Backstage, at an HiC house show, we see Riona Langly hard at work... Her locker room is bare and silent, except for the sounds of the TV in front of her. She's wearing a very casual outfit, being a white HiC baseball jersey over top a black tank top and a loose pair of blue jeans. She hasn't had to wrestle tonight, obviously... At her feet are piles and piles of videos, and in front of her is a VCR playing one of those many videos around her.  It seems like it's very late at night... Most of the wrestlers have gone back to their hotels for the night, with the few remaining to tell their stories of success on the road.  However, Riona is not doing that, instead focusing on the screen in front of her, telling her a tale without words, told through the actions of two people in the ring... One of those people is Protean, Riona's opponent for this Monday, as she debuts in High Impact Competition on Tempest.

Riona: Protean, you saw in me a scared pretender... That's alright. Just like you say you've heard the Prodigy line over and over again, I've heard THAT bit of infinite wisdom across the country. I've been told that by people for a long time, and I've learned to accept it as human nature... You see somebody who feels pride in their work, and you want to bring them down to the misery that you're in. I've been through that shit, I know what it feels like. I felt like that for 6 months, as I went out to the ring amidst cat-calls and chants for me to show my chest... And it did bother me, don't get me wrong. It bothered me to the point to where I wanted to give up... Ring the bell, toss in the towel... But, here I am, still standing, hearing that same line of bullshit I've been fed by people like you for years...

Riona turns to the camera, and with a remote, puts the tape on pause, with a picture of Protean on the screen...

Riona: You tell me that my dreams are, what was the term you used, as yes, you called them a fairy tale. Well, my life is no fucking fairy tale, let me tell you that. There will be no riding off into the sunset, after defeating evil for me. I know that once I defeat Lisa, World Heavyweight Championship or not, there's not going to be ticker tape parades or trips to Disney World in the waiting for me... Only a feeling of emptiness of what I am to do now. DESTINY? It's still there, but the path I take for it is wrong. And yet, why do I take that path? Because it's the one of the two roads that have been presented for me... It's filled with large rocks and painful thorns, not yellow painted bricks. The land it leads to isn't a gleaming Emerald, but instead, it's Painted Black. There will be no 'And she lived happily ever ever...' at the end of this tale.

Riona frowns a bit as the large shadow of Jack Frost leans over her, taking the remote off the chair.

Frost: Are you quite done with your studies?

Riona: No Jack, I'm far from done...

Jack Frost seems slightly displeased with her remarks...

Frost: Miss Langly, you need your rest. You have been watching these tapes for hours, and it is not healthy... You will not be at your best for the show tomorrow.

Riona: Jack, you know that I've always been ready for house shows... I have to be. It's another opportunity to show the wrestling masses what I can do. If I open only one set of eyes to the truth each night I go out and wrestle, then I've done my job, and you know that Jack.

Frost: That I do Miss Langly...

Riona sighs at Jack's answer, knowing the next few lines in this conversation by memory... They've had this talk before.

Riona: But then, why do you INSIST on telling me that each time I do one of these study sessions on my opponent?

Frost: Because I worry about you Riona.

Riona: And what do I always tell you?

Frost: "Don't worry about me Jack, I'll be fine..."

Seemingly put off slightly by Jack's almost statement, almost word-by-word what she says during these talks, Riona drops her head.

Riona: Then WHY do you worry? You know me Jack... you know that I live for this. That regardless of what you say to me, you're not going to get me out of this chair until A, I need to go, and B, when I'm ready to.

Knowing he's defeated once again, Jack Frost hands over the remote to Riona.

Riona: Go ahead and go to the hotel Jack, I'll get a taxi, alright?

Wordlessly, because if he had protested he'd be wasting his breathe on the stubborn girl, Jack Frost walks out of the locker room with his bags...

Riona: Someday, he'll stop trying... I know that he feels I should back off, that what I'm trying to accomplish is the stuff that he says fools and suicides are made of. But, like I said, I have to keep going... The path I walk is the one I've been laid down through my decisions in my career, and the other path, always in front of me taunting me, is a path trodden with shame.

Riona sighs as she reaches into her duffel bag on the bench next to her, and pulls out a little book.

Riona: Protean, you want to talk about fairy tales? Well, then, I'll tell you a tale.

Riona looks down at the book, and it seems to be VERY worn out and beat up... on it is a sticker saying, "PROPERTY OF RIONA, KEEP OUT!!"

Riona: There once was a little girl who had big dreams about her life. She wanted to be like the legends that she saw on TV every week. She was sucked in by the depth and emotions that flowed like water when two people stepped into the squared circle. This girl, since she was 5 years old, said that she was going to be a wrestler when she grew up. And this goal was an obsession for her... She lived her whole life to accomplish these goals. Well, that little girl grew up, and eventually became a successful wrestler. And she lived happily ever after, right? WRONG...

Riona: That little girl had two parents that loved her very much. Her mother was always there to prod her and keep her in line if she would slack off on reaching her dreams. She might not have approved, but still supported her child and was there when she needed a shoulder to cry on. Her father, though, made it very open that he did not like her dreams. He tried to get her off the basketball courts and into the house... Her father wanted her to to sign up for Home-Ec, not Volleyball. When the girl was in wrestling school, he constantly would tell her to "give up, come home, and learn to be a 'REAL woman' like her mother." Well, after time, the father became more angry at her, telling her that she was "disgracing the family with your nonsense." The girl kept going, and eventually, her father died, never once seeing her wrestle.

Riona: As you might guess, I am that girl... My father never approved of me or DESTINY, but while at Cutting Edge, it became absurd. I went to the school with my brother, as avid a fan as I am... But, 2 months into the program, he called it quits. The owner of the school had come in to test the students, and put them through the Final Cut.

The screen flashes with images of a male, dressed in a black hockey jersey saying 'gTw' on them, and black and silver cargo jeans, putting someone in a modified Elevated Boston Crab, where he added pressure by forcing the victim's head into the mat with his knee as he pulled back... On the lower left hand of the screen, a watermark saying 'Copyright gTw Entertainment Inc. 2002' stood. The screen flashed back to Riona, and she smiled for the first time during this segment began...

Riona: That's the Final Cut... And my brother couldn't handle it for 3 minutes, so he ended up, as Blade said it best, "on the Cutting Room floor." However, I hung on... Those 3 minutes are possibly the longest three minutes I've ever experienced. It felt as though my entire body was being attacked by a shark. However, I hung on, and the last words I remember him saying were, "you did good..."

A small tear falls as she remembers him silently helping her to her feet and sending her out of the ring before the next trainee came before Brian Blade to be tested.

Riona: That night, when Adam was in our apartment, about to pack up, my father came by... He had heard that Adam was leaving the school, and assumed I had fell victim to the same fate. When he had heard I was staying, he verbally lashed out at me, saying that I was a good for nothing excuse for a woman and would never amount to anything in a man's world. That if my brother couldn't handle wrestling, what made me think I could? You have to understand, my father lived in a different time... when he was growing up, women were still in the kitchen, barefoot and making dinner for their husbands. He always wanted me to follow the same path, since his mother seemed to be so happy with her life, in his eyes. He was looking out for me, and I love him for doing that.

Riona pulls open her diary, and pulls out a Polaroid from one of the pages.

Riona: Still, he never did see me wrestle... The night of my debut match, and while my mother and brothers were in attendance, he wasn't. Earlier, my father told me over the phone that if I didn't give up and come home to be a housewife, he wouldn't speak to me again... I hung up on him, went out there, wrestled for 20 minutes, and won, with the thought that someday, he'd watch me and be proud... He died 2 weeks later. It pains me to the depths of my soul that the last words I heard from him were filled with so much poison and hatred that they ate away at his heart until it gave out on him.

Riona closes her eyes as she remembers the words...

Riona: "Riona Anne Langly, you'll never make it... You'll end up just like your Grandfather, unable to do anything but fight if you keep this up. Give up, come home, and learn from your mother how to be a real woman. Maybe then you'll be able to finally contribute to this family by finding a husband and birthing a grandchild!"

At that point, Riona reopens her eyes and drops the picture...

Riona: I hung up on him after that... Do I visit him? Every time I'm in Vermont. I stand there and apologize to him not for what I've done, but because I'll never adhere to his wishes for me. I'll never walk down the other path he created to tempt me, because I've gone too far to give up now...

Riona: Protean, my father always told me my dreams were, like you said, a fairy tale... That's why he's not really dead. His body is lying in a coffin, but his voice lives with me. It projects itself through every opponent that tells me to give up, that tells me to quit because I'm not going to make it. His voice I hear almost every day, and you're just the newest person for it to inhabit Protean.

Riona suddenly leans over, picks up the picture, and slaps it onto the TV, right over Protean's image on the screen...

Riona: Well, you know what DAD... This Monday at Tempest, I'm going to defeat you again. I'm going to keep defeating you until DESTINY comes for me. And on that day, your voice will finally join your soul in Heaven, and you can rest for eternity knowing you helped your daughter become happy.

Riona stands and turns off the TV as she begins to pack all the videos around her into a separate duffel...

Riona: Protean, I know you're going to underestimate me on Monday. I could see it in your eyes as you told me that I would be an epitaph in history. Well, Riona Langly is no footnote, and you'll find that out at Tempest...

Finishing the packing of the videos, Riona walks over to her locker and pulls out her coat. She puts it on, grabs both duffel bags, putting her diary into the non-video stuffed one, and walks off. She turns off the light, and all we're left with is the Polaroid of her father on the TV as we Fade... To... Black.