Dealing with the General
After they finished the burial detail, everyone gathered before the graves. “Let us remember these brave lads,” Hannibal mourned. “Even though they were trying to kill us, it wasn’t their fault. It was their leader who ultimately killed them. Forgive them, Lord. They didn’t know what they were doing and I don’t hold them responsible. And Peter, he was a brother and friend who died in warning us of impending peril. May the Lord embrace him and grant him entrance to the Paradise of God where he’ll wait for the coming of the Lord and the resurrection of us all. Yes, the shadow of death is all around us. Sadly, it’s been my constant companion for my whole life. But I shall fear no evil for the Lord my God is with me. He is with us in our quest. God speed Peter…God speed.” At that, he turned and walked away with tears flowing down his cheeks. Selina flanked him, latching onto his arm weeping softly as well. Arabella cried and Morrison comforted her, leading her away from the graves, following Hannibal and Selina. Nathanael patted Harry on the back and they followed, choked with emotion.
Sam, Thomas, Ned, and Jonathan looked at each other in amazement. They didn’t know any of the people they’d buried, yet they marveled at Hannibal’s words, being moved by them. The quartet turned and followed Hannibal’s team back to the hangar. As they walked, they noticed that the perimeter guns, which had not been damaged in the battle, had just started to hum, tracking the perimeter. “This Hannibal is something,” Ned said softly as he helped Thomas along. “Did you see how he cried for those men who were trying to kill him?”
“That I did,” Sam replied. “He talked as if they were his own kids.”
“Indeed,” Jonathan said. “They’re all a strange bunch. I could see how Arabella was upset, but to see Hannibal acting like that over a total stranger...totally weird.”
“Yes, they’re an odd bunch,” Thomas agreed. “It’s obvious they’re very religious and take killing very seriously. There’s more to this Hannibal than we’re seeing. Yet, I feel that he has some greater purpose here. What it is I’m not sure. We may want hang around until we find out what it is.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” Ned agreed. “Who knows; maybe he’ll need our help.”
They followed Hannibal into the hangar and everyone gathered around the dying campfire. They sat in silence for nearly ten minutes, and then Hannibal asked, “What did you do with the General?”
“We put him in Office 6,” Nathanael replied. “He was still unconscious when we put him in there.”
“Arabella…would you look at his wounds?” Hannibal asked. “I’ll help.
“What?” Sam exclaimed. “He’s a menace! You ought to let that fuck die. It would be doing the world a favor.”
“There will be no more bloodshed today,” Hannibal said sternly, “even his.”
“Sam’s right,” Jonathan agreed. “He’ll kill us at the earliest opportunity. If he gets away, he will dog us to the ends of the Earth in order to kill you and us, especially you. You just haven’t made a monkey of him, you’ve beaten him, and he doesn’t take losing well at all. The only way we’ll be safe from his wrath is if he’s dead.”
“I said no,” Hannibal insisted. “We’ll find some way of dealing with him without killing him.”
“That may be harder than you think,” Arabella declared. “I hate to admit it, but they’re right. The man is insane. Now that he’s been beaten, he’ll seek violent bloody revenge. I’ve seen whole families disappear when he gets angry. I sincerely hope there’s a way to deal with him without killing but for the life of me I don’t see how.”
“Even if we were to tie him up and leave him, he has loyal troops that are every bit as crazy as he is,” Thomas reported. “They’ll endeavor to find and retrieve him.”
As Thomas finished speaking, they heard a bellowing from the hall. Hannibal rose, heading for the hall. Everyone followed. He went into the room where Gulez sat in the corner on a chair, bound hand and foot. Nathanael and Selina stayed back in the shadows as everyone else pressed forward, surrounding the General. Gulez looked up and sneered viciously, “So, the assassin finally shows himself.” He then saw Morrison and Arabella and spit at them. “The flea and his friend here too,” Gulez snarled. “What a surprise.” His evil gaze fell upon the deserters, igniting his fury. “I’ll have your spines for trophies, you maggots!” he raged. “No one…and I mean NO ONE deserts me!”
Sam stepped forward and clubbed Gulez savagely with his fist, bloodying his nose. “You should be worried about yourself, you fuck-faced son of a bitch. You killed Zack and my family. I’ll have your head before this is done!” Sam hissed.
Sam hauled back to strike again but Hannibal restrained his hand as he struck. “That’s enough,” Hannibal said coldly. Sam looked at Hannibal with eyes full of hate, and angrily backed off.
“There will be a time for revenge, Sam,” Ned murmured. “Be patient.”
Gulez cursed Hannibal and spit at him. “So you’re the infamous Beowulf...assassin and traitor to your people,” Gulez hissed venomously. “You must have absolutely delighted in slaughtering my troops. Don’t deny it! How many people have you killed over the years: five, six hundred? Yes, I know who you are, Beowulf…butcher of four continents. Didn’t you absolutely thrill in your slaughter of those ignorant stupid peasants in the Congo? What about those villagers in the Amazon you infected with that super-charged version of Ebola; a village you subsequently burned to ashes to hide the weapon’s test you did there? Shall I keep going, butcher?”
Everyone listened in surprise as Gulez threw one barb after another, apparently knowing intimate elements of Hannibal’s past. Each dart tore through his heart. Rage began to rise in him and Hannibal lashed out with a brutality no one had ever seen before, smashing his clenched fist into the side of Gulez’s face that drew blood. The strike sent Gulez sprawling across the floor with a great bloody gash on the side of his face. Hannibal’s face contorted with deadly rage as he spoke. “You have no idea who the fuck you’re dealing with, General,” he hissed icily. “I know very well what I’ve done and how many souls I’ve sent to the afterlife, you stupid prick! I’m haunted every day by their ghosts. In the not too distant past, I would have ripped your heart out burned you to ashes for that insolence, so don’t play games with me, General. I hold your life in my hands. I have six people here who would get no greater pleasure than to see your head removed right here and now and put on a pike for what you’ve done to them.”
Gulez managed to right himself and looked up at Hannibal with all the hate of a demon. “Coward; you don’t have the guts to take me out or the will to,” he snarled hatefully. “When I get loose, I will have all of your heads on my wall! And I will make a special effort to send your head back to your people in a basket!”
Hannibal watched Gulez’s face as his own rage began to boil over. He snatched his knife out of its sheath and menacingly moved toward Gulez. An evil gleam shined in Gulez’s eye as he saw Hannibal’s menacing gestures, welcoming them. “Then die like the mongrel dog you are!” Hannibal roared, thrusting the knife meaning to bury it in Gulez’s throat.
As the knife started moving, Nathanael darted from the shadows with equal speed and stayed Hannibal’s hand. “Don’t do it, Hannibal. He’s not worth it,” Nathanael said gently. Hannibal snapped his head around at Nathanael, looking him in the eye. The rage suddenly dissipated and he calmed down. Nathanael released Hannibal as he looked at Gulez, who stared at the giant cat in abject fear.
Hannibal suddenly saw the spirit behind Gulez and understood. He sheathed his knife and grabbed Gulez by the shirt with both hands, pulling him nose to nose while squatting down. “Nice to see you again, Zramicar…found a good host with this son of a bitch, haven’t you?” Hannibal said coldly. “You can tell that shit Dezarcus and the Black Prince you’ve failed. I’ll not go back nor be deterred.”
Everyone watched in wonder as Gulez suddenly began to cringe under his icy gaze. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, assassin,” he hissed fearfully.
“Well then…understand this, you gutless shit-faced gorilla pretending to be a man,” Hannibal said stonily, pushing Gulez down roughly with him still tied to the chair. “I’m not going to kill you like you wanted me to. In fact, I’m going to let you go. But be sure of one thing. Zeus isn’t going to tolerate failure and as of now, you’ve failed miserably. You can be sure they’ll find out about your failure too. I certainly wouldn’t want to be you when he sends Hades after your sorry ass. One piece of advice; I’d find the deepest, darkest hole and pray that Hades doesn’t pay you a visit because if he does, you’re a dead man and your soul forfeit. Hades will personally feed you to his pet Belrock, which has a taste for rotten corrupt souls like yours. Do you understand that, you stupid piece of shit?”
When Hannibal mention Zeus and Hades, Gulez’s face paled and fear exploded in his features. “One more thing,” Hannibal said icily. “If you persist on following us, you’ll die most horribly. I have six people here who already want you dead. That’s what will happen if you insist on following. I didn’t come here to get in a fight with you or interfere in your petty little plans to take over this country. But you have forced me to become involved. Leave us alone and you’ll do well. Cross me again and I may be tempted to give you into their hands, if I don’t decide to end your fucking wretched existence myself. Your best bet is to forget you ever saw me or my friends or you’re a dead man.”
Hannibal rose to his feet as Gulez cursed and mocked him, trying to conceal his fear but doing a bad job of it. “Coward! Traitor! I don’t know who you’re talking about but I will have all of your heads,” he hissed. Just then, Nathanael and Selina stepped forward out of the shadows again with Nathanael towered over him. Gulez gawked as he saw them and tremendous fear rose in him as Nathanael squatted down to look him in the face. He writhed and wiggled, trying to get away from Nathanael. Nathanael’s large hand shot out and grabbed Gulez by the collar of the shirt, pulling him nose to nose with giant alien cat. “Oh, I don’t think you want to do that. I’m very fond of his head where it is now. Do yourself a favor and forget all about us. Otherwise something very unpleasant might happen,” Nathanael said calmly and coolly, showing his canines fully as he smiled. “Who knows…I might decide that you’re a tasty morsel.” He licked his lips with a slurp and roughly tossed Gulez down before standing up.
“Think about it, General. We don’t want any more bloodshed,” Hannibal stated. “Just think about it. Come on; everyone out!” Everyone filed out as Gulez swore, cursed, and taunted. He screamed, hollered, and bellowed as Hannibal closed the door. They went back to the smoldering campfire and sat down.
Hannibal sighed and trembled as Selina handed him a cup of water, which he greedily drank. “Are you all right?” Selina asked, sitting down next to him. “I’ve never seen you get angry like that or use that kind of language before.”
“I’ll be okay,” Hannibal replied, “just give me a minute. I almost lost control there. God, I hate it when that happens.” Selina patted Hannibal on the shoulder for emotional support as everyone looked at Hannibal with newfound respect.
“Who are you, really?” Morrison asked with admiration. “No one has ever been able to strike fear in General Gulez like that before.”
“I shouldn’t have let him rile me like that,” Hannibal admitted, shaking his head, “and I shouldn’t have lashed out like that. I nearly stooped to his level. Thank you, Nathanael, for stopping me from doing something I would have regretted.”
“You’re welcome. I had to do something. I’ve never seen you lose control like that before. I had no idea how brutal you could be,” Nathanael replied.
“I’ll have to agree with him,” Harry said. “It was like you became a completely different person there for a moment. It was a Jekyll and Hyde flip that wasn’t good at all.”
Hannibal sat there, trembling uncontrollably. “Lord, forgive me,” he murmured. “I haven’t lost control like that in a long, long time.”
Selina scooted her chair close to Hannibal and put her arm around him, saying softly, “It’s all right. Let it go. You did right in there.”
“Man! That was intense!” Sam said with great respect. “No one has ever cowered Gulez like that, ever.”
“There’s more to this than we’re seeing,” Thomas observed. “Why did he call you Beowulf and say all those things? Who are you really?”
“Give him some space,” Arabella said. “Can’t you see he’s shaken by it?”
“No. It’s all right,” Hannibal said as he regained some composure. “You have a right to know. Beowulf was my code name a long time ago when I was the top assassin in the world.” He then began to explain his past, back when he was an assassin. He told them of his rise through the occult world and his subsequent power through demoniac possession. He told them some of the sordid details of several of his missions as the world’s leading assassin, and then explained his deliverance from it. They listened intensely at his tale. Everyone except Selina and Harry were shocked at the gory details he provided. “It was a very black period of my life that continually haunts me,” he admitted. “I have to be extra careful because of it. They constantly search for ways to take me back. That temper you saw is just one of the things I continue to wrestle with from that time. I despise it.”
“I heard you call Gulez Zramicar,” Jonathan said as he endeavored to digest what Hannibal had told them. “Why did you do that? It was like you recognized him.”
“That’s a very good question,” Hannibal replied as he gripped Selina’s hand. “You must remember that I dealt with demoniac entities for a long time as a wizard. One time, I got into a witchcraft duel with an assassin the masters of the universe sent to take me out. I killed him instantly and acquire his demon. Zramicar was the demon’s name. He’s a powerful principality that helped to increase my psychic powers dramatically. He was also one of the last demons to be purged in my deliverance in Cambodia. Therefore, I was on intimate terms with him. Just a few minutes ago, I flew into such a rage that I was going to kill like I did in the old days. When Nathanael restrained me, something happened. I don’t know exactly what it was but the rage evaporated when I looked into his eyes. Then when I looked back at Gulez, I was actually able to see the demon in him and I immediately understood what was going on. If I had killed Gulez while in that rage, that act would have allowed Zramicar entrance to my body and soul and they would have been able to take me back. You must remember...this is a spiritual fight that’s spilling over into the physical plane. I seem to be a focus of it because of my past.”
“Who are Zeus and Hades?” Harry asked. “I’ve never heard you speak of them before.”
Hannibal sighed. “Zeus is the top dark wizard on the face of the Earth and one of the masters of the universe that I know of,” he declared. “He’s the one who has run the show for the last fifty years. He’s also why the world is about to erupt into World War III shortly. They have been planning it for a long time. Your little civil war here is but a bit part in their grand design. Hades, on the other hand, is the man that replaced me as the top assassin. He’s a very, very dangerous man. He coveted my position for many years and finally got it when I disappeared after my deliverance. He’s a sixth level wizard with tremendous occult power and capability. In essence, he’s Zeus’ enforcer. Let’s hope we don’t have to deal with either of them.”
“My God!” Arabella breathed. “You mean there really are angels and devils?”
“I’m afraid so,” Hannibal replied. “Such is the world. What we see around us and what we encounter and do in this world is but a reflection of the spiritual plane. The world of angels and demons is as real and dangerous as this one; more so in some cases.”
“So then,” Ned asked. “Why are you here?”
“It’s a long story. You sure you want to know?” Hannibal asked.
“I believe we do,” Thomas said and everyone agreed.
“Very well,” Hannibal resigned. He then picked up his story after his deliverance in Cambodia, telling everyone about his research for Amacia and how his research brought him to Argentina. Hannibal purposely condensed the story and left out the parts about the Temple of Tiamat. Morrison and Arabella noticed this, but said nothing. He brought out the map and a few significant artifacts he had with him, including the strange octagonal Relic his people had found in the Temple. Hannibal let them handle everything to get a close look except for the map because of its fragile nature. The artifacts and Hannibal’s explanation of them and Amacia fascinated Thomas, Jonathan, Sam, and Ned. As the new arrivals to his group sat around, listening with fascination, Selina, Harry and Nathanael rekindled the fire and broke out the supplies to start dinner.
Meanwhile, Gulez managed to get himself to the door of the room and sat listening intensely to Hannibal’s story; scheming how to get revenge on them all. Gulez’s wounds ached and festered as he listened, heart filled with hate and vengeance.