Chloe cooed loudly as he stared down at the baby that her older brother had brought aboard the jet. It turned out that the crew of the jet had acted quickly, sealing the plane off the minute the fighting broke. At this point Sutler’s younger sister’s time with the Kael Family had taught her how to deal with danger.
The High Octane World Champion was proud of his little sister.
Even still Sutler couldn’t help but feel that bitter hatred directed at the child in her arms. That was his adopted father, child or not.
“Think we should drop it out the emergency door?”
Mina whispered the words to Sutler as she watched the girl gently rock the sleeping baby. Sutler nodded his head abscently before his brain had fully processed what she said. Horror exploded over his face as he turned to glare at her.
“No, we’re not throwing a baby out of a plane over the Pacific.” he chided the wheelchair bound woman under his breath.
She threw her hands into the air defensively, her shimmering green eyes flashed red for a moment.
“It was just a suggestion, this thing is really going to complicate things back home.” Mina replied, trying to sound as innocent as possible.
“What do you mean?” the HOW World Champion asked, his eyes turning back down toward the #97Red title in his lap. “This has no effect on my World Title defense at Bottomline.”
The bandaged hand of Mina reached into her pocket and retrieved her cigarette case. She coughed up an unpleasant giggle before placing an unfiltered cigarette between her lips.
“I keep forgetting you have that silly thing. Tell me, Champ, what are you going to do when the Family stops worshipping you as the next incarnation of Max Kael and starts following this fucking baby?” Mina snapped as she fished a lighter from her pocket. Thankfully both Mina and Sutler were outside of Chloe’s ear shot.
The Son of Scions hadn’t considered what the Kael Family thought of anything. They were just a bunch of sad, desperate weirdos that his father had hoodwinked into obedience. To willingly follow a man as self-destructive and deranged as Max, Sutler figured, you’d have to be pretty stupid.
“Good, I get to go back to Chicago and live a half-way normal life with Chloe. Good luck with what they do with your crippled ass, I’ve got a full time job.. Or five depending on how Grampa Lee is feeling.” Sutler replied after thinking about it for a minute.
“No smoking around the baby!”
Both of them turned to catch a stern glare from Chloe. Mina let out a soft laugh before pulling the cigarette from her lips.
“Of course, Darling, I wasn’t thinking.” the wretched woman apologized through clenched teeth.
“Probably for the best, I doubt China would be interested in cloning you.” the Champion quipped. He flashed a pearly toothed smile at Mina while she tucked the cigarette back in it’s case.
Sutler went to retrieve his phone to study more Conor Fuse tapes when he felt Mina’s hand grab his wrist. Despite her injuries the grip was strong, frighteningly so. He was pulled close to her as she pushed her bandaged face next to his.
“You stupid fucking boy, without the Family you lose your home. You lose all your protection. This whole thing starts to fall apart and when these zealots turn their hungry eyes on you, a false idol, how long do you think it will be until they want your blood, Darling?” She growled the last word as her voice took on a deadly seriousness. “We need to control this.”
He could feel the tips of her fingernails digging into his flesh like the talons of some massive bird. It was enough for him to let out a soft yelp of pain.
“Who do you think watches Chloe while you are in out with HOW? The Kael Family is everywhere, Sutler, embedded all across his country. Thousands of people from all walks of life are infected with this idea of Max Kael.. of the Minister living in the shadows of their mind. Since your father’s death you’ve tasted the fruits of that organization, enjoyed the protection and influences of it’s power.”
She turned her bandaged face to stare at the child wrapped up in Chloe’s arms.
“..that thing is going to change all of that.”
Having had enough, Sutler ripped his arm away from Mina with a snarl.
“I never asked for any of this and I don’t give a fuck about the Family or what happens with all these troglodytes. If this whole Family is so fucking stupid that it would worship a baby over the Son of Scions that’s fine by me. When it grows into as big a fucking idiot as my dad was maybe he’ll lead them all into a volcano and the whole world can finally be rid of Max, motherfucking Kael. Until then I’ve got a World Title Defense to worry about. Thank you now.. “
He retrieved his phone while turning his back to Mina. He had viewed Conor’s available matches on YouTube so frequently that they were among the first things that appeared when he opened the app. Turning his head slightly, Sutler flipped the bird back toward Mina.
“I’m thinking of extending Conor Fuse an offer to join me.”
Sutler’s words caught Mina off guard as she looked up from the desk she was seated behind.
“That video game playing goodie-goodie? Darling..Darling..” the green eyes of Mina flashed with amusement as leaned back in her chair. “You must share your reasoning.”
The awkward boy shifted in his chair as he averted his gaze downward. It was clear he was putting his thoughts together carefully.
“With War Games a few weeks out you know teams are going to start to form. Lee is already showing interest in having me on his Team this year. Conor, as you mentioned, is a Goodie-Goodie, for sure. Absolutely. A real fuckin’ goober but.. BUT.. he’s also good.” the Son of Scions had no hint of sarcasm on his lips as he raised his eyebrows. “Better than he realizes. He is no doubts going to get selected for the other team and we could use a sleeper agent. I think the Family could really use him.”
The bemused look on Mina’s face doesn’t disappear as she tucked a cigarette into the corner of her mouth.
“Use him for what, pray-tell?” she jabbed back at Sutler as she lit her dart.
“Not like that. The Family needs different perspectives outside of just our own. Conor Fuse and I share a lot of things in common professionally but I’ve been studying him for a few weeks now. On a personal level he just has a completely different mindset, one that I think I.., WE all could benefit from it. And I think we could do the same for him, expand what he is, who he is.”
He raised his eyes to meet Mina’s gaze. She took a long puff off as he considered the passion for which he was arguing his case. Her eyes narrowed slightly before she leaned forward. Her elbows came to a rest as she rested her chin in the palm of both her hands.
“A different perspective? We don’t need the perspective of a kid whose most memorable feature is that he enjoys outdated electronic video games. Tell me you’ve got a plan to lure John Sektor to the Family or that you’ve figured out the code to Michael Best’s subliminal programming? Then we’ll discuss bringing them into the family but Conor Fuse?..heh-heh..” the patronizing tone by which his idea was dismissed by Mina infuriated the young man. “Darling you flushed out of the HOFC Tournament then lost to Bobby Dean. Right now you should be more worried about yourself than other low level talents on the roster.”
Other low level talents on the roster.
Mina leaned back up and went to reading whatever it was she had splayed out across her desk. Sutler sat staring forward as he worked to control the rage building up inside of him.
“You are right about one thing. Lee is interested in having you on his War Games team, a nice young talent to sacrifice early on. Maybe if you’re lucky War Games 2021 might end up with you coming in the top ten for your first time.” the cruel woman snickered.
He glared at Mina as he felt his teeth grinding together.
“Yeah.” he grunted. “If I’m lucky.”
The flight back to Arkham was long but otherwise uneventful. Mina kept quiet and Sutler had been reading a book on hand to hand combat techniques used by Israeli Special Forces. Chloe had spent the entire time doting over the child having taken an immediate shine to lil’Max. The drive home had been equally disinteresting though Sutler noted how tense Mina was becoming the closer they got home.
The HOW World Champion became acutely aware of how large the mansion had become as they approached it. Chloe had been correct in that the additions to the home were already complete. What was so deeply unsettling to the Son of Scions was that each new edition appeared as though it had always been there.
That was not to say that it was painted well to look like the rest of the house. Or that the state of it was so new that it blended with the rest of the rebuilt Estate.
No, it looked as though nothing else had ever stood there save for the new wings of the manor. The wood looked depressed and old, the paint weathered and faded in the places you would expect. A tall, wrought iron fence lined the new property lines set into a foundation of old New Hampshire granite.
“The house is so.. Big..”
He muttered the words breathlessly as he peered out of the window of the Uber.
“I told you, it’s strange.” Chloe chimed up from beside the lil’Max car chair.
“Arkham has always been an old place.” Mina spoke up from her beneath her bandages. “Full of strange things. The Kael Estate has been here for over three hundred years, built on top of a hill that overlooks Arkham. It was settled originally because the local native tribes avoided the area out of fear. This meant the original settlers were left unmolested for the most part. Well, from Native American attacks at least.”
He didn’t turn to look at her but he could tell Mina was smiling with her mouth full of jagged, broken teeth.
“Oh sure, real spoopy. It’s just a house.” Sutler shot back, leaning back in his seat as the black sedan slipped onto the estate grounds. “I swear this Family is so fuckin’ weird. My house magically grew over night while I was in China collecting a baby clone of my dead dad. And I still have to deal with Conor Fuse at Bottomline.”
The Champ wasn’t very good at hiding his frustration, crossing his arms across his chest. Mina’s green eyes glittered from the shadows of her bandaged face as the car came to a stop. Chloe was the first to jump out with baby Max Kael in her arms.
A familiar shadow greeted her as she stepped out into the warm Arkham air.
“Chloe, welcome home.” rumbled MAXKAELJr who was sporting a black eye from his encounter with Fuse and the GAMEBOY. “..and who is this?”
With great glee Chloe held Baby Max up toward MAXKAELJr.
“This is a clone of Papa Max made by the Chinese.” she cheerfully informed the hulking Disciple of Max Kael.
Two dark beady eyes peered down at the child swaddled in cloth. If what she was saying was true then that would mean..
“Chloe, darling, why don’t you come with me so we can get you and your brother settled in together.”
Mina’s shrill and unpleasant voice snapped MAXKAELJr out of his deliberations. He turned to see her rolling down a ramp from the vehicle toward the three of them. From the other side of the car the arrogant little prick and World Champion swaggered. Junior’s frown deepened.
“Junior! Buddy, I’ve got to get some serious cardio training in right now. Got stuck in a tunnel, I’ll spare you the deets but it was fuckin’ crazy. Got a new baby, wouldn’t you know it! Later on I’ll need you down in the gym so I can practice pinning combinations. Glad there’s no hard feelings about Refueled. Technically I was punched in as a Ring Announcer and Time Keeper.” Sutler breezed past his bulking bodyguard. He slapped Junior on the shoulder as he stepped by him. “..couldn’t get into any physical confrontations. You’re a big guy though, you embraced your ass beating well! I’m so proud of you, woo! Go Sutler!”
Washing his hands of the whole group Sutler kicked the front door to the house in and disappeared past the threshold.
MAXKAELJr’s dark eyes stared at the open door for a few moments before he turned to stare down at the baby. Almost immediately Mina was there, her arms sweeping Chloe and Baby Max away.
“Let’s get you inside and away from prying eyes. Lord knows what the neighbors will say about a new baby in the house.” Mina mused with a snarky tone. More importantly she needed the baby out of the eyes of MAXKAELJr.
As Mina, Chloe and Baby Max followed Sutler’s example and disappeared into the house MAXKAELJr was left in silent contemplation.
Juniors knuckles pop as his hands tighten into fists.
Alright Conor Fuse, I guess you probably have been wondering where I’ve been.
It’s been a fucking crazy two weeks for me but don’t think that I haven’t been thinking about you.
Oh you’ve been on my mind for quite a while now.
You know I never knew who I would get to call my first ever nemesis in Professional Wrestling. We all hope that it’s going to be someone memorable, someone with longevity so that you can really get a lot of mileage out of her arch rival. Someone you can build a real meaningful relationship with that brings a lot of tears and heartache into your life.
Part of me was hoping it was going to be someone like Jatt Starr, the same man that helped catapult my father to stardom. Unfortunately upon meeting Jatt I realized that there wasn’t anything of value for me to gain from him being a rival. I mean sure, he has some value attached to his brand but I mean, there’s a reason he’s facing one of the lowest ranked guys on the roster.
Naturally you’d expect that I might fall into a toxic relationship with John Sektor. Given that he’s Chloe’s deadbeat dad and we all know how I have a hard on for those it just makes sense. Turns out he’s just Lee Best’s second favorite lap dog with zero motivation to do anything. Real disappointing, exactly the kind of man you’d expect to pick drugs over his daughter.
No, instead it turns out my first nemesis isn’t a HOW legend, it’s Conor Fuse, a poor man’s Evan Ward. I’m not complaining in the least bit. While there maybe some people who don’t “get” you, I’m not one of them. I’m sure there are some gross, out of touch old men who wouldn’t spend the time of day on “that video game guy”.
Not me though. Not me.
Way the fuck back in 2020 when I debuted in HOW I had my eye on you. When I was tearing up the singles competition at the end of last year I was thinking about you. .
Because you’re a hell of a talent, that’s why. When I extended you that offer to join me it wasn’t because I was afraid of you, Conor. I’m afraid of losing, Fuse, I’m afraid of failure but don’t get that confused with me being afraid of you. I wanted you to join me because I wanted to help make you better. I wanted to take all that raw potential I saw and help mold it with the help of the Kael Family.
I wanted to find a partner that I believed could understand me.
And for my efforts to befriend you?
You spat on my offer and joined the likes of Teddy Palmer, Lindsay Troy and Darin Zion. I was blinded, Conor, blinded by my want to have a friend, by my need to have someone who understood me. I didn’t anticipate you were so fucking stupid.
That’s my bad.
And so from that moment, from the very second you decided not to join me, it happened. You know, I didn’t even realize it at first. I think that’s how it always kind of is, especially the first time. You became my arch enemy and since then I have spent a considerable amount of my time planning your defeat.
In your title matches.
At War Games.
During our match at last Refueled.
It’s been a whole lot of fun and despite giving you plenty of chances to walk away, you refused.
You decided to stay.
You chose me and I just want you to say how much I appreciate it.
Speaking of appreciation, it would also be nice if you thanked me for making you better.
Because of what I’ve done you split reality in two and then left it up to me which path to take. Thanks to me you’ve trained harder and prepared yourself like never before! I gave you this passion, Sutler Reynolds-KaeI! YOUR High Octane Wrestling World Champion. Just being around me made you better, can you just imagine what you could have accomplished if you had just joined me?
Now our story ends at Bottomline. I’m going to finish the job I started back in Tokyo, Japan. I’m going to put an end to my very first feud in High Octane Wrestling when I choke you out again. That’s not even hypothetical, it’s just how this pans out for you. You’re cursed, bruh.
So thanks for two promos from two different dimensions. It’s great effort. Shame I beat you in both of them anyway.
I will still be the reigning wielder of the #97Red Title, the High Octane Wrestling WORLD CHAMPION long after we’ve settled our business, FUSE.
So thanks for being a good sport, sport.
I hope you choke in our match. (It’s a Sutler Method Joke, Conor, catch up.)