Chapter 31: An Old Enemy
An Old Enemy
In the Black Fortress deep in the caverns of Amacia, the Emperor sat on his throne as Kronos and Gulez approached him. Kronos stopped and bowed before the Emperor. Gulez stood and nodded, acknowledging the Emperor. The Emperor looked at Gulez with disdain and asked, “Why shouldn’t you bow to me? Everyone else does. Why should you be an exception?”
“I bow to no one,” Gulez replied brazenly, “though I do acknowledge you power and position.”
Emperor’s anger rose and he barked, “Bow to me, dog!”
Gulez stood there for a moment, until Kronos reached up and yanked him down on one knee. “Do you want to die?” Kronos hissed in warning. “Show him the respect or he will kill you where you stand.”
Gulez looked at Kronos hotly, and then looked at the Emperor, whose face was contorted with anger. Knowing he’d better behave, he said, “As you wish.”
The Emperor’s anger subsided at seeing Gulez on one knee. “That’s better. Rise and report, Kronos,” the Emperor ordered.
Kronos rose, as did Gulez. Leaving Gulez on the main floor, Kronos walked up the stairs and stood before the Emperor, saying, “Zin is clear of the rebels. The 7th Division is moving on Cushar as I speak. They’ll destroy them all. The 8th Division is moving into place at Khmer Shek and the 5th Division is now in Frygia, moving toward Draken Pass. The 1st and 2nd Divisions have linked up with the Zarukar and the Xenian divisions in central Kasa Bek. They will be moving toward Arionath in a matter of hours. The rebels in Arionath will not survive. The Cadre has already hit them with the machine, though we don’t know what kind of success we’ve had because our agents haven’t reported in since the attack.”
The Emperor listened intently as Kronos made the report. It seemed to please him. “Good. I want them wiped out, all of them,” the Emperor ordered coldly. “But bring me the outlanders and the leaders of these rebels. I want to deal with them personally, especially Beowulf. Find him and his cat partner and bring them to me alive without so much as a scratch on them.”
“Yes, my Lord Emperor,” Kronos answered, bowing as he backed away.
“Kronos…do not disappoint me,” the Emperor warned.
“Yes, my Lord Emperor,” Kronos replied as he walked down the stairs to the main floor. “Come on, general. We have much work to do,” he said to Gulez.
They walked out of the throne room as the Emperor sat on his throne, considering the news. He cracked a smile as the Black Prince whispered in his ear, “You’re doing well. All is going as I have planned. Soon the outlanders will be your prisoners and the remnant will be wiped out. Then the whole world will be yours for the taking, and then the galaxy.”
Just then, the doors to the throne room opened and a guard escorted Hades into the presence of the Emperor. The Emperor immediately noticed Hades and called out, “Ah, my faithful servant. Come forward.”
Hades marched right up the dais and stood before the Emperor, bowing formally. “You call your majesty?” Hades asked with a smile on his face.
“That I did, Lord Hades,” the Emperor answered, rising from his throne. “Where’s Lord Zeus? Did I not send for him as well?”
Hades looked the Emperor square in the eye and said, “Lord Zeus is in the middle of fomenting the world war to make the world ready for your coming, your majesty. He was engaged in matters that only he could handle and was unable to put off.”
This news irritated the Emperor slightly, but he didn’t let it show. “Very well,” he said. “I have a job for you, Lord Hades. Are you up to it?”
“And what job would that be, you highness?” Hades asked.
“I want you to take a crew of my best fighters and hunt down Beowulf and his friends,” the Emperor declared. “I want Beowulf and his feline partner brought here alive, as well as his friends. Can you do that?”
A wicked smile spread over Hades’ face and he crowed, “At last! Absolutely milord; is there any particular condition you want them in when I bring them?”
“His friends you can do what you want with them, just don’t kill them. Beowulf and his feline partner I want intact because I want to have some fun with them before they die,” the Emperor ordered firmly. “They’ll die by my hand. Do I make myself clear?”
“Transparently,” Hades hissed.
“Now go and don’t return without them,” the Emperor ordered. Hades bowed slightly and left the throne room. The Emperor watched him leave and grinned wickedly. Suddenly, the throne room, the fortress, and city of Amacia, as well as nearly half of the caverns shook violently for a few seconds, causing some minor damage to the city with the other half shuddering noticeable but not violently. The Emperor staggered and grabbed on to his throne to keep standing. He growled as the tremor ceased, saying, “My time is at hand. They’ll not stop me this time.” From the shadows of the throne room, a mysterious figure saw and heard the Emperor’s comments, slipping away like a ghost without notice.