Sons of Alexander is a TL and a series of novellas created by Flocculencio, based on a POD where Alexander lived a few decades more and conquered the Western coast of India. It can be read in its entirety here
Alexander continued his campaigns into Western India after his initial setback in the Indus Valley. He died at the age of 54 in the South Western Indian city of Cochin, having sired a son, Heraklios, by an Indian princess and having conquered much of the Western Coast of India.
Soon after his death, the generals he had left behind to govern his conquered provinces in Asia and Greece rebelled, as per OTL. Devastating wars raged across the Empire, nowhere more fierce than in India itself where many supporters of the usurpers sought to kill Heraklios and so extinguish the dynastic claims of Alexander. The Indian kingdoms which had not been directly conquered or vassalised by Alexander soon found themselves drawn into what would turn out to be one of the bloodiest wars in history.
These wars and the dreadful plagues that came with them almost completely destroyed the societal fabric of India and when the dust settled, the usurpers had seized all the major regions of the Empire besides India itself where a group of loyalists had fought on behalf of the young Emperor Heraklios and, as he matured, under him. Heraklios established his dominance, either directly or through vassalage over most of what remained of the once proud kingdoms of the Indian subcontinent.
His throne secured, Heraklios set about restructuring the shattered subcontinent in what would prove to be a unique fusion of Hellenic and Indian culture. The caste system had been broken, cast aside in the need for all available resources to be devoted to the Diadochi war. Heraklios formalized this, decreeing that caste was henceforth abolished- now the only distinction to be made was to be between aristocrat, freeman and slave. The shattered populace of India was unable to resist.
Furthermore, Heraklios decreed that his father Alexander was a god. It was announced that the Divine Alexander was, in fact, the Tenth Avatar of Vishnu, come to break Caste and begin a new era of order and enlightenment. A mighty temple was erected to him in Cochin, the city where the God-among-Men had chosen to take leave of the physical world and the city was renamed Alexandria Herakles in honour of the Incarnation and of his son.
The empire itself was reorganised. Many regions of India had been left lawless- their Rajas having been killed in the Succession War or having sided with the usurpers and therefore executed or exiled. Heraklios settled Hellenised colonists from the armies of his father and his generals in the major cities and towns of these regions and instituted the practice of local rule. These regions would be partially governed by the councils of their major city or town. These councils were elected from among Imperial citizens and served as advisors to Imperial governors, appointed by the Crown. Some other territories were administered directly by Imperial officials as Imperial fiefs, notably the entire province of Kerala, the province where Alexandria Herakles itself was located. However, areas where the local rajas had supported Heraklios were left largely autonomous as regarded local affairs under their traditional Rajas- those of them who had survived the Succession War.
These reforms were initiated by Heraklios I Vishnuputra, son of the Divine Alexander, and carried on by his descendants. In time the Empire grew, the Hellenic culture of the conquerors fusing with the Hindu culture of the conquered. But of the changes that came, one was the most important. The caste system had been broken. As India repopulated itself, it's people were as socially free as any others in the world i.e. not very, but more so than they had been. Education flourished, the aristocracy and middle classes of the towns and cities, eager to lay claim to the prestigious Greek heritage sent their sons to the three great Academies set up by the government and for those who could not afford such an extravagance, to the local academies run in the various major towns.
An Imperial bureaucracy was set up to administer the running of the various parts of the Empire. It was divided into three sections known as Courts- the Court of Ivory, dealing with the semi-autonomous regions of the majority of the Empire that were run by Rajas and city councils; the Court of Ebony which dealt with military and naval matters; and last and grandest, the Court of Pearls, named after the Imperial Throne, studded with the finest Mysore pearls, which dealt with the management of the Imperial fiefs, the Cult of the Divine Alexander and ceremonial matters.
The Heraklid Empire largely adopted a policy of isolationism towards the lost lands of the West. Though Heraklid poets wrote longingly of lost Greece in the Indo-Greek language that had soon become the lingua franca of the Empire, the government was in no hurry to reclaim them. India, even depopulated and with it's social structure destroyed, was a rich land, the source of many goods in demand in the markets of the West and the Empire waxed fat off the trade gold that flowed to it from the merchants of Persia and Egypt and Greece.
This policy of isolationism did not hold true to the East though. In time, the Heraklid Empire extended it's influence to the East Indies, the kingdoms of the great Archipelago that had been Indianised centuries before. Great fleets sailed from Alexandria Herakles to bring the petty Rajas of the Golden Archipelago under the wing of the House of Heraklios, the descendants of the God-among-Men. Most of these Kingdoms soon swore allegiance to Alexandria Herakles and by the time of Herakles V, annual naval expeditions were being sent out to collect the yearly tribute and settle disputes between the vassal states, protecting those who requested Imperial military intervention. With the inclusion of these vassal states under the Imperial aegis, Herakles V took upon himself the title by which all future Emperors would be known- the Lord of Land and Sea.
These expeditions were facilitated by a revolution in shipbuilding technology, the adoption by Indo-Greek engineers of the Chinese design known to us as the 'junk' or the djongios as the Heraklids named it. These ships were seaworthy and designed strongly enough to sustain ocean voyages unlike the galleys of the Mediterranean. It was on great ships such as these that Heraklid marines patrolled the waters of the East Indies, bringing Imperial Law to those who sought it and Imperial Justice to those who dared oppose it.
The other great Empire of Asia, that of China was ruled by the Qin dynasty. After a disastrous experiment with the philosophy of Legalism, the Qin had almost been overthrown by rebellions. Nevertheless, they had survived and had adopted a much lighter form of Legalism, toned down by influences from the rival philosophical school of Confucianism. It was clear that the Son of Heaven and the Lord of Land and Sea would have to come to an accommodation and an informal sphere of influence was set out, leaving most of Indo-China as Qin vassals with Malaya and the great Archipelago as Heraklid vassals. To seal this pact, Imperial princesses were exchanged and married to the Crown Princes of the two Empires.
Heraklios VI Sanjeev the Magnificent became the first Heraklid Emperor to visit the vassal kingdoms of the Golden Archipelago. He drove the pirates of Borneo from their nests, though they were never crushed and became a regular target for the annual Imperial Naval expeditions. In a historic meeting, Heraklios VI met with his brother-in-law the Jiajing Emperor at the town of Sattahep, on the border of the nominal spheres of influence of each country. The Jiajing Emperor had been campaigning through the Khmer lands to subdue the rebels there. The two Emperors, in a historic ceremony, each acknowledged the other as the only monarch equal in precedence to himself. Alas, relations between the two Empires, at this point undoubtedly the mightiest on the face of the Earth were not always to be conducted in so cordial a manner.
During the reign of Heraklios X Mohandas, 50 BC, by OTL's dating, an uprising swept through the Ganges valley. An Imperial governor, Demetrios, declared himself to be the reincarnation of the Divine Alexander and took the name Alexandrios- a blasphemy for all who remained loyal to the Imperial cult. However, many of the Rajas of the Ganges cast their lot in with Demetrios, hoping to gain the autonomy that their distant forefathers had enjoyed. The Imperial Armies, though thickly clustered on the frontiers had only sparse garrisons in the central provinces like the Gages valley as security there was mainly left to the levies of the free towns and the Rajas. The few Imperial garrisons were mostly overwhelmed, with only a few units cutting their way out to the East, disappearing into the populace, or escaping to the still-loyal stronghold of Kaliopolis (Calcutta) at the mouth of the Ganges. The Crown Prince Philotas, on a tour of duty as the Governor of the province of Chattsimonia (see map) led an army forth into the Ganges valley and conducted a lightning campaign. Outnumbered and overwhelmed, he was forced to conduct a fighting retreat down the Ganges but was surrounded and captured almost within sight of the walls of Kaliopolis. He was crucified within sight of those walls.
The Emperor was heartbroken upon hearing the news but also angered far beyond belief. However, most of the Imperial Army was garrisoning the frontier and could not be easily spared to put down the rebellion. A call up was initiated of the hoplite levies from the free towns and the Imperial fiefs but professional soldiers were needed too. Luckily, such a force would be at hand in a few months.
Over the years, the Imperial Navy had realized the need for a standing force of marines, given that many of it's duties involved fighting pirates in the Archipelago. These marines, or nautikai, were lightly armoured compared to the hoplites that were the mainstay of the Heraklid army but were armed with a short and tough stabbing spear. They also had large and sturdy crocodileskin shields to which were affixed five darts. A Heraklid officer had pointed out that these nautikai could be used at land just as well as at sea and that their lighter armour and smaller weapons would make them much more tactically manouverable than the traditional hoplites.
With the return of the Imperial Expeditionary Fleet from it's annual trip to the East Indies, Heraklios X had a tough, professional core for his army. He travelled by ship to raise the siege of long-suffering Kaliopolis and in a bloody campaign smashed his way up the Ganges Valley. The new nautikai tactics proved their effectiveness on land and over the next fifty years would become the main basis of training for the Imperial Army as well. Henceforth, the hoplite formations would become seen as outdated, confined to the levies from the free towns. Demetrios himself escaped, however, and there were reports that he or his sympathizers were fomenting rebellion in the vassal kingdoms of the Archipelago.
It soon emerged that it had been the Qin who had been financing Demetrios and an all out rebellion in Malacca in 47 BC proved the signal for them to conduct an invasion of the Imperial sphere of influence. Qin units were shipped in to Malacca and propped up the rebel government there. The great Imperial Naval Base at Tumasik (Singapore) stripped of it's marines by the campaign in India came under siege and almost fell to the Qin and their rebel allies. However, the city was saved in the nick of time by the Imperial Expeditionary Fleet, sailing from India with the new Crown Prince, Gautama, on board. This new force drove the Qin from Malacca and Tumasik. Determined to exact an equal punishment on the Qin for their violation of the spheres of influence, Prince Gautama summoned levies from all the vassal states of the Archipelago to swell the ranks of his army. He then proceeded to launch a naval invasion of Dai Viet, the ever rebellious Vietnamese vassal of the Qin. It was a short campaign, lasting only a season. Gautama defeated a Qin army in the field, but more importantly, gave funds and supplies to the Viet rebels before sailing back home. With their control over Vietnam shattered the Qin would spend the next fifty years in a bloody war to re-establish order in their Indo-Chinese vassal states.
By 44 BC when Heraklios X died and Heraklios XI Gautama ascended to the Throne of Pearls, a tacit but watchful peace had broken out between the two Asian Empires, the Qin being preoccupied with internal troubles and the Heraklids involved in the great military reforms that had been brought about by the adoption of the nautikai tactics.