We open to darkness and silence, punctuated only by the slow, rhythmic thumps of gloved fists striking a heavy bag.

The camera zooms out. Now that we aren’t viewing the bag from immediately next to it, we can take in the details more clearly. It is worn, with rough patches covering the body of the bag and more than a few holes sewn back up. With each impact, the stitches bulge, threatening to burst once more. The camera pans to reveal Kayna, eyes focused, going through a series of punches on the bag, a routine not dissimilar to a martial arts kata. She practices the combination a few times further, before completing the set with a spinning roundhouse kick that sends the bag tilting on its chain. A bit of sand trickles from the impact through about three different holes, and Kayna reaches forward to steady the sack, gently cradling it back down to a neutral position. She glances down at the tiny piles of sand, sneering at them wild mild concern before looking up to Declan.

KAYNA: You any good with a needle?

The camera pans around Kayna to reveal Declan, still wearing the same clothes he always does, but now donning a towel draped around his shoulders and gripping a bottle of water. He proffers both to the dark-skinned woman and grins.

DECLAN: Not that kind, I’m afraid.

There is a note of bitterness to both his words and expression, which Kayna reads, her frown turning into a pursed look of pensiveness. She breaks the tension with a tired sigh, stripping off her gloves and accepting the towel and water. She takes a swig from the bottle before mopping the sweat from her brow. As the towel lowers from her face, she eyes the homeless Irishman curiously.

KAYNA: I guess you’re my coach now, izzat it?

Declan shrugs.

DECLAN: Or something like that? Ye need a man in yer corner if yer gonna get anywhere in the ring, love.

Kayna shoots an eyebrow up and regards him distinctly.

DECLAN: Or woman, or whatever. Either way, ye got me, for better or worse.

Kayna just smiles, whipping him playfully with the towel before resting it over her own shoulders.

KAYNA: Yeah, I guess you’ll do, Irish. You seen the weirdo lately?

Declan nods, glancing upwards.

KAYNA: The roof? Again?

Declan shrugs again.

DECLAN: She spends a lot of time up there recently, doesn’t she?

KAYNA: I wonder what she does up there, anyway.


Chelsey stands on the roof of the dilapidated gym, staring out towards the bright lights of Manchester proper. The setting sun provides a dim illumination, marred to almost darkness by the heavy clouds releasing a light smattering of rain. Chelsey’s painted face seems to be resistant to the water streaking across it, her red eyes remaining fixed on a single point. The camera pans around over her shoulder and focuses on that point – the IIW arena. There is an extended, pregnant silence. It is, in fact, perhaps the longest time Chelsey has been seen on camera not talking, cackling, or hurting someone.

Finally, the moment passes.

CC: To think that it’s come to this.

Her eyes blink, and she breaks her immobility, lowering her body to a kneeling crouch as her eyes sweep over the city skyline.

CC: For all our time together, for all our time apart. I used to think that maybe you understood, Lien. I thought, maybe, just maybe, you had what it took. As tough as you were? As smart? I really thought we would go the distance. I thought you knew what drove me, I thought maybe it drove you, too. But I was wrong, wasn’t I? Your fire burns for no one but yourself. Your soul reaches out, aching to feel the true touch of another, but that heat burns anyone who approaches. And does it ever burn, Xinya. Does it ever burn.

Chelsey’s lips slowly split into a vicious grin.

CC: It’s ironic, isn’t it? For as icy a demeanor as you choose to adopt, there’s nothing but fire inside you. The fire of passion, hidden behind the need for decorum. The fire of competition, hidden underneath a veneer of self-improvement. Others only see you on camera, in the ring. They see the assassin, the technical mastermind who brings down her opponents with expert precision. But I’ve seen the real you, Lien. I’ve seen the one who haunts the night. I’ve seen how hot that fire burns when you stalk your prey. The darkness that tunnels your vision to nothing but your target. And now? I guess that tunnel vision is aimed right at me.

Chelsey’s posture slumps a bit, as she slips from her kneeling position to a sitting one, her legs dangling off the edge of the building. The camera stays poised at her shoulder, capturing her profile as she continues to extemporate.

CC: But there’s one thing you don’t understand, my little Lotus. There’s no heat that I cannot quench. There’s no force I cannot overpower. You could burn as fierce as the sun, but I am the rising tide. I am the face of your inevitable defeat. I am the long-lost cure to what ails you. Burn as brightly as you like, but I will overwhelm you. When the waters of my fury close over your head, no amount of heat can burn away all that I will become. And within me, Lien Xinya, I guarantee you that you will drown in the depths of MY desire.

Chelsey pauses, chuckling darkly to herself and shaking her head. She leans back, her arms propping her up as she stares towards the sky, letting the rain pelt her face in its increasing fury.

CC: You know what, Lien? It’s been a while since we first met. Not in the ring, but... well, you remember, I’m sure. And since then, I’ve been lacking. I’ve let the fights and the fame get to me. I forgot about what I was. But here’s the thing, little Lotus: I think you have too. So let this week be a reminder. You are more than a warrior of the Orient, or even a warrior of the ring. Your battles run much deeper, and, even if it is in the ring, this week I will make you remember. But, in the meantime? I need to do a little remembering, myself.

Chelsey pauses to reach into her pocket and pull her phone out. Mindful of the rain, she only removes the phone about halfway, using her hands and body to shield it from excess water intrusion. Her focus remains on the screen intently for a moment, pressing on it in a way that appears as if she is making a call. Once the phone number is entered and the call sent, however, she simply puts the phone back in her pocket. The task done, Chelsey relaxes again, gazing out over the city.

When the explosion occurs, rocking the fair distance with an immediate eruption of fire and debris, Chelsey smiles again, broadly and more genuinely than perhaps she’s done in some time.


The sound of the explosion is heard faintly back inside. It is muffled, but still loud enough to cause the two within to glance at each other warily.

DECLAN: Oh, who knows. Probably something wacky and irreverent.



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