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Location: Where the English people live.
Born: 27 June 1994
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DJS

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May 6 2018, 03:10 PM



Tap. Tap. Tap.

The water drips every four or five seconds from the ceiling of an old gym at the heart of Melbourne. You'd think it's been abandoned for decades if there weren't boxing posters on the wall from at least the last five years. It's what you'd expect- punching bags, speedballs, a big ring in the middle on a dusty, wooden floor. Nothing lighting the path but the brightness exploding through the windows. The door squeaks open as Adam Fenric, in gym gear- primed and ready, leads a quizzical and bright-eyed Emery Layton in. She looks around, one hand in her pocket and a hefty backpack slung over her shoulder in the other.


EMERY LAYTON:
Maaaaan. How old is this place?

ADAM FENRIC:
It closed down within the last two years. I feel it fit our criteria well. It'll make an excellent training facility for our tag team-related endeavors in Australia. I felt we needed somewhere easily accessible to only us while we're here.

EMERY LAYTON:
You hear the echo in here, though? HELLOHellohellohello...


Adam glares at Emery.

EMERY LAYTON:
Sorry. No, I like the place. Could do with a bit of a clean, though...

ADAM FENRIC:
Cleaning most certainly will not be my department.

EMERY LAYTON:
The most mannish thing you've ever said, right there.

ADAM FENRIC:
Get prepared- plenty of stretches and bridging to start. Training in ten minutes. Big day ahead of us. Eight hours minimum.

EMERY LAYTON:
That's a joke, right?

ADAM FENRIC:
I never joke, Emery.


Adam carries his things to the other room, leaving Emery to her backpack. She begins to pull out a pair of kneepads and a boot. The other gets stuck. She pulls once- nothing. She pulls twice- nothing. She pulls one last time and it comes out, but not without spilling everything out onto the floor. Muttering expletives to herself as she packs it all away, among the stuff is her journal. She carries it everywhere. It's not big, but still looks rather stuffed, full of pictures, one of which is poking out of the page more than the others. Daring her to look. Not one to turn down a challenge, Em takes it out and looks, sitting down cross-legged.

It's an old photograph, clearly having been taken on a digital camera. Four young girls- the lights of a club behind them, huddled together in days long gone.


------


The snow trickles as a cold breeze moves through the world. The floors and roofs are coated in white and the skies are black, even though it's still early.

We're in Manchester and it's winter.

On a weekend, the freezing temperatures aren't enough to deter the city's population from finding something to do. Some go out for drinks. Some enjoy the nightlife. But somewhere, if you're in the right place and you look very closely, some are finding a different sort of entertainment. In a small, damp little building on the outskirts of the main city, the rowdiest bunch of misfits gather around a small, dusty ring. They're banging on chairs. They're chanting horrible, inappropriate things at the female ring announcer, who tuts when someone throws a ten pound note at her. She deserves more than that to do this job in front of these people and she bloody well knows it. But inside the ring, two big, burly men who really look like two guys you wouldn't want to meet down a dark alley are literally throwing around two small girls.

One girl is brown-haired, heavy-built but with a cutesy face and big, sad eyes. The other girl- slightly smaller, paler and sickly-looking but with auburn hair, heavy black eyeliner and a gypsy head-scarf around her bicep. They are both especially young-looking and they are not holding the attention of this crowd, who are more than pleased to see the bigger men throwing them into turnbuckles and the mat. When one of the bigger men finally hits the brown-haired girl with a piledriver and pins her for a three-count, the place erupts with cheers. They bask in their fame, throwing their arms up in the air as they leave. The smaller, paler girl leads the girl with the brown hair off to the back. As they leave, they are being heckled. Shouted down. As the brown haired girl turns, a glass bottle full of some sort of alcoholic beverage travels through the air and socks her right on the eye. She feels a small cut on the side of her nose. She feels it tear through her skin.

She is confused, upset and disappointed.

She looks around. The other girl is already gone. The brunette gives one last, longing glance at the ring before she turns to leave.

She could be so much more.


------

Emery flies off the ropes, knocked down only moments later by the elbow of a focused Adam Fenric.

ADAM FENRIC:
Be aware of what's coming and throw it back at me.


Emery pushes herself up off the mat and runs back at Adam. The Futurist throws a clothesline but Emery rolls under, standing back up, but with a wobble. Adam pivots his entire body round, seeing the wobble. Showing as much satisfaction as a cold, emotionless technician like Adam possibly can, he kicks the back of Emery's leg, causing her to drop onto the ground.

ADAM FENRIC:
Footing.


He plants his foot on top of a downed Emery, who looks back up at him- frustration.

ADAM FENRIC:
I thought you'd held titles. Hardly befitting of a 'multi-time champion' to not know her footing following a roll.

EMERY LAYTON:
Yeahyeah, I get it.


She pushes his foot away and sits up on the mat. Adam takes a step back.

ADAM FENRIC:
When you're ready.

EMERY LAYTON:
I'm not.

ADAM FENRIC:
Fine. You do not seem to be focused, anyway.

EMERY LAYTON:
I know I know it's just...you ever get the feeling like you started something? Like, you were responsible for everything that happened to somebody even if what you did was something you weren't thinking about the time?

ADAM FENRIC:
No. But clearly you do. Perhaps getting it off your chest would work...

EMERY LAYTON:
It's about Serena.

ADAM FENRIC:
Serena Maxwell.

EMERY LAYTON:
Yeah.

ADAM FENRIC:
We don't think about Serena Maxwell.

EMERY LAYTON:
No, YOU don't think about Serena Maxwell. I do. You said your piece about her a while ago now. I wanna tell you mine...


------

"Oi. Oi...Serena!"

Serena Maxwell isn't aware of what's going on around her, right now. Not really. With a plaster over the bridge of her nose, she's spaced out in her own little world. She likes her little world. It's nicer. People appreciate her more. But here, in reality, she's nothing special. She doesn't think so, anyway.

"Oi!"

A hand clicks in her line of vision and suddenly a face appears. It's dirty and unwashed but with sparkling, shiny eyes and a warm, reassuring smile. Emery Layton, way before everything that's happened to her, sits down in front of Serena, placing a hand on her shoulder. "Off with the fairies there, weren't you, eh?" Serena has no retort. She has nothing to say. Em exhales. "Hey- you did nothing wrong. We did nothing wrong. They kicked that guy out, he's barred from ever coming to see another show here again." Serena shrugs. She knows they only did that because this company can't afford to get sued. But still, Em continues- "and lemme tell ya- if I'd have seen what he did, huh, well...anyway, you'll get it over it. Always forward." The proto-Pavee stands up, but as she moves, suddenly Serena pipes up.

"You always say that..."

Emery turns around, an eyebrow raised. Serena continues, "you always say next time. How can you be so optimistic when people are so vile?" Emery considers this for a moment. Brought up in a family of Travellers, anything's better than that as far as she's concerned. "Look..." Em stands up, leaning against a wall, "I know we ain't had much luck lately, but we can change it! We just gotta get our names out there a bit more. Come on- we'll crack this! You and me, Serena. They'll all know who we are. Just you watch, yeah? You'll be fine." Serena doesn't move a muscle. She doesn't change expression at all. Emery, never good with this sort of thing, feels there's not a lot more she can add to this.

*Knock knock!*

The door opens and in walks Chelsea Ray, looking considerably healthier and happier than she will when Emery goes to see her on New Years Eve in three years time. "Alright, guys? You guys get paid yet?" Em scratches the back of her neck. "Well...yeah. We got a fiver each so that makes it ten quid from us. Least we got paid though! Sometimes that don't even happen. We can all at least stop by a takeaway!" Serena rolls her eyes. "This sucks. I want real food, Emery. I'm sick of this. I didn't come here for ANY of this." Chelsea curls her lip and looks at Emery, who shakes her head and raises her hand. Slowly, she ushers Chelsea out of the room, not wanting to cause a scene. "They were pretty bad out there," Emery starts. Chelsea raises her eyebrows. "Yeah, I heard about the thing. Sure she'll be alright though. Weird because they were pretty okay out there for me so...hey, did you guys get asked back for the next show?" Emery pauses. No one has even spoken to her about that. In that moment, she realises the promoter hadn't spoken to her since he told her who she and Serena would be facing, after that he sort of ignored them. But she's seen that before. She knows what that means. "...nah. I don't think they saw us as anything special." With a disappointed gaze, Chelsea looks to her side...but then forces a smile. "Right. Come on then. I'll show you lot the Northern Quarter- makes a great night out- even on twenty quid! Actually no, more than twenty quid. Girl I faced tonight is tagging along. Em, you'll bloody love her..."

With her ear to the door, Serena- dejected and silent- slides down the wall into a sitting position.

Nothing Special. She travelled so far and her head is a mess, all to be 'nothing special'.

With her knees to her chest, she buries her head in-between them...quietly beginning to sob to herself.

Why is she even here? What is she waiting for?


------

Sat on the apron of the ring, Emery and Adam's legs dangle over the side. The Lethal Lackeen is more restrained.

EMERY LAYTON:
We shoulda given her more support. All I had to say after the doctors looked at her was "you'll be fine" and then off we went. I just feel like...like if I coulda stopped it from happening...

ADAM FENRIC:
Then YOU would have been harmed by that fan, not her.

EMERY LAYTON:
I can take it. If someone had done that to me, you know what'd have happened. I'd of done something...but Serena was always a bit more emotional. We coulda done more.


------

Pharrell Williams' "Happy" echoes through a crowded bar full of people, the nightlife alluded to earlier on, and it appears Emery, Serena and Chelsea have joined them, with another person having been added to the group, albeit in different places. Chelsea Ray has attached herself to a rather well-off-looking fella in a suit in the corner, Serena sits at the bar alone while Emery sits with this new person, the one Chelsea wrestled earlier, who seems to joined their little group. The girl is small, sweet-looking with black hair and a blonde streak and a black beanie perched on the top of her head. They are quiet for a few moments as Emery enjoys a glass of rum. She gives the new girl a sideways glance. She doesn't react, she just sits there- still.

"So..." Emery begins... "Japan, yeah? That's what Chelsea told me. You're a long way from home." Em takes a swig of her rum. The girl does not respond. "Yeah well...me too." The girl still doesn't speak. Emery downs her rum, pulling her legs up onto the big, sofa-like chair they've occupied and putting her glass down on the table in front of them. She's reflective, though, looking to the ceiling. "We all are, I guess. We do a lotta travelling, us lot. I ain't done Japan yet but I wanna. Went to Mexico a few times, that's where I met Serena. Y'know that Richard J Maxwell guy? That whole Whisper's War thing last year...she's his sister. Kinda fucked when you think about it, huh?" The girl still doesn't respond. Emery takes this as an opportunity to keep going "I don't feel like it's paying off, though. There's so much more we all want and we just we ain't getting there. Me and Serena, we wanna rule the world, be a real tag team and stuff, we just...it ain't a thing that's happening right now. I can tell it's really getting to Serena right now. And the glass thing tonight really hasn't helped. I don't think she wants to talk to us too much at the mo. But I keep going and saying 'always forward' cos I really do believe it'll happen for us." After a few more seconds of non-response, Emery sighs. "I dunno why I'm telling you this..." There are only a few more seconds of Pharrell in the background before Emery finally hears a new, soft voice.

"Sometimes belief is all a person needs."

Emery looks up. The new girl is facing her. "I ran away from my family based on belief. I thought that I could be something more. They didn't agree." Now she has Emery's full attention. "I do a lot of travelling now. Once I learned English, found out I could go where ever I wanted to after that. I needed to be more than I was, so I went after it." Em nods in both agreement and impression. "Yeah. Yeah, me too. I used to be...so, my family were Travellers. 'Pavees', that's what they call 'em selves. You're not supposed to really go off like I did, really. You're supposed to start a family. I didn't do that." The girl shakes her head. "Well, that's no good. Not the best pavee if you can't even do what you're supposed to..." Emery laughs. "Not the best, no. Maybe even the worst. 'The Worst of the Pavees' Emery Layton. Actually that ain't half bad..." The newly-christened Worst of the Pavees curls her lip. "Look at us lot. Just a loada runaways, looking to make it big. Here's to the Runaways." Emery raises her glass. The new girl raises hers now, clinking it with Em's, and they both gulp down. It's at this point the scatty Irish runaway realises something. "Yknow, you just gave me a new name and I went ahead and let you when I didn't even get yours..." The girl smiles, warmly. "Yasuko." Emery waits. "...you got a second name or...?" Yasuko smiles and winks. "Yasuko will do for now. Very pleased to meet you, Emery Layton."

While Chelsea gets even more cozy with the man she's met and Emery and Yasuko yammer on about the mad places they've visited and compare experiences they've had, Serena sits alone at the bar, still.


------

We haven't really moved very far- Adam is still listening.

EMERY LAYTON:
I spent so much time with this new girl- girl I'd never even met before! Spent so much time with her that I never even went up to Serena. Never included her.

ADAM FENRIC:
Who was this girl, Emery?

EMERY LAYTON:
Doesn't matter, you wouldn't know her anyway. The point is Serena needed someone and we weren't there for her. I don't think a lotta people ever were- you think Richard J Maxwell's the kinda guy who'd look after his sister? No wonder she's turned into what she is...

ADAM FENRIC:
So you said she left the bar. You don't know where she went?


------

The music is pulsing louder than ever before. The constant chatter of people infests the airwaves. It's like a million people are talking at once- shouting, stuttering, singing, screaming, scheming- and none of them are talking to her. She has to get out. It's almost involuntary as she stands up out of her seat, like something is guiding her away from the madness as she shuffles through the crowd and leaves the bar. Stopping by a wall, she closes her eyes. The world is moving past her. This intoxicated, uncaring world. The resentful, mean-spirited people in it, and not one of them even bothers to acknowledge her existence. She closes her eyes. She can't bare to look at them. Just go to her world. Go back to Serena's World. A world where she is the best. Where she's something to care about.

"Hey."

Serena's eyes snap open. She feels a tap on her shoulder and a voice. Probably just one of her friends.

"Excuse me."

Oh. Some guy with a Mancunian accent. Probably drunk and after a quick night of fun. Attention's one thing, a leering thirsty creep is another. She's not in the mood for 'another', right now.

"Alright, come on. I've been polite, this is just a load of bollock now, this. You know how many bloody people I had to ask at that atrocious venue you wrestled at tonight if they knew where you were going?"

Serena turns. She looks up. The man is tall, well-built with a disciplined stance. His hair is cut short, his eyes are snake-like, his teeth are...quite bad and yellow, actually. She knows who he is, so do you, and yet he puts his hand out, offering a handshake and an introduction because he just loves saying his own name oh so much.

"Hello. I'm Diamond Jack Sabbath. I know your brother. He's a twat."

Serena is speechless. Jack leans down, eyeing the plaster. He tuts. "Bad business, that. You wanna get that checked over, gonna need more than a plaster." Serena slides down the wall into a sitting position, and the Innovator of Anarchy follows, sat next to her. "Serena, do you believe in destiny? That's not a dodgy chat-up line, by the way. Anyway, do you?" Serena looks down at the ground, then to the sky. She's never really considered it properly. All she can manage right now is to shake her head. Jack exhales. "Well, I do. I used to think things just happened. Like life was a random sequence of events with no rhyme or reason. But the world's connected, Serena. We're all just part of one big story. Case and point- learned a few days ago Trace Demon has a new position for me in XWA. Gotta go back in a few weeks. Gonna be running things! It's gonna be a new world and I have ideas. They're not ideas that are gonna make me popular. I'm going to need backup, I think. But it's been a few months since I've been home, so to get my mind back on wrestling, I decided to quietly sneak into a local show- not make a big fuss about it, just stand at the back- and who should I find but...YOU. Just simply you!" Serena smirks. "Popularity doesn't make something good." Jack raises an eyebrow as he thinks about this. "You're not wrong. Very true, actually." Serena wipes her nose. "I never was very popular. It was always someone else getting the attention. Even my mom and dad preferred my brother." Jack shakes his head. "And why would they do that?" Serena shrugs. "Suppose I'm nothing special."

That's when it hits Jack like a lightning bolt. He's got it. His moment to strike. His moment of genius. "Oh no. Oh nononono, Serena. That's not true at all. I've met your brother. He's a nuiscence. You're special. You're more special than he'll ever be." Serena's stomach does backflips. She's not quite sure how to process the information she's just received. "Like I said, I believe in destiny and Serena Maxwell, if you don't believe in it too, you should start. I went to that show tonight to see an old friend but from the moment I saw you, I'd figured out who you were. After the match, I knew I had to meet you. I knew it was destiny." Serena is almost taken. She's almost on-board with what she's hearing, but that little voice in her head tells her otherwise. "I'm nothing. I not worth your time." Jack turns his entire body now. "No. No, Serena, you are worth my time. You are worth the whole wide universe's time, they're just too bloody stupid to see it. Look at them..." they both watch as the drunk, disorderly people shuffle from pub to pub on the streets of Manchester. "Look at them, all so normal. All they're worried about is who's gonna win the match on Wednesday or where they can get a kebab right now or what's on telly tonight while there's Gods walking amongst them. They're so slow, Serena. And that's THEIR problem, not yours. They can't see it. But I can. I see it in you. You look like a person, but you're an entity. A real destroyer. A being beyond the comprehension of these simple human beings. They could never understand YOU. To me you're a titan, to them you're unexplainable. And that's why I want you to come with me when I go back to the XWA."

Serena looks up. She cannot believe what's happening. What she has just been offered. This has seemingly dropped from the sky, right onto her doorstep, and yet there's only one question she has- "What about my friends?" Jack turns his nose up, scoffing at the idea. "Reeeally, Serena? Friends who drag you out to the Northern Quarter for a night out after everything you went through tonight? Pfft. And where are they now, eh? Nah. Ditch 'em. I don't want them. I want you." Serena pulls her knees to her chest as Jack rises to his feet. As he does, he reaches inside his inside pocket. "Tell you what...just had these printed today. You get the first one. Think about it, when you know what you're doing, gimme a call and I'll get you flown over to Chicago," he says, as he hands Serena a card- 'Jack Martin-Sabbath, XWA General Manager', a corporate email address and a number. "If you ever fancy living up to your potential, give that number a call." And with that, Diamond Jack Sabbath leaves, and fades into the night.

Serena sits alone, once again. But now, in her hand, she holds something that none of her other friends have- a way out. The keys to the castle.

She's special. He said so.


------

Emery is now sat with her legs crossed on the apron, while Adam Fenric paces backwards and forwards.

ADAM FENRIC:
Well...that would certainly make sense with the timeline. If this happened when you say it happened, Sabbath would go back to the XWA only weeks later to become General Manager, with Serena Maxwell part of his security.

EMERY LAYTON:
Hey, I'm only going off what people told me when we went to look for her and my own ideas, man. Not hard to put two and two together. People knew he was in town. They knew he was friends with the promoter.

ADAM FENRIC:
I see. And what next? You did not see her until she appeared in XWA?

EMERY LAYTON:
Well. Not exactly. One nice thing Poundshop Liam Gallagher did for us was convince the promoter to give us another shot. Don't think he knew who I was at the time and don't think he even remembers now, he just knew Serena wouldn't go back alone. We went back and...

ADAM FENRIC:
And?

EMERY LAYTON:
...And that's where it happened.


------

ONE!

TWO!!

THREE!!!


Serena Maxwell lies prone on the mat, at the same dirty venue we visited earlier. Emery Layton is inches away as their opponent rolls off Serena and raises his arms, joined by his partner. Serena looks to her side to see Emery looking back. The Worst of the Pavees hangs her head. She was a millisecond too slow. Serena's shoulder burns in agony as she sits up, eyeing Emery.

She looks out to the crowd. Some teams get adolation just for the effort. For the attempt. Not them. Once again, in front of this angry crowd, they are jeered. They are losers.

About twenty minutes later and Serena's sat there with a bag of frozen peas on her shoulder in lieu of an ice-pack and she's off in Serena World again. A world where she's not forgotten. A world where she's the best. A world where she's 1000 years old and given a task in this universe. A world where belief rules. A reality we don't understand. It's always been there in her head. A world where she's a winner. But she is briefly returned to reality as she hears the door creak open. Emery Layton- with a black eye- raises an apologetic grin. "Hiya. Only me." Serena neglects to respond. The proto-Pavee nods, pointing to her eye, "guy hit me so hard I couldn't see straight. Walked into a door. Uh..." She scratches the back of her head, looking for the words. "I...yeah, y'know what? This one's on me. I was a second too late. Next time, eh? Always forward." And just like that, Emery leaves the room, having seemingly moved on. Just another day.

No.

Throwing the shitty bag of peas on the floor, Serena grabs her hair in clumps and pulls down, balling her hands into fists and just pulling. The pain isn't enough. She pulls so hard her eyes go shut and she screams. She screams and screams and screams until her throat goes hoarse.

Emery launches back into the room, her eyes wide and horrified until she finds herself taken down by a manic Serena Maxwell. Serena clobbers Emery over and over and over again with forearms and punches and scratches and claws. Pulling her up to her feet, she tosses Emery into the wall, the Lethal Lackeen smashing against a mirror and shattering into it, ear-first. Serena straddles Emery, her hands around her neck.

"NEXT TIME?!" Serena bellows, "What about THIS time?! Or LAST TIME?! WHY DON'T YOU CARE?! Why is it always about YOU? It's never MY NIGHT! It's EVERYONE ELSES or NO ONES! I'm MADE for BETTER than this! I'm made for BETTER THAN YOU! I'm...SPECIAL. You people won't admit it but you know it's TRUE! Tell me! TELL ME I'M..." She pauses and looks down at her friend, her partner, gasping for air and has a moment of conscience. She lets go, looking at her own hands. For a moment, she is disgusted. She is terrified by what she has done as Emery's ear begins to be trickle blood and she almost coughs her lungs up. But after a second, while her face doesn't show it, she is somewhat impressed. She did that. She made it happen. It's power. And if she can do it to a person she'd call her best friend, her partner...who can't she do it to? This is it. This what he saw.

By this point, everyone has heard the spat. Wrestlers, both male and female, rush into the lockerroom. Chelsea Ray and Yasuko are among the many wrestlers who flock to the scene as Serena makes a quick exit, making sure to grab her phone before she does.

As she leaves the building in haste, Serena pulls up a number she was given over a week ago and puts her phone to her ear. There is a second's pause. She is shaking. "H-hi. Hi...I'm in. I ditched them. I DITCHED them. Ditched my team. I wanna accept your offer. I wanna be special..."


------

And for the final time, we join Layton & Fenric in the present. Adam has now elected to sit on a chair instead of pace back and forth.

EMERY LAYTON:
And that was it. Didn't see her again till last year, during the whole Survivors fiasco. And she got worse, too. There was none of this 'Great Foretold' bollocks.

ADAM FENRIC:
That must have developed over time. Appears to be a hard-wired belief now. It's fascinating what belief can do to someone.

EMERY LAYTON:
Well sometimes belief is all a person needs. Someone told me that once.

ADAM FENRIC:
Wise words.

EMERY LAYTON:
Wise person.


There is a pause.

EMERY LAYTON:
I look back on all of that and I feel like we shoulda treated her better. All the stuff recently with Katie Hanley and the girl at the academy and the daft wedding stuff, all those people she's targeted...we coulda stopped it.

ADAM FENRIC:
From the sounds of things, her insecurity would've prevented that. The Serena Maxwell you teamed with was an untouched mold of clay. Fairly unstable clay, too. She wanted to be more. She always wanted to be more. I think she was waiting for someone to come along and validate her, and she got it. She resented your optimism, because she felt she needed to be better. She felt there was no cause for optimism in a world where Serena Maxwell was 'nothing special'.

EMERY LAYTON:
Maybe. Still...guess a lotta things couldn't have happened if she'd stuck around.

ADAM FENRIC:
You may not be here for a start. Anyway, we've neglected training. Let us stop thinking of the past when the future is so, so near.


Emery nods, raising a little fist.

EMERY LAYTON:
'Always forward', yeah?

ADAM FENRIC:
Indeed. Now then, get back in the ring. Lets get this footing issue ironed out...


------

"Ow. Owowow..."

In a hospital bed, young Emery Layton sits with her her shoulder bandaged up and her left ear covered. Sat at the side of the bed are her two friends Chelsea and Yasuko, the former of whom has brought a fairly big boquet of flowers.

"I'm not even gonna bother asking how you're doing," Chelsea begins, "you don't look good." Emery snickers. "Oh I look fine, you're just not seeing my good side, that's why. Doctors reckon I mighta gone deaf in the ear. So I guess I always got that to remember her by... I also think this is true cos I can't hear shit outta it. You could scream 'Em is a gee-bag' in my left ear right now and I'd have no idea." Yasuko sits forward. "So when do you think you'll be wrestling again?" Emery hesitates. "Well, they'll probably say I need to take a few months off or something when I get outta here which means...three weeks? Why?" Yasuko smiles. "Because I think you need a new partner."

Yasuko extends her hand. Emery looks down at it for a few seconds. She lost a friend, but to lament on that goes against her very ethos. Always forward. Here's a chance to go forward.

"Lets go rule the world."

Emery Layton shakes hands with Yasuko.


Jan 1 2018, 06:43 AM


The night is only young, but already the world is being lit with big, bold and bright flashes in the sky.

Many countries are celebrating at different times, but one is ahead of all of us. Yes, on this New Years Eve, bars across the world are filled. Beer is being swigged and spilled...but we're not going to a bar. We're going somewhere all the quieter and more tranquil...apart from the music that's playing.

Inside a rather swish-looking apartment complex at the heart of Melbourne. Our attention specifically is one one apartment in particular- rather big and swish-looking and crawling with people tonight. People and balloons. And alcohol, obviously. Stood in the very middle balancing conversation and a glass of wine is a short, brown-haired girl. She's quite skinny- clearly she does some workout, but perhaps not as much as she used to. Bit like this, actually. Her name is Chelsea Ray, and she's the host of this New Years party. Suddenly, in the midst of all the people and the music playing- currently "Gypsy" by Fleetwood Mac- she hears a knock at her door. Pushing her way through everyone, she finds her way to the door.


CHELSEA RAY:
Hold on! Hold on a sec!


She says in her Southern English voice with a twang of Aussie attached to it, as she opens the door, greeted by a gaggle of people. Dontel Porter, Jason Moana, XWA interviewer Laura Stark, A.J. Morales and Emery Layton, all with huge, cheesy grins on their faces.

ALL:
Hiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiii!


Chelsea looks to Emery, who maintains the cheese.

CHELSEA RAY:
You said you were bringing your boyfriend. I didn't expect this.


Em snorts and barges in, patting Chelsea on the shoulder as she drags a bottle of rum in with her.

EMERY LAYTON:
Ahhh, the more the merrier, eh Chels? What's a new year party without a loada people you don't know to chat with, yeah? Plus, the place is busy already, why not more?

CHELSEA RAY:
Fair enough. At least introduce us, though!


EMERY LAYTON:
Oh yeah, yeah, course. So, Chels, this is Jason and Dontel, they're a tag team...


Hyphy Machinery give a nod of approval in unison.

EMERY LAYTON (Cont'd):
...this is Laura Stark. Her boyfriend's a bit under the weather so I asked her to come along...


Timid Laura follows this up awkward wave as Em throws her arm around A.J, proudly.

EMERY LAYTON (Cont'd):
....And this is A.J. He's my guy! He's the best guy! I told you about him!


Chelsea looks him and down. She clocks the blonde streak instantly...then looks at Emery, with a side-smile. Em maintains the stare.

CHELSEA RAY:
...Yeah, with a streak like that he's really your type, Em.


Em's quiet for a moment, awkwardly smiling as A.J. looks at her, quizzically. Yeah...there's more to this, and he knows it. But not wanting to draw attention, he speaks.

A.J. MORALES:
So...er, how do you guys know each other, anyway?

CHELSEA RAY:
Emery and I used to travel together. Long time ago, before I retired. We met in England when she asked to borrow some gear from me because she left her bag in a toilet at a McDonalds. Knew she was gonna be a task to deal with. She started a punch-up between two Scots in Glasgow, y'know.

EMERY LAYTON:
You're remembering it wrong. I got into a punch-up WITH two Scots. They spilled my drink. We were all bladdered. I wasn't pleased.

CHELSEA RAY:
No no, I remember it. It was December. You got up on a table and declared yourself champion of Christmas and tried to get everyone in a rousing sing-along of Fairy Tale of New York but you didn't know the lyrics so you got down. And then you fell into a bin.

EMERY LAYTON:
No one knows the lyrics, though. It's a load of bollocks.

CHELSEA RAY:
I don't think your accent helps.

EMERY LAYTON:
Oh just cos I don't sound like I fell out the arse of Oxford Uni like you.

CHELSEA RAY:
At least we're not American though!

EMERY LAYTON:
Oi! I got friends who are American. Step down.

CHELSEA RAY:
That's cos you know everyone, though. Dunno how you do it.

EMERY LAYTON:
It's a talent.


Chelsea looks behind Em, looking over the shoulders of Jason and Dontel.

CHELSEA RAY:
No Adam, then?

EMERY LAYTON:
He doesn't really like this sorta stuff.


Chelsea tuts, disappointed.

CHELSEA RAY:
Shame. I was gonna put all this wine down him then who knows what would've happened.

A.J. MORALES:
Wait...Adam Fenric, that's who we mean here, right?


Em leans in, lowering her voice.

EMERY LAYTON:
She's seen a few IYH shows. She's met Adam a few times when we've been up here and she's got a bit of a crush on him.

A.J. MORALES:
Oh God.

CHELSEA RAY:
He's smart. I like that. Gonna happen one day, though. He'll come round to my charms. So anyway, heard you two had a match in town earlier tonight...


***


A few hours have passed. And many, many glasses of wine. And rum too, obviously. We're not long until the New Year of 2018 rings in. Everyone's mingling, some even getting a little friendly with each other and other absolutely avoiding getting friendly with one another at all. In the middle of the room, on big, cream couch sits Emery and Chelsea, who we join mid conversation, in fits of laughter.

EMERY LAYTON:
...And so I'm there in the kayak like 'what's so bad about this anyway? Why do the police even care?', but then I look up and I see a sign saying 'Lincoln Memorial Pool'!

CHELSEA RAY:
Oh my God! How'd you get outta that one?

EMERY LAYTON:
I can't really remember! So much stuff happens these days, I try not to think about it. Not even told you about how I won a title in a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

CHELSEA RAY:
Okay, now you're just taking the piss.

EMERY LAYTON:
Wish I was. This has been a weird year.

CHELSEA RAY:
And Supreme XWA Champion now, too!

EMERY LAYTON:
Man. Think of who we used to be. If those kids could see us now...

CHELSEA RAY:
See what? I quit, Em!

EMERY LAYTON:
Yeah but you live here and besides, you could still do it! You could be out there delivering the Chelsea Dagger all over again!

CHELSEA RAY:
God what a lame finisher. It was only a DDT, too. Nah, people leave and come back to this business all the time. I'm enjoying not being sore all the time.


Chelsea and Em are silent. But its not an awkward one. It's the sort of silence two friends can have. A calmness. Well, until...

CHELSEA RAY:
So...you keep up with anyone else from the old group?

EMERY LAYTON:
I dunno. Christina and I talk a lot, she's a tag champ now in Seattle. Serena's...well...

CHELSEA RAY:
I know about Serena. She ran off and joined that arsehole's group, right?

EMERY LAYTON:
Basically. It's a long story.

CHELSEA RAY:
Yeah. Hear he's gone now, though. Good riddance. One less psychopath in the sea.


Now they're quiet again. But this time it's not the calmness. It's the quiet of two people who both want to ask the same thing, and yet don't.

CHELSEA RAY:
Is-

EMERY LAYTON:
Are-

CHELSEA RAY:
Oh. You first.

EMERY LAYTON:
Nah, you go.

CHELSEA RAY:
I was just gonna ask...any sign of Yasuko, yet?

EMERY LAYTON:
Chels, I--

CHELSEA RAY:
Because I have a number, I just dunno if it's still the same one. I keep trying and it's nothing but her answer phone's still accepting messages so the number's active it's just--

EMERY LAYTON:
Chelsea.

CHELSEA RAY:
--And I thought if anyone would know where she was, it'd be you.


Em wipes her brow.

EMERY LAYTON:
If I knew where she was she'd be here right now, Chelsea. But she's not. Face it- she left the business. She never said why. We don't gotta know more than that, do we? Besides, when would I get the time to go looking? I spend so much time travelling.

CHELSEA RAY:
Come on. You can't seriously believe that.


Em leans in, and the two begin to talk in hushed tones.

EMERY LAYTON:
Can...can we not do this? I'm here, I'm having a good time. We're all having a good time. I ain't thought about Yasu--that person in over a year.

CHELSEA RAY:
Y'know, I'd believe that if you weren't parading round in her beanie on every show I ever see you at.

EMERY LAYTON:
No one knows where she is and she don't want us to know, clearly. So lets move on, yeah? Let's move on.


Chelsea curls her lip.

CHELSEA RAY:
Okay, we'll move on. So long as you answer me this question...is the blonde streak deliberate or by accident?


And this. Just...this. Whatever this means, it reduces Emery to a state of total and utter berevement. Chelsea looks down with instant regret. She knows she just crossed a line.

CHELSEA RAY:
I'm sorry.

EMERY LAYTON:
No. Don't be. It's not, by the way...listen, I'm gonna get some air, yeah? Back in a bit.


Emery rises from the couch and walks off, leaving Chelsea alone.

***

"Three! Two! One!"

"HAPPY NEW YEAR!"


Fifteen minutes pass as we reach 2018. Fireworks-a-Plenty and Auld Lang Syne for all! Stood out on a balcony, Emery- who has now removed her hat and it fiddling with it in her hand- leans over. She's looking down. It's only now she realises just how high up she is, as she looks down at everyone on the ground. So small. So far away from her. They wouldn't hear her if she tried to speak. She looks up, at the fireworks. The sky is changing colour every second. It's hard to predict what colour comes next. As she's mesmerised by it all, she nearly jumps out of her skin as she hears a voice behind her-

???:
It's like the world is trying to out-noise each other, isn't it?


She turns. Stood there, in a suit, is Adam Fenric. Despite their battle in the Showgrounds earlier tonight, he is looking quite clean.

EMERY LAYTON:
Oh. Hey! I didn't know you were coming...

ADAM FENRIC:
I wasn't. But Isabella wanted to come. Spending time with others outside our family seems to have had an effect on her. I feel after everything that has happened, my sister should be afforded some level of normality.

EMERY LAYTON:
Huh. Cool. How's your neck?

ADAM FENRIC:
Workable. Your arm?

EMERY LAYTON:
Eh, I've had worse.

ADAM FENRIC:
I'm sure.

EMERY LAYTON:
Man...what a year, eh?

ADAM FENRIC:
Are you aware that it has been exactly a year since our first meeting?

EMERY LAYTON:
I busted my lip open fighting your brothers and your other Bridgett Neilssen-looking sister. You took a look at it.

ADAM FENRIC:
Indeed It took splitting from my immediate family to lead me to you. We've teamed ever since. Were I a sentimental person, I suppose this would be somewhat of a landmark night for our team.

EMERY LAYTON:
Bollocks, fella! You dedicated your career to avenging your Da. You're the most sentimental person I've ever met.

ADAM FENRIC:
Well in that case, happy anniversary.


Emery looks up, as does Adam. They watch the fireworks, side by side.

EMERY LAYTON:
Look...er...I should probably say. Like, I know we lost the XWA Tag Team titles cos of me this year and with me being Supreme XWA Champion now, it's...I dunno when we're gonna get our next opportunity.


Adam shakes his head and waves his hand.

ADAM FENRIC:
Time enough.

EMERY LAYTON:
Oh. Good.

ADAM FENRIC:
You can make it up to me by helping me win the IYH Tag Team titles instead. Our battles with the Survivors and the Bad Omens have caused our focus to slip. We have taken our eye off the ball. Lets get back to what we set out to do.

EMERY LAYTON:
Hey, I'm game for that.

ADAM FENRIC:
I anticipated you would. I've been researching our opponents in preparation for the new year. I've some interesting observations on a few of our esteemed colleagues.

EMERY LAYTON:
Seriously, is that what you do when you're not wrestling? Been a month, dude.

ADAM FENRIC:
I detect you are somewhat agitated.

EMERY LAYTON:
What, me? Naah. I'm cool.

ADAM FENRIC:
Lying is not your strongest skill. Seeing things through is. Whatever is troubling you, rectify it.

EMERY LAYTON:
Worried I'm gonna get in your way again, eh?

ADAM FENRIC:
As long as something continues to agitate you, you have lost the battle. Don't lose battles you know you can win.


Inside the apartment, the music has started up again, presumably because everyone's got sick of old acquintance being forgot. Instead, "Don't Dream It's Over" by Crowded House bursts to life from the sound system.

EMERY LAYTON:
Hey, you sticking around for a bit? We should just get a drink and...y'know, chat.

ADAM FENRIC:
I only came to drop Isabella off. I have arranged with Laura to take her back to Chicago. I have work to do.

EMERY LAYTON:
I'll get you one of these days.

ADAM FENRIC:
Also I have deliberately avoided all contact with Chelsea since my arrival and would prefer she does not know I am here.

EMERY LAYTON:
You heartbreaker. Go on then. She's had a few drinks already. She might look small but you try taking a Lou Thesz press from her.

ADAM FENRIC:
I'd prefer not to. We'll speak again soon.

EMERY LAYTON:
Yeah, sure. Thanks, by the way.


Adam doesn't acknowledge this. He simply turns and briskly walks through the crowd of partying people inside the house. Until he's stopped...by Laura Stark.

LAURA STARK:
Hey Adam.

ADAM FENRIC:
Evening. Is Austin also here?

LAURA STARK:
No. About that, actually...I wanna talk to you about something...


Outside, on the balcony, Emery holds her phone. She looks down at the screen, judging. Wondering. Should she? Shouldn't she? The number's right there. Her face is right there, looking back at her.

*Click*

EMERY LAYTON:
Hey. It's me. Happy new year. Lemme know when you get this, yeah? Don't even know if this is still your number. Probably isn't. Listen...I dunno where you are right now and I guess that's cos you want it that way. Or maybe you don't, and we've all been crappy friends. Either way...I'm gonna see you again. Promise. It's been too long.

A.J. MORALES:
Hey Em...


Em clicks the phone off and her head's up like a meerkat, as A.J stares back at her.

A.J. MORALES:
What are you doing out here? Come join the rest of us!

EMERY LAYTON:
I just needed some air. Nevermind me, what's going on with you lot? I been away too long!


And off she goes, back into the apartment.

There is freedom within, there is freedom without
Try to catch a deluge in a paper cup


...But Emery's left her phone on a table right next to the balcony. It's not been locked and the screen's not gone off yet.

There's a battle ahead, many battles are lost
But you'll never see the end of the road while you're traveling with me


Walking out in Melbourne streets, Adam Fenric passes drunks and people celebrating a brand new year. The Futurist walks with brand new purpose, a better man than he was a year ago. Plague Doctor no more.

Hey now, hey now, don't dream it's over
Hey now, hey now, when the world comes in


But as we end, we close in on Emery's phone. The Crowded House continue on as we see three things.

A number.

A picture.

A name-
Yasuko.

The image fades out and the phone locks, but we fade out also.

The new year begins.
Sep 3 2017, 11:52 AM




The bar's at it's busiest on a Friday night. That's generally the rule no matter where you go, even in Australia. A jukebox in the corner emits the White Stripes' "I Fought Piranhas", all while people are playing darts, chatting it up, men trying it on with women with which they're massively punching above their weight. It's the general stuff you'd expect, but in an Australian accent.

She touched down in Perth a few hours in preparation for this weekend, but with her hat on the bar, Emery Layton sits there- too short for her feet to reach the bottom of the stool- as the bar-tender brings her a glass with a black liquid in it.

"Oi...leave the bottle, yeah?" And so he does. A big bottle of rum sits next to Em's head as she downs the entire glass of rum in three seconds, and it feels for a moment like her brain has just slopped out of her ears. She closes her eyes, scrunching her face up- the rum was so cold...but then she stops. Slowly, her brain aligns and the coldness subsides. She hates it. She doesn't know why she does this to herself all the time. Well, sort of. That little voice in her head always tells her nights like tonight like a good idea...as she pours another one. Even an optimist has her vices. The Worst of the Pavees looks to her side, greeted by the vision of a man sat next to her. His head appears to becoming one with the bar as he lies there. He looks how she feels, she thinks.


Perhaps a proper introduction is in order, as I have been unable to do so since my arrival within In Your House Wrestling Federation. It will hopefully explain a few of my...values. Some of which others have taken offence to.

My father was a professional wrestler just like I was. Aldus Fenric.

If you know him, you are aware of his story. If you do not know him, then perhaps it shall lend context to why I choose to speak and act in the way I do.

Aldus was a resilient and authoritative man. A dynamic talent who would try to stimulate audiences with his agility. Known for his crossbody from the top rope- nothing particularly special nor interesting, but effe. A 'superhero' to the small village in Austria in which we lived. Every night, he would come to the ring and no matter who his opponent would, he would go out of his way to be remembered. The difficulty he faced, however, was that he never planned.

Never.



"Hey", she calls. Nothing. "Hey, man?" click, click, click and wave. Nothing. He's out. Em shrugs. "Fair enough. Long as you let me talk, I ain't got a problem. That's all I need tonight, really. Y'know, I was gonna do what you're doing. Truth be told, I ain't feeling too good right now, which I ain't a fan of. Only on my fourth rum though so...progress, I guess!" she holds up her glass, looking to his half-empty glass and clings it together with hers. "Cheers!" she says, as she downs the rum again. No ice-cubes this time- not as cold, but we're not at the part where it starts to taste like liquidised rubber so we're good so far. "Look like you're enjoying yourself, at least. Rough time, eh? Gotta be rough if you're at that point of your night. I mean, like, I ain't been in that position for a bit where I had to do that. Last time I woke up the next morning in Central Park in New York wearing a Superman costume. I'd been in San Antonio the night before. Never worked that night out, to be honest. But in the end, I just went with it as I do with everything else that I do. Didn't have a plan." She stops at this. In light of recent events, the significance of this statement isn't lost on her.

Em pours herself another glass of rum. "Plans are a load of old shit," she begins, beginning to spin her full glass around in place, "I never plan too much. I heard something once, don't remember who said it- 'we've not got a plan so nothing can go wrong.' Stuck out to me, y'know? Like, life's so unpredictable. Wasn't that statement that was the only reason I say that, though. Think it comes from a few things why I think that. Thing about me, man, I'm a traveller." She coughs, putting her hand to her mouth. Looking at whatever's spat out, she wipes it on her shirt. "Ugh. Bad habit. Anyway, yeah, traveller. Proper what they'd call a 'black-blood', me. We used to move around all the time when I was growing up. Couldn't get too attached to things or places, you just had to keep moving. Kinda aimlessly, really. Never knew when my Da winning or losing a fight would rub people the wrong way, so you had to be prepared to run at any time, know what I mean? Some people ain't good with that. I got a friend that--" Once again, she stops...reflecting on what she was about to say...



My father subscribed to the theory the his life should be dictated by 'the moment'. This lead to a vast number of problems. You see, as I have discovered over time in my research and inquisition, wrestlers are often rather insecure creatures. Perhaps this is due to their prior life circumstances, but that is pure conjecture and speculation that I cannot verify is the case for the majority. It is an opportunity to hide behind a persona. A window into a world where people come to them because they adore their talents. Where they have no need to speak of private affairs because it does not matter. It was a world that was all too attractive to that of my father. My mother left us at a very early age. I am not privy to the reasoning nor am I interested why, but professional wrestling gave him an outlet. It gave him something to strive towards.

My father's ultimate goal, one of which he would frequently repeat, was his intention to win a world championship. In fact, as I recall, he had never received an opportunity at any title. The unfortunate fact was that thirty years prior to now, were you to talk as I do, you would be painted as 'the villain' by the promoters, and in spite of his athletic prowess, he did not posses the charisma to overcome this or enough of a radical to try.




"Friend...yeah." Now, finally, she downs the entire glass. Once again, it feels like her head's been pulled through the floor and then flung into space. "Agh...oh God. That's bad." It feels like the blood has rushed to her head. But she's got the whole bottle now. She asked for it, so now she has to finish it, no matter how punishing it may seem.

"See, I'm in a bit of a shitty situation this weekend, man. Really shitty. I'm in a big match for the Tag Team Championships at IYH. Six teams, one of 'em is us." He lies there, still. "You might be thinking 'wait Em, why is that so bad?' and you're a man after my own heart, asking the questions that no one else does. I'll drink to that," she feels the bulge in her head, and the though of 'Nah' goes through her mind, "well, later, I will. But here's why, Mr. smarty-pants-with-your-questions. For the first time in a very long time, I'm gonna be in there with someone I know, in a legit match. Serena, her name is. Oh yeah. Not a lotta people know this, but we tagged for a bit on the indies. This was years ago, though. And she was nice. Quiet, bit shy to start. Or maybe I was just loud. Anyway, one day she just turns on me. Just like that. Friend gone. In fact, reason I can't hear outta my left ear is cos Serena hit me with a chair real hard." She removes her hat. She often does this when she's antsy about something, but she doesn't realise this and hasn't even in the amount of years she's done it. "Few months later, I find out she went off and joined this group called 'Whisper's War'. That's a whole other story right there for another day. But I seen a lotta stuff she done over the years and especially here and I can't let her win. I can't let her get further ahead than other people by being a liar and a cheater. Cos that's all she is. Behind the 'crazy' act. But the best way for me to stop them is by winning the whole match. That proper makes sure the titles away from them, know what I'm saying? But that gets us to a different problem..."


One day, my father faces a man. An American. My sister and I were in attendance. I am three years old.

As it turns out, this opponent was rather proficient at being able to catch high-flying opponents in mid-air. My father did not know this. It turns out this opponent was rather adept to piledrivers. My father did not know this. Instead, he passively stood in front of a camera and told the world that he "wasn't threatened" and his intent that night was only to entertain spectators, in spite of the fact he would almost definitely be disliked due to his ethnic origins. But undeterred, he went out to that ring and he performed no better nor worse than any other match prior, and all was going well for him...until my Father takes it upon himself to pounce upon the middle rope and jump at the American.

He is caught. In mid-air. The American lifts him for a piledriver, however my father makes a rather ill-advised attempt to escape it. He is unsuccessful, but enough to the point that my father's opponent loses balance and drops my father on his neck. The pressure shifts up his spine. He is not moving. In moments, Aldus Fenric- Vienna's superhero who can do anything is no more. The immortal is proven to be very much mortal.

I watch as they carry him away, past me. I watch his leg twitch. I bare witness the final movement of the nerves in his ankle. He never walks again.

I spend the next twenty-seven years caring for my father. I watch him slip into a deep depression. The persona and career he used to escape his less-than-satisfactory life outside of wrestling is gone and never returning. He never achieved his life's ambitions. He never will. He is known only for his accident and the aftermath thereof.

Had he known his opponent, he may have avoided this.



Emery wipes her face. It's been a hard, hard month, not only because of the big matches elsewhere adding to this next one, but especially given the run-ins she's had since she came to In Your House. "See if we win this match- and I ain't gonna put all my eggs in a basket here cos there's five teams and they're all good- that brings us a different problem, cos we got a team who say if they don't win the titles, they're leaving. They ain't had luck on their side lately, to be honest, I feel like I sorta made it worse. I should keep my trap shut sometimes, I know, you don't gotta tell me that. Landed me in trouble one too many times, and I tried to apologise for that before Adam barged in and dragged me off. But you mean to tell me if me and Adam win, we're gonna be seen as the ones who 'got rid of the Uncanny Socialites' for the rest of our careers?" Now she pours an full glass of rum, filling it all the way to the top. It's barely even in there, it's actually trying to escape to the outside world. "I mean, like, what the hell, man? I don't want that on my head! And on top of all that, if I lose, Adam's gonna be annoyed when Adam Fenric's pissed off with you, you should act like a comet and make sure he only sees you rarely and from a long distance away."

Emery downs the entire glass and now, finally, she puts it to one side and just holds the bottle in her hand.


When I am old enough, I study to become a doctor. I tell everyone this is because it has been my ambition for a long time. I am being disingenuous.

My ambition is to learn of regular injuries regularly incurred by athletes, much like my father, and how they are caused. How soon, in the future, I may be the one to cause them. How I, in the future, may avoid them at all cost. I learn of human anatomy and study psychology to intrinsically understand the inner workings of the human brain. I do this so I can be prepared for any and all eventuality.

I begin to work as a doctor for professional wrestlers. I do it not to be kind but to learn of wrestlers. You do not know of a person's desperation until their livelihood is in your hands. I cannot fix some- they are like my father. I treat this as an opportunity to learn from them and experiment. Perhaps I may even make a breakthrough. My methods are now considered unethical. My family seen as freakish. The industry do no appreciate this. I receive a reputation, soon referred to as "The Plague Doctor". I resent this title, but my medical background is not to last long. It is purely for research reasons.

I embark on my travels. I claim my legacy, looking to do the very thing that my father was unable to do. Over the span of a year, I win three titles. I want to do better. I want surpass my father. I want to move from his shadow. My family cast me out due to conflict of interest and join with the dregs of society.

I have no one. Until one day, I meet Emery. We both want to be better than our families.
We have common enemies. We both want opportunities otherwise not afforded to us. We join forces.

I am often asked why I continue to team with Emery Layton in spite of our differences and, often, different philosophies in life. I am given a hard time for 'penalising' or criticising her. My criticisms are valid. Emery Layton is a talented wrestler. She has the potential to be one of the best wrestlers in the world. I do not care about her background or her social circle. It does not take genius-level intelligence to see that she will be something great.

But she does not plan. She does not care to strategise. She will openly mock her opponents and refuses to see people for the threats that they are. She denies anything that points animosity towards her, running without looking back. She believes her life should be dictated by 'the moment'. This is a mistake. I have lived a life based around the tragedy of Aldus Fenric. I have spent countless years to ensure that everything I do is meticulously constructed, careful and goes without hitch. Emery, while full of potential, could jeopardise this. Her motives are emotionally-charged. I am not. I prefer logic.

I should not be misunderstood- I at least care enough of Emery to team with her on a consistent basis. I will not stand to be accused of trying to manipulate her, as some have said. I would not do that, I do not have the patience. I have watched someone ruin their career before my very eyes and dealt, at length, with the aftermath. I will not watch it happen again. She has a lot to learn. But so do I and we can teach one another.

Nevertheless...this Sunday, Layton & Fenric will be out in force. We will step into the ring with five other teams in a high pressure situation where we will thrive.

We can do so much more than we do today. We've only just begun in IYH. We're walking.

After The Fall, we run.




"If I lose..." she slurrs with a hiccup, "I dunno what's gonna happen to Layton & Fenric. Fuck, man...I dunno what Amy's gonna say either." Another swig. She's teetering more and more. "And on top of all that, I still got loads of other teams to deal with!" Huge swig of the bottle now. She wobbles on her barstool a little bit. "There's a stake in whatever corner you look in this match and I just dunno what to do with myself! All I ever wanted to do was wrestle, know what I'm saying? I just wanted to wrestle and be friends with people. And now I gotta choose between 'em!" She throws both her arms up, shrugging in a massively animated way like only a person who's hammered could. "Well...what if I don't wanna choose, eh?! I'm Emery Layton! 'Choice' and 'reason' fear me." Hiccup again. she puts her hand on the shoulder of this poor man she's been harrassing all night. "Y'know what? Maybe, you're right! Maybe, you're right. I should just say 'FUCK it!'. I'm going in with no plan. Cos if I don't plan, then nothing can go wrong. You're great, fella! You give some great advice."

She turns to get off the stool but before she does, she turns back to the man at the bar, head still down. "Thanks for listening. Get home safe, yeah?" Now she turns back, looking out to everyone. "ALRIGHT! I'm the next Tag Team Champion. You lot hear me? Its time to celebrecate because guys, I'm ready for The Fall!" Emery puts one foot on the floor and her entire body follows it. The bar-stool drops to the floor with her. Emery is flat on her face, her eyes closed. She's off to dream land.

It's been a tough old week to be a red-headed wrestling pavee. And one way or another, it's about to get worse.
Jul 30 2017, 10:02 AM
Buzz! Fzzt!

Angry black and white floats across our view until eventually we are greeted by the vision of the most horrible girl in the business staring down at us. Picking us up with a deadly smile on her face, the "Unexplainable" Serena Maxwell places us on some sort of surface as she moves back. She is in wrestling gear, as is Raine, and in the background, we hear cheers and reaction as well as the occasional thump that can only come from smashing into the ring. With a swirling XWA logo on a screen behind them, Diamond Jack Sabbath stepping in front of it, right in between Serena and Raine. He is also in his gear. Through his recently-grown Goatee of Evilâ„¢, he smiles with that wicked, yellow-toothed mouth of his.


DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
Hi. Yeah, you may be aware. We're not actually in Australia right now. No, we're in Russia, which is really cold. But we can deal with it, because we're tough and used to changes in climate, unlike Australians. Odds are you lot would actually die out here, frightened to death by the sheer drop in temperature, which I guess further puts the idea out there that I'm just so bloody impressive.

Serena nods in agreement.

DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
Anyway, let's talk In Your House, shall we? Let's talk In Your House while I'm...well, in MY house, I suppose! And the big question is this- what did Mind Your Own Fuckhole teach us? What have we all learned? Because it was just that, really. It was a learning experience for us all. I mean we learned that Craig Anderson can capture a title, which is baffling but hey, good on him for finally showing he's not a joke. We learned that it doesn't matter how much Fury you throw at War Enforcement, Serena and Raine will still come out winners. We learned that no matter what partner she saddles herself with, little Kelsey Spencer will NEVER get a hold of those Tag Team titles and now they seem to be at odds with the Pikey and the Freak, but hey, could be worse. Could be us!

Serena laughs. That awful, blood-curdling, murderous laugh.

DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
But most importantly, Owen Gonsalves, your little champion, now he learned something too. He learned a few things actually- chiefly, the fact that he's not 'Indestructible'. No...just very, very lucky.

He holds his index finger and thumb adjacent to one another, very close but with a little gap in between.

DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
This close. I was this close to becoming IYHWF Champion, but his ticker just kept on ticking. Like the lyrics of a really terrible Peter Gabriel song, something in him said 'don't give up now, Owen!' and to his credit, he didn't. But as I said, it was a learning experience for everyone involved, and I learned just how much Gonsalves wants to keep that title. I learned what he's willing to go through...but I also learned what it's going to take to completely ruin all of that and take it all away from him.

SERENA MAXWELL (singing):
Jack-knows-a-se-cret! Jack-knows-a-se-cret!

He snaps to attention.

DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
Quiet! Seriously, cut that out.

Serena stops immediately, looking down. Jack turns back.

DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
Owen, I took you to your limit. I know I did and YOU know I did. That's why Rick Kreiger was able to come in and pick at the pieces so easily. Every statement needs an exclamation point. He was the exclamation point, but I was the big statement that came before it and did all that damage. I made sure you couldn't fight back. What I've learned is next time, I'm going to be that statement AND that exclamation point. That's my goal. You and me, one last time for the IYHWF Championship, and this time I'm walking out with the title that I deserve to have.

The Rise of Owen Gonsalves has been sweet for some, but The Fall will be soooo much sweeter.

He scratches above his brow as he pulls the lapels of his jacket up.

DIAMOND JACK SABBATH:
Now if you'll excuse us, we're off to destroy some annoying little upstarts. Come on, guys...

And off they go, leaving us alone as we fade out.
Jul 5 2017, 11:52 AM


Team Name:
Layton & Fenric

Members:
Emery Layton
Adam Fenric

Combined Weight:
353 Ibs

Team Gimmick:
Bickering, mis-matched tag team of total misfits.

Team Finisher:
The Prikasa/Goodbye Cruel World combo
Assuming the other partner is nowhere to be seen, Emery hits the Prikasa on an opponent only for Adam to lock in Goodbye Cruel World until the opponent taps out.

Well-Practiced Double Team Moves (Max 5):
1. Suicide Dive/Tope Con Hilo combo
When two opponents are outside the ring, stood side by side, Emery jumps on one through the rope and Adam jumps on the other, going over the ropes with a senton bomb.

2. Assisted Moonsault
Adam throws Emery across the ring with a release German suplex which Em uses to moonsault onto an opponent currently on the ground.

3. Irish-Traveller-Whip
Very simplistic- Adam throws an opponent into the corner, tags in Emery and Irish whips her into said corner, right at the opponent as she hits him with a running dropkick.

Entrance Theme:
"Come As You Are" by Nirvana

Team Background:
If you had to pick two people in the entire world who you think would make a great team, a free-spirited Irish traveller and a humourless Austrian prodigy are probably not exactly who you'd have in mind. Brought together by circumstance and a shared desire to succeed where others before them haven't, Emery Layton and Adam Fenric are a mismatched pair of misfits looking to conquer the world and achieve all the success they can. This has so far proven successful, as the team hold the XWA Tag Team Championships while appearing as guests for multiple other promotions such as HELL Lucha Libre and participating in Union Battleground's Battalions tournament.

While the duo can often be found bickering, irritating each other or just disagreeing with how the other person works like a pair of squabbling children, when Layton & Fenric have the will to work towards a common goal, they can be unstoppable.
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