A novella of the Steam Empire Chronicles
A 20,000 word novella detailing the rise of Rufius Tiveri Alexandros, Royal Airfleet Captain of the H.M.A.S Scioparto and close friend and confidant of Primus Imperio Constantine Appius. Experience the rigors of Roman academy life, face down powerful rivals, and ultimately see how Alexandros survives to become the skilled airship captain in the Steam Empire Chronicles. Great for readers of all ages!
“So, aspirant, you come before us seeking entrance into the Athenae Roma Aeronautica to join in the service of the emperor as a member of our grand airfleet,” Chief Judge Florentinus Amelius said solemnly to the mostly empty room.
To his left and right, four other judges sat in semi-boredom. No doubt the stifling heat of the midsummer afternoon wore upon their mostly overweight and corpulent forms. Overhead, the weak breeze blowing down from the wheezing fans provided no relief from the temperature. The judges were tired, cranky, probably half-drunk, and looking for any excuse to leave early. The boy was the last applicant to the now-famed Aeronautica, the training school of all Roman aviators, and everyone was eager to go home.
“Aspirant, do you have anything to say for yourself before I read your application?” the chief judge asked sternly, looking down on the scrawny, tow-headed child standing before him.
The boy fidgeted, fingers playing at the hem of his neatly arranged toga. His hair had not survived his mother's attempts to straighten it. Amelius had seen the boy and his family in the hallway when the large doors were pulled open, his mother running a comb through his hair in a last ditch effort to smooth it out.
With a slight shake of his head, Amelius looked down at the file before him. Although he knew that the other judges had the same file and were most likely reading it now, he chose to read aloud for everyone’s benefit.
“Aspirant Rufius Tiveri Cassi Alexandros, descendent of Garus Nero Cassi Alexandros, descendent of…” Amelius paused, double-checking his file as one of the surnames rang a bell.
“Is this correct?” he asked the court secretary incredulously. He pointed to the questionable statement.
The man sifted quickly through his notes, the sound of his shuffling parchment all that could be heard over the fans and shallow breathing of the judges. “Yes, Your Judgeship, that is the correct notation,” the secretary intoned.
Pompous bureaucrat, Amelius thought as he continued reading, glancing at the child to see his reaction.
“You are a descendent of Gaius Cassius Longinus. Well, my boy, that is quite a lineage. A descendent of the traitor of Rome himself, seeking entrance into our august institution.” He looked down at the child. “Tell us why you think you should be allowed to serve,” Amelius stated flatly.