• Crusader Kings III Available Now!

    The realm rejoices as Paradox Interactive announces the launch of Crusader Kings III, the latest entry in the publisher’s grand strategy role-playing game franchise. Advisors may now jockey for positions of influence and adversaries should save their schemes for another day, because on this day Crusader Kings III can be purchased on Steam, the Paradox Store, and other major online retailers.


    Real Strategy Requires Cunning

defensedefumer

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Hi all, this is my second AAR, after Yes Khan. I am playing the Byzantines in the year 867 in Ironman mode.

Unlike "Yes, Khan!" which was more comedic, this post deals with more science fiction themes. If you want to read a more historical fiction post on the Byzantine AAR, you should try the Komnenian Restoration.

So here are the chapters:

Prologue
Act I: The Time Traveler's story
Chapter 1: It's all wrong!
Chapter 2: The Illuminati
Chapter 3: Convincing the senate
Chapter 4: Save Jerusalem, save the world
Chapter 5: Flowers for the bruised Reed
Chapter 6: Soft Sword vs Sword of the Sunnis

Act II: The Emperor member
Chapter 7: Look, a son!
Chapter 8: Rome reports
Chapter 9: The fall of the Illuminati

Act III: The Serbian Wolf
Chapter 10: A chance at redemption
Chapter 11: The lion of the North
Chapter 12: Incorruptible
Chapter 13: Black Operations
Chapter 14: Last flight of the Wolf

Act IV: His Majesty's Secret Service
Chapter 15: Room 13
Chapter 16: The one who dares
Chapter 17: Pirates of the Mediterranean

Act V: Elementary
Chapter 18: A Scandal in Rome
Chapter 19: A Study in Blue or Green
Chapter 20: The French Interpreter
Chapter 21: The Final Answer
Chapter 22: The Hounds of Justice

Act VI: Flash-forward
Chapter 23: The Red Event
Chapter 24: The Secret Origin of the Great Mistake
Chapter 25: The ardent feminist
Chapter 26: Purple son

Act VII: East India Company
Chapter 27: Glory seeker
Chapter 28: But there's money to be made
Chapter 29: Steel beasts

Act VIII: Healthcare
Chapter 30: On the brink
Chapter 31: TARDIS
Chapter 32: Borrowing time

Acts IX: The men who swallow armies
Chapter 33: Deadliest warriors
Chapter 34: Just bring it!
Chapter 35: Black swan event
Chapter 36: A mysterious stone

Act X: Rome Reformed
Chapter 37: Diet of worms
Chapter 38: Bondage of Rome
Chapter 39: Letters to the Mongol Nobility
Chapter 40: Under the table talk

Act XI: Looper
Chapter 41: World's most wanted
Chapter 42: Caging the beast
Chapter 43: Escape from Newcastle
Chapter 44: Fight dirty
Chapter 45: Enemy at the bait
Chapter 46: A new deal

Act XII: The Musician
Chapter 47: Bad Blood
Chapter 48: Swords and Roses
Chapter 49: Blank Slate

Act XIII: You smell what the Emperor is cooking?

Chapter 50: The rocky years
Chapter 51: The Imperial cult
Chapter 52: You don't know what you have unleashed
Chapter 53: The Modena Project

Act XIV: The Iron Man Chef
Chapter 54: You donkey!
Chapter 55: Rome nightmares
Chapter 56: Take your jacket and wuss off
Chapter 57: The only way to beat plants


Act XV: War Journal
Chapter 58: Born
Chapter 59: Up is down, Black is white
Chapter 60: Long, Cold Dark

Act XVI: Life is Strange
Chapter 61: A New Hope
Chapter 62: Religious, not superstitious
Chapter 63: Life is kind of crap
Chapter 64: I'll show you the dark side
Chapter 65: Revolution of the mind
Chapter 66: Tuscan Station

Act XVII: Mask in the Iron Man
Chapter 67: The Great Mistake
Chapter 68: The Renaissance
Chapter 69: The Long Goodbye
 
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defensedefumer

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Prologue

How did it all happen? How did it end like this? New York had fallen. London was no more. Even Beijing was not spared from the Great Mistake.

Reed has managed to gather the greatest minds he could find in Rome. In their underground bunker they had a plan to save the world. Or more accurately, part of a plan.



"Our time on Earth is over," Anthony, the leading robotics expert concluded. "We need to travel back in time to prevent the disaster in the Middle East."

"How far back?" the diminutive Janet asked.

"1900. We need to have sufficient time to prevent the Ottomans from collasping, and their empire to being partitioned."

There was then a short discussion on who would go. They had decided on Reed. He was the only one among them with military experience, part of Singapore's conscription programme.

Reed had been unaccustomed to the disaster that had brought him here. He tried to reason his way out, but the decision was final. Before he could protest more, the temperature of the bunker suddenly soared. The end had come.

"Hurry!" Anthony urged, pushing Reed into the time-machine. As fire flooded the chambers, many of the team had instantly turned to ash.

\

Taking one last look at the cremated bodies, Reed started the machine.



A flash of light engulfed him as darkness covered his eyes. When Reed recovered consciousness to see spears pointed at his face. He was surrounded by hostile soldiers who were yelling at him. Activating the universal translator on his watch, Reed's eyes widen in horror as he understood what his captors were saying.

"By the authority of Emperor Basileious, we demand you speak your purpose, heathen!"
 
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defensedefumer

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Chapter 1: It's all wrong!

"What year is this?" the bespectacled Reed asked in response. He was shocked upon receiving the answer. The year was 867, and he was lying in a field outside Istanbul. Or rather Constantinople. It was really nobody's business but the Greeks.

The guards demanded their answers now. Reed exclaimed that he just arrived in the city, but the guards grabbed him by his garments.

"You lie! You have strange eye-wear, strange robes, and a strange bracelets! You must be a Sunni spy!"

"Wait! I have information for your Emperor! If you kill me, you're never hear what information I have for the Emperor."

The guards paused. Captain Michael gestured to his men to search Reed for weapons and was satisfied he could find none. Sending a messenger to fetch the Emperor, the stout captain warned Reed that if he was lying, he would snap Reed's neck.

Reed did not have a plan-- but he had part of it. He was buying time to think. Within the hour, an impressive contingent of guards arrived with their emperor in tow. The middle-aged emperor seemed irritated to be called out of his palace. The Singaporean had better say something impressive. Emperor Basileios rode out to meet Reed. Reed figured that he was so unusual looking (with his Chinese features and the like) that the Imperial artists immediately started sketching the historic meeting.



"The African Sunnis are attacking my colonies in Sicily; why should I waste my time with you?"




"Because Emperor Basileious, I am going to help you win this war, and save the world."


The Empire in 867
 

DKM

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You have peaked my curiosity with something new!

submarines are awesome.
 

defensedefumer

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Chapter 2: The Illuminati



Pulling out a modified flashbang he had made out of a Chinese bottle, Reed demonstrated its effectiveness by tossing it at a nearby field. The strange lettering of on the surface already captured his audience's attention. Before Emperor Basileios could ask any questions, a blinding light appeared. This caused him to fall off his horse.

The crowd gasped. Reed's legs literally shivered. Was he to be executed for his rash demonstration? Adjusting his crown, Emperor Basileios grinned.

"Ah! That was a spectacle!"

Gesturing to Captain Michael, Emperor Basileios informed the good soldier to give a room in the palace to Reed. Such talented mind should not be wasted. Reed had managed to live another day. Just like the world he had left behind.

In his room, he immediately set to work. He immediately asked for parchments to scribble on. The original plan was work with the Ottomans, but now he had the Byzantines. He had to ensure the events of the Great Mistake did not happen, but to ensure the timeline did not change too much. He had already given the Byzantines access to the flashbang.

Yet Reed knew it was a hopeless task. In the past (or rather, future), he had a team to work out their future actions. Here, there was only him. His fourth-hand knowledge of the Middle Ages hampered his adjustments.



A few weeks later, Reed entertained an unusual guest. Ecumenical Patriarch Ignatios, an ancient man, appeared at Reed's doorway.

"You looked troubled, son."



The Singaporean nodded, without saying anything. Patriarch Ignatios bowed his head to acknowledge Reed's response. He had counselled many before to know when one was trying to avoid the issue. The wise old man began with something unrelated. The Byzantines routed the Africans in Sicily. Attributing his success to a miracle, Emperor Basileios went on a pilgrimage.





Sensing that Reed had warmed up to him, Patriarch Ignatios began, "Where are you really from?". Reed lied, saying that he was from the East. Patriarch shook his head. He knew how to spot a liar-- long before he became a priest, he was a damn good one. Reed signed. He then told Patriarch Ignatios the truth.

It was more difficult than expected-- how could Reed explain computers without knowledge of electronics? How could Reed explain inflation before Economics had been formalised? How could Reed explain nuclear strikes without reference to the atom?

"Does the Empire survive?"

Reed shook his head, telling his listener about the events of 1453.



Patriarch Ignatios displayed sadness in his eyes, but was attentive throughout. Nevertheless, he had a suggestion. Reed was trying to handle everything by himself. He should recruit some individuals to help him. This would not only disputed the workload, but ensure that his work continued to through the generations.

Reed saw the genius of this idea. Why was he doing everything by himself?

A few weeks later, he spoke a gathering of liked-minded individuals. To hell with maintaining the timeline-- he had a world to save.

"Welcome to the Illuminati. Today's topic will be on the scientific method."


The Empire in 876
 

defensedefumer

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Chapter 3: Convincing the Senate



With the restoration of the Antioch church in 872, the religious community gained strength and influence among the political leaders. This suited Reed's purposes. Most of the Illuminati were priests-- Reed had looked to the educated for his members, and all universities were attended by the clergy and nobles. Since most of the clergy were unmarried folk, Reed half-wondered if it was the reason why graudates from modern universities were called "bachelors".

To his surprise, the clergy were more receptive to his ideas and visions than the nobles. The members of royalty preferred to spend their time in fashions, political intrigue and luxury rather than focusing on improving the Empire.

"Where does God lie in all your works?" Patriarch Ignatios asked. Reed smiled, commenting that most people do not believe in an "old man in the sky". Patriarch Ignatios chuckled, saying that he did not believe in the god Reed had just described.

Reed decided to be frank. He had read reports of millions being incinerated by nuclear blasts. He had no news of his family during the events of the Great Mistake. Finally he had seen his colleagues reduced to ashes just before their best laid plans landed Reed in the wrong time.

"It's not that I do not believe in God; I just want to return my ticket when I see him," the Singaporean ended, borrowing a quote from The Brothers Karamazov.

The old man looked at Reed with sadness in his eyes and hugged him. Reed had little time to catch up with his own emotions since the Great Mistake. Apologising for his outburst, Reed pointed out that the first thing they had to do was to encourage Emperor Basileios to be more pious. However, the Emperor had been doing that himself.



Reading Confessions and the City of God, Emperor Basileios decided that the religious community should play a bigger role in the government. He proposed a parliamentary system -- the Senate which consisted of the nobles, and the Diocese which consisted of the religious leaders. Naturally, the Senate sought oppose the motion, hindering Reed's plan. Reed was a novice in the political realm, but Patriarch Ignatios was more experienced.

Patriarch Ignatios reminded Duke Amphilochios that incest was a terrible sin, and that Emperor Basileios with new zeal would be "less-than-friendly" with all sinners. The duke, having a special relationship with his sister immediately understood what the priest meant. Within weeks, the Diocese was formed.



Reed on the military end, reminded the emperor on how fickle his bodyguards were. After all, if the previous emperor was slaughtered by his own guards (led by Basileios himself), then they were unreliable in the first place. The Emperor agreed, setting up the Varangian Guard, a 3 000 men-strong mercenary band. The mercenaries hailed from the North, and easily intimidated all potentials contenders to rethink their ambitions.



The Emperor would always bring their seafaring expertise on amphibious assaults.



With the empire nearing Jerusalem, Reed revealed phase 1 of his plan.

"Save Jerusalem; save the world."



Bishop Iakobos, one of the Illuminati raised his hand. He pointed out that despite the growing military strength and political unity of the Empire, the walls of Jerusalem were thick and well protected by the Sunnis. The Singaporean gave his trademark grin, as if he had had anticipated such a question.

Pulling out a strip of metal, he ignited it and a small explosion was triggered,



"First we build a bomb. In order to save world, we have to be prepared to break it."


The Empire in 883
 

mike the knight

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Wow! Reed will be the unknown savior of the Empire! I always knew that Illuminati were hiding inside the clergy :p
 
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defensedefumer

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Chapter 4: Save Jerusalem, save the world

Patriarch Ignatios had passed away and a new Ecumenical Patriarch had taken over. Patriarch Diogenes was barely thirty years old, but had wisdom beyond his age.



He listened attentively as Reed described the Great Mistake to him. The initial conflict arose out of the dispute of the ownership of Jerusalem. If the Empire could hold on to Jerusalem, there would be no doubt who really owned the city. For them to save the world, they had to annex Jerusalem.

Despite having the use of explosives, they needed to get near the city first. They nearly suffered their first setback when Emperor Basileios suffered a wound at the Battle of Adeleon.



The wound became infected, and the emperor became gravely ill. The Empire was on the brink of reformation. Would Basileios's death halt it? Already, whispers to undo his policies were prevalent in the senate.



Reed was no doctor, but he was a biophysicist. Grabbing leftover bread, he left it to rot outside his window, to the disgust of his fellow Illuminati members. As green mold grew on the bread, the Singaporean mashed the mold and demanded to see Emperor Basileios. Reed declared confidently, "I can save his life!"

A gruff Norseman stood in Reed's way. Despite Reed describing how his new antibiotic could work where traditional methods failed, the Varangian Guard refused to bulge.

"Fine! If the Emperor dies, let it be on your head! And all the Norsemen!" Patriarch Diogenes threatened the guard. Reed may be a scientific genius, but the priest knew his way around. The guard relented, and the treatment began.



Being immensely grateful, Emperor Basileios was willing to listen to the advice of Reed. Reed grinned. He had an idea to capture Jerusalem. In order to push the reserve troops quickly to the front lines, Reed suggested that the troops use his newly-made bicycles to travel. He had already enlisted an Imperial artist to represent his ideas.



This tactic changed the tide of the war, as the Byzantines managed to overwhelm the Arabian Empire.



The Arabians caught by surprised, retreated into the Jerusalem, thinking they would be safe behind the high walls. They were unprepared for the explosives long prepared by the Illuminati. Expectedly, the walls came tumbling down, and the Byzantine army rushed into the city. Despite orders to leave the civilians alone, there was a massacre of Jews, Muslims and Arabs-looking Christians alike. The Varangian Guard took particular delight in hacking up their captives, showing nothing but bloodlust.





With the restoration of Jerusalem, Reed felt guilt-stricken. So many innocents had died for his grand plan. Was he no better than the people who initiated the Great Mistake? Emperor Basileios assured him that accidents happened all the time. That answer did not satisfy him. A more disciplined force was needed. The world needed AVENGERS!

"Or a Brotherhood," suggested a vast majority of the Illuminati.



From now on, the Illuminati had a military arm, sworn to protect Jerusalem at all costs. As Reed was busy ordering the reconstruction of Jerusalem's walls, a young blonde hair girl approached him. Reed had recognised the lady as being the daughter of one of the Norseman assigned to protect the emperor. He had treated her myopia by constructing a visor for her.



"Your seed is important," Suskind spoke plainly. "I want to marry you."


The Empire in 896
 
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defensedefumer

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The flashbang in Byzantium is pretty appropriate since a lot of outsiders considered Greek fire to be a kind of miracle

I doubt Basil would agree to a parliamentary system :laugh:
Thanks for everyone's support! My next post will come in several weeks unfortunately. My career demands me elsewhere for the moment. Apologies in advance!
 
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DKM

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Now all he has to do is show the Empire modern guns and we're set.
 

defensedefumer

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Chapter 5: Flowers for the bruised Reed

"You don't understand," Reed explained to the clueless Prince Bardas. Son of Emperor Basileios, Bardas had become fast friends with Reed, enjoying the intellectual conversations. Reed was adamant not to have anything to do with Suskind. The lady was barely 18, and Reed was now 52. The age difference was too big.

Prince Bardas was puzzled. He had always heard Reed assert that there was no God, no immortality of the soul and no concept of right and wrong. Yet the future man was arguing that marrying someone less than half his age was inherently wrong. Prince Bardas pointed the apparent contradiction out.

Unable to think of a comeback, Reed decided to at least "date" Suskind first. The concept of a date was foreign to Reed's new peers, but Reed explained that it was a way to know his potential mate better. Prince Bardas listened attentively, and paraphrased Reed-- "a courtship".

Going out with Suskind at the Imperial gardens, Reed questioned Suskind on her choice. The Norse often preferred great warriors over intellectuals. Although Reed had accompanied the emperor in the battlefield, he had never really used a weapon in real combat. Lifting her visor, Suskind stared sternly at Reed.



"Your mind is worth 10,000 warriors. Your inventions -- the bomb, the flashbang and the bicycle has slaughtered thousands alone. This is more than any viking can hope for," she stated, as if it was obvious.

However, Reed was stunned. Back in his own time, he was regarded as a nerd. No lady would think twice about him. His mother would often tell him he would find a suitable partner in the future. Ironically he found one in the past. Suskind was no simple-minded medieval peasant girl. She was quick-witted, diligent and straight-forward. It was little surprise that they got married within a few weeks.

A few days later, Patriarch Diogenes and Prince Bardas were shocked to see Reed praying in a church. Thinking Reed was suffering from a fever, Patriarch Diogenes almost called for the Imperial doctor. Reed made an earth-shattering remark. "I believe in God."

Assuring his friends that he was not joking, he revealed that despite all the hardships he had faced, they only made sense if God existed. After all, if God did not exist, then how could Reed call his future "wrong"? Although he was not fully convinced of Reed's conversion, Patriarch Diogenes agreed to hold the wedding ceremony.



However, Emperor Basileios did not attend the wedding. The sudden death of his favourite son, Prince Leon caused him to spiral into depression. Everyone in the empire loved Prince Leon. He was eloquent, good-looking and could even handle a blade well.



Prince Bardas did not enjoy the same support. Despite being the new heir, he was nicknamed "Softsword" for his lack of physical ability. Emperor Basileios halfheartedly mentored Bardas, but the lessons always ended up with Bardas being compared to the deceased Leon. Emperor Basileios passed away soon after, leaving the Empire into the hands of Emperor Softsword.



The Sunni Caliph wasted no time calling a Jihad against the Empire. Emperor Bardas panicked and summoned Reed. Confident, Reed revealed that he had prepared a planning committee. Showing the emperor a secret bunker, the Singaporean revealed Patriarch Diogenes and several bishops and priests as members of the Illuminati.

"The Sunnis have been planning an assault for years, but we have been working for decades. We'll show you how to save the Empire."

 
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