"I find myself as thrilled as if I was listening to the best production of Greek drama in the last century," Tertius Julius Coruncanianus commented to his elder brother, Amulius Julius Victor. Not a Julian by birth, but by adoption, he was still very loyal to his adopted big brother, even as they continued to transform Numantia into a proper Roman fortress city, in anticipation of the campaign through Spain.
"As do I," Amulius Victor replied, a grin on his face as he read about his son's exploit. Incredible! That a boy so young could be so talented! He resumed reading aloud the letter his brother Herennius had sent him.
And what a plan it was, brother! The sheer cunning and boldness in it would have left you gasping for breath. The boy herded all the Dacian refugees into camp, and put the legions in between camp and the incoming Junians. He also commandeered Burubista's fighting men, all five thousand of them. Apparently, those five thousand had been the survivors of his successful destruction of one of the Junian legions. Reinforced like that, I took personal command of the Ninth, and gave Agrippa command of the Eighth. I sent Mamaea with Burubista, and got ready for the worst brawl of my life. I don't mind admitting I was certain that we'd go down, but just as your son predicted, the appearance of red Julian banners confused the Junians so much, that the four commanders arrived in person to see what in all of Hades was going on. None other than Valerius Junius Brutus, son of Oppius Brutus himself, was the field commander, and he had several other high-born patricians with him, including such names Lucius Catalina and Appius Claudius. He demanded to know what I thought I was doing, if you please! As if the tawdry blood of a Junii Bruti even begins to compare to the blood of a Julian descended from Mars and Venus!
"There is a Senate mandate for the destruction of the Dacians, is there not? As such, I was not aware I was not allowed here," I replied.
"Well, yes, true enough, but what are you doing with that horde of unwashed barbarians?" he pressed.
"Oh, them? They've seen the error of their ways, and have decided to become properly Roman."
"What? A pack of lies! Hand them over!"
"Not on your life! They've passed into Julian clientship, and are out of your hands. Turn around, and go deal with rest of Dacia!"
"Hand them over! They belong to me!"
"We can make a military battle of this, you know," I told them casually. "I'm sure my big brother would love to hear that you decided to attack me in an attempt to stop a properly Roman activity of acquiring new clients and expanding the influence of Rome."
You can' begin to image his outrage, big brother. He was seeing the possibility of loot and slaves waltz away from him. I think he would have tried anyway, save for your reputation and that the Eighth, Ninth, and the Dacians intimidated him. From what Burubista told me later, Valerius Brutus had been the one in command of that destroyed legion! Rest assured, I had that trumpeted from one end of Rome clear to the other once I got back to Segesta.
Anyway, once we marched all the way back to Segesta, I had the Fourth Gallica come and escort the Dacians to Condate Redonum. From what I hear, they've been driving the various rebellious Gallic tribes into the ground. The Dacians developed quite a ferocious hatred of the Gauls. Not my doing, as you can tell. Marcellus heard about how the Redones had smeared your statue in Condate Redonum with feces. Your son has quite the vindictive streak in him.
From what Triarius tells me, you've got the First Aquilae, the Fifth Scorpos, and the Sixth Victoria with you in Numantia. Well, big brother, you'll be happy to know that the Seventh, Eighth, and the Ninth will be arriving soon. The Seventh is well-blooded, and Gutraucus' head is decorating the Pass of Brennus. However, there's also a few minor details I may have to mention.
Amulius paused in his deciphering of the letter to mumble through this part. The continuous scribbling had to be read aloud in order for someone to understand, and this part was a bit of a surprise. When he finally understood it, he began to laugh. "Oh, the cunning! Excellent, just excellent!"
Amulius looked at Tertius Coruncanianus, his dark eyes amused. "Congratulations, you have just adopted a son!"
Tertius was utterly confused. "What?"
"Apparently, Burubista would not settle for being a client king of the Julii. He wanted to retain his dignity as prince of the Dacians. So what my son did was have an adoptive law prepared and pre-approved. All it requires is your official consent, and we will have acquired the last of the Dacians as our clients, and you will have acquired a son by the name of Tertius Julius Coruncanianus Burubista."
Tertius Coruncanianus stared, flabbergasted. "I can't have a son older than I am!"
Amulius Victor raised an eyebrow. "Ah, but you will. I insist, brother."
Tertius scowled, clearly not pleased. "What of his family? Are they Roman now too?"
"Oh, no. Marcellus adamantly refused. He agreed to give them the citizenship, and put them in Marinius' clientship," Amulius replied with a smile. "However, he did not do so out of the bottom of his heart. Marinius was ordered to hand over his oldest unmarried daughter to the big brute."
"Surely you're not going to allow this!" Tertius demanded, his bright blue eyes still appalled.
"Of course I'm going to allow it. Apparently, on the entire march back, Marcellus spent the time tutoring Burubista. His Latin has improved, and he now knows the basics of fighting a legion. Can't let such a useful resource go to waste, can I? With six legions at our disposal, it'll be an easy affair to subjugate Spain. I'll take the First Aquilae to Asturica, Titus can hold Corduba with the Fifth Scorpos, and you can hold Numantia with the Sixth Victoria. Herennius can take the Seventh and Ninth through Osca and Carthago Nova. The Eighth…I think I'll give it to Burubista, and tell him to take Scallabis. That should keep him busy!"
"Amulius! You cannot be serious!"
Amulius smiled. "Dead serious, brother. Burubista has even adopted civilized clothing. I think I'm going to grant him enough land in Lusitania to qualify him for the Senate. Oh, how I'll enjoy seeing those puckered up windbags react to an utter barbarian in their hallow meetinghouse!"
"At least his children won't be utter barbarians!" Tertius snapped, still unhappy.
"Oh, no, they won't." Amulius smiled once again. "In fact, they'll be a decoration for our family. I'm going to grind it into the heads of those utter snobs that to be properly Roman is more than just being born it."
Silence met him. Amulius shook his head, and sat down to ponder this delightful turn of affairs. With the Dacians terrorizing the northern Gauls, it was perhaps time to raise a tenth legion as well. Carthage still stood, and it would be necessary to garrison Spain for a time. So, after the conquest of the Spain, send the First back to Segesta for furlough. Send the Fifth, Eighth and Ninth on across the strait and into Africa, and since the Numidians were allies, march through their lands, and finally take Carthage. Yes, this would all work out wel, and to the glory of Rome and, more importantly, the Julii.
Amulius paused and conjured his son's appearance in his mind's eye. Light-haired, with pale skin and cool gray eyes, the boy looked more like Flavius Avus more than like either of his parents. In another ten years, who knew what the boy might do? Once Spain was pacified, he would send for the boy. He would observe him, to make sure that Titus' flaws were not present. And if the boy was not found wanting, than he had found the leader of the next generation of their clan.