Chapter 37: Hades' Strike Team
Hades’ Strike Team
Meanwhile in the Black Fortress, Hades assembled a crack team of eleven of the Emperor’s best warriors in Black Fortress’s main arena. They stood as the most cunning, vicious, and treacherous team Hades had ever assembled. Three massive soldiers six to seven feet tall skilled in all manner of war came from the Emperor’s personal guard. Five more warriors originated in the Emperor’s gladiator school. Two of them were the most ruthless men in all of the Emperor’s gladiator school. They came from the Emperor’s premium gladiator stock, having never lost a fight in the arena. Skilled in hand-to-hand combat with every weapon known or none, the two gladiators were lightning fast and absolutely merciless, killing without hesitation. Next, Hades chose three of the school’s most vicious Zarukar warriors. These particular Zarukar belonged to the most recent upgrades in the Emperor’s breeding program for the Zarukar. They looked exactly like the normal Zarukar except that they stood seven to eight feet in height with neural toxic saliva and claws. Their neural toxin gave them ability to either incapacitate their victims or kill them outright depending on the dose. In addition, they were much faster than the normal Zarukar, able to move with the speed of a cheetah when necessary, not to mention their advanced skills with all manner of weapons. These abilities tended to make them arrogant and confident that they could take anything put before them. The last three were the top three Xenian instructors in the gladiator school.
The Xenians were completely different from everyone else: a decisive change in the Emperor’s search for the ultimate soldier. The Xenians were a result of direct genetic manipulation by the Cadre. In many cases, human/animal hybrids were developed and then enhanced with cybernetics. The Xenians tended to look more like demons than anything else did, even more so than the Zarukar. Each of the Xenian instructors was a prototype weapons system in its own right. One of the Xenians stood seven feet and resembled the fusion of a man and a spider: the lower half a spider and the other half something that used to be a man. Its elongated head was hideous with a long snout, two-inch needle teeth and four-inch fangs. Eight compound eyes sat in its head, spread around its skull, giving it excellent peripheral vision. The Cadre enhanced its torso with machines, giving him four arms in addition to his six legs. Two arms had razor sharp pincers on the ends where the hands would be. These arms were organic in nature. The other two arms were completely mechanical and seemed to be fused with the organic structure of the beast. Each of the mechanical arms was a complete arsenal, ranging from edged weapons to the most advanced plasma blasters the Emperor had at his disposal. Truly, the beast was a terror from the abyss. The other two were no better.
The second Xenian displayed a reptilian/human mix in its form. This beast stood six and a half feet in height with a large, ugly head that was twice the size of a normal human head. The head itself was elongated a bit with a mouthful of razor sharp teeth that were a good two inches long. It had scales like a snake and four huge arms that were completely mechanical with an arsenal in each arm. Its chest was a mix of machine and organic. It stood upon two massive cybernetically enhanced legs with long clawed feet. The mechanically-enhanced legs gave the beast great speed and leaping ability. The reptilian Xenian emanated an aura of incredible hate and evil, as did the spider Xenian.
The third Xenian ranked as the most terrible and impressive of the three. This one was also the largest of the three, standing nearly eight and a half feet in height. It showed a mixture of a saber-toothed cat and human, enhanced in the arms, legs, and head with cybernetics. The beast had a very large head with a great shaggy mane of hair. The Cadre enhanced the left side of its head mechanically with a cyborg eye and ear. Two long canines about five inches long hung out of feline Xenian’s mouth from its upper jaw accompanying a mouthful of razor sharp teeth. A completely mechanical left arm with an arsenal of its own hung fused to the creature’s organic shoulder. Its organic right arm and chest displayed a mixture of organic and machinery as did the legs, which was mixed with the cybernetics to enhance its strength and speed. Of the three Xenians, this creature had a look of great intelligence, capability, and confidence. It almost had a noble air to him as he stood there with its fellow Xenians.
The handpicked team stood before Hades as he looked them over with satisfaction. He paced back and forth in front of them several times, and then addressed them. “I have chosen you because you are the best at what you do,” Hades declared coldly. “The Emperor has given us a glorious quest: to bring in the renegade Beowulf, his feline partner, and friends along with any of the rebel leadership we can capture. The Emperor was very clear. He wants Beowulf and his feline partner intact with no serious injury. The rest don’t have to be in as good a condition, but he wants them alive as well. That means no disintegrations or dismemberments. Any questions?”
The largest and most viscous Zarukar leered at Hades, who was quite a bit smaller than he was, and hissed arrogantly, “Who do you think you are to order us around, little human?” The feline Xenian raised an eyebrow at the challenge to Hades’ authority.
Hades’ anger flashed and he walked right up to the eight foot Zarukar and looked up into his face. “Is that a challenge?” Hades hissed venomously. Before the Zarukar could answer, Hades’ eyes glowed and he punched him square in the belly with both hands, sending the Zarukar sprawling thirty feet across the room with burn marks on his belly. The creature howled in agony as Hades rushed forward like a cat ready for the kill. Hades’ speed and viciousness surprised everyone, particularly the feline Xenian. As the Zarukar tried to rise, Hades smashed his now burning fist into the side of the Zarukar’s head, knocking him to the floor, leaving another burn mark on the side of the creature’s face. “I am the Lord Hades, master of the infernal fires and commander of the Dark Legions! The Emperor himself summoned me here for this purpose. I’ll not be challenged by anyone, especially an ugly crossbred son of a bitch like you! You’ll do exactly as I say or I will take your wretched soul myself! Which will it be?” Hades roared.
The Zarukar cringed and said, holding the burned side of his face with his hand, “As you will, Lord Hades. I’ll do as you say.”
“Is there anyone else who wishes to challenge my authority?” Hades hissed venomously, clenching his fist, which seemed to burn without consuming it. All of the rest of those present remained silent in submission after seeing the power and brutality of Hades. “Good,” he said with satisfaction. “Let’s go. We have a job to do.” At that, Hades led his team away.