Bending low, the Canuck dips his battered hockey mask into the cool water, cleaning it. He is standing knee deep in the lake. He is pleased. The last of the wounds have healed, the scars firmed and settled, a part of him now, forever. These wounds have been worth it, he notes, as he slides a finger along the ridge of his newest crown. VERY worth it. He smiles deep. The fight was good. The victory was better. He pauses. It must be time again, but so soon? Who can tell? They call him crazy, don’t they? He smiles again. Because he know’s that it’s true.
Far out on the lake, out in the haze, on a small boat, floats the mastermind behind Los Pescaderos. He’s resetting his hooks and respooling his lines, his mind flickering back to visions of the crown he almost had. So close – that damn Canuck. He’ll pay for this. It was the fight of his life. Did the line snap? Did the hook snag? The harpoon fail? He doesn’t even remember anymore. No matter, he thinks. The Crown will return to its rightful owner soon enough – of that the fisherman is certain. He tests his rod. The line is strong. His hooks are sharp, his fins rested. He launches into the lake, testing the waters. So clean and fresh. Not for long, he thinks, darting effortlessly through the shallows. He grins, for he knows that soon there will be a different smell in these waters. Blood.
Off the shores of the lake there is a clearing, and beyond that the grassy fields are surrounded by woods. Stepping out from behind a tree, a stolid warrior dressed all in white straightens his armor. He checks his shield, and squeezes the hilt of his sword. It feels good in his hand. He is clear-minded, and ready. His eyes burn with purpose. He is an instrument of the heavens. Deep down he does not understand why the ultimate prize has eluded him so long – nor does he care. He has been repurified. He defends the truth. These wrabble he tangles with are putrid of soul, and not worthy of the prize they consistently battle for. But not him. He is above them. And he will prove it – once and for all. He steps out, drawing his sword.
In a runoff ditch near a stream emerging from the lake, a sharp-toothed monster starts to shimmy up a waste pipe and onto the bank. His eyes gleam, his tail, ragged, whips back and forth. He sniffs the air. It is time. He pauses a moment, thinking of his enemies. How dare they always discount him! Did he not show them, once, the error of underestimating him, and his legions? He lets the fury power him. Lifting his snout, he chitters. Behind him, there is a subtle rustling. After a time it grows. A rat appears, then another. Then a group, then a hundred, each squealing and snarling. The run forth past him, into the clearing. The snarling Rat Master licks his chops as they run past. When the last of the great horde has pushed forth, he joins them, eyes agleam, with his mind on only one thing – vengeance. They will not discount him again.
Elsewhere in the woods the master of crack doses himself. Enough of these lows, he thinks. Bring me a high dammit! Bring me a high to shatter this place like times before, he thinks. His mind drifts, memories of crown ownership, of being on top, surface. They please him. The time for being less than zero is past. He looks at his supply. Good stuff this year. Strong. He feels the initial surges. His eyes widen, the capillaries within them bursting. Veins on his head fill up with blood. He begins to twitch, then shake, nearly seizing with energy. He lurches back, and roars. He is ready for battle. He steadies himself, and breathes deep. He steps out of the woods. He eyes his quarry – the whole lot of them. He is super-human now. He charges.
HIgh above the rest, the mighty Birdman perches on a branch extending over the woods. So sad, he thinks, looking disdainfully at the others below. What limited mobility. What pathetic two-dimensional movement. He smiles ruefully. He spreads his wings, testing his strength. He feels good, recovered, strong. He should have no problems this year. How could he? He owns the skies, afterall. He pauses a moment, enjoying the cool breeze on his beak. He clenches and unclenches his thick talons, readying himself. A final pause, and then he launches. Up first, always up, then over and down. He lets out his cry. Let them run, he thinks. Let them scramble. He sees them all with sharp and deadly eyes. There will be no escape.
Back on the ground stands the Head of the Gang. Head still, his brow furrows, his eyes move side to side, surveying the scene. Look at them, hiding in trees, skulking in lakes, nesting up high. Ridiculous. He needs none of it. He summons his warriors forth. Let’s show them how it’s done the old-fashioned way, he thinks. Enough of this pussy-footing around. He leans back, and bellows a deep and gregarious laugh. Why shouldn’t he have a little fun while he toys with the these children? Then with a snap of his fingers he waves his men up. They move forward, brandishing their chains. Indeed, the real fun is about to start.
Off a ways, a puff of smoke rises up from behind some brush at the edge of the forest. After the deep exhalation, the BongMaster smiles, and smiles deep. He is putting his game face on. Was it this goofy smile? Or that jolly grin? Ah, that’s the one. He settles his face in the pose – his favorite guise. They think he is jolly and happy-go-lucky. Nothing could be further from the truth. He lifts his right hand. Dangling there, attached on a rope, are nine skulls, his newest playthings. He has learned some different tricks this time around. Powerful tricks. Ah yes, he cannot wait to see the look on his enemies’ faces when he unveils them. He cannot wait to see the pain on their faces. As for his face? No surprise there – he knows he’ll be smiling.
Lurking farther down the drainage ditch, where it first meets the river, stands a formidable figure. Part fish, part warrior of filth, he is resolute and ready. But he hesitates for a moment. Once again he cannot figure out for the life of him how he has not obtained the prize thusfar. Is he not strong? Does he not have some of the strongest attacks around? He knows he does. They all know he does. He curses his luck, lifting his hazard mask only briefly to spit. They cannot withstand his onslaught forever. He knows this. He is reassured by this. He stands tall, as the river’s bilge floats by. He draws strength from it. It is time. He inhales deep, summons his will, and renews his attack.
In a small clearing just inside the intial cover of trees, Fwats X goes through another kata. Winded, and sweaty, he knows he cannot be prepared enough. A swift punch, then a follow up backfist, then a roundhouse, each one clear, crisp – and deadly. He gathers himself. He might have been a scientist once, always looking for answers with more and more research, until something inside him snapped. Now, he doesn’t look for answers – only blood on his way to seek The Crown. He might have had some forgiveness in his heart once, long ago. But not anymore. Nothing will stop him in his quest for the prize. He will not stop, he will not pause, he will not falter, and he sure as hell won’t EVER cut an opponent a break. No way sensei. Those days are over. He strides briskly through the woods and into the clearing with only one thought on his mind. No Mercy.
Back on the shores, the Cancuk readjusts his mask. It must be time then, he thinks. Perfect. He is good at waiting – the best even – but even he is tired of delays. They think they can have it? Do they think he does not know they are coming for him? Nonsense. He pats the crown, and smiles. It is past time once again. Let them come.
Are you ready for some football?