The Empire Strikes Back 107 - The End of the Great Wars
18 May 1914
We found that providing basic health care to the populace of the Empire had worked rather well. We thus decided to increase the benefits.
Shortly after that, the demonstration of the latest works of art in the Empire was quite successful.
However, the loss of the western Empire and the ongoing wars have led people within the Empire to feel like a lost generation. Hopefully the new field of Social Anthropology will help Us to counter those feelings.
As the wars continued, Scandinavia saw the opportunity to strike at a distracted Russia.
Then on 16 July, Adal finally agreed to Our peace terms. XVII. Legio was sent to the East to fight against Makassar.
At this same time, XXV. Legio and XXXVI. Legio were campaigning in Aoteorea. When the Aoteorean army moved north to reclaim Tauranga, XXXVI. Legio pounced on them and forced their rapid surrender. The remaining Aoteorean land fell quickly, even while liberating the various camps and ghettos. The things the legions found… We will not speak of them. Senator Thaddas can share the sordid details if you truly wish to know. But Aeoteorea has been reincorporated to the Empire now, and the legions have moved on Australia.
In Australia, they found a rebellion of Jacobins hoping to create a less tyrannical government for their new state.
By November, the labor unions were asking for yet higher minimum wages, and We agreed that they were necessary.
Then in early December, Luang Prabang agreed to peace after XVII. Legio had occupied the southern reaches of their land.
By late December, Hungary tried to take advantage of Polish weakness. However, Poland-Lithuania’s allies joined them against Hungary.
At the turn of the year, We revealed that We had been having the military develop organized systems of aeronautical warfare.
By February, We convinced Makassar to give up some islands for peace.
Then in April, South Africa finally surrendered.
But just this last week, We received word that communists have taken over Ukraine. Not only have they slaughtered the royal family, but they have seized all assets owned by foreigners, including Imperial citizens. We will not stand for these atrocities.
Fortunately, Khiva has just surrendered, so the wars are continuing to swing in Our favor.
12 June 1913
At the grand exhibition of the Empire’s latest works of art, Nestorius and Kyrene Thaddas both appeared in regular formal attire. Unlike the previous exhibitions, the two felt as though they had to show some normality, especially with realism being a major movement represented. Nestorius’ favorite movements were Expressionism and the new Surrealism, while Kyrene’s were Impressionism and Realism. Nestorius, however, is still looking to see how the avant garde develops.
July 1913; Aeteorea
The arrival of the Empire forced those loyal to the new government to rush and brace themselves. However, they never expected the legions to be as prepared as they were fast. Soon, one of the legions arrived in the Central Otago region. They rushed into the many camps in the area, horrified by the absolutely fascistic atmosphere. Some of the camp leaders had committed suicide in their offices after hearing that the Empire was close. Such camps were easier to liberate, as the guards were forced into guerilla warfare - something they hadn’t been trained for. The combat at the camps which still had leaders lasted slightly longer, but only slightly. They had also received messages regarding the Waata family, which should be in the area.
One by one, the camps fell, but no sign of the Waatas. A Kontoubernion split from the legion to search one of the few remaining camps. While the camp appeared as the rest when they entered, the deeper they got, the more horrifying it became. Mutilated bodies in the name of experimentation, immured people which barely any access to food and water, and even the most brutal methods of capital punishment, including decapitation, burning, flaying, gas and even crucifixion! And under close inspection, it seemed as though it wasn’t only prisoners who suffered - the guards had killed themselves as well! According to some chained prisoners, guards dragged several enslaved people to their deaths as well.
Soon, they arrived at the main office, where the camp leader should be. Where they expected to be a corpse hanging from the ceiling, they found an empty office. Identifying the leader as “Tipene Parata”, they searched inwards…. to discover Tipene’s gynaeceum. While they had found such enslaved women in other camps, Tipene’s took the cake. Chained women, lined up as though he could just go from one to another. Some had lost their legs from fighting back, others their tongues for speaking back - there were even some that were dead, but looked as though they had just recently been “used”. As they passed through, they heard something; the sound of struggle. They rushed inward, following the sound of fighting, to find two guards, a chained woman and a man with his pants down. The woman was fighting back with all her strength, and the guards seemed ready to cut her legs off, as to allow the man to….. do what he wishes.
The Kontoubernion rushed in, pointing their guns at the four. The woman stared at them as though she was dreaming, the man with his pants down as though he was in a nightmare. The guards got in fighting position, as guns were aimed to their heads. There was silence, as everyone waited to see who’d make the first move. A minute would pass before the depantsed man attempted to make a run for it. One of the men bashed the butt of his gun against the man’s face, thrusting him to the ground and pinning him. One of the guards charged, only to get shot. The other threw his native blade at the men, only to miss and be shot as well. With all hostiles seemingly identified and defeated, two of the men rushed to call the legion while the others stayed to free the campers. The woman revealed herself as Hinewai Waata, who then pointed out that the man with his Honetana hanging out was Tipene. While Tipene is brought to the rest of the legion, Hinewai leads them to Anaru and Anahera, who were extremely worried when Hinewai was taken from them a few weeks earlier. The Waata family, along with everyone else at the camp, is taken to safety.
By the end of the Aeteorean campaign, there were papers upon papers of documents, revealing all the horrifying acts that had occurred on the islands, to both natives and foreigners. The dictator Tane himself was unable to kill himself in time when he was captured by the legions. All those connected to the Tane dictatorship were going to get their punishment from Constantinople itself, while all those who suffered were put in intense care. When the news of Tane’s surrender arrived at the HQ of the Aeteorean governorship, everyone celebrated, except Nestorius and Kyrene, who worried over the latter’s family. Only a few days later would they know that they were fine, leading to Kyrene to collapse on the ground, crying. Nestorius joined her in her crying almost immediately.
18 May 1914
It had been a year since the last time the senators had gotten together, and almost a year since Aeteorea returned to the hands of the Empire. Kyrene had decided to go to Aeteorea to visit her family, informing them of everything that had happened while she was gone, and how worried she was. Anahera was happy her daughter had gotten married, especially to someone who cared for her so much. Kyrene was currently touring Aeteorea, making sure that people were feeling the Romanity that was spreading on the mainland, as well as making sure everything was ready for the Aeteorean governorship to move to the islands proper.
Back in Constantinople, the Aeteorean governorship was working its tail off, making sure everything was ready to move to Aeteorea and let their HQ once more just be the Thaddai estate. As a result, no one was able to watch lil’ Timon, forcing Nestorius to take his son with him.
Nestorius was glad to hear that the grand exhibition from a year prior was a success, and was waiting to hear what else could pop up in relation to movements in the meantime, especially from the avant garde. Better health care and acceptable minimum wages were a positive for him. Adal, Luang Prabang, Makassar, South Africa and Khiva are being defeated, along with Aeteorea, really showed that things were moving along nicely. Scandinavia and Hungary attempting to take advantage of the global situation made him chuckle for a bit. He hoped things were going to go swell in Australia, and that things aren’t as messed up as they were in Aeteorea. He was shocked by the communist revolution in Ukraine, to say the least.
When the atrocities in Aeteorea were mentioned, Nestorius spoke: “Yes, the things found by the legions were…… quite bad, to put it lightly. I myself do not wish to speak of any of the sordid details, both because I wish to never hear or read anything related to them again, and because I’m currently with my son. If any of you really, really wish to see any info, please go and request the documents that detail the atrocities. That is all that I will say on the matter.”
So the communists have seized rightful Roman property in Ukraine? I wonder what that feels like….
Glares in the general direction of Italy.
- Senator Donatello Favero
18 May 1915
After the last address, We decided to implement a new kind of reform. In order to ease unemployment, We instituted a pension system for older workers. Now people would have a few years of rest at the end of their life, and would free up jobs for their younger peers.
The Scandinavian adventure against Russia went as poorly as one might expect, but Russia was content to sign a reasonable peace with them.
In fact, the Russians had taken the opportunity to send a fleet all the way to the Strait of Gibraltar, hoping to force open the Mediterranean. To Our shock and dismay, the fleets lost. Badly. Clearly We needed to put more effort into modernizing the navy.
As the legions began incorporating small aircraft and the necessary staff into their ranks, We asked the navy to determine the doctrines that would determine the next several decades of naval warfare.
In the east, despite the efforts of the various fleets, the Philippine army was able to begin fighting XI. Legio. Their great numbers gave them an edge, until XVII. Legio, having re-occupied various nearby islands, was able to join them. With this aid, they were able to break the Philippine army.
At the end of August, We forced the reintegration of Australia, after the cabal of businessmen running it were defeated in their final stronghold on Tasmania. It was clear that Aoteorea’s Tane had taken his inspiration from these men. The world is full of horrors these recent years.
And by mid-November, the strategy of a direct attack on Scotland had paid off.
The continued economic consequences of the wars meant there was yet more need for greater unemployment subsidies, and so We provided more in late November.
In early March, the navy’s assessment was clear: they would need more naval bases. While We began building these bases, We tasked the navy with finding ways of reducing their greatest risks, as the legions had done.
At the end of April, the Philippines finally surrendered. The last rebel nations had either been reintegrated or had achieved independence.
In addition to the war going well, the new museums in Constantinople have the seen the explosion of the arts throughout the Empire. And aren’t the new skyscrapers, shining in the sun, so glorious?
Theodora hadn’t been at the Senate for the last few sessions.
“Sorry for being absent so long, I have had to deal with family affairs and my duties as Minister of Security. It is great that the rebel scum are being crushed and brought back into the fold. Nestorius, I would be glad to provide someone to watch over your son while you continue your work. I know how it feels to have to balance family and work (my father, for example, was frequently absent). Donatello, I assure you that as soon as the truce with the rebel scum in Italy has expired, they will all die the deaths that they deserve, and you shall recover your properties and assets.”
She then heard about the communist coup in Ukraine.
“Peasant rabble, killing most of their royal family and taking control? They were mislead by demagogues and by liars, promising greater ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ in exchange for heinous acts. This slight will not go unpunished. The surviving members of the royal family have been given refuge in Constantinople, and I strongly urge the Emperor to, once the situation permits it, launch an invasion of Ukraine to depose the communist government and restore the monarchy before the communists can consolidate their power and support communist coups in other countries.”
With each victory we achieve, we are one step closer to fending off these fiendish invasions and reuniting the Empire. I long to see a return to our glory days.
- Senator Donatello Favero
A frail old man stands up in the Senate. His name is Manuel III of the Hohenzollern- Palaiologoi cadet branch of the Palaiogoi dynasty. He announces:”Kythos had attempted to travel into Ming and Japan to negotiate an honorable peace and an end to the war between them and the Roman Empire. He was brutally beaten and tortured by the Ming and eventually executed by firing squad in Japan after he made some… unpleasant comments about Asians while he was drunk. His family became unreasonable so they were… cleansed. The Hohenzollern- Palaiologoi are the last remaining branch of the Palaiologoi dynasty. As such, we are renaming ourselves to be the continuation of the Palaiologoi dynasty as the Palaiologoi. I am a wizened old man, born in Illyria in 1843. I will serve the Emperor faithfully until my death.”
Since the last session, Kyrene Thaddas has returned to Constantinople, having made sure that Romanitas was ensured and that all the government buildings were ready for the move, thus absolving Nestorius from the need of taking his son to the Senate. Nestorius decided to have some of the folks working under him stay at the Thaddai estate in the capital, as the representatives of the Aeteorean governorship in Constantinople. Specifically, he assigned Franco Lazaratos as the main representative, with Welsh sisters Carys and Delyth Cecil, Ukranian female Olena Zhuk, French female Eudokia Lavigne, Antiochos Heraklides and Nicolaos Alexidas working with him. The rest of the folks at the HQ would be going to work in Aeteorea. He only had one more thing to ask at the session.
18 May 1915
Nestorius was glad to hear that a pension system had been introduced. Whether this was because he was happy for the people or because he himself was getting quite old, he wasn’t sure. The Russians beating the Scandinavians, accepting a white peace, as well as them forcing open the Pillars of Hercules caught him off-guard. Scotland getting beat back caused him to smile, while the re-integration of the Philippines and Australia caused him to grin. He wrote down the new art movements, hoping to see if any of them could be applied in Aeteorea. Speaking of which, he reminded himself of something he wished to ask. Before he could, however, Senator Manuel introduced himself. He nodded his way, respecting the man who was 6 years older than him. Once that had passed, he spoke up:
“Your Majesty, if I may ask one thing? As each year passes, the older I become. Soon, I shall be forced to retire from my senatorship. However, because of this, I wish to ask; if it is possible, may I continue my duties as Governor of Aeteorea following my retirement from my position as Senator?”
9 July 1915
Shortly after the last address, Our investigations showed that neglect by factory managers and owners caused many injuries to the workers of the Empire, who would then be left to their own devices to recover. We instituted greater safety measures for workplaces throughout the Empire.
And before June, Hungary had won its expansionist war.
In mid-June, Persia agreed to a peace on behalf of their faction.
And just today, Russia agreed to a peace on behalf of theirs.
The Great Wars are ended!
“Victory at last! We have sure shown those Russian scum who is the greatest empire on this earth! Now we must turn our attention to the rebel scum who dare question our authority!”
- Senator Theodora Doukas
It has been a most difficult challenge, fending off these aggressive invaders who would ravage our empire. Yet we have persisted and proved victorious. Russia and all the others shall think twice before engaging in another war with us.
Yet even with this victory, there is much more to do. Much of the western empire lies in the hands of rebels, something that cannot be tolerated. We must show them that their treachery will not be tolerated. I strongly suggest we start with Italy.
- Senator Donatello Favero
Nestorius was still anxious regarding what he had asked his Majesty the ultimate question last month. He tried to cast his anxiety behind himself as he heard the good news.
“We have proven ourselves to the world! We have shown them that we are not weak like the Western Empire of old! We have only grown stronger and more united as a result! Now, while I do agree with my fellow senators that something should be done about the rebellious western rebels, I also believe we should pause for a moment and regain our energy. It has been a tough period for the Empire, and the more energetic we are, the faster we shall defeat the rebels.”
“But remember that the longer we wait, the more time the rebels will have to gain energy. We must strike soon if we are to win, for as the days pass the rebels shall gain more and more support. In addition, our legions are already in fighting condition, so we do not need to demobilize and remobilize them.”
- Senator Theodora Doukas
While We desire to bring the western Empire back into the fold, it is not possible at this time. When the Northern Alliance signed their treaties, they claimed bullying by the Empire forced them to defend themselves. While both they and the Greater Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere started the wars, Our punishing the aggressors was itself seen as an aggressive move. Even many within the Empire feel that We were too harsh.
Additionally, the people of the Empire are exhausted from war.
A time of peace is what the Empire needs for now. This will give time for us to recover, rebuild, reorganize the legions, and repair relations throughout the world.
Senator Thaddas, at the last session you asked if you could remain governor of Aeteorea even after retiring from the Senate. Unfortunately, this cannot be so. Instead, We are instituting a policy of federation with Aeteorea. It will have complete autonomy over its internal affairs and be allowed some degree of autonomy with external diplomacy. We plan to make Kyrene the head of the local government. She has done phenomenal work at your side, and we believe that she is the perfect person to heal the wounds formed in recent years. We would ask that you serve as Our representative to Aeteorea. We hope that this change of plans is not too bitter a disappointment.
Indeed, we are extending this policy of federalism to much of Southern Africa. South Africa will be reformed as a federal state instead of an independent one, as will Namibia, Angola, and Congo. Finally, the state of Kazembe will be handed over to Mutapa.
With the end of the wars, and with these changes, We can finally provide the Senate with a new world map fit for this wonderfully rebuilt Great Palace.
And We will provide a second that includes the federalized territories as part of the Empire.
The world turns against us in several aggressive wars and they consider us the aggressive ones? I hope their nations collapse and their leaders burn in hell.
I shall eagerly await the reconquest of Italy, for I do understand that the people of the Empire are exhausted and need time recover. I pray the rebel states do not use the time to further legitimize themselves.
- Senator Donatello Favero
Nestorius nodded to the news of peace, but when news of Aeteorea’s autonomy arrived, he was, in a way, shocked. He wouldn’t never expected Kyrene in such a position, but as soon as the shock wore off, he straightened his posture and spoke.
“I understand. It isn’t a disappointment, it is a surprise! I would be honored to be Your representative to Aeteorea, possibly even after my retirement from the Senate?” he asked the question in a suggestive tone. He then straightened his posture once more, with eyes widened.
“If you’ll excuse me, I should be bringing someone here,” he said, as he speedwalked out of the Senate, towards the Thaddai estate.
Nestorius soon arrived at his family’s estate. He attempted to open the front door, but he realized it was locked, so he rushed to grab his keys from his pockets and, after a few minutes of fumbling around with them, unlocked the door and entered. With his arrival, many heads popped up, checking to see who it was. Many were confused, as he should be at the senate. Soon, he found Kyrene, watching lil’ Timon.
“Cyrene, you have to come with me quickly! You’re needed at the Senate!” he told her.
“Wait, what?! Why would they need me?”
“You’ll find out there!” he told her, as Franco checked to see what was going on, “Franco, my boy! Watch Timon while the two of us head to the senate,” he told him, as Kyrene slowly stood up and motioned Nestorius to go.
Leaving Franco somewhat confused, and the rest curious, the two rushed out of the estate and headed towards the senate.
“Did they give you that post-senatorial governorship you suggested?” she asked.
“My lips are sealed until we arrive.”
Soon, the two arrived at the senate, as Nestorius lead her to where the session was being held.
“Here is the woman of the hour!” he said, as he presented Kyrene in front of the senators and His Majesty. It was obvious to everyone in the room that she had no idea what was going on yet.
Ah, Kyrene Thaddas! We have determined to institute a policy of federation with Aeteorea. An Aeteorean government will be created that has complete autonomy over its internal affairs and be allowed some degree of autonomy with external diplomacy. Due to your excellent work with Nestorius, We desire you to head and create this government. As well We believe that you are the perfect person to bring healing to the Aeteorean people.
If you accept, then the form of the government would be determined by you and your staff, and you would also determine how to handle the crimes committed against the Aeteorean people. We would recommend some kind of commission that would enable people to air the truth of events and bring reconciliation where possible, only trying in the courts the worst offenders. But you and the government you create would have the power to do otherwise if you believe it would be better for Aeteorea.
Your husband would be the representative from both Us and the Senate for as long as he believes he is able to do so, even after he retires from the Senate.
Do you accept this position?
The Empire has been humbled, yes, but never shall it fall! I await the day we regrow our strength enough to retake the land stolen from us fby idiotic radicals with no common sense. I am glad we were able to fend off a world coalition but I say we must arm and militarize to the point that a world coalition would not dare to look us in the eye! We were stabbed in the back by the revolts, we should hang or shoot all the rebels and launch subversive attempts in former Roman provinces to bring them back into the fold. Eventually, I am sure we will restore law and order in those rebellious provinces by pacifying them. We call ourselves Roman yet we do not even own Rome! ((I believe I am an extremely jingoistic and nationalist Roman who supports the movement of the country forward as one but since I’m a noble, I despise fascism for its populism))
- Manuel III
There is some shuffling and banging outside the hall where the Boule sits and then a man in the hooded robes of an Orthodox monk enters the chamber, followed by several Palace servants carrying a roll of white cloth and various mechanical devices. The servants quickly set up these devices, a large metal tripod with some sort of camera upon it, a short metal stool with a gramophone upon it, a large power supply and a collapsible metal trellis with hooks at the top, upon which the servants hang the white cloth to create a self-standing fabric wall of a few square feet.
After the servants then set up a standing lamp close to the Imperial throne for the Emperor’s comfort, the monk nods to the servants and all the lights in the hall are extinguished, save for the lamp by the throne. However, amidst the resulting gloom and the whirring of the bulky power supply beside the camera/tripod, a series of grainy black and white moving images are projected onto the cloth wall, interspersed with title-cards briefly explaining what was going to appear next. The short clips include the Baslieus and Basilissa attending a function in the Great Palace, the spectacular Pantokrator mosaic on the roof of the Hagia Sophia, the Patriarch of Constantinople giving his Easter address to the assembled crowds in the City, Imperial soldiers being greeted by cheering civilians as another town is reclaimed from the enemy, young children learning to read and write in Greek in a classroom in the Neapolitan foothills and so on. Meanwhile, the gramophone, which started with a brief snatch of the Imperial anthem, is playing a recording of someone narrating these various film clips.
After the few minutes of film and narration have come to an end with a stirring rendition of “One God, one Emperor, one people!”, the lights come back on, but the monk appears to have disappeared, with Alexios Angelos in his place, looking somewhat greyer than the last time he attended the Boule three years ago.
“Please pardon the deception,” says Alexios, immediately revealing the identity of the recorded narrator, “but you may note only barbarians would attack a man of God and I am pleased to say that we have very few of those left in the world. A distressing number still, certainly, but much fewer than before. As part of my remit in the Ministry of Education, I was asked to bolster the war effort, improve public morale and help in extending Imperial culture even to our farthest-flung domains. I have been travelling said domains for the last three years and, with the wonders of modern technology that you have just experienced, I have helped bring a little piece of the Queen of Cities to every true Roman out there, whether or not he has (or will) ever set foot in the City.
“Are there any questions?”
“Alexios,” said Theodora, “Thank you for the film - far more inspiring and of higher quality than the one that was shown when I first appeared at the Senate at the beginning of the war, of course. It should help our people unite against the barbarians and rebel scum that threaten our empire! With such films propagated throughout the Empire, there is nothing that can divide us further! Now, as Minister of Security I have been asked to boost the power of the security forces of the Empire to help the war effort, and I have done just that, assuring the people that they are safe from attacks by rebel scum and that the Empire will prevail over those who seek to destroy it. Long live the Emperor! Long live the Roman people! God save the Emperor! For Emperor and Empire! For the Senate and the people of Rome!”
A tall dapper chap is climbing up the stairs, whistling to himself. He opens the door, and merrily skips along to the meeting room.
“For Emperor and Empire! For the Senate and people of Rome!”
“It appears that Doukas has become somewhat of a fascist socialist liberal. Maybe she needs a grape.”
“Good evening, fellow romans! What have I missed out on?”
- Senator Julius Marco
Kyrene looked at Her Majesty in shock! A mother with a child, taking on even more children? She sat down for a moment, unsure how to take this revelation. She looked at Nestorius, who seemed ecstatic over the news. She looked him in the eyes, as unsure thoughts filled her mind. Nestorius, noticing her view, looked right back into her eyes, before giving her a nod. She gave him a little smile before nodding herself. She got up and spoke.
“Your Majesty, I am extremely humbled to receive this opportunity. I am honored to head this new era in the history of my home islands!” she said, and as soon as she finished, Nestorius swooped in and hugged her, before giving her a big kiss on the cheek.
At this point, the disguised Alexios arrived and showed his film to the others. After Theodora spoke and Julius arrived, Kyrene spoke once more;
“That was a well made production! Surely, anyone would feel the nature of Romanitas flow through them!”
“Hey Doukas, have a grape.” Marcos throws a grape at Doukas
“You sound like a fascist when your hungry. Better?”
Alexios smiles graciously and politely dips his head to Theodora and Kyrene, then, under cover of his servants clearing away his machines and other paraphernalia, he returns to his sadly neglected seat in the stalls.
Julius notices Alexios
Aw, cheer up friend! The empire is going to be in fine fettle! And don’t worry about being missing for a while. Happens to me all the time! …As much as I wish it wouldn’t happen….. but this time I had a very special occasion.
The grape hit Theodora right in the face. “Why, that’s no way to address a lady, much less the Ministry of Security and a Doukai!” she exclaimed. “And no, I am not a fascist, just trying to share in the national spirit!”
Julius raises an eyebrow. “Sharing the national spirt? Fair enough. But from what you were saying sounded awfully like that fool Palaigios from a while back.”