precanon story of how Archie got his brace.
It was a late autumn day. The sun was just submerging into the horizon line. Trails of red and orange sky blended into the leaves as a athletic youth jogged down the suburban streets. The heels of his runners grazed the ground as he rounded the corner, en route home after a successful exercise; his thighs and stomach were throbbing with pain underneath his blue sweats. Archie's body pleaded with him to cease his constant push to the limit, but he knew it was worth it and was what must be done.
Seeing his home in the distance, he slowed his pace and sauntered up the driveway. He noted the red SUV was missing from its usual place, announcing that there was no one home. Opening the fence aside the small four bedroom house, he went through the back door into his vacant home. Walking into the kitchen, he saw a plate with mixed greens and a small strip of steak wrapped nicely and placed at the end of the table where he normally sat. A note scratched in nearly illegible handwriting was laid on the edge of the plate.
Archie, We're out at the theatre, your brother is out at friends.
-Mom and Dad
"Typical" Archie spat out as he crumpled up the note and surveyed the food. Quickly tossing it into the microwave and set it to cook. Walking to the bulletin board he noted the date. "Two days..." Archie's face hardened as he looked upon Saturday and thinking of what it held.
The State finals for Greco-roman wrestling; Archie has been at the top of his class for the entire time, but now it seemed a whole lot bigger to him. While he felt drunk with a sense of immortality that most teens did, his nerves were still shaken. Lost in thought of the upcoming competition, he was shaken out of it by the beep of his meal. Grabbing it, he quickly ate and went into the shower. He had to watch what he ate, the judges had taken precautions this year to sandbagging; weighing the individuals right before the event to avoid people narrowly escaping their true weight class. People in the previous year had starved themselves the day of the weighing to get into a class, and then regained their original weight, gaining an additional edge in their matches. Unfortunately for Archie, he bordered two classes normally; top weight in one, bottom of the barrel in the other. One would lead to victory, the other lead to hard times and many tough situations.
Waking early, Archie decided that it was more worth while to train than to go to class. Quickly suiting up, he ran to the local gym. Entering the door, he saw the familiar faces of the staff. A short brunette at the desk turned to him and smiled.
"Archie! How goes training"
"Hey Amanda. It's going well as I can expect."
"Fair enough. Just go on in, don't worry about cover charge."
Nodding his thanks for free entrance, Archie went ahead and changed, quickly headed to his usual place: Recreation Room #2. The room was small compared to the other, missing the punching bag and having no mirrors on the far wall; the entire room was made up of crash mats. Deciding not to waste time, Archie grabbed the leg weights at the side of the room and strap them on proceeded to leg lunge across the room and back twelve times without slowing.
Its all in the legs. I'm bordering two weight categories and I have to plan for the worst possible. I need agility over strength in that case. My arms will be fine as they are, I need to get faster!
Archie spent the rest of the morning in the training room working his legs until cement would be a welcome replacement for the aching muscles contained within. Deciding to eat a extremely light lunch, Archie walked over to the small deli beside the gym and grab a salad. He hated it but it was necessary if he didn't want to get screwed later. Sitting in the deli, he couldn't help but notice the large bearded man who sat on the other side. Something about him seemed to make him out of place amidst all of the people there, he almost seemed to be taken out of time as it were. Shaking off the notion, he finished his meal and headed home to his empty house.
Uncertain of what to do with himself after spending the morning as he did, he decided to just simply sit and read to keep his mind that he had only tomorrow before he would grapple with much larger events than this.
The day came quickly to no ones surprise. Having the finals stationed inside the high school, it didn't take Archie long to get over there and meet with the rest of his team. The coach gave one final talk, but Archie was miles away in his mindscape. Everything seemed to move slower, his mind was quickening with one sole drive: win, defeat and conquer. It all felt like the most natural thing in the world for him.
Entering the gym finally, it was like a whirlwind of people. While it normally has a few people around, it has never been like this before. The people cheered as they all were announced in and weighed. Archie sighed in anguish as he was categorized in the heavyweight category.
Well this is what I was training for, hopefully this works out.
Archie sat alongside his team waiting for his match. While looking slightly ridiculous in their unitards, they were not something to poke fun of. There seemed to be a sort of heaviness to the air around them; their intensity made them fearsome to look at.
The matches warred onwards. Archie lead the pack with his unearthly drive for victory, the others followed in his likeness. Despite being in the disadvantage of being lighter than his competitors, they smelled and sensed his anger. Fear consumed the gym whenever Archie entered a match. He was quickly becoming the focus of the event, earning his matches more intensity as more onlookers saw his ferocity.
The competition quickly escalated into its final rounds as the day rolled forth. Half of Archie's team had been eliminated, and Archie was standing firmly in the top rankings. The final match ups were coming in fast and intense fights.
Archie set his foot firmly on the mat, a curl of dust rose into the slanted sunlight as he walked to meet his opponent and referee. The two titanic wrestlers stood centered, with the flimsy looking referee sandwiched between them.
"Gentlemen, lets make this clean. I expect I don't need to go over the rules at this point. Now shake and ready positions"
The two combatants didn't so much shake as try and break one another's hands with strength untapped until now. Short but engaging, the two broke off the death grip and readied for what would appear to be a long and gruelling fight. Stepping back, Archie felt what drove him grow within the recesses of his mind and body: win... defeat ... conquer... win... defeat... conquer... WIN... DEFEAT... CONQUER... CONQUER!
It would have been maddening if it weren't for the fact that he was about to lunge into a fight were he was about to do just that. The ref signalled to begin. Normally a quick game of cat and mouse, but Archie had much more different ideas. Surging forwards, Archie worked on instinct now.
Rather than being toppled, the opponent shifted his weight as Archie connected, rolling him off to the side. Reacting, Archie reached and grabbed his opponents leg, jerking him and sending him down to the mat. The two scrambled on one another, trying to get one into a hold; Archie was constantly on the ground, managing to free himself from the grips simply by his smaller size.
It was a classic underdog match; his opponent was too large for Archie to get a solid grip on him and his opponent, while slow, dominated him on the mat. It looked like it could last a long while of a grapple and counter until for the third time Archie was pinned underneath his opponent when Archie tried to counter it with a quick twist of his ankle to throw his opponent off balance. But it didn't work. Rather, his opponent was expecting it and did something underhanded; he continued to apply the twist. Archie's eyes blazed open, his ankle began to twist and snap. Opening his mouth to cry out in pain, the opponent rose up and muffled him into the mat.
The ref, while attentive, couldn't see how his leg and foot were not aligned in the midst of flesh and muscle on the opponent's arms. He saw Archie's back arching, his arms pinned and struggling to get out. The Ref thought to himself that he would continue to let this happen until he saw the look in Archie's eyes; a look that said 'he is breaking me'. Intervening, the ref saw in horror what happened.
Archie looked lazily out through the hospital windows. Laid up in a cast, he worried. The doctors said that within 5 minutes, the match went from safe to life changing. Archie's ankle didn't exist anymore; the amount of pressure put onto it quite literally ground what bones made up of his ankle into meaningless shards of bone. The doctor told him that there was little that could be done considering the sensitivity of the area; a metal plate or replacement would not suffice for an ankle for mutilated. He would never wrestle again, and walking was still uncertain; therapy would be the determining factor in that. Turning as best as he could, Archie's mind wandered off until sweet slumber embraced him; taking him away from the events that changed him so mortally.
The darkness opened up to a wide grassy field. The clouds lining the sky were split in two, black as the depths. Standing behind Archie were Greek soldiers, formed and ready for battle. Across the field was a vast army, their red plumage announced they were Trojans. A deep anger and resentment to them stirred in Archies' eyes as he looked on at them.
Two men came around the corner of the formation and kneeled before Archie, presenting him with a sword and breastplate.
Moved by unknown forces to him, Archie dawned the breastplate and unsheathed his sword. Turning to the troops, Archie yelled;
"The Trojans may claim to be from Ares, they will not return to him! Be fuelled with anger....fight...win... conquer!"
In return the Greeks roared back. Turning, he shot out his arm as he charged the opposing army. His pulse ran through him like fire; he felt invulnerable as his legs carried him. Colliding with the first wave of troops, Archie felt his arm violently swing at the first wave of men, cutting through them with great ease. Crimson blood sprayed onto his face as he screamed of anger and battle fury.
Archie lunged up from his sleep. He felt the blood still on his face as he reached up and touched his cheek. It was wet and hot. Pulling away, he realised it was his sweat. Looking at his fingers coated in sweat, he didn't notice he wasn't alone.
Archie gasped and jumped in his bed, reaching for something to defend himself with. Looking in the direction of the voice, the man from the diner stepped out of the shadows. Draped inside them a black trench coat, he stood in the doorway of the room
"Was driven by his anger to fight-ultimately it killed him."
Shaken, Archie spoke. "Who are you? What are you doing here?"
"My name is not important. What is, however, is who you are. You, Archie, are a descendant of Achilles; the same blood coarse through your veins as his did so long ago."
Archie felt something metallic touch his hand. He quickly grasped it.
"You're bluffing, Achilles was a Greek myth. Who are you? Who put you up to this?"
The man chuckled to himself. Rustling though his coat, he pulled out several objects.
"I don't expect you to believe any of this, but you must know what I'm doing will help you."
Approaching the bed, the grasped his hand with his hand and dug his fingers into it, ripping it open with ease. Panicking, Archie flung the object at the mans head. Seeing it coming, the man easily blocked it with his other forearm.
"Now you intend on attacking the man who can fix anything with your bedpan? Come now Archie, be mature about this... I promise I won't hurt you"
Yanking the pan out of Archie's hand, he tossed it aside and set to work. Archie looked closer at the objects that the man had pulled out and realised that they were gold.
"What exactly are you doing? What's with the gold?"
"Archie, your ankle is gone. The doctors won't admit it to you or themselves out of pride, but you won't walk again. The only thing that can be done is to make a permanent splint. They seem to think that all things that have to be are supposed to be internal. This is a splint that will act as your ankle, made out of the armour of your great ancestor, Achilles."
Attaching the pieces one at a time with ease, Archie didn't know what to do.
"Now, since I am who I am, you won't need to worry about therapy of any sort; this will act like you never had the injury... just don't try and take it off, you won't get it on again"
Assembling the last piece, the man turned to Archie and smiled.
"We'll meet again, I can assure you of that. Oh! I almost forgot; its best that you leave the hospital now to avoid lots of unnecessary questions and they may try and remove it. If they take it off you won't be able to walk again."
Turning, the man headed to the door. Archie, confused and slightly irritated by the intrusion and forced-upon generosity, finally spoke again.
"can I at least get your name?"
Turning back, the man flashed a toothy grin.
"Call me Heph. I'll see you again, Archie"
And with that, the man left.
Archie sat up, alone in the room again. Looking down, he saw in the moonlight how the gold glinted so beautifully. Deciding that nothing could go bad, he stood.
He walked around the room once...twice... three times. Nothing.
Smiling, Archie dressed himself and opened the room door, checking quickly for any staff. Seeing no one around, he slipped out the door and out of the hospital.
Looking up to the ivory moon, he smiled for the first time in what felt like years. Turning, he started to jog away from it all, leaving all he had behind.