He had tried so hard. From the moment he found himself alive on the island all those years ago, he had come to terms with the fact that his life would be different. He had found the will to live through his burning desire to return home and show the world that he could be as good as anyone.
Even Merritt. The man that had shoved him out of the way and caused him to end up on a deserted island with a midget.
And he had done it. Returned and plotted a takeover that made Chad feel what it was liked to be forced out, to be tossed away like a piece of garbage.
After that, after proving he could make things run, he had lost his way for a while. But this ongoing business with the Hacker... almost driving the company into the ground... and then, ANNIVERSARY. It had given him purpose again, given him sight of the enemy again. And he had decided to prove once again that no one could shove him out of the way.
When did this become so hard?
When did it change to this?
The Stephen Thomas that steps out of the Presidential Suite is not the one that entered the Colonial Center earlier in the evening. He looked like he had aged five or ten years in a night.
Grasping the doorframe to steady himself, he tried to steel himself for what would come next. Having to tell the staff that the CSWA had lost its spot on television... would be without a TV deal for really the first time since they had gotten on almost nineteen years ago.
With no television, pay-per-view buyrates would drop drastically. He would have to drop talent, which would be disastrous given the current situation. He wouldn't be able to cover the costs of the insurance or lawsuits pending from the CRUISE debacle.
It would mean the end of the CSWA.
Who would want to do this? It's not Merritt's style. The Red Midget is under lock and key. He had even checked to make sure Schmid was still institutionalized as Green Valley Home for the Mentally Insane.
And why? Revenge? For what? Everyone he had screwed recently was all right here under his nose -- and it wouldn't make sense for them to destroy their meal ticket.
As he stirred the pot of his fragile little mind, one thing kept bubbling up to the surface. The one thing that made Stephen Thomas who he was, who he is, and who he will be after all this is over...
Wait...where was I again?
Oh yeah. Defiance.
Don't tell me I can't do something. Don't force me into a corner... or onto an island. Because you might not like what you get back.
The mind of Thomas crystallized around the singular thought, expending years of pent-up energy into looking at every facet of the problem. And all of sudden, possibilities began to open up.
He stood taller, letting go of the doorframe and pulling his cell phone out of his coat pocket.
"Marsha. I'm still in the Suite. Yes, I know they're calling... hold them off for right now. Send Hornet up here as quickly as possible. And call Birmingham and Sweetwater... we're not changing the schedule."