“I hope you got a good night sleep, girl. You’re gonna be put through your paces today.”
Sektor smirked as he stared out the window in the back of the SUV. The only audible sound was that of the low hum of the engine which crept through the soundproof windows and armoured casing of the vehicle. Eve, his new apprentice, sat at the opposite side, red hair tried back in a pony and dressed in hiking gear. Sektor was also wearing a hiking jacket and pants.
“This is going to be challenging,” he continued.
“Bring it on!” Eve boldly replied, with a confident smile.
Sektor merely raised a single eyebrow as he turned his gaze towards her.
“You’ll be on the front row in the Best arena on Monday,” he added.
Eve’s eyes bulged like a child who’d just been told he was going to DisneyLand.
“Are you serious?” she gasped.
“I’m always serious. Why are you so excited?” he said, frowning as though he was missing something.
“Front row? I know you said I’d be able to go to the show, but I expected to be in the nose bleeds,” she laughed, still beaming with glee.
Sektor, meanwhile, looked insulted.
“Eve, I am the HOTv champion. I am in the main event. I am a Hall of Famer and member of the Final Alliance. If I ask for something, I get it.”
Eve tried to contain her excitement, clenching her fist as she grinned like the Cheshire cat out of the window.
“I regret that you were not able to watch what I did to Adam closely. You only get a taste of what you see through the monitor,” he explained.
“Was a helluva match, though,” she replied.
“It was. He has improved greatly since I last saw him. But did you notice?” he asked, narrowing his eyes at Eve.
Eve turned quizzically.
“Did you notice a change in him that night? He was more ruthless. He must have taken himself to some dark places. It was what I had been searching for within him since I took him under my wing. In a strange sort of way, I feel proud of him. It only took wanting to beat the unholy shit out of your old mentor to bring it out of him.”
Sektor smiled to himself. He truly felt some pride in the match that he and Adam had In God’s House.
“What’s next for you and him? You think he’ll want to run it back?” she asked.
“I don’t think so. It’s done and settled. He didn’t need to beat him, he just needed to push me and he achieved that. He can move on with his life and I with mine. Now, you’ll be able to watch me defend the HOTv championship against Bobbinette Carey closely. I want you to take in everything. Not just what I do, but what she does.”
“I won’t miss a thing, don’t you worry about that,” she said earnestly.
“It’s important that you watch her. Just like Carey, you’re entering a world dominated by men. You need to learn how compete.”
Even frowned, appearing confused.
“You expect her to cause you some problems?”
“It depends which Bobbinette Carey turns up. She’s been very inconsistent this past year. Her record shows that. When she can be bothered she wins and when doesn’t? She doesn’t. But even on her worst day she’s capable of causing me some problems, and she tends to show up for the big matches so I won’t be underestimating her.”
“You’ve faced her a number of times though, right? Don’t remember you ever losing to her,” added Eve, as though trying to inspire confidence in a man who didn’t need it.
“Me neither. I don’t think she ever has, but I’m sure she’ll remind me if that isn’t the case. But that’s inconsequential. She’s a different person from the last time we met.”
“Lots of reasons. She’s older, wiser. Most importantly she now only weighs 10 lbs less than me.”
“I know,” Sektor gasped. “So she’ll be slower. She won’t be able to rely on speed like she would have in the past. But that extra weight will give her more of a chance to compete with me and she always was freakishly strong. Above all else, like I said, she’s smart. So watch her closely, how she moves, paces herself. How she looks for opportunities against me and how she defends herself. Likewise watch how we both feel one another out and adapt to one another. There’s a scientific process to beating your opponent. You can plan and prepare til the cows come home but it all goes out of the fucking window once the bell rings. You get the most vital information in the ring, in the moment.”
Eve nodded slowly, making mental notes to herself as her mentor gave his lecture.
“I expect it to be a good match, but in the end I will be walking out the HOTv championship and 3 more points.”
“What are your plans after that?” she asked, appearing genuinely curious.
Sektor looked as though he was caught off guard by that question, peering into the top corners of his eyes.
“I don’t know, to be honest,” he sighed, puffing out his cheeks. “I hadn’t really anticipated sticking around this long.”
“Really?” she asked, sounding genuinely shocked by that admission.
“Really. I came back to do a job for Lee and that job was to beat Rhys Townsend. I did that. Then I won the HOTv championship, so figured I would stick around for a while and see where it takes me. Then I lost to Evan Ward and I thought I was done, ready to walk away again.”
“So why didn’t you?”
Sektor struggled to answer at first.
“I guess, I just couldn’t. When Ward beat me I was furious with myself. He’s an incredible competitor and I don’t want to take too much away from him, but I knew I should have done better. Sure enough the following week I proved that and won it back. Then everything happened with Adam so we had that match. I guess I’ve just been taking things one match at a time. Now, now I’m joint third in the rankings and when I beat Carey I will move up to second. That means I’ll be ahead of the number one contender to the World championship, Dan Ryan.”
“So surely that means you deserve a World title shot?”
“Or at least the opportunity for one,” Sektor corrected her. “I’ve slowly starting to feel like my old self again. When I left and came back I had no clue what level I could get back to. There were moments during my career where I felt damn near invisible. I’m not saying I’m there yet. But I’m close.”
“You for sure have another World title run in you,” Eve said, with enough conviction to earn a smile from her mentor.
“We’ll see. But one match at a time, right? Carey’s next,” he added, arching his neck so that he can see a little better out of the car window. “This’ll do, right here!”
Maryland, West Virginia
Following the events of “In God’s House,” the house itself was left in complete disarray. It would take the clean up crew several days to restore it back to it’s normal condition and so the Gold Standard had opted to hit the road early to travel up to Chicago for the first Monday Night Chaos after the pay per view.
It took him two full days to begin to recover from his gruelling title defence against his former apprentice. Not just physically, but emotionally. Adam had risen to the challenge and stood toe to toe with him, digging deep to take the fight to his former mentor. Sektor eventually got the job done, but his body told the story of a great battle. Now it was time to move on. Adam was in the past and Sektor was looking to the future.
He had decided to bring his newest apprentice, Eve, with him on the trip. They had taken a slight detour to West Virginia in order to do some training. Maryland had some tough and harsh terrains which Sektor had used before, for his own training as well as his Academy students. Sektor felt it was time to start really putting in the hard yards. He could feel himself growing in confidence and with every win he was taking a step closer to his best standard. It was important to him that he lead by example when it came to training his new apprentice.
So they found themselves half way round a challenging and strenuous trek which took on a circular route of over 20km through the Maryland countryside. The trek itself was steep and most of the ground underfoot was hard and unforgiving. To make the process even harder, Sektor had equipped them both with a huge bergen backpack containing 55 lbs in weight. Eve was carrying the exact same weight as her mentor, who was about fifty feet ahead of her, plodding steadily up a rugged slope of dry rock.
They were just over halfway around the route he had plotted but Sektor himself was feeling it in his legs and feet. Pain ached right through the bone of the soles of his feet and into his shins whilst the muscles burned with acid. It was at that stage where the battle became less physical but more mental. If he was weak minded he would stop and rest, but he pushed himself to keep going, to keep moving one step at a time. This was the mentally he believed a champion needed in the ring.
He glanced over his shoulder and could just about see the bright fiery red hair of his apprentice. He stopped for a second as he could tell she was struggling. Her mouth was gaping open, hoovering up air in a laboured manner as she struggled to put one foot in front of another. His eyes narrowed but a sly smirk crept across his lips.
“PICK UP THE PACE! I DON’T WANT TO BE OUR HERE WHEN IT GETS DARK!”
His booming voice echoed around the landscape but she was too breathless to respond. He knew the look on her face, he’d seen it thousands of times before. She’d hit a wall, mentally and physically and she was ready to drop and give up. As predicted, that’s exactly what she did as she stumbled over own feet and landed on her face, her backpack pressing her down into the solid rock.
“Fuck,” he mumbled to himself, walking back towards her. “Get up!”
Her head slowly lifted and the first thing she saw was the dust on his hiking boots as he marched toward her. She scanned further up into his eyes with a pleading and hopeless expression.
“I can’t-” she whined, shaking her head.
“What do you mean, you can’t? You fucking quitting on me?” he asked sharply, cocking his head to the side and glaring at her with wide eyes.
She merely screwed up her eyes, not wanting to admit to such a thing. Not to him. She had felt like she won the lottery when he randomly selected her to be his apprentice. She worked so hard since joining the academy to get this opportunity and she didn’t want to blow it, but she felt she’d hit her limit.
“It’s too heavy,” she gasped, rolling onto her side and lying against the bag whilst it stayed attached to her shoulders.
Sektor raised an eyebrow. “Too heavy? I’m carrying the same fucking weight as you girl! You see me rollin around like a dying fly?”
“Don’t you fucking dare say it!” he barked, pointing a stern finger at her. “You were going to say because I’m a man, right?”
Her eyes looked down with guilt. “I was going to say stronger, but same difference I guess. I’m sorry, I’ve failed haven’t I?”
“That’s up to you,” he warned.
Sektor anticipated this. He knew that she wouldn’t make it round the full route carrying that weight in one sitting, not on the first attempt. To be fair to her she had gotten further than he expected, but he would never tell her that. There was a lesson to learn and a scripted this so that he could teach it.
“Take of your pack and take a rest,” he said, doing the same himself and perching himself down by squatting on his bergen.
Eve struggled to remove the straps from her shoulder but breathed a sigh of relief as she released the cumbersome weight. He looked completely and utterly exhausted as she sat on her pack in front of him, still trying to catch her breath.
“Have a drink,” he instructed, nodding to her water bottle.
Whilst she drank he looked up at the clear blue sky.
“Who am I facing next?” he asked.
She frowned down the bottle as she continued to drink, removing it from her lips with a confused expression, as though he was asking her a trick question.
“Right. What do you think of her?”
She hesitated, looking even more confused about the answer that he wanted.
“This isn’t a test, Eve. I just want to know what your honest thoughts on her are,” he explained, sounding genuine.
“Well,” she began, taking in a full lung of air before continuing. “I guess I admire her. She was one of the people who inspired me to do this. She was the first woman I ever saw compete against a man and-”
“Now, you say that I am carrying this pack easier than you because I am stronger. Because I am a man. And in many ways? You are right,” he explained. “Let’s talk facts and science for a moment. You, by now, must realise that every time you step foot in the ring with a man? You are at a physical disadvantage. Unless that man is missing an arm or a leg or is a dwarf? You are always going to be at a physical disadvantage. And you can train, and you can work and you can prepare as much as you like but that fact? Will never change.”
The expression on her face told Sektor that she found this disheartening, but he wasn’t done.
“Men, on average have about 38% muscle in their bodies, athletes obviously a bit more but we’ll just talk averages for the sake of the point. Women? They have 28%. 10% less. Meaning that they are 10% less stronger, physically, than men. Less strength means less endurance.”
Eve was listening intently as Sektor continued to explain the difference between men and women. She wasn’t insulted. He had already confirmed that he wasn’t a chauvinist by picking her out of a group of men as the strongest candidate to become his new apprentice.
“It may also interest you to know that, in general, a womans heart is smaller than a mans,” he laughed. “Ironic when you think about it. But that means that they have lower cardiac output. Athletically, again, they tire quicker.”
The more Sektor discussed the scientific differences between the two genders, the more concerned Eve became as it began to dawn on her just how tough a life in a professional wrestling ring was going to be.
“VO2 max, do you know what is?” he asked.
She shook her head solemnly.
“It’s the maximum capacity that an individual has to store, transfer and consume oxygen during physical exertion. Oxygen and Glucose combine to make ATP, or as you would know it – energy. I’m sure by now you can guess what I am going to say?”
“Womens is less -” she answered, sounding somewhat dejected.
“Then there’s female hormones. Genetically and biologically women tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety because of their hormones, which gives them a mental disadvantage. But, on the flip side of that, males have a higher rate of substance misuse. I am living proof of that,” he half joked, offering her a smirk.
Sektor watched her for a moment, reading her as clear as an open book. He knew he’d made the impact he wanted to and could see the cogs turning in her mind.
“So now that you know all of this, what do you really think about Bobbinette Carey? A woman, who has not only competed against men, but has beaten them. Who has taken championships from men. World championships. Who’s success throughout her career, with the majority of her opponents having a dick instead of a vagina, has earned a place in the High Octane Wrestling Hall of Fame.”
“It’s incredible. Like I said, she’s an inspiration to girls like me. I’d give anything to achieve even half what she has,” she admitted, puffing out her cheeks at the gravity of that claim.
“So, in spite of all of the physical, biological and genetic disadvantages that I have just explained to you? How does she do it?”
He paused and allowed her some time to think. She looked at him with a dumbstruck expression, not seeming to know the answer. In the end he leaned forward, looking her dead in the eye and holding up a single finger. He proceeded to press his finger firmly against the side of her temple.
“This!” he exclaimed, tapping on the side of her head several times before retracting his hand. “Your brain is more powerful than anything else in the human body. If you are strong enough mentally? You can do anything. You can achieve the impossible and push your body to beyond its so-called normal limits, because as humans we only achieve a fraction of our true physical and mental potential.”
She nodded slowly, understanding what he was trying to explain and beginning to show some signs of hope in her eyes.
“But if your mind is weak? It will have the opposite effect. It can cripple you.”
Sektor smiled and rolled his head around, feeling a little tension of his own from carrying the weight on his back.
“ Female soldiers have to meet the same physical requirements as male soldiers. This is no different. Bobbinette has gone through the same training as all of us and learned her craft. But she recognised that ability and skill would not be enough to compete and so she had to be mentally strong, driven and committed. If she was here now, carrying your pack and staring up this path, do you think she would quit? Do you think she would deem herself not strong enough or physically capable?”
“No! She wouldn’t. She would stand up right now, put that pack on her back and get fucking MOVING!” he screamed, standing to his feet and putting on his own pack.
This proved to be all the motivation she needed to stand to attention. She struggled to pull the bag off the ground and throw it over her shoulders but she did it all the same.
“If you get used to carrying this pack, imagine how you feel when you aren’t. At times in your matches you will feel like you do today. Like your legs are stuck in mud, like you’re carrying a 55 lb pack on your back and can’t go any further. But you have to! You have to keep moving or else you lose. It’s up to you to find whatever it is that motivates you and use that to put one foot in front of the other and keep going.”
Puffing out her cheeks she set her eyes on the path ahead of her and began to move. One foot in front of the other.