When in Rome - Cover

When in Rome

Copyright© 2023 by FantasyLover

Chapter 10

Roman time: Day 268/1st day back in modern time

I awoke with a start in the middle of the night, momentarily disoriented until the brief dream I’d just finished replayed in my mind. Still, I sat upright and looked around me, feeling oddly out of place by being back in my quarters on the base in Afghanistan the day before the congressman would arrive.

This was the day I had signed my re-enlistment papers. Today, I was again Staff Sergeant Steven Harris, acting Gunnery Sergeant in charge of the base’s defensive weapons platforms. Unofficial word was that my promotion to Gunnery Sergeant would be looked upon favorably by the promotion board, despite only being thirty and having served only a dozen years.

The last time I lived this day, once I signed my re-enlistment papers, the base commander told me that he’d received and would pass along letters of recommendation from every other high-ranking officer at the base.

This time through, I was going to have to disappoint him and tell him that I couldn’t re-enlist due to family issues at home. The brief dream I’d just had let me know that I’d need the short time I’d just been given here to put my affairs in order and to let my family know what was happening. I should be home in a few weeks if everything went right, not that it ever does.

Unable to go back to sleep, I dressed and made a tour of the base’s defensive positions. My frequent and unannounced inspections any time of the day or night had increased the alertness of the men assigned to the positions.

The night was far from quiet as trucks roared by delivering supplies, and tracked vehicles squeaked and rumbled as they moved to new positions or went in for routine maintenance. Helicopters and planes landed and took off periodically. Still, if I filtered out the noise, I could almost imagine myself back outside the city of Madytos, watching the night sky as Theodora slept peacefully inside my tent.

That I was thirty years old and unmarried in this life was something my mother was unhappy about. I wondered what she’d think of my new life and all the women in it. Shit, I couldn’t even count them all. I could only hope that I was able to make them happy.

I smiled thinking about the erotic show as they kept each other happy when I was unable to continue each night. Somehow, they kept track of whose turn it was to be with me each night, and I never saw any signs of tension or jealousy among them. In fact, they were as likely to give each other a kiss or a slight caress when they walked by as I was. Shaking myself from my recollections, I continued my inspection rounds.

Knowing that the terrorist would attack in the morning, I continued to have a difficult time falling back asleep when I finished the inspections. Still, I got enough sleep to be alert today and managed to eat my breakfast.

Later that morning, the base commander was surprised when I told him that I couldn’t re-enlist due to family problems at home that required me to be there long-term. I assured him that it just came up last night or I would have given him more notice.

“You’ll be hard to replace,” he told me. “You have an uncanny knack of being a counselor and teacher to your men one minute and chewing someone a new anal orifice the next. Your men know that they can talk to you and know that there will be consequences for less than stellar performance. The promotion rate among your men is higher than any other unit I’ve commanded, and that makes me look good, too.”

With those heartfelt words and a handshake, followed by a heartfelt salute, I left his office, my mind in a whirl.

At lunch, I laughed silently when I realized I was eating the same lunch as I had before, including the tomato slices.

Shortly after 1430 hours, I was in position and waiting for the attacker. Last time, my weapon had been slung over my shoulder and I hadn’t had time to use it. This time, it was slung tactically in front of me, ready to use at a moment’s notice.

I recognized my target the moment I saw him and angled towards him while he was watching everyone around him nervously. I tried to keep him in my peripheral vision, so he didn’t know that I was aware of him. I kept moving to give myself the best line of fire since there were so many people around us.

My finger found the trigger when his hand disappeared into his slightly bulging pocket. As soon as the grenade came into view, I shouted, “Grenade!” and fired a three-round burst. All three rounds hit my target and the grenade fell from his hand with the pin still in place. With a stunned look on his face, he collapsed while everyone around us reacted with shock. I was surrounded by my own troops while those around us tried to make sense of what had just happened. Someone behind me had seen what happened and quickly had his own sidearm out.

When a second man reached for the loose grenade, the man beside me dropped him and shouted for one of the nearby Marines to secure the grenade.

Less than an hour later, I was being hailed a hero, having possibly saved the life of the Congressman. I explained that the man had been looking around nervously and caught my attention. When I saw the grenade, I fired. It was the truth, except that I knew ahead of time that he would be there. The second man’s actions had been a surprise, though.

Day 268/87th day back in modern time

In my spare time during the weeks before I was released by the military, I researched the history of Rome and the other countries around the Mediterranean in 200 BC. I was surprised when I studied the war with Macedon and read that it still happened the same way I remembered it happening in my history lessons. That was when I realized that what I was doing had to be in a different dimension. I also realized that I would have royally fucked up Earth’s history if I’d done it in this Earth’s history.

I had also researched any technologies I thought I might be able to reproduce back then and found damn few that I felt competent enough to attempt.

My family met me at the airport with an incredibly emotional greeting. They had seen the news footage of me shooting the terrorist. The camera had been following the Congressman as he toured the base. I had been just inside the left edge of the news camera’s view and it clearly showed something in the terrorist’s hand before I fired.

They all wondered why I chose not to re-enlist and I promised to explain tomorrow. It would take until then for me to be able to prove my story so they didn’t think I’d been in the hot Afghani sun too long.

The closer we came to the farm, the home I’d grown up in and my non-military home address for the last twelve years, the more emotional I became. I had to fight back the tears when the farm came into view. According to the dream I had right before I awoke back in this time, I’d see it for eleven more days, and then never again.

I spent the rest of the day with my family as they brought me up to date with the happenings in their lives. I was pissed to learn that Tina, my younger sister, had to file for a divorce because her husband had started drinking and became abusive when he lost his job. I wanted to find him and show him what it felt like to be abused but Tina stopped me.

“He’s already been arrested and arraigned,” she told me. “The police have overwhelming evidence against him so let the justice system punish him. He already lost the right to see our two kids for more than an hour a week, and only under court supervision that he has to pay for.”

Instead, I paid attention to my nieces and nephews. I couldn’t believe Andrea, my oldest niece, when I saw her. I had to fight not to sprout an erection when she hugged me. The sixteen-year-old was a stunning beauty. She also reminded me in many ways of Antia, both her looks and her mannerisms.

“She obviously didn’t get her looks from you,” I teased my brother while she continued hugging me. “I’ll buy us a couple of guns, and I’ll chaperon her dates,” I told him as we laughed. Andrea slugged my shoulder.

“Men,” she huffed as she turned and stormed away.

“You have my sympathy,” I told my brother, watching the sway of her hips as she walked away.

“You have no idea,” he sighed, rolling his eyes. “Imagine running into her when she only has a towel wrapped around her waist. Joyce (his wife) says that she’s testing her sexuality, seeing if I react. She said to be glad that she did it to me instead of some boy in school,” he sighed.

“I have a similar problem, but I’ll tell you about it tomorrow,” I promised.

“You have a girlfriend?” he gasped. It wasn’t exactly earthshaking news for me to have a girlfriend, but my family hadn’t met or even heard about any of the girls I’d dated since high school.

After dinner, I fell asleep on the queen-sized bed in the guest room, still dressed in my desert camo fatigues. I was buried beneath Tina’s two kids who seemed to have adopted me. Even Tina fell asleep with us, using my left shoulder as a pillow. We had slept together frequently when I was in high school. Being two years younger than I was, she thought at first that my morning erection was hilarious and was impressed with her ability to give it to me. I didn’t tell her that it would have been there even if she hadn’t slept next to me all night.

Mom and Dad had talked to me frequently to make sure nothing was going on between us. I loved Tina but refused to ruin her life, so I did nothing about it. She went through a phase like the one my oldest niece was going through, except that I’d been the focus of Tina’s attention. She had pulled the “just a towel around the waist” trick, and had flashed me wearing only a skimpy, silky pair of lime green panties. She frequently sat on my lap wearing nothing but a T-shirt. She also loved to rub her panty clad butt against my groin as she snuggled up to me on the nights that she slept with me.

The worst (or best) were when she pulled my hand over to cup her breast while we slept, frequently after pulling up the T-shirt that she slept in, so I was cupping her bare breast.

Day 268/88

“Uncle Steve, why are you dressed so funny?” my niece asked when she awoke in the early morning. It was early enough that the rooster was still asleep. It took a second for my momentary disorientation to go away. Remembering that my niece, nephew, and sister were sleeping on the bed with me, I quickly pulled my hand from Tina’s breast, hoping that she had put it there and that I hadn’t done it in my sleep.

“Uncle Steve, why are you dressed so funny?” my niece asked again, more insistently.

“I wondered how she’d do it,” I thought to myself. I’d only known that I would be able to prove my story to my family today.

“This is something that I wear a lot,” I explained, seeing that I wore the short green cotton tunic and the pseudo-jeans that our troops wore. I rolled my eyes when I looked across the living room and saw my equipment stacked neatly, just the way Theodora had stacked it in my tent to make more room for us to spread out.

Our discussion woke Tina, who stared at me slack jawed. “When did you change?” she asked. “The last thing I remember was moving your hand over to...” she stopped and blushed, looking at her kids.

“It was still there until a minute ago when this one woke me up wondering why I was wearing these clothes. I told her this is something I wear a lot,” I replied.

“The Marines let you dress like that?” she asked.

“Not exactly, but let’s wait for everyone else so I only have to explain once.”

“Where did that come from?” Tina asked when she saw the stack with the rest of my gear across the room. “Shit, those look real,” she gasped.

“They are real,” I replied, shifting my niece and nephew off my lap. I had to laugh at my nephew, who was still sound asleep. My parents said I used to be like that. Nothing short of a nuclear explosion could wake me up before I was ready.

I pulled my backpack out of the pile and grabbed the leather coin purse that I usually tied to my belt. It still jingled. Tina was right behind me leaning over my shoulder. Had I turned my head to the side I would have had a face full of boob. “Are those real?” she gasped when I poured some of the various coins into my hand.

“Yup, and worth a fortune,” I replied. My backpack yielded a larger cache of coins in another leather bag. Half of those coins were gold and the other half silver. I had taken silver denarii on the campaign in case I had to buy things for my troops and had added some of the gold and other coins that we had looted from Sestus and Madytos.

Mom came into the kitchen and found us poring over small piles of ancient coins. “Where did those come from?” she asked, although her tone of voice indicated a worry that I’d done something illegal.

“It’s all perfectly legal. I’ll explain everything at breakfast,” I promised. The look she gave me told me that she wasn’t completely sold, but that she’d wait for my explanation.

My brothers had to walk over from their houses, which were about two hundred feet away on each side of my parents’ home. Tina’s house was behind one brother’s and the house built for me was behind my other brother and next to Tina’s house.

By the time everyone had arrived for breakfast and the last of the kids were seated, everyone was looking at me expectantly. First, I had Tina and her kids verify that I fell asleep dressed in my BDUs, buried beneath the two kids. Somehow, without waking anyone up (Tina’s a notorious light sleeper), I changed into the outfit I was currently wearing and brought all the other equipment into the guest room, equipment that I hadn’t brought with me off the plane.

Then I pointed out that what was in the guest room was much more than I could have fit inside my lone duffel bag, which was still full of my clothing and belongings.

“This will be hard to believe, but the TV coverage you saw of me shooting the terrorist was the second time I’d been through that incident. The first time, I tackled him and managed to roll him on top of the grenade. I was seriously injured, and they stabilized me at the base before flying me to Germany for more surgery.

“During that flight...”

I gave them a G-rated version of my life for the last nine months.

“So, I have a grandchild due any day somewhere outside of Naples in ancient Rome?” Mom asked.

Leave it to Mom to cut to the heart of the matter.

They asked lots of questions, lots of questions. I was surprised at first until Tina said something about my story explaining the dream she had last night. When the adults and older kids agreed, I found out that they’d seen excerpts of my life taken from my memories. There was a last-minute rush to make sure the kids were ready for school, but they made it--barely. The kids were headed out the front door just as the school bus pulled up in front of my parents’ house.

Andrea was still protesting as the door closed behind her, wanting to hear more about all the women she saw in the dream. “I think we’d all like to hear more about the women,” Mom commented after the bus left.

“Well,” I started slowly just to bug her, “when I left for Abydos, you actually had sixteen grandchildren under construction,” I said.

“Sixteen!” she exclaimed. “Some of those women didn’t look any older than Andrea,” she commented questioningly.

“You have to remember that I’m not quite twenty there, and women married much younger than now. Some women were married at twelve, but none of mine are that young. I didn’t want the younger ones pregnant until they were older, but the rest of the women argued about it. We settled on sixteen, but I was assured that the younger ones would be okay if they ended up pregnant.”

“Assured?” Mom asked. I replied by setting Theodora’s small statue on the table.

“If she can zap me out of a plane and send me back nearly 2,000 years, put me in a body that’s only nineteen years old, and bring me back here again, why wouldn’t she be able to make sure the girls survive giving birth?” I asked.

“I guess I’m just upset,” Mom sighed. “Not only won’t I be able to hold and spoil my grandchildren, but I won’t even know their names, know what they look like, or be able to watch them grow up.”

“At least you’ll know that you have grandchildren,” I replied as I stood up and hugged her.

After that, we all jumped in to help with the farm chores that were far behind schedule this morning. My brothers kidded me all day about having so many women. Late in the afternoon, Andrea came running out to us after school and grabbed me, hugging me excitedly.

“Guess what,” she exclaimed excitedly. “There’s a new boy in my Latin class and his name is Quintus,” she told us, her excitement not abating.

“Come meet him,” she insisted, dragging me by the hand and grabbing her dad’s hand as we went by. I looked at my brother and shrugged, wondering if this was the same Quintus that I had replaced.

The face I was looking at when I saw him was the same one I saw when I looked in a reflective surface at the villa. “You worship the Goddess?” he asked excitedly as he held and examined Theodora’s small statue.

“I do now,” I replied, adding, “I’m the one she used to replace you.”

“You?” he gasped excitedly.

“Yes, and Antia is fine and very happy,” I let him know.

“You are a Roman soldier?” he asked, looking at my gear that was now stacked in the living room.

“I was a soldier here for twelve years. In Rome, I trained more than two thousand men to use some better equipment that I made for them, and the Senate agreed to let us fight as mercenaries. We defeated the nine-thousand-man army of Philip V of Macedon who was attacking the city of Abydos. We were on our way to Thessalonike and then Pella to capture his capital when I was brought back here so I could tell my family goodbye,” I explained as his eyes widened in surprise.

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