|"Well, shouldn't we rearrange this?"
This article or section needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality. Please follow the guidelines in the Manual of Style and complete this article to the highest level of quality before continuing on smaller articles. Remove this message when finished.
The book opens with details of Roger Black's early life. As the description explains, he was born into a very old, wealthy and gentry family, and raised in the lap of luxury at the family estate, a magnificent mansion in Edgewater which had been in his family’s possession for many centuries. From a very young age, Roger was taught that he was special: Firstly as a mutant, and secondly as Black, whose family name alone commanded respect due to the considerable influence in the government due to their substantial wealth, leadership of New York City going back three generations, and social standing in the community in general. As such, his father, who was known to possess many of the qualities that have distinguished so many of Roger’s ancestors, taught his son about the prudence of maintaining an appearance of respectability to preserve their status of prominence among their kind, as well as the importance of retaining the goodwill of the ruling class from which the family could benefit. Taught to take great pride in his heritage, Roger was encouraged to mainly associate himself with the mutant children of other wealthy families who shared their cast-iron belief in the inherent superiority of powers.
Roger begins attending Indian River Elementary School in 1983, where he does not get along with the other students. At one point, he sends Ian a threatening note for continually pinching his arms. Following this, he hears a girl mentioning a boy named Jaden talking to turtles. Roger chooses not to get involved.
Superhero School Edit
In 1985, at the age of seven, he discovered the exceptional reality about who he was. An email had arrived to his mother, addressed to him from a place called Superhero School. His mother told him of the message. Roger was not surprised — he had wanted to believe that he was special, different from everyone at his school. The following day, at midnight, Roger's mother woke him, beckoning him into the living room. There, he was surprised to find a woman named Ruby Wright waiting for him. Wright explained to Roger that he was a mutant, what she had revealed to his parents, and that he was to be sent to Superhero School.
Ruby took Roger to Ed's Motel, where the two spent the remainder of the night. After purchasing school supplies from the mutant street Merchant Alley, Roger boards the Great Bus. From there, he began attending Superhero School. He quickly became best friends with an adult named Mykew Hadeline, who has returned because of her parents, and the extremely tenacious Sean. In 1996 he became a member of the Fencing Club and is ranked number two on the Club's top-ten duelists list (behind Jamboga Pine). 
Over time, Roger gathers to himself a gang of thugs, a motley composition of ambitious, weak, and thuggish students (as Master Intelligence later describes them). Most of these individuals will become the first Knights of Plague. Roger claims they are his friends. He often manipulates them into committing petty crimes and other misdeeds, but none of these incidents are reliably traced back to the group. During his school career, he does a very good job academically and displays above-average intelligence and ability, and his skills in history even earn him the recognition of Sanders, who approaches him and issues an invitation for him into a group called the Sanders Club. Roger is initially confused as to what it is, so Sanders explains that his club consists of specially-selected students, who, like Roger himself, show true promise. Upon learning this, Roger agrees to join.
After Superhero School Edit
After graduating from Superhero School in 1995, Roger disappears for ten long years. He slips deeper into the Darkness, travels extensively, consorts with disreputable people, begins to become distorted in appearance and loses his handsomeness due to immersing so far in the Darkness, and begins to use the alias “the Gladiator” openly.
The Gladiator leads the forces of the NoHead Empire against the revolting Martians, searching for an officer that the Gladiator had sensed. After finding and murdering the officer, the Gladiator discovers her mutant son (young Abalan), choosing him as his apprentice. In the aftermath of Mars’ fall and subjugation, the Gladiator spirits Abalan to a hidden location on the Wasp.
Transylvania Quarters Edit
Ten years after his disappearance, the Gladiator befriends a wealthy, elderly woman named Harriet Swenson. Harriet shows the Gladiator her home, Swenson Quarters. The Gladiator’s eyes flash red with greed and avarice upon seeing this place and he desires to live there, because he saw the building to be rightfully his after Harriet’s ancestors stole the mansion from his own. In order to steal this building for himself, the Gladiator killed Harriet. After scouting his family’s old home, he realized there was only one room even he could not access by any means - the Hall of Domination. To cover his tracks, he implants another false memory into an innocent bystander — Eli, Harriet’s butler. Eli admits to accidentally putting poison into Harriet’s cocoa, which is believed, as Eli is elderly himself. Meanwhile, the Gladiator took up residence in Swenson Quarters, renaming it Transylvania Quarters. He also learned, much to his shock and horror, that all the early Knights of Plague had been arrested and detained together on the third floor.
The Gladiator, as he was now exclusively called, spent the next fourteen years before the Battle of Transylvania gathering followers in mutants who called themselves, collectively, the Knights of Plague. Some were supportive of his cause to dominate Muggles; while others were greedy for domination, wealth and fame; and yet others joined the Dark Lord out of fear. The Gladiator only valued them for their usefulness to him. They freely committed murder mercilessly and indiscriminately. The Gladiator was given major assistance by the ghost of Annabeth, who could still appear in a completely corporeal form, in doing this.
In the mix, the Gladiator greatly enhances his skills in mind control and possession, to the point that he becomes known to some as the greatest mind reader in the world.
Genocide in Ecaudor Edit
- The Gladiator: "Strike the interior reactor at the following coordinates, and strike it hard. Once that is out of action, I will consider the mission complete."
- Laleh: "Thank you, Gladiator."
- The Gladiator: "Your gratitude is wasted on me. Give me success, Captain. That is all."
- — The Gladiator conversing with Laleh Clipso[src]
Aside from teaching Abalan the ways of the dark side, the Gladiator performed several tasks for the Emperor, and became something of a chief enforcer — responsibilities that included the military enforcement of the New Order on rebellious countries in the NoHead Empire. As a commander, he demanded loyalty and competence from all of his subordinates, though he kept losing them to Hell Burnbottom, who had a habit of murdering the incompetent. Those who could pass the Gladiator's expectations were rewarded with elevation in rank. One such officer was Captain Laleh Clipso, a young woman who graduated at the top of her class as the youngest cadet from the Imperial Academy in South Carolina. Impressed by her record as a highly skilled N pilot, the Gladiator promoted Clipso as the leader of his Black Eight Squadron.
The Gladiator judges Captain Clipso to be a capable officer and pilot, but her concern for life convinces him that she lacks ruthlessness, a trait that the Gladiator expects in everyone who serves under him. During the Bombing of Ecuador, he senses Clipso’s hesitation when he ordered her to conduct a full-scale bombing run that would have resulted in the genocide of the country’s defeated inhabitants. Ignoring the Captain’s disapproval, the Gladiator redirected her to target the built-in reactor. Clipso complies, believing that single precision strike is preferable to blanket bombing. However, she had been unaware at the time that the damaged reactor would contaminate the world’s atmosphere with pollutants, which then resulted in the complete sterilization of all life in Ecuador, as the Gladiator intended when he altered his order.
In the months that follow after the destruction of Ecuador, the Gladiator removes Clipso as commander of the Black Eight Squadron and reassigns her as the eighth pilot of the Shadow Laser. The details of her new assignments were left unclear; the Gladiator only informed her of the ship’s advanced design in stealth technology, as well as its enigmatic owner. After providing her with the coordinates to the stealth vessel’s location in a secret hangar on the Wasp, the Gladiator sternly warned Clipso to keep her mission a secret and that the consequence of betraying his trust was execution.
The apprentice's final tests Edit
- "Your training is almost complete. It is time now to face your first true test."
- ―The Gladiator, to Abalan[src]
Laleh Clipso's reassignment coincides with Abalan's progression through his trials to the point where the Gladiator acknowledges him as a NoHead apprentice for the first time.
His power finally recognized, Abalan is dispatched by the Gladiator to eliminate several police who survived the First Police Purge. His first target is General Ronald Koda, who used a private militia. Abalan sets out with his pilot Laleh Clipso and robot WINDOW in order to track Koda down. This first level takes place on board a N-54-Fighter construction station in orbit around Australia. After defeating a large number of both militia and robots alike, Abalan finds the general, and defeats him in a fierce saber duel. However, as he is about to be executed, Koda predicts that the Gladiator won't always be Abalan's master, and that someday Koda will be instead. Abalan casts Koda out of the burning station and leaves, taking Koda's sword as proof of his defeat and apparent death.
The Gladiator, still not convinced of Abalan's ability, turns him loose in the polluted Columbia, where he hunts down an insane police officer who has constructed an army of junk monsters and titans. Destroying these with his newfound lightning abilities and killing a large number of scavengers in the process, Abalan ascends an enormous junk tower to find the officer Casey Tartus talking to junk statues of the police council, saying he will defend them against this 'NoHead trash'. After defeating Casey Tartus, Abalan insists that he is ready to confront Mr. Stupid NoHead, but the Gladiator rejects this idea. Instead the Dark Lord orders his apprentice to undertake one final test before he can fulfill his 'destiny,' sending Abalan to hunt and kill former Police Council Member Rachel Bradley.
This third test takes place on the world of Tsala, a gargantuan landscape dominated by enormous mushrooms, plants and the mouth of the oldest living gargoyle. After fighting his way past Tsalian natives trained by Master Rachel Bradley, Abalan makes his way past Beasts and the occasional shaman to the mouth of the gargoyle, making use of his newly discovered repulse abilities. There he encounters the officer in question and defeats both her, her Tsalian allies, and the gargoyle itself.
Returning with another sword to add to his collection and Rachel Bradley's ominous final words 'The NoHeads... always betray one another, but you'll learn that soon enough' ringing in his ears, Abalan returns to the Wasp. The Gladiator tells him they will now face Mr. Stupid NoHead, who has just arrived. This turns out to be a trap, as it is quickly revealed that NoHead knows all about the Gladiator's 'secret apprentice.' The Emperor orders the Gladiator to kill the young NoHead to prove his right to live, the Gladiator apparently does so; after impaling Abalan on his sword, the Gladiator throws him around the room and then blasts him through a window into space. Apparently dead, Abalan's body is recovered by a medical robot shortly after the incident.
Abalan awakens on board an enormous medical station which WINDOW has set on a collision course for the moon. The Gladiator instructs him to escape the facility and to begin building an army of dissidents and rebels to distract the Emperor's attention, and allow the two of them another opportunity to attack him by surprise. The Gladiator claims that this was his original plan all along, and that it was necessary so that he could avoid arousing suspicion from Mr. Stupid NoHead's spies.
Crafting a new plot Edit
- The Gladiator: "Save for WINDOW, you must sever all ties to your past. No one must know that you still serve me."
- Abalan: "Yes, my Master."
- The Gladiator: "Now go. And remember that the dark side is always with you."
- — The Gladiator and Abalan, shortly before dispatching the apprentice to restore the police[src]
Grudgingly accepting this, Abalan fights with EVO troopers who can resist his lightning based abilities and large heavy troopers resembling large robots, then escapes with his pilot Laleh for whom he is developing feelings against the advice of WINDOW.
With the Gladiator's eye on him, Abalan goes to Manhattan where he encounters Master Ronald Koda, now blind after his near fatal battle. Together they escape, following an encounter with new, mutated, armored opponents. They resemble Imperial guards but with less cloak, more armor, and single sword blades mounted on Imperial guard-style staffs.
After rescuing Master Koda, Abalan travels to Mars based on his information about an important contact in the Senate. Koda tells him that 'something very valuable' to his contact is being kept the red planet, but does not say what it is. After battling troopers through a large, well-defended building, Abalan is surprised to discover that the 'something' is none other than Roxanne, the best friend of Koda's contact Sheriff Bladepoint. Roxanne insists that she will only leave if he destroys the 'Skyhook' transportation project being constructed under slave labor first. Abalan murders the Imperial military leader of the encampment, a hunter of Martians, destroys the Skyhook facility and wins the freedom of the Martian nations.
When Abalan found a valuable ally in Sheriff Bladepoint, Abalan was told that he needed a target to show that the Empire was vulnerable to those that silently opposed it. Seeking his master’s council, the Gladiator suggested that the Super Exterminator shipyard over Columbia, South America would be a perfect target, as the Empire’s rule through fear was embodied by the awesome might of the Super Exterminators. Although his apprentice remained loyal, the Gladiator could sense that Abalan was developing feelings for his supposed allies. He sternly reminded the apprentice of where his allegiance truly belonged, a statement which Abalan solemnly accepted.
Afterward, the Gladiator informed the apprentice of the extent of his successful mission, claiming that Mr. Stupid NoHead was greatly displeased at the events in Columbia. Abalan advised that he could not maintain communications with the Gladiator for the time being, mainly so that the police would not suspect his identity or his past under the Gladiator, which could potentially undo all that he had accomplished in reforming the police. Although the Gladiator initially intended to betray NoHead with his apprentice at his side, for unknown reasons he later changed his mind and made other plans. He swiftly captured the police officers when they met and signed the Japanese Treaty in Japan. After revealing to the seemingly short-lived police officers that Abalan’s was the NoHead’s secret apprentice, the Gladiator once again assaulted his pupil, only this time with true lethal intent. Unable to bear a second betrayal, Abalan bitterly lamented that he had been played a fool once again, to which the Gladiator informed him that he never intended to destroy the Emperor — at least, not with Abalan at his side. It was then that the apprentice realized the truth; money, aircraft, Imperial lives, and even Abalan himself had no value to the Gladiator outside of their use in fulfilling his plans. Having lured the police officers into one place so they could be revealed and arrested, Abalan had outlived his usefulness. Just as he was on the verge of killing his apprentice, WINDOW, under the holographic guise of the Gladiator’s master Mr. Stupid NoHead, distracted him in a short duel. Although the Gladiator easily defeated the holobot, Abalan was gone, having fallen off the cliff outside the police site. Imperial Palace, where they will be presentee to the Emperor.
- The Gladiator: "I've trained you well, but you still have much to learn."
- Abalan: "You have nothing left to teach me!"
- — The Gladiator confronts his former apprentice inside the Imperial Palace.[src]
After a level on the Imperial Palace, Abalan confronts the Gladiator, as the captive officers and Mr. Stupid NoHead look on. The Gladiator is defeated, but not yet dead, when Mr. Stupid NoHead attacks General Koda; Abalan must then choose whether to kill his master the Gladiator or try to prevent the Emperor from killing the police officers. He interrupts the Emperor's attack, defeating but not killing the latter. Instead, as the officers escape, Abalan feigns death and escapes, never to see the Gladiator again.
Seven years later, the Gladiator learns that Abalan had died fighting, so he rushes to the scene. Slowly approaching the body of Abalan, the Gladiator solemnly notes that the secret apprentice was truly dead this time. The Gladiator crushes Abalan's sword under his boot heel. Sighing, he Apparated back to Transylvania Quarters, but not before salvaging Abalan's corpse.
Cloning a new apprentice Edit
- "They are the memories of a dead man. A side effect of the cloning process and the memory flashes used to train you. They will fade."
- ―The Gladiator[src]
In the aftermath of Abalan’s death, the Gladiator brought the body of his former apprentice to Florida, where he stored it in a secret chamber in the Tallahassee Cloning Facility. With Abalan’s body serving as a genetic template, the Dark Lord endeavored to create the perfect version of his fallen disciple — a clone that possessed all of Abalan’s power, but none of his weaknesses. Due to initial imperfections in the accelerated cloning process and the inherent difficulty involved in cloning from a mutated template, the first batch of clones developed extreme mental and physical deformations. As time progressed, the project began to generate superficially stable clones. However, it was soon revealed that these subjects were haunted by various memories and personality fragments of their template. Although many of these clones made it far in their trials, none of them were able to develop stable personalities of their own. The clones would ultimately go on to become fixated on one or two elements of the original Abalan’s life, and eventually all of them descended into madness.
As the Gladiator’s secret project continued to develop through trial and error, one clone in particular showed a great deal of promise. The clone progressed far enough in his training that the Gladiator considered dispatching him to China to execute Ronald Koda. Although he was impressed with the clone’s progress, he knew that this subject was just as troubled by Abalan’s memories as all of the other clones had been. In order to see if the clone was truly strong enough to overcome his template’s emotions, the Gladiator provided the clone with a challenge to destroy NoHead Training Robots that had taken on the holographic appearance of police officers. Although the clone easily destroyed the officers, sparing no feelings for the organization that his progenitor helped to create, he was suddenly dumbfounded by the robot that had taken on the image of a woman he recognized as Annabeth. When the Gladiator commanded the clone to strike her down and demanded that he hate that which Abalan loved, the clone struggled to obey, but ultimately refused.
His fears confirmed, the Gladiator destroyed the training robot, causing the image of Annabeth to disappear. Disappointed with yet another failure, the Dark mutant revealed to the confused clone the fact that he had tried many times before to create a perfect version of his original apprentice, only to fail when it came to purging them of Abalan’s emotional imprints. Despite the successful growth and progress of a different clone of Abalan, the Gladiator lied to the clone, telling him that the accelerated cloning process was still imperfect. Before the Gladiator could rectify his mistake by killing his latest failed experiment, the clone unleashed a blast of lightning at his master after receiving a vision of the Gladiator’s first betrayal of the original Abalan. While the Gladiator was momentarily dazed by the attack, the clone blasted a hole through a wall and jumped outside in order to escape.
Blasting the Gladiator with lightning, X1 destroys a portion of the wall, allowing him to escape. However, he is faced with a huge drop, which is filled with perils such as lighting towers, platforms and N-54 fighters. Blasting all of them out of his way, X1 crashes through a glass roof to another part of the facility. He begins to carve his way through various troops: Riot troopers, two Carbon War robots and jumptroopers. After avoiding a dropship, X1 comes to a large tower, which he knocks down by throwing several N-54 fighters at it. The tower crushes one of three HEADs guarding his master's skyfighter. Destroying the remaining two, X1 manages to steal the fighter, just as the Gladiator blasts his way to the landing platform. The Gladiator watches as the fighter soars away into space.
Deal with bounty hunter Edit
- Xydarone: "He has a healthy head start."
- The Gladiator: "Find the women and bring them to me. He will follow."
- Xydarone: "I’ll need a squadron of robot soldiers. They won’t be coming back."
- The Gladiator: "The NoHeads will provide whatever you require."
- — Xydarone and the Gladiator[src]
The Gladiator follows X1's trajectory and watches as the runaway clone takes off to Italy, where he successfully rescues Ronald Koda from Baron Meridan Taran near the eastern archway of Rome. After the end of the skirmish, the Gladiator suddenly loses contact. He demands to know what is going on, and John Webb tells him Koda has taken X1 aboard the Shadow Laser.
As they depart for Louisiana and then South Carolina, the Gladiator contacts Xydarone, a bounty hunter whose skills he knows will make her a reliable asset to the Dark Lord. When Xydarone arrives in Florida, she surveys the damage to Tallahassee and concludes that it will take some time to find X1. Knowing that the bounty hunter will never be able to capture or defeat X1 directly, the Gladiator commands Xydarone to abduct Annabeth Black, a valuable member of the NoHeads, and Laleh Clipso. Since the clone has inherited his template’s emotional attachment to the two women, the Gladiator anticipated that the clone would never be able to resist returning to Florida to save them.
Despite her own talents, Xydarone knows she cannot assault the NoHead Base and capture Annabeth independently. that she was not capable of single-handedly assaulting the NoHead Base and abducting an extremely powerful (albeit somewhat undeveloped) Dark mutant all on his own. To that end, she requests enough F-7 robot soldiers from the Gladiator. The Gladiator’s only concern is bringing the clone back to Florida, regardless of how many resources he has to exhaust. As such, the Gladiator provides Xydarone with a far greater and more capable force than she had requested, including Terror Troopers, TDBs, Terror Biobots, and a Terror Walker.
The "perfect" clone of Abalan Edit
- The Gladiator: "Do you understand what this is? What it means."
- X2: "Yes, my Master."
- The Gladiator: "Good. Very good. You have come far. You may yet survive."
- — The Gladiator and X2[src]
Around this time, the Gladiator was training another clone that showed a great deal of potential. Unsurprisingly, this clone inherited the same disturbing memories and emotions of his genetic template just like his brothers before him. Upon being released from his cloning tank, the clone was confronted by Abalan’s memories of Annabeth and Laleh Clipso, thus causing the clone to ask about their whereabouts. The Gladiator simply stated that the two girls were irrelevant, and all that mattered was the training that lay ahead for the clone.
In the early phase of his training, the clone reveals to the Gladiator that he possesses memories, but cannot tell if they actually belong to him. Having dealt with enough of Abalan’s clones suffering from an identity crisis, the Gladiator simply explains that the clone was copied from the cells of Abalan’s corpse, thus allowing him to inherit the original Abalan’s strengths and weaknesses. Although the clone's successes continue, the Gladiator is not yet fully convinced that this was the one he sought to create, recalling all of the other clones that made it this far and then failed. Even though the clone is determined to not fail his Master, it didn’t stop him from becoming curious about the exact number of clones that came before him, or from wondering about what his progenitor was like as a person before he died. The Gladiator dismisses the clone’s questions as pointless curiosity. All that mattered to him was if any more clones would be created if this one failed. With Abalan dead and his power surpassed by the clone, the Gladiator feels that delving into the details of his original apprentice’s identity is irrelevant.
To the amazement of both the lead cloning technician and the Gladiator, the clone is gradually able to compartmentalize his template’s memories while forming new ones of his own. Thus, he succeeds in achieving what none of his brothers were capable of doing — holding Abalan’s memories as separate from his own experience. By doing so, the clone had come to know for certain that he was a copy and that the original Abalan was truly dead. The Gladiator greatly approved, and promised to prove what the clone already knew to be true. That proof was revealed by the Gladiator to be the body of the late Abalan, stored within a cold chamber in Tallahassee. By seeing Abalan’s corpse with his own eyes, the clone understood that he had succeeded where all of the clones failed before him, and that he was well on his way to fulfilling the purpose of his creation — much to the Gladiator’s delight.
Battle of Florida Edit
- Annabeth: "Look!"
- Laleh Clipso: "Is that…?"
- The Gladiator: "He is almost here."
- — The Gladiator's prisoners spot the Shadow Laser[src]
When Xydarone returned to Tallahassee with both Laleh Clipso and Annabeth as her prisoners, the Gladiator greeted all three of them in person. Although he was slightly tempted to summarily execute Annabeth for her loyalty to the NoHeads, the Knight maintained his focus on using Annabeth as bait to lure Abalan’s wayward clone back to Florida. Xydarone wanted to leave the city before the battle commenced, as she believed her job to be finished and had no desire to encounter the vengeful X1. However, The Gladiator commanded the bounty hunter to remain in the city until X1 was once again in Imperial custody, and withheld Xydarone’s payment to strong-arm her into doing so. Accompanied by a squad of robot soldiers, the Gladiator and his prisoners proceeded to a tower located at the top of the cloning facility.
When the battle began, X1 directed the Rescuer on a collision course with Tallahassee. While Clipso and the robots became increasingly nervous, the Gladiator maintained a calm stance and awaited the clone’s return. While the first half of the ship crashed into the cloning facility, X1 destroyed the second solid fragment so as to not inadvertently harm Clipso and Annabeth, the latter who had been trying to redirect its path. While the clone made his way to the top of the facility, killing all forces in his way, the Gladiator secured Clipso in the tower, tightened Annabeth’s bonds, and moved to confront his former apprentice.
Confrontation with X1 Edit
- "There is no compassion. Only power."
- ―X1 and the Gladiator[src]
Within the cloning facility, the Gladiator and X1 engage in a sword duel. While X1 pressed his attack and demanded to know where Clipso and Annabeth were, the Gladiator stood his ground against the clone. Having learned his lesson after nearly being killed by Abalan, the Gladiator refrains from the same sort of reckless offense that he utilized against Abalan and opts for more defensive and cautious moves, knowing that the cloned Abalan is to be taken seriously. In order to stall and demoralize X1, the Gladiator unleashed various imperfect clones of Abalan and commanded them to attack their renegade brother. X1 was shocked to see that there were other clones of Abalan besides himself, and realized that he was wrong in believing that the Gladiator had lied about creating other clones before him. These clones however, presented no real threat to X1, and he easily dispatched them.
After defeating the aberrant clones, X1 pursued the Gladiator all the way to the cloning tower where he found Annabeth and Laleh Clipso. Arriving in front of the Gladiator, X1 demands to know the location of Annabeth and Clipso. The Gladiator steps aside, and reveals them. Gripping Annabeth by the throat, using the Dark side, the Gladiator orders X1 to bow before him, else Annabeth dies. X1 obeys, dropping his swords. Annabeth is set down by the Gladiator and, unseen by X1 or the Gladiator, crawls towards her sword, which had previously been placed out of her reach. The Gladiator orders X1 to execute Koda, give himself to the Dark Side, and to execute the remaining police officers. If he did not do any of these, then Laleh and Annabeth would die. However, Annabeth draws her sword and slashes at the Gladiator, but he dodges the attack and she is thrown through a window by him, landing on an electrified platform, seemingly dying along with Laleh. X1, believing this has killed both of the prisoners, lets out a feral scream and charges the Gladiator, summoning back his swords. They engage in a brief lock before the Gladiator grips and throws X1 as well, although he makes a perfect landing. The Gladiator jumps down after him.
The two of them engage in another duel, with the Gladiator attempting to convince the clone that Laleh, Annabeth, and X1's connection to her were both meaningless. X1 is inconsolable however, screaming that he will kill the Gladiator. During the duel, X1 electrocutes the Gladiator several times by pushing him against the electrical pylons surrounding the area. The Gladiator at last disarms the clone and throws him from the platform where the duel was taking place. X1 manages to grab onto the edge of the platform, and the Gladiator attempts to dislodge him by throwing his sword at him repeatedly. X1 manages to catch the sword on it's fourth throw and tosses it back at the Gladiator, slashing his leg. The injury however, only momentarily distracts the Gladiator, who, after missing X1 with a backhand punch, telekinetically pushes him across the platform and attempts to crush him with one of the pylons. X1 barely manages to hold it off himself, and raises another pylon from the platform. The Gladiator glances over at the second pylon, and X1 uses the distraction to toss the first pylon off himself. Using the Dark side, he causes the remaining pylons to release a huge amount of electricity, which he then absorbs and uses to blast an incredible amount of lightning at the Gladiator, finally subduing him. X1 stands before the Gladiator, intent on killing him, accusing him of taking everything from him. The Gladiator calmly reiterates that the clone's feelings for Annabeth and Laleh were not real. X1 reiterates that the feelings were real - to him. Just at that precise moment, Koda and several other officers arrive, stopping him from immediately killing the Gladiator. Koda wants to arrest him, and put him on trial for crimes against the true Republic. He also mentions that the Gladiator is the only one who knows if the original Abalan survived.
A prisoner of the police Edit
X1 spares the Gladiator, and Koda requests that he be restrained. X1 runs to where WINDOW is attempting to revive the prisoners, to little success. X1 cradles Laleh's body in his arms, and says that he should have stayed in Florida, thus acting out his final vision. Annabeth, however, wakes, and kisses X1. After affirming that they are still alive, the two kiss again, and Laleh instantly wakes up, as if out of nowhere.
After being secured in a harness that covered most of his body and completely restricted his ability to move, the Gladiator was placed inside the Shadow Laser’s meditation chamber. There, X1 visited the captured Dark mutant shortly before the police fleet departed from Florida. Although he nearly lost his confidence at the sight of his former Master, X1 began mocking the Gladiator by gloating on how he chose to spare his life. Although he remained uncertain over his own origins, he dismissed it as irrelevant, stating that he had succeeded in breaking the Gladiator’s hold over him. Throughout X1’s short display of new-found confidence in himself, the Gladiator remained silent the entire time and did not indulge the clone with the answers he sought. Seeing the pointlessness in his actions, X1 turned to leave.
Inside, X1 enters the Gladiator's prison room. The Gladiator is restrained on a metal table, with several large, heavy bolt fixing him to it. X1 tells him that, despite the Gladiator telling him that he is a clone, he chose to spare the Gladiator — he has finally broken the Gladiator's hold over him. The Gladiator says nothing to that. Just as he leaves, the Gladiator tells him that as long as Annabeth and Laleh live, he will always control X1. X1 pauses, but brushes off the remark, and returns to Annabeth and Laleh in the cockpit. They share a sentimental moment as Annabeth says 'prepare for hyperspace', and the Shadow Laser disappears into the sky.
Annabeth, X1, and the officers are unaware that they are being followed by Xydarone's skyfighter (implying that the Gladiator anticipates the possibility that X1 would capture him instead of killing him and uses the opportunity to track the Orb of Power for which he seeks).
Somehow, the Gladiator escapes from captivity and resumes his quest to gather followers and create the Knights of Plague. As Supreme Leader of his organization, he continues to execute his mandate to destroy the police. During this time, the Gladiator openly used Transylvania Quarters as his home and concurrently seduces Becca Smith to the Darkness.
Along with the snake Nagatha, who is implied to have been acquired recently, the Gladiator goes to Beta Prison. There, he blows open the entire third floor, releasing several mutants, many of which know him and are already loyal. Now he has many minions to do his bidding, and they become his followers, the Knights of Plague.
Versus the S.M.S.B. Edit
In 2035, the Gladiator meets Master Intelligence, who is alone, for the first time. He identifies him as a great threat. The Gladiator is now after the aforementioned Orb of Power housed in the Hall of Domination, wanting to use its power for himself and perpetuate the Knights of Plague.
The Gladiator’s first attempt at securing the orb was to have George possess government official Fredrick Stewart and send him to take the orb. During the autumn of 2041, he captured a Muggle named Alicia who tried to have their base destroyed, and killed her during a meeting at Transylvania Quarters with the Knights of Plague before feeding her to Nagatha. During this time, he learns from Becca that the orb was in the Hall of Domination, the aforementioned room they cannot breach. He also takes Monroe's sword after learning of the effects of Pitial Defilatelum. However, Fredrick was unable to get into the Hall of Domination. His next attempt was to possess a police officer named Russell Stewart. He was ordered to retrieve the orb, but was seriously injured in the process and was put into a permanent ward at NYC Hospital.
Eventually, the Gladiator plans a full-scale attack on the MBH. His plan is to send Nagatha to find a breaking point, before he and his High Generals barged in, soon to be accompanied by the rest. Upon arrival, Nagatha proceeds inside, only to hurl out of a window several minutes later. The Gladiator realizes that she has not found an entry point, and orders a retreat.
Shortly afterwards, the Gladiator resorts to sending Augustus Salt to the Hall of Domination. He injured Percy, who is guarding the orb, but is unable to acquire it himself. Afterwards, the Gladiator tries a different tactic — he used a telepathic link through Lindsay Kellerman to cause her to go there instead.
After speaking with Becca Smith and George via hologram, the Gladiator flies to Transylvania Quarters, where he meets up with the others, confident of their apparent victory. Twelve Knights assemble with their Master. Once Telekinibabe acquires the Orb of Power and gives it to Master Intelligence, the Gladiator ambushes them. The book adapts the imminent battle so it is from the Gladiator's perspective. A battle ending with the Orb's destruction and him being captured by Master Intelligence and Lindsay Kellerman.
After the battle, the Gladiator is captured and taken to court. After the session ends, he is detained in the top cell of a prison he himself has built to hold his enemies. He is to remain there for life, with no chance of release. The book ends with a brief description of life in Negagard and the message: When you have incredible powers, you should use them to follow your own destiny, not someone else's. Someone who sees you as their slave and nothing more. After all, bad guys never win.
New characters Edit
- Laleh Clipso
- Ronald Koda
- Casey Tartus
- Meridan Taran
- Mara Bode
- Unidentified tramp