Kakroom

In Search of Our Better Selves

Notes:

-Augustus reorganized the Legion after he had finished consolidating his power in the senate. The Legion would've been one of the 28 Augustan Reconstituted - 29 now, of course.
-The Romans had a number of different special operator services. The Speculatores were forward scouts and liable to hardassed; they wore plainclothes and were liable to be spies. The Frumentarii were not the spy commandos Fallout makes them out to be; rather they were ordinary citizens commissioned by Hadrian to relay information based on their interactions with locals in the course of their duties. Occasionally they would be attached to the Legion, but only in the vein of gathering supplies. They were bureaucrats first. The Agentes in Rebus were couriers and had a wide variety of potential responsibility, from escorting exiles to billeting soldiers; like the Frumentarii their responsibilities as operatives only extended to what they gleaned in the field. They were not spy commandos. The only ones who fit that bill were the Speculatores.
-More on the Speculatores; not only were they spies and scouts, they also guarded the emperor and were recruited from the best Praetorian cavalry. 10 were attached to a Legion.
-Legions are awesome. They'd have a name that would usually be where they were stationed or what they did, emblems, and a unit Aquila.
-The Legatus of a Legion was usually a senator! The term originally just referred to people authorized by the Senate to act as Rome willed, but under Augustus it was strictly a military rank.
-The Principate was the rule of Octavian and beyond, followed up by the Dominate, a period of repression by Diocletian.
-Legions, 5500 men ruled by legate were organized into Cohorts, 500 men (barring specialists division first cohort 800) governed by senior centurion tribunus cohortis, maybe Senior in case he fell in combat, Cohorts were divided into six centuries (100) governed by centurion. (I'm assuming in the event T. Cohortis falls in combat.) Below that point i presume we need no further delineation; there may have been instances where romans grouped together in street fighting but by and large this would've been the smallest scale formation as a phalanx.

The Story of Legion XXIX: Trivia (The Trivians)

Emperor Augstus purportedly reformed 28 legions following the death of Julius Caesar and his (proper) ascencion to godhood. In this case he is for all intents and purpose a divine entity, and after replacing Caesar as the spiritual center of Rome he is imbued as its right and proper guardian. One of his TIBERIUS reforms is establishing a unit dedicated to the roles all Legions formerly took on - fighting Daevite cultists, reality benders, sorcerers, monsters. Trivia would be covert and unofficial - under-strength, under-equipped, but with the best of the empire to offer. The first unit to have a division dedicated entirely to natural philosophy, its ranks were filled with small-time esoterics in the main force and a host of Speculatores.

I've been working the timeline wrong this whole time, 0 A.D. wasn't the birth of Christ and Pilate would not have been around in an official capacity even during the time of Augustus. If we're doing things right we need to take several things into account

-artistic license, i'm going with the popularly cited figure that Jesus' death and resurrection took place in 33 A.D., whereby 5 years later, Pilate also died. During this time, Tiberius had grown reclusive in his personal Island of Capri, where he had torture facilities and other horrible shit. In one of his final reforms, in an attempt to militarize the Empire's anomalous assets, he conglomerates all the anomalous shit Legions had collected in their campaigns in Germania and Britain and Africa, focusing the task of dealing with the Daevites and such upon one new Legion, dedicated to the goddess Trivia. At this point Tiberius is falling out of favor with the gods, and they sense that soon there is a man coming that they will need Tiberius to support in his penance for killing something beautiful. It's Pilate, and as he arrives at the Island he realizes that his appointment by Tiberius is something of a cruel joke. Tiberius no longer has love for the gods; he believes that they have abandoned him, and he believes that Pilate's cruel tendencies and past negligence will lead to his malleability and willingness to cooperate with a campaign of death.

Pilate's not having it, though.

Tiberius took a bunch of different prejudices and idiotic shit and threw it together out of spite. It is the Gods will that Pilate bring this all together so that it can survive Caligula's reign and beyond.

(sound familiar)

(yes it's a Foundation precursor)

oh also they're led by pilate.

Pilate. He who killed god. The Clean Hands Boi. The literal saint of the Ethiopian Orthodox church. In this timeline, after he gave

cohort i: specialists, in this instance, are standard infantry, selected by their prestige and encounter with the gods. presumably 100 archers, 300 legionnaires, and 400 builders, smiths galleymen, cattle drivers and quartermasters. of course they're all trained as such, but they have tenacity, effectiveness and strength of arms as any paranormal force in the classical woeld. almost always at full strength; they are the hard core of the legion's operations.

cohort II: the telepaths. men who demonstrate a marked psychic proclivity, whether in regards to projection, mind reading, physical manipulation, or all colors of the rainbow. includes a unit of military augurs protecting a sibyl. the first up in siege warfare and superb in scale combat.

cohort III: the sorcerers. men capable of preternatural feats using strength of will. primarily healers and technicians.

cohort IV: reality benders. the fucked; those who cannot be touched. necessarily these reality benders are fairly weak, chosen for their loyalty to the empire and disciplinary record, but they are capable of warping existence on a small scale. necessarily this unit is something of an underdog and members are not mocked, but often excluded from the proceedings.

cohort V: the dead. spirit mediums and the souls of roman legionaries they've returned from the grave to fight against various daemons, beholden to the Republic for all time. the smallest cohort, understrength at about two centuries of mediums and associated spirits.

cohort VI: Changelings. Reviled at large. Wolves are the least; seen as associates of Lupa; almost always at full strength. One of the few places a changeling can go for an espirt de corps.

Cohort VII: Divines, Les Enfantes Terribles. Constituents of the legion.

Cohort VIII: Natural philosophers. This was a new thing, as in the past pretty much Rome had no dedicated organizations based on building and implementing new things. As a result they cooperate alot with Section III Sorcerors. They're all legionnaires primarily, but their role is almost always in the background.

Cohort IX: cohort made up of female anomalous things. going directly against Augustus' decree: BROS BEFORE HOS, etc.. No no no, fuck that. Our magic people are rare enough as it is. Basically, they're taking all the people in the Empire, willing to fight for the Legion, who also have a vagina, and putting them here. Hence Cohort IX is extremely weird amongst the other cohorts as a cultural anomaly. I won't be exploring them too much here except for in the beginning, when Pilate needs to navigate between each Tribunes' prejudices and get them to march in step.

Cohort X: cohort made of ex-slaves. this happened occasionally in the empire, though its inclusion here was still odd.

HOLY FUCK THANK YOU

There's also equites, who in this context are a rapid-response force acting in conjunection with the TRIVIAN SPECULATORES. Every Speculatore needs to be a member of cohort II through VII, though occasionally they find overlap.

on pilate being the legate: mostly a senator

THIS IS PILATE's first command

prior to this xxix answered directly to

The narrative:

PART I: IN THE HOUSE OF GOD

Artemis was rising on Rome as the Legate trekked his way through the House of the Emperor on

The Legate is offloaded at Capri, where suffering and horror can be heard from the hills above. He meets with Macro, who brings him to the house of the Emperor Tiberius and advises him on certain aspects of meeting with the Divine one. The Legate enters and Tiberius is drinking alone in the darkness. He bids the Prefect entry, and says that he can no longer stand such light. He eyes give off a faint glow in the shadow, and says that he is glad he has arrived ahead of schedule. Per your request, Princeps. Yes. What was it you wanted me here to discuss? Come, Prefect sit. The Prefect cautiously takes a seat. My boy, I am dying. You look ill. And so I am. The blotches and scars peppering Tiberius' faced wrinkled with a faint look of melancholy. My physicians say I will fade very soon. My reign is at end, for what it was. I wish you luck with the final journey, then. Thank you. But it is not my time yet. And that is of course, the primary thing today. What would that be, Lord? I have, it is told to me, one final task for you. One that - he grinned - I highly approve of. I am glad, Emperor. Flattered. Do not let me tell you. He extended his hand. My lord? If you are to go on a journey with a friend, what would you do? The Legate and him dissipate and he meets with the Olympians. There they castigate Tiberius and place the Prefect under trial. They demand guilt, reasoning, actions. He has little to give them, only that he knows he no longer has a place in heaven and that he has deprived the world. He moves to a graveyard with Trivia, who had 'campaigned most strongly' for the 'heresy of the fallen.' Trivia takes the form of a woman and they talk. She says he acquitted himself well, and he asks what she wants. She says that, with his volition, that he take on a final post. Soon Pilate will be dead, and all the suffering he caused will go with him to his grave, but he has a chance to make all that count for something. Trivia wants to do the opposite of what Tiberius wanted; he is gathering a vast army of beautiful things, to be sent against their own kind in the quiet places of the world. Trivia would have them be a bastion of peace and an exemplar for the rest of the world to follow, a shining beacon of unity. She says that it cannot proceed without him; the gods are all artist, and he is her vision. She will simply move onto a new project; he does not need to bear the burden of painting her masterpiece. He says that he will, and they are moved back to the sea of colors, Trivia beside him, where she proposes he be posed the Legate, the Damned Lover of All Things, Digger of Graves, and the Father of Salvation. Jove asks if he will proceed in the name of the Lost Places, to find and protect all things Effervescent, and he says I will. Legate, Jove says. Legate. The chorus joins in.

LEGATE.

LEGATE.

LEGATE.

LEGATE!

LEGATE!

They are returned to the world. Tiberius is dying on the floor; his eyes are pure black, and they return to bloodshot, sharp blue. He covers him, and crawls into a fetal position, and begins to sob.

Hard cut. Meets his wife in their villa, says he's been asked to go to war. They have a discussion. Why would he give you such a command. I don't know. Man's half dead, half insane. Maybe it's a cruel joke. Don't hate him. Pity him. She lays a hand on his shoulder. Did he give you the opportunity to decline. I spoke with them, my love. They gave it to me, I know not why. Who? Who else - I - I could hardly tell. You went to speak with - I think so. She breathed a sigh of fear and put her head in her hands. Then, after a moment, her back slowly straightened. Then there is no man better for such a post. If it is their will - there is little either of us can do about such things.

PART II: THE TRIVIAN LEGION

The Legate arrives at the staging area where they prepare to move across the sea into dead territory. He is met byThey are assembled in full regalia outside the walls, on the road to Citaviachee, and Pilate reviews them from the front. He walks down the line, inspecting the members of each cohort by their members. Eventually he comes to IX. On an impulse, he withdraws the head's mask, to reveal a feminine face. He looks back for a moment, and she stares stonily forward. What is your name? Delia, sir. Why are you in a Legionary's armor? It's not just me, Sir. She turned to her Vanguard, who each revealed their own faces to be similarly of the opposite sex. Pontius stared. It was sunset. He sat with the six Tribunes; a number of rich children in charge of the Legion, and the Laticlavius, wo had brought him into the camp. He sat eating meat with them as the sun faded on their party. IN their solace, they began to ask him various things.

'To be frank, pefect, I'm not sure if you're aware but - this is clearly madness.' ' Clearly, yes. MAdness of a certain variety, though, I can't for the life of me tell whose.' 'I can't imagine what would compel him to such - eccentricity. It was eccentricity, when he decreed for the death and torutre of our sons. This is something more than malicious. It may be so, and yet he is still the emperor, and we are bound to obey him. Have you seen the man? He's less than a year on him, six months at the most. How are we going to keep the unit from falling apart on the voyage itself. How large is the fleet. Twenty ships; they don't fight, but they float. And who are you. Sir. All of you. We don't understand. I don't know any of you. Do any of you know what we're doing here, the cam[aogn we've been propositioned. Do you even know why he possi bly could've selected me If we're honest sir, we were expecting you to answer those qusestions in some regard. These aren't our ways, Prefect. He chose you. If it the will of the gods, then - who are we to judge? But it is so hard to tell. Will you be accompanying us to the site? IN a separate envoy. We'll be recording your departure from Covotavecchia, and permitting certain messengers leave to sort out the matters towards the locals and the Emperor himself. But we will be there. And do any of you have designs for the mission itself? We don't know our mission. I hope you fellows will not take it to offense when I say, I am fairly glad of it. With such a, monster of

This is the Trivian Legion's maiden opportunity. It doesn't officially exist because of the and as such Tiberius has He makes something between a speech and a mission statement. It isn't received particularly well or poorly.

They're met by the Praetorian there, who came back a week ago and has been returned alone. He is half-mad and incapable of speech. Corpses littered his ship, and the fragments of his sword were covered was covered with fresh blood. The psychic from the Second Cohort enters his mind, where he speaks with the reformed part of his consciousness.

PART III: THE TRIALS OF THE SPECULATORE (OR DEPARTURES)

Lucius enters his mind and the emotions of the turning Legionnaire and he intermingle. They discuss through emotions and general intent. Lucius is able to constrain his consciousness and calm him I am a Roman! Do you hear me! Son of Rome! Listen to my voice! If you keep struggling, you will die in my grasp. I am Roman. I am Roman.

The tremors gradually subsided until the muddled, mad thoughts of the soldier could finally be divined. Don't bother with him, Lucius heard, turning to the odd amalgous form in the back of his psyche. He's not coming back. Slowly he approached the construct. Who are you? I'm the last. The last bits of this pitiful excuse for a Roman. It's quite impressive, don't you think? Do you remember how you got here? Yes, I remember. Who are you? I'm a man, currently standing over your - dying body. And in here. Yes. Why is that? You were deployed on a reconaissance operation. Africa. Yes.

Lucius asks the apparition about his journeys and where the rest of the Speculatores lie. He offers to show him, and Lucius and he dive into his subconscious

Where they enter a battle with the vampires. It is night and they stand on a windswept hill with Anubia in the background ; the -post where they collect three dead and tend two wounded, and he and three more are sent back to the port to flee. The fight on the ship kills the other two and he is driven insane after locking himself in the cabin for the duration of the voyage. Eventually he opens it and kills them all.

They exit the mind of the Speculatore, who warns them to execute him before the infection spreads to the rest of the Empire. The Psychic ends his life with a thought, and he is given a warrior's burial before they depart for Africa.

PART IV: IN THE LAND OF THE DAMNED

They've made camp all around the city, but nobody has come in or out since they've arrived. Figures in full Roman armor can be seen on the parapets, and they've been experiencing losses of soldiers at night, but nothing so far can be gleaned. The Legate relates this to Sulla, who arrives in the tent at night. They don't know one another, but they do know Augustus, and Sulla presents his case to the Legate. He takes the Legate to his camp, alone, where they've killed dozens of vampires and contained their brother, who has turned. Hence there are only about three of the original Speculatores left, including Sulla. They have tried to feed their brother, but the only meat he has accepted is that of our dead enemy. Even well-provided, he has become rancid and feral. We have killed such numbers that they no longer oppose us. Thr shadows taking your men come to our tent-flaps, and scurry away when we take note. They take no wine or meat, save for that of their own brothers and that of ours.

Sulla says that it is fortuitous they have arrived. The Trivian are best equipped among them all to crush the threat. Truly we might return to your chambers, and we might plan our attack in earnest. These horrors which you have shown me prey upon my mind, Centurion. Pray to allow me rest until the following morning; need I time to determine the fate of these creatures. In mine opinion, Legate, delay in regards to this sickness is folly, but Augustus has seen fit to equip you with his favor, and so too shall I.

The following morning Sulla has stood guard in his tent, and the Speculatores have moved into the camp. Sulla says that they have saved a guard from being dragged off, and captured the murderer. They go to see him, and the Legate sees the regard with which the men of the first Cohort hold Sulla. This man is not feral, though he does stay quiet in the corner at questioning. The Legate enters his cage unarmed and unarmored and asks him again. He comes from the shadows and tells him his name. He says that he did not mean to hurt anyone. We have not done as such since the changeling took war to our borders. But we can eat no longer, and subsist only on the dead. You were starving. I thought not to murder your man. The others we took are alive, though they are equipped with our condition now. Are the leaders of your people as eloquent as yourself? They grow less so with each passing day. Our leader, Marcilius Campus, is much loved by the people, but his abstinence from the mounds which feed us has left him very weak. What do you need to survive the trip back to your city. The blood of man.

Guard, hand me that pugio. That feed bowl too. And call for a man from the third cohort - Lucius. He does this and goes off. The Legate bleeds himself for the creature as the cohort looked on and the creature greedily, guiltily looks at the stream. He finishes filling the bowl and gives it to the creature, who savors every drop. Tell Campus I want an audience. On his honor as a Roman, and as soon as he feels is appropriate. The creature nods.

And they watch as he slowly is let back into the city with the rest of the blood and the Legate is healed, he and his psychic friend You know I'm not a doctor. You're blessed among the gods, that'd good enough for for me. We have a group of doctors. Entire brigade of intellectuals - what a brilliant idea that was, mixing the two things Jupiter deigned never to set together. What's that? Intelligence and war-making. He laughed. Speaking of which - bleeding yourself in front of a bloodsucking demon, sending himself back to his army of bloodsucking demons in the hopes you'll acquire a showing with the chief bloodsucking demon was not our directive here a plague of all things. I'm not convinced they're unconnected. Sulla and him discuss the merits of sending him back with knowledge of the camp, and how he requires more men to recoup his losses. The Legate says he'll have his pick from the cohorts. He goes to bed.

PART V: THE SUFFERED KING OF ANUBIA

Begin the last stages of the plague in the city, Anubia. The higher ups have quarantined themselves in the Governor's palace, where supplies are running low and the vampire plague is steadily taking hold of the rest of the city. The Legion stationed here has been run down and reduced to several hundred men and there's little in the way of messages outside the city, as they sealed all entry after the fact. Both of the governor's children are dead and burned, along with the rest in a courtyard. The governor is obviously ill, as are the rest of the higher-ups; it will only be a short time before the rest of them succumb. They prepare healthy messengers to be sent outside the city, where they will travel with the remainder of their food to a small reserve ship back to Rome. The rest of the healthy men and women also will attempt to make their way out through the desert, but the governor demands that all infected men and women stay within the confines of the city, under threat of force. There's a small discussion with the captain of the guard, his wife, who he kills, the messengers, and the rest of the nobles, who kill themselves as the vampires break in, and he stays. He screams as he feels his arteries harden, his muscles bulge and his teeth break themselves into horrible points.

PART VI: AUTOPHAGY

Once more, Sulla wakes the Legate, who proceed in a convoy to the city gates. They open, observed by decrepit looking watchmen and onlookers. The city is full of blood, although there are a handful of people left. Most feast on dead flesh, guarded by sickly soldiers, loyal to the governor. A man rushes at the convoy, but before he even is assaulted by the men of the Second Cohort, he is killed by the vampires themselves; their destroy his body and drop their masks to feast upon it. They get to the palace, where they meet the men who had been taken, in a small cage guarded by men. Their eyes are already turning green. He shakes his liege's hand. Grace, grace. I have failed you. Have you been treated well. They have fed us with what they could, grace. I fear our appetites grow weird with each passing night. We will find a way to end this, I promise you. If death be the sole path your grace, do not hesitate on our account. We have seen the manner in which these people survive. We will meet again. Grace, grace. They move inside the palace to see the noble and his captain; Marcilius Campus, who the Legate used to know. They hold up a hand in greeting, though the governor is bedridden. Hello my friend. I wish we could've met in happier times. You are sick. Your men are sick. We got your messages. I knew you would. Where is your family. At peace. Unlike us. After they broke through, he waved a hand to his ghastly visage, I ordered the city sealed - weeks ago; they told me what they did. I'm sorry, but I can't blame them. Even now, it claws at my windpipe. He looks at his food; very obviously human. What would you have me do? I cannot ask you to give us rest. We are Romans, still. The blood has not stopped running through us. As long as I live… which may not be long, I will not surrender my people. I will not condone abandoning this post. But Silas has made it clear. When Sir dies, we will move the people across the desert. There will be food for them there. We can subsist for now on the corpses of our brethren, but there is only enough for two, three weeks. He nods. Will you stop us? You're attacking Rome. We are Rome still. Would you contest that, from what you've seen? It's a question. Yes, the Legate answers. We have no more choice. We will move, or die. The governor breathes hoarsely. He holds his hand.

Later in his tent, he and Sulla have a heated argument. I will not condemn an entire population to further suffering than they have already endured! You heard him they sre suffering still! If vengeance will not turn your heart, let mercy do it! Mercy turned my heart once before! In Judaea! He snarls. The people's will. It was in Jerusalem where I learned where the people's will, lay. You so brazen to match their deathwish with yournown bloodlust, and call it justice. I have slaughtered such men! Sinned in the face of our caretakers! The only difference is that I am no longer so quick to judge by the wills of men, Centurion. Are you such an animal yourself, Sulla? You are no Roman. And you? He laughed cruelly. changeling. Were it not for the Golden God himself you would still be scrabbling for action in Germania. And you so quick to deride the victims of a plague. They killed my men! And if you are to acheive your way, they will have murdered mine! Now, they might satiate the hunger through our own veins; have I myself not proved that? For the entirety? They have been hunting us, Legate; were it not for I they might be taking one of your Legionnaires this night alone. And I'm very grateful for that Centurion, only now I am faced with the prospect of a battle against a host of our own men women and children. Then cure them, kill them - do something. Command. Sir, come - the eighth cohort sir. It's asked to see you. It's about the feral. The corpses.

At the tent where they have collected and analyze corpses. Legate. Good to see you, Antony. What do you have for me. We've been extensively analyzing the physiology of all your successes, Speculatore, and your own sacrifice to the prisoner. And what is it you've found. Well, nothing yet. But this- and they show him the prisoner, who's no longer gnashing at the bars, but sleeping peacefully. How… We followed your lead, Imperator. Each of the researchers rolls up their sleeves to reveal scars. The fifth cohort has been working overtime, Sulla said, impressed. Fantastic, the Legate breathed. He's totally recovered. One Iulus Imperius Ortus, the researcher smiled, and he's in heaven. His system can't handle too much at a time, but he's made a steady return. So his wild nature wasn't simply psychological. No, sir. A physiological reaction, one produced by certain chemicals we've extracted from his blood stream. And yet - at no point did he ever bear marks of physical degradation. He's not in perfect health, but he's alive. Sulla the villagers who attacked you, were they more or less the man you see in this cell. They were wild eyedd, Legate. I heard no orders from the lot of them, only growling. Animals.

We may yet be able to stem our fell Lord's current predicament - for the moment at least. He turned back to the doctors. Antony, the sickness. Could you prevent this man from spreading it, barring his habit? The sickness appears to have been separate from the condition Legate. I would advise caution, but several men of the men who dredged these specimens came into contact with the dead citizens, unprotected. Return to the Legate You, he addressed the soldier who had brought them there. What is your name? Tiberius Locutus, sir. Locutus, bring me Centurion Agale. The Seventh Cohort, he should be stewing around somewhere in the camp yards. Yes sir. Sulla, Sir? Gather the bravest men you can find. Prepare the same men who inoculated us on our way into the city. Bring the remainder of your Speculatores. Centurion Salla, I am yours Legate. Gather your most skilled surgeons, have them prepare a small sampling from among willing donors, and a number of receptacles into which we might place larger quantities of our, life essence. I'll send out the couriers immediately. Turius! he marched off and began barking orders.

He sat around a campfire at evening as the last shoots of gold echoed across the sky with the leader of the Seventh Cohort, the reality benders. Centurion Agale he looked on with anticipation and he focused over the blood and he fell over shaking. A full bowl of blood. Centurion, are you alright I'm fine, I'm fine. Did it work. See for yourself. He handed the bowl to Sulla, who looked mildly offended. Oh, come along Centurion. A moment later, a gnarled grey wolf laid its tongue to the blood and closed its eyes in analysis. He blinked and nodded his canine head. He turned to Agale, how many of your men are capable of such a feat. I am no more skilled than the lot of them, Legate. Quickly bring as many as you can muster, back, he pointed to where they had returned from to the eighth cohort. Fill every bowl, jar, skin we have. Once we run out, use your wineskins. Take as much as you can to the gates of the city, but keep them from the Threshold.

PART VII: LIFE, DEATH, AND RESURRECTION

Weeks later, Anubia is getting back on its feet. The constant supply of blood fed to them by the fourth legion has enabled them, as a society of super-active, intelligent, forever young Ubermenschen, to rebuild their apartments, and exercise their physical abilities without fear of repercussion. Marcilius Campus himself is just content - still in a deep melancholy, but glad his people are not dead. He and the Legate watch over the people of Anubia as they walk through the street. They stop to watch a group of children toss a ball around. One of them plows the other into the sand. The force of the impact bothers the Legate as they both arise, laughing. They've come about so quickly. All thanks to you, my friend. Thanks to me indeed. How goes the guard? We've reestablished a chain of command. I've pardoned most of them. The more egregious offenders will spend time incarcerated. We're understaffed but, the iron still holds them. For how much longer? Hard to say. They looked over at a group of three workers calmly toting a marble column over to the temple of Jupiter - apparently, the subject of heavy offense during the fighting. We are a new people, Legatus. Come. We'll discuss further in my chambers.

The returned through the bustling roads to the palace, once more seeing the empty cage of the two infected Legionnaires, and the sickly soldiers, now bright-eyed and clean. The guards of whom saluted them both - the Legate with an especial intensity. They entered Marcilius' Atrium, a marvelous white place, with a fire roaring in the center, decorated with various pieces of art and architecture. He called for a bright-eyed page, who brought them two goblets - the Legatus took his, and saw that it was full of wine. As the governor took a drink, his lips became stained with a familiar red tinge he noticed was now present on most of the civilians, far more prominent in the relative darkness of the Atrium. Marcilius set down the cup and laced his fingers together. Now, you had news of associated issues to be dealt with, now that our city is in the process of restoration by - your grace. I understand there will be certain complications now that - well… Yes, well, the crux of the matter is this: I came here with the orders of Tiberius to eliminate the threat posed by your people. Now, the Fourth Cohort are working day and night to ensure you have ample enough supplies to make it through the week, but even at the moment - we simply couldn't afford to leave an entire aspect the Legion here, in perpetuity. A solution simply must be found if the state is to survive. A cure. We have good men on this, but - we simply don't have a starting point. Nowhere to look for any kind of antidote to your condition.

The Legate then returns to the camp and is met with Sulla telling him to come quick. They go to a courtyard, where several members of the first Cohort have surrounded one of the soldiers captured, crying into the shoulder of his friend that was also captured, who has killed and drained another such Legionnaire. I'm sorry… I didn't mean to do it. Oh, Jupiter help me. As the Legate approached. Legate! Sulla went to defend him, but he held him back as the Legionnaire grabbed hold of his breastplate and sobbed a flurry of profanities and pleas. Slowly the Legate kneels and embraces him. Sulla stands over him with a look of incredulity, and the Legate whispered a prayer.

Line break. He and Sulla are talking. The traitor has been incarcerated. And the mob? Dispersed. I don't think they've met with such, obscene violence before. They can join our gathering, then. What of the Tribunes? I've spoken with them. They have faith, I think.

'Good.' he wiped the sweat from his brow and groaned.

They go to bed and wake up where a crowd has amassed outside his tent. The first cohort has called for the blood of the traitor. Cohort IV, supported by Cohort VIII, has formed a weak line between them and the vampire. They ask Pilate for the right. He asks for their argument. Himself demands death, lord. Alloe us to grant it to him, and fulfill that which is demanded. He has taken our blood, lord.

Pilate sees the pair where they are under guard and he explains a sudden urge came upon him, whereby he was filled with none but rage and thirst. Was it upon your volition. I do not know, Lord. So it's resolved blood rage is taking hold of the city. The more they are exposed to blood, the more fersl they will become. The blood is one end.

Pilate says he cannot give an answer. He goes into the city where blood rage is becoming more prominent. The king tells him about the ruins and they go with a detachment.

PART VIII: THE WALRUS AND BEYOND THE INFINITE

They go to the archaelogical site, passing through a dying city as it slowly devolves into blood-fighting. The Cohorts move in to secure the population as they continue into the darkness of the caverns beneath Anubia. Eventually they discover an altar hidden from the diggers, where they meet with a rogue god of the Carthaginians. Pilate is able to interface with him, as it sense he is no friend to the Romans. He asks why he is buried deep beneath the city, and he says that he was established by a group of zealots who brought him into the world seeking to promote the power of their decaying trade power. And you know of the bloodshed that tears at the people up above? The illness afflicting its residents? I am not bound to the will of the city, mortal; I am for the lordship of Carthage. It is my birthright, and I will claim it. By destroying Rome. Even now I live within your associates. They will return to the Capitol, where they will feast on the flesh of their wives - and their children. Then I will live in more, and all Rome will fall to the will of the Empire. Carthage is dead. Rome annihilated it; we salted your fields. How can you claim the right of a people that no longer exists? Carthage is alive in me! I worked to preserve our heritage! Carthage is mine! And the ones who brought you into Carthage? Conspicuously missing from arrangement. They were filled with hate, plotted to overtake the righteous. I stopped them. Did you even listen? What were their thoughts, their desires? What did they want from you? I am more interested in yours, Legate. Now that you will crawl starving back to your Roman whore, and watch my herd enjoy the fruits of your destruction, what thoughts traverse the barren wasteland that is your intellect? Are you delusional, derelict? Your people are gone. Carthage is dead, I have told you - you must know this! What is your disease if not the outcry of a dead race! It is nothing. Then why do you persist? Your conquest will mean nothing for the children we slaughtered. I mean to avenge - wait… The presence burned into his mind, and he felt the sensation of being overlooked.

'The disparagement, I could see' - a sudden realization leapt to the plains of its mind. 'Oh yes. You. It could only be you.'

'My celebrity is known even to dead avengers, then.'

'Living ones. Traditions - the savage. Is this such comedy? They send to me the figure of Imperial autocracy, to -' Its confusion resolved. 'No. Not the figure of - such things. You-'

'I have suffered such beauty, derelict. And for it, I have suffered. And that will never be enough.

'An olive branch. A sacrifice.'

'Perhaps. If you wish it. Or, perhaps, to hear me speak.'

It paused, obviously deep in thought. 'Say your piece, then. And stay my hand for the good of your whore.'

'To be honest - I'm not sure what it is. You call me Legate, and they foisted the title on me, but I have not felt the weight of it in my soul. I-" He gave what equated to an ethereal sigh, "I am Prefect, still. I believe it to be true." Then you have no piece to give. You condemn your people to eradication. Maybe so. But before you judge or cause to purge-worthy, I had one idea to share with you. I hear. The lover of the dead - she left me with one image in my mind. One solitary image. I know not its context, nor its weight. But it seems to me, to possess a fineness that I have only perceived yet once in my time on this Earth. And, taking his finger, he flourished in the cosmic aether. Three arrows, a circle within a circle, and hedging on the cusp of the outer layer.

At this the derelict leered, and stayed silent for many moments. He looked to the Legate, deep into the man's eyes - his own eyes, and said:

"Perhaps, for the sake of my own vengeance, the Empire must suffer for years longer. Was this your ploy?" I have no ploys to give, derelict. But something has seized you also, if I see clearly. He leaned in close.

I will ply one boon from you, before I end my assault

For such a boon? Anything. My own life.

I am not cruel Legate. You may think me so, and I am hungry for you blood. But only this I ask, from one to mortal man.

Anything, anything.

Succeed. Do not cowtow to the wills of your dying lads. Let this dsy prevail. Do not let another such people be stamped into the ground. You see it here. I have seen your days. Let your ethos flood the empire, and let every man tremble when they say - this man was just.

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