“I am retiring…” Tesnik grunted as he removed his helmet and threw it into his locker and disappeared into one of the showers.
“What?” The House Leader seemed to have been caught unaware. He chased after Tesnik, stopping outside the shower doors. “Tesnik, what is going on?”
“I told you!” a voice shouted above the sound of flowing water and splashing. “I am retiring!”
A couple of other Fighters, all Thanatians, had gathered in the Rethan locker room. They knew they weren’t supposed to be there, but they’d just watched Tesnik’s latest battle alongside the new favourite guy and none of the Fighters knew what to make of it.
The battle had been somewhat brief. It was common for the Raptor to import massive monsters from the Vriskeran plains and forests for House Fighters to battle against, generally during lulls in between available challengers. But after the fight, Tesnik, a seasoned Rethan warrior, had lumbered out of the arena, leaving the new kid alone among the crowds.
Tesnik’s head appeared over the top of the shower door. He was an Ethran-type, so that wasn’t too unexpected.
“What? Also, do you happen to have some spare wax? I have run out.”
A small bottle of sugar-wax, a solution normally used to clean a Rethan’s organic armour plating, floated past the House Fighter’s head and into Tesnik’s out-stretched hand.
“Use what you want, I have a spare!” Psiksi beamed. He sat on a bench, patiently waiting for Tesnik to finish.
Tesnik disappeared and the sound of running water got much louder. The House Leader, looking rather confused and disgruntled, glared at the intruding Thanatians, shouted at them to leave, then sat down on the bench next to Psiksi, who was now rummaging through his little rucksack for something or other.
“I don’t get it…” the House Leader muttered. “He is perfectly healthy…”
“Sorry?” Psiksi was still rummaging around. “I swore I had a spare bottle… Eh I’ll just have to scrub myself when I get back home…”
“Tesnik. He is perfectly healthy. Did you notice anything wrong with him during your battle?”
Psiksi shrugged. “I don’t know. I don’t really know him that well anyway. Plus I was, I dunno, kinda busy trying not to get crushed by a rampaging whatever the Light that thing was. What was it by the way?”
“The beast?” the House Leader explained, “Just a Thanatoforic Kaoshan, one of the many massive beasts that occasionally rampage through Thanatian villages in Vriskera. If they decide to do that, we capture them, bring them here for a brief ‘punishment’ then release them.”
“Seems somewhat cruel.”
“Well, they should know better than to trash villages!” the House Leader tutted. “We do not harm them, and the idiots learn to keep away from settlements… Ahah!”
The shower door opened. Tesnik stepped out, a small towel wrapped around his stomach, but he was otherwise naked. The Rethan version of naked where their organic armour and weird internal organ arrangement meant that they still looked armoured and dangerous, but naked nonetheless.
“Tesnik! Why do you want to retire?” the House Leader almost demanded.
Tesnik glanced at Psiksi, smiled, then turned back to the House Leader. “Because, Kindynis, I turn a hundred and one next week. And today’s battle was my nine thousand, nine hundred and ninety ninth. Surely now is the time for me to retire, yes? I have worked for you for thirty five years, after all.”
The House Leader growled. “You… whatever… But are you really going to leave now? You are fit and healthy!”
“But I am old!” Tesnik sighed. “Plus, you have a wonderful little Rethan ready to take my place right here! Oh, I left your sugar-wax in the bathroom, kiddo, should be enough for you to wash yourself. You are free to use the showers.”
Psiksi smiled and got up, grabbing a towel as he did so, but paused, his eyes widening with realization and wonder. “You really fought 9999 battles?”
“That is so cool… Like, really, I don’t know how to put this. Seems almost insulting to suggest it… But… you don’t want to do a ten thousandth fight? Just to, you know, round things off?”
“Psiksi has a point!” Kindynis exclaimed. “We can do one massive, final battle for you! Let you fight whoever you want! Send you off with lots of celebrations!”
“Well… When you put it like that…” Tesnik shrugged. “I do not see why not. A good sending off would be lovely… An honourable way to end my career…”