Intercosmic - Chapter 19 - 7 Rounds

“Yeah, I’ll just place the minimum bet on the challenger,” I confirm on my wrist comp.

“Alright, 11,000 credits on the human,” The woman says as she accepts.

“I don’t have 11,000 credits to bet,”

“All bets are final.”

“The minimum bet on all of the other fights was 265 credits.”

“This is the main event fight sir, the stakes are higher,” she gives me some attitude.

I could keep arguing but people are starting to look and I’d hardly be the first person freaking out about a bet. If I lose, I just have to cut my vacation short and try to find a job. I might be on Enceladus for a little while longer, it’ll be more bearable if nobody remembers me as the guy who freaked out about a bet. There’s a slim chance I might win anyway.

I’ve been watching the fights all day and I’ve gotten pretty good at picking the winner. I didn’t think I’d enjoy watching two people beat each other until one of them is knocked out. I’ve never been a sports fan and I don’t even know if this is a sport. I only wandered in because the illusions show I wanted to see was already full. After the first three fights I was placing bets as if I was an expert. In reality, I’m picking based on who looks stronger or has the cooler name.

This fight I chose to go with Delian Conviction, the human fighter. Based on what I saw online he’s a competent fighter, but he’s more known for his flashiness. Admittedly, I probably chose him because he’s the human in this fight. There haven’t been any human vs alien fights, and the humans fights haven’t been cheered as much tonight either. It’s odd because with maybe a handful of exceptions, the crowd is almost entirely human. Maybe there’s just some kind of fetish for aliens, I can’t imagine a lot of them have seen aliens. I haven’t traveled much within the Sol System, but I’ve been to at least seven, maybe eight different star systems. These people may have gone their entire lives without meeting an alien. Beyond various space stations, there aren’t large populations of aliens in different spots. It’s the same for other systems, humans haven’t just taken over every planet. Other species joke about us spreading out like vermin, and we do. But despite there being a lot of vermin, we don’t take over the population.

On the other side of the cage will be Mana Nepe, an Ardo fighter. The Ardo are amphibious shark or whale like people, at least that’s my only reference. I’m not sure how to classify them, they look similar to some of our larger undersea creatures. They just happen to have two feet, and sometimes a tail or fin, always webbed fingers and toes, but sometimes with claws. They look different from each other, but you know one when you see one. Their own home world features thousands of cities all underwater at different levels. However, they don’t go to the deepest levels, that is where the legendary beasts and their deities supposedly live. It isn’t strange for them to tell stories of fighting creatures that managed to escape their deities to attack the cities.

Nepe makes his way to the cage to many cheers. An Ardo looks smaller without the baggy clothes or bulky armor they prefer. Despite that, they’re still massive mountains of muscle. He’s announced a weighing in at over 800 pounds and eight feet tall, a monster by any standards. Delian makes his way to the ring, hitting a front flip along the way. The crowd doesn’t seem to be into him but he doesn’t seem to be bothered by the whole ordeal. He has to know most people jeering are betting against him.

The first round goes about as expected, Conviction dodges strikes from Nepe that would probably kill him. He might be going for a win based on points if I’ve learned anything. The second round starts with Conviction rolling in and taunting, Nepe is getting mad, but he’s still too slow to hit him. The Ardo are extremely fast in the water, unmatched, but on land they’re slow. Conviction isn’t doing anything to get the crowd on his side but he doesn’t seem to mind. The third round starts and Conviction chooses to run around the cage, maybe he’s tiring Nepe out for a win that I can’t picture. What I’ve noticed is that Nepe can’t seem to turn around fast enough to reach Conviction when he gets behind him. Some Ardo have tails that can be used as deadly weapons, but not all of them. Nepe doesn’t have a tail so he has to actually turn around if he wants to hit Conviction.

It isn’t long before we’re entering the final round, the crowd has begun to boo. Score cards are still even. Neither has landed a single hit, not that Conviction was trying. Still, all his diving and dancing hasn’t gained him any points either. This is the first fight that’s made it to the final round. The only one more upset than the crowd is Nepe. He’s snapping his mouth open and close displaying the rows of teeth as well as his claws. Still, he looks tired. Maybe that was Conviction’s plan.

The bell sounds and Conviction rushes in as if he hasn’t six prior rounds of running. He quickly gets behind Nepe and makes a jump to grip at his dorsal fin. Nepe screams out in shock as the fin is bent back, his body follows, bending back against natural design. Despite the size difference Nepe is driven to his knees with ease due to the pain of Conviction controlling his fin and being unable to reach him. The smile on Conviction’s face is gone now, a blank look, focused, uncaring. Looking into his eyes you would believe Conviction was the one introduced as a monster; Nepe’s eyes show fear, Conviction’s show nothing. As Nepe is forced onto his belly conviction pulls him back further by the fin. The crowd should be in a frenzy, we all know the end is near, but nobody expected this. Instead a silence has taken hold as we all fail to understand what we’re witnessing. A man just grounded a creature four times his size with little effort.

Keeping one hand on the fin, Conviction stretches around Nepe’s body and sticks an entire hand into one of the gills on Nepe’s necks. I’ve never heard an Ardo scream in pain and now is no different but Nepe rolls his eyes into the back of his head, the pupils vanishing and only white space left behind as if part of his soul is being ripped free from his body. The ref calls the fight and Conviction rolls off of Nepe in an instant.

The crowd boos, chanting hate for Nepe still Conviction bows as if flowers had been thrown at his feet and he should. I don’t know many humans that have beaten an Ardo in a fist fight, especially not without armor or cybernetic enhancements. I don’t know where Conviction goes from here, but tonight, he’s a god in my eyes.

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