Da Qin in Great Yuezhi
The Da Qin? Here? This was a portent, but was it for ill or gain, it would remain to be seen. I motioned my courtiers to bring in their leader.
I was on campaign in the far West, expanding my empire, bringing more under the suzerainty of the Celestial Throne. My goal was bring Anxi under my rule. We were clashing in Great Yuezhi. I was advancing, but every day that advance slowed: there was little here to support a vast army and the closer we approached the Anxi center of power, the stronger they became. I had not given up, but I was concerned. And now, the Da Qin had arrived.
In he came. He was tall, but not so tall as his two soldiers that came with him. They were giants. Exotic, one with hair like the sun, the other red like blood. I suspected the leader had picked them for that reason. They had been accompanied by a small troop with a golden eagle standard and the standard barer worse a wolf’s hide over his head and shoulders. Those had remained outside. They all wore impressive armor and those that came inside wore breastplates. Though different than ours. Quite different. One had a plume. The other two did not.
They did not show reverence. That was a concern. An insult, but they seemed at ease and I knew they did not have many soldiers. There were around a thousand of them. All infantry. They could be beaten.
A translator accompanied them, a man of the Anxi. That was of deep concern then. Was this an advance party of an army that had sided with the Anxi against the Middle Kingdom? Against me? Know your enemy before striking.
Through the translator, I learned of this hard, proud man and his soldiers. His name was Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo, exiled son of Gnaeus Domitius Corbulo. He had been ordered by his emperor to command a hand picked army to march to the end of the earth and return. He had obeyed his emperor. He was proud of obeying his emperor.
In fact, at his emperor's request, his father had taken his own life, without question and announced his worthiness to take his life at the emperor's command. The pride in the man's words and stance at this news surprised me, concerned me, troubled me but I did not let that show.
I found his intentions were to only do as his emperor requested. He had no pretensions of conquering anything, and in that he was realistic. He was not a conqueror, but an explorer, if a very well armed one.
He had fought his way through a people he called the Hunnoi and the translator thought had been the Xiongnu. He would complete his emperor's command no matter the cost, even if it that cost was of all his men's lives and his own.
I was impressed with this man. He was proud, if arrogant, but with some reason. His army would be defeated, to be sure, but at what cost. His men looked well armed and armored. And the discipline to take one's life and even march across the world at a man's word was astounding. And then...do so with a coherent army...
Perhaps. Perhaps I could make use of this man and his soldiers.
I asked what he knew of the Anxi and replied he knew much. His father had fought them and he had been there in those battles. He admitted he didn't know this side of their empire, but he knew their ways and their weaknesses well.
With that, I smiled.
"Do you think he bought it?" the centurion asked. "That was inspired pretending to be Corbulo's son. The Medes would know that name and be worried about what it might mean..."
Publius Quinctilius Varus Minor met his two cohort commanding centurions made it back within the encampment before they talked.
"I think so. We can keep our pack of dogs together, but if the Seresian Emperor knew in how bad of shape we were from fighting the Huns, he'd be tempted to just crush us."
"A good thing you took the Celt and the German. They can be imposing."
Varus snorted. He was tall...for a Roman. But compared to those to only a Nubian could be taller. And only some of them.
"He has stated he will resupply us and give us guarded passage to the 'tàipíngyáng.' The ocean there and back. So long as we behave, we'll get safe passage to and from and through his empire."
"There's a hook, isn't there?"
"Yes," Varus sighed. "We have to help lay siege to some Mede city."
The centurions groaned. "If its not the German tribes, its the fscking Medes. No matter where we Romans go, there they are, making our lives miserable. Its the fate of all Legionnaires to fight and die on the arrows of the Medes or beheaded by the damned Germans. Why should we be different? Marching to the ends of the Earth hasn't changed a thing."
The other centurion asked, "And when we're done with the Medes and march to and fro, what then, Varus. What do we do then?"
"Then we march home. And that bastard Caligula ought to be dead by then, but don't get ahead of ourselves yet. We have a lot to overcome before we do that."
The centurions nodded as one. "What are we going to do for the Seresian emperor?"
"What every damned emperor from the beginning of time has asked Legions to do. We're going 'hey diddle diddle, right up the middle' and taking the gate. He's heard the 'Da Qin,' what they call us, are incredible at taking cities."
They groaned again. "Another fscking emperor. "
"Indeed. We're not meant to have long lives. Let's get started. We have Medes to kill. Even here on the other side of the world."
They nodded. Even here, even now, even in our circumstance, Romans would be Romans.