The Last Gasp of the Diadochi.

XIV: Guess who's Coming to Dinner

Sagala Royal Palace, September 25th​

Marcus Antonius strode into the throne room of King Apollophanes, the second last to arrive. The room was furnished with tables plied high with the best food the now multi-national city could offer, the walls draped with purple silks and textiles. At the center table sat the king, and opposite him Cleopatra, each flanked by their children. As little Ptolemy ran up to greet his father, Cleopatra smiled "By Zeus, he's sober at last!" "How can you tell?" The king asked quizzically "You ever try to put a toga on a drunk man? Much harder than getting it off." Apollophanes gave her a slightly disgusted look, before rising to greet Antonius "You're actually early for once, truely the world must be ending. Slightly annoyed, the Roman asked "Is it really a public holiday when I can get myself out of bed before cena?" "A bit, yeah." the king replied.

Before Antonius could reply, a messenger shouted out "Presenting Prince Vonones! Heir to Parthia!" As Antonius rushed to his place at the table, the prince entered flanked by two swordmen. Seeing his guards were the only ones armed, he dismissed them with a wave, and bowed slightly "King Apollophanes, it's an honor to be aquainted with my father's eastern neighbor." The king stood and returned the bow "And the honor is all mine to have the son of my western neighbor at court." "Indeed, I'm happy your campaign this year has allowed us to meet as friends, and I must say, your hospitality is much more respectable than Caesars."

Antonius jumped slightly at that "You spoke with Octavius?" The Parthian nodded "About a year ago in Antioch, threated to burn down my dynasty or something along those lines unless we agreed to kill you both." He pointed at Antonius and Cleopatra, who both looked taken aback. The prince continued "Odd bastard, does a very good impression of a bust. It's a bit creepy isn't it?" "Sounds like the brat indeed." Antonius nodded "Since I'm not helping you examine your own ass right now, I'm assuming you turned him down? Cleopatra shot him daggers, but Vonones laughed "Smart man indeed. Yes I told him to fuck his sister more or less, mostly because he gave me a bad deal."

"And what deal would that be?" Apollophanes asked "Your kingdom more or less. We have no use for India though, it's a mess, no offense." "Or course not." the king said through gritted teeth. "Now to get to the point." Vonones said "We do want to help you, it's just we aren't going to clear the way to Rome and Alexandria for you for free." Cleopatra sighed "Of course, and I've put together a plan for the redrawing the Parthian borders with Rome and Egypt." Antonius looked at her shocked "You did?! When!? Why didn't you tell me!?" "I DID. Two months ago. And your reply was something along the lines of 'Don't bother me woman, I've got four more of you tonight.'" Antonius didn't remember that, but conceded, while Caesarion muttered "Fucks sake dad." under his breath.

"Fine, fine. Let's hear it." Cleopatra nodded, and a servent brought out a map of the Eastern Mediterranean. "I was thinking we let the Parthians have Armenia." She looked at Vonones "Annex it, vassalize it, wipe your arse with it I don't care." Antonius winced, but said nothing "Same with Phoenicia, but I'd like you to keep Herod in Jersalem, he's solid." Vonones nodded "Then I was thinking you could have as vassals, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Cilicia-" "Partition!" Antonius almost shouted "You can partition those provinces with me. We'll work out the details after it's all done." The Parthian nodded "That works better actually, I'd rather not have my thumb too far up Rome's ass, sorry children." Cleopatra Selene waved him off "You've met our father, we're used to it."

"Anyway." The queen said "In return I'll let Rome have Cyrene and Crete back, that should keep the senate from rioting more than they surely will." At that Apollophanes sat up "Actually, I know it's not my concern, but who's going to be ruling what?" "It's quite simple." Cleopatra said "I'll take the children and rule in Alexandria, Antonius will take back the consulship, and that's that." "Hey, wait." The king suddenly looked worried "Does that include Caesarion?" "Well yes." he replied "And my daughter?" "My wife? I would hope, she's got my child in there." "That child is supposed to be my heir, you dick!" At that Vonones stood "Well this no longer seems to require my attendance, I'll be waiting outside."

As soon as the guest left, the discussion got more heated "Listen you Latin little ass. That child in there" he pointed to Ambrosia's stomach "Is the one chance I have of saving my dynasty. I WILL NOT let you march halfway across the world with it. You forget you're still a guest here, don't fuck with me." "Alright, alright." Antonius said, munching on some pastry as he had been since he got there "It's not like we're leaving tomarrow, I have an idea." "Let me hear it." Apollophanes said, still furious "Firstly, there's no guarantee our grandchild is even a son, by Pluto it could come out dead or weird or who knows." Ambrosia suddenly looked horrified "So here's what I suggest. Since we're likely to be here another year or two anyway, Caesarion can keep at it as soon as this one's out. Odds are pretty good you'll get a boy or two out of that, and you can keep them once we leave."

"That's it!?" Apollophanes shouted "You stupid soldier, I'm fucking OLD! I'll be long dead before her son is of age!" "Will you calm down, be reasonable." The king scoffed "Am I in Hades? Marcus Antonius is telling me to be reasonable." At that Cleopatra spoke up "Actually that's a good point, Marcus, are you alright?" "Come to think, I do feel... odd." He turned to one of the slaves "What was in that pastry, opium?" "No master, just figs, and a bit of cannabis." "A bit!?" Cleopatra marched over to Antonius' side of the table, smelling the pastry "You moron, this is full of cannabis!" "Ah shit." Antonius muttered "Is father going to die!?" Ptolemy asked, frightened "If only the world were that sweet." Bemoaned Apollophanes "No, he just might wish he had. Have him brought to bed, he'll be strange until this tike tomarrow." As two of the slaves led him away, he caught Cleopatra by the arm "Tell the... that asshole." He meant Vonones "I'll agree to your proposal." The queen nodded as he wobbled away to bed...
XV: Imperium New

Curia Julia, January 16th, 27BC​

The Roman senate was packed on the chilly winter morning, the rolls recorded full attendance of all able-bodied senators. That wasn't surprising, considering most of them owed their positions to the man who'd asked them to attend today, or to his adopted father. Gaius Julius Caesar, the Imperator and Consul of Rome, sat on his golden chair at the center of the room. His co-Consul, Marcus Agrippa, had been sitting in the front row, but now stood to speak "Honorable fathers of Rome!" He called out "Gaius Caesar, son of the divine Julius, has requested an audience, how does the senate respond?" Nobody was suicidal enough to object, and so Caesar rose.

"Conscript fathers! I promised that I would lay down the powers you so graciously entrusted in me, once the civil war was over, and so it is. I formally relinquish my powers back to the senate." At that, just as had been rehersed, the senate was in uproar "Caesar! You can't leave us!" One senator shouted "Stay! Please!" Another called. After letting the powerful men prostrate themselves before him a few moments longer, Caesar raised a hand to silence them "Agrippa." He asked "Does the senate wish to make a request of me?" Agrippa stood and nodded "Yes Caesar. The Senate heaeby requests permission to bestow upon you the honorific 'Augustus' for your conquest of Egypt, as well as the titoe of Princeps Sentaus. Do you accept?" Caesar nodded, and with that simple acknowledgement, the corpse of the republic was silently buried.

Speaking, Augustus continued "Rome still has enemies. The traitor Antonius and his Egyptian lover, have sought refuge in the east, with the satraps that seek to ruin our conquests. I say this to any who would flock to his banner, you will not be forgiven, and Rome will not be conquered by a lowly drunk, nor a scheming queen, nor their Parthian overlords. Their false son of the divine Caesar would be a puppet rex on a decadant throne. I will never yield to these traitors, mark my words!" The senate erupted into cheers, as uneasy as many of them felt.

Not long after, as senators continued to exit the curia, Agrippa sat down beside his friend "That went better than I expected Rex." He joked with the new emperor "Not out loud Marcus." Augustus said tersely "The mistake my father made was being too... flamboyant, with his aspirations. The secret is to never say it aloud." Agrippa nodded "And I think you'll get to put your money where your mouth is when it comes to Antonius." Augustus' eyes shot up "So our assassin failed then?" "I didn't expect something so blunt to kill such a blunt man, indeed. It sounds like they have the Parthian's support, any year now." "Shit." Augustus frowned "We might have to put off the campaign in Hispania." "Eh there's not much over there to take anyway, no matter." Agrippa soothed him.

"Either way, I want you to start drawing up plans, if we're going to have a campaign in the East I want to be ready." "Understood." Agrippa nodded "But I tell you..." he looked up "This could be one hell of a scrap..."
XVI: War Path New

Sagala, February 15th, 27BC​

"That's all you're willing to send us, 800 men, seriously?" Marcus Antonius asked Apollophanes, incredulous. "That plus food, horses, supplies" the king retorted "I'll be waiting on you hand and foot till you get past the Zagros, then I'll be so glad to never have to look at you again." "Anyway..." Cleopatra broke the the tension "What are we bringing with us?" The three leaders had been locked away in the kings study all night, along with another Parthian guest, general Artavasdes, who was there to coodinate the coming war. The room was a mess, scrolls and tablets strewn about, dispatches and reports everywhere. A few slaves sat silently by the door, ready to fetch reports or bring water; Cleopatra had forbidden all but the Parthian from having any wine that night.

Artavasdes pulled out a map of central Asia "Well, with the help of the king, we can probably squeeze quite a bit over the mountains, so don't let logistics stop you-" Antonius suddenly stood "I'm so terribly sorry friend, but that is the most idiotic drivel I've ever heard, you trying to starve us in the hinterland?" The Parthian smirked "No, if that was the plan I'd just lead you all into Armenia to freeze like last time." Apollophanes gave a tired sigh "For the love of Buddah, both of you shut the fuck up." Both men glared at him "I'm too old for subterfuge." He pulled a dagger off his belt and threw it to the floor "If you boys want to kill eachother, I'll gladly watch."

"Fair enough." Antonius said annoyed "I can probably throw together four legions with what the king is giving us, what to do with them once we win is an issue for the future." Artavasdes nodded "That should be fine, and what does the Egyptian bring." Cleopatra gave him an annoyed look "Firstly, don't call me that. About 20,000 spearmen, plus between me and Antonius about 5,000 cavalry." The general frowned "You understand you're about to face the might of a united Rome, yes? The might 'Augustus' probably musters 45,000 men just to comb his asshairs." "I thought that was where you came in?" Antonius asked "Surely you're emperor can spare something considering what we're giving him."

"Yes, yes." The Parthian soothed "We should be able to muster 60, maybe 65,000 levies, assuming we want to shoot for next Spring." Antonius paced the room anxiously "Agrippa, the cunning little snake. I don't envy facing him again, not with the whole civilized world at his back." He was stirred out of his thoughts as a messenger ran into the study "Apologies for the disturbance, masters. Princess Ambrosia has gone into labor." "Gods, that's certainly sooner than expected!" Cleopatra exclaimed "Well why'd you tell us? Fuck do you want me to do about it?"

Cleopatra looked enraged, but controlled herself "Well, since you're so busy, I'll make sure she's alright, Hera almightly I'm about to be an old lady." Antonius scoffed "By that logic I might already be an old man, who knows what my children in Rome have been up to, assuming Octavius hasn't had them boiled or anything." There was a momentary silence, before Apollophanes broke the awkwardness "Well send her my best, I'll stay here and make sure these two don't murder eachother." "Very good, I'll let you know when it's done."

Meanwhile in Antioch​

"Yes, from Piera to Antioch, if the Athenians could do it I'm sure we can." Consul Agrippa said, annoyed at the constant nagging of his legates. "It doesn't have to be anything fancy, just enough to give them a fight. And where's the reports on the vassal levies?" Another legate pulled out a wax tablet "Herod says he can spare 4,000 infantry, Pontus has 10,000 cavalry, Dynamis up north is being stingy, nothing from her." "And the Mauritanians?" "15,000 cavalry, it seems Juba came through for us." Agrippa nodded "Quite, we're going to need them."

Agrippa was facing perhaps his greatest task yet. The Parthians were bad enough, but with help from India, there was no telling what he'd be up against. "So how many legions can we have in the East by this time next year?" The legate shurgged "At least 12, and half of those quite well seasoned, assuming the Germans or Jupiter knows who decides to start a slapfight." "Alright..." A million thoughts ran through his head "I want the core force to be eight legions, plus the cavalry. Then two legions on the flanks, I'm thinking Tyre and maybe Trabezus, we'll rustle up some auxileries to pad them out a bit.

Another general spoke "Master, are you sure that's wise? You'll be leaving our flanks far weaker than they need to be." "Precisely! So they'll attack them, we'll march to support our forces, and kick his teeth in. Antonius is a splendid suboordinate, but the man treats war like a mindless brawl, all he cares about is getting into a fight. We'll just have to give him one...