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Chapter 24


Rome and Drakonia

Commodus III, the Emperor of Rome seeks for revenge – Drakonia’s men of war gather – Seti-Kahn’s reveals plans for battle – The Emperor asks the opinion of Kronus – Kronus asks for two days of study – The Stazzi keep watch over Kronus – Two days later, Kronus reveals his strategy for defending Antarctica and plundering Rome – The Emperor favors Kronus’ plans – Jealous peers resolved to murder Kronus

 

1  On the island of Capri did the Emperor of Rome brood darkly against Drakonia; for he desired to take again unto himself the water stations of Antarctica; for in the days of Kronus were the waters of the polar regions most precious and highly prized; being locked in the ice, being itself both pure and uncorrupted by the pollutions of man.

2  For the earth grew sick beneath the weight of man, for he did constantly pour into the rivers and oceans of the earth a great many contaminants, filling in rapid degrees the whole earth with sickness and despair.

3  But in the frozen waste of the polar regions was there found the ice of ages past, containing in itself the purest of waters, fresh and clean; being most highly desired by the nations of men whereby they might drink of its pureness and live.

4  Now the Emperor of Rome was a vengeful man, whose name was Commodus III; being himself a man of spite and bitter disposition; and he desired a bitter retribution against Drakonia, whereby he might gloat in some victory against it.

5  For in years past had Drakonia captured through war, the continent of Antarctica, to steal it away from Rome; to keep in firm possession the wealth of all its many resources; drawing from the frozen land and the oceans round about a great many riches.

6  Thus, for eighty years did the Empire of Rome seek some bitter revenge for so great a loss, causing that Commodus III should send into the lands of South Africa, five full divisions of the Roman Army, having in each division some ten legions; and unto this did he also add six armored battalions, fiercely armed.

7  And over so great an army did Commodus III place in command, a general of great renown, even the man Sulla Cornellius; and he made haste the great invasion, drawing into every port a great many naval ships and barges.

8  For he was determined to land full force upon the frozen shores, to take captive the ice city of Neropolis, and all the regions round about; being hopeful to surprise Drakonia in fearsome battle, to catch it unawares.

9  But in the regions of space did the satellites of Drakonia keep silent watch over all the earth, spying here and watching there the doings of every nation; sending out in secret codes, the intentions of Rome and all its might.

10  Now in the fortress city of Trajenium did the men of war gather in the Emperor’s private chamber; and in the center of the room was there seen a great three dimensional map which showed upon its surface, the lands of South Africa, Antarctica and the ocean in between.

11  And there was placed upon the map, the most current positions of all military forces within the region, both of Rome and Drakonia, being constantly updated and revised by the mighty men of war.

12  And there was gathered before the Emperor, in full battle dress, Kronus Maximillius, having been appointed the Strategic Advisor to the Emperor himself.

13  Also was there present: Seti-Kahn, Supreme Commander; Markus Tobias, Chief Adjutant General; Titus Germanicus, Military Director of Strategic Information; Lucius Britannia, Air Marshal; Graccus Media, First Admiral of the Imperial Fleet; and Cassius Aegean, First Field Marshall of Military Operations.

14  And the Emperor spoke unto his commanders, saying: “What of Rome and its gathered armies? When shall they attack and how stand we in defense of Neropolis?” And Seti-Kahn stepped out from the rest which were gathered, and he spoke, saying:

15  “Your Majesty, it is agreed among us that Rome shall not attack for two weeks, for they have not completed all their many preparations. Yet, my lord, why should we wait for battle? Let us, therefore, attack the cities and ports of South Africa, to pin the armies of Rome within the walls of their garrisons.

16  For we are agreed among us that the best defense is a swift and mighty offense which would overwhelm the enemy before they set sail against us.

17  Thus would we advise, Your Majesty, an immediate and massive assault upon South Africa; to place under immediate and constant bombardment from the air and sea, the capital city of Herculeum.”

18  In this manner did Seti-Kahn speak unto the Emperor, and there spoke also, the First Admiral of the Imperial Fleet, Graccus Media, saying: “Your Majesty, the Twelfth Fleet is even now within the area, and can begin, within some eight hours, to lay upon the city of Herculeum a heavy bombardment.

19  Also, my lord, can we move to assist within two days time, three more fleets, heavily armed, which can themselves attack the cities and ports of Praetoria, Ostia, Phillippi and Praxus, to turn them into heaps of ruin and broken rubble.”

20  Then did Seti-Kahn speak again, saying: “And not this only, Your Majesty; for in three weeks time shall I have within the hand an invasion force of my own consisting of eight full divisions, as well as two full armored divisions ready for battle and fit for war.

21  For I, myself, shall lead them, to win for the Emperor a great and fearsome victory which shall fill the heart of Rome with hateful dread; for I shall steal away the whole of South Africa, to give it as a gift to you, my lord.

22  Say now but the word only, and I shall make ready haste to crush the legions of Rome which even now would go against us; for if you are in agreement, then shall I fulfill all my words; that you may find to yourself an increase in glory and honor.”

23  Now the Emperor considered well the words of all who spoke, and turning again to his commanders, he spoke, saying: “But what of Neropolis? For even if we should defeat Rome, still will they try again to steal away the whole of Antarctica.”

24  And Cassius Aegean, being the First Field Marshal of Military Operations, spoke, saying: “Your Majesty, even as we speak have I commanded the reinforcement of Neropolis, tripling all gun batteries around the city; mining also all beaches and landing sites.

25  Yet, my lord, even to this would we add more: being desirous ourselves to build two military cities upon the continent; creating to our benefit an Antarctic Command which would be given charge over the whole of Antarctica, whereby they might more readily defend it against all encroachments.”

26  And turning to Seti-Kahn, the Emperor spoke, saying: “Tell me straightly and hold not back: How many men shall perish of Drakonia?” And Seti-Kahn answered, saying: “We shall lose some two hundred thousand men, my lord.”

27  Then turning to Cassius Aegean, the Emperor spoke again, saying: “What then of the cost, Cassius; tell me truly.” And Cassius Aegean answered, saying: “All things considered, Your Majesty, it shall cost the treasury some five hundred thousand gold talents.”

28  Thus was the Emperor made most fully aware of such costly plans as his commanders would put forth for his consideration and agreement; and turning to Kronus, the Emperor spoke, saying: “What think you, Kronus? Is this plan worthy of my favor?”

29  Yet did Seti-Kahn step forth to intrude upon his lord and master, saying: “Your Majesty, these things are beyond the boy. For all these plans were most subtly devised and brought together by the most accomplished of men. Kronus is too young to understand so great a thing. It is for the Emperor’s military to decide.”

30  But the Emperor rebuked Seti-Kahn, saying: “It is for the Emperor, alone, to decide and no other.” Thus in the anger of the Emperor’s voice did Seti-Kahn grow fearful; and there stirred within him a fierce and hateful rage against the son he feared above all else.

31  Then did the Emperor turn again unto Kronus, saying: “Tell me Kronus: What think you of all these things?” And Kronus answered him, saying: “Your Majesty, if you will consent, permit that I might study all these things for two days. And when I am completed, I will tell you all my heart.”

32  Now when Kronus had finished speaking, Markus Tobias exclaimed against him quickly, saying: “Your Majesty, we must attack now. For it is not good that we should wait two days for Kronus’ sake, for the fires are stoked and the iron is hot. Let us strike now and hold not back.”

33  But the Emperor rebuked him also, saying: “Did you not say yourself that Rome shall not attack for yet another two weeks? How then will you say that we cannot wait just two days only?”

34  Thus did the Emperor give consent unto Kronus, causing that there should be placed within the room a cot upon which Kronus might sleep in the deepness of the night; and every man did leave the room to follow their Emperor, causing that Kronus should be alone in all his contemplations of the plans of war and bloody battle.

35  Thus for two days did Kronus study such plans and strategies as were made available; yet would Kronus still request reports, studies and surveys pertaining to South Africa and all its many resources, as well as all current and projected weather reports.

36  And with each request that Kronus made, the Stazzi would report to the Emperor, saying: “Your Majesty, the Great Kronus has asked for this report,” or “this study,” or again “Kronus has requested such and such a survey.”

37  Likewise would the spies of Seti-Kahn rush to report unto their master, saying: “My Lord, the boy has made requests for this report,” or “this study,” or again “the boy has asked for such and such a survey.”

38  Thus did the ways of Kronus intrigue the greatest men of power, while others grew fearful of his artful plottings; being fearful that in Kronus would they be made to lose face in the presence of their peers and the Emperor also.

39  Now on the morning of the third day, Kronus sent word unto the Emperor, and there gathered in the war room of the Emperor, all the mighty men of power; for each was anxious to hear for themselves such counsel as Kronus would give.

40  And Kronus spoke unto the Emperor, saying: “Your Majesty, in all these plans have I found some good merit; yet only in two things am I left unsettled: For in the first do all agree that the cost to Drakonia shall be no less than two hundred thousand of our own dead; while yet costing us further some five hundred thousand talents of gold.

41  Yet, Your Majesty, why should this war be forced upon us at so great a cost? For this cause would I force upon Rome the cost of all their efforts and ours combined together;

42  Causing that we should take from Rome, the gathered treasures of South Africa, to bring into your treasury the greatest prize of all, which prize is no less than the very heart of Rome’s wealth and power.

43  Thus, Your Majesty, if this seem good in your eyes that we should do it, then must we not fight the legions of Rome while they are yet in their garrisons, to pin them within the very cities where all these mighty treasures are stored and gathered.

44  For this cause would I speak of that second thing which would prove itself most troublesome. For which is better: to attack South Africa while yet the legions of Rome are found within, being fully prepared for bloody battle?

45  Or is it better still to attack South Africa, to rob it of all its wealth and glory while yet the legions of Rome have sent themselves away; to land upon the frozen and hostile shores of Antarctica, placing between us and them a harsh and bitter sea?

46  For this cause would I reveal to you a far more subtle stratagem which, if you will give consent, will yet preserve into our keeping the city of Neropolis while gaining to our greater benefit, the very crown of Rome’s wealth and prestige.”

47  Now when the Emperor heard this of Kronus, his heart was filled with greed; for the Emperor lusted after glory and fame above all other things, while yet many of the men of war which stood beside him, were themselves most intrigued by the words of Kronus.

48  And the Emperor spoke, saying: “Continue then Kronus and speak of this strategy which would gain for me so great a treasure.” And Kronus spoke, saying: “These then are the things which we must do with swift and firm resolve.

49  Thus must we fulfill the plans of Cassius Aegean concerning the reinforcement of Neropolis, and all other things beside save one; for we must not mine the shores upon which Rome will land its legions, lest they suspect that we are well prepared for them.

50  For this man Sulla Cornellius have I studied, for he is a man of bitter intent, being fully committed to the achieving of his Emperor’s goals; and in his landing upon our shores will he send away the ships which brought him forth, forcing all his legions to win the day or die; for in Sulla Cornellius there is found no half measure or going back.

51  For it is now certain that there will soon come upon Antarctica a fierce and raging storm; a howling gale which will greatly hamper the movements and advancements of Rome against us, causing that there should fall upon them some difficulty in supply and logistics.

52  Let Rome, therefore, dangle themselves far away on shores of ice and stone; for we need not fight them face to face; for on the day when we shall plunder the whole of all their treasuries, then will Commodus himself call Sulla back unto South Africa.

53  Thus, on that day when Sulla shall land upon our shores, to send his ships away, then must we act with swift and firm resolve.

54  For on the third day of Sulla’s landing, when his ships are far at sea, then must we send in the four imperial fleets; to lay against the capital of Herculeum, a massive bombardment day and night, filling the regions round about with a deep and rumbling roar.

55  And the garrisons of South Africa shall set aside their own places, to rush themselves to Herculeum, believing that there comes against them some great and dreadful invasion; and when they have left unguarded their own cities, then must we strike suddenly and with fierce resolve.

56  Striking against the treasuries of Lyconium, Niccocea, Mordredia, Praetoria, Phillippi, Ostia, and Praxus; sending into each city a strike force of heavy lifters; for in these cities shall we find mountains of gold, platinum, silver, diamonds, and many other riches beside.

57  Thus, Your Majesty, shall we take from Rome in one day only, up to a fourth of all its wealth and glory. Then shall we recall our fleets and withdraw ourselves away.

58  And when Sulla returns again unto South Africa, then shall we send our forces unto Antarctica, to protect it against all further encroachments, until that day when Cassius Aegean shall complete all his many plans for the future defense of Neropolis.”

59  Thus did Kronus speak, and the Emperor was filled with laughter; and slapping Kronus upon the back in good fellowship, he roared, saying: “What brass! What daring! What cunning this man has!

60  Why then should we fight Sulla? For if we do as Kronus says, then shall Commodus place the blame on Sulla for so great a loss, and will himself strangle Sulla with his own intestines.”

61  And every man did also laugh save Seti-Kahn and Markus Tobias, for they were filled with rage. For it was clearly evident that the Emperor favored Kronus above themselves, and they resolved to murder Kronus in subtle fashion.

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