What is Hypercaedes?

In the Cosmic Era Hypercaedes is a black band/pirate broadcast channel that has one basic program, gladiatorial combat. While hyperviolence and bloodsport are not unknown in the CE, what sets Hypercaedes apart is that it is real, the gladiators are real, their victims are real, the blood spilled is real, and when the victor parades around with a severed head, it is real. This is in stark contrast with the bulk of CE entertainment feeds, which are generated from the construct of the CogNet and its various entities. There are entire domains dedicated to morally questionable murdertainment, splatterpunk, and horror worlds. But these are artificial, and everyone knows they are artificial. The general notion that a digital world could be so convincing that people forget what is real and what isn't is a pre-CogNet notion akin to people in the 19th century speculating that traveling above a certain relatively modest speed in a vehicle could peel exposed skin from the body, or cause certain organs to come out of the body. This being said, there are certain cases of psychocognititive disorders, but these are more attributable to overclocked hardware, bypassed safety systems, and a predisposition to mental illness.

People enjoy the horror and barbarism of Hypercaedes and it isn't entirely uncommon to find something like a primitive television rig set up in a Wastelander cantina playing recordings of Hypercaedes matches. Such things are used as a gambling venue and something for wastelanders to gather around and watch to see someone having a much worse time than they are having. There is also a bit of wastelander bravado, where the tough guys and veterans shrug and sniff as a normal person is hacked to pieces by a man in power armor with a chainsaw sword.

I could have taken him down.

In the cities, there are taverns and other businesses where these pirate feeds are broadcast, for much the same purpose. Some back alley dives make their entire income around offering pirate streaming content. Nothing quite like getting together with the boys down at the bar around the corner from the loading platforms for the space elevator and watching a couple of complete randos be literally murdered by superhumans and killing a few cans of cold beer.

In the gilded towers, it is a little different. There is a small but elite interest that watches the pirate feeds of Hypercaedes. These people have a fascination with human suffering because they are so removed from such concerns. Isolated from pain, suffering, want, or in many cases even desire, they are jaded and bored. They find a parasitic emotional rush from the catharsis of the absolute horror and brutality of Hypercaedes. These people make up a decent portion of the pirate's actual income through their donations and requests. As such, a good deal of the specialty matches can be described as a rich person sending Hypercaedes money and asking them to butcher a specific grouping of people. This means that there is a large amount of hate-motivated content.

The counter to this is that the various gladiators of Hypercaedes sort of know who is funding them, and several have made salutes to their 'sponsor' which generally ends with the gladiator promising that if they ever met in person, their sponsor would suffer far more pain, horror, and humiliation than all of the previous victims strung together. This often prompts even more donations to the gladiator.

Did you see the latest from the arena? PsychoMax graciously accepted my donation and honored my request. Yeah, the bloodbath, that was for me. I got shivers when he said what he would do with me, and to my corpse when he was done. I swear I masturbated for an hour after watching the match.

The Types of Matches

Exhibition Matches are contests between fellow gladiators and are usually fought to submission or knockout. The goal isn't to kill, but bloodletting and maiming are perfectly acceptable. Hypercaedes has impressive medical facilities, so many gladiators can lose an exhibition match and be back in fighting shape in a few weeks.

Listed - the up-and-coming new gladiators, or unranked fighters. These are typically warm-up fights for a larger attraction. These matches tend to be MMA style, with no weapons, and no armor.

Grade III - a non-lethal fight between two ranked gladiators. Still in the MMA style.

Grade II - a potentially lethal fight between two ranked gladiators, non-powered armor and non-powered melee weapons are allowed, though most end in hand-to-hand combat.

Grade I - a potentially lethal fight between two high-ranked gladiators,

Grade X - a commonly lethal fight between two high-ranked gladiators, including power armor and powered melee weapons.

Bait Matches are entertainment where normal human captives are thrown into the arena with a gladiator. These 'fights' are always to the death and are the meat and potatoes of Hypercaedes. The arena is a meat grinder where prisoners are given scraps of weapons, and wear armor they've pieced together in the cells to fight a single gladiator. The gladiators will equip their power armor, but make a show of using unusual weapons, unorthodox methods, or generally displaying the most cruelty in dispatching their victims. Like Exhibition, bait matches are ranked.

Listed - an unranked Gladiator kills 1-3 unarmed, unarmored victims.

Grade III - A low-ranked gladiator kills 3-7 unarmed, unarmored victims.

Grade II - A ranked gladiator kills 10+ unarmed, unarmored victims, or a smaller number of victims who are given basic armor and basic melee weapons.

Grade I - a ranked gladiator kills 20+ unarmed, unarmored victims, or a smaller number of better-equipped victims. At this tier, the chances of the gladiator being wounded increase. Victims who wound a gladiator might find their lives spared, and those who actually slay a gladiator might find themselves promoted to gladiator themselves.

Grade X - a to the death match between a gladiator and a worthy foe, these often being grudge matches, or hate matches, or the victim isn't much of a victim but might be someone abducted and brought to Hypercaedes for the match, such as a supersoldier from another country, cyborg, augmented human, etc.

The Arena

The center of Hypercaedes is the Arena. The term is used loosely because the facility doesn't have one arena, it has several. The Grand Colosseum is the main arena and is the size of a traditional sporting venue, minus seating, and concessions. The GC has a synthetic sand base that has turned permanently rust-colored from the blood that has been spilled. It is most commonly known as the Red Sands.

There is an 'urban arena' that has simulated ruins and wreckage. Matches set here often involve the gladiators hunting down the victims to kill them, while the victims attempt to hind, find concealed caches of weapons or supplies, and so forth. Known as Dys, it is a popular arena.

The Hull is an indoor arena that can be configured to look like the inside of an arco or a ship, and the victims play the same game as in Dys, but with the illusion of security behind walls and doors. The gladiator is tasked to hunt the victims down through the maze, while the attraction is the running terror of the victims, most of whom are equipped with a SQUIDband that records their input, along with a camera to catch what they are seeing and hearing.

There are also a number of 'rings' that are basically boxing cages. These are rarely seen and most are used for practice and training.

The Gladiators and the Gear

The gladiators of Hypercaedes are terrifying and lots of people are very upset about them. The problem is that they might be the best and most successful implementation of a supersoldier superhuman project by all means and measures. The average Hypercaedes gladiator is seven feet tall, and 300 lbs. They exhibit no disproportion to their conformation and are almost idealized Greek gods of muscle. In the arena, they demonstrate not just increased physical attributes, but hyperaggressive and sadistic behavior. In stark contrast to other attempts at creating super soldiers, the Hypercaedian gladiator has no preset race or gender. There are female gladiators at a two-to-three ratio. The average race is Caucasian (Amero and Euro stock being most common) but there are or have been gladiators from almost every major ethnic group on Earth. The only limiting factor is the presence of a specific race in space. The ethnic groups who have no major population off world also have little to no representation among the Gladiators. There is a reason for this, but that will be explained later.

Gladiators have demonstrated access to dozens of different patterns of power armor, as well as almost any commercially available regular combat armor. The suits are all highly stylized, indicating custom manufacture, and have noticeable traits such as more iconic helms, or excess ornamentation on the pauldrons, backplate, or cuirass. The most common source of power armor patterns is the catalog of IronCorps with the Melbourne, Amsterdam, and Moscow models being favored. Stripped-down versions of UAC Power Armor are also common, having their various hardpoints replaced with decorations, or fit with unusual gladiator-themed weapons.

The Hypercaedes gladiator favors melee weapons. Most of this is practical, as Hypercaedes is an extrasolar colony and it is likely most ranged weapons have the ability to damage the habitat. Beyond that, the victims of the arena are unwilling, and giving potent weapons to the conscripted victims is just a bad idea for maintaining the status quo. On a less practical level, the highest-rated gladiatorial matches are intense close-in fights where knives, blades, iron fists, and other swung weapons spatter blood and leave victims screaming. The gun is impersonal, the blade is intimate as a lover.


The powers behind Hypercaedes have avoided being found for decades. Most of this is just good security on their part when handling the data streams. The feeds out of Hypercaedes aren't continually broadcast from the actual city, this would make them very easy to find. The feed is pulsed out from the city to its orbital relay. From there, it is pulsed to more distant relays that are still in the vicinity of the moon where the base is located. These secondary relays ping outwards into the absolute forest of habs, satellites, relays, navigation markers, and other smart junk orbiting the sun. The gladiator feed might circle the solar system twice before coming to the inner planets.

The other factor that protects Hypercaedes is that the city is buried under the rubble ice surface of the Uranian moon Ariel. This places it in the deep system. Reaching it takes significant effort, and that's just getting into Uranian space. That doesn't count scouring the dozens of moons, the rings, and the Lagrange points where a dark hull habitat might lurk undetected for centuries. Ambient radiation from the city is easily masked by the EM noise from Uranus, and being buried in ice cement, their thermal signature is non-existent. All of the local relays are burrowed into irregularly shaped moonlets, and unless they are caught in operation, or a mining and surveying team lands on a 1500-meter-long rock and goes looking, they won't be found. 

Hypercaedes Base

Buried under the Arielan regolith, the city of Hypercaedes is composed of six spherical modules connected by thick corridors. Two of the sphere are partially exposed, and the other four are completely buried. The central sphere would be a wonder of the Cosmic Era if it was known, as it is one of the largest artificial habitats in the solar system. Built along the lines of a geofront, it is three kilometers wide. While there are larger ones on Earth, none of them are pressurized, and none of them are buried under a half-kilometer of ice. These terrestrial geofronts also require the presence of an arcology to maintain them. Hypercaedes is 98% self-sufficient. This central sphere houses the arena complex, the broadcast information center, the hydroponic gardens, and the 'ranch'.

The second largest sphere is just under a kilometer wide and is exposed through the surface. The top opens, and this is where the Hypercaedes ships come and go. The inside is partitioned and is a pocket spaceport.

The next largest sphere houses the facility's dimension reactor, water recycling, and thermal generators. There are also polyforges that are used to produce the power armor, gear, and weapons the gladiators use. These forges are also used in the ongoing expansion of the city. Using mining gear and THASER drills, the facility is constantly growing. As new tunnels are slagged out of the ice, imported metal and concrete are used to form new panels and insulation. Tunnels bore deeper, and new sections are planned out. The next step before a major expansion will require the addition of more extensive life support systems and more food production, though.

The next three modules are uniform in size and are the residential sections of the city. Each can house 500 in relative comfort, 200 in luxurious comfort, or 800 in cramped conditions.

Each section is connected by corridors, approximately a half kilometer long. This distance is used to distribute the weight of the facility across its ice-rubble substrate and stabilize it. A conventional geofront designed to sit on bedrock would, over time, start sinking into Ariel. The corridors are 'gothic large' and serve multiple other purposes. Each corridor is lined with warehouse spacing. This is insulated, but not heated, so these chambers tend to be cold, which is fine for storing food and other supplies. Raw materials, mined goods, and the like are also stored in these warehouses, which number in the dozens. The 'slave pens' are also branched off of various corridors, so the captives live in relative discomfort. When they aren't being groomed to fight to the death, the slaves tend to find themselves pressed into manning forges and other machinery, or working in the highly dangerous occupation of ice mining and ice construction.

I am Spartacus

Also known as the business of Deep System Slaving. The people in charge of Hypercaedes are not good, nor nice, people. They planned on using slavery from the start, both to support the operation of their gladiator facility and as victims for its blood sport. Without human trafficking, the city would be shut down in a matter of weeks, once it depleted its supply of fresh meat. The two main streams of fresh meat are literal human trafficking from Earth, and space piracy. Abductees from Earth are favored for their performance in the arena, and most are taken from near the arco-cities and in the wastelands. Hardened wastelanders are not preferred, but rather people who've been kicked out of the cities due to debt, or failing in the socioeconomic system. The life of a city exile can be very frightening because a good number end up property in the wastelands, and some of those end up scattered across the lawless depths of the solar system.

Space piracy is just that. Pirates capture ships and small habitats, loot them and put the residents in chains. There are several known pirate markets and the buyers for Hypercaedes know where they are, and the handful of ships that belong to Hypercaedes are usually engaged in piracy, data transmission, or moving cargo. Spacers are less favored for the arena and preferred for station support. Any competent spacer knows that anything in the hostile depths of space is a communal effort and that those who do what they are told get fed, get blankets, and get to survive. for some, trading a century-old family space barge for a relatively new moon-side habitat had been an improvement. These canny spacers have the option of being promoted from slave to staff.

Behind the Scenes

There is a singular reason the gladiator super soldiers of Hypercaedes are the best in the solar system. They are created in a lawless, ethical void. The ideal gladiator is picked when they are between six and eight years old. After selection, they are given loving treatment inside a bioforge. This barbaric combination of polyforge and med-pod splits the child open, performs a series of implants and upgrades, and then zips them back together. Over the next eight to ten years, they are subjected to brain pumping and spend prolonged periods in dream tank simulations. The implants grow, becoming part of the host body and enacting permanent changes. This causes the massive growth of muscle, reinforcement of bone, and rapid healing factors. They are the best because they are created from children.

First-stage implants include:

A secondary heart, for greater cardiovascular ability, which is important due to its larger size and increased physicality.

A synthetic gland that promotes bone growth and density, along with radically increased muscle mass, and maintaining it. This gland might be the most important because it allows the super soldier physique to be maintained even in low or microgravity conditions. Many residents of Hypercaedes have this implant because it keeps them from suffering from 'space rickets' or the rapid deterioration of bone density due to low gravity. In adults, this only maintains bone and muscle mass, but if introduced before puberty, it's rock and roll city.

A synthetic gland that produces HGH and other muscle-related hormones, to keep those gladiators beefy.

A series of lymphatic implants that assist with producing hemoglobin, platelets, and white blood cells. These make it much easier for a gladiator to recover from injuries, and resist disease and infection.

Candidates who survive the first surgery and two years of growth and training rigors are accepted into the second stage of implants. Now easily adult-size, they face a new round of implants from the bioforge.

A pre-stomach that allows the gladiator to eat things that would make most humans sick, or kill them. The main purpose is to allow for an easier food supply, as the gladiator's body requires more calories than a regular human, 4000-5000 calories to maintain, 6000+ for training, and sometimes as much as 10,000 during recovery. The pre-stomach helps with having a very high fat-content diet, along with high protein consumption. A normal human could not subsist long on a gladiator diet, and would likely be afflicted with gout, cholesterol poisoning, and related dietary imbalances.

Enhanced kidneys are implanted in line with the gladiators existing kidneys. These allow for greater blood filtration and toxin extraction. This is important for maintaining their health, considering their diet. It also makes them difficult to poison and greatly reduces the effect of alcohol.

Lung expansion surgery functionally grafts a second set of lungs into the torso. These allow for greater oxygenation as needed, but are normally relaxed. Only during heightened biological states will the secondary lungs 'come online' much as the secondary heart is only mildly active during rest, but functions as a sort of supercharger during combat.

Inner ear implants replace the organic components and allow for a gladiator to maintain their balance and orientation even when there is micro or zero gravity.

Of the children who undergo the first stage of modification, a third perish before the second stage. Half of those who survive the second round perish before reaching physical maturity. Most of this is an accident and mishap in training, but after trainee error, the most common cause of death is cascading organ failure. The aspirant gladiators have to contend with an altered metabolism and hormonal surges that are like hurricanes in force. Young gladiators are aggressive, hungry, and horny on a frightening level.

The final stage of modification has only two implants, and these are easily the most horrific of the batch, the cyberstamen, and the para-thyroid. The cyberstamen is a cybernetic device that is grafted to the base of the skull, around the spinal cord. It functions somewhere between an agonizer and a gesund auf. This allows a gladiator to link with a suit of power armor with a level of synchronicity that makes other power armor interface systems look as primitive as the control mechanisms of a Model T automobile. With this implant, gladiators no longer have to make piloting skill checks to use their armor. It functions like a metal extension of their body. The agonizer component is a mixture of controlling the gladiator, a pain-based kill switch, but also a behavior control device. Just as it can cause pain (unwise as this can trigger all their combat implants and training) but can also induce euphoria, or drastically reduce their motor functions. In many ways, the gladiators are just as enslaved to Hypercaedes as the actual slaves are.

The para-thyroid is a symbiotic lifeform that the happy scientists behind Hypercaedes discovered in the Arielan ice. It is a mindless thing that looks for a warm, dark, salty place to burrow. It can survive outside a host in extremely hostile conditions, but when implanted in a host, it does two things. It shares some of its supernatural durability and acts as a hormonal tensioner. The creature is implanted at the base of the throat, where it quickly replaces the thyroid gland and grafts itself into the host's circulatory and nervous systems. Gladiators lacking the para-thyroid are barely contained berzerkers who can only be handled through powerful drugs and heavy use of their cyberstamen's features. After the implant, the gladiator stops frothing at the mouth and returns to a greater semblance of who they once were. As such, many successful gladiators develop followings for their artistic endeavors and supernaturally flow into becoming warrior poets.

When danger threatens, the para-thyroid and the cyberstamen activate, and the warrior-poet is galvanized into an unstoppable killing machine. If overstimulated, even with the para-thyroid, the gladiator can go into an atavistic state, which typically involves bare-handed hyperviolence, extreme sadism, and performative cannibalism. More than one gladiator vs slave match has gone from normal to a person being ripped open and their killer ripping out their organs while the victim is still screaming. These outcomes are rare, but like watching racing for the crashes, such matches become some of the most highly viewed.

Putting it all Together

Hypercaedes is an installation on the moon Ariel, orbiting Uranus. Super illegal super soldiers are being engineered and crafted from children to participate in slave-based gladiatorial combat with and without power armor. Arcanotech and alien biologics are being grafted into their bodies, and it is ending in blood and occasional accidental cannibalism. These matches are broadcast through the black bands of the CogNet pay-per-view style, and everyone from gangers in the wasteland to near-immortal dynasts are watching and contributing to their operating budget.


What if the lunatics in the Cosmic Era started making World Eater Chaos Space Marines and used them for PPV murder wrestling?

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