Waters crash against the rock, pulverizing whatever has the misfortune of being caught in between
The salmon, swimming upstream, struggles against the push and the pull, propelled by DNA and fate
The bear awaits, hungry yet patient for the right time to strike and claim its rightful meal
The eagle swoops in for the steal, having exercised its own patience from its perch in the tree
The fish, both want and need, is torn apart by claw, jaw, talon, and beak, a provision and prize
The fight which ensues metamorphizes, as the two Olympic champions of the past finally compete
Hands and feet throw and leap, they each continue to grow and evolve, attempting to extract submission
Again a transition; the battlefield, still nature, broadens to the cosmos and a war among the stars
The struggle bears the scars of past and future and all that there is and ever will be
Leading, ultimately, to conclusion and the death of them both, should such a thing exist

Stievo awoke. He was in a clearing. Where? Everything was black, except the sky which was only a bit brighter. He smelled smoke, both suffocating and empowering. It meant death and the exercise of strength. He remembered that he had been in the Rockies, then realized he still was. He had scorched everything in sight.

Aricame awoke. He was in his own home, unfazed and unblazed, yet the smell of smoke hung in the air for him as well. The vision that the two men shared was so bizarre and so real. The entirety of eternity had played out before them through an epic contest of nature – one that seemed so predetermined with hindsight.

The practical implications of what occurred were thus: The two men realized they had reached the maximum of their strength. The world had been divided up and claimed in its totality. All that remained was battling over scraps, nibbling at the edges, fighting on the margins. Their preoccupation with these microaggressions had left them exposed to the real threat – each other.

Stievo and Aricame had danced long enough. The two Champions could see an end to their conflict. They would soon meet – not then; not the next day; not for a few more years; but soon. When they did, they would each bring their VS Board. Both warriors had grown strong to the point of diminishing returns. There was nothing left to master. They were merely prolonging the inevitable.

Theories – they abound
Some are renowned and scientifically sound
To which we are bound
Even when found buried six feet in the ground