Manlius, IL

Six years. Six long, brutal, earth-altering years after escaping confinement and restarting a war, Geryman held out hope for one last ditch gambit to claim victory. His travel from Seattle to a small town a few hours outside of Chicago had taken some time. During his trek, highways became cluttered with wreckage. Railway steel contorted. Airplanes were downed or refused to take-off. Forest fires and blizzards, drought-ridden crops and rain-triggered landslides complicated the path. Such was the wave of destruction and despair that followed both Geryman’s desperate journey east, and Stievo’s pursuit. Their combined powers had strengthened, their hearts darkened. Wherever they went, poison spread.

Ahead of his stalker (but not sure by how much) Geryman finally arrived at the address that had been delivered to him back in Seattle. The mysterious old man had promised a weapon – THE weapon – that would end the struggle. The aging Champion had nothing left to lose. He saw a modest ranch home tucked between a corn field and a cemetery. Upon entering…shock! Geryman laid eyes on the same man who had entered that old restaurant.

I have trained Carenf, Stievo, Aricame; your rivals
My name is Victor Strife; I’ve been awaiting your arrival
You know my name and my deeds you’ve been told
To the underlying meaning of everything, I’ve dedicated my life
An unparalleled existence, second to none…yet I am old
My final act is to witness the victor of the ongoing strife
Mysterious as my actions may have seemed, singular was my goal
I have created the key that will make the world whole

Victor’s name had hung over Geryman like a sword his entire life. Why did he want to help Geryman now? Short on time and temper, Geryman demanded the “key”. Victor explained that it was not in the house, and that it would take time to retrieve it. Geryman responded that with Stievo on his trail, he was short on time. At that moment, they both heard a door slam open…

…Stievo entered the home through the back door, storming through the kitchen and into the living room. The scene of his father with his teacher halted his advance. The only thing stopping the two Dark Champions from attacking each other right then and there was their mutual confusion over Victor’s presence. Stievo was about to demand answers from his old teacher when the fireplace spontaneously ignited, filling the room with smoke.

With smoke-filled lungs (and fully-loaded guns), instinct again took over. The son leapt at the father. Victor leapt into the adjacent room, watching for the boom before the boon. As the combatants wrestled, the ground rumbled. The largest earthquake to ever hit the middle of the country began to shake. Then the final piece of Victor’s puzzle fell into place…

…Aricame walked through the front door. Three Champions froze to their spot. Victor began to weep tears of joy.

Dissatisfied with life; what’s there to do?
Home in disrepair, a monotonous view
Similarities between urban and rural
Yet neither is comfortable in the other’s shoes