It was late in the evening and getting dark. Beckett waited outside Caesar’s large quarters. He felt a little sick. He had just seen a man get murdered. Beckett's mind would wander, staring at different things nearby. But then suddenly, he would see the Veneti commander's body go stiff. Beckett would shake his head, and let the image escape.
Eventually the cloth door to Caesar’s quarters was pulled back, and a young blonde officer emerged.
*You are the master spy, are you?* Asked the man.
*Yes, I am”, replied Beckett.
*Excellent. You may address me as Publius Cornelius Sulla.*
Antoni’s emerged from behind Sulla. *You will address me as 'sir'. Is that understood?* Antoni said, glaring at Beckett.
*Mark Antoni! Stop bothering the boy and bring him to me.* Caesar called from within the tent.
*Caesar wishes to speak to you. You did well today, boy. But don’t think I won’t keep my eye on you. Neptune may favor you, but I do not. I’ve seen too much treachery from the Gauls to trust a savage.* Antoni continued.
*ANTONI!* Caesar called again.
*Enter.* Antoni grumbled. He pulled back the door and motioned to Beckett to enter.
Beckett stepped into Caesar’s large quarters. It looked larger once inside. There were desks, scrolls and men dressed in long cloaks running about organizing and tidying. Slaves, thought Beckett. He had read that slave ownership was common in Roman times.
*Come here, young man,* Caesar called out.
Beckett walked over to Caesar who sat behind a large desk surrounded by shelves filled with parchment scrolls. Paper in its modern form had not yet reached the Romans. The parchment had a unique smell that made Beckett think of his father’s office.
One of the slaves came by the desk and picked up two envelopes.
*Make sure the councilman gets this. And make sure he understands that it ends my obligation to him.* Caesar said to his slave. *Put our best man on it.*
Caesar turned back to Beckett. *Thank you for waiting. I've had to take care of some important administrative affairs. Once I'd seen that the fleet had the Veneti on the run, I hurried back here to take care of them.
*First, let me apologise. General Antoni acted brashly, and in all honesty it is not a method I would have normally approved of. We were looking at a potential major loss of life, and so I was not optimistic about the battle. Antoni, as he often does, came up with an unusual approach. I had no expectation of success, but it worked. In all honesty, your actions saved many lives. It seems you've got quite the talent for mischief.
*Sit.* Caesar motioned to Beckett to the chair before him. *You are the only non-Roman to set foot in my personal quarters, other than my servants, of course.*
Antoni was noisily eating an apple while leaning against a nearby table. *Be honored, savage,* he spoke, still glaring at Beckett.
*Antoni, please.* Caesar hushed him. *Young man, you have saved us tremendous difficulty and have served us well. Roman or no Roman, you have proven yourself tremendously useful. I would like to see you join us for up-coming campaigns. Your service to us will be rewarded.*
Antoni suddenly interrupted, *But he’s a filthy savage!*
Caesar raised a hand to Antoni, and again, Antoni relented.
*Here are 10 sesterces boy.* Caesar held out a small sac. *A modest sum, but you will no doubt find it useful.*
Beckett sat quietly, not knowing what to do.
*Take the money, boy.* Antoni bellowed. *You may not receive much more than that should you live to be 200 years old.*
Beckett reached out and took the small sac. He tied the draw strings to his belt.
*You served us well today, young master. I've paid men a lot more for accomplishing a lot less.* Caesar paused and looked at Antoni. *And in some cases for doing nothing at all.* Antoni nodded his head. *Perhaps we can find a place for you among us when we head back to Rome, although that will perhaps not be for some years. In the meantime, we may have use for you here.*
*Here? What would I do?* Beckett replied slowly in Latin, struggling to manage the correct verb form.
Caesar smiled. *If you can do again what you did for us today, we shall no doubt find a very good use for you. I suspect you've never gotten into mischief like that before.*
*Just a little mischief. What I did today...* Beckett struggled to think of the words. He remembered Crisis Shock, and what Lieutenant Jansen said when in the clip after he sinks an entire submarine by secretly planting explosives on them in one of the hardest levels in the game. Beckett performed a quick translation in his head. *...that takes the cake.*
*What?* Antoni shouted. *What is that supposed to mean?* He seemed more irritated than curious. *This boy needs to learn proper words.*
Beckett looked over at Antoni and then back at Caesar who looked confused trying to understand what Beckett had said.
*I mean, I've never done anything like I did today.* Beckett clarified. OK, Beckett thought. No more translating expressions..
*What do you plan to do next?* Caesar asked.
*I think I should go home soon.*
*That would be most unfortunate for us.* Caesar replied.
Antoni watched and grinned. As much as he did not trust Beckett, he enjoyed watching what he knew was coming. Caesar would get Beckett to agree to help. It was not easy to say 'no' to Caesar.
*Tell me, young man, what is it you do with your days?*
*I work. I spend time with my friends playing games.*
*As a young man should. But surely, a young man with your talents could be far more productive with a greater cause such as ours? Do you not think you could put yourself to greater use?*
Beckett looked across the desk at Caesar. A day ago, he'd stood across from Mr Hashmi and had to confront his short-comings. Today, he was being thanked, even congratulated, for his ability to engage in mischief.
*I will help you.* Beckett said, having become acutely aware of the awkward silence that had built.
*Excellent.* Caesar replied.
Then Beckett suddenly thought of Annie. He remembered that he was only supposed to be gone for a few minutes. Suddenly, Beckett panicked.
*I can help, but um... I need to go home first. I can come back soon.* He turned toward Antoni, looked at his return switch. *I need that.* He said, and pointed at Antoni's wrist.
*All in good time.* Antoni responded. *But where is home for you, boy? Where are you from exactly. How did you learn our words? Where is this accent of yours from? It's unusual. I've never heard one quite like it.*
Caesar looked at Beckett, also curious to hear his answer. But before Beckett could respond, Crastinus came running into the room. He stopped quickly, held his fist to his chest and then held his arm out in salute.
*Our scouts have found there is a Gaul force moving in towards our fortress from the Eastern forrest. They’ll reach the fortress by nightfall*, spoke the legionary gasping.
*How many are there?* Sulla asked.
*About two thousand, sir.*
*Are there enough men here to fight them off?* Antoni replied.
*That’s just it sir, we don't have many men here.*
*Do we have enough men?* Caesar asked.
*Sir, with the fleet out rounding up the Veneti, and the 4th, 5th and 6th Legions fighting off a rebellion in Aremorica, there is only the 8th Legion left here. And most of them are helping the engineers and the navy. We have one cohort.*
*Is that enough?*
Crastinus stood quietly a moment. *We can make it work.*
Caesar spoke up. *Antoni, it is simple. Rather than get mad at you for letting our forces thin out, I’m going to ask you to personally organize the remaining men to stop this small incursion.*
Antoni stood straight, pressed his fist into his chest, and extended his arm with his hand open. He then turned and walked towards the entrance to the tent. Beckett watched helplessly as the return-switch disappeared from sight. Beckett opened his mouth to say something, but no words came out.
Nuts. He could be gone for hours. Beckett cursed himself for being so timid. Why do I keep doing that? He thought to himself. Beckett frowned. A few moments before, he stood there receiving praise for his efforts, and in just a few seconds, it had all frittered away by a moment of hesitation and fear.
*Sulla, you'll come with me.* He said.
*Rally the men, Antoni.* Caesar shouted as Antoni left. *I'll meet you at the fortress gates. 10 minutes. No more.*
Beckett was now alone with Caesar and the remaining slaves who had set about tidying and fetching Caesar's own armour and weaponry. Beckett was still frowning and lost in the embarrassing memory of watching his only way home disappear after working so hard to get close to it.
*What bothers you, young man?* Caesar asked, detecting his frustration.
Beckett looked up and saw Caesar's stern yet curious expression.
*Antoni has something of mine.* Beckett started. *I should have gotten it now, just before he left. I don't know why I didn't.*
*He's an intimidating man, General Antoni. I know he can be a nuisance. If it weren't for his fighting spirit, I might not choose to keep him so close. What is it that he has, exactly?*
*Something valuable. I can't go home without it.*
*It's not wise to let something so valuable get away from you.*
*He grabbed it before I realised what was happening.*
*Then I would recommend that you prepare for the worst at all times.*
*What do you mean?*
*As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see, than about what they can. Whatever your worst fears dictate, prepare for it. You'll find it rarely comes true. But you'll be well-prepared for whatever does happen.*
*So what should I have done?* Beckett asked, a little perplexed.
*Not kept something so valuable in a place where a man like Antoni could get a hold of it.*
Beckett nodded. He supposed it was poor planning on his part. Beckett thought back to what brought him here. He thought about how Ben Michaels had pushed him over. Now, he was 2000 years in the past, and the exact same thing happened to him. Someone bigger and with a mean disposition had pushed him around.
*I suppose I should stand taller.* Beckett said, not knowing the correct words in Latin to express the English expression 'stand up for myself'. Beckett was not going to take any more risks translating idioms.
'Stand taller' seemed to get the idea across.
*Indeed.* Caesar replied. He then stood up and walked over to a bowl of water that sat on a table. He bent over and splashed the water onto his face.
*My armour, Nestor.* Caesar said over his shoulder. One of Caesar's slave came forward, both carrying the leather pieces that would be fixed to Caesar's torso. Nestor was not much taller than Beckett, but his bald head and wrinkled face showed how much older he was. Nestor began to place armour over Caesar's simple tunic.
*Look at this situation.* Caesar began. *I've got a limited number of Legions here at the camp. The navy is managing the Veneti. Others are two days away. I've now got limited man-power here. But if there is one thing I always remember, it is that if I have my best generals nearby, the number of soldiers is less important.*
A leather breast-plate was put over Caesar. The front and back were then tightened just above his waste. Caesar held out his arms; Nestor began to place the armour on him, and tie them tightly.
*Then once they have prepared, what do they do when they fight?* Beckett asked.
*Then, they focus on the fight. The last thing I want them to do is think about anything but the task in hand. No doubt, you did the same when you swam out to the Veneti ships.*
Beckett remembered how quickly he'd gotten to the first boat once he'd put his head under water and moved. The only time he felt scared or in trouble was when he stopped to look back.
*Are you not scared?* Beckett asked.
Caesar spoke quietly. *Terrified. But I've learned not to trust my fear. In fact fear often shows you the path you should follow, and it teaches you what to prepare for.*
One of the slaves went to place Caesar's helmet on. It was tall and well-decorated with horse hair at the top.
*Not that one.* Caesar said. *I'll take a simpler one. I may need to fight. I will prepare the horse. Nestor, place your armour on the young man.*
*Yes, sir.* Nestor replied.
Caesar turned to Beckett. *You shall see how preparations are put into effect.*