The Fortress stood for what everything in St. Petersburg was all about; and for two days the Fortress was shut down; the entrance was blocked off and guards stood at the end of the road at all hours of the day making sure nobody crossed the bridge and that all tourism was blocked off for the next few days, ..well, that was until the big event came. It was a cool day and the clouds had split letting the Angel that sat on top of the Cathedral, the cities highest point, shine brightly as it was protected by the many buildings and amazing structures that were surrounded by the massive wall that enclosed the island. Inside the Fortress everything was silent and only one man roamed the grounds as if had been given to him for a period of a few days; ..The home of a King, the Russian himself; Alexi James Yaroslav. People had protested as they heard who was staying at the Fortress but by a large margin most of the cities citizens didn't mind the giant man as one of their most famous had come home. They saw him as an American as he wasn't born in the country; but he spoke the language and his family had been raised in a city very close to here, ..and in St. Petersburg – unlike Magadan, people admired this man. His name was being thrown all over the city and buzz was unreal as they were about to see one of their own take home the US Title at Aftermath.
Many had speculated how the people would take to his arrival and where the man would be staying – and for Jaymz there was no fancy Hotel, no Presidential Suite where he was confined to one room, ..but a Fortress on an island. The cities government had insisted that he stayed here and the giant man wouldn’t have it any other way. The crime was thick and the mafia had a hold on the city and Jaymz was unaware of how those people felt about his arrival and he didn't want to find out with a bullet in the back of his head… And he was certain that Drache would be around or that Darkness would be lurking and looking for a way in as he would be an easy target in a city this large. Chefs and maids would come in and serve him only the finest Russian meals and the building that he slept in, located behind the Cathedral was cleaned from top to bottom every morning. He lived the life of a King and for once in his life everything was quiet; there were no distractions, no interruptions from the world outside as his match for the US Title raced through cleanly through his mind. His long leather coat dragged the ground as the smoked one of the cigars that had been given to him by the Cities government. The paced the grounds of the fortress as he had done for the last day, taking in the scenery and admiring the fact that he had the island all to himself and could do things that nobody could; like tossing his cigar to the ground and stomping it out; leaving a black mess on the concrete.
which was fine because someone would clean up after him here. He stood in front of the Cathedral in the open grounds and headed for the west wall; this place fit him well as he was tall and had the face of a monster. As he crossed the open grounds and came to the massive wall that surrounded the island he opened the doors and went inside. The walls were filled with designs that were carved into the walls; Angels, Kings, and other people from the Cities past. His footsteps echoed as he climbed the long stairwell in the wall, and when he came to the top he looked out the windows as he walked by; noticing the guards down below were still doing their job. He also noticed that the Neva was a dirty polluted river, and how people could swim in the nasty thing was beyond him. He took his time inside the wall and walked maybe a quarter way around the island inside the massive structure as he came to a smaller door that was barricaded by two poles and a small chain, that served to keep the tourists out, and a sign hanging off of it; some sort of historical marker that he didn’t take the time to read. He stepped over the make-shift barricade and found that the ancient looking door led back down the massive wall but on a different stairwell that was thinner and not as tall as he had to duck his head down. There was a smell of mildew and humidity, drips of water could be heard from the thin tunnel as it echoed in the darkness.
He took a step inside the thin stairwell and almost tripped as the stairs were taller and shorter than the ones in the main stairwell. He felt around the wall and the ceiling searching for a lamp or a light but found none; so he reached into his pocket and pulled out the gold Zippo lighter than had been a gift to him from the Mayor of St. Petersburg, Vladimir Yakovlev. It was gold with his initials A.J.Y inscribed in a unique font that was barely legible. The flame flicked to life and lit the tunnel that he was able to see was rounded off at the top rather than squared; and in here there were no designs or carved pictures in these walls as they were left bare and untended to. He walked down the stairs for a good while and knew that he had passed ground level as the initials stairwell wasn’t long. ..The walls became damp and mold grew on the sides of the concrete blocks; rats scurried into the darkness and away from the light of the flame as he continued to move down until he came to the bottom. The smell of mildew and rat shit was strong down here and made his eyes water and he coughed one time. The floor was damp like the walls but the room was bigger and he could stand up straight once more. Alexi moved the light around the room and saw it small and that it was only a fork in the road as there were two doors - one to each side of him.
These doors were old and decaying under the conditions they had been in for several hundred years as they were constructed of thick wood; and it appeared to Alexi that nobody had been down here in a very, very long time. He turned to his left and walked to the door and attempted to push it open; it didn’t give at first but with a second shove it opened with a grunt and small pieces of wood cracked and fell as the ancient door creaked open. This room was bigger and the smell inside was just as strong, the lighter became hot in his hand as he flicked the lid closed and blew on it for a moment cooling it off before he flicked it back on once again as the sound of the huge rats clawing their way along the floor seemed loud in the silent room. He scanned the bare walls and noticed rusted plates that were stamped into the bricks; and he knew what these were and what this room was. These rooms housed the prisoners that the Fortress was used for and knew that many a men had died horrible deaths in here.. His mind ran and it was almost as if The Father was talking to him from the Black Garden.
The men screamed and groaned as they were chained to the walls, they pulled on their chains that would never break free from the metal plates.. Fires burned in the pits located at the front of the room bringing in the light that cast shadows that moved and bounced across the brick walls. The criminals were filthy and dirty, their long hair and beards were covered in dirt and slobber that dripped from their chins. The smell here was awful, the smell of feces and rotting corpses hung in the room and weighed down on its prisoners. The men were thin as the food rations were bare and it was here they would spend the rest of their lives as one criminal screamed, his eyes bulging from his head as he took at the flesh on his wrists trying to escape the restraints that he had been placed in. The man had gone insane as most the criminals had as the blood poured down his arms - but never able to escape the chains tied to his wrists. Another criminal chained to the wall next to him made low grunting sounds as he methodically beat his head into the side of the wall as drool slid out the right side of his mouth. The other side of the room was home to another captive who's mind had snapped as he died from starvation; but the rats didn’t as they ate holes in the legs of the rotting carcass of the criminal.
Jaymz looked around the room and in his mind could hear the screams of the men who had died here; and to him - a man who enjoyed the sounds of pain - felt at home as he took a deep breath and let it out, ..with a smile on his face. He loved this place and knew that he could spend the rest of his life in his fortress if they would let him. He would stay here with Julie and Katie, his Zero Tolerance family and the US Title. He would rename his place Zero Tolerance Island and he would be the king of St. Petersburg. He laughed to himself, to the rats, to the concrete walls and to the spirits of the dead criminals that lived in his torture chamber as he flicked off the Zippo and was surrounded in total darkness.
*The Next Day*
There wasn’t a cloud in the sky as the sun broke over the horizon in what was a huge day for the city of St. Petersburg; the temperature was in the high fifties, it was a nice day, and there was a buzz in the air about the event that was taking place at the Peter and Paul Fortress. Cars were parked all along the streets outside the Neva River as the road leading from the city to the Fortress was jam packed with people as they made their way in. Helicopters roamed the sky around the Fortress that was also filled with Russian police that paced the top of the massive wall surrounding the island. Thousands of people filled the empty area in front of the Cathedral as they packed in shoulder to shoulder as more made their way inside before there wasn’t anymore room and the Russian police turned the rest of the people away who were still filing in from the long road. There was some heated tension for a while from the disgruntled people who didn’t make it inside and a few small fights broke out but were quickly ended. Moments later the bells at the top of the Cathedral chimed for two minutes and the crowd of thousands went silent. They stood looking on at a podium that stood at the front steps of the Cathedral, guards surrounding the bottom step forming a barrier.
The podium was home to the Blue, White and Red Russian flag and underneath there was the American flag; but above both of those there was a shiny silver emblem with two letters inside, "ZT." The bells in the tower of the Cathedral ceased and as the last chime came there were loud explosions from each of the lookout towers that fired off the cannons that were heard around the city and startled the crowd of people who had come to witness the event. They quietly talked amongst themselves for a moment but again quieted down as the huge double doors on the front of the Cathedral opened up and there stood Alexi Yaroslav. He was dressed in all black and wore his trademark long black leather coat that touched the ground as he walked. The crowd roared at the sight of the big man as he appeared in the doorway and stepped outside in front of the podium; he placed his hand on either side with the massive wad of taped together mic's and looked around at the crowd as the media snapped pictures and started filming. He waited for a few moments as the crowd quieted down as they chanted his name over and over again before he spoke
"St. Petersburg." He spoke in English so the people back at home could understand.
The crowd erupted again, and for a second time he had to wait for the crowd to silence.
"I’ve come home. ...The welcome I've received has been tremendous here - unlike that of the worthless people of Magadan."
There was a murmur in the crowd and some disapproval as they weren’t sure how to respond to the man talking about a city within their county and Alexi noticed this.
"I didn’t come here to make friends, for I know that Im not liked in many places within this country - but my family is from this part and I know they are well known. ...But this is a business trip and nothing more. I’ve come here to take something that’s mine - and in no better place than in the country where my roots lie, ..The greatest country in the world."
This was a lie, but these people had come to see him and they had allowed him to stay in the Fortress so he would please them for the time being. They roared with approval again and this time the cheers were alot longer.
"The GWA has been touring the world and we’ve gone from one shithole to the next week after week and now, were finally at a place - and the only place in the world - where I hear people cheer my name and the name of Zero Tolerance. The only country that knows the power of Zero Tolerance and acknowledges the fact that were the greatest force in the wrestling world. ...And its only right that Im here fighting for a Title that holds the name of 'US,' the United States. Though my family may be from this country, I was born in the States - but there’s no better place for me to take the Title than right here in the backyard of my family. Ive been treated like a King since Ive come here and its only fitting that I leave one with the US Title strapped around my waist"
The crowd roared again and more pictures from the media snapped as he pulled a cigar from his jacket pocket and fired it up, "..But these men who'll be in the match with me don’t seem to know a damn thing about this country or what were about. So fuck these men. Fuck what their about and what they think - cause these men think they can beat the giant Russian, ..but we all know that I have different plans when it comes to that. I’ll be going against three men, and all three of these men have been on top at some point in their careers, along with myself. But two of these men are no more than failures, two of these men have been a disgrace when it comes to the name of the Global Championship; but the Global Championship isnt what were after this week.. This week it’s the US Title, a Title that I will win here in Russia and proudly were anywhere in the world. ..And when it comes to the US Title theres two men in this match who don't deserve to have the belt, they don't have the talent and skill that it takes to win the gold. …One of these men is the Blitz Bomber.”
Alexi then reached beneath the podium and pulled out a poster, unrolled it and showed the poster to the crowd who booed with enthusiasm. It was the Blitz Bomber on a GWA promoted poster; but the crowds reaction suddenly changed as he pulled out the gold Zippo and set the poster on fire as he let it drop on the steps of the Cathedral and burn to ashes.
“The Blitz Bomber – and can any of you say that you’ve actually seen this man? Has anyone, anyone at all, see the Bomber around the city of St. Petersburg? …From what Ive been told this man hasn’t even made it here yet and his feet haven't even touched the soil of my homeland. This is one of the men who is no more than a loser, one of the men who doesn’t deserve to hold the US Title in his grasp, …and he wont. Hes a man who should have stayed retired, a man who shouda’ kept his washed up ass on the couch and watch the real wrestlers of the GWA work… Cause this man isnt even worthy of mentioning when it comes to the US Title, and the only Title this man is worthy of is having the Title of a Losing Streak. All his childish talk meant nothing last week and I think he realized it, not only with his words but the fact that his best days as a wrestles have passed him by. …I'm not even sure that the Blitz Bomber is even gonna show up to St. Petersburg this week – and if he does, …if he makes the fatal mistake of stepping into the ring me; I’ll make sure that his career is ended permanently this time around. I have a feeling this man collected his last pay check last week with the beating that he took in the Ten Man Battle Royal. ..I’ll ask again, HAS ANYONE seen the Blitz Bomber?”
There was another murmur from the crowd and lots of people shouted “no”, and there was never a “yes.”
Alexi nodded as he leaned on the podium, “I didn't think so, cause this man isnt gonna show his worthless fuckin face around here, and that's out of fear. Cause Blitz knows that Pain and myself are the men to beat in this match. This was a man that Ive heard a lot about, ..a man that was gonna come into the GWA and win the Global Title. Well, he failed. He failed miserably and now hes decided to pack his bags and get the fuck out. Good, ..cause hes been nothing more than a waste of my time. …And while were on the subject of ‘wasting my time’ it seems that the US Champion himself fears the match that hes gotten himself into. Let me as you all again, HAS ANYONE seen the glossy-headed Chaos!?”
‘No’ was shouted back at Alexi from all over the crowd of thousands and he laughed at this.
“No, you haven't. ..And this is the man who holds the US Championship? ..This man whos afraid of a challenge? Its pathetic; a man who fears a challenge shouldn’t be allowed to contend for Titles – he should be our bitch, he should be the one the lynch in the middle of the ring as the roster takes turns kickin’ the fuck out of ‘em. Chaos is one of these men who brings a bad name to the GWA; hes a man who brings a bad name to the US Title and downgrades its worth. Hes made a fool of himself and hes no more than a coward who hasn’t shown his face around here. This match with four men has been nothing and its only been Pain and myself who seem to care about the US Title and taking the victory.”
Alexi again reached beneath the podium and pulled out a rolled up poster and pulled it open. It was a poster of Chaos holding up the US Title that he had won from John Harper. And like the poster of Bomber he took the gold Zippo and lit it on fire; and again the crowd roared with approval.
“..Another Hall-of-famer who has decided to shame the US Title and GWA by not even setting foot in this country. I bet he will though, he’ll be here all out of shape – coming in cocky thinking that he can keep that US Title that he has… But things are falling apart for Chaos; Revolution has fallen and Zero Tolerance has been there to kick the shit out of them for the last few weeks, ..their a stable in shambles and Chaos adds to the fact. ..A failure and a worthless Champion, ..thats all Chaos is – and that's all he’s ever been.”
Jaymz stood at the podium for a moment and took several puffs off of the cigar,” ..But ya know, there is one man who cares about this match other than me. …And that's Pain. But Pain cant understand simple things and Pain runs around with gypsies who seem to have plasma TV’s, cell phones that pick up GWA TV and everything else.”
This brought some chuckles from the crowd, and Alexi himself as he pulled out a third poster and this one of Pain – and without speaking he lit the poster on fire and tossed it down the Cathedrals steps as the crowd roared to life once more.
“Pain seems to think that he can take the US Title, but Pain also seems to think the same things over and over – and then repeats them. I'm sure you all have seen his promos where he tried to mock me, laugh and make a fool of me. He seems to think its funny that I claim to have outlasted him in our matches where many men have been involved, ..and that's true. But Pain wants your to believe that it all means nothing. He told me that , no, it didn't mean a damn thing because I didn't win those matches either, ..and hes right in that aspect – as I pointed out myself. But Pain is a stupid man because he wanted to leave out the most important part of what I was saying because he didn't like what I had to say, …because Pain doesn’t like the truth. …Pain missed the point, and as I explained it the first time, hes not one to survive long in these kind of matches. Pain has had a history of not making close to the end. …This isnt a match that was made for Pain, so yes Pain, that does by a bag of horse shit, doesn’t it? …You failed to see the point in my statements, you fed the world only half of what I said just to try and make my look bad – but you’re the fool who left out the rest of it, ..right? yeah. So before Pain should come out here and speak of the things that Ive said, he should look at the whole instead of the half, …but if he did that – he wouldn’t look so good. But we heard this from the man, and in the next promo that he aired we heard the exact same thing. ..I think he might have mixed his scripts up because I don't see the need trying to make the same WRONG statement twice, So Pain I wasn't “bragging” about outlasting, ..I was telling that you cant win these type of matches and that you don't even have what it takes to make it to the end whether you win or lose…but like I said – Pain is an ignorant man from the Kay-Ceeeeeee”
This brought more chuckles from the crowd as Alexi continued on
“Hes a man who wants to ignore facts and has done nothing but make a fool of himself as he wants to say “who knocked who out of the ring” last week – and that's fine with me but there was one noticeable discrepancy when he was mentioning those names. He seems to have forgotten who the man was that slung him into those ropes and caused him to fall out of the ring; sure – Weck had a little part in that too but I guess that Pain had a brain fart or some shit when it came to him being knocked out of the ring. Well, its not like we can all be surprised when Pain comes out here and makes statements like that. Pain wants the US Title and theres not a doubt in my mind that he’ll come to the ring and give me everything he has, ..but like in the past three matches we've had together - he doesn’t have the skill or the ring knowledge to defeat me. As you all stand here you see the face of your future US Champion even though Pain wants to think that I don't stand a chance in this match since it’s a match for “cruiserweights” ..Well that's fine, this man can be full of himself and he can go ahead and write me off as a loser in this battle, but the man will only be a little more disappointed as he looks on when I take the US Title and walk back up the ramp with it. ..And I'm glad that Pain thinks he sent some tickets to a man named Bogdan, but Ive learned since coming to St. Petersburg that the man has died and his burial sight is just outside of Magadan, ..so who Pain is sending tickets to? ..Hell, who knows! It could be one of his gypsy friends who are Bluetooth compatible or some shit like that. …Let the man believe what he wants and let him have his hopes and dreams cause this man will be the one who hangs his head low in disappointment as myself, Alexi Yaroslav takes the US Title home.
The cannons in the Fortress went off again and echoed throughout the city as the crowd roared in approval as Alexi raised his hands above his head and backed away inside the Cathedral with the doors closing behind him.