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Blasted Conniving Roman
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Apr 20, 2007
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January 1st, 2200


A roughness of tone or character. Sharpness, even abrasiveness.

Romanos Komnenos, First of His Name, let the word roll over his tongue as he watched the worldwide holo-broadcast. It wasn't the first time he'd done so.

”Ironic.” he thought. ”After all this money, blood and tears, and our first ship of discovery is named a synonym for being a prat.”

For once, Romanos was alone in private office deep inside the enormous Palace of Emperors. He was grateful at this moment he was not in front of some functionary, let alone the press, or the mob. He as one man, watching the most important moment in human history, like countless billions of men and women that shared this planet. Not Megas Komnenos, but Romanos, the man who as a child stood on his father's tanks to look up at the stars.

Eighty billion in credits, he mused, but the IIP did it. Finally. Even as the child of him watched in wonder, the bureaucrat in him had cringed at the untold fortunes being poured into the research of the International Interstellar Project, treasures that could have sped up rebuilding the world in the image of the old. But the IIP had been humanity's shining hope after the nations of old rained radioactive fire on one another. It'd been the tendril on which a starving, broken world had clung—at least, until the New Eagle Alliance, headed by one Solomon Martin arose to forge a new world by force of arms.

And now, it's creation's engines were finally aglow, stars and space shifting red around the rim of the ISS Asperity as its hyperdrive coughed and spun up for it's first ever test, live for millions to see.

For Romanos, this was also a key component of a larger project, one started by Solomon Martin, handed to his son Demetrios, and now to his grandson Romanos.

The world before 2100 had, by and large, been lost. The great capitals were in ruins, their nations laid to waste. In their place, bandits, warlords, and corporations gone rogue held sway, like so many petty kings squabbling over the corpse of a dead empire. Solomon Martin had been among them, but unlike the others, his dream was not to hold power on a peninsula, or even a continent.

It was to unite the known world, as it had once been united, in the days of the old Komnenoi.

Even now, seven centuries after the collapse of that empire, its very name conjured images of power and majesty, law and order, peace and prosperity, across the wide swathes of land that it had once ruled. Solomon spent years cobbling together bits and pieces—lands here, an army there. The wars had been sharp, some had been bloody, but the tired masses of Terra were eager for law and order after chaos and lawlessness. It was thus on a cloudy day in June, 2128, that the remaining powers that be gathered in the ruins of Constantinople. Riot police lifted Solomon in the manner of the ancients, and proclaimed him a title that called on the medieval glories of an empire lost to war and plague.

Megas Komnenos, Emperor of the Romans, Lord of the World.

Solomon promptly named himself Basilieos, Eighth of that Name, and pronounced he would rule in the light and manner of Hagios Basilieos of long ago. He would unite the faiths of the world, suppress tyranny, promote law and order, and that one day, his people would stretch their hands past their meager home to the stars.

Romanos watched as Asperity's hull seemed to ripple, the announcer formally starting the countdown. T minus one minute...

Eighty billion credits, and countless insurrections from anarchists, Earth Firsts, religious fanatics and democratic rabble that wanted to see the failed states of the 20th century come back—all was an immense check, an IOU to history, that the physics calculations of Dr. Ibrahim ibn Ahad now would attempt to cash. If those drives failed...

...yes, the military was on alert, and Romanos' staff had the Great Patriarch in Konstantinopolis and the Khalifa in Hormuz on rapidcall. The investment banks of Orsini and Sons, JB&P, the Bank of Sortmark—their heads were in this noose as well. Yes, they could short term inject liquidity in the market, but if eighty billion credits went up in smoke...

No, Romanos shook his head. The army would not save them, the banks would not save them, and the religious leaders would turn and say that this was proof that the Komnenoi were corrupt, that money needed to be spent at home, and he would not blame them. Humanity's treasure and hope had ridden on this promise, promulgated by the 'Komnenoi' and enacted by the IIP. If that promise proved false, the world would slide back into anarchy, chaos, and destruction.

Hagios Basileios save us all, he murmured.


The holo screen hung still for a moment, before Asperity and the space around her suddenly bent, warped, then disappeared. Half a second later, there was a distant bright flash of red and blue light. An agonizing minute, then another went by.

“Mission Control, this is Communications Array LD6-8. We have laser whisker communication with Asperity, over. Hyperdrive functional, jump of 0.3 AU achieved, engine functioning at 126.1% of expected efficiency...”

Even deep in the palace, Romanos could hear the whoops from his staff, and the cheers of a world leaving a dark past, for a brighter future.


Long ago, in a galaxy far far away, I wrote a Crusader Kings AAR, called Rome AARisen and I never managed to get a mod set up to follow up what happened with my Byzantine Komnenoi. Then came Stellaris, and the story that has unfolded in the game was simple too amazing to pass up. I'll work on it when I can, but here, hopefully, is the beginning of Rome in the StAARs...



Eh. Are my eyes deceiving me?

A follow up to Rome AARisen, the best AAR to ever have graced these sacred halls of AARland?

I am perplexed. Thrilled. Giddy even.

I am ready.

Welcome back, @General_BT , old friend! :)
OMG, he's back! There is no smiley that can express the joy and anticipation I'm feeling right now. Welcome back, General_BT!
hawaiiansteve - I'm going to try to do a better job with this one compared to my more recent ones. Smaller updates more than likely, but that should help me keep going.

Qorten - Thank you! Though I never really left...I've done a lot of lurking and reading this last few years.

Mill Wilkinson - It's been a long time...

stnylan - Thank you!

Alex Borhild - If I can maintain a tenth of the longevity of Rome AARisen, I'll be pleased. I don't have nearly the free time now that I did back then lol.

Nikolai - We shall see how well this experiment goes!

Some notes about the game I'm playing:
- Huge galaxy
- Hyperlanes only (I've found it leads to more strategic thought)
- Aliens clustered... it's led to some... not United Nations results so far shall we say
- Main story starts 50 years after humanity starts exploring... and continues... now!

rome in the staars chapter one.gif

July 12th, 2254

Hul bowed his head and sighed, his thoughts drumming distantly like the rain outside the stone halls that surrounded him.

He'd shed his tears in the weeks since his mother had passed, and even now he wore the jet black uniform of a Star Marshal not because of his rank as Megas Komnenos, but because he still mourned, not just for his mother, but for himself.

It wasn't supposed to be this soon.

Elizabeth I Komnenos had been a titan among mere mortals. She'd led, in person, the invasion of Nike, subjugating the Sidimatoi before they even knew what had happened. If the holo images were to be believed, she'd shot the Chief Root of their planet underneath their Holy Tree. She'd waded with the Imperial Marines as they sloshed through the morass of Doxa, finding glory in bringing the Tendra Zhun to heel. While no naval strategist, she'd stood on the bridge of the Hagios Pavlos with the famous Admiral Isabel Martinez as she and the Ever Victorious Fleet crushed pirate haven after pirate haven. Even now, her face cast in grim stone, she seemed stare to the heavens, demanding her son follow the call she made when the Sidimatus were first discovered.

Attack, attack, always attack!

empress elizabeth.jpg

This colossus had made the Empire. As humanity struggled on distant worlds, confronted plants, animals and diseases they'd never could prepare for, Empress Elizabeth had kept alive in the minds of all the honor, and the glory, that it was to be a human, and thus, by definition, a Roman.

All undone by an olive, Hul sighed, looking at the marble figure once again.

Now, that colossal weight fell on Hul's shoulders.

No one would likely call Hul Komnenos a handsome man by the standards of the time – like his mother, and his grandfather, he'd disdained bioscuplting in favor of the looks genes, and no more gave him. 38 years old, he had his grandfather's thick beard, and his mother's piercing blue eyes.


Hul turned slowly, and his eyes fell on his son and heir, Boris. The young man was all of 19, a mop of jet black hair setting over a biosculpted face that was on the front page of numerous pages all across the great holonet. Hul resisted the urge to frown.

“The hovercar is outside,” the boy gestured. Hul read between the lines.

I'm bored here. Grandmother is dead, staring at the stone coffin won't bring her back. There are young men to shag, and friends to drink shadwhiskey and smoke cannabis with.

Emperor Hul and Kaisar Boris.jpg

Those friends were part of what made Hul want to frown. Dostok Samuels was one of the most speciesist young men Hul had ever seen.

”What good is a Tednra Zuhn?” Boris' sing song voice repeated Samuels' joke in Hul's mind. “Something extra to cut up and toss on a good burger, that's what!” Slice up the leaves of a Sidimatus, and you'll have your lettuce too!”

Hul already felt his jaws clench. His mother had repeated the same joke, loudly and often.

“I know,” Hul nodded. There would be time before today's Council meeting. There had to be time. With what I must decide today, there must be time. I cannot rush something like this, not today.

He looked back at the coffin.

You made war seem so easy! Hul thought bitterly. Damn you!

Boris' generation knew nothing of the bleak troubles of the past, or the wonder and discovery of Romanos' reign. They knew of the holomovies showing glorious battle, the tales of the Ever Victorious Fleet smashing pirate havens and crushing worlds, a warrior Empress in power armor at their fore. They did not stop to think of the lives lost when Admiral Martinez crashed her corvette into the pirate flagship at Egore – only the statues built in her glorious memory, the new Martinez class destroyers bristling with lasers and missiles. They did not think of the dreams of the Sidimatus or the Tendra Zuhn, only of how to belittle and exploit those caught under the jack boot of the Imperial Marines.

humanity war.jpg

If we aren't careful, one day they'll rise in a tide we cannot stop, a voice in Hul's mind warned. He gave one last look to the stone image of his mother, and blessed and cursed her with the same thought.

An empire of many worlds called out for war against yet another species of alien. And as Megas Komnenos, victory in the flesh, Hul was expected to lead a charge he did not want, in a war he dreaded.

Damn you, he thought to no one, and everyone.


A somber man, with an unthankful task. I like him. His heir, not so much. But there is still time for Boris to learn.
To stand inside a shadow of a forebear is a terrible thing. It blots out the sun, and with the sun blotted out how can anything grow?
I was too late to the party to ever catch up on Rome AARisen. Maybe I can follow this one instead, as you seem to have only just started. I'm looking forward to it!

EDIT: And what could Hul be planning? Equality for all denizens of the Empire? Will he be a Caracalla and extend citizenship (and taxation) to all inhabitants?
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Stuyvesant - Maybe he wants to, but as we'll see, he's got factions to contend with. Incidentally, the thing that got me to stop playing galactic conquest -> boredom was the addition of factions in Utopia. They make the mid-game, where most of this AAR will be, far more interesting!

stnylan - Hul definitely has some big shoes to follow. In game, I had focused on expansion first, taking all the perks of that tree, and with my militarist bent, conquering two little planets early. 9 planets 50 years in is a hefty amount, and it gave me a decent economy, except for energy, as we'll soon see.

Nikolai - Hul doesn't want to be in charge, at least not in charge of this. Gone are the days of honorable rulers -- this Empire has its lore built on the conquests of an empire long gone, and its children don't even realize the carnage their parents inflicted, or the ruin they will in turn cause to so many.

Still working on the next update, but I thought I'd drop a hint with pics of some of the upcoming faction leaders that will be attempting to steer the path of the empire to their own ends:





Is it a bad thing I only recognise one of those actors, and I can't even be sure of the character of the one I know?
Is it a bad thing I only recognise one of those actors, and I can't even be sure of the character of the one I know?
I recognize two. :p Gaius Baltar has to be some science focused leader.;)
Is it a bad thing I only recognise one of those actors, and I can't even be sure of the character of the one I know?
Why, it's obviously Frank Underwood from House of Cards, and, erm... Battlestar Galactica lady, unholy mullet dude and wings-for-eyebrows man.

Gah, I feel old and out of touch with the mainstream.

Based on a vaguely understood reputation of Mr. Underwood as a ruthless manipulator, and a intuitive horror for the ghastly (facial) hair of the other two gents, I guess I'll have to support phone lady, at least until more details of actual personalities and/or agendas emerge.
Eyebrow guy is a character from the game Emperor: Battle for Dune (based incredibly loosely on the Dune universe, obviously), one of the best classic RTS-games of the late nineties and early nillies (IMHO). I believe he played the Mentat of the Harkonnen.
Mill Wilkinson and Qorten - Yep, that's Thufir from the 1980s Dune movie. He was the mentat for House Atreides. I think they used his likeness for the game too.

Stuyvesant - Yep, Frank Underwood and Admiral Cain from Battlestar...

Nikolai - And yep, Gaius Baltar too...

stnylan - Don't feel bad, the image from the old Dune movie is from the 1980s. Recent history for me, but I'm getting up there in age. ;)


July 12th, 2254

Sabine Kruger sighed, wiping her wet brow. We're finally out of the rain at least.

There was a time where she would have merely looked at the sky and cursed. Rain brought rust on farm equipment, and ruined atmospheric calibrations for the sensory gear she played with her in youth. Now, 20 years later, all it did was ruin her hair, and make her thick woolen uniform uncomfortably wet. Still an inconvenience, but now a far stranger one. Rain did not exist on the bridge of the RSS Splendid, or any other ship in the fleet.

Sabine was a petite woman, with jet black hair that looked younger than her 37 years. She squirmed uneasily in her seat. She felt more at home on a starship's bridge, or the shop on her family farm on Hagios Demetrios. She was a ship's engineer by training, and loved nothing more than tinkering with machinery and getting her hands dirty. Her crisp white gloves felt alien on her hands, and the twin eagle pins on her collar still felt unreal. For the fourth time since the car ride ended, she ran a finger over their fine goldwork.


Sabine Kruger was the newly posted commander of the famous Ever Victorious Fleet, the primary military formation in the new Roman Empire. However, her opinions on the treatment of non-humans within the Empire do not align with most...

Star Marshal and High Admiral those twin eagle's screamed. Commanding Officer, the Ever Victorious Fleet of the Roman Empire. The spearpoint of the Roman war machine, the woman that was expected to wage war to the hilt, and bring home Victory in each and every engagement.

And plan this new, 'Short Victorious War,' that the holonet was already screaming for. Sabine had spent her life on warships, she'd seen the ugly, terrible cost of war. She'd watch Admiral Martinez use her stardrive to ram a pirate cruiser. She'd seen friends, comrades shredded by errant mass driver hits to the bridge.

There was no such thing as a Short, Victorious War.

It didn't matter what Barack Hamidi claimed about humanity's destiny to 'lead all races to harmony under the Komnenos. Neither did Jean Hebert's assurances of their technological superiority set her at ease. Belief in superiority breeds overconfidence, and overconfidence leads to disaster. Above the din gnats of the present, crowing their words, sung the song of history. Great empires had been felled by less.


Barack Hamidi was one of the premier engineers of the Roman Empire, helping supervise the construction of several space stations around the planet Hagios Demetrios. His loud and outspoken views on the inherent superiority of humanity, proven in his eyes by the conquest of two subservient species, have manifested in an interstellar organization called the Knights of the Void. Jean Hebert, the current head of the now powerful IIP, has become the leader of a movement focused on pressing the technological capabilities of the Empire to the hilt. Vast resources are monthly poured into the projects he recommends, influence many use to peddle their ideas.

”I am the sword that watches the black of space...” she started the first part of the oath she swore when taking her commission all those years before. What did watching the black of space mean, if she was willing to launch with nary a care into a calamity she was sure humanity would not recover from?

We're surrounded on all sides Sabine fought the urge to chew her lip. The engineer in her still had that habit when confronting a problem, and this was the greatest of all problems facing humanity—one that as Star Marshal, she was expected to be at the forefront of solving.

In the five decades since Humanity had exploded on the galactic scene, their sudden, violent arrival had not gone unnoticed. To the rimward lay the warlike Empire of the Kunn Ti, a warlike race that openly praised how the Empire had subjugated 'lesser species,' while openly warning that incursion into their space would be met by force. Trailward were the Glost Weheri Citizen Alliance, a democratic rabble that were focused on the idea that humanity needed to be 'liberated' from the 'clutches of an imperial demon.' Spinward were the Keerim Autocracy, another warlike race of insectoids, and beyond them the lizard Lyrite Hive, the lone power nearby that had a fleet larger than the Humans of Gaia.


The current state of the galaxy. The Star Empire of Romania has run into three obstacles to further expansion. To the left, the Glost Weheri Citizen Alliance blocks further expansion in that quadrant. To the right, the Keerim Autocracy not only blocks expansion, but cuts the Empire off from a crucial hyperlane link (outlined in red) to the as of yet unexplored innermost arm of the galaxy (outlined in yellow). Finally, the warlike Kunn Ti block the only hyperlane connection that would allow humanity to expand down towards the galactic edge. For an empire built on conquest and hungry for resources, halting expansion does not seem to be an option...

Against one, we could triumph, Sabine thought, but moving on one would cause the others to move. We'd be cornered like a bear set upon by hounds...

Sabine had dutifully prepared a plan, the best plan she could imagine in the constellation of forces she was expected to face. It could work, if the Lyrite were distracted, if the Glost Weheri held their liberating hands, if the Kunn-Ti didn't sense weakness...

We cannot go to war, not for conquest against others because they are different, Sabine recited in her mind what she would say. A waft of cinnamon filled her memory, followed by red flowers.

Red Leaves had not asked to serve in the Kruger household—Sabine's father had captured her during the storming of the planet Nike. It'd been Sabine's first close encounter with another sentient species. Red Leaves could not speak, but she always filled the house with the smell of cinnamon, and her flowers always gave a beautiful red hue. It wasn't till she collapsed that the Krugers found out something was wrong with their servant, and the horticulturalist's words still rang deep in Sabine's mind.


The Sidimatus were originally a bronze age civilization that regularly reached over 150 years old. To their human conquerors, they are seen as merely good at harvesting much needed food from their huge ocean covered home, and servants in a wealthy household. The Tendra Zuhn were once a loveable species that had reached the use of steam power, and rather famously used salt in its various forms as a weapon of war. Their steam powered artillery proved useless against power armor.

She killed herself making that cinnamon smell, the man had said. Her species cannot do that naturally. You could say, she died trying to please you and your family.

Those words haunted Sabine, enough that she still corresponded with the man that had tried, and failed, to save Red Leaves. They a like minded individuals had started a forum on the holonet for those who thought like her.

Perhaps we go to far? Perhaps these species should not be subjects, but citizens...


A soft, friendly voice brought Sabine back to the present, and she nodded to her chief aide, Lorna Scott. The blonde wore only the pips of a Captain, but if Sabine Kruger was forced to war, she would insist that Lorna receive the planet pips of a Rear Admiral. The Ever Victorious Fleet would need a capable second in command, and Sabine could think of no one better to fill the role.


Lorna Scott, 34, was like Admiral Kruger, a product of the rapid expansion of the Imperial Navy. A corvette captain 6 years out of Academy, she won plaudits at the Battle of Egore for using two moons of the gas giant Hermes to ambush and destroy the engines of two pirate destroyers.

“Just lost in thought about what I need to say,” Sabine admitted, and lied.

Lorna frowned. “Admiral, you're sure?” she asked for the third time today. “It could cost you your command.”

“Lorna,” Sabine stopped, “does a loyal servant tell her master what he wants to hear, or what he needs to hear?”

Lorna swallowed slightly, and Sabine nodded. I am loyal to the Emperor unto death. He needs to know this war isn't...

“Admiral, you look like you've swallowed an olive the wrong way!” a rough, drawling voice said behind them.

Footfalls fell alongside her and Lorna's. Kruger looked up, and a pair of grey eyes twinkled back at her. On one hand, they looked almost grandfatherly, especially paired with the man's ancient tie and the gray starting to shoot through his hair. Then, the animal part of Sabine's mind reminded her of who those eyes belonged to, and she felt herself shrink back slightly. Him. Why him, of all people?

“My manners!” the man came to a halt, before taking Lorna's hand in his own. “Tommaso d'Agostino, Minister of Economics, Prime Minister of the Empire. Ma'am, you are?”


Tommaso d'Agostino was of old Gaia stock, raised on the Italian peninsula. He left the navy at 27 to help his father's bank. Twenty years later, he resigned from being Managing Director of Sortmark Bank to become Prime Minister of the Empire of Romania

“Lorna Scott, Captain, His Majesty's Navy.”

“Captain?” d'Agostino's eyebrow arched up. “You're two ranks ahead of the furthest I ever was.” He chuckled softly, a noise that sounded soothing and frightening at once. “Good thing for the Navy my father pulled me back to his bank. Lieutenant Mouse is bad enough. Captain Mouse?” He laughed, shaking his head.

Why him? Personally? Sabine wondered as the small cadre started walking forward again. She noticed the column of aides that came with him strayed behind, away from him, the Admiral, and her attendant. Unbidden, he turned to her, as if he heard the question in her mind.

“Speaking of mice, I couldn't help but overhear your conversation. It reminds me of a saying my father was fond of,” he continued as they stalked further down the hall. “There are mice, and there are lions.” A finger stabbed towards those twin eagles on Sabine's collar. “Which are you, Admiral?”

“I...” Mouse of lion? Is he...? Sabine felt her face flush. An engineer she might be, but a coward? How dare...

“Took too long,” Agostino smiled thinly. “You're a mouse. You've been in this billet, what, three weeks? And you're already presenting a case for war to the Emperor? Little one,” the smile grew. “I need a lion in that room today.”

“You need?” Sabine felt her voice squeak slightly, partly in anger, partly in confusion.

“Yes, I need,” Agostino frowned slightly. A split second later, the smile returned, slightly larger. “They were right! You know tinkering and fighting, that's it!”

“I know quite a bit, Minister,” she said, iron finally slipping into her voice.

“Oh, I meant no offense,” his eyes flashed concern. “I did yeoman's service in the first war, but I would never pretend I know my way around a starship bridge. My realm is in finance, money, and politics, Admiral, a realm where you do not have the same... expertise... as I do. I merely offer that I need your expertise, and I offer mine in return.”

“I thank you for your offer, Minister, but I will say what I need to say. That is loyalty,” Sabine said evenly, finding her footing. I heard this one was a snake, but this? How far are the chambers? Not far... Once we're inside, I'll be away from...

“That is fair,” d'Agostino nodded, before casting a glance at Sabine's colleague. “Tell me, as you're a smart woman,” Agostino went on, “Why have we not attacked the Keerim?”

“Because they're backed by the Lyrite Hive, and the Otaga,” Lorna shot back in texbook fashion. “After the galaxy became aware we had conquered the Tehdra Zuhn, the Lyrite's openly backed the Keerim, and with the Otaga as unknowns...”

“Are you aware, Admiral,” Agostino flashed that grin of his, “that the Lyrite's declared war on some nobody, far to the rimward of them? Deployed all their fleets that way? Wen-Shui traders, reliable,” Agostino answered her next question before she could ask. “We have been handed a golden opportunity – the Keerim without their most powerful backers. Mark my words, we need this war,” Agostino went on. “We are on the cusp of an energy crisis, and the Keerim are blocking us from a full arm of the galaxy. Virgin territory, ripe for exploitation. The Keerim are doing nothing with it!”


The Lyrite Hive, one of the few species that could go toe to toe with humanity, has declared war on the Bhenn'Thell Confederation, a species humanity knows little about. This leaves an opening. The Keerim would only be backed by the Otaga Star Authority, a relatively unknown entity on the galactic rim...

“And does that give us the right to exterminate them?” Lorna said suddenly. In a normal conversation, Sabine might have told her aide to mind her tongue. Here, with this man? She smiled slightly at Lorna's sharp words. What do you have to say to that? she wanted to know, as she looked back at the Minister.

“Who said exterminate?” Agostino laughed again. “We merely take one system, the one they call Tantak Rham, Ektak Rim...”

“Antak Rham,” Sabine offered.


The key to accessing the inner galactic arm, and Romania expanding further, lay at Antak Rahm. Taking the planet K'Karaal within Antak Rahm, would give the Empire control of the surrounding hyperlanes, including the all important lane at Yanduz, the gateway to the next galactic arm.

“Yes, that one,” Agostino nodded. “We need that system to gain access to the inner rim. War means business, Admiral. Sortmark Bank needs new sources for loan capital, Jimenez and Brothers need new contracts for starships, Al-Khittab and Sunyeon are in search of new sources of nickel, platinum and titanium. All these needs could be met by expansion. Expansion means more energy, more resources, ships to transport them, loans to finance the businesses...”

So this is a war to line your fat friend's pockets? Sabine realized she must have frowned when she felt Agostino's eyes boring in on her.

“I know what you're thinking, Admiral. These interests provide jobs, build the economy, put chickens and sweetroot in every pot. The fact that these are my friends is merely... secondary.”

Sabine finally had enough. She handed her folio to Lorna, and nodded towards the doors ahead. “Set up my seat at the conference table, I'll follow in a moment.” No reason for you to sully your career when this man is after mine...

“Yes m'am,” Lorna cast a sharp look at d'Agostino, and started walking for the doors. Sabine watched her go, before finally turning to the man she despised.

“Your friends, or your masters?” she finally said. She'd hoped it would be a biting comment, she'd hoped to see him wince, anger to fleck across his eyes. Instead, that damnable smile seemed to settle into place.

“Masters? Really, Admiral? Tell me,” Agostino smiled sweetly, “when you feed scraps to your dog, who is the master?”


“Golden Retriever, named Susanna, I believe?” d'Agostino's sweet smile continued.

Wait, how did he...

“Why we're on the subject of people dear to you,” Agostino smiled sweetly, “do your nieces and nephews enjoy their classes at Hagia Elena? I've heard the roof to that building is in desperate need of repair. Or, could I ask, Admiral,” that smiling mouth with cold eyes swept towards Sabine, “if your father still likes living beneath the Tormassov Hills. Lot's of methane gas in the rocks there. Sometimes if a pipe breaks, it comes up through fissures and...” His fingers made a silent explosion. “I have friends in many places, dear Admiral, just like you. And I know you have loyalty to your friends, your family, and your Emperor. A duty, you might even say.”

d'Agostino's eyes turned hard, and Sabine felt herself swallow, hard.

“And that duty, dear Admiral,” Agostino hissed, “is why you will help me convince the Emperor that war is the only way. Then, you will lead the Ever Victorious Fleet, you will take their pitiful excuse for a world, and you will break their navy and bring them to heel! They have resources that we need!”

Sabine started to speak, but the Prime Minister talked over her whisper.

“Do you have any questions about where we stand, Admiral?”


“We need titanium! We need nickel! We need molybdenum! Tell, me, Admiral, were the Sidimatus and their bronze spears using the uranium on Nike? Were the Tendra Zuhn and their stupid salt guns mining the titanium under their slug-slime? No! We needed the resources, and we took them! Today, you're going to march in there and tell the Emperor what he needs to hear, that we are destined to rule, that we will take that system, and whatever pompous military nonsense you need to add to that! If you don't, a methane explosion and a roof collapse will be the least of your worries! I repeat,” d'Agostino leaned back and straightened his tie, “do you have any questions about where we stand Admiral?”

“No,” Sabine heard herself say.

“Can this government count on you to do your duty, and persuade the Emperor to go to war?”


“Yes, what?” He leaned close to her, breath menacing her cheek.

“Yes, sir.

“I'm glad we understand each other,” d'Agostino's smile came back. “In due time, you'll get your tasty morsels, like everyone who helps me and my friends. I'm thinking, some new warships perhaps.” He started to walk ahead, five steps in realizing she was not following. He turned, and whistled at her like she was a dog.

“Come along now, the Emperor is waiting!”

Sabine pushed bile down her throat, and followed.



So war is coming, and while our Romans know who one opponent they are facing, they know little about a potential second. Everyone knows only good things come from the galaxy's rim...
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What a slimey so and so that is. But ultimately he perhaps has pegged the Admiral correctly - a mouse. A lion would not be so intimidated, as seems to be the case.

Oh, and the issue is not one of "age" - it is more one of not watching very much television at all. I only recognised Kevin Spacey from other roles. I do actually know House of Cards, but from the UK original book, not the US show version of the UK tv adaptation.
Well, what an absolute bastard that Prime Minister is! Hopefully someday the admiral or someone else will give him his due.