“You can’t win against Vested, mongrel dog. You might as well go home to your mum and cry like the little bitch you are.”
Talyn Batur barely caught the nasty retort that scalded his tongue. Then wondered why he bothered, since both he and Duel Odelus were fighting to kill each other, anyway.
Yeah, okay. I’m an idiot.
Just not a rude one.
Duel punched and kicked like lightning.
Moving as if he lacked bones and a spine, Talyn dodged and ducked, then delivered a staggering blow to Duel’s ribs. Duel stumbled back. Talyn scissor-kicked, turned, and hammered his famous double punch into Duel’s face and a head butt to his forehead.
Stunned, Duel reached for him.
By the methodical, sluggish way his opponent reacted now, Talyn knew it was time to finish it.
“Kiss my mongrel ass, Vested,” Talyn growled, then swept Duel’s feet out from under him and pinned him to the bloody mat.
Within a few heartbeats, the victory alarm rang, and was quickly drowned out by the thunderous sounds of those cheering his win, as well as those damning him to hell for it.
The ref pulled Talyn up by his arm to present him to the crowd.
“Undisputed! Undefeated! Unbelievable! The new Zoftiq Vested Champion of 8560! The Iron Hammer! Talyn Batur!”
Drunk on adrenaline and victory, Talyn struck his chest and glared defiantly at the arena that was packed with screaming fans as he fought down the raw bloodlust that was pounding through his entire being. A bloodlust that still wasn’t nearly appeased. Over sixty thousand Andarions were here tonight to watch him bleed – and that didn’t even begin to count the tens of millions who were watching from home. Some betting that he’d win.
More hoping his opponent would gut him in the goriest way imaginable.
But as his breathing calmed and the pain of his match set in, one reality hit him even harder than the blows of his felled opponent.
Out of all these tens of thousands who surrounded him, not a single one was here for him, personally. While those who were rejoicing his victory would go home to celebrate tonight, he’d take his shower, change clothes, and return to his spartan military barracks. Alone.
Tomorrow, he’d get up and go to work, like any other day.
The unconscious Vested bastard at his feet was right. In all the universe, Talyn only had one person to tell about his win.
His own mother.
How pathetic and worthless was that reality?
I really need a life.
Since his mother was off on a summit meeting with the Andarion tadara and under strict comm silence, he’d have to wait until tomorrow night to do even that much. And he knew she wasn’t watching or listening to the event. She never did. It wasn’t that she didn’t care. She just didn’t want to know about his fights until she was sure he was still alive, and not lying dead on the Ring floor.
End of the day, Talyn Batur – the celebrated athlete of his entire generation – had no one, in this massive arena packed to capacity with Andarions and aliens, who gave a single shit about him, except his manager and his trainer.
It was something he’d lived with and accepted the whole of his life, but never had it burned more than it did right now as he looked out at the thronging mass of Andarions who were here with friends and females. Two things, because of their stringent bloodline laws, he’d never known, and would never have.
The ref finally released his arm as they dropped the barricaded cage walls and carried his opponent away on an air stretcher. They were both bleeding profusely from the wounds they’d given each other over the last three and a half hours. While Duel Odelus had done his best to kill him, Talyn had only fought to win.
That had always been his priority. Screw the carnage. He wanted victory.
Most of all, he just wanted to get laid.
Well, not right now, because he could barely move. But once his mobility was restored, it’d be nice to have a female kiss his boo-boos for once.
Wiping the blood and sweat from his brow with his forearm, he returned to his side of the Ring where his manager and trainer waited to congratulate him. Their words were meaningless. He hadn’t gone into fighting for the praise.
Only to advance his military rank as fast as possible, and to keep his ass out of trouble.
He fought because it was all he knew. All he was good at.
The sole thing that gave him any real pleasure. Because here, in this Ring, he could unleash the pent-up fury he was forced to bite back whenever he stood on the other side of those cage barriers.
Talyn took the towel from his trainer’s hand and dodged the reporters as he made his way through them to his dressing room. He’d let Erix deal with them. His trainer lived for this shit. Talyn would rather have his head split open than skillfully bypass the questions he didn’t want to answer, from Andarions he couldn’t stand. Andarions who didn’t think he was fit to breathe their air.
His manager, Erix, was in his glory as he went from post-fight interview to interview, bragging about his skills in training Talyn over the years.
More correctly, it was Talyn’s fists and willingness to stupidly open a vein, either his or someone else’s, whenever he was under attack.
Pulling the bloody mask from his face and fang-guard from his mouth, Talyn passed the security agents and headed to his locker room. Unlike Duel’s finery, his was a shithole. The bare-bones, barely furnished back room that was provided for mongrel dogs to shower and dress in. No frills. Utterly hideous.