The Empire Strikes Back 105 – The Time of Troubles 1911-1912

18 August 1911

Senators,

After the Communist attack on Constantinople, We began making overtures of peace with the France, Brittany, and Britannia. While the negotiations were under way, British forces battered the defensive lines in Pannonia. The lines held long enough for the peace treaties to be signed, and no new airships stuck the lines before that point. We are developing defenses against airships, but they will take time to deploy. This peace buys us that time.

On 22 May, We began implementing school reforms. While for hundreds of years, the local church has provided free education to all comers, children were not required to attend schools. With these reforms, all children from age six to age ten will be required to attend these schools. In time this will alleviate the losses during the sack. In the meanwhile, the best and brightest from other universities are taking advantage of the new openings at the University of Constantinople.

The Eastern Mediterranean Fleet took a chance to strike at the Persian navy on 12 June. The Red Sea Fleet is moving to support them, but has had to fight off small navies from Hedjaz and Adal on the way. The resulting ‘Battle of Mascate Coast’ was a hard-fought battle, but the fleets were victorious.

In mid-June, We received disquieting news of a large communist revolution in India. We are not certain how this will affect their support in the war.

At the beginning of July, Burgundy proposed a peace in which we recognized them as a nation. In return, they offered the eagles of all the legions lost in the civil war. They had used every trick in the book to gather the eagles, and correctly recognized that We must assuage the dishonor of the eagles being lost in the first place.

Several weeks after it would have been most helpful, the legions developed effective defenses against poison gas attacks.

And as a result of the economic damage from the sack, the courts developed clear means of declaring bankruptcy, both for individuals and businesses.

On the seventh of July, Ming capitulated to Russia. This would allow both blocks of alliances to focus on our network of alliances.

Through the rest of July and the beginning of August, the legions fought on in every theater.

Just two days ago, Spain sent a message that they would completely capitulate and become a part of the Empire once more. We of course accepted their capitulation, and agreed that the leaders of their rebellion would not be punished beyond the stripping of their citizenship and their exile from the Empire.

The legions in Iberia are now moving to occupy Catalonia.

The Pannonian legions are moving to reclaim the alps and secure the German border.

Moldavia having been reclaimed, XXVI. Legio and IV. Legio are securing a supply line from Ukraine to Germany. Meanwhile, XXIV. Legio, having beaten the Russian nationalist ‘rebellion’ in Ukraine, is looking to cut all supply lines passing through Poland-Lithuania.

II. Legio is driving off any enemy armies it can in Armenia. But while it can beat any of them, they are too numerous to contain.

IX. Legio is fighting back a German expedition to save Hedjaz.

Meanwhile, I. Legio, XIX. Legio, and XXXXVII. Legio continue to occupy the Arabian nation.

South Africa is slowly being pacified.

And XI. Legio and XXXXII. Legio are securing Oceania. But their efforts may be undone by a Javan army that has begun an invasion.

In addition to England’s efforts to occupy Guyana, it has also mounted bold attacks against the UTA.

The war continues, and the Empire fights on.

The rebuilding of Constantinople continues. 10 Million Drachmas have been allocated from the Imperial treasury to cover the damage to the banking system and to rebuild the city. The new housing buildings are being built rapidly, and the plans for a new Hagia Sophia and a new Blachernae are nearly complete. How are the plans for the replacement Great Palace progressing?

Although I am disquieted to hear of our defeat on numerous theaters, I have the utmost confidence in this Empire to return from the shame of defeat and rise from the ashes once more like a phoenix. I am confident that our legions are capable enough to defeat the barbaric Asiatics and Eastern Europeans.

-Senator Palaiologos

Theodora ignored the sound of construction going on behind her. “The rebuilding of the Grand Palace is going according to schedule,” she said, “As is the investigation into why the Ministry of Security failed to stop this attack from happening. There appear to be moles and traitorous elements within my Ministry, and I will not rest until I purge them all as the rebel scum they are.”

Following the “Red Tragedy”, Nestorius, Hairini and co. worked their darnedest to help the others throughout the ruins of Constantinople. Romanitas- Romanity- was displayed all throughout. The construction of a newer, much nicer and more modern estate for the Thaddoi family would not only serve better as the continuously makeshift HQ for the Aeteorean governorship, but as a nice home for future generations of the family. Several of Nestor’s subordinates, Lykidis, Antecheirinidis and Taior specifically, all became more involved politically and resigned from the governorship.

The former two would be using the opportunity to try and get more influence, as to become nobles themselves and possibly finally become the Dalmatian governors. Whether or not either of them would achieve this goal, no one knows. Meanwhile, the latter formed his own little political group, pushing for full Romanity throughout the Empire, saying that “united, we all stand stronger” and “if the Romans of old could do it, we could do it better.” Nestorius wished him good luck, but whether or not anything will change will depend on the people.

Nestorius began noticing Hairini acting differently in that time. She had become a bit more distant from him, and the times when he does see her, it is because she’s feeling fatigued, or nauseous, or she disapproved of a meal she had. He even thought he heard her vomit. When the senators were called to get ready for the next session, she chose not to come with him.

18 August 1911
Nestorius felt somewhat lonely, despite being with the other senators. Not wanting to feel out of place, he commented on the news given.

“It is great to hear about the reforms being put in place for schools. In our time, we need to educate as many as we can. With half of Iberia back under Roman control, hopefully we’ve shown that we’re not pushovers, especially with the mess that happened a month earlier. Hopefully, we’ll be able to re-secure Oceania soon. I know someone might be happy to hear about that.”


18 November 1911

Through August and September, the legions continued fighting in their same theaters. By mid-September, We better understood why citizens of the Empire might not feel Roman, and could begin to take means to resolve these issues.

We then began restoring the museums of Constantinople. Replacement ancient works had poured in from collections throughout the Empire, but We were unhappy that the modern collections were such a joke. In September, We began gathering the best Romantic period works from around the Empire.

By the end of September, the German mission to save Hedjaz had finally been defeated. IX. Legio and XXXVII. Legio resumed operation in Armenia, which was slowly falling to the Russians. Germany and Russia had tied up II. Legio in a months-long battle in Bitlis, and other forces were overwhelming the region. Likewise, XVI. Legio had been reinforced enough to help, and was marching from Macedonia to aid the Armenian front.

Despite the war, life went on. One of the archaeological expeditions in Egypt explored an ancient tomb, inspiring academics and artists all over the Empire.

By October, XXIV. Legio had carved a corridor to the Baltic Sea, cutting off enemy supply lines. A German army sought to restore these lines, and XXIV. Legio trapped them, capturing thousands of German conscripts.

The beginning of November saw the increased understanding of popular dissatisfaction with, well, everything. It was clear that whatever the political system, people would blame it for their issues.

In better news, the Romantic collection was fully gathered a week ago. There will be a grand display for the collection tonight, showing the best of the Romantic works. It will remain open while We gather the best Impressionist works of the Empire, after which it will be properly cataloged and placed in permanent collections in the museums of Constantinople.

Now to review the military situation:

Along the German border, the entire alpine region has been returned to Imperial control, and the legions are about to take the fight to German lands.

Catalonia is nearly fully occupied, yet they are not willing to capitulate. Nevertheless, a number of transport fleets are prepared to move the legions to other fronts once it falls. However, we are considering taking the time to reinforce them with Iberian recruits first.

A supply corridor between Ukraine and eastern Germany is nearly complete. IV. Legio and XXVI. Legio will soon complete it. Meanwhile XXIV. Legio is fighting off any German or Polish armies seeking to break the supply lines.

The South African front moves well, if slowly.

In Oceania, XI. Legio and XXXXII. Legio have seized much enemy lands, and are embarking for a daring attack on the Hedjaz island of Taibei.

However, Java continues to seize other islands.

Hedjaz continues to fall sway to I. Legio and XIX. Legio, though there is now a Russian mission to reclaim their land.

The Armenian front is simply a mess. The battle of Dayr al-Zour was lost as Russia continued sending reinforcements to keep fighting XXXVII. Legio. The legion is moving to Alexandria to rest and recover.

And while India has mostly defeated their rebellion, they now are facing Ming and Japanese troops. It is unlikely they can assist us in the near future.


18 February 1912

Senators,

We were well pleased to hear of the success of the Romantic period gala. Already the works of several authors have seen a resurgence in popularity.

Shortly after the last address, We increased the amount of unemployment subsidies within the Empire. The previous ones helped, but still could not properly provide for those who could not support themselves.

When the Philippine Fleet arrived off the coast of Tainan on 29 November, they discovered two large Hedjaz armies. The forces in the region would not be able to face these armies, and so instead landed in the Philippines.

Unfortunately, the Philippine Army was too quick and too strong, and the legions were forced to retreat.

The fall of Valencia on 10 December forced Catalonia to capitulate. As with Spain, only the leaders were punished, being stripped of their citizenship and exiled. The Iberian people were given the chance to display their Romanitas by joining the legions, and they did so in throngs. The legions in Iberia are being greatly reinforced before being sent to other fronts.

With the victory in Sinop on December 22, XVI. Legio marched towards Kayseri in order to assist IX. Legio in their battle. With their assistance, the battle was won.

In January, the forces in Oceania decided to strike at Java. The Philippine Fleet would attempt to trap their army on the Sunda Islands, while the legions struck at Batavia.

To summarize the current military situation:

The Polish corridors remain open, though the city of Lublin was retaken by a Polish force. XXIV. Legio destroyed that force and is re-occupying the region.

In Germany, IV. Legio and XXVI. Legio are occupying the eastern portions. In the south, the stronger legions have taken a forward border that they are holding, while the weaker legions are occupying the lands between.

South Africa continues to slowly fall to XXXIII. Legio, XXXV. Legio, and XXXIX. Legio.

In Oceania, the Javan plan in under way, with the legions striking at the beginning of March.

Hedjaz is falling to the Empire, and the Russian force sent to save it was defeated like the German force before it.

India has occupied most of Persia, but Ming and Japanese troops are pouring over the border.

Finally, the Russians have taken most of Armenia and are moving on Anatolia. The legions are making a fighting retreat, the Eastern Mediterranean Fleet is preventing any crossing of straits, and plans are being made to defend the Levant itself.

In non-military news, the industrialists of the Empire have better learned how to match employees to the right jobs.

As well, the Impressionist collection is gathered and being prepared. On February 23, We will host a grand unveiling. You are all invited, of course.

Alexios looks displeased. “The end of war in Iberia is excellent, but the news from Anatolia is looking grim. Are the legions completely without back-up?”

February 1912
The former Favero estate outside Venice

Donatello Favero had had enough. He had watched as everything his family had ever built had been taken away by some pompous buffoon, only to receive word in the following months that his father had died in the attack on Constantinople. The latter had left him numb, and he had refused to return to the capital to serve as senator as his father’s successor, at least not yet. He could not leave Italy, not with unfinished business. Continuing to serve as diplomat and making minor agreements to maintain an deteriorating peace had provided the perfect cover to prepare his revenge, and the time was finally right.

Giuseppe Lombardi, the egotistical false monarch that he was, decided that one coronation was not quite enough. After being crowned king of Italy in Rome, he decided that he would then be crowned again in every single major city in Italy. He had just recently been crowned in Venice and was spending the weekend relaxing in the former Favero estate. Donatello had expected no less for the man. With his knowledge of the layout of the entire estate, he was able to sneak in without anyone noticing and prepare his devious trap. It had also allowed him to see the modifications made to his home. It was unrecognizable. The entire building had been redone in gaudy colours. Semi-nude statues of the king, as well as portraits of himself, could be found in almost every room. The worst insult was the fact that the so-called king had tore down the Favero mausoleum, digging up all his ancestors, to build a shrine to himself. Donatello was practically frothing at the mouth as he made the final preparations.

The king arrived with much fanfare, so much that Donatello could hear it from his hiding spot within the secret tunnels beneath the estate. Knowing Lombardi as he did, he expected the king would spend some time soaking in the attention and then retire to the most luxurious room in the mansion to indulge in wine and women. That would be his downfall. When the fanfare died down, Donatello could almost hear the footsteps of the king he was so sure of his movements. When the timing seemed right, he lit the match and ignited the end of the gunpowder trail laid out on the floor. He watched it start burning away for a moment before hurrying away down the tunnel. He didn’t want to be anywhere nearby when it went off. Soon revenge would be his.

* * * * *

“Another glass of wine, Your Majesty?”

“Of course,” King Giuseppe Lombardi said, propping up his glass. The moment it was full, he chugged the whole thing with a satisfied grin. “This truly is the life.”

As he waited for another refill of his wine glass, a young woman, barely 18, walked in dressed in nothing but a robe. She teased him by loosening the strap to reveal more of her shapely body, enough to entice without giving away too much.

“Why you’re a pretty thing,” Giuseppe Lombardi said. “I’ll have to pay the servants extra for finding you.”

With a seductive smile on her face, the woman slid down next to him and moved to whisper in the king’s ear. It was then he heard a strange fizzling sound, as though something was burning. He pushed the woman away, sniffing at the air. The scent was faint, but there was the barest hint of smoke on the air. He turned to his servant to ask what that was, but not a word left his mouth.

A loud boom reverberated through the air and a giant pillar of flame burst from the floor. The king, the young woman, and the servant were all incinerated in an instant. Flaming pieces of wood and stone flew through the air and the entire wing of the mansion that had exploded collapsed in on itself. People outside shrieked as some debris struck innocent bystanders, only to watch as the flames spread to the rest of the house and then catch the wind to spread to the vineyard. Within an hour, the entire estate was in flames. Donatello Favero watched from a hill a few kilometres away, witnessing the destruction of his family’s estate. It was a painful sight, although he knew it was necessary to wipe it clean so as to rebuilt it anew. At least he had the satisfaction of knowing that the imposter king had died in the blaze. With that on his mind and his business at last complete, Donatello took the first boat to Constantinople, ready to take up his mantle as senator.

August to November 1911

Nestorius began noticing a lack of Hairini’s presence at the estate, and began snooping around to see what was going on. According to Kurien, she got herself an apartment somewhere in town, but he refused to say why. When asked, he said that Hairini told him to stay silent. Nestorius grew worried. She had become so distant that she basically moved out without a word. He had to know why, but when he tried to find the address himself, his searching turned out negative. Not wanting to be filled with worry, he concentrated on bringing all the remaining family belongings to the estate within a specially made room designed to withstand strong forces, as to avoid another situation like the one when the communists invaded.

At the November session, he mostly kept to himself, but he did keep notes on a few certain things. He wasn’t sure if Taior’s group was connected to the progress made on investigating social alienation, but he liked to think it was. He also noted down to keep track of realism – sounded like something he’d enjoy, at least some what. He was worried over the Russian invasion through Armenia, as well as the Javan occupation in the far east.

Early December 1911

Nestorius was in his office, when he heard a knock on the door. It was Franco Lazaratos.

“May I come in?” the Neapolitan asked.

“Sure, sure, come in,” the Senator said in a tired manner.

“So, what is it you need? Is it news regarding those Illyrian knuckleheads, Taior’s group or is it about your job here?”

“No, sir. I came here about Hairini,” Franco said, as Nestorius leaned in.

“Yes, what is it?!” he haphazardly said, not expecting to hear that.

“I know I shouldn’t be telling you this, as I promised her I wouldn’t, but it has gotten to the point where you have to know. But first, I have to ask; what have you noticed about Hairini the last time you’ve seen her?”

“Hm… last time I saw her, she was around here, eating something that someone had bought for her. But that was a while ago.”

“Yes, but did you notice something different about her….. physically?”

“Physically? Why, she had become much fuller! I assume it is because of the increase in food she’s had in the last few months after the attack.”

Franco just looked at him, disappointingly. The two stare at one another for half a minute before Nestorius thought of something.

“….it isn’t because of the food, is it?” he asked, to which Franco replied with a head shake. Nestorius’ eyes widened, as he considered another possibility.

“You aren’t suggesting……” he was about to ask, when Franco placed his hands in front of his mouth with a sad look on his face. That’s when he realized what was going on. He placed his hand on his mouth in response.

“…..why? Why did she hide this from me?”

“If Lykidis and Antecheirinidis heared, she assumed they would take action in some way or another. They are still a bit old school in their ways, even if the former worked with Onobanjo.”

“But still, she could’ve told me in secret-” he was saying when Franco placed a note on the table.

“It’s her address. Go find her. Tell no one of this,” he said, as he got up and left the room.

Nestorius just watched the Neapolitan leave. He leaned back in his chair when a shocked expression on his face. He pushed aside the papers on the table and placed the note dead center. He held his head with his hands, with the only words coming out of his mouth being “Iisoús Christós”. Soon, he got up, got his coat, hat and cane, grabbed the note and rushed to the address.

Soon, Nestorius arrived at the apartment. The new housing style fit the modern nature of the city, but the place was one of the cheapest. He knocked on the door. He listened as footsteps approached. The door was unlocked.

“Hello-” Hairini asked, as she saw him midway opening the door. She rushed to close it, but he shoved his cane in just in time.

“Cyrene, please, let me in!”

“No! You don’t understand what you’re doing!”

“Quite the contrary, I’d say you don’t understand what you’re doing!”

“And how are you so sure about it?”

“Because what you’re hiding from me could start a……. scandal,” he said the last word very quietly to avoid others hearing it. Once she heard the word, she realized he knew what was going on.

“…..so you do know,” she said, as he opened the door in full. By this point, her condition was quite obvious, down to the clothing!

“Come in,” she commanded, as he followed her inside. The place was nice enough, he admitted. She sat down and motioned him to sit next to her, which he obliged.

“It took you this long to figure out, huh?”

“Well, I didn’t really get a good chance to look at you, considering you’ve distanced yourself from me. But after hard thought, I realized it and searched night and day for you,” he lied, covering Franco’s trails.

“But tell me – why did you keep it a secret from me?”

“I didn’t want those two idiots getting involved.”

“Even after they left months ago?”

“Well, after they left, I attempted to try something but….. I got the better of myself.”

“And you didn’t even realize that a scandal could arise from a senator going on a premarital ride?” when he said this, she realized that she had been even more foolish than before.

“What do we do then?” she asked.

“Well, there is one solution…” he said, as he looked into her eyes. She realized what that solution was.

“You aren’t thinking about marriage, are you?”

“This is an awkward situation to suggest it, but…..” he stopped himself, to get himself on his knees.

“For the time we’ve been together, you’ve helped me so much. When you began distancing yourself from me, I was hurt. Even now, despite my age, I cannot stop the feeling I have for you. You’re the only one I want to share the rest of my life with. Hairini Waata, will you marry me?”

Hairini placed her hands to her mouth. She couldn’t believe this was happening, especially in this scenario.

“Yes! Yes! Yes!”

Nestorius got himself off the ground and kissed Hairini. After the kiss, he helped her up.

“Considering we did it in March, we should get this done as soon as possible!” he said, with her nodding in agreeance. The two got themselves ready and rushed out.

December 1911

In the weeks following, Nestorius Thaddas and Hairini Waata wedded with one another. The entire Aeteorean governorship crew, along with a few personal and family friends of Nestorius’ were in attendance at the wedding. With their marriage, she became Kyrene Udata Thaddas.

Some time after their marriage, Kyrene gave birth – a boy, christened Timon. The doctor assigned was surprised by her age, as a woman of her age shouldn’t be able to even have children. He figured her menopause was late. In the end, things worked out decently.

January 1912

Nestorius and Kyrene mostly spent their time at the estate, caring for their new son. Everyone at the Aeteorean governorship was considered an uncle/aunt, which they took incredibly seriously. The two were even closer than ever now. When the news that a new session was being planned in February arrived, it was decided that, for now, Kyrene would continue to stay at the estate to care for the newborn. But, at some point, she’ll rejoin him at the senate.

18 February 1912

Nestorius was quite chipper at first. He enjoyed hearing about the success of realist literature, and scientific management sounded great. The fact that Iberia was once more fully Roman also made him glad, but that feeling went away after he heard the military news in Anatolia, Armenia and the Far East. He abstained from commenting on it. But when it was revealed they were all invited to the grand unveiling of the Impressionist collection, he spoke up;

“What an honor it is to be invited to such an unveiling! I’ll see if my wife will be able to join us.”

Senator Angelos, that is an excellent question. To the south of that theater, XXXVII. Legio is moving from Alexandria to Acre in order to begin forming a defensive line. I. Legio and XIX. Legio are continuing to occupy Hedjaz. We believe it will soon surrender, and then they can assist XXXVII. Legio. To the west of that theater, IX. Legio is in Gallipoli to reorganize. There are several regiments being recruited to reinforce them. XVI. Legio is fighting a Russian force in Kastamonu, and will withdraw to Thrace after the battle in order to recover. Perhaps this fall those two legions can strike back at the Russian forces. Finally, II. Legio is well behind enemy lines, fighting a combined Russian and German force it the mountains of Bitlis. They may need to make a skilled retreat soon in order to avoid disaster.

Senator Thaddas, We do hope she will be able to attend. Again, many congratulations on your marriage.

A messenger arrives and hands a telegram to the Emperor. He quickly reads it.

It appears that the Pope has taken advantage of the death of ‘King’ Lombardi. He has proclaimed a union of Burgundy and Italy. For now, they remain separate nations, but he has moved the Italian capital to Rome, and he rules both.

“I humbly accept my invitation to the grand unveiling,” said Theodora, “It is only right. And I am quite concerned about the Anatolian front. We must protect the Queen of Cities from a second attack!”

((Private -sometime earlier))

“Talk!” Theodora demanded, slamming her fists on the table. “You will talk, rebel scum!”

The Ministry of Security bureaucrat chained to the other side of the table simply laughed. “Never!” he screamed.
“I never arrest people without a reason,” she said, calmly, “Now talk! I know what you did, sabotaging the Ministry’s records and covering up all reports of an impending attack on the capital! Even if you did not know what you were doing, you are still responsible for the deaths of millions of innocents!”

“You’re not getting anything out of me, reactionary scum,” said the bureaucrat, “None of you will make me talk!”

“I have ways of making people talk,” said Theodora, drawing a dagger, “As a traitor to the Empire, you have waived all of your rights, privileges, and protections granted by your now revoked citizenship…”

Senator Donatello Favero entered before the Senate, doing his best to hold back a grin. When he saw that the emperor was present, he bowed to his sovereign.

I must apologize for my absence these past several months. I felt I could better serve as a diplomat for Your Majesty than as a senator at the time. However, when recent events in Italy became quite explosive, I felt it was finally time to leave to take up my duties as senator. I hope that the sudden death of Lombardi will rekindle the Empire’s desire for the reconquest of Italy. My desire to reclaim my family estate, or what’s left of it, still blazes strong within me. I will rain fire down upon the rebels of Italy if Your Majesty commands it, and I can assure you that they will regret sparking my fiery temper. The resulting conflagration will surely cleanse the region of traitors. They shall be faced with fire and brimstone, and from the ashes will rise a better Italy under imperial rule.

Donatello did his best to keep a straight face the whole time. All he could think of were the final moments of Giuseppe Lombardi as he was consumed by the flames. The image was a most satisfying one.

– Senator Donatello Favero

Nestorius attempted to thank His Majesty once more for the congratulation, wanting to mention the gift he had received for not only the wedding, but for the birth of his son – a bottle of wine, the kind that his father enjoyed drinking, and a purple blanket with Maori patterns on it, respectively. But when he attempted to speak, Senator Favero entered the scene. He chose to address the returning diplomat instead.

“Hello there! I assume you’re Raphael’s boy?” the almost 63 year old senator asked.

“Welcome, Senator Favero,” said Theodora, “The Ministry of Security has picked up information regarding the incident that killed the rebel scum Lombardi. Apparently he was in your former estate when the whole thing exploded, as if by a lot of manure being ignited simultaneously. There were no survivors, so there is no way that Lombardi escaped. However, the Pope has condemned the explosion as being carried out by ‘heretical terrorists’ and has called for a week of mourning for Lombardi. He has made clear his plans to build a cathedral over the ruins of your former estate dedicated to the memory of Lombardi. Oh, and Lombardi’s son has crowned himself King of Italy, though his position has been made mostly symbolic with the Pope’s assumption of most powers. The Ministry of Security is pouring as many resources as possible into assassinating the Pope or causing a power struggle between him and Lombardi’s son.”

((Private – earlier))

“Who are you working for?!” Theodora demanded. “TELL ME!”

“Never!” shouted the bureaucrat, staring defiantly at her. “Your Empire is no match for the glorious revolution of the proletariat!”

“Aha!” she said. “So you admit your collaboration with rebel scum?!”

“Proudly!” he said. “I will never answer to you!”

She took out some photographs of a woman and a little boy. “This is your wife and son, right? Well, since you’ve voided your citizenship, I thought it would be appropriate to suspend their citizenship and arrest them on charges of collaborating with and housing a known traitor to the Empire. Those are very serious charges. One word from me, and they will be executed without mercy.”

Of course, she didn’t actually do any of that, but she needed to bluff him.

“Ha!” cried the bureaucrat. “Do you really think I would believe that?! The charter of the secret police does not allow that to happen!”

“That only applies to citizens of the Empire.”

Now the bureaucrat looked quite worried. “Okay, let’s not be hasty…”

He was cracking. Theodora turned to one of her officers and said, “Take them to the execution room.”

“Okay! Okay! I’ll talk!” said the bureaucrat, bursting into tears. “Just spare my family!”

He rattled off a list of names, addresses, and information about rebels and spies within the Ministry of Security, the Senate, and many other institutions.

She turned back to face the bureaucrat. “Good. Second question: what did the rebels do to my brother, and who can undo it?”

A cathedral on my family’s estate? Seems a waste to build such a thing so far from where anyone lives. Well, I suppose it’s good to know the new Italian leader is wasting money on useless buildings no one will ever visit instead of the army. Now, would you happen to know if the Pope plans to visit the opening of this cathedral upon its completion?

– Senator Donatello Favero

“I do not think it wise to plot mischief upon the person of the Bishop of Rome, Donatello, and profaning a church with violence, even one of the Latin Rite, would be a terrible sin.”

-Senator Angelos

“From what my operatives can determine by analyzing his intercepted communications, he has no plans yet.”

“A quick reminder that the church hasn’t been built yet, and while an assassination attempt on the (false) Bishop of Rome is being considered, it is not likely to be carried out. Instead, the Ministry is focusing on the plan to start a power struggle between the Lombardi family and the Papacy, which would not only destabilize but also degrade and destroy the rebel factions in Burgundy and Italy.”

Alexios fidgets with his hands agitatedly. “The much-lauded security and confidentiality of the Romans is clear to behold, if political assassination is discussed openly in the Boule.

“Further, I must protest violent action against men of the cloth in the strongest possible terms, no matter if they are of the Latin Rite, for if we step down that path, who knows what terrors it will unleash in days to come!”

I am not sure what mischief or violence you’re referring to, but I’d just like to know if I’ll have to send in some Orthodox priests to bless my lands once they are reclaimed so as to ward off the foul heretical stench of papists. I hear it curdles the wine and makes the grapes go sour.

– Senator Donatello Favero

“Well, until that happens, you and your family are still welcome to stay as long as you like in Thessaloniki or my home in the City.”


18 May 1912
Senators,
As most of you witnessed, the unveiling of the Impressionist collection went extremely well. Impressionist music in particular is popular at the new concert halls in Constantinople. We are, as you might expect, now gathering the best Expressionist works of the Empire.

On 7 March, Hedjaz capitulated to Us. Not only does this shorten the border we need defend, but they agreed to hand over Taibei.

This freed I. Legio, XIX. Legio, and XXXVII. Legio to form a line to stop Russia from striking further south.

Meanwhile, XVI. Legio defeated a Russian force and then withdrew to Thracia.

II. Legio continued fighting in Armenia until May. They could have kept fighting, but the loss of their general and the occupation of the region around them meant retreat was a wiser move.

With the war turning in Our favor, We sent Poland-Lithuania the price for peace: the freedom of the Cambodian people.

To summarize the war situation:

The legions in Iberia are continuing to reinforce themselves. XVII. Legio is at full strength, but We needed to build more transports to bring them back into the war. One of those transports was just attacked off the coast of Oviedo, and the Western Mediterranean fleet is assisting them. We will likely have this legion attack Flanders-Wallonia.

Southern Germany is slowly being occupied. Western Germany has fallen completely to Our control, and the legions are seeking to occupy northern and central Germany. Meanwhile, the UTA has landed a force in Rotterdam.

Flanders-Wallonia has lost to Burgundy, which took Wallonie proper from them. There are few Walloons in Flanders-Wallonia itself, most are in France and Burgundy. Flander-Wallonia has sent small forces to pester the legions in Germany, but not with any success. As We mentioned before, We plan to send XVII. Legio to bring them back into the Imperial fold.

The Polish corridors are being expanded.

Little has happened in South Africa, because Russia landed a force to retake German South Angola. XXXIII. Legio fought them and lost badly.

Batavia has been occupied, and the legions are occupying Bogor. A small force is attempting to reoccupy Batavia, while the main Javanese force continues to take control of Sunda. Nevertheless, the loss of Batavia means that Java is nearly ready to capitulate. If they do, then recruitment from Java, Taibei, and New Guinea might give XI. Legio and XXXXII. Legio enough strength to do major work in Oceania.

India is distracting the majority of Japanese and Ming forces, fortunately. But they may become very worrisome before long.

Armenia and Anatolia are lost for now, but IX. Legio has received new recruits. Given some time for it and XVI. Legio to recover, they may be able to strike back at complacent Russian forces.

Meanwhile, in Aeteorea…

The Waata family managed to survive the period of May to September, 1911, if only barely. Anaru and Hinewai did their best to make sure their mother, Anahera, survived through the rough winter. In mid-September, the guards appeared to unchain them and return them to their original holdings. With August having passed, they had survived their first full year at Tipene’s camp.

By the New Year, things were starting to get worrying. Rumors were spreading that the nearby camps were doing horrifying things, though no one knew what things they were exactly doing. Everyone feared for the worst – servitus, stuprum, and what have you. At least the weather was nice, for now.

Arriving at May of 1912, people have started noticing a decrease in people, at least at Tipene’s camp. Everyone was getting nervous, especially as the rumors began having rather colorful descriptions. Anaru, weakened but not broken, stayed awake at night, making sure no one took his sister or mother.

23 February 1912

At the unveiling of the Impressionist collection, Nestorius Thaddas and Kyrene Thaddas were both in attendance. The two had managed to come to an agreeance and had the Aeteorean governorship watch over lil’ Timon. Nestorius was seen wearing an old school looking attire, originally worn by his father, while Kyrene had what seemed to be a devantiere, bought second-hand within town, lacking a hat and in a similar color to Nestorius’ attire. With their clothes, they wanted to display how an average Constantinopolian would be clothed for such an event after the Communist attack – either borrowing from one’s family, buying second-hand or just wearing what seems most fancy.

Returning from the collection, the two began thinking about the potential of introducing these new movements to Aeteorea, encouraging syncretization with local styles.

18 May 1912

Nestorius, understandably, appeared alone once more at the session. The news of the unveiling’s reception made him very happy, and he couldn’t wait to start hearing more Impressionist music on the radio, nor could he wait to see more about Expressionism. He decided to comment on the military news;

“It really is grand to hear that we’ve managed to take out one front, though I’m worried over Taibei, as it is close to the Ming Empire. The Russian push into Anatolia is still worrying, but I have faith that we’ll be able to push them back. It is great that we’re managing to fight back the Germans, hopefully we’ll soon see them out of the war. Hearing that we’re finally pushing against the Javanese not only warms my heart, it would warm my wife’s heart too. We need to save our fellow Romans in Oceania from the oppressive governments down under!”

Donatello Favero reads over the report from the Battle of Bitlis.

A loss? I consider facing on enemy four times your size and taking out six times the men a victory!

With Iberia secured, it is only a matter of time until the rest of Western Europe is reclaimed. I pray that the eastern theatre, specifically Anatolia, follows a similar path soon.

– Senator Donatello Favero

Indeed Senator Favero. The certainly did more than their share of damage. But in the end they were the ones forced to retreat. Nevertheless, We would accept plenty more losses like that one. Enough of them and Russia would ‘win’ itself to complete defeat.

-The Emperor

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