The Sword of Jupiter - Cover

The Sword of Jupiter

Copyright© 2021 by Lumpy

Chapter 25

The day was getting late by the time Ky got back. He headed straight to the Emperor’s audience chamber, where they’d arranged for the meeting with the military commanders. Ky had gotten the message back from the Emperor, agreeing to his final notes. With that, he was able to work with the AI while they rode, making the last adjustments to their plan.

The extended back and forth with the Emperor had been the easy part. Now he had to sit down with the military commanders and get everything put into action. As expected, the legionary commanders who’d stormed out of the previous military council didn’t show up. While it was an affront to the Emperor and punishable by dismissal, he and the Emperor had discussed this inevitable development.

They’d agreed to let the matter lie. Like most legions, the majority of their men were loyal to them above the Empire itself. Punishing them would permanently alienate the Legates and possibly push things into outright mutiny. They really needed these trained men and both Ky and the Emperor thought there was still a chance, however slim, to bring them back into the fold.

“I’m sorry for keeping you all so late,” Ky said as he sat down at the right-hand side of the Emperor.

“We all know how busy your schedule has kept you, Consul.”

“Thank you, Emperor. I know some of you already suspect what this meeting is about, but I’ll go ahead and lay it out. We’ve spoken about potential changes to the legions and I’ve given each of you an opportunity to have your say. The Emperor and I have also spent quite some time discussing these changes, and we’ve made the final decisions on what’s going to happen. I’ll have full written reports for each of you tonight with detailed instructions, but I wanted to lay the new changes out for you in person, in case you have questions. These will all go into effect immediately, although we have built-in some lead time for the larger changes.”

“I’m sure we’ll be able to make it work,” Aelius said.

“I’m sure you will,” the Emperor said. “I want to make it clear that everything Ky presents now has my full support and agreement.”

“First is the largest change. Up until now, each Legate controlled their assigned legions independently. That worked fine when forces had to fight completely cut off in the far reaches of the Empire, but it has also led to some of the larger military losses Rome has suffered, as well as a few Civil Wars. We don’t need Legates who operate personal fiefdoms all of their own and we don’t want our legions’ quality governed solely by their commander. To that end, we are going to go to a centralized command. We are creating a new position of Prime Legate, who will be in overall command of Rome’s military, under the direct supervision of the Emperor himself. This Legate will control no operational forces. His main task will be the strategic coordination of Rome’s forces, leaving tactical matters to his field commanders. He will be served by a staff that will include men trained by Ramirus in the use of intelligence, men trained in supply and logistics, and men trained in strategic planning. While we already have some men with experience in this area, we will have to teach some of the men we need, enough to fill these positions. I will give you a list of the number of men and positions we need filled for you to recommend applicants under your command. This will be an important job and, if we get the right people, they will make your jobs easier, so it’s important these are the right men. Don’t try getting rid of those you don’t want in your command.”

“We wouldn’t do that,” Velius said.

“While I trust each of you to not do this, it isn’t an unheard-of thing, so I wanted to state it outright. Velius, we will be promoting you to the position of Prime Legate. I know you would prefer to stay in the field and I know some of the rest of you feel you might be better suited for this role, but this is the decision we made. I promise there will be other chances for advancement for each of you.”

“Velius has the most experience of any of us in field command,” Aelius said. “It’s the right choice.”

“Eborius would not agree with that,” Auspex said.

“I know he wouldn’t, and that’s one of the reasons among many why he isn’t being given this position. We need someone who sees the job as working with other commanders, not ruling over them. Velius, we will be promoting Gordianus to Legate and give him your legion.”

“He’s a good man,” Velius said. “He’s up to the job.”

“Good. That gives us three legions, not counting our two missing Legates’ commands, under your command. We’re going to recreate the Fifth Legion and place it under Ursinus’s command. We’ve talked about taking men from each of your commands to make the core of the Fifth Legion, and then filling out the differences with slaves who agree to take up arms in exchange for their freedom, and captured men who switch sides. You need to go through each of your cohorts and decide who you’ll be sending over. Remember at some point you’re going to expect Ursinus to protect your flank, so don’t send him only the dregs. We want no more than half of any century to be made up of new men, which will be split evenly between prisoners and slaves. We need a list of these by the end of this week, so we can start having them split off and set up camp with Ursinus’s legion and begin training together. Once the new laws pass, we’re going to start getting new men into the ranks right away, so your legions all need to be ready.”

Ky stopped to make sure each of the men understood.

“The next change will be at the legion level. Right now, the Legates use their cohort commanders as their command staff. Those men need to focus on their cohorts. Just like the Prime Legates command, I want each of you to put together a command staff of men who understand tactical strategy, logistics, and intelligence. They will be able to work with their opposites in the Prime Legates staff to put plans into motion and will be where future Prime command staff will pull manpower from. These men will help their Legate put into practice their orders and plan out their assigned missions.”

“Do we really need this much manpower for planning?” Velius asked. “A full-strength legion is usually five-thousand men. Not an overwhelming number for any Legate to control.”

“As we manage to increase manpower, we’ll also be increasing the size of legions, eventually to double that number. Eventually, the prime Legate will give commands to corps commanders, each who controls a set number of legions, each of which is broken into their cohorts, and centuries, and so on. It seems excessive now, when you’re talking about tightly fighting formations who pack shoulder to shoulder to fight, and it is. You will see as we progress and new technologies are added, this structure will make more sense. For now, however, we will have legates report directly to the prime Legate. The additional staff manpower might be more than is needed, but we also need to learn, in practice, how to work with these new structures. It’s better to do that now, when we don’t need it, rather than later, when mistakes are amplified.”

Ky looked to Velius to see if his answer was satisfactory.

“What about the Fourth?” Velius asked.

The Fourth Legion was the one that still manned the wall that marked the northern boundary of Roman territory with that of the Picts. It was led by a Legate named Vibius Sepurcius Ennodius. He was fairly young, although not as young as Auspex. He’d seen his share of fighting but wasn’t of the same group that Eborius and Pius came up through the ranks with. The Emperor thought he’d be loyal to the Empire, but Ky wasn’t willing to bet on that. There’d been too many with a reason to be loyal to the Empire, if only to protect themselves from the coming Carthaginian hordes, who’d instead clung tightly to personal power regardless of the risks.

“The Emperor sent a man up to talk to Vibius, but I plan on making a trip to the north soon. Unless something changes radically in the north, we’ll have to leave at least one legion on the wall to keep from having to fight in two directions. He’ll still fall under the new organizational structure under you, and we’re also planning on changing out a portion of his legionaries with new men as well.”

“And if he isn’t with us?” Aelius asked.

“We’ll deal with that when we come to it.”

That answer didn’t seem to satisfy anyone in the room, least of all Ky himself, but they all recognized that it was how things would have to be for now.

“The next will not directly affect any of you, but I wanted to address it with you now, so that you were all aware of it. Currently, the Praetorian Guard is little more than a personal force to protect the Emperor and the palace grounds and is small enough to regularly need manpower drawn from the city guard. We plan on expanding that. Most of the expansion will be recruits from the city guard, although we will offer some men from the legions the option of switching to the Praetorian in leadership promotions. We will be expanding the guard to be an Empire-wide police force.”

The volume of noise that assaulted Ky from around the room forced him to stop, even though it wasn’t unexpected. The Emperor had been against this idea when Ky had first proposed it and even Ky himself had to admit that there were more than just public relations problems with it. The Emperor held up a hand for silence, which everyone obeyed after enough of a pause to make sure Ky and the Emperor understood they were serious in the decision.

“I understand your concerns,” the Emperor said. “In fact, I share them. When Ky first brought this idea to me, I was against it. I ask that you hear him out first, before you pass judgment.”

“I can tell you whatever complaints you have for this idea, the Emperor beat you to them,” Ky said when all the eyes were back on him. “I understand that none of you would be happy with a para-military force enforcing the Emperor’s personal rule across the Empire, and I will tell you that is not what this is.”

“We all know that the Emperor is a good man and would not use a force like this to tighten his grip on the people,” Aelius said. “My concern is with whoever comes after him. Systems like this outlive the Emperor who creates them, and there’s no guarantee that a future Emperor would be as noble. I don’t want to fight to keep from becoming part of the Carthaginian Hegemony just to become a copy of it all on our own.”

“I agree, which is why this force will not be solely answerable to the Emperor. While the Emperor and his appointed men will administer it, the Senate will have a say over its funding and leadership. We haven’t worked out the exact details yet, but every so many years, the Emperor will be required to get approval from the Senate to continue operating the guard in its new capacity. If they don’t approve, it goes back to its previous size and mandate.”

“Do we really want to give those vipers a say in anything that involves defending the Empire?”

“They already have a say in military budgets,” Ramirus said. “I’ll say I agreed with this when the Emperor mentioned it to me. The Senate is already on the verge of mutiny because of the new laws, this would push them over the edge. The loyalist faction might have the upper hand, but that doesn’t mean they won’t make trouble for us.”

“Isn’t the Senate one of the groups the Praetorians will be keeping an eye on? Is it smart to give those same people a say in their administration?”

“I want to be clear about something,” Ramirus said. “This will not be an organization to spy on anyone, despite what my normal reputation suggests. This is an armed police force, similar to various city guards, but with a wider mandate. While the various city guards do a fine job of keeping the law inside their walls, in between cities things have become less secure. In times past, the legions would patrol the roads between cities, but their numbers have dwindled and they’ve been needed for external threats more than internal ones for a long time now. Robbers and cutthroats have realized this, and things are getting out of control.”

“Which is our way in on this,” Ky said. “The Senate has been asking for the Emperor to do something on this for years, especially those representing the mines and merchants. Right now all shipments get sent in batches protected by private guards, slowing down commerce and costing these men a significant amount of money.”

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