It was like a dream. A stunning, panoramic view opened up before his eyes, sinking down and becoming a photographic memory filled with scents, feelings, infused tastes, his beating heart, all combined into a hazy and surreal sight of the snow-filled valley that lay before him. The pure, unaltered power of the magnificent sight filled his heart with vigor. The soft, winter breeze. The subtle scent of the pine trees. The sounds of muffled shifts. The unwavering rays of sunlight, reflecting upon his being with an unfiltered warmth. It was almost too much to take in, but he held back the sheer emotion trying to burst out, smiled, and took his first turns.
The snow was nearly indescribable that day. This gift from above, now crystallized under his feet, was almost unimaginable in its consistency. Individual starlets of frozen water, now floating and spraying above his head with each turn, caressing the air and creating subtle veils while slowly descending back to the white-washed Earth. The terrain ahead of him was devoid of signs of life, yet filled to the brim with possibilities. A snake through the sunken trees, a drop off a hanging cornice waiting to break, a slash across a lonely face, freedom shone its true heart from every chance and every instance there was room for decision. Maybe this was the purpose behind it all, he though, and stopped in his tracks on a gradual incline of the hill. He shook his head and shoulders clear of the fluffy wonder, raised his goggles and lowered his balaclava, cupped his hands in front of his face and shouted for his son:
“Phil! The snow is safe, you can come on down!”
Casabon heard his father’s voice, echoing softly in the corners of the valley and followed suit, barely staying afloat and pushed his way downwards next to the tracked terrain ahead of him, reaching his destination in a few moments.
They stood there silently, letting it all sink in.
“Do you think I’ll always be able to do this?”
“What, you mean skiing?” the father replied staunchly. “Well I’m not going to push you towards anything you don’t want to do again, the decision of ‘to do or not to do’ something lies entirely within the limits of your mind and body. I know you disliked racing, but you still kept doing it for a long time. I’m actually surprised that you wanted to keep skiing, albeit in a slightly different way…”
The sun was starting to set and the world was filled with a burning, orange hue, embracing the coming night.
“I know”, Casabon sighed. “I just grew tired of being told what to do, being so… restricted. But now I feel that I have the power to control myself, and ski exactly how I want to. Being here, I wish that moments like these would never end.”
His father suddenly seemed to freeze up and his voice lowered to a grumble.
“But… you knoooowww that thinggs diddddn’t stay thhhis wayyy-eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee”
His father’s face turned grey in a flash, with his skin melting off the bones, sliding and dripping violently on to his jacket, exposing a tormented figure of flesh, his mouth in perpetual state of haunting scream, screeching and booming in the valley with fearful bounds. Casabon, stricken, fell back in horror, when he felt the snow melt under him in mere seconds, turning into a watery, reddish grave – a musty, sinewy mix of blood, bones and skin, whisking him down the hill with no control. The substance filled his eyes, ears and mouth, causing him to drown under the surface. What he saw shook him deeply. War.
Explosions, collapsing towers, a reign in blood, as his armies marched towards their ruthless enemies. He saw it all flash before him, as if in a state of fastforward, the days, the months, the pain-filled years. All fighting, struggling for his cause, for his Oath. Line after line, his comrades, friends, loved ones - struck down, one after the other by the berserk Judges, ceaselessly tormenting and mutilating those who oppose the Flame. A sea of blood, clouding his vision, clouding his mind. The Eternal Flame taunted him with its crass flicker over the demonic forces at play. Daring him to come and try. Come and compete with style. The bulky mass gained speed and was approaching a cliff, edging a dark pit hiding away thousands of feet of nothingness. He flew off the edge.
It was like a dream. But he knew that wasn’t true. His generals were fast asleep, resting for a few hours before advancing in the giant maze. He hadn’t dared dream in years, not until this was all over. This was far too vivid; the Flame’s influence on him was growing stronger by the minute. He lifted his gloves to wipe the feverish sweat off his brow, when he realized he wasn’t awake alone. Dumont, embracing the shadows under the massive quarterpipe, not at all different than the one he set a world record on in the forsaken hills now home to Bloody River Penitentiary, glared at B-Dog with an unnerving smile. Still shook up, Casabon decided it was not wise to rest on their laurels anymore and it was high time to wake up his trustees. As he rose up, however, he noticed that Imlach was not present. Just then he heard a troubled voice from behind him.
“That thing has been staring at us for a long time now, you know. Just watching us sleep, whispering to itself and snickering away. Whatever he’s become, we can’t take our eyes off it either.”
B-Dog nodded. “Suffice to say our spoony bard was travelling with us, maybe his soothing voice would lull Dumont into a more trustworthy creature?”
“McFee? Well I wouldn’t doubt it, seeing as his music was so horrible in The Days Gone that it was actually revealed to destroy cancer cells!”
“He’s definitely a hero who should be unsung...”
They both laughed heartily, scaring Dudemont and waking up rest of the crew. Soon they were on their way.
One by one, the pipes they rode seemed to become smaller in size, and less unkempt. The conditions changed constantly across the board. Freezing gusts of wind whirled in superpipes coated with sheer black ice, tattered and almost diminished pseudo-pipes crumbled and sloshed under their skis, skiddish slanted walls surrounding them while resembling little more than a tubing course. Then their guide seemed to become ecstatic, just as they reached the end of a long, narrowing pipe that lead to a small corridor above its deck, leading to a sudden dead end. But Dumont was hyper, hopping up and down, stomping his nimble feet, giggling uncontrollably. It reached into a small alcove at the bottom of the seemingly impassable stone wall, triggering some kind of lever. The walls receded to the corridor’s sides, and they were treated with a surprise. In front of them, a familiar character faced them, imbued into the wall at his own will, becoming the Sacred Guardian of the entrance to the N-Ward. Before the generals had time to greet and salute him, it spoke, in a disturbingly odd manner.
“Hear ye, hear ye, wad up on dem passing blunts, dem reptile style represent-ta-zionn of the hollowed, hallowed mastas of steeze, through snow or hail, hell, Snoopkael, pimp cup sharp, leaning on a bark, arf arf, wicked Swiss o da West, take no stress and lemme riddle ya dis ‘diss, dawg:
Deschdogg knew it, Deschdogg saw it, Deschdogg felt it, what Deschdogg wanted. From behind da diamond grill, you never met a man so chill, full o’ ideas and bent up on being all fired, something dat made us… inspired. Who be dat man… with da Meisterplan?”
Casabon smirked. “Well… he be dat Iberg, dawg.”
“Aww shieet! It’s the one and only B-Dog up in dis riddim house, correct, correct, straight fiya! Now move on up in, les get dis partay on da loose.”
Mickael’s figure twisted and turned, like a sturdy lock fiddling in place, and the door he was connected to creaked open, ending with a thud.
“Y’all keep it real now.”
They fistbumped him one by one as they moved through the entrance, with Dumont trailing behind, seemingly annoyed by Deschdogg’s wondrous banter. Just a few yards ahead of them, they saw a most welcome sight – a fantastical, man-made cave, formed by the Warders dulling their edges on the rock walls for over eight years past. A cacophony of music could be heard bustling inside its walls, filled to the brim with make-shift igloos and testing areas, bootfitter stands, poster signing events and haphazard movie premieres, displayed proudly on the once-jagged granite walls. They slid down towards the center of the cave, where they could see a larger, sturdier looking building.
As they skied past, the Warders realized who had arrived, shouting, hollering and crying joyously and forming a large posse of thugs that followed the Style Party to the middle of the cave. Outside the building, they slowed to a stop, as the music stopped echoing around them and the N-Ward fell into complete silence. Only then, they could hear the mighty steps coming from the building’s entrance hall. From the cold shadows, a figure emerged. Wearing one of the tallest tees ever made, known as the Sagarishschoolers Collabo ’12, he stepped into the light. It was harlaut, rugged, scarred, but alive, in the flesh. He saw Casabon, who stood there in silence and sprinted to him, stared at him for a second, then shouted at the top of his lungs:
“B!” he cried.
“E!” Phil replied.
They grabbed each other’s gloves in a powerful grip, a magical reunion that gave way to an immense wave of cheers, shouting and tears of joy from the whole population of the Ward. The generals looked at each other, and patted each other on their backs, congratulating each other for making it this far. Dumont was nowhere to be seen. Amidst the crowd, cheers and positive vibes, the two best friends, once again a team, smiled and laughed happily in celebration.
“It’s been too long, HH.”
Harlaut grinned. “Yezzir, B. True dat. But, we have no time to lose. Come… I need to show you something.”
It felt like a moment frozen in time, a massacre in MegaMo. LJ and Dunny were truly repping the Oath of Style, left to right, chopping and stabbing any and all Gaper resistance and leading their troops onward. They had managed to figure out that to shield themselves from the heart-exploding booing; all they needed were headphones to blank out the noise. Their warriors fought valiantly, being able to enter the fray without clipping the iridium-like shockfield protecting the Gapers, but the battle seemed futile. There were simply too many assailants blocking the Front Entrance of the Olympic Stadium of Montreal, but even so they seemed to be making headway and progressing closer to their goal. To their looming demise’s even worse luck, three Head Judges had been dispatched to annihilate them.
Three cloaked forms ascended from the Entrance.
The tallest of them was Mukt’r, a former Skeleton champion, brandishing a cyborg arm made of used bobsleds filled to the brim with highly flammable liquids, acting as a terrifying, makeshift flamethrower.
From behind him emerged Kar’paus, a Gold medalist in Biathlon, reloading his rifles while laughing furiously, taunting the skiers ahead of them.
Last, but definitely not the least, the Assistant Chief Judge, M’sley, an enemy they knew all too well – a former Olympic Gold winner of Moguls. Infected by the Eternal Flame, he had joined the Panel to gain ultimate power and to fulfill his greatest dream – to make it snow in San Fransisco. He leered at them under his wretched cloak, shifted his weight and waited - ready to unleash the Dinner Roll.
They all lunged forward together, with Mukt’r targeting Downey, setting his coat aflame, Kar’paus lunging head-on at Strenio, who barely flipped out the rapid fire’s way, while M’osley prepared to exterminate all the remaining hundred or so warriors, all by himself. He gathered speed, using his creaky wings to gain momentum at a godly velocity. Just before he was able to slice through the unexpecting troops, he saw someone rushing towards him at ridiculous speed and dodged in the nick of time, clashing skis with the stranger creating a cloud of sparks around them, causing a gridlocked power struggle.
“…who the hell are you?” the judge slithered.
The gruffy, bearded stranger seemed relaxed. “The name’s Ager! And I won’t let you hurt my buddies.”
“Foolish peon… You’re no match for me.”
“Dude… I live in a goddamn forest, I’m pretty sure I can handle a has-been like you!”
The battle raged on, with more and more Gapers arriving to assist and backup the total annihilation of the freedom fighters. Dunny was in a pinch, unable to find an opening to destroy his opponent’s flamethrower and LJ couldn’t close the distance, already wounded from several rifle shots, while Ager seemed to hold his own against M’osley, but just couldn’t land a finishing blow. The Gapers were closing in huddling the skiers like sheep to a pen, leaving them no chance but to take a defensive formation with the thugs shielding the main attackers who speared them from a distance, but their efforts seemed useless against the rapidly growing horde. The Gapers powered up for a final devastating blast, the fire engulfed Dunny, Kar’paus had LJ in his dead aim and the Assistant Chief threw Ager to the ground, ready to pierce his abdomen.
“That was fun…” it hissed. “..but I’m over it already! Die!!!”
A majestic white light shined over them, blinding the Trodden and the Judges.
“Hej! Men vad gör ni här?”
LJ shook his head in disbelief. “…Is that… could it really be?”
It was Olsson the White, hailing from the Northern reaches of the Kingdom of Douchebag. Riding on the backs of his glorious Twins, he had appeared at the most opportune moment. The Judges screeched in disgust, but the Gapers seemed to have stopped their attack and were staring at Jon, intrigued by his tight-fitting and colourful outerwear.
“Looks like you boys could need some help.” he winked. “You’re only going to get one chance, take it!”
Olsson whistled so loudly that the crevasse from which they came from caved in from the sheer vibration of his pitch. It was a signal for his royal subjects to remove the camouflage of the contraption he had effortlessly built just moments earlier, hidden in plain sight.
It was a glorious kicker. Shaped to perfection no matter which angle you looked at it, it was the best jump ever built, drawing the attention of the Gapers immediately. He started gaining speed, closing in on the kicker, when he pulled out a walkie talkie, messaging his announcer.
“Douglas, you ready?”
A helicopter with a gigantic audio system rose from behind the Stadium, carrying the Godfather of Skiing.
He replied with stark confidence.
“Ready as I’ll ever be. Let ‘er rip.”
“Ten-four. Let’s show those boys how you really get the attention of the masses!”
He flew through the kicker and right at the edge of the lip, he hucked like he had never hucked before. Flying gloriously through the air he assumed the position. Douglas screamed into his microphone.
“Oh my God! Ladies and Gentlemen! What you are witnessing is history! For the first time ever on skis, before your eyes, Jon Olsson has just thrown a triple frontflip!”
As synchronized as ballet skiers, the Gapers gaped like they had never gaped before. Mouths open wide, jaws dropping all around, they were in awe. Amazed by a parlour trick, Olsson had realized their weakness and struck deeply into the vein of the horde’s level of understanding. When he landed, the crowd cheered ghoulishly, when suddenly, some of the audience began to twitch slightly, then convulsing, then bleeding profusely from their eyes and ears, screaming in terrible agony due to the grandness and simplicity of a multiflip and they fell one by one, helplessly fading away under the Eternal Flame.
Jon snickered lightly. “…godspeed.”
The generals and their scruffy compadre saw their chance. Downey sprang forward, slashing the snow beneath him and spraying the Judge’s firecannon, causing it to malfunction. The Judge panicked and swung around the bobsled, causing it to get stuck on the muddy and slushy ground melted by the stray flames. Downey nollied up high, crossed his skis, grabbed both his tails with each hand and positioned his skis around the monster’s head.
“Do you know how long it took me to make this look stylish?!”
Mukt’r gasped but it was too late. Liam snapped the skis together, effectively decapitating his foe in a storm of gushing blood.
LJ knew what he had to do. His was a mortal enemy, but the disorder caused by the wailing Gapers and the disturbing shining light caused by Olsson’s godliness meant he couldn’t aim properly for a split second. Unperturbed, he looked back down his sights, ready to blow Strenio out of existence. What he saw was single ski, sharp as a katana, headed in his general direction. He released his breath for the last time. The ski impaled his trachea with murderous speed, nailing him into the gunpowder-filled dirt mound behind him as his final resting place.
The-Man-Formerly-Known-As-Moseley took a step back because of the bright flash caused by the Swedish Prince, and Charley leapt forward to strike, blocked only at the last possible moment. M’osley raged in anger.
“What do you seek to accomplish?! Why do you refuse to comply with our simple rules!?”
“I don’t care about your rules, man. I just wanna go big, huck it and not look back.”
The Chief cawked with its disposition.
“Don’t you understand?! I am above your sentiments. I cannot be defeated by style!”
Ager regained his composure, and shouted at the top of his lungs:
“Style…? I HAVE NO STYLE!!!”
He plunged his obSETHed with furious anger through his former ally’s tormented face, causing it to implode with a sudden flash along with the rest of his body, leaving nothing else behind but an old, dirty trinket. LJ and Dunny met Ager halfway, when he handed them the medallion. It was Moseley’s Gold medal, still intact although musty. They stashed it and gathered their troops before advancing through the Front Gates to the innards of the Stadium.
Downey stood steadfast, facing their destiny, whispering under his arms:
“We better meet you halfway, B.”
They scurried on.
Meanwhile, to even his own surprise, Heath had infiltrated the Inner Stadium. He had stormed through the first and second breaches of the horde with his Pussyfooter Skimobile, a powerful tool he had acquired through The Hole in The Gone Times. At the Gates, he had been stunted by a different revelation, however. Who would have known that the Gapers, and even the Judges, would simply let him through because of his Press Card? But now, he was inside and sneaking stealthily towards the conference rooms, where he was sure to find the members of the Panel. He readied the grenades he had constructed from his cameras’ lithium batteries’ acid, mixed with stale Utah beer – a deadly combination exerting immense explosive power.
The sign above him in the dim-lit corridor stated the obvious:
“The Panel shall NOT BE DISTURBED”.
The dried-up blood stains in the sign’s near vicinity were proof enough for him. This was a truly golden opportunity, to redeem himself completely in the eyes of the ski community, or what was left of it, and to end the arbitrary rule of the International Olympic Committee. The door was in front of him and he stormed through. The adrenaline rush quickly subsided. This was The Panel’s home office, no doubt. But there was only a single person there. He recognized him immediately. It was the President of IOC, the Main Panelist – Jacques Rogge. He strafed around with the explosive in hand and approached the President.
“You… this has gone far enough! My friends, my brothers of Style, are fighting, dying… because of you. I didn’t become a filmer to see them die before my eyes! I wanted to share their talent, share their skills with the world, and show people that there is more to skiing than competitions and restrictions YOU brought forward. I never…”
Mid-sentence, Heath realized something was off. Rogge had not reacted at all to his entrance, or his riveting tale. He stood silent for a moment, and inched forwards slowly, passing the dust-ridden conference table and closing in on the Chairman’s Desk. When he realized it, it was already far too late. He sensed a disturbance in the flow of Style behind him and turned around, only to freeze up in devastating fear. The large figure crept closer to him and its shadow was cast upon Heath’s face.
“…you. It was…it was you all along.”
In a blink, Heath was gone. Struck with such massive power, all of his organs, bones and muscles were blown away across the room, leaving a ghastly and unidentifiable splatter all over the dark walls. Only his loose skin was left lying on the floor – truly only a shadow left of his former, grand being. The figure stepped back, shook its fist clean of residue and sinew and stated maddeningly in the empty room:
-Come to me, Phil…
Casabon and Harlaut were together again, a tag team to be reckoned with. After hearing Edollo’s plan, B-Dog had commanded his generals to stay put in the N-Ward and ready the troops for a flash attack at the exact right moment to free The Trodden from the Mute Facilities, hidden away under the Stadium Field. What HH wanted to show his friend and ally was not a sight for the weak of mind. They had sneaked into the Triple Flip Facilities, with the N-Ward being conveniently connected to almost every section of the Stadium through hidden passages formed grievously with a burning passion for freedom. They crept to the edge of a ledge of a smartly camouflaged alcove. Harlaut removed his binoculars and handed them to B.
“He’s right there. Beneath that large Olympic sign. Take a look.”
Casabon sighed and put the binoculars on his eyes. What he saw was not a pleasant sight.
In the middle of the large rectangle shaped cavern, purposefully placed for all possibly rebelling Trodden to see, was a large, cross-shaped totem. There he hanged, crucified. His arms were pierced with hundreds of rivets, once decreasing delamination, now suspending his feeble form in the air. His boots were chained to the cross, stripped so tightly that you could see the flesh festering through his soles. Cancer and bed sores seemed to habitate all of his visible skin, rotting away while he was kept in suspended animation to preserve the horrid sight for new generations. Just to serve as an example and deterrent for any stylishly motivated Trodden. A helmet hung around his neck, on his head a crown of thorns, constructed from broken and rusty edges. On his chest, a stapled sign, which read:
‘HERE LIES TOM WALLISCH, THE KING OF AFTERBANG.’
“Jesus…”, Casabon exhaled.
“Yup, that’s him, B. They wanted to make an example out of him. He was motivated enough to succeed in the Olympics, but he also tried to keep to the streets, keep his down-to-earth style and perfection even in tricks that weren’t double cork variations. After The Last Games, they crucified him immediately to keep the morale low in these training facilities. It’s a sad sight, but you needed to see what they have done to even those who supported their cause. It just doesn’t seem right.”
Casabon nodded. “I know what you mean. Something isn’t right about this whole thing, and I’ll be damned that we only find out now after being so close, after all these years.”
Harlaut was deep in thought. “He wasn’t the first, though. They tried to do something similar to Dumont as well, but before they were able to end him, he escaped. Scarred, and flawed, but still alive. He’s been bouncing around the Ward for a few years now.
Casabon was startled to only realize just now that Dumont had vanished from his group earlier, but he didn’t know what to make of it.
“We have to be careful in our approach. Damn careful.”
“It is what it is. We can’t back off anymore, it’s a leap to the unknown abyss, but we have to be the ones to pull it through”, Harlaut claimed.
Casabon thought about his dreamy vision and the endless pit of nothingness he was flung into.
“…hey, Dollo… how did your English get so damn good?”
“I could ask the same from you. But it was Cali P who taught me. He ran an advanced linguistics class in the Ward for five years.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
“In this world we live in… what does?”
“…true dat. Let’s mosey.”
The duo made their way to the conference area of the Inner Stadium, not knowing that two people were shadowing them. First to follow was Dumont, creeping silently behind them with magnificent strides. Behind the sullen creature, was Imlach the Wise. He had seen Dudemont disappear during the joyous reunion and was suspicious of his possible actions, after all the whispers, seemingly schizophrenic in-fighting and devilish spying on their group. He was planning to find out what the little being was up to, even if he went against his Leader’s will.
When they reached the area Heath had ventured into just an hour earlier, B & E were startled by clanking noises behind them and turned around rapidly, ready to dispose of Head Judges with ruthless style.
“Woaah, woaah… take it easy B! …and E. It’s fricking great to see you again, Edollo.”
LJ and Downey settled down the alarming situation and they discussed their game plan. They had left the newly appointed Lieutenant General Ager in charge of remaining warriors, who were now beginning to wreak havoc in the facilities with the assistance of the Warders. Now, the main men would strike the room with a controlled and stylish intrusion. They were ready to kill or die for their cause, and now it became a complete reality. It was time. They charged.
The room was bleak, and unknowingly to them, splattered with Heath’s entrails. They approached President Rogge with fearful caution. Their air senses were honed enough to know that something was off. Unnatural. Casabon lowered his guard and walked to the President’s drooped corpse, somehow very well preserved.
“He’s long gone. I don’t sense any assessment or technicality from him. He’s just a lifeless puppet. What the hell is going on here…?”
“He must be coated with the same stuff they used on Wallnuts”, Harlaut thought.
They all spun around, utterly surprised. It took a second to sink in. What, who they saw, threw them completely off.
-Congratulations on making it this far. Have you been enjoying seeing your friends ripped to pieces? Have you enjoyed summoning the strength to destroy my minions, my Judges, my silly little servants? It’s been a long, long wait, and oh how I’ve waited for this. But, alas, I do believe in destiny and the wait has been but a pleasantry, rather than a hardship. Now, welcome to your doom.
The ground shook before them, the room was twisting and turning, the walls ripped apart from every direction, tearing the space a new form, and as it opened up, they realized where they were. The center of the Olympic Stadium, but at the top of a very high incline, high enough to hear the violent winds blow and feel the crackling of the rising thunderclouds, closing in ominously fast. As they looked up, they froze in place, almost feeling the madness lurking inside their heads. Staring down at them was a pillar, hundreds of feet tall, brandishing the cruel and maddening flicker of the Eternal Flame.
-Can you see where you, where your type, wronged me? Hahaha, I’m sure you can. You know the importance of this pla-ce. Surely you recognize it already, come on now.
They all knew exactly where they were, or at least what this place represented. Maybe they were there, maybe it was a hallucination, and nothing seemed to be impossible anymore in their world turned upside down.
They were looking at Chad’s Gap.
The figure laughing at their disbelief, mocking them without words, was none other, than Marc Frank Montoya. Twisted, beyond words, beyond explanations, into a bulk of mass, with clearly defined boundaries, yet his form made no sense. it was as if their brains were fighting the facts and what they believed they were looking at, and their thoughts were in a furious battle between reality and the fantastical. LJ and Downey passed out, even with world-class conditioning and abilities to stand up to pressure and expectations – they were down for the count. The Gold Medal of M’osley fell down to the ground from his pocket. Harlaut fell to his knees and grabbed Casabon’s arm.
“B! You…… this is all you…. damn it… take.. this… if all else… fails. Shitttt….”
Just before he passed out, he handed the lithium grenade he had noticed and picked up from the conference floor room where Heath had lost his life.
“Edollo! Come on, get it together! What is this?! I don’t know how to use this, c’mon!”
-Now, now, Ca-sa-bonne. You do know, that you, your kind, disrespected me and invaded my territory? You didn’t even, hah, you didn’t EVEN ASK FOR PERMISSION!!! Hahaha, they told you, you know, they knew, they told you, that I would fuck you up. That day… I was too late. I felt torn. Like I was RIPPED OUT FROM THE INSIDE! DO YOU know… what pride is. PRIDE, it’s something to cherish, something to hold in HIGH REGARD. And your friends… your BUDDIES. Your kind took my territory, you… it was sacrilege! But I wasn’t a lazy boy, nooo-no-no… I was a busy body indeed. I vowed to destroy your silly little two-plankers, asinine ‘sporty sport’. It took me A GOOD WHILE, but you only need, the instincts of a predator, to kill, to manipulate, to pull the strings like the most devious puppet master. Hahaha, how I’ve WAITED FOR THIS moment.
Casabon felt woozy, stricken by the sheer power pressure of MFM, unloading his long-awaited rant into his very soul.
-And now, we are going to gap…Chad’s. Together. We will see who is truly the King of Style, the Master of Steeze, the Ambassador of Air Sense! We will jump at the same time, we will HIT IT, at the same speed and the one who lands the better, MOST STYLISH TRICK… will live. No no, I assure you hahaha, if you BEAT ME you will live. Go on to tell your story. I’m serious! Haha, no really. Nothing will happen to you, man. Dude, trust me. It’s not like, even right now, you’re IN MY terri-TORY! Strap… in… now.
“We click in.”
Casabon felt the massive wave of style force being released at him, almost killing him instantly. MFM screeched from the bottom of his heart to this insult, ready to devour him instantly. But no, Casabon knewthis was trule a Devil’s game. The Devil himself, Marc Frank, would not be able to live with himself if he just destroyed his greatest opponent. It had to be decided with a “fair” competition. He still had a chance.
“Let’s do this.”
They both dropped in, under the watchful eye of the Eternal Flame, itself also corrupted by Montoya’s will. Phil had no time to worry about it now; this was his only change to save the world, his friends. And he knew the Devil would not play fair.
As they approached the jump, he could feel the Devil’s grip on his neck. An invisible arm, created by a power form simply of the sheer hatred towards skiers and those who had asked how to get to Chad’s from the bottom of Alta. The grip got tighter, and he could not breathe, still rushing towards the jump uncontrollably, with speeds that clocked over 60 miles per hour. Was this how it would really end? Was this… suddenly, times seemed to stop moving. As if becoming a photographic memory filled with scents, feelings, infused tastes, his beating heart, all combined into a hazy and surreal sight of the snowy Stadium that lay before him. Life in MegaMo.
‘B-Dog…… use the gre.e…e..’
Casabon couldn’t believe his ears.
“Is that… you? Hall... the Anklebearer?! I thought you were… gone!”
‘No way, man. I’ll never be gone, this is real, you know.’
“I can’t believe this, it’s just like a dream I ha… Were you behind that as well?”
‘For certain, for certain. It was to warn you of things to come, and to remind you what you’ve been through to be able to change everything back to how it was.’
“But how… how are you doing this? Is this some sort of telepathy?”
‘Dude, I’m so blazed right know, I don’t even…. Anyhoo… you should totally blow up Chad’s Gap.’
“What? Blow up? What do you mean? You mean this thing that HH gave me, is it an explosive?”
‘It happens to be such, yeah. It’s not your time to go yet, brah. Use the Style, Phil…..’
Tanner’s voice faded away and time seemed to get on gear once again, coming back like a freight train hit Casabon in the chest, with a galling gasp for air. The demonic arm was still around his throat and they were closing in on the kicker. He gasped for air, wriggling to grab the make-shift bomb from his pocket, dangling just beneath his reach. The jump was coming in fast, when he realized it.
“Calm down, Phil, stop fidgeting, no unnecessary movements, no extra flips, set the spin, get the grab, land like a boss.”
He emptied his lungs in a serene moment, focused, closed his eyes and with a relaxed but swift move, grabbed the grenade and pulled it out.
The Demon stared at him with sudden fear.
“We can’t be hittin no Chad’s, because…
SKI PATROL BLEW IT UP!”
He threw the bomb straight at the kicker with staggering speed, causing a rippling explosion, teraing the jump, the landing, the ground beneath them completely apart. They both fell through the ground onto a lower level.
When they came to, they were both floating on molten rock ledges, drifting through the Stadium Underground on the same kind of substance Phil saw in his vision earlier.
“So, it’s true is it? There is no real snow left in the world. It’s all your doing. You’re making SNOW OUT OF PEOPLE! Innocent lives lost to fulfill a void, for what, for petty vengeance?! We newer asked for your permission because we believe skiing, snowboarding, everything… is free! Free for all to experience, in the fullest or the slightest! We never cared for your Olympic regulations, we wanted to push the sport away from stop watches and required tricks!”
-… well… how well did that go even before I intervened?
Casabon was silent. He knew that it was true.
“Some of uswanted to adhere, to represent our sport along with our country, but not to this extent. No one wanted this to happen.”
-Yet you let it. Plain and simple. It was all downhill from the day… you… joined.
In his heart, he knew it to be true. All sports, especially sports requiring expensive equipment like skiing, all those sports are subject to go under tighter regulation at some point, at the point of mass interest. But he still knew that they could fight the rules. They could fight the requirements until the end of time.
“I will extinguish that Flame you’ve corrupted… and I will fight for my freedom!!!”
Casabon and MFM looked back up, and they saw Imlach standing on a ledge opposite the river of blood.
He saw something soaring through the air, something with a glean shimmer, and caught it by chance. It was an Olympic Gold Medal. Without warning, a figure dropped behind him on the floating rock. It was Dumont.
“We sees… now yous are trying to takes our Golds, our Preciouss… we.. WILL HAVE NONE OF THAT!!!”
At that moment, Montoya was charging up his final attack and swinging around his board with ruthless force and deadly, stylish execution, just about to finish releasing his grip. The attack would be impossible to dodge, and would promptly cut Casabon in half. In the split second that all of this happened, he looked up to Logan, mouthing from afar, but not easily heard:
“….thro……. th…… Gol….”
In another amazingly silent moment of truth, he thought:
He turned around with lightning speed and threw the Gold Medal at Montoya, and during that same swing he could feel Dumont stride above him, chasing the Medal. The Gold hit Montoya in the head, straggling him for a second. But then Dumont came for his Gold.
With such a ferocious leap, Dumont’s speed and air were immaculately big and Montoya had no chance to dodge him. Dumont went for the Gold while gripping his legs around MFM’s head, and the momentum promptly flew them both off the molten rock and into the bloody pit down below. Marc Frank had no time to react. No time at all. He was doomed due to his own inability to understand how far a competitive person like Simon Dumont would be willing to go to win the Gold. The medal around his neck. His… Precious.
As they sank into the boiling pit of blood, Imlach hoisted Casabon from the floating make-shift platform. As Montoya’s soul was banished from Earth as his body dissipated in the burning hot puddle, the Eternal Flame started to flicker in the wind. The new winds were blowing. They both looked up and watched as the flame was extinguished, once and for all. They knew that their brothers would be free again, and able to live life to their fullest, not under strict rules or deadly regulations. On the groomers, in the backcountry, in the parks, on the streets.
Freedom would flow once again.
Logan breathed deeply. “Well now that this is over, what are we gonna do?”
Casabon looked into the sky with wishful eyes.
“I don’t know about you… but I’m gonna take a break from skiing.”