Alternate History

War of the Globe (Terra Nova)

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The War of the Globe started in the outermost reaches of Roman colonies, which was all the Andalusians dared to threaten. Perhaps they did not quite realize just how territorial Romans could get. Certainly they had no way of knowing that the several Emperors were engaged in a diplomatic power struggle with roots going back for centuries and found the idea of an open, beatable enemy more addictive than even the most exotic of substances that graced the Imperial chambers.

In any case, it was unlikely that they could ever predict that a few minor raids on some islands would cause half the fleet of Terra Australis to sail out with the intent of ending the Andalusian presence in the ocean forever. But their foresight got considerably better from there on out. At the time, Queen Adabelle was credited with supernatural foresight. Contemporary researchers, however, believe she merely possessed the most advanced spy network in the world, reaching even into Britannia. Either way, she found time to make an alliance with both the Northern and Southern Hun Emperors and hire Viking mercenaries in an effort to prepare for the coming storm. No, not a storm; a calamity unequaled by anything Nature could hope to create. Greater than a Tsunami; more powerful than a volcano eruption; more persistent in its own way than the Great Death.

The Greater Roman Senate had convened and authorized the deployment of seven legions to browbeat Europa back into submission.

It was the first true meeting of Romans with their most ancient enemies in over a millennium. In the intervening time the Legions had fought every kind of enemy imaginable. They subdued the tribes of Terra Nova, and now there were at least as many descendants of those first tribesmen among the legions as of the original Roman immigrants. They fought Mongols and taught them humility. They fought Norsemen and were in turn taught humility themselves. Most terrifyingly, the legions had fought each other. That had continued on as a tradition; an elaborate wargame to remind Romans how it could feel to face an enemy as smart and as prepared as you are. But now the legionnaires were preparing to fight the very people who once toppled the Old Rome, stranding the Roman civilization on the fertile shores of Terra Nova.

In this hour of terror and excitement do you suppose the Roman soldiers were afraid? Depressed? Bored with the swaying of the great ships as they slowly made the way across Atlantic to shores long ignored?

No. The legions sang.

On approach to Britannia, the transports were accosted by resupply fleets. But they did not dock at the friendly Island, preferring to forge on and land in Hispania. The Andalusian fleet did not attempt to interrupt them. Realizing the futility of attempting to evenly match Romans on the sea, Queen Adabelle ordered Andalusian ships to withdraw into the Mediterranean to help with delicate transport work.

The combined Army of the Huns and Andalusians moved to intercept the Roman army. The initial plans to catch the Romans by surprise were scrapped when Andalusian spies discovered, much to their horror, that each Roman legion took the time to build an entire fort around itself every single night, only to tear it down in the morning. While this hampered Roman mobility, it also made Romans invulnerable to a night attack.

In an effort to raise the fervor of the troops, Andalusian leadership spread the rumor that the Roman general is descended from the very centurion who stabbed Christ with his lance, exasperating his pain. This worked but also backfired when general Marcus Antonius learned the story from some captured prisoners. After managing to get only the basic gist of it, he nevertheless took it to heart and proclaimed himself Marcus the Godkiller. He then ordered the Camp Poets to write a work about himself. They oblige, giving special attention to his mighty lance. Despite being standard issue and clearly made less than a decade ago, it is called “…The Mighty Lance that Pierced the Heart of Heaven and brought down the Barbarian God.”

He had his chance to stake that claim in the very first real battle of the war. The First Legion, operating under Marcus’s personal command, was caught by the enemy in a routine marching action. Cut off from the other six Legions by a hill, Marcus launched a flare and dispatched a horseback messenger before ordering his troops to form up and prepare to receive charge.

It was truly a battle for the storybooks, perhaps more so than any other in the Europa campaign. There wasn’t all that much the general could do strategically, aside from the measures implemented into every Legion: larger shields and long spears for the soldiers at the fringe, intermittent lines, projectile fire upon closing…but no other tricks. No brilliant maneuvers. Just a group of brave soldiers standing and fighting against an enemy outnumbering them two to one.

By the time cavalry arrived, the Roman ranks had been split and a wedge of barbarian forces was creeping up. At the front and center were the Norse mercenaries. They were very large men, and very fierce. In the heat of combat they lost their minds entirely and just moved forward no matter how many wounds they received. After the battle the wounds would suddenly open up and they would often bleed to death right then and there, but while the bloodlust was upon them they seemed unstoppable.

Until, that is, they ran into General Marcus.

He truly seemed to be Marcus the Godkiller at that moment. He drove his lance into the first Norseman, a man the size of a bear with two battleaxes, and drove it into the ground, preventing the man from moving forward. And then, with nothing more than his own axe, he proceeded to run over this giant’s body and take on three of the roughest, toughest warriors this side of Valhalla. It was around that time that the reinforcements arrived, forcing the Andalusians to withdraw, but General Marcus succeeded in finishing off at least one other Viking.

After the battle they brought Marcus his lance, which had been snapped in half. He looked at it, then walked over to a rack and grabbed one of the spare lances lying there.

This is my lance, the Lance that killed God. Anyone here who says differently?”

As it turns out, there wasn’t.

From then on, the campaign reverted to the more classical form. Just two armies trying to outmaneuver each other. A series of engagements with no definite victor.

Meanwhile, the action was heating up in Asia. To this day it is uncertain precisely how the mission to run out Andalusian ships turned into the plan to secure total dominance of the sea for Rome, but there you go. As a result, the Western, Southern, and even Northern fleets joined the Australis one in the effort. Andalusian ships were the first target, but following them were Mongols. They never stood that much chance – as a culture they’d had less than a few hundred years to get used to sailing. For Romans, sailing was a way of life. Soon, every non-Roman nation in Westernmost Ocean was rendered landbound.

And then, in Europa, the big one finally came. The Battle of the Five Hills.

Now, up to that point Queen Adabelle hadn’t been having much success in her efforts to paint this as the Fourth War of the Cross. Firstly, those had always been offensive, not defensive. Secondly, the Christianity of Andalusians and the Christianity of the Huns were two different breeds, while the Norse just didn’t care that much. But on this day, she finally got something framed. On each of the Five Hills there was a burning cross, as the symbol of strength. The soldiers were prepared to kill for God and all His Warlords.

And then the Romans came. First as a flood of stone and rockets, seeking out the obvious targets, thinning ranks, and disrupting formations. And then they marched. The Seven Legions. And as they marched, they started singing.

Now, it’s important to understand just how alien this gesture was to the people of Europa. Battle cries, certainly. Those were used all the time. But this was something in another class entirely. Not wild shouting, but a perfectly synchronized harmony, the flowing Latin words rising up over the battlefield.

At this time the last of Romans’ catapult stones sailed and knocked over the largest cross on the highest hill.

The rest of the night was filled with slaughter, but by the time the dawn came, the Romans had won the day. Marcus the Godkiller had personally stormed each of the four hills with crosses remaining and toppled each one.

After such a grandiose spectacle, the rest of the war was a bit tame. The Romans kept marching inland and pillaged a few cities before the Hun reinforcements threatened to cut them off from their ships. At that point the Romans turned around and returned to Terra Nova, though not before setting fire to every seaport in Andalusia.

The war that spanned the Globe was effectively over.

Terra Nova

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