Time to Decide

Time to Decide

Posted on June 19, 2024 at 6:30 am by John Sektor

As Sektor arrived in the historic city of Edinburgh, the weight of his predicament bore down upon him. The Final Alliance, a faction sworn to uphold Lee Best’s vision, demanded his allegiance. Yet, his heart yearned for the unwavering camaraderie he shared with Solex, a brotherhood forged in the fires of countless battles.

The week leading up to War Games was a crucible of indecision and inner turmoil. Each waking moment, Sektor’s mind wrestled with the consequences of his choice. To remain loyal to the Final Alliance meant betraying the unbreakable bond he shared with Solex, a sacrifice he could scarcely fathom. Yet, to defy Lee Best’s wishes carried the risk of banishment from the only world he had ever known.

As Sektor wandered the cobblestone streets, his conflicted thoughts were interrupted by the sight of Edinburgh Castle atop the hill. The imposing fortress had endured sieges and wars for centuries, weathering every storm. Sektor envied its resolute strength. If only his own path forward could be so clear.

Lost in contemplation, Sektor did not notice the dark SUV pull up alongside him. Two men in black suits stepped out and grabbed him forcefully, shoving him into the backseat. Sektor didn’t question the rough treatment, he knew who these men were. They were EPU agents, sent by Lee to find him and bring him in.

Sektor sat quietly in the back of the SUV, gazing out at the passing scenery as they drove towards the castle. It was meant to be the final battleground for War Games, and Sektor knew that Lee had purposefully chosen this location for its symbolic significance.

As they pulled up and parked, EPU agents opened the door and signalled for Sektor to exit. Following their pointed fingers, he looked up at the battlements where Lee Best stood, his bald head a distinct silhouette against the sky. Sektor made his way up the stone steps towards Lee, careful to make enough noise so that he would not startle him upon arrival.

“You should know better than to ignore my calls, Sektor.”

Lee Best continued to stare over the horizon with his back turned to Sektor.

“Forgive me, I did not intend any disrespect,” Sektor said evenly, meeting Lee’s gaze.

Lee slowly turned and stared at him coldly,fury simmering behind his eye. Sektor’s heart sank. There would be no more avoiding this reckoning. His choice must be made here and now. Lee would accept nothing less than total submission, but Sektor’s soul rebelled at the thought of betraying his sworn brother Solex. Though every fibre of his being resisted, he knew he must appease Lee’s wrath, at least for now.

Lee studied him for a long moment before speaking. “Your conflicted loyalty has not gone unnoticed, Sektor. But you belong to the Alliance, first and foremost.” His voice was cold steel. “Do you understand?”

Sektor hesitated, then gave a solemn nod. “I understand.”

“Good,” said Lee. “Then your path is clear. Victory for the Alliance in War Games, by any means necessary.”

Sektor swallowed hard, the weight of Lee’s words settling upon him like a lead mantle. Victory for the Alliance in War Games, by any means necessary. The directive rang in his ears, an ultimatum he could not refuse despite the anguish it caused him.

He thought of Solex then, picturing his brother-in-arms as they had embraced after countless victories, the unbreakable bond between them stronger than steel. How could he ever betray that sacred trust?

Yet Sektor knew that to defy Lee Best now would mean banishment from the Alliance, exile from the only world he had ever known. The Alliance was his lifeblood, the fire that fueled his every breath. To turn against them was unthinkable.

Sektor closed his eyes, pain etched across his face as the cool Scottish air brushed over his skin. He had avoided this choice for as long as he could, but he knew he was trapped.

“Solex is a good man,” Sektor mumbled, unable to look Lee in the eye.

“I don’t remember saying he wasn’t?”

Sektor turned sharply, confused as he regarded his boss.

“No decisions have been made, Sektor. I don’t know which way things are going to go at War Games, only that I want Big Red in the hands of the Final Alliance at the end of the match. I just need to know that if it comes to it, you’ll make the right decision.”

Sektor began thinking but knew he couldn’t hesitate for too long. No matter what answer he gave, hesitation would force Lee’s hand to air on the side of caution. He also knew that Lee’s preference would be for his son to remain as champion, but Sektor had his own plans.

“I always make the right decision, boss. Always.”

Glad to hear it!”

Lee planted his cane onto the ground, forcing an audible sound of metal meeting stone. He then marched forward with purpose, standing uncomfortably close to the Gold Standard.

“This is the last ever War Games, Sektor. I need to know all my soldiers are ready. This is the time to be decisive!”

Sektor nodded instantly.

“I won’t hesitate.”

Lee’s stern and cold expression suddenly warmed as he smiled from ear to ear. He then relaxed his shoulders and opened his arms widely for an embrace with his most trusted hitman.

Sektor felt Lee’s embrace like a vise grip, holding him captive in this moment of forced intimacy. He returned the gesture woodenly, his mind racing ahead to consider the consequences of this meeting.

Though he had mollified Lee for now with his assurances, Sektor knew a harsh reckoning awaited if he failed to deliver victory for the Alliance. As Lee finally released him and turned away, Sektor felt the full weight of the burden he had just taken upon himself. Win or lose, blood would be spilled at War Games.

“Good luck out there, I know you’ll make me proud,” Lee whispered into his ear.

The God of HOW then released his hold on the HOTv champion and gave him a knowing nod before walking away and back down the castle towards the awaiting SUV.

Now standing alone on the ancient battlements, Sektor let out a deep sigh and closed his eyes, feeling the cool stone beneath his fingertips. His stomach churned with a mix of anxiety and anticipation as he gazed out at the vast expanse before him. The sun had just begun to set, casting a warm orange glow over the horizon and painting the clouds in shades of pink and purple. The distant sound of crashing waves echoed through the air, adding to the serene atmosphere. Sektor couldn’t help but feel a sense of awe and wonder at the world spread out before him, and for a moment, all his worries melted away as he took in the breath-taking view.

Reaching for the phone in his pocket, he brought up his most recent messages with Solex and began to type.

“Can you meet me at the castle? I need to talk to you.”

As he hit the send button he noticed his hands beginning to shake and claw up. His heart began to race as he could hear it pulsing in the ears like the flapping on a humming birds wings.

No, not now!”

———————

The warm rays of the sun beam down on Edinburgh castle, casting a golden glow over its ancient walls and turrets. The cool breeze wafts through the air, carrying with it the sounds of clashing metal and grunting wrestlers which was the soundtrack in Sektor’s mind as he prepared for the final ever War Games. Sektor and his comrade, Steve Solex, stand shoulder to shoulder on the towering battlements, taking in the breathtaking view of the sprawling landscape below. From this vantage point, they can see for miles in every direction, from rolling green hills to bustling city streets. It was a view that never failed to impress, even for battle-hardened fighters like them.

Solex let out a long sigh, his eyes scanning the horizon. “It’s hard to believe this is the last time we’ll be competing at War Games, isn’t it?”

Sektor nodded solemnly. “Aye. Many battles we’ve fought within these walls over the years. Many victories.” He clenched his fist. “And defeats.”

“But we always have each other’s backs,” Solex said, meeting his friend’s gaze. “Partners to the end.”

Sektor looked away, a shadow crossing his face. He thought of Lee’s ultimatum, the impossible choice he now faced.

Solex studied him with concern. “What is it, brother? You seem…troubled.”

Sektor forced a smile. “It’s nothing. Just reminiscing about the past.”

Solex nodded, though his eyes remained filled with doubt. He clasped Sektor

Solex searched his friend’s face, seeing the inner turmoil reflected in Sektor’s eyes.

“Come on now, we have been brothers-in-arms for too long. I know when something weighs heavy upon your spirit.” Solex placed a hand reassuringly on Sektor’s shoulder. “Speak your mind, hermano. No matter what comes between us, nothing can break the bond we share.”

Sektor hesitated, the words stuck in his throat. He yearned to confess everything – Lee’s ultimatum, the terrible choice he faced. But the words would not come.

Solex’s steady gaze seemed to pierce through Sektor’s conflicted heart. Though every instinct told him to unburden himself, to reveal the impossible choice Lee had forced upon him, the words remained lodged in his throat.

He knew that whatever he decided here today would forever alter the brotherhood he shared with Solex. If he betrayed his sworn ally to follow Lee’s ruthless directive, their sacred bond would be shattered beyond repair. Yet if he defied Lee and refused to turn against his brother-in-arms, the consequences could be no less severe.

As Sektor wrestled with his inner turmoil, he became aware of Solex studying him intently. Concern shone clearly in his comrade’s eyes.

“You ever question some of the decisions we’ve made over the years?” Sektor asked, staring at Solex in hope of a reassuring answer.

Solex frowned, confused and caught off guard. “How do mean?”

“I mean the things we have done for Lee. The things we have done for the Alliance. We made the choice to do those things. Do you ever question those choices?”

Solex thought for a second, but calmly raised his brow as he prepared a response. “As a solider you have to make quick decisions. You don’t have time to think about them. You question them afterwards, sure. But you have to rationale why you made them, or else you’ll drive yourself insane.”

Sektor shook his head, not completely satisfied by the answer. “But I’m not talking about war. I’m not talking about making decisions at gun point when it’s life or death. I’m talking about moral choices that we made without giving them a second thought, purely because we have to do what Lee tells us to do.”

“We chose to be in the Alliance because we believe in Lee. He calls himself God, but we believe in him as though he truly is a God. We don’t make the choices, John. He does. And we just execute those orders. You said the same thing to America.”

Solex placed a firm hand on his partner’s shoulder, stooping his head slightly so that their eyes were level with one another.

“Don’t burden yourself with guilt. You’re just following orders.”

Solex smiled but Sektor felt a pang of pain in his heart as his partner had just confirmed the choice he needed to make. The choice he had to make, and it broke his heart. Unable to hide his remorse, he simply smiled and nodded.

Solex turned to admire the view, gazing out at the lights of the city that sparkled below them. As he took in the vista, Sektor slowly reached for the knife tucked into his waistband, his hand trembling. He gripped the handle tightly as he withdrew the blade, anguish tearing through his heart. He took a step closer to Solex, raising the knife behind his back, the sharp tip aimed at the space between his friend’s shoulder blades.

This was the moment. Lee’s ultimatum echoed in Sektor’s mind, the choice he had been given – Solex’s life or his own.

I’m sorry,” Sektor whispered.

“For what?”

With a cry of anguish, Sektor drove the knife forward, thrusting it into the back of Solex. Solex let out a gasp, his body going rigid as the knife pierced his flesh. He stumbled forward, grasping the stone battlement to keep from falling.

“Why?” he choked out, disbelief and betrayal etched across his face as he turned to look at Sektor. Blood blossomed across his tunic, spreading outwards from the embedded blade.

Sektor stood frozen, the bloodied knife still clutched in his trembling hand. All color had drained from his face.

“I’m sorry,” he repeated hoarsely. “Lee gave me no choice.”

Solex’s legs buckled and he sank to his knees with a groan. Sektor dropped the knife and rushed to his side, easing his dying comrade down onto the cold stones. Solex grasped feebly at Sektor’s collar, his strength rapidly fading.

“We always…have a choice,” Solex rasped as tears streamed down Sektor’s cheeks as he screwed up his eyes tightly.

Sektor woke with a start, his heart pounding and his breath coming in ragged gasps. For a moment he was disoriented, unsure of where he was. Slowly his surroundings came into focus – the stone battlements of the fortress, the night sky above dotted with stars. He was lying on his back, the hard stone pressing into his spine.

“You alright, man?” called a concerned voice.

Sektor looked up to see Steve Solex kneeling by his side.

With a groan, Sektor sat up, rubbing his temples. It had been a dream. A vivid, horrific dream. But just a dream nonetheless. He realised he must have passed out after suffering another panic attack. Relief flooded through him as the realisation sunk in. He had not betrayed his friend, had not driven a knife into Solex’s back at Lee’s command. It had seemed so real though…He could still feel the ghost of the hilt in his hand, could still see the look of pained disbelief on Solex’s face.

Sektor shook off the lingering dread from the nightmare. He grasped Solex’s outstretched hand and got to his feet, steadying himself against the cold stone parapet.

“Just a bad dream,” he muttered. Solex studied him with concern but didn’t press the issue.

They stood in silence for a moment, looking out over the twinkling lights of the city below. The wind whipped at their hair and jackets, carrying the scent of smoke and gasoline from the streets far below.

In the distance, the clock tower tolled out the late hour with resonant peaks. Sektor shivered, the dream still vivid in his mind. Betrayal, blood, the knife plunged to the hilt in Solex’s back…

He shook himself again. It wasn’t real. They were partners, brothers-in-arms. Nothing could break that bond.

Sektor smirked and looked around the battlements.

“Quite the spot to choose for a nap there, buddy,” he joked.

Sektor was in the mood for joy. He simply looked at his partner with a stern and serious expression.

“I need to tell you something-”