They had walked out of the room through the double doors which led them back to the entrance and then turned left and went beyond those doors. It led to one thing- the team conference room

Another grand affair. The doors opened into a large room, three stories high and basically furnished with stone supports, not as elegant and the team hall mind you, and hanging lights and the sunshine from outside lit up the rooms only feature- a large, polished oak table with five chairs gathered around the far end. Three were occupied, leaving the one at the head of the table and one on the near side, next to a woman in armour, free. Behind the head of the table was a huge, wall mounted flat screen, currently showing nothing more the team emblem.

Blake was walking to the head of the table, acknowledging the presence of the others as he passed them. Kovacs followed him up to the free chair and waited for Blake to be sat before he fell into the rather comfy, high backed, leather swivel chair.

"I want you to meet your team mates Kovacs"

He started with the guy sitting opposite Alex, with the aim of working his way clockwise, no doubt. The fighter was dark eyed, and serious- looking, with a short black flat-top and not a hint of stubble in sight. His broad shoulders and muscled chest showed through his white vest, white contrasted heavily to his dark chocolate skin.

"That's Doc. He's our medically trained comrade in arms. Loves his medium calibre firearms, has quite a reputation for kills with a Mini-gun. A great supporting soldier if you ever need it and outside of the Tournament he's our physician and chef"

Doc nodded to Kovacs

"This guy is Gorn, our armourer and weapon smith. He's been in the the Tournament as long as I have. A solid tactician and team player, he looks after our training weapons and armour whilst we aren't fighting and is a lover of all things explosive in the Arena floor"

Gorn would be irresistible to women, with his square jaw line, blue eyes, tanned skin and short brown hair, if it was not for his thin but numerous scars on his face. Again, well built, but smaller than Doc, his smile gave him away as the more relaxed, light-hearted member of the team. He wore a black t-shirt with a grey denim jacket over him, dog tags on display over his t-shirt

"Nice to meet you Kovacs"

"Likewise" came the reply

"Finally" continued Blake "This is Andrea"

Andrea had black hair, held back in a pony tail and was of average size, probably smaller than anyone else here, but her sportswear showed a toned and slightly muscular body, featuring noticeable, but not defined abdomen muscles which some men find attractive, not Kovacs though. Her skin was tanned- training in the sunshine does that to you after all, her eyes were hazel and her featured soft and undamaged by warfare of any sort

"She's a former bodyguard of mine from when I was the army. She's a funny one, so watch out, or you'll end up as the butt of one of her jokes. As you can tell, she also has looks that help her get her way sometimes, like what she's done to Gorn!"

"Oi! I'm not her puppet!" Gorn protested "She fell for me!"

Blake and Doc, just laughed

"In your dreams matey!" She replied with a smile, before turning to Kovacs, giving him a wink

"Welcome to the Phalanx, Kovacs"

Kovacs smiled back and nodded.

"These, Alex my boy, are all volunteers who have followed me here when the shit hit the NEG fan. Whether out of foolishness or loyalty, I'm not so sure but, you and I are the only two convicts here, you of course being the only real one!" Blake stated with a smile

"Are you going to hold it against me, old man?" That was a cheap shot which Alex didn't like too much.

Granted, Blake has brought me into his beloved Dark Phalanx and is giving me one last chance for freedom, but I am not here to be used as a scapegoat or goaded for what happened. It was my mistake and my life; it's none of his damn business! As much of an honour it is to be chosen by colonel Blake, I am getting out of here. I'm no gun toting, psychotic gladiator, I'm a soldier!

Blake chuckled "No Alex, not at all, you are part of our family of misfits now and I just want you to know that none of us will judge you for what you did, you are our team-mate and brother-in-arms now and that's all that matters. So calm down and we all hope you get settled in as best as you can, given the"

"Alright then." Alex calmed himself down as a beeping started and then stopped as the flat screen blinked into life showing a man in an expensive looking backdrop, wearing clothes equally as expensive. He was in his forties and was going bald by the signs of his thin combed-over greying hair.

"Just in time" Blake said spinning around in his chair to face the screen "Good Morning, Gerald and to what do we owe this pleasure?"

"The usual Blake, financial reports for the team, Tournament news and details about your next fixture. First off, things aren't getting any better with the bank I'm afraid. I've tried everything but the balance keeps going further into the red. At this rate I can't see us lasting the rest of the season" Kovacs noted the look of concern that almost seemed fake. He leaned in towards Andrea and began to whisper

"Who is this guy and what's he on about "us lasting the season"? He doesn't look like he's part of the team"

"He's Gerald Diego, our legal representation and liaison to Liandri and our manager." Andrea whispered back "He isn't one of us, he's never held a gun in his life, but he thinks by saying that we will appreciate him more"

"I take it you don't?"

"Don't talk about this to anyone not even Blake unless he talks about it first, but something isn't right. Since our fall from grace we lost our original rep and ended up with this desk jockey. Things have gone from bad to worse, but until one of us is freed, or in our case released from our contract, we're all stuck here and can't do some digging into what's going on"

"Can't we just fire him?"

"Liandri doesn't let Tournament fighters, who aren't champions to have any dealings with anything outside of the arena. Face it, if a fighter had a say, what's saying he couldn't change things and lose Liandri a considerable amount of money or free him or her self?"

"I see"

A voice broke in "What are you two whispering about?" Blake asked

"Nothing much, Kovacs just had a few questions about our esteemed manager"

"Oh, you're the new guy I had to pull a lot of strings to get? I'm Gerald Diego, your manager" The man nodded on the screen

Kovacs just replied with a nod of his own, but stared intently into the man's eyes, as if to be scouring his soul. This seemed to make the manager uncomfortable enough to cough and then break the deadlock by looking back towards Blake and continuing.

He is hiding something. What though? There's nothing I hate more than someone who lies and sends people to their deaths to satisfy their lies.

"Anyway," continued Diego "I have two bits of news for you. Firstly Blake, as per regulations you and our new recruit are scheduled for a fight in two days against Venom. It's two on two and is being dubbed "Battle of the sexes". Don't disappoint the male race now!"

"We'll do our best as always, Gerald"

"Good to hear. Also, as you have no doubt all heard, it's Liandri's Founding day celebrations in five days and they are holding a fighting spectacle. Each division in all of the leagues is holding an invitational round. Two randomly selected teams from each tear will go head to head in a Deathmatch game, with the winner taking a trophy and…. one Golden enforcer"

This all got the table buzzing, except for kovacs, who had no idea what was going on.

"A what?" he asked

"A golden enforcer" replied Gorn "A ticket to freedom"

"Oh, I see" kovacs felt a bit dumb at this moment

"When are the selections made?" Gorn said looking up to the screen

"They already have, that's why I'm telling you. You are all scheduled to face the Lucky sevens in the lower Tier invitational"

A cheer went around the table with Gorn tugging at Blake's sleeve

"Hear that Blake, one of us could be freed!"

"I know Gorn, I know but we have to win it first!"

A Golden Enforcer, eh? Maybe I can get out of this hellhole quicker than I thought. Sorry Blake, but in the end of the day sir, its dog eat dog.

This put a smile on his face and his thoughts aligned themselves. He was going to survive the next game and then free himself the game after, even if it meant the death of his team. As evil and despicable as it sounds, he didn't think of himself as a Phalanx, he was Alex Kovacs, one man, alone against the world and he liked the sound of that.