“Men let me tell you a story your Colonel heard a long time ago. Pero knows you have all heard of Julius Caesar, the greatest of the Roman generals. He was loved by his people and they showed him undying loyalty. With their loyalty they won many battles and Caesar, being the great man he was gave these new lands to his loyal soldiers at a knock down price. A bargain for their loyal service.”

It was a grim morning. Pero was on foot, having decided to leave Hercules in the stable. He paced backwards and forwards slowly in front of the assembled parade. He would pause occasionally, smoothing his moustache and looking at the soldiers through half closed eyes. Not really seeing them, but a cohort of centurions and gleaming armour. Pero continued his monologue:

“The Senators in Rome, the fat cats and the lazy who had grown rich off the hard work of the poor; they did not like Caesar, he was too popular. The people loved him too much, so they sent another great general after him. Pompey. A big man with a big army. Caesar was no coward; he and his men went after Pompey. The general thought he could tire Caesar’s men out so they stood still! Well, Caesar saw this and told his men to take a break. Yeah sit down and rest your feet, he said. When they’d had a break, they got up and charged the army of Pompey.”

Pero paused to gauge the reaction. The men’s faces were bereft of emotion; they must be enthralled by his words; unable to take in the profundity of what he was explaining to them. They would learn the lesson of Caesar and Pompey. He would educate these peasants in the manner of a king. The royalty of old, Julius Caesar himself would not stand for such disrespect. Pero had read about the divine blood of royalty; the blood that surged red through his body. Hot and red, like hell.

“The armies met and Caesar had sent his horses ahead. Pompey wasn’t so bright and chased the horses when they retreated. Straight into Caesar’s troops. Bam! Well, they made mincemeat of the first of Pompey’s men and managed to get in behind the rest of them. What a genius Caesar was! Pero is humbled by merely mentioning his name to you. Perhaps one day; a new Caesar will come; perhaps that man is me, my men. Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, Caesar defeated the army of Pompey losing no-one important and chased him back to his camp. Pompey tried to defend but Caesar, well Caesar was relentless… he wouldn’t stop at nothing…”

Pero trailed off as though deep in thought. He reached slowly to his side and took out his pistol. Approaching the nearest soldier to him; some spotty youth that had a face he didn’t like now he had seen it, he raised his arm. Holding the pistol to the young soldier’s head, he fired. The man wobbled and slumped to the floor. The rest of the platoon froze in place. Eyes dilated and breathing ceased; one thawed and started shouting at Pero, moving towards him. Pero nodded to his associates, who had surrounded the soldiers armed with assault rifles and dark sunglasses. They raised the rifles to aim and the soldier stood still once more. The rest looked bewilderingly at the dead man and at Pero. The Colonel holstered his pistol and continued his speech, seemingly unmoved by the preceding event.

“So anyway Caesar, he took the camp and Pompey ran like a coward. He ran and ran and ran, all the way to Egypt. Long way eh? This was not good enough for Caesar, this would not do. Eventually, he got Pompey. Had him assassinated good and permanently. You see Caesar knew, Pero knows too.”

He took his pistol out once again and approached the soldier closest to where he had paced towards. Again, holding the gun to the soldier’s head he shot. This one was older and had a beard. Pero walked over to the next soldier in line and did the same. That one was handsome and blonde; to Pero he looked stupid, just another idiot peasant who had no space in his head for education and improvement. Holding his pistol in his hand he addressed the men once more; eyelids heavy and drooping.

“You see Caesar had won already. But to him it was not good enough. People had to get the message, to learn my children. Learn when you have already lost, or when someone has already won. Do you get the message men; do you understand what your commander is patiently explaining to you?”

To Chapter Fifty – Lilith’s Blessing

Cover image from Wikipedia: A Cavalry Battle by Salvator Rosa.