Five years ago..
Sektor lay on his back, carefully wrapping each finger around the barbell as he checked that his hands were equidistant away from one another. He was in his small home gym, which was clear studio room with mirrored walls, a rack of different sized dumb bells, a bench press and a lateral press machine. With a grimace, he lifted the weights off the hook, lowering it all the way down to his chest.
“BOO!” yelled Chloe, jumping on to his chest.
He let out a grunt of air as she sat on top of him. Thankfully, she was only five years old and because of her petite and delicate frame, was as light as a feather. She had a cheeky smile across her face beneath the bangs of her raven black hair, as her piercing green eyes stared down at her father in a vulnerable position.
“Chloe,” he grunted, struggling to talk as the weights pressed down on his lungs. “I can’t breathe.”
“I thought you were really strong,” she said, mocking him. “If you are really strong you could lift me up too!”
Sektor smiled, charmed by how cute she always was when she was in this sort of playful mood.
“Well, jump on then princess.”
He puffed out his cheeks as she began to climb horizontally across the bar-bell, wrapping her feet and fingers around it like a chameleon as she giggled.
“Hold on tight now,” Sektor grunted, puffing out his cheeks and breathing out as he pushed Chloe and the weights above his chest.
“Woah!” she yelled excitedly, repeating it with each repetition.
After the twelfth lift he had hit failure and could no longer lift the weight. His eyes showed some panic as he couldn’t even reach the latch to lift the weight on to.
“Chloe, get off,” he wheezed, tipping the weight so she could gently roll off onto the studio floor.
As she did he rolled the weights off himself and flopped onto his hands and knees onto the floor. Before he could even catch his breath Chloe had jumped on his back and wrapped her forearms around his throat.
“SLEEPER HOLD!” she laughed.
Sektor began to throw his arms around in an exaggerated fashion, pretending that she was doing a number on him. He eventually fell limp before tapping his hand on the floor.
“I give up, I give up,” he repeated. “You win!”
“Yaaaaayyyy,” she yelled, skipping around in front of him and taunting her father. “I’m better than youuuuuu,” she sang, over and over again.
“Oh yeah?” he uttered, stalking her from behind. “Then what did I say about, turing your back on your opponent!”
With that he grabbed her from behind, putting her onto her back and tickling her all over. She screamed and laughed uncontrollably, which only intensified as he lifted up her top to start blowing raspberries on her scrawny belly.
“STOP! STOP!” she laughed, yielding to Sektor’s torture.
The two of them collapsed to the floor, their heads touching as they caught their breath, staring up at the ceiling.
“I love ya, kiddo,” Sektor said, taking her tiny hand in his.
“I love ya too, Daddy!”
“Don’t pussy out now, Sek,” the Gold Standard said to himself, his hands gripping tightly to the steering wheel of the van as he rocked back and forth.
Sektor’s wide and dilated eyes flickered back and forth between the Japanese driver and Chloe. The driver was casually smoking a cigarette next to the car whilst Sektor’s daughter was kicking, what appeared to be, a rock around with sheer boredom.
“Come on Sektor, she’s right there,” he growled, sounding angry with himself for being paralysed to the seat of the van.
Sektor’s attention is suddenly caught as the driver stumped out his cigarette beneath the heel of his shoe. Sektor ducked down slightly in the van, peering over the top of the steering wheel as he watched. The driver opened the rear passenger door and held it open, ushering Chloe to enter. She seemed reluctant to do so, but Sektor had been watching her body language. She didn’t seem scared or anxious, but in fact calm and content as though the driver was not a threat to her.
As the door of the Lexus closed, Sektor puffed out his cheeks and leant across to the glove compartment of the van, pulling out a small baggie containing white powder, which was obviously cocaine or some variant of the amphetamine.
“This is it! Now or never,” he said to himself, his words trembling out of his mouth.
Whilst his fingers fumbled the baggie, he tried as carefully as he could to open it up, not wanting to waste a single grain of it. He dipped the key to the van into the powder, without any regard for the sanitary risks involved, and proceeded to hoover up a lump of it with his right nostril. A high pitched sniff followed before it hit the back of his throat, the evidence of the contraband dusted onto his moustache like someone was looking for prints.
“Huurrghh, ARGHH,” he grunted, snorting his nose to get every last bit into his system, before repeating the process with the other nostril. “God DAMN!”
That one hit a little harder, causing him to squint his eyes and rub his nose vigorously. His eyes were now even wider than before, practically popping out of the sockets as he breathed heavily. He was amped up and ready for action, visibly ramping himself up as he rocked himself into momentum in the driver’s seat.
His eyes studied the black Lexus for a moment. The driver was leant against the side, presumably waiting for the rest of the passengers to exit the bar. Chloe was now safely capsuled in the back seat and no longer visible to him. Wiping the white residue off his moustache he slowly turned his head towards the passenger seat of the van, regarding the objects that lay on it with heavy but controlled breathing..
…a ski mask and crowbar!
The previous day…
Ever since I started having doubts about my allegiance with Jatt, I’ve been consciously distancing myself from him. He may be goofy as fuck, but I’m fairly certain that he sense’s something isn’t right. I’m not exactly putting on a good act that things are all rosey between us.
As he neared the end of Tokyo harbour, Sektor galloped to a stop after his 10 mile run along the coast line. Planting his hands on his knees he concentrated on controlling his breathing, wiping the sweat from his brow as he squinted in the midday sun. The weather was pleasantly warm and dry that day, as he wore a muscle vest and shorts for his run. His arms were now beginning to look firmer and bulkier, and his pecs underneath the vest looked firmer also, no longer representing man boobs of the Dad-bod he previously had.
It was still early on in the run up to the War Games event, so he had been ramping up his training with increased intensity. That morning he had spent three hours in the gym aboard the USS octane, hammering the weights and focussing on his chest and arms. The previous day he did some leg work, which only made today’s run even tougher. He was intent on being in the best shape possible for, not only War Games, but for the longevity of his career afterwards.
The afternoon prior he had organised a training session with some local Japanese wrestlers, unbeknown to Jatt or any of his other teammates. He was always eager to learn new styles and techniques, and the Japanese had a certain style which he was keen to capture elements of into his own game. Sektor believed that you were never too experienced. Anyone who considered themself to be the polished article was ignorant and deluded. You can never stop improving, the second you do? Is the second you go backwards.
Training on my own may seem counter intuitive. Jatt and I had been tasked with retaining the Tag titles against Dan Ryan and Connor Fuse as our first step in the War. But I know Jatt and I have the chemistry and understanding of one another to stay a tight unit in that battle. Living in each other’s pockets will do more harm than good, especially when you consider the doubts that I’m having at the moment.
Still, I needed to go and see him, make sure that he was good and ready for War Games. He had his own issues. Keeping unity with Jatt was important. I couldn’t rely on Clay, as much as I hoped he would come through for us and take out Teddy. The thought of Jatt and I competing against Teddy, Dan and Fuse for the Tag Titles? Fucking terrifying. I know Jatt had been cosying up to Clay, that’s up to him. Me? I had to prepare for the worst.
Jatt and I never spoke of it, but I knew something was wrong with him also. He’s always been there for me in times of crisis, so I decided to get back on board the USS Octane and check on my partner.
That was a mistake..
Sektor went aboard the USS octane and headed straight for the showers, washing the day’s hard work and sweat off his body before getting dressed to go find his team mate. He had planned on suggesting that the two of them should head into the city for the evening, perhaps grab some healthy cuisine before watching a show or hitting a casino. Finding the balance between training and mental relaxation was important before a big event, and taking a night off to hang with his partner seemed like a good idea.
He stood in the doorway of the tin can that was assigned to them as their quarters aboard the ship. He was dressed in nothing but a towel around his waist, regarding himself in a small mirror on the inside of his locker door. He seemed pleased with the results, prodding at his pecs and abdomen with his index finger to inspect how firm it was. It was still a little soft, but a huge improvement on what was there when he first returned to action. It had been a long time since he could see his own ribs, let alone the faint outline of his abs. He was beginning to feel more like his old self again, growing in confidence from having a stronger, more athletic physique.
Once he was done inspecting himself, he proceeded to get dressed in a smart white shirt with Cuban collar, black pants and black shoes, spraying himself with enough cologne to put a fresh hole in the ozone layer.
“You never know what little, Japanese, hotties you’re going to run into John-boy,” he said to himself in the mirror as he groomed his hair to perfection. “And if all else fails? There’s always the bath houses.”
His smirk was earnest, seeming more relaxed as he prepared himself for an evening of fun. He was making a conscious effort not to drink or abuse substances, so that his body was functioning as well as possible. Getting some action from the local women of Tokyo? That was never going to be off the cards.
He proceeded to make his way toward the mess hall, which is where Jatt informed him he would be. The rest of the ship was quiet as he navigated his way through it. Most of its inhabitants were likely out training or sight seeing, perhaps even in private hotel rooms which is something Sektor was strongly considering doing. He had decided to stay on the ship so as to not arouse suspicion from Jatt. He also found the regimented and confined nature of it to be rather grounding, reminding him that he was here to do a job and not just to have a good time.
He entered the mess hall with a positive attitude, ready to put his doubts over Jatt to one side and connect with him as a friend. His face, however, quickly dropped as he looked over to the table where Jatt was sitting. The expression on Sektor’s face soon faded into a picture of sheer anger as he regarded his partner.
There sat Jatt, overweight and munching on a big ole greasy cheeseburger, surrounded by a mess of Macdonald’s wrappers as though he had been pigging out for a good while. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as a cracking sound reverberated from Sektor’s clenched fists up to his ears. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. He had spent the whole day trying to talk himself out of all of the doubts he was having about his partner, but seeing him now only further confirmed his worst fears.
The red mist began to descend, accelerated by the ignorance of his partner as he stared back at him with a shit eating grin.
“Howdy, pard’ner!” greeted Jatt joyfully, his words muffled by the mouthful of burger that was churning around in there.
The Gold Standard’s jaw was clenched so tight that his back molars sent an ache towards his temples. He was breathing at a ratio of 1:1 in and out of his nose like he was ready to hulk up and smash his, so called, partner right in the face.
Jatt failed to notice Sektor beginning his march towards him, distracted by a blob of ketchup, mixed with mustard, which he was scooping off his polo shirt with his finger and into his mouth.
There went the burger, sent hurtling halfway across the mess all as Sektor smacked it clean out of his hand. As Jatt watched the burger land across the hall, he glared back at his partner with an innocent yet shocked expression.
“What the hell, man!?” he gasped, looking a little shaken by Sektor’s abrupt act of aggression.
“Are you, fucking, kidding me?” said Sektor bluntly, glaring into Jatt’s eyes for answers.
“What? Shoot, I’m the worst,” Jatt sighed, shaking his head. “I’m sorry man, I should have picked something up for you. My bad. But you didn’t have to go smacking it out of my hand, I would have shared…”
“Shut the fuck up!”
The venom in Sektor’s tone was enough for Jatt to put the brakes on and take him seriously. His face told Sektor that he had alerted his partner to the fact that something more serious was happening here.
Sektor marched up and down in front of him like a caged animal, shaking his head and clenching his jaw.
“The fuck is wrong with you?” he barked, gesturing towards Jatt with a disgusted look on his face. “Look at you!”
Jatt’s eyes glared back with a hurt and confused innocence.
“I..I, dont..” stammered Jatt, before being cut off abruptly.
“SHUT UP! I’m talking now. ME! Not you. You’re always the one fucking talking. Talk, talk, talk, fucking TALK!”
He slammed his fist down on the table in front of Jatt, which caused the Jattinum standard to straighten his back defensively. Sektor stood in front of him, hands on hips and shaking his head with more disgust.
“Look at yourself,” he gasped, gesturing up and down at Jatt. “Why are you so fat? Why are you still, fucking FAT?”
Jatt opened his mouth to respond but something stopped him. Perhaps he thought it wiser just to let Sektor vent his frustrations and get it all out of his system. He knew his partner well. He had gotten used to these sudden outbursts of rage. What he didn’t know was Sektor’s recent doubts over him as a partner and that he was perhaps at the end of his tether.
“Look at me, Jatt. Look at the work I’ve put into my body since I returned to wrestling,” he said calmly, gesturing up and down at his own physique with confidence. “I’ve been busting my ass for this team. Breaking my back to get as strong and physically fit as I possibly can so that we can win War Games. Whilst you’re sat here deepthroating a fucking cheeseburger?”
His eyes bulged as he scanned Jatt for answers, but Jatt merely donned an emotionless poker face, not knowing what to do or say.
“I’ve been getting in the best shape of my life. Whilst your just a fucking SHAPE!” he snapped, turning his back on his partner and raking a frustrated hand through his hair. “I just don’t think you’re taking this seriously Jatt.”
“How can you say that?” Jatt eventually answered, sounding genuinely hurt by the insinuation.
“Because we’re a fucking JOKE!” he yelled, his voice echoing off the steel walls of the mess hall. “Every week you have some stupid shit planned for us. Exploding parcels. The name changes. The stupid t-shirts and meet and greets. I even dressed in fucking DRAG! Do you even know who the fuck I am?”
He cocked his head to the side, eventually rolling his eyes as he realised that he wasn’t getting through to Jatt.
“We are becoming the fucking joke segment, Jatt. Except people aren’t laughing with us, they’re laughing at us,” he explained, letting out a deep bellied sigh clawing a hand over his own face. “The only thing that has changed about you since two thousand and two? Is your fucking belt size!”
The constant fat shaming from Sektor had Jatt sinking further and further into his seat, as though he wanted the bowels of the ship to open up and swallow him whole. He was mortified. The one person he trusted more than anyone was suddenly attacking him and shattering his self esteem. Sektor didn’t care, he was too angry.
“When I chose to team up with you? I did it because I thought we could help one another get better. That we could get stronger as a team and get back to the top,” he continued to explain, this time more softly. “One of us is getting stronger, Jatt. One of us is getting better. But I can’t can’t move forward whilst you’re weighing me down.”
Jatt narrowed his eyes and cocked his head, clearly taking exception to that comment.
“Is that really what you think?” he gasped, almost struggling to believe that his partner would think such a thing.
Sektor threw up his hands and shrugged his shoulders, slapping his thighs.
“What else am I supposed to think?”
Jatt watched his partner as he continued to pace around, breathing heavily and clearly on a knife’s edge. Sektor suddenly turned, slowly, with a look of epiphany plastered over his face.
“Maybe that’s what you want?” he gasped, an angry smirk creeping into his stern expression. “Maybe you want to keep me down on your level, because you’re afraid that I’ll get too big for Starrsek? Whilst you’re just getting BIG!”
Jatt shot a hand up, palm facing towards Sektor to signal for him to put the breaks on.
“Ok buddy, you’re out of line!” Jatt sternly replied.
“Am I? It makes sense to me. Our whole careers we’ve been jostling for position. But because you’re too fucking lazy to get in shape you’re trying to keep me down on your level because you know without me to prop you up? You’re not going anywhere!”
The two glared at one another, sharing an awkward silence. Eventually Sektor let out a deflated sigh.
“I’m done,” he said bluntly, turning to walk away.
He reached the entrance to the mess hall before being halted by Jatt shouting after him.
“Where are you going?”
The Gold Standard stopped, not turning around but looking over his shoulder.
“Maybe you’re content with the Tag titles, Jatt? But I’m not,” he explained, turning his head and looking towards the exit from the mess hall. “I wanna win the whole thing!”
He stormed his way through the ship, irate with his partner and his lack of motivation to improve himself. More importantly, he was angry with himself for not noticing this sooner, and what it possibly meant for the two of them heading into War Games. It hurt him to say those things to Jatt, and he was already regretting how deep he may have cut, but once that Cuban fire starts roaring? It’s impossible to tame it.
He came to a normal hinged door on the ship, gritting his teeth so hard that he could feel a cracking in his mandible. Screwing up his face, he proceeded to punch it full force.
“ARRGH!” he yelled, holding his fist at the wrist as the pain shot right up his arm.
A low, growing, growl began to rumble from his throat as he continued to open and close the door with force, slamming it over and over again until it eventually fell off its hinges. His hands shook as adrenaline flooded his peripheries. Storming his way up to the top deck of the ship, bursting through the bulkhead door, he marched with purpose towards the rails. Looking out over the ocean he proceeded to let out an enormous roar of anger.
His breathing appeared laboured as his chest heaved up and down, his steely gaze burning out over the ocean.
“Fuck it,” he grunted, snatching his for phone from the pocket of his pants.
He scrolled through his phone, looking for an old contact he had from his previous times in Japan. There was only one remedy for calming his nerves that he could think of, even if the connection would lead him down a potentially dangerous path.
“Tetsu?…yeah, John Sektor,” he grunted, his tone remaining irritated. “Yeah I’m in Tokyo. Listen, I don’t have time for small talk. Where can I meet you?”