Description: Slayer recruits MARIA to investigate/join the King of Fighters. being an artist, MARIA takes it. TAKES IT
BEAST COAST PRO WRESTLING
APRIL SHOWERS BRING
*You Won't See This On Saturday Night Fight!*
BIG BEEVER and ZOMBO SLAUGHTER vs. SON JOW and ERICH VON SLAUGHTER
ZOMBOLORD vs. AMERICAN HEARTBREAKK
THE KING'S HAND vs. ORLOK vs. BERINSTAIN BEAR for the ROYAL ASSENT title
RUBBER CATGRRL vs. WOLFS' BAYNE for the STALKING SILK contendership
YASMINE KWEEN vs. M.A.R.I.A.
-- ah, that's the one. That's the one that matters.
Yasmine Kween's gimmick was being a spoiled princess from Dearborn, Michigan. MARIA had creative control. The ring was full of blue pyrotechnics and flame-resistant streamers. The concept was "the Four Winds," but MARIA went down before the fourth could come out.
It's fine, though, isn't it? She got to put on a show. Perhaps more to the point she got paid... more or less. There are four more such events planned before she flies back to Japan, to complete her "personal mission." What a laugh, thinks Maria Satake as she zips up her bag. The show is still going on out there, and she can hear the collapsing of the ring as the American Heartbreakk puts three hundred pounds of cornfed muscle and fat (mostly one) on top of 320 pounds of fat and muscle bloated by cheap American sugar.
Time to go and hit the road again in her rented car. Time to try and bring that dream onwards. Already she's thinking of the cow-print fabric and faux bonnet layerings she'll put together in Lancaster, but it's weird, isn't it, Maria thinks as she shoulders her bag and pats the envelope in her pocket with her payout. It's weird.
It's two tracks. Like a tape. And one is beautiful, and one is sad and fading.
Maria opens the door, steps into the sultry East Coast night, with the bridge and urban wastelands of Metro City looming in the city lights.
She raises her head.
She sees him standing there.
And her eyes slowly widen.
"YOU BOUGHT MY BOOK!" Maria squeals, clapping her hands together. "Oh! Oh!! Were you the European order????" Yes - four buttonhooks - the true sign of a pure heart.
It's night. It does not necessarily have to be night for him to be here. A silly affectation of an overactive imagination.
But there has always been a certain ambiance to night time that he has always appreciated, and if nothing else -- the man who calls himself Slayer knows the importance of setting the right mood.
Also, this is just the time of day in which the BEAST COAST PRO WRESTLING match ups end. But, shh.
The point is: there is a man waiting for Maria as she opens that portal leading to the transient heat of Metro City's night skies. He is tall, dressed in a style best described as bizarrely but undeniably dapper; his monocle glints in the artificial haze of the lamppost above him, smoke from his pipe trailing lazily into the humidity-choked air as he holds it with one hand. In the other?
An opened copy of Maria's book, snapped closed just in time for her squealing proclamation,
'YOU BOUGHT MY BOOK!'
"I most certainly did, and it has been a most thrilling read," declares Slayer, without so much as a hint of irony.
Red half-cape swirling behind him like it had a life of its own as he turns to face M.A.R.I.A. more fully, the inscrutable dandy is nothing if not ineffably polite in a decidedly old-fashioned way, from the crook of his smile to the respect in his shallow bow he greets Maria with, book-clasped hand affixed firmly to his chest as he dips and rises.
"I believe I may have been somewhere there at the time. A thrilling match, by the way. It was you who decided upon the staging, was it not? I could see the passion behind it." His head tilt, he considers for a moment. And then--
"Ah, but where are my manners? You may call me Slayer, Miss MARIA." You can hear the capital letters. He is -that- -good-. "Pardon my interruption, but I would selfishly borrow some of your time for two things. The first -- a proposition. The second --"
And here, he presents that book outward, his smile sincere.
"-- an autograph."
Maria's hands clasp together in front of her, the nylon strap of her bag hanging between her fingers. Her eyes crumple up in delight.
The book in question is one of those artistic pieces. It has a lot of photographs, lovingly made. Most of the writing is in English but there are a couple of passages in Japanese. It attempts to construct an aesthetic vision of the ebb and flow of a fight, including a bunch of penciled notes. It was classed in the 'Fight Fandom' section of a certain online bookseller.
The press run was not large.
Maria looks upwards. She blinks several times.
"A proposi-" she begins to say, almost stumbling over the word. Then she hears the other part. An autograph!!!!!
Maria reaches into her bag and rummages. She brings out an orange-and-glitter marker pen, shaking it lightly and putting down her bag. "Absolutely," she says: "Hm, let me think, I should write a little something for a fan--"
"And yes," she says. "It took most of my appearance fee, ha ha! In a sense I guess this makes it a charity exhibition, but you know, I hate to just go out there and wrestle. I'd probably do better if I did. But winning and losing, I mean - I won't say it's not important. Without the hunger for victory you're just doing violent dancing. But I would rather lose with style, grace, and a message, than just walk up and smash someone's hip bone open."
"To whom should I make it out? And please, while I'm composing, telling me about the rest."
"Ah, please -- make it out to my wife, Sharon. While I would be honored to have my own dedication, I believe it would please her greatly to have a cherished memento from one of her favorite parts of the modern world."
Maybe a slightly peculiar way of saying it, but then, this man is, by any measure, slightly peculiar. It's just the ineffable sense of ease in which he says it that makes it feel more natural, makes it easier not to question. He wears a monocle and a shoulder cape; unusual seems to just be part and parcel to his dapper display.
"You raise an excellent point, Miss MARIA," he continues, as the book is handed off -- he seems much like the type who prefers the physical copy -- "The drive to compete and achieve is a fundamental part of what makes humankind so interesting. But the great tragedy is, weak or strong, so many people often forget -- it is not just a matter of winning or losing, in the end. It is in -how- you do it. The spark of passion in loss is no lesser for the loss itself."
That pipe is lifted up to his lips; his monocle glints with the faint artificial sheen of light from above that helps blot out the stars in the sky as he tips his head her way.
"That you understand that is why you are one of the few I believe worth approaching with this opportunity. Which brings me to my proposal."
This man is by no means someone famous or even notorious; no one who could be recognized for any sort of celebrity, fighting or not. By all accounts, he could be easily dismissed as a -- albeit particularly unusual -- fan. But as Maria opens that book to grace it with her little something for a fan --
She'd find an envelope, sealed and marked with the distinctive, formal iconography --
"Miss MARIA, would you be interested in taking that message of passion to a grander stage?"
-- of the King of Fighters.
'my wife, Sharon'
This information makes Maria sit completely at ease. She uncaps the marker, neatly places the cap on the back, and begins to write on the inside cover. She's really going at it. This is going to be a long one.
She's listening, though. Her eyes flick up every few seconds. He's wearing a monocle, Maria thinks. How incredibly old school - unless it's a costume - but aren't we all wearing costumes?? Maria thinks: That's literally chapter 5.
That is when she looks down.
What she had written is (in English): 'To SHARON who I want to thank for supporting me!' and below that the start of some kind of short piece of poetry.
Then the envelope falls out. She crooks up one leg, an it lands neatly on her knee. She holds the marker in her teeth and picks it up. She looks at it.
Up to Slayer.
To the envelope.
Up to Slayer again, eyes wider.
She shifts everything around and says, "Are you SERIOUS? I can't believe this. I can't believe it! Is there some kind of - trick here? I mean, the King of Fighters, even if I do get flushed out in the first round that's the kind of audience you'd kill for." A pause. "I mean, not literally."
"But isn't that awful woman sponsoring it this year?" Maria says, now holding the envelope in her fingertips while finishing up her poem. "Is she going to let me have creative control?? I don't care about the booking, I'll fight Mike Bison if I have to - but the FRAMING, you know? It's the framing that's half of the story!"
Then she starts writing in big block letters M A R I A
'... that's the kind of audience you'd kill for. --I mean, not literally.'
"Sometimes," Slayer notes mildly in between the puffing of his pipe,
"it is quite literal indeed."
The well-dressed definitely-just-a-normal-human does not bother to spare a passing glance at Maria's work on her autograph, not even when she briefly stumbles upon the revelation of the invitation tucked inside her book; one could assume he simply doesn't care, but perhaps it's more likely he is simply that confident in her ability to put her thoughts together to assemble something creatively worthy of his wife.
One wouldn't spy on an artist while their canvas was barely wet with paint, after all, would they? It'd simply be gauche.
And so the man who refers to himself as Slayer simply contents himself with staring up at the night's light-polluted sky with a wistful sense of fondness as Maria speaks, as if he could perfectly remember the positioning of each star that was once proudly on display in the heavens above. His sharp stare only re-affixes back upon the martial artist as she poses her question, one fine brown brow hefting just so in response.
"I am wholly serious," he first makes clear, with a tone that somehow perfectly conveys a casual sense of gravitas, inexplicable as that might be. "This year's sponsor is something of an enigma, it seems. Hosted by a 'Lightning Spangles' -- if that is the awful woman to which you refer -- someone who, by rights, should not still be residing on the mortal coil. But, as you will soon discover, it would not be a proper King of Fighters without a dash of mystery and a healthy application of danger. Hardly for the faint of heart, but you seem to me the type that is /all/ heart."
A second passes.
"That said, I will see what we can do about granting you some artistic license with regards to staging. I would like nothing better."
Without a word, the dapper gentleman taps ash from his pipe.
"I would, of course, ask that you take point in leading our little team up. The spotlight shines brighter upon those who stand front and center, after all. And I am much more comfortable within the familiarity of the shadows. So."
Once more does that perceptive gaze fall on Maria.
"What do you say, Miss MARIA? Care to join the world's stage?"
Maria laughs at the joke.
LITTLE DOES SHE SUSPECT.
The poem, translated, reads:
'Hot nights in Eastern America.
The dream of fighting beautifully sprouts anew.
Thank you for your support, SHARON' (Sharon is in katakana.)
Maria waves the leaf of the book a bit, to help the ink dry. It's vivid in the sodium-arc lamps that light the world of Bruce Springsteen after dark.
"... And the point...? I mean, you want me to be the face of your team?"
Some people here would suspect a trap. A set-up. Perhaps become hesitant. Ask after why. Seek the truth.
But MARIA, Maria Satake, she is indeed someone who is "all heart." Someone with a burning passion. Someone with a vision who has, perhaps, found what every artist needs and wants and craves-- a patron.
"WELL!" Maria says, eyes sparkling. "I accept without reservation! Is there a waiver that I must sign, or is my word enough?"
She closes the book, reverently, and hands it over, then. She bows at the waist, and at the shoulders. "And thank you - and Sharon - for your support. It's been a difficult road, but it's been worth walking it... and I'm glad that you have enjoyed the show!"
"Precisely so. I've little interest in fame or exposure. My involvement in this event is more a matter of..."
And here, Slayer's words trail for a rare moment of pensive consideration, as if deciding the best phrasing to utilize amidst present company.
"... academic curiosity. No -- you are much more deserving of the limelight, and I expect you to do great things with it."
Most would question such an offer, certainly. Find vague motives suspect, or at least request time to think it over, however close that deadline might be approaching now. Doubtless the mysterious dandy would even be amenable to it. But MARIA is not most people. She burns brightly.
'I accept without reservation!'
And a dream pursued purely is, in Slayer's estimation, a truly beautiful thing. Why else would he be here, if not for that very fact?
"Marvelous, Miss MARIA! I would say your word is more than enough."
Approval is in his tone, in his smiling features, as he takes that book back from Maria Satake. She bows; the dip of his head is no less respectful as he opens that book to read that translated poem.
The puff of his pipe around the subtle note of his smile is also an approving thing.
"Splendid. Truly, you have an artist's touch. I've no doubt she will be delighted with this."
With that, the book snaps shut; Slayer slips it into his interior breast pocket -- one needn't worry about the fact that there's not even the slightest hint of its presence outlining his jacket, surely it's just voluminous fabric -- and presses his hand to his chest, eyes shut in gratitude.
"There is no road worth walking in life that was not hard tread, Miss MARIA, and no end more satisfying than having successfully trekked it," he begins, eyes cracking open. "Tickets and accommodations will be provided for you; until then, I heartily recommend sharpening those instincts of yours. It has been a truly enjoyable performance thus far, Miss MARIA."
And here, he will turn, to walk once more back into the night just as simply as he emerged from it.
"I look forward to witnessing its continuation."
Log created on 19:07:00 05/31/2019 by Maria, and last modified on 22:03:46 05/31/2019.