When Evan Andrews was growing up and going to school, he could hardly have envisioned that there might be a time in his life where he might be able to exert some influence upon the lives of other people around him. At that point, he was hardly the type of person who could have been described as "charismatic" or "outgoing"- in fact, he was hardly the type who was capable of saying more than one or two words to anyone during the course of a conversation.
Oh, he could write well enough; and that more than any other reason why he was able to pass his courses with grades that were good enough to allow him entry into university. He never really had any difficulty communicating his thoughts in the form of a written word...But when it came time for him to give voice to whatever he happened to be thinking at the moment, the words that he wished to speak always seemed to lodge themselves inside his throat, and never seemed to come out the way he intended.
That sense of shyness was still present within him throughout the entire four year period that it took for him to get his history degree, and it remained one of his primary characteristics even when he first broke into the professional wrestling industry. During those first few years as an active competitor, Evan was generally content to let his tag team partner, Clyde Dixon, speak for the tandem during their promotional appearances, because he knew that Clyde was the type of person who relished every opportunity that he had to tell the world exactly what was on his mind.
Gradually, Evan became a little less introverted, and found it a bit easier to verbalize the thoughts that he wished to communicate, but even then, he was generally content to remain in the background, and play a supporting role in any organization that he happened to be part of in that moment.
And, had that trend continued to this very day, then he really wouldn't have had any problem with that...Because, back then, Evan Andrews was completely convinced that just didn't have what he thought was needed to be a truly effective leader.
Well, it's funny how things change, isn't it?
For, somewhere along the way, Terminus did become the type of person that others considered a leader, and, as a result of two important events that occurred at the Devil's Due, now finds himself in a position where he can exert considerable influence not only over the opposition that he faces on a weekly basis, but also upon the Premiere Wrestling Alliance as a whole.
The first event of importance, of course, was the victory that he gained over the reigning Jason Sandman and the returning Brad Kane in a Three-Way Elimination Match to become the PWA World Light Heavyweight Champion for the first time in his career.
Not only does this provide Evan with another credential to add to an already-impressive list of accomplishments within the federation, and with the knowledge that he was able to come all the way back from the career-threatening injury that he suffered at Conflict 1, but also gives him the chance to assume the type of leadership role that he's come to enjoy. Once again, he's got the opportunity to produce the type of championship reign that others might wish to emulate; and, at Conflict 7, he can take the very first step toward making certain this happens by making a successful first defense of this title against PWA's resident Man Who Would Be King, "The Golden Eagle" Jack Gaither.
But there's another, and probably more important reason why Evan wishes to inflict a resounding defeat upon the opponent that he'll be facing inside the ring next week...And that's the fact that he holds the Gaither Clan at least somewhat responsible for the other important event that occurred in his life last Wednesday.
For, had Samantha not occupied her attention with the task of perfecting her impression of Wren Chesney through a series of heavy-handed actions that culminated in the firing of Ray Quadros for no better reason than because the latter questioned one of her decisions, then perhaps the PWA Board of Directors would have been less receptive to the ideas of someone like Simon Retter. Had STG not viewed the position as PWA Co-Commissioner primarily as a means to masturbate her spouse's excessive and entirely unwarranted ego, then maybe Simon wouldn't have been able to successfully proceed with the plan that ultimately resulted in her resignation last Wednesday.
Indeed, had the Gaithers not taken advantage of every opportunity to act like grade-A idiots, and Produced a series of juvenile stunts and skits that insulted the intelligence of a mentally challenged two-year-old then it's likely that Samantha might still be in a position of power...
If that were the case, then Evan Andrews wouldn't be required to nominate a suitable replacement on behalf of the PWA's staff and roster.
Evan's well aware that there are fellow roster members, like the man that he'll be facing next Wedesday, who would be thrilled to be in this very situation. He knows that someone like Jack Gaither would willingly sacrifice the use of any number of his internal organs just to have the chance to make a decision of this magnitude. That's probably the reason why the Golden Eagle bears such acrimony toward Terminus right, because he's jealous of the fact that, at the moment, Evan holds the type of influence that he desperately wishes to possess.
And that's ironic, because Evan really doesn't enjoy being in this position one little bit. He doesn't relish the prospect of having to make a decision that is almost certain to impact the future of the PWA- be it for good or for ill. It gives him very little pleasure to have the knowledge that a wrong choice might cause irreparable damage to this federation, and to the lives of its employees...
Terminus, rubbing his temples as he thinks aloud: In fact, all it's giving me is a great big headache....
Brad Kane: Well, "Commissioner Evan", perhaps you'll feel better if you spend a bit less time feeling stressed out about business matters-and a bit more time relaxing and enjoying your life for a change.
The sound of his friend's voice compels Evan to break out into a slight, albeit rueful smile as he turns his attention away from this latest mediation and toward the other three people that are situated in the Kanes' basement recreation room.
At the moment, Brad and Megan are seated on the floor in front of one of the TV's, playing a game of "Fire Pro Wrestling" on their PlayStation. Meanwhile, Natalie Snow appears to be just as relaxed as she sits on the sofa next to Evan and completes the task of painting her toe nails an interesting shade of blood red.
But, as relaxed and at ease as they all appear to be, Evan can't help but note the expression of concern that's apparent on their faces as they gaze in his direction.
Terminus: Yeah...You're right. Sorry, guys, I don't mean to be such a downer.
Natalie, putting her hand on his shoulder: Oh, my love...There's absolutely no need for you to apologize. We all know that this choice that you've got to make is weighing heavily upon your mind; so it's only natural why you might be a bit more distracted than usual.
Brad, with a slight smirk: It doesn't make it any easier to deal with, but it's completely understandable.
Terminus feels his smile grow a bit wider as he watches Megan reach over and give her husband a playful slap across the back of his head.
Brad: I was just joking, Megs. Jeez!
Evan watches his friend's expression turn serious as he stares up at him.
Brad: Seriously, dude...We're really worried about you, is all.
Megan, nodding her head: Evan, you're one of our very best friends, and it hurts us to see you in such a poor mood. So, if there's anything that he can do to help, then just let us know, OK?
The New Age Punisher acknowledges this statement with a nod of his own, and then, after a moment or two spent in silence, feels his eyes going wide as he consider these words a little further...
Terminus: Actually...there may be something that you guys can do for me, after all.
Brad, as excitement begins to creep into his voice: Awesome! I'll go get the camera and toys, and then we-
Terminus, smirking: Um...Sorry, Brad, that wasn't exactly what I had in mind...
Brad, looking disappointed: Well, what were you thinking when you said that?
Terminus: I was thinking that since the three of you are all members of the PWA roster, I was hoping that I coud run the situation by you, and have you provide your input so that I could make an informed decision in this matter...
Brad: Crap. So much for a nice, relaxing evening. I liked my idea a whole hell of a lot better.
Natalie, giggling: Yeah...Me too.
Still, I for one am pleased that you're so willing to include us in the decision making process, my love. And, I'm certain that Brad and Megan feel the same way.
Megan: Definitely. *Levels a meaningful look at a sulking Brad* Isn't that right, honey?
Brad: Yeah, Yeah. Thrilled to death. So, what's the story?
Terminus: Well, as you know, I'm now required to nominate someone to replace the outgoing PWA Commissioner, and the reason why I've been so stressed out is the fact that the choices that have been presented to me leaves a lot to be desired...
Megan: What are your choices, Evan?
Terminus: According to Simon Retter's last e-mail, three people have expressed interest in filling the void left by Samantha's departure.
They are, in no particular order...Vincent Cornelius Roberts...
Natalie, rolling her eyes: Ugh!
Terminus: ...Demetrie Lionheart...
Natalie, as her face twists into a sour expression: Double "Ugh"!
Terminus: ...And John Harkes.
Everyone in the room remains quiet for a moment after the third and final name is has been mentioned, until Brad shakes his head and decides to break the silence.
Brad: Wow...That's not much of a choice, is it?
Natalie: No...It really isn't.
Megan, shrugging: Still, if those are the choices that we have, then I guess the only thing that we can do is to determine which of those three is the lesser of three evils.
Natalie: Well, we certainly can't nominate VCR, because everyone knows that the only reason why that walking definition of the term "dweeb" wants the job is so that he can do his wife's bidding!
And, as far as I'm concerned, the less said about Wren Chesney, the better!
Megan: So, we're down to Lionheart and Harkes...
Terminus, shaking his head: No...We're just down to one option, actually.
Demetrie may be a successful businessman, but he's not a viable option because of his monumental ego...And, because his relationship to his brother Valentine creates a clear conflict of interest.
In contrast to the other two candidates, Harkes has yet to show any real favor toward any one competitor in the PWA, and he's proved himself to be a capable businessman who deserves to be taken seriously...
Brad: So, Harkes it is, then.
Terminus, looking downcast: Yeah...Seems that way, doesn't it?
Megan: You don't sound all that pleased about this, Evan.
Terminus: I'm not.
Natalie: My love, we all know that Harkes is little more than conniving career bureaucrat, and that he's hardly what one might consider to be a dynamic presence...But he remains the best choice of the three available options!
Terminus: I think everyone in this room can agree with that statement, Natalie...And, it should be noted that Simon Retter shares that agreement, as well.
Natalie: He...he does?
Terminus: Indeed. He's strongly urged me to nominate Harkes, and has even gone so far as to hint that doing so would allow me to fulfill any obligation that I have to his Hunt...
Natalie: So, what's the problem?
Terminus, after a momentary pause: I don't know....
*Breaks out into a sheepish grin as he stares at his wife*
I guess I just remember a time in my own life where I let myself be consumed with the idea of gaining absolute power in this federation. We both know what happened in that case...Don't we, Nat?
Natalie, blinking: We...We do?
Evan watches the look of confusion disappear from his wife's features, only to be replaced by a look of embarrassment.
Natalie: Oh...That's right. We do know what happened, and the lesson that we learned as a result of that experience.
Megan: Guys...What lesson did you learn?
Terminus: We learned the hard way that in many cases, those individuals who seek absolute power become absolutely corrupt in the process. And we learned that in the aftermath of Project Catastrophe's attempt to gain control over the PWA.
Brad: God...What a shit-storm that turned out to be. That didn't end well at all.
Natalie: No...It really didn't. But you have to understand, Brad...We honestly thought we were doing the right thing when we committed RTO to the Project!
Terminus: That may well be true, Natalie, but the fact remains that we became too damned enthralled with the idea of bringing the federation to even consider the possibility that the project might collapse under the weight of its own ego- let alone take any notice of the fact that it was happening before our eyes...
Evan shakes his head, lets out a heavy sigh of disgust, and then takes a deep breath as he continues to address the other people in the room.
Terminus: So, I guess that's why I'm hesitant to lend my support to Harkes, at the moment...Because the memory of this event has made me suspicious of anyone who covets the opportunity to gain that much control over the lives of others.
I think that sense of overriding ambition is the one thing that bothers me most about Wren Chesney...It's the one thing that I find most grating about our "dear friend" Simon...
And it's the one thing that annoys me most about the man that I'll be meeting inside the ring this Wednesday.
Natalie: And that's saying something...Because God only knows that there are plenty of negative things that could be said about that pathetic pig-snouted pile of waste product!
Terminus, breaking out into a slight smile: That's very true, Natalie. But I think the vast majority of Gaither's words and so-called deeds can be dismissed with a slight roll of the eyes and a shake of the head.
For example, I could very easiliy live with the fact that Jack Gaither feels the need to remind the world of the fact that he was almost able to defeat me at Violation 46, and with the fact that he continues to insist that my victory in that match was simply the result of a sudden stroke of luck. What he doesn't seem to understand is the fact that, in order to be truly successful in this industry, one needs to create the circumstances that allow them to take advantage of that good fortune.
That was precisely what I was able to do during the course of that last encounter- despite the fact that I was still suffering from the concussion that I had sustained at the hands of Captain Howdy two weeks before that contest took place.
Really, it matters very little to me if Jack still wishes to claim some sort of moral victory...I'm content to have the knowledge that I was able to overcome a considerable amount of adversity to claim the real victory that evening. And, after all, it's the ability to gain an actual victory in these types of situations that distinguishes the Champions from the pretenders to their throne.
That's also why I'm not terribly bothered by the Golden Eagles' rather amusing attempt to denigrate my two previous reigns as PWA World Heavyweight Champion...Because I know very well that the source of this criticism is someone who is so incapable of achieving success on his own that he's compelled to live vicariously through the achievements of Nighthawk in order to feel any sense of career validation.
So, as far as that goes, there isn't much about what Gaither says that can't be ignored, or at the very least, taken with anything less than a mountain's worth of salt....
Terminus feels his smile begin to fade, and listens to the emotions of anger and contempt creep into his voice as he continues to discuss the topic of the opponent that he'll face this week.
Terminus: But, there's one thing about Jack Gaither that I can no longer ignore, or tolerate...
And that is his insistence upon trying to gain a measure of influence in this federation through the use of backstage machinations, rather than through the more conventional means of using his skill set to actually accomplish something of worth in the PWA.
I can no longer abide by this wretched creature's attempts to assume control of my place of employment simply because he wishes to compensate for his many shortcomings. I can no longer allow Jack Gaither to have any further opportunity to believe that he can somehow purchase respect from the fans, or from his fellow roster members.
Somehow, I'm going to have to find a way to make him realize that there are different and more effective means to become a leader than simply adopting the bull-headed approach of trying to assume control of everything and everyone that surrounds him.
Somehow, I'm going to have to make him realize that it may be in his better interest to listen to something aside from the sound of his own droning voice, and to actually make an effort to understand why other people might hold different viewpoints from his own.
Somehow, he's going to have to be made to understand that the reason why many of the most famous leaders in History were able to govern so wisely was because of a desire to lead, or to attain glory...But simply because they realized that they had no other choice but to take everyone's interests into consideration in order to ensure that their Realm had any hope of survival...
Somehow, Jack Gaither is going to have to learn this...
And, this Wednesday, I'm going to do everything that is necessary to teach him this lesson, and to do so in a manner that will ensure that it will remain scorched in his memory for the remainder of his miserable existence.
Evan blinks and realizes that the other three people in the room are regarding him with wide-eyed stares
Terminus: Sorry...Guess I feel kind of strongly about this.
Megan, with a wry smirk: We could tell...
Terminus, chuckling slightly: Anyway...Back to the original topic, I suppose. Did any of you have any suggestions that might help me to make a decision in this matter?
Brad, smiling slightly: Actually, I do, Evan. You just said it yourself...Sometimes the best leaders are the people who didn't want the job to begin with. So, just find someone who is qualified, and who doesn't really want to be Commissioner, and nominate that person.
Pretty simple, really...
Evan blinks a couple of times as he stares at Brad, and then slowly begins to nod his head in impressed fashion.
Terminus: You know something, Brad? That's actually a really good idea...Now, all I have to do is to think of someone who fits that description.
Brad: Well, you're a smart guy, Evan. You'll find a way to makes this work.
Anyway, let's stop talking about this, and start talking about something else...Like the original plan that I was talking about to help Evan relax, and....
Lilly Kane, rubbing her eyes as she stumbles into the basement: Mommy...Daddy...Can't sleep. Tell me a story, Daddy?
Brad, scooping Lacey into his arms: Sure thing, baby.
Lilly: Can Mommy sing me a lullaby, too?
Megan: Sure thing, sweetie. *Shrugs in Evan and Natalie's direction* Guess you kids are on your own.
Natalie, giggling: We'll figure something out.
Megan, smiling: Oh, I'm sure you will.
Evan returns Megan's grin as he watches the Kanes take their leave, and then feels it grow even wider as he watches a come-hither expression appear across her lovely features as she whispers into his ear.
Natalie: I think it's time for us to go to bed, fearless leader. Wouldn't you agree?
Evan nods his head once more as he watches Natalie stand up and slowly take a step back toward their bedroom, all the while unzipping the jacket of her track suit to reveal that she's wearing absolutely nothing underneath...
And in that one moment before he turns his complete attention to the task of pleasing his wife, a single fleeting thought begins to flash through his mind:
"Yeah...I will figure out a way to make this work...
I'll find a way to nominate the type of leader who is capable of running the PWA in proper fashion...
And I'll find a way to teach Jack Gaither a much-needed lesson in leadership...Even if it means that I have to use all of his blood in order to write the instruction manual."