his form wreathed in an aura of flame like Dark Phoenix. The PWS Arena catches fire around, beginning to crumble as the asylum did last week, and we see the Commonwealth - along with their child counterparts - running for the exits. They break through the doors and stumble out onto the same beach we’ve seen numerous times in ANTITHESIS music videos now, as the camera pans around to see young Jonathan Sanders seated calmly on the sand, watching the building burn with an odd sense of serenity. From the exterior we now see the burning building is not, in fact, the PWS Arena but instead the “King George I” orphanage we saw at the beginning of this video. As the music begins to die down, a hand appears on Young Sanders’ shoulder again, but this time he turns around not to see his adult self but Young Dickie Watson, beckoning him to safety down a long path to the left. At the end of the path stand adult Dickie Watson, Hannah and Aiden Reynolds, while to their right, at the end of another branching path, stand Tyson Sykes, Alexander Lyons, Dionysus and the adult Jonathan Sanders. Young Sanders looks young Dickie in the eyes and extends one hand, placing it on Dickie’s shoulder to make them mirror images of each other once again.*
Never cared for what they know,
But I know-oh...yeah!”
“So close, no matter how far.*With a long, sorrowful sigh, and a single tear rolling down his cheek, the young Jonathan Sanders turns away from the young Dickie Watson and walks down the path towards ANTITHESIS, leaving Dickie behind on the beach.*
Couldn’t be much more from the heart.
Forever trusting who we are…”
“No, nothing else matters.”*As the song’s last few closing notes ring out, the camera pans upwards into the night sky, watching young Sanders walk away as we close on some narration.*“Mirror, mirror,
Are you real?
If I touch you, can you feel?
Still and silent, as I watch you…”*We continue to slowly pan away, the image getting smaller until we see it framed once again by a full-length mirror. We find ourselves inside a small, nondescript storage room illuminated by one solitary hanging lightbulb. The adult Jonathan Sanders sits on a steel chair, gazing into the mirror with his Collateral Damage title clutched in both hands. The camera whirls around to close-in on Sanders’ face as he speaks the final line.*“Are you watching me?”*Fade out.*
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ANTITHESIS: A DARK REFLECTION*Fade in. We find ourselves in a nondescript room, lit dimly enough to make none of the background furnishings visible. What we DO see is a weathered, felt-topped card table, with a selection of tarot cards sitting face down on top of it. We’re positioned on one side of the table, as though sitting across from its sole inhabitant, PWS: Apex Collateral Damage Champion, “The Lost Cause” Jonathan Sanders. Sanders is holding the tarot deck in both hands, slowly shuffling the cards as he fixes his steel-grey eyes on the camera.*“Do you believe in fate?”*A smirk slowly slithers across the Snake of Eden’s face, as his eyes glint and he slams the tarot deck down on the table with a muffled “thud”, leaning forward to flip over one card. It is the ‘Wheel of Fortune’, in the reversed position.*“It is a topic I’ve spoken of before, prior to my conquering of Cleopatra at the aptly-named ‘Destiny’, and my opinion hasn’t changed. Humans tend to view fate through a selfish and self-important lens; it is something that focuses solely on THEM, a roadblock in THEIR story. Whether you view fate as the inevitable predestination that governs all human lives, or an adversary to be fought against and conquered, you still view it as an event significant to you, specifically. We speak of ‘changing OUR fate’, or ‘meeting OUR destiny’, rather than simply viewing the concept for exactly what it is: a CONCEPT, and one that WE have given meaning. Fate holds no malice for you, no personal stake in the outcome of your own pathetic existence; fate is merely a word. It is the name we give to our consequences.”*Sanders pushes another tarot card forward, but does not flip it yet.*“Many wish to escape their fate. They believe the circumstances of their birth, or some unspecified childhood event, may have knock-on effects that determine the outcome of their lives, before they have ever lived them. They see the actions of those in their past, family or acquaintances who have suffered some great trauma, and they believe that the same outcome is what is awaiting them. This could not be further from the truth. The truth is, in many ways, life IS fate. The way we live, the environments which surround us, the people we choose to associate with; from the moment we are born, all of it is working in concert to influence precisely where we will end up, and there is often little we can do to stop it in its tracks. Fate, like life, is a PRISON; one we are sentenced to before we are ever conceived, and from which there is little hope of escaping once we’ve drawn our first breath.”*Sanders flips the tarot card he pushed forward, revealing the eight of swords; a person bound in ropes, symbolizing prison or bondage.*“Our opponents tonight, the Commonwealth, are two men well-acquainted with the concept of fate. Aiden Reynolds and Dickie Watson have spent the last few years living their respective consequences, experiencing firsthand the thing most humans call ‘fate’ without realizing how truly trapped they are. They’re bristling against this fact, clearly frustrated in their words and in their actions, but they must know they are powerless to stop it. Though this is a feeling with which Dickie, in particular, must be intimately familiar."*Sanders’ smirk blossoms into a grin as he leans forward in his seat again.*“You and I are not so different, Dickie Watson. I have said this to others in the past - particularly Heather Haze, who I believed to be a kindred spirit at the time. But for the two of us, I think it rings truer than before. We are reflections of one another, Dickie; a dark mirror of the ‘fate’ that might have been. You’ve faced tragedy before, you are intimately familiar with the pain and anguish which have come to define the thing that I’ve become...but it runs deeper than that. Heather Haze has felt pain, Dickie, but she was not like us. Sierra Williams knows what it is to suffer, but it makes her no more a supporter of my cause than the clown who stole my image two weeks ago. What sets US apart, Dickie - what makes us kindred spirits, Outsiders who represent two sides of a single, broken coin - is that we were raised in a similar environment. We have LIVED a similar fate.”*Sanders pauses, his grin fading into a stoic, serious glare.*“How many nights in childhood did you spend retreating into yourself, Dickie? How often did you let things stew, dwelling on the words of those who called you ‘worthless’, who told you that you could never be anything beyond a failure, and you were tainted by your bloodline? How often did you give IN to those feelings, and enact some measure of revenge on those same people for daring to undermine you, repaying the self-doubt they instilled with violence or humiliation?”
*Another smirk, as Sanders leans back and shakes his head.*“I know the answer already, Dickie...because I have done the same. My retribution was more violent, of course, and I never formed the bonds that you did with others who would HELP me enact such acts of petty vengeance - until now, of course - but the spirit remained the same. It was an act of blatant defiance, a desperate plea for validation that I COULD be all I dreamed of being. That I was NOT doomed to the life of insignificance that everyone seemed so keen to convince me was my destiny. That somehow, against all odds and in the face of hope itself, I actually mattered.”*Sanders pauses here, his face contorting into a hateful and vitriolic expression as his eyes shut tightly against what must be painful memories. His hands ball into fists for just a moment as he inhales sharply, slowly returning to a calmer state. When he opens his steel-grey eyes again they are white-hot daggers of sheer, unbridled malice.*"But we know better, don’t we Dickie? We know the horrible, awful, soul-crushing truth that you try to bury deep down beneath your flippancy and desperate rabble-rousing, and the very truth that I formed ANTITHESIS to oppose: that we ARE worthless, because we live in a worthless world. We are dust riding on the cosmic wind, two insignificant specks atop another insignificant speck. We are water circling the drain; one last breath in the lungs of a dying man. I KNOW you feel the same, Dickie, because I can see it in your eyes. Every joke you crack, every glib rejection of authority and structure, every carefully-calculated action in the whole persona you've cultivated is a mask to try to make yourself forget. You're the outcast playing with the cool kids, hiding your true self in a desperate, futile effort to finally 'fit in'. You know that it can't last, that they'll see through you eventually, but some tiny voice inside you hopes that maybe if you fake it long enough - if you spend all this time PRETENDING you're important - then someday, everybody else might actually believe it. Someday, you won't feel so broken."*The Horseman of Plague’s visage cracks again, another smirk etching itself across his pale face, though this one is a good deal more derisive and bitter than those preceding it.*"But you still haven't managed, have you? For all your self-aggrandized posturing, there's still one person you've never quite convinced…"*Sanders leans forward, his voice growing cold and intense as he locks eyes with the camera.*
"Dickie. Watson. See, that's the dramatic irony in these tragedies we live, isn't it, Dmitri? No matter what kind of support network we manage to build, it will fall apart because we can't believe in ourselves. Because something interesting happens to a child when you spend their formative years telling them that they don't matter; eventually, they BELIEVE you. Your words take root in the soil of their souls, nourished by the constant stream of sorrow you provide, until they finally bloom into a wretched, gnarly, rotten tree of woe. A blackened bush that never flowers, its thorny vines choking their hopes and dreams, withering their self-esteem, spreading through their hearts and minds like cancer until there's nothing left behind but darkness."*Sanders smirks again, letting out a soft, grim chortle as he shakes his head. Leaning back in his seat, he crosses his arms over his chest.*“I am well-acquainted with darkness. I know you are too, Dmitri, which is why YOU know what to expect when we cross paths tonight. Why YOU have been pushing for the Commonwealth to avoid facing ANTITHESIS as long as humanly possible, because you know precisely what awaits you when we step into that ring together...and you know where you’ll have to go, what you’ll have to BECOME, to stop it. But Aiden? Your partner, the man you’ve called ‘brother’ beside you for all these years? He may just be in for a very rude awakening. Because Aiden Reynolds has no idea what he’s really wrestling tonight, does he? He’s expecting two men - desperate, violent, BROKEN men, yes - but men, nonetheless. He’s woefully, horrendously ill-prepared for the chilling reality; you’re not facing men at all. You are facing a human plague, and a VERY old, VERY angry, exceptionally VIOLENT…”
*Sanders leans forward to flip over one more card; The Devil. He locks his gaze on the camera.*“Mad. God.”*The camera pans forward now, over Sanders’ shoulder. The Lost Cause vanishes into shadow at the same time as a form comes into focus behind him; the hulking, unmistakable frame of “The Mad God” himself, Dionysus.*Dionysus: Hello Aiden. *The Horseman of Death has apparently been busy, as he is surrounded by massive Madagascar hissing cockroaches, crawling over each other and littering the floor beneath his feet. Some of them are crawling up and down his legs but he doesn’t seem to mind them, instead keeping his attention on a pair of cockroaches he’s holding in his left hand.*Dionysus: You come from the land down under.*Dionysus grins, dropping slowly into a crouch as he keeps his hand level, staring into a terrarium containing what appears to be a fully-grown female Australian Funnel-Web Spider.*Dionysus: When looking at nature, Australia is by far the most dangerous country in the world. Home to thousands of deadly animals, the Australian wilderness is one of the deadliest places you can possibly be. Everything you see, everywhere you go, everything wants to kill you. People who brave the outback have to be fearless, accustomed to pain, accustomed to the hardship of life, to the most dangerous aspects of nature. You don’t know what that means, do you? To fight for survival, to struggle getting from point A to point B because nature is trying to end you before you get there.*The Mad God grins a broken, lopsided grin as he stands back up, returning his gaze to the camera.*Dionysus: You should know, better than anyone, how bad an idea it is to step out of your home, your comfort zone, and venture off into the unknown, where anything can and will strike at you given the opportunity. But you don’t. Not really. You might have been through the outback a few times, but if left out there for any significant length of time, you wouldn’t survive. *Dionysus’ eye twitches, tilting his head to watch one cockroach crawl all over his left hand, turning it over and over to keep his eyes on the massive insect.*Dionysus: You’re tough, Aiden. But even the toughest men in the world wouldn’t survive stepping on a rattlesnake. It doesn’t matter how strong you see yourself, or how strong society thinks you are; nature is unpredictable, and you could drop dead in an instant! And out there, where nobody ventures to go, nobody will ever find your body. You’ll be lying dead in a pool of regret and nobody will even know. And that’s exactly where the buzzards will find you.*Dionysus sneers now, crushing one of the cockroaches in his palm and growling the next words into the camera.*Dionysus: We are the animals. The snakes, the spiders, the ones that give off warning signs that scream “I am dangerous”! Ones that ward off all potential predators, making us the top of the food chain. Lying in wait for anyone to approach so we can strike, and here you come. You’ve grabbed the snake’s tail. Despite all the warnings, you’ve put your hand in front of the scorpion. And once the venom courses through your veins, you won’t even know what killed you.*Dionysus pauses, his eye twitching briefly as his lips curl into a grin again.*Dionysus: But you have no-one to blame but yourself. Because if you step into the funnel web of the deadliest spider in the world…*He tosses the cockroach into the web of the spider in front of him, eyes glinting maniacally as he watches the Funnel-Web devour it immediately.*Dionysus: …You deserve everything that’s coming to you.*The Mad God leans forward, uncomfortably close to the camera, as his voice drops to barely above a whisper.*Dionysus: Welcome to the jungle.*Sanders comes back into focus now as he flips over one final tarot card: Death. His lips curl into a grin as both members of ANTITHESIS stare down the camera before them.*“I hope you’re ready to face your fate.”*We hold on the image of the tarot card for a beat, and then slowly fade to black.*