5 years ago..
“To MA…sweet HOME…Chicaaaagoooo,” sang the drunken slur of John Sektor, as he hobbled his way up the stairs towards his apartment.
Dawn had barely broken as the Gold Standard, still drunk from an all night bender, sauntered towards his apartment block. This was just one of many times when he had fallen off the wagon so hard that everything around him came crashing down with him. His HOW contract was terminated. His health was falling by the wayside. Most importantly, his credibility as a father figure to his only daughter, Chloe, was dying a slow death.
His appearance mirrored your stereotypical drunk who’d had a rough night. His hair was out of place, his shirt untucked and creased and his gait was off balance.
His merry, drunken, mumblings were abruptly halted as he noticed the door to his apartment slightly ajar. A look of panic washed over him as his mind jumped to the most drastic conclusion.
“Shit!” he yelled, launching himself through the apartment door. “CHLOE? CHLOE?” he called, running into the main living area of the apartment.
He froze like a statue as he glared at the people in his living space. Chloe was there, sitting on the sofa, but next to her with her arm around her was an African-Carribean lady wearing a blue pants-suit with a file in her hand. Standing by the window were two uniformed police officers, calmly holding onto their bullet-proof vests. Sektor’s eyes blinked slowly as his foggy brain tried to comprehend what was happening.
“Hello John,” spoke the voice of the African-Carribean woman, in a hushed and calm tone. “My name’s Joyce.”
Sektor cocked his head to the side and scowled at the woman.
“I don’t care who you are. What the fuck are you doing in my apartment?” he snapped, glancing at the two officers. “What the hell is all this?”
“John, please remain calm. I work with the Illinois department of child and family services,” she explained, evoking a look of fear and realisation from Sektor. “We’ve received several reports of Chloe being left alone for long periods of time.”
Sektor laughed dismissively.
“What a load of crap! Who told you that? My nosey neighbours? Christ, I only went out for a pack of smokes!” he argued, his delivery less than convincing.
“We’ve been here for hours,” Joyce informed him, offering him a sympathetic smile. “Look, we’re not here to point fingers, we’re here to help. We have to take reports like this seriously and..”
“Let me just stop you right there,” he snapped, holding up a firm hand. “We don’t need any help. This is all a misunderstanding. As you can see, Chloe is very healthy and safe, so..”
“As I said,” she continued, this time interrupting Sektor. “We have to take these reports seriously, and there are other accusations which I’m not comfortable discussing in front of Chloe.”
Sektor fell silent. He knew what accusations she was referring to and already the dread was beginning to overwhelm him. He could only hope that the officers hadn’t searched his apartment. The officers watched him carefully the whole time, clearly anticipating that he may become hostile.
“Daddy?” called the sweet and innocent voice of his only daughter.
“Yes, sweetheart?” he answered, giving his daughter his undivided attention.
“Are they going to take me away from you?”
An awkward silence filled the void. Sektor and Joyce looked one another in the eyes, as though they were both telepathically communicating how to answer the question.
“No, sweetheart,” he replied, ensuring he was the first to answer.
“John,” Joyce warned, her tone expressing her concerns.
“No! You’re not taking her from me, she’s all I have!” he argued, his voice raised and irate. “I’m all she has!”
“Perhaps you should have thought of that before abandoning her,” one of the cops chimed in, looking at Sektor with disgust.
Sektor’s head snapped in the direction of the officer, his lip curled with disgust as he pointed an accusing finger.
“Hey! Why don’t you mind your own business, pig!” he spat condescendingly.
“John, please stay calm,” Joyce continued, maintaining her calm demeanor. “We need to take Chloe somewhere safe while we review your case and work with you..”
“NO!” he barked, pacing up and down and shaking his head. “This isn’t happening.”
He marched forward towards Chloe and Joyce but the officers reacted quickly, interjecting themselves between himself and his daughter. Sektor’s chest heaved up and down as he looked at both officers before turning his attention to Joyce. His eyes softened, pleading with Joyce to show mercy.
“Joyce, please,” he begged. “Don’t do this.”
“I’m sorry, John.”
His teeth clenched together as his fingers balled up into fists.
“No!” he yelled defiantly, lunging forward.
The two officers tried to hold him back but Sektor’s adrenaline was pumping away on all cylinders. He managed to push one of them to the ground but the other tackled him from behind to the floor.
“DADDY!” Chloe screamed, seeing her father being wrestled to the ground by a man in uniform.
“No! Don’t do this!” he yelled, his arms being restrained behind his back.
Joyce had taken this opportunity to lead Chloe away by the hand.
“Daddy!” she cried again, as Joyce walked past her father.
Sektor stared into his daughter’s eyes, which were wet from tears as they flooded her face.
“Don’t worry sweetheart!” he grunted, as his wrists became shackled with handcuffs. “I’ll get you back…”
Their eyes stayed connected as Joyce led Chloe towards the apartment door.
Back in Tokyo..
“Shit” Sektor grunted, looking up at the sky.
It was now evening as Sektor waited, impatiently, outside of a high-end bath house in central Toyko. He was waiting for his Japanese contact, Tetsu Kabe, to come and greet him and provide him with safe passage into the establishment.
I’m a complete mess. My altercation with Jatt has left me with a cocktail of emotions that I simply cannot process in my current state of mind. I was so harsh on him, but it had to be said. Still, I can’t help but feel like I may have just fucked our chances of retaining the tag titles for the Best Alliance. If Lee gets wind of this he’s going to be fuming. I can’t take it back. The damage has been done. I can only hope that Jatt is able to stay professional and get through the tag match.
I thought that removing Jatt from the equation would give me some clarity. I certainly feel like a weight has been lifted off my shoulders. Still, in the long run? I don’t feel any clearer of when shit began to go south for me.
Wargames is starting to feel personal. It was becoming less about the Best Alliance proving dominance over the two-one four, and more about the battle for John Sektor’s soul! The reason I can’t make a decision is because I haven’t had a soul for a very, long, time.
Shit, I don’t even have my own identity in this Wargames, I’m just sharing a rank with Jatt under the umbrella of ‘Sgt. Starrsek.’ Until I realise what is missing? I fear I may never re-capture the soul of John Sektor who towered above everyone else. Who dominated the main event and World title scene. I had to believe that guy still exists. It’s the only thing keeping me going.
“Sektor!” sang a chirpy voice from behind him.
As Sektor turned, he was greeted with open arms by a Japanese man in a white shirt and black pants, pulling him in for a man hug. Sektor tried to force a smile and gave him a half hearted pat on the back, before gently pushing himself away.
“Tetsu, how are ya?” he mumbled, greeting his old friend.
“Im, good, bro,” he said, taking a step back to get a good look at Sektor. “You look great!”
“Thanks,” Sektor replied, appreciating the acknowledgement of his physique.
“Hey, we should totally hit some bars tonight. I can get us vip access, champagne, girls..”
Sektor held up a hand to cut him off.
“Sorry man, another time perhaps. Right now I just need to score some drugs and some space to think,” he informed Tetsu.
“Ok, sure,” replied Tetsu, holding the door to the bath house open. “Follow me.”
As they made their way through the bath house, the Gold Standard began to take in the surroundings. It had been a long, long, time since he’d been in a place like this, but not much had changed. Rows of bath’s and springs, separated by solid wood divides, were laid either side of the path they walked. Men with colorful tattoos all over their backs and chests resided in them, with young girls joining them naked to wash them with their bare hands.
“Now remember, man,” Tetsu whispered. “I’m vouching for you. The rules haven’t changed so stay on your best behaviour. I don’t want to lose a pinky. Or worse..”
Sektor gave his friend a reassuring nod.
“Remind me again about the pinky thing?” he asked, genuinely curious.
“When a Yakuza brings dishonour on the family, the punishment is to remove the pinky with a samurai sword. This removes their ability to yield a sword competently, and thus they become reliant on the Yakuza. Believe me,” he continued, giving Sektor a look of warning. “There are much worse punishments.”
Sektor didn’t need to be told. He’d heard all the harrowing stories about the Yakuza. They made the cartel look like common street bandits.
They eventually approached a door where a Japanese guard, wearing a black suit with a high collared white shirt, was posted outside. His clothing hid his body art, the identity element which was hidden from the public. In his hands he yielded a fully-automatic Uzi, the sight of which instantly put Sektor on edge.
Tetsu gave the guard a nod and he nodded back, knocking on the door and peeking inside. He could be heard speaking Japanese to whoever was on the other side before fully opening it and gesturing for Sektor and Tetsu to enter.
As they entered the guard closed the door behind them. Sat behind a solid, wooden, desk was another Japanese man, presumably the owner of the establishment and one of the heads of the family. On one side of the room was another Japanese man, smoking a cigarette and watching Sektor carefully.
Tetsu began speaking Japanese, gesturing to Sektor who took that as he cue to bow respectfully. The boss behind the desk nodded and rifled out some Japanese in response.
“He asks what you are looking for,” Tetsu explained.
Sektor pulled out a thick, brown, envelope from his back pocket and held it in Tetsu’s direction.
“Whatever this will buy me,” he explained.
The other man stepped forward and snatched the envelope from Sektor’s grasp, looking him sternly in the eyes as he checked the contents. Sektor noticed that he was missing the pinky from his right hand. The man spoke some Japanese to the boss and the boss looked at Tetsu and gave him a knowing nod.
Tetsu bowed appreciatively and nodded at Sektor.
“Ok, you’re all good. Follow me, I’ll show you to your room.”
Tetsu led Sektor to a large and extravagant room with a king size four poster bed. It was draped with expensive, Japanese, cotton with traditional Japanese design. The whole room oozed with elegance as fancy furniture and facilities gave it a luxurious feel. Sektor took a second to look around at his surroundings.
“Make yourself comfortable,” Tetsu suggested. “I’ll go get the girls.”
With that, he shut the door behind him, leaving him alone with the surroundings. Scanning the room with his eyes, he instantly notices a silver platter with a matching cloche presented neatly on a table in front of the window. He wandered over to it, hesitantly lifting the cloche to reveal a mountain of cocaine. His eyes lit up, but he was having doubts about whether this was a good idea.
For so long he has been caught in a loop of doing drugs and getting clean that it was beginning to become a boring concept. Yet, drugs had become a part of his identity now, and without them he couldn’t think straight.
He nestled down in the chair as though he was about to dig into a Michelin star meal, resting his hands either side of the platter. He lifted up a small, silver, spoon to dig into the pile but decided to forgo etiquette and instead plunge his whole face into it.
Loud snorting noises filled the room as his nostrils struggled to suck up the volume of powder in one hit. Coming up for air, his entire face was white as a ghost, completely decorated with cocaine.
A satisfied sigh escaped his gaping mouth as his head flopped back over the chair. His bulging, dilated eyes glared up at the ceiling with a goofy smile spread across his face. He was in heaven. At least temporarily.
A knock at the door and the sound of it opening caught his attention, causing him to jump up from his chair in a flash. He appeared to be infused with energy as he excitedly welcomed the returning Tetsu with a wide and wild smile.
“Ha, I see you’ve not wasted any time,” Tetsu laughed. “You got a little something..” he continued to explain, jokingly pointing towards the corner of his own mouth, in reference to Sektor’s face.
Sektor laughed and scooped up a silk napkin, beginning to wipe the residue off his face.
“Allow me to introduce you to some ladies,” Tetsu continued, fully opening the door.
Sektor fell onto the end of the bed, waiting excitedly for the crop of girls to enter his room. They were presented to him in a uniformed line, like he was selecting sushi from the conveyor belt.
His eyes initially lit up with excitement, marvelling at their beauty. A look of concern soon followed as he realised that they all looked so young. There was no way of telling how old they were, even though he knew that this aspect of the bath house was completely legal and above board.
One girl in particular stood out. She was much shorter than the others, with a petite and delicate frame. Her jet black hair was flowing to her shoulders and neatly tucked back behind her ears. In spite of her being Japanese she reminded him of someone who was once very close to him..
“I..I can’t..” he stammered, gawking at the girl with a sad look in his eyes.
“What? You can’t decide? No problem, you can have them all! Shit, you paid enough..”
“It’s not that!” Sektor snapped, cutting him off. “I can’t do this. Get them out of here!”
He jumped up from the bed, turning his back on them as the sight of them made him feel sick to his stomach. He looked disgusted with himself as he leaned on the table, staring out over the street’s of Tokyo through the window.
Tetsu hustled the girls out of the room and shut the door.
“What’s going on?” Tetsu asked, looking confused and concerned.
“That girl, man,” he began, his eyes darting all over the place as the amphetamine coursed through his bloodstream. “She reminds me so much of my own little girl. I feel so dirty and sleazy even looking at her.”
“Hey, if you don’t want any female company that’s cool. If you just wanna hang here and get high then by all means. I can get you anything you want, just name it,” Tetsu explained.
Sektor only half registered what Tetsu was saying to him, deep in thought processing what he had just experienced. His eyes suddenly bulged a little wider as he began to experience another epiphany moment.
Oh my God!
It’s so obvious. My soul was taken the day that Chloe was taken away from me. Everything has gone downhill since then. The heroin, the failures, the struggle to regain form? I never kept my promise to her. I’ve never even tried to get her back.
Chloe is my soul!
I knew right then, what I needed to do.
“Tetsu? I need you to get some things for me,” Sektor said, beginning to scoop cocaine into a transparent baggy.
“Anything you want!”
“I need some tools. And a van!”
The following evening…
I spent the entirety of that evening trying to hatch a plan to get Chloe back. I tried to think of clever ways to do it, but I just kept inhaling more and more drugs. I haven’t slept. I couldn’t sleep even if I wanted to. There’s enough coke in my system to keep me awake for a week.
I began to think about Chloe, and what she has been through since the day I lost her. How the hell did she wind up in the care of the Kaels? I had reassured myself that Sutler seemed to be doing a good job of caring for her. I didn’t like him and, of course, I didn’t trust him, but I’d seen him around her. He was protective.
I look at Sutler now and how successful he has been for such a young age. He’s been on a good run, even beating Dan Ryan. I had to punch Dan in the dick to get a win. What the fuck does Sutler have that I don’t?
But I need her back. None of this started before I lost Chloe. My path back to success is to get her back.
He took in one final deep breath, letting it out slowly before grabbing the ski mask off the passenger seat. He pulled it on over his head, only his eyes and mouth now visible. A keen eye would be able to make out the whiskers of his moustache. The sky had gone darker, not because the sun had set, but because a group of rain clouds had bubbled up over the skyline of the street.
Keeping his eyes trained on the black Lexus, he grabbed the crowbar with one hand and gripped the handle of the van door with the other.
“This is it, Sek. No turning back now!”
Popping open the door he hopped out onto the street. He had only taken a few steps forward when something from the bar caught his attention. He quickly dived behind the back of the van for cover, peeking out from the side to assess the scene.
Exiting the bar was a rather sheepish looking Sutler, closely followed by a huge hulk of a Japanese man. Sektor felt like he recognised the man somehow, but couldn’t quite place him. Finally a woman with #97000 red hair, tied neatly in an old fashioned bun, and wearing a white power suit exited behind. He watched with wide and panicking eyes as the three entered the vehicle, the big man in the front passenger side and Sutler and the woman entering the back with Chloe.
“No..”he whispered, with a tremble in his voice.
Peeling back the mask so it sat atop his head, he watched at the side of the van as the lights lit up on the black Lexus. As it drove off and out of sight, the Gold Standard fell helplessly to his knees on the sidewalk.
He stared into the distance, his expression a frozen look of disbelief and helplessness. Then, the heavens opened, as rain began to hammer down, slowly soaking him to the skin.
“No,” he again gasped, his eyes beginning to well up with tears. “NO!”
He began to sob slowly, tears mixing with the rain as his head bowed down towards the pavement. He’d missed his opportunity to get his soul back, and every inch of him was hurting.
“I’m done,” he whispered quietly, staring down at his reflection made in a puddle on the pavement.
Behind him he could hear wet footsteps drawing closer and closer to him. He ignored them at first, but as the footsteps came to a halt, he sensed that someone was looking down at him.
Turning his head slowly, and squinting as the rain hit his eyes, he focussed his eyes on the tall, gangly, figure standing over him. A piercing blue eye shone in his silhouette, which is all he could make out before the harsh features of the man came into focus.
“Heh-heh..,” cackled the maniacal laugh of the man looking down on him. “Aw, John-John, looking a little blue today aren’t we?,” the man said, his tone filled with pleasure.
Sektor realised who it was the moment he heard his voice. The blue eye was a clue, but the voice will haunt him for the rest of his life.
“Hello Max,” Sektor sighed, content with the fact that he’d finally lost his mind.
The spider-like frame of Max moved around in front of Sektor, no sign of that familiar, menacing smile, just a plain expression on his face.
“The van, the mask, the crowbar? My First Kidnapping Starter kit if I ever laid eye on one.” Max continued, his hands meeting so that his skeletal fingers could tap away on one another rhythmically. “Of course, Mr. Butterfingers, you let her slip right through your grasp. What a failure!”
Sektor just stared up at him with a defeated gaze.
“What are you without your little girl? Nobody, John-John, or rather somebody nobody would ever want to be.. heh-heh..” he said, that grin beginning to spread across his face. “I ripped your soul from you and it took you two years to notice, that’s not a good sign, buddy!”
Whilst Max fed on the pleasure of Sektor’s misery, the Gold Standard can all but nod his head in agreement.
The smile instantly vanished from Max’s face, replaced by a shock and confusion.
“In the quiet words of a Lindsay Troy ‘morale boost’ – Come again?”
“You’re right. I’ve lost. You win. I’m done,” he explained, accepting his defeat as the rain continued to bounce off him.
“You’ll never beat me, Joh- wait. I win?” gasped Max, his face full of disgust as he stared at Sektor. “No.. No that’s not how this goes, John. Pathetic! Useless! I knock you down, I gloat, you get up and WIN.. I’m dead, what am I going to do with a win, John?”
Sektor shrugged, slapping his hands down on the wet pavement.
“What choice do I have?”
“Hard choices, John, unfair choices. The kind that ruins lives, buddy, the kind that giants make, men like you and Me. Well, at least me, heh-heh, I clearly was mistaken about you.” Max cast a blue eye to his nails admiring their chipped, chewed appearance. “When I met you there was no Chloe and you were winning just fine. The idea that you imparted some part of your winning self into your daughter just ‘cause you shot some DNA into a moist pouch? Laughable. Watch me laugh, HA-Ha-HA-HA!”
Sektor stared into Max’s blue eyes helplessly.
“What are you talking about, man?” he cried.
Max slowly lowered his body into a squat, getting himself eye level with the down and defeated John Sektor. His face slowly came towards Sektor, his jagged, silver, teeth clenched like an animal about to sink his teeth into him.
“You can cry in the street or you can f̷͉̽i̴̭͂g̷̮͝h̶̜͌ẗ̴͔.”
Sektor shuddered. The venom of Max’s words sent a shiver down his spine. The spectre stood, his grin spread across his lips while the silvery teeth glinted through the rain.
“Fight or die, John, take it from me, I ought to know.. Heh-heh..”
The rain intensified with the sound of it drowning out the sickly chuckle of the deceased Hall of Famer. His words bit into Sektor’s mind and ignited a memory of a time before all of this. Before Jatt, before Max and Chloe, before the world got so complicated.
“Fight.. Or die.”
John muttered the words under his breath as he looked back up. The rain water rushed over his eyes clouding his vision as the shadowy figure of Max Kael appeared to have vanished.
The rain water washed the filth and the sweat from John Sektor. The raw hot of his shame and sorrow was tempered by the cold downpour as his mind wrestled with what he had just experienced. Had he been visited by the ghost of his former friend turned enemy? Or was it just a hallucination brought on by the drugs, alcohol and sleep deprivation?
He heard the sound of a man yelling at him and it broke him out of his thoughts. He turned to see an older man with an umbrella calling out to him to get out of the street. Reality began to sink in as Sektor remembered his failed kidnapping attempt.
“Fight or die.”
He repeated the words to himself, clarity replacing the fog that had filled his mind. War Games wasn’t about Chloe, it wasn’t about Jatt or Jiles or anyone in the 214. It was a fight where survival was the ultimate goal. Survive Conor, survive Dan. Fight. Or die.
With each step toward the van John’s new found understanding crystalized and set in. Max or whatever it was had shown him, intentionally or otherwise, that John Sektor wasn’t a good father. No, he wasn’t but then Chloe wasn’t really his soul.
John Sektor was a Great wrestler. IS a Great Wrestler.
His Soul? His soul was the Fight. The struggle inside and outside the ring, the quest to sit at the top once again.
And he was in it.