The boy was already awake when Anausa walked in to the infirmary. He was confused, his reflexes slowed and his mind addled. Standard side-effects of the respawning process. It took him a minute to realize that Anausa was standing over him, silently observing him.
“You come to gloat?” he asked, his speech slurred, his words thick in his mouth.
“No. Not gloat. But Raiden, you’re done. You can’t fight again.”
“That was your second loss. You lose again, you don’t come back.”
Anger flashed in the boy’s eyes. He pushed himself up in his hospital bed, lips pulled back in a crude imitation of a snarl. He looked small. Defeated. Kept alive by machines, an IV in each arm, the massive computers along the walls of the room instructing the nanites in his blood and his tissues how to put him back together into an acceptable semblance of the person he used to be.
Anausa had seen countless young men and women like this, barely alive, more fight than sense in them. Broken and eager to return to the fray. “So I won’t lose,” the boy spat.
“Yeah,” Anausa said, irritation and an edge beginning to creep into his voice. “You will. You can’t compete with the–”
“So my next match will be a tune-up fight. I’ll win, the clock will get reset, and then I’ll be coming for you again.”
“Your next match will be someone else’s tune-up fight. They will kill you and move on, and that will be it.”
“I’ll get matched up with Diamond or Bomber or someone like that.”
Anausa shook his head. The boy was stubborn, but maybe he’d see reason. “No, you won’t. There’s money in a fight like that. It’s not exciting enough. Waste of resources. They’ll pit you against The Doctor or Stardust, someone that will make a show out of you.”
“Get the fuck out of here,” the boy shouted, still playing at being intimidating. “Get out of here before I fuck you up.”
Anausa said nothing. He looked down at Raiden, sniffed disinterestedly, and shook his head. “Fine. I tried. You’re not bad, Raiden, but that won’t cut it at top tier. It’ll just get you killed. I was trying to do you a favor.”
“Well, don’t do me any favors!” the boy shouted at Anausa as he turned to walk away. The curses and the insults continued as he walked down the hall, but he paid them no mind, just as he paid no mind to the doctors and the nurses and the droids that watched him nervously as he made his way out of the infirmary.