To most men, duty is a virtue, but to others it is a burden, one to bear from generation to generation to exploit the powerless and prey upon the weak- minded.
In the blackness of space, billions of stars roam the heavens, but no one knows if any contain life except for the small blue planet known as Earth. Suspended on the black canvas, it seems a vulnerable little ball, but it is far from that. Below the wispy white clouds is Romanus, the capital of Imperial Rule. Here, ancient Rome never fell but continued to expand across the globe with colonies on the Moon. There were no dark ages where knowledge and invention stood still. No, here mankind grew and avoided the world wars where millions died. Here it spread on into Asia, conquering the Chinese and the Japanese, then turned its eyes westward and sent ships across the the Atlantic to discover the Americas, absorbing the different cultures of the Native American, Aztecs and Mayans.
By 800 A.D. gunpowder made their task as conquerors easier, but it also awakened rivalries. For centuries the process of attrition in the highest ranks went uncontested. Crowned Caesars were subsequently assassinated. This sparked the people’s rebellion led by the great General Washington, a conflict which almost brought everything crashing down. Wiser men, however, found the courage to reorganize civilization more democratically. The monarchs became mere figureheads of the state, and the real power reigned in two elected Proconsuls who ruled for a term of eight years. They abolished slavery, creating a trade union of social workers with benefits and old age pension.
The original city on the Tiber fell into disrepair after the decades of Civil War. The seat of control moved to the burgeoning lands of the Americas to a suitable spot along the river the Indians called the Potomac. In 1200 A.D. the empire erected a new capital, Romanus, a planned metropolis with wide boulevards and gleaming marble buildings. A giant obelisk stands at its center, dedicated to one of its mightiest generals. Facing this imposing structure is a more subdued building. It houses the large sculpture of the man whose foresight saved the Empire. His name was Lincolnitus. The huge lifelike statue sits in a simple chair dressed in a royal toga with a laurel wreath upon his head. To the side, inscribed on the wall for prosperity, are his dictates.
“Here be it established that all these dead who have fought for the Empire did not die in vain. Theirs was the ultimate sacrifice for all we hold dear. That no man will use his power for personal gain. Rome is an idea, a whisper to remind us that all men are equal. That liberty, not the pursuit of glory, should be the goal of every citizen.”
-Abraham Lincolnitus 780 A.D
Powerful words from a statesman that had brought humanity out of its infancy and set it on a path for equality, but old habits die hard. It would still be centuries of war before his dream came true.
By 1700, with the invention of the automobile, whole new areas opened up. The Empire spread and so did the population. Isolated cultures came into contact with the Old World, transmitting diseases. Global pandemics raged, killing millions. Mankind was on the verge of extinction.
Medical technology intervened and quelled the spread of these plagues. Scientists and physicians were hailed and given all the research money they needed. So much so, that cancer, Alzheimer’s, diabetes, and heart disease became a thing of the past.
By 1870, the discovery of atomic energy led to the wide application of nuclear power and fueled the first moon shot in 1900.
The original Rome was restored, and it now serves as a haven for artists and scholars on sabbatical. It offers the blessings of heritage, serving as a reminder of a proud and varied culture that spans back almost 4,000 years. Where the old city is rich in history, Romanus is gleaming, modern, and poised for greatness. Yet, tradition is still a strong part of the Empire’s foundation. The Roman family is the revered nucleus of life and the center around which the Empire orbits. Politics and the military are central to this hierarchy, but the games bind all Romans together, from the New World to the Old.
Gladiators are the gods of the arena, their melees broadcast on T.V. and over the Internet as an unending stream of fights into the people’s lives. No longer are they death matches. Instead, they are contests between well-matched opponents that rake in millions for promoters and sponsors. Only the fittest can wear the ceremonial Galea Gold gladiator helmet.
Romanus and the Empire seem secure and at peace, but strong, dark undercurrents are even now rippling through its veins. Mars remains a problem. It is a forbidden destination, for reasons unknown to the people. There have been signs that something is brewing on that ancient planet. Who or what is causing it no one knows.