The Sword of Jupiter - Cover

The Sword of Jupiter

Copyright© 2021 by Lumpy

Chapter 13

The next morning Ky was led to the Emperor, who had set up a meeting for Ky to lay out the groundwork of what needed to be done before the Carthaginians descended on the Romans again. The guard led him into what he was beginning to think of as the ‘governmental’ part of the main palace, which was the western half of the largest building that made up the imperial complex.

After his talk with Lucilla and her father the afternoon before, Ky had allowed her to take him on a tour of the imperial complex. Considering he would be based out of these buildings for the foreseeable future, a tour seemed like a good idea. Besides distracting himself from the less than charitable emotions he still felt towards the Romans and their choices of entertainment, the tour allowed him to spend more time with Lucilla, an activity he found strangely pleasing.

Directly facing the central city square sat the entrance to the imperial palace itself, where Ky had spent most of his time. On the very far end of the extended block that made up the complex, opposite the palace was the Roman forum, which was used by the Senate as both its main chambers and which housed offices for the most important senators. The buildings that made up the rest of the block included additional senatorial offices, a building housing the imperial treasure, a governmental records building, and a long barracks which held the Praetorian Guard.

The barracks had at first confused Ky. The building was much too large for a police force but smaller than a legion would need, and was virtually empty. The barracks themselves struck Ky more as designed for military use rather than something used by a police force, at least based on what he had seen in use by the legions. He also could not help but wonder where the hundreds of men that would fill up these barracks were during the battle itself when trained soldiers were in such short supply.

Lucilla cleared up much of that when he voiced his question aloud.

The barracks were assigned to the Praetorian Guard, a combination of an elite military unit and police force that answered directly to the emperor. The guard had a larger complex of barracks that could hold nearly an entire legion on the other side of town. The buildings here were for a detachment of the overall guard assigned to protect the Emperor and members of the Roman government. The city guards he had seen up to this point were, in fact, members of the Praetorian Guard. Apparently, the Emperor had dispatched the bulk of the Guard along with the other legions to deal with the northern tribe’s incursions.

He pushed the pleasant memories of his afternoon with Lucilla aside as he entered the room assigned for their meeting. Ky was surprised to find that the room was not that different than what he would have encountered in his own time. The room was wide open, with a long table stretching down the center. Although his people would have cushioned chairs instead of hard stools, and there would definitely not have been servants lining the walls waiting for commands, the scene felt familiar all the same.

Neither the Emperor nor his daughter had arrived yet, but Ky could see several familiar, and by now friendly, faces already seated around the table. Velius and Aelius were there along with a few others Ky recognized such as Gordianus, Velius’s second in command, and Ramirus, the Emperor’s chief spy.

“Consul. Welcome,” Velius said, standing and walking to greet Ky in what he was coming to recognize as the ‘Roman’ fashion, where each person would grip the other’s forearm near the elbow in an extended handshake.

“Velius. Aelius. How are the men?”

“Joyous of the victory but still suffering the loss of so many of their brothers,” Aelius said, greeting Ky in turn.

“We are going to have difficulty getting together enough men to replace all of our losses,” Velius said.

“That’s one of the things I want to cover today.”

Ky eyed the man who stood slightly behind Aelius. The giant stood several inches taller than Ky and must have outweighed him by a hundred pounds of pure muscle. A long line traced from his right cheek to right ear, a woolen thread still holding the two sides in place.

“This is Cossus Valerius Hirrus. My second in command,” Aelius, noticing Ky’s glances, said in introduction.

“Newly promoted,” Velius added. “Right after Aelius here was officially made Legate of the ninth.

“Congratulations,” Ky said.

“Thank you, Consul.”

The man’s voice was oddly gentle, considering his massive size.

Before their conversation could continue any further, the door leading into the meeting room swung open, admitting the Emperor and his daughter.

“Good, everyone’s here,” the Emperor said.

Ky could not help but notice the looks the men gave each other as the Emperor’s daughter took a seat at the table, sitting at her father’s left-hand side.

Once everyone was seated, the Emperor pushed himself up and stood straight-backed, looking across all the faces turned towards him

“Before I begin, I wanted to once again congratulate our legates and their subordinates on their hard-won victory. Thanks to your brave stand we can look forward to what comes next. A job well done.”

The Emperor paused, and everyone joined him in giving their congratulations to the two legates, both of whom looked discomforted by the attention.

“I believe you all know my new Consul. Ky, I don’t believe you’ve met Appius Dossenius Marcipor, Oppius Volusius Lurio, or Flavius Pedius Hortensius. Marcipor is one of the leading minds in Rome as well as being both my and later my daughter’s tutor. Lurio oversees the royal treasuries and tax collectors, and Hortensius is one of Devnum’s leading merchants, as well as owning the foundries that produce the bulk of our military supplies. Besides my daughter and Ramirus, these three men are my closest counselors.”

“Now, however, we must begin that task and decide how we are to face tomorrow. We all know the Carthaginians will not give up after a single defeat, no matter how lopsided. I spoke with Ramirus yesterday about this. I would like for him to give us his thoughts on what they will most likely do next. Ramirus?”

“Thank you, Imperator,” Ramirus said, standing. “My sources are limited, but I still stand by my estimate that this attack was made up of the bulk of available forces they had in Britannia. With winter setting in, the Carthaginians will have trouble getting reinforcements quickly. While I’m sure they will begin moving men from the continent right away, they will not be able to get enough men here, before foraging their armies becomes problematic. My best guess is we will see them by Maius at the earliest, although I don’t believe they will be much later than that either. The governor will be feeling pressure after losing an entire field army and will be impatient to prove himself to their leader, who is not generally known for accepting defeat lightly. I would bet on the Carthaginians starting their march as soon as they possibly can, even if the early start puts their men under hardship.”

“While I do not have access to the types of intelligence Ramirus has,” Velius said. “I would agree with that assessment. Our issue is that we won’t get the recalled Legions for several more days at least, and then we will only have three more since one Legion has to stay on the border with the Picts for security. The additional Legions wouldn’t even bring us to the size of the force we just faced, let alone an almost certainly larger army the Carthaginians will send next time.”

“That is one of the reasons I called this meeting,” the Emperor said. “After the battle, I spoke with Ky, and he believes he can help us. He pointed out that, while he had ideas on how to make us stronger, he is a stranger in our society and wasn’t sure of the best way to make those ideas happen. He asked if I could put together a meeting of my most trusted advisers to help him determine how to put his plans into effect. He also requested I include Aelius and Velius as well as my daughter in this meeting. Ky?”

Ky stood, giving a slight bow to the Emperor.

“As the Emperor said, I do have thoughts on ways to strengthen Rome, but I wanted to start with why I’m offering to help. My goal isn’t just to help Rome fend off the Carthaginians, although that certainly is a notable part of it. My goal is to make Rome stronger in everything, both by introducing new technologies and new ways of doing things and new ways of thinking. I know some of you have heard the proclamations about me being this Sword person, and I want to say up front what I have said to the Emperor. I am here by accident, and, as far as I can tell, I am not able to go back to my homeland. I am not offering to help you because of some mission handed down to me by the gods, but because if I am to live in your society, I want the best chance of my own survival. My motives are, mostly, purely selfish in nature.”

“You’re clearly no politician,” Velius said. “They would never admit that.”

“Which is why we like him,” Aelius said.

“I’m fairly certain that will be the last thing I’m going to say that you’ll like. I am fairly certain what you thought of when I said I had new technologies and ways of doing things was weapons and military strategies. While those are some of the things I have to offer, they are a small portion of the changes I’m going to suggest. A new weapon or a new tactic isn’t going to help you stand up against the Carthaginians and their hordes, and one battle isn’t going to force them to leave Rome alone. Rome needs long term changes if it’s going to survive. New technologies in your industries and farming will require new ways of taxing, new ways of mining, and new forms of businesses. To increase your manpower to the point that you can take the Carthaginians in a straight-up fight you’ll need new ways of thinking about science, about medicine and sickness, and a new understanding of how your people exist in your society, including your slaves. The changes I’m going to try and put in place will ripple out and change other things, which will ripple from there. You will find almost every aspect of your society, and probably those of your neighbors’ changed.”

Ky stopped and looked at each person around the table before continuing.

“I know you’re going to have a lot of questions about what I mean, and we can get into those. I know you’re going to have concerns about how these things will actually happen, and I’ll need your help in figuring out how to deal with that. The Emperor trusts all of you to have the best interests of Rome at heart, and I hope that’s true. What I am offering is to teach you how to make Rome far more powerful than it has ever been. What I require is your willing help in changing Rome, down to its very foundations, to make that change possible.”

“Before I get into specific areas, I’m sure you have questions.”

“You said you could introduce technologies to make Rome stronger than it ever was before,” the man called Marcipor said. “I have studied natural philosophy my entire life and made my career learning. Yet there is nothing I know, or even could imagine, that could do what you suggest.”

Ky reached into his pocket and pulled out his drone. Activating it, he set it to hover over the center of the table.

“I come from a place with technology advanced to the point that it would seem like magic to you,” Ky said, pausing as he ordered the drone to slowly move in front of each man, ending with a quick circle around Marcipor’s head before stopping in the center of the table. “This is a machine, no different than your onagers or water wheels. The drone was designed by human minds and used by human soldiers such as myself.”

“You can teach us to make something like that?” Marcipor asked.

“No, there are a multitude of steps between your current level of technology and the level needed to create something like my drone. I can, however, teach you how to grow ten times the crops with a fraction of the manpower. I can teach you to conquer many of the sicknesses that kill your people. I can teach you to make a weapon that can pierce any shield and kill an enemy at one and a half mille passus, and how to put one of those weapons into the hands of all of your legionaries. To teach you these things I have to make you understand how to make new forms of steel, how to mix new chemicals, how to change your manufacturing to produce vast quantities of identical goods, how to change your financial system to keep up with the changes and afford the weapons and tools you will need, and to understand what causes people to get sick.”

“I showed you my machine here,” Ky said, ordering the drone back into his hand and deactivating it, “for you to understand what I mean when I say I have knowledge you do not.”

“What do you need from us?” the Emperor asked.

“I need your advice on who we need to talk to and how to convince your people to go along with these changes. First, let me give a quick description of the first stages of changes I want to introduce. I will try and keep each area separate to make things clear, but many of these will be tied together. I apologize in advance if this gets confusing.”

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