Authors: Claudia Christian and Morgan Grant Buchanan
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To the legions of science fiction fans around the world who have brought me so much love and support through the years.
To Catherine, my bright swan.
Accala Viridius Camilla
Licinus Sertorius Malleolus
âtribune, the team leader and war chain fighter
Gaius Sertorius Crassus
âthe team trainer, gentleman, and javelin fighter
Gaia Sertorius Barbata
âa trident-wielding gladiator
Servius Tullius Lurco
âa hammer-wielding beast fighter
Castor Sertorius Corvinus
âa one-armed charioteer
Pollux Sertorius Corvinus
âa one-armed charioteer
Mania Sertorius Curia
âa trapper of beasts and dreams
Vibius Viridius Carbo
âtribune and team leader
Gnaeus Viridius Metellus
âthe team trainer
Darius Viridius Strabo
âAccala's cousin, an archer and a gladiator
Titus Viridius Nervo
Trio Viridius Mercurius
Scipio Viridius Caninus
âa dart-throwing beast hunter
Capitulus Viridius Pavo
âa crossbow-wielding beast fighter
Taticulus Viridius Leticus
âa club-wielding gladiator
âa Vulcaneum immune
Marcus Calpurnius Regulus
Caesar Numerius Valentinius
âimperator, emperor of the Galactic Roman Empire
Quintus Viridius Severus
the Viridian proconsul
Aquilinus Sertorius Macula
âthe Sertorian proconsul
Lucius Viridius Camillus
âAccala's father, a war hero and senator
Alexandria Viridius Camilla
âAccala's mother, a philosopher and scientist
Aulus Viridius Camillus
âAccala's younger brother
âa Hyperborean child
âa Hyperborean warrior, Lumen's guardian
âan Iceni body slave
âAccala's Taurii body slave
Typical Roman names of the Galactic Empire have three parts (the “tria nomina”). For example, for
Accala Viridius Camilla:
is the given name.
or house name (House Viridian).
is the family name.
The History of Accala, the Noble-born Gladiatrix, from the Chronicle of the Seventh Empire, 7753â7901
JusticeâGoddess, sing of the retribution of Lucius' daughter, Accala. Driven by a thirst for vengeance, she cost House Sertorian countless lives. Like raindrops striking the ground, they died, black-hearted warriors, their souls cast down to Hades' boundless halls. What terrible price did she pay to see justice carried out? Tell us what Fate drove her to brave such hardship. To endure so many trials?
But wait. First, O Muse, sing of Galactic Rome, master of ten thousand worlds, the stage upon which her story is set.
Rome! It was the twins, Romulus and Remus, who laid her foundations eight thousand years ago. Abandoned at birth, they were found and suckled by a she-wolf until they grew in strength and power. From her they inherited resilience, loyalty, and ferocityâqualities they bestowed upon their city. Unconquerable Rome! The city that grew to rule over Mother Earth, crushing all efforts to bring about her fall. Eternal Rome! That expanded into space over five thousand years to become the heart of a galactic empire.
In Accala's time, seven noble houses ruled the empire's galactic provinces, each vying for the imperial throne, held by the eighth, the emperor's own house. Fighting between two housesâthe virtuous and brave House Viridian and the corrupt and heartless House Sertorianâhad driven the empire to the brink of a civil war.
The shining Viridians! Accala's own family, bearing the standard of the golden wolf. Steeped in military honors, placing service and duty above ambition. For two thousand years, they embodied and upheld the best of Roman virtues.
The black-hearted Sertorians! They bore the standard of the ruby hawkâa hawk with outstretched talons, seizing wealth and power at any price.
Begin, Muse, when the two first clashed, the boldest of each houseâCrassus Sertorius, lord of corruption, and the brilliant Lady Accala Viridius. Both young and reckless, both gifted in the gladiatorial arts and filled with the spirit of ambition, desperate to triumph at any cost.
Let justice be done though the heavens fall.
âLucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus
I intend to speak of forms changed into new entities.
Who has not seen the dummies of wood they slash at and batter
Whether with swords or with spears, going through all the maneuvers?
Â â¦ Or, it may be, they have deeper designs, and are really preparing
For the arena itself. How can a woman be decent
Sticking her head in a helmet, denying the sex she was born with?â¦
What a great honor it is for a husband to see, at an auction,
Where his wife's effects are up for sale, belts, shinguards,
Arm-protectors and plumes!
Â â¦ Hear her grunt and groan as she works at it, parrying and thrusting;
See her neck bent down under the weight of her helmet;
Look at the rolls of bandage and tape, so her legs look like tree trunks,
Ah, degenerate girls from the line of our praetors and consuls,
Tell us, whom have you seen got up in any such a fashion,
Panting and sweating like this? No gladiator's wench,
No tough strip-tease broad would ever so much as attempt it.
Gods of my country, heroes of the soil,
And Romulus, and Mother VestaÂ â¦
Preservest, this new champion at the least
Our fallen generation to repairÂ â¦
Here where the wrong is right, the right is wrong,
Where wars abound so many, and myriad-faced
Â â¦ new strife
Is stirring; neighbouring cities are in arms,
The laws that bound them snapped; and godless war
Rages through all the universe.
Rome, Mother Earth, 7798
VERY NIGHT THE SAME
dreamâa blast wave of atomic fire raced across the surface of a distant ice world, an inferno that would envelop the planet's capital in a matter of minutes, transmuting sturdy buildings to slag, consuming three and a half million lives with the same dispassion as it liquidized steel and stone. But before that could happen, I had to bear witness.
Mother ran toward me as the bright firewall rose up behind her, rapidly gaining ground. Ever Stoic, her face registered no fear, only a dread urgencyâthere was something important she had to tell me before the fire claimed herâbut I was trapped behind a wall of thick, dirty ice, entombed alive in it. In place of words, all that reached my ears was a dull, brassy drone.
Mother tore out her hairpin and used it to scratch two words into the ice, but they appeared back to front, and I couldn't read them in time because my little brother suddenly entered the scene. Aulus' small body was trapped in the press of stampeding citizens as they fled the city, his eyes wide with panic. Mother turned from me and rushed to aid my brother, hair flailing behind her, the tips of the tresses catching fire as the burning wind rushed over her. Arms outstretched like a dragnet, she made an instinctive but futile effort to catch Aulus and wrap him up before the thermal currents scorched them both to ash. The ice was the only thing protecting me from the unstoppable fire, yet I battered it with my fists, clawed at it until my fingernails splintered and snapped. I fought to stay, prayed to Minerva that I be consumed with Mother and Aulus, disintegrated by heat and light.
*Â Â Â *Â Â Â *
WOKE IN A
fevered state, burning up, heart racing, breathing rapid and shallow. The silk sheet was drenched in sweat, clinging to my body like a hungry ghost. The urge to sit up and grasp for a lungful of air was strong, but instead, I kicked the sheet off the end of the bed and lay there, tears stinging my eyes, forcing my lungs to take the slowest, deepest possible breaths.
A clear golden light bathed the high ceiling of my bedchamber, the kind that follows a summer dawn. The gilded cornices that skirted the ceiling's edges bore seventy-one cracks of varying lengths, and I slowly counted each one in turn until I could breathe normally and all that remained was a residual choleric angerâthe outrage that any human being must experience at witnessing the murder of loved ones. The sharpest sword dulls with repeated use, but the dream never lost its cruel edge. My ears still rang with the sound of Mother's voice trying to penetrate the wall of ice between us. No instrument could replicate the unsettling drone that poured from her mouth. The closest analogy I could come up with (and in the aftermath of the dream each morning, I had plenty of time to turn things like this around in my mind) was the sound of a living beehive submerged in water.