“Eurgh, this sucks!”
Aboard the USS Octane ,the Gold Standard shifts uncomfortably atop of the solid metal bedminside of the crew’s sleeping quarters.The room itself is a claustrophobic nightmare, with three beds stacked on top of each other either side and six lockers on the back wall eating up most of the floor space. Sektor and Jatt are both on the top bunks across from one another, each attempting to settle their minds from the events of the show which had not long since finished. Sektor is topless due to the humidity of the cabin whilst Jatt’s red polo shirt has unpleasant dark patches of sweat under his arms. The tag titles are hung and displayed over the side of both of their beds. Jatt seems to be playing a game on his phone but his face is stern as the constant grunting noises from Sektor’s direction seem to be causing him a distraction.
“I swear, the slaves had better sleeping conditions than this,” moans Sektor, fluffing up his pillow and trying to get comfortable on his thin camp bed which is acting as a makeshift mattress on the metal bed.
A deep sigh escapes Jatt like a deflating balloon. “John, I know you’re miserable and craving, but your constant groaning is starting to get on my last nerve.”
Sektor scowls over in Jatt’s direction, arching a corner of his mouth in disgust.
“There’s, literally, like 50 empty rooms on this ship. No one asked you to bunk in here with me so if you don’t like my moaning then fuck off!” Sektor snaps, in no mood to play nice.
“Look, why don’t you go find Jiles? I’m sure he’ll share some of his, reefa, with you MON!” suggests the Jattinum standard, in his poor attempt at a rasta accent.
“He best hope for his sake that he isn’t carrying that shit up that tanned star of his The Jap’s don’t fuck around! They know full well that US wrestlers are renowned for narcotics and they will search this entire ship when we port. You can get up to five years just for carrying a few joints worth of pot!”
Jatt has an astonished look on his face as though he can’t believe what he just heard.
“Uhm, easy on the racism there buddy..”
“What? The fuck you talking about?” Sektor gasps, appearing in pain by how confused Jatt has him.
Jatt tries to sit up but bangs his head on the ceiling. He gives it a quick rub whilst looking around and listening to make sure no one else is around.
“You said Jap’s,” he whispered, as though it was a banned word.
“So? It’s only like calling the British, Brits. Or Australians, Aussies. Or how they refer to you Americans as Yanks!” he explains, not identifying as an American himself these days. “Not racist at all you fucking wierdo.”
“Oh. So like how people may call you people drug lords?” Jatt asks, testing if he has a handle on the subject.
“No, Jatt. That, is fucking racist. And so is ‘you people’ by the way you insensitive dick!”
“God, you’re so touchy when you haven’t had drugs. I was pleased when you told me that you were detoxing for War Games. But I don’t think I can handle being around you whilst you’re like this,” Jatt groans.
“Then fuck off!”
Jatt opens his mouth to fire back but is distracted by something he notices on the outer quadrant of Sektor’s upper arm.
“Is that a nicotine patch?” he asks, pointing at the clear patch on Sektor’s arm.
“No, it’s a puncture repair patch. The fuck else would it be?” Sektor snaps, his sarcasm uncontrollable in his irritated state.
“So when you said detox..”
“I meant fucking, detox! War Games is the most draining event there is, hermano. I need my lungs at, at least, half capacity if I’m to go the distance,” he explains, rubbing sweat aggressively from his brow.
“So you’re not even gonna drink?” Jatt asks, with concern in his voice.
“Why is this concept so difficult for you? Until recently you were a member of the AA!”
“Jeeze, maybe I should find another cabin?”
“Please!” Sektor pleads, his eyes wide and glaring at Jatt.
Just as he says this they are both distracted by a strange sound coming from outside of the ship. It starts off very faint but eventually grows louder as something seems to be coming nearer.
“That a helicopter?” Jatt asks.
“Sounds like it.”
“That might be Clay!” says Jatt, like an excited school girl.
“Alright, calm down. Why do you have a hard-on for that guy all of a sudden?”
“Oh, quit being jealous. You know you’ll always be number one,” Jatt reassures, causing an awkward grimace from his partner. “Let’s go check it out.”
As Jatt swings his legs over the side of the bed, Sektor let’s out a sigh and reaches for his t-shirt from on top of the lockers.
“Suppose I could do with some fresh air.”
As the two leave the tight cabin, their footsteps can be heard clinking down the steel corridors of the ship as they run. They head up a set of metal staircases until eventually pushing through a door where they are welcomed by the fresh and cold air of the Pacific. They both stand and lean over the guardrail of a balcony, overlooking the main deck of the ship where a coastguard helicopter can be seen landing. The red flashing lights and white searchlight light up the ship as everything else is concealed by the pitch black of night.
Jatt seems almost nervous as he rigidly holds onto the rails, while Sektor casually folds his arms and leans on them, both watching on intently as the chopper touches down. A member of the coast guard team, in a fluorescent life jacket, is the first to exit, the lights reflecting off his helmet as he extends a hand. They both narrow their eyes, struggling to see as another man gingerly begins to leave the copper. Wrapped in a foil blanket, they can just about make out the long, matted hair of the individual as he steps out, which doesn’t offer any help in identifying whether it is Clay or Teddy, as they have similar hair.
“It’s Clay!” Jatt chips excitedly.
“How can you tell?”
“I’d recognise that broad frame anywhere,” Jatt explains.
Sektor slowly turns his head towards Jatt with a look of disgust before looking back down at the chopper. They both watch as the coast guard tries to help Clay, but Clay pushes him away causing him to almost become fish bait as he misses the rudder by an inch.
“CLAY!! CLAY!!” Jatt yells, trying to get his attention.
Either he can’t hear him, or he’s too pissed off to acknowledge them. Instead Clay limps his way towards the ship and out of their sight.
“Well, at least he’s safe,” Jatt says with a sigh of relief. “No Teddy, though. Maybe he died?”
“I hope not,” Sektor replies, somewhat surprisingly to Jatt.
“Yeah. He and I have unfinished business. Until that’s resolved that motherfucker needs to live.”
“We should go tell Lee that Clay is alright. He’ll have been worried sick,” Jatt suggests, beginning to walk away. He then looks over his shoulder as he notices that Sektor hasn’t followed. “You coming?”
“Ah, I dunno man. I don’t think we should go bothering the boss at this time of night. He’ll already be pissed with how the main event turned out tonight.”
“All the more reason to go cheer him up. Or, I suppose you could go back to the sardine can and try and get some sleep?”
Puffing out his cheeks, Sektor sighs, realising that he has nothing better to do so decides to follow his partner.
After a while of getting lost through the many sections and parts of the USS Octane, they eventually arrive at the helm of the ship. As they approach they are greeted by the mountain presence of Redrum, Lee’s bodyguard. Sektor stares up at the big man, absorbing his intimidating presence as he silently glares down at him. Jatt stands behind him as though using his tag partner as a shield.
“Johnathon?” calls the familiar voice of Lee from behind his bodyguard. “I sensed it was you.”
Jatt and Sektor glance at one another, wondering how he knew it was them when neither had uttered a word.
“Unagi?” Jatt suggests, pressing two fingers to his temple and twisting them as he says it.
Rolling his eyes, Sektor looks past Redrum to see Lee with his back turned, sitting in his wheelchair, and seeming to be looking out over sea. What Lee can actually see? Only he knows.
“At ease, Redrum,” Lee instructs.
The big man slowly steps to the side, keeping his eyes trained on Sektor at all times. Sektor, wary of the behemoth, takes a couple of steps forward into the helm.
“Jatt and I thought you’d like to know that Clay has just arrived back. He looks a little beat up, but he’s walking,” Sektor explains, in an emotionless tone.
“Thank fuck!” Lee sighs in relief. “I’ll give him the week off to recover and he’ll be good to go come War Games. Thank you for telling me,” Lee says, seemingly genuine in his gratitude.
“No problem,” Sektor replies, turning to walk away.
“That man is more important to the two of you than you know,” Lee continues, halting Sektor in his tracks.
The Gold Standard narrows his eyes with a look of intrigue.
“Well, as upsetting as the ending of tonight’s main event was? I can’t help but feel thirsty for another round of Byrd vs Palmer. So I’ve been quietly scheming here since the gangrape of Doozer.”
Jatt and Sektor regard one another uneasily, knowing all too well from past experiences that Lee’s scheming is not necessarily a good thing for them.
“So now, assuming Teddy Redding Palmer is alive? The War Games match will begin with a rematch for the LSD championship. And no one else will enter until that title has been decided,” he explains, sounding very pleased with himself.
“Ok, sounds cool. Not to be a dick, but how does that affect us?” Sektor asks, pointing between himself and Jatt.
“Because, num nuts, the next two to enter will be you two lovebirds, with the Tag Titles on the line against two randoms from LT’s gang of losers.”
Jatt and Sektor again look at each other, but both seem to be pleased by what they have heard.
“Nice!” Sektor replies.
“Oh, I’m not done,” Lee laughs, his tone spelling warning. “Whoever is left out of Teddy and Clay will give their team a numerical advantage in that Tag title match. So you see? You two best hope that Clay brushes tonight off and fires on all cylinders at War Games. I have no doubt, but then again, I’m a positive person.”
There’s a brief silence shared by the self-proclaimed Tag champions as the importance of this situation begins to sink in. Eventually Jatt straightens his back and opens his money maker to speak.
“Like you, Lee, I have complete faith that the HOW God’s will shine down with their divine intervention on Clay and deliver him the LSD championship,” he says, in his best ass kissing voice.
“I am the HOW God, idiot. But yah, Clay wins. You two have him to help you defend the belts and we will have a stronghold over the entire War Games match. That’s the War God’s battle plan.”
“I like it,” Sektor says, somewhat reluctantly. “We will leave you to get back to, whatever it is you were doing.”
“Not so fast,” Lee snaps, halting Sektor’s retreat. “Don’t you wanna hear who you’re facing on the go home?”
Sektor narrows his eyes with a confused expression, playing with the tips of his moustache awkwardly.
“Oh. Sorry, I assumed I was being rested for War Games,” Sektor replies, looking as though he instantly regretted that admission.
“What? Mother fucker, you’ve been resting since December! No, I need you primed and ready for War Games. You got Dan Ryan,” he states, rather bluntly.
Sektor’s face drains of his Cuban pigment as he seems to freeze like a statue. The air is completely silent as he blinks his eyes in disbelief.
“You alright, John?” Jatt asks, noticing Sektor’s demeanor. “You look like you saw a ghost.”
“What’s the matter, Jonathan? Not scared of old Dan, are ya?” Lee mocks.
“I’m not scared of anyone,” Sektor quietly replies. “I’m just a little confused, is all. I thought the Best Alliance was getting a nice easy passage to War Games and all the pressure was going to be put on the two-one-four? Competing against one of the toughest ring veterans in the business seems like the complete opposite to that,” he explains, with genuine concern in his voice.
“I am giving ALL of you what you need to be ready for War!” explains the boss, in his most patronising voice. “You get one miserable win against someone who can’t even wrestle and you think that makes you ready? Jesus, FUCK, I know you overhyped the shit out of that match but I didn’t think you actually believed it. Fucks sake, John, that match was a gift to give you an easy win. You’re welcome, by the way.”
Sektor anxiously rakes a hand over the top of his head and down his face before replying. The look of concern on his face says it all.
“Look, I get the logic and I really appreciate the opportunity. But Dan is well known for being a dangerous competitor. What if I get injured?” he suggests, clutching at straws.
An audible sigh escapes Lee’s lips as his head can be seen bowing from behind whilst he pinches the bridge of his nose.
“Redrum? Please tell me my ears aren’t failing me as well as my eyes? Did Johnathon Sektor really just try to bullshit his way out of this match?”
Redrum doesn’t say a word, he just glares at Sektor with the same stern and intimidating expression.
“Look, Jonathan, you don’t have to save pride with me, ok? I know you’re struggling with a little crisis of confidence at the moment. That’s why I booked this match. The fact that you’re doubting me after all these years is insulting, to be honest,” he explains.
“I’m not doubt..”
“Shut the fuck up, I’m not done talking!”
Sektor swallows hard and straightens his back, instinctively standing to attention like a good soldier.
“When, not If, you beat Dan Ryan next week, you will be pumped up to your eyeballs with adrenaline heading into War Games. I don’t need Sektor the pussy going into War Games with me. I need the technical wrestling machine that I love and have invested so much time and money in for almost two decades! I need that terminator focus from you, Jonathan. I have no doubt that this match will give that to you.”
Sektor looks down at the ground, still doubting himself but nodding in agreement.
“No, you’re right. Truth is I’ve always wanted to compete against Dan. It would be a shame if I didn’t cross his name off my bucket list before the curtain falls on my career. So thank you for this opportunity. And I won’t let you down,” he claims, trying his best to sound confident.
“I know. Because I have faith in you, even if you don’t have faith in yourself,” Lee says, surprisingly earnest in his delivery.
“I appreciate that.”
“Just, uhm, don’t go putting your career on the line this time. K?”
Sektor again freezes into silence, as the boss completely contradicts the faith he just put into his Hall of Famer.
The following morning…
The ocean is buzzing with its dormant strength as the USS Octane cuts through its calmness with ease. The sky is a piercing blue, freckled with the odd fluffy cloud that never seems to move, giving the backdrop an oil painting-like effect.
Lee had kindly allowed the ring to stay erect on the deck of the ship, providing Sektor with a training ground to sharpen up for his big match with Dan Ryan. The ring itself had been cordoned off with some makeshift rope as the learching giant, Redrum, patrolled it’s perimeter like a Great White shark.
Wearing a muscle vest and jogging bottoms, the Gold Standard runs the ropes to warm up, bouncing his spine off them forcefully to propel himself from one side to the other. His hair dances uncontrollably in the sea breeze as he flies from one side to the other, whilst his partner nonchalantly enters under the ropes.
“Okay, ready when you are,” announces Jatt, casually leaning against one of the corners.
Sektor jogs to a halt in the middle of the ring and raises an eyebrow at his partner. “Don’t you wanna warm up first? Wouldn’t want you pulling something,” he suggests, blowing a plug of snot out of his nostril.
Jatt grimaces as he stares down at the spot on the canvas where it landed.
“I’ve just spent three hours in that sauna below deck. I’m warm,” he explains, stepping forward and rolling his shoulder around.
Jatt’s concentration is broken by something he notices further down the deck. He narrows his eyes and pulls a disgusted expression as he sees Cancer Jiles lying face down on a towel, tanning his bare ass in the sun.
“Yeesh,” he says, with a look of distaste. “Hey, you really think we should be isolating ourselves like this?”
Sektor impatiently plants his hands on his hips as he regards the other half of the, self proclaimed, Tag team champions.
“What d’ya mean?”
“I mean we have to go to war with these guys in less than a few weeks. Don’t you think we should be at least making an effort to gel with them? We literally have a bodyguard making sure that not even our own teammates can get anywhere near us.”
“Look, Jatt. Two years ago when I won War Games? I tried the whole, getting the band together, routine. I drove up and down the fucking country trying to convince myself that I could rely on my team mates. I was sick to death of falling short at War Games because someone on my team let me down. But you know what I eventually realised?”
“Fuck’em! We don’t need them. They’re in it for themselves just like we are. At the end of the day, if I get an opportunity to fuck them over like I did Farthington that year? I’ll do it. Because ultimately this is an opportunity for the World championship, and you know as well as I do that means every man for themself.”
Jatt nods with a knowing look, although from his demeanor it is clear that it has left him with an uneasy feeling.
“Anyway. That’s a problem for another time. Right now my sole focus is beating Dan Ryan. So can we get this show on the road, please?” he asks, sweeping a hand to gesture towards the famous HOW canvas.
Jatt shrugs his shoulders and nonchalantly heads towards Sektor, before suddenly bursting to life in an orthadox stance and circling around the ring.
“C’mon then, let’s GO!” he yells, suddenly overflowing from the brim with enthusiasm for this sparring session.
Sektor, caught a little off guard by this, begins to focus and locks his eyes onto Jatt. He relies on his eyes to hoover up information, whilst his CPU processes it to make an informed decision on what to anticipate. That’s the machine mentality that earned him so much success over the years. Laser focus, being prepared, making scientific decisions on the spot is the formula for John Sektor’s success and he is intent on getting that mentality back and at full power.
The slight dip of Jatt’s shoulder told him that he was going to come at him on the inside from the right for a lock up. He adjusts his feet to prepare but finds himself wrapped up from behind in a sleeper hold.
Seems the machine is a bit rusty – he thinks to himself. The point of today was to dust the cobwebs off the system and fine tune his cyborg-like skills. Jatt has him in a controlled position from behind with a sleeper hold. What is the most efficient way to reverse this? Whilst, at the same time, spending the least amount of energy in order to obtain an optimal position for himself?
Countless hours, days, months and even years have been spent pondering questions like this. The obsession over maximising the result of every little situation one can find themselves in, in the ring, is the level of dedication to the craft that Sektor always swore by. For some reason that seems to have gone out the window as of late, which is probably why he has been on the wrong end of some bad beats.
No more! – he thinks to himself.
Problem is, when you’re in the ring you don’t have that amount of time. You have less than a second to make your decision, and that’s where instinct comes in. Instinct to John Sektor is merely the reaction he gives to an action based on everything he has learned over the years. It’s not always right, but his achievements suggest that the formula is proof enough that there’s something to this system.
With the split second that he has he decides to expand some energy by using his strength to create enough leverage on Jatt’s arms before quickly reaching back and throwing him over with a make-shift snapmare. He quickly tries to lock in a sleeper to control Jatt but the wily veteran instantly reads this and rolls out of dodge, creating breathing room for himself. Say what you will about Jatt, but don’t ever doubt his credentials as a veteran of this sport.
The two go at this routine for several minutes, trading holds and trying to out reverse one another. On one hand it’s a great session for Sektor to fine tune those decision making skills. On the other hand, he soon begins to realise that this won’t really have any real benefit when he steps up against Dan Ryan next Saturday.
“Pause!” he instructs, catching his breath a little as he plants his hands on his knees.
Jatt, mockingly, freezes like a statue as though waiting for Sektor to hit ‘play’ on an imaginary remote control.
“Quit being a smartass,” he groans, breathing a heavy sigh as he walks over to the ropes.
He shakes his head as he looks out over the vast emptiness of the Pacific.
“What? What did I do wrong this time?” Jatt asks, anticipating another put down from his so-called best friend.
“Huh? You didn’t do anything wrong, hermano. This just isn’t right. Dan is the perfect blend of technical prowess and raw power. I’ve never competed against somebody of his mold before. Because to be honest, homie, I think he’s the only one who does what he does,” explains the wrestling machine, already looking as though he’s anticipating defeat.
“What are you talking about? You’ve wrestled many towers of meat over the years. Kostoff? Aceldama…..Kostoff?”
“Dan’s different, man. I really want to beat him. I have to beat him. Lee’s right. If I score this win over the infamous Dan Ryan then I’m heading into War Games with a belly full of fuel. But I gotta get everything right. Every last little detail in my preparations has to be perfect or else Dan will sniff it out and rip me apart. Then what?”
“That’s your biggest problem, hermano,” Jatt adds, in the most terrible attempt at a Cuban-American accent. “You overthink things. You worry about stuff that might not even happen.”
“Yeah. That’s how my mind works,man. Usually my anxieties serve me well. I go into a match having considered every last finite possibility that there is and have a contingency plan for all of them. Lately? My anxiety has just crippled me.”
Jatt, seeming to have run out of ways to reassure Sektor over this scenario, simply affords his team mate some silence to contemplate.
“Look, maybe I’m over complicating this. Dan Ryan has three main weapons right?”
“Rrrright..” replies Jatt, sounding unsure of what those weapons might be.
“He’s powerful. He’s an experienced technician. But most importantly he has a haymaker of an elbow smash,” Sektor explains, sharing his thoughts out loud.
“Well there’s a big guy right there,” Jatt says, pointing towards Redrum.
Sektor, not fully registering what his partner just said, soon snaps out of his train of thought and realises what Jatt is referencing.
The big guy practically growls as he turns around to Jatt’s call.
“Would you mind stepping in here for a moment and beating the crap out of my buddy here?”he asks, smiling at Sektor and giving him a thumbs up.
Sektor’s jaw is practically mopping the deck of the ship as his eyes fill with sheer panic. A shadow is soon cast over him as Redrum didn’t even have to think about the request. He was much too eager to take up Jatt’s request for Sektor’s liking.
As Sektor stares up at Redrum he can’t help but remember the bedtime story of David and Goliath that his drunk ass mother never read to him.
“Uhm. Ok, big guy. Listen just remember that this is a simulation, yeah? Feel free to come at me but don’t fucking kill me!” he explains, talking slowly as though Redrum has difficulty understanding him. “Remember that I’m a prized asset of your boss and..”
Before Sektor can finish his brief he finds himself being yanked from one side of the ring to the other and landing in a heap on his back as Redrum’s shoulder hits him like a bulldozer. An audible wheeze forces its way out of his lungs as Sektor seems to have had the wind knocked out of him.
“Great job, Rummy!” Jatt yells like some weird cheerleader. “Dan likes to smash peoples faces with his elbow. Sektor would be very grateful if you tried to do that to him.”
Sektor’s eyes bulge over at Jatt, begging him to shut up but he can’t talk as the air is trapped in his lungs. He gingerly gets back to his feet and instantly finds himself having to react to a tree-like elbow being swung in his direction. This cat and mouse routine continues over the course of a minute as Sektor is desperately trying to avoid being decapitated whilst trying to catch his breath. Eventually, he instinctively locks up with Redrum in a traditional arm/elbow tie up. Of course, Redrum does the only thing that comes natural to him which is throw Sektor across the ring like a piece of garbage and cause him to fall through the ropes in a most unflattering manner.
Jatt kneels down next to his partner on the deck, who is still struggling to breath.
“You good, bro?”
“I…fucking…hate you!” Sektor replies, his final words gurgling out of the back of his throat.
Gritting his teeth, the Gold Standard gets to his feet with a sense of purpose, regarding Redrum as though he has the bit between his teeth. He re-enters the ring with purpose and charges towards Redrum who swings a hand. Sektor ducks and bounces off the ropes, dropping to his knees and sending his own elbow into the back of the big man’s knee.
An audible groan rumbles from Redrum as he stumbles, but just as Sektor tries to capitalise he finds himself being chopped in half by a big hand which swings upwards onto his chest. This acts like a stun grenade as Sektor stands rooted to the spot, unable to react as the train comes hurtling towards him before..
“OHHH!” Jatt screams, as he watches his partner eat the most thunderous elbow he has ever seen in his life.
Sektor’s out for the count as his eyes glaze up at the sky. Redrum spits on the ground before casually exiting the ring whilst Jatt comes flying to his aid.
“Sek? Sek, you hear me?” he calls, gently cupping Sektors face in his hands and giving his cheeks a gentle slap. “Come one buddy, talk to me.”
“Wha-hmm? Is it time for Chloe’s bath?” Sektor mumbles, the corner of his mouth drooping like he’d just had a stroke.
“Oh, shoot! You really got your bell rung. I’m sorry man, this is all my fault. We best get you below deck and find the doctor,” Jatt suggests, sounding genuinely remorseful.
“No! No doctor. I check my own prostate,” Sektor continues to babble in his own little world.
“You must be concussed. I best tell Lee to call off this match.”
With that, Sektor grips a fistful of Jatt’s polo, pulling him close and trying to look him dead in the eye as his own eyes still roll around in their sockets.
“No. Don’t you fucking dare. I need this match,” he instructs, closing his eyes tightly as things get a little dizzy.
“Sek you can’t wrestle with a concussion.”
“I’ll be fine. I know what I need to do now. I know how to beat Dan Ryan.”
“Yeah,” he says, chuckling to himself like a drunk. “Avoid that fucking elbow!”