dedicate this Fan Fiction to Asa B., whose art inspired this work.
The year is 3006. Leela is a full-fledged GIA
agent, with a number of successful missions behind her. Unbeknownst
to her, she is about to become a female Gladiator (properly known as
a Gladiatrix) for the Honor and Glory of the New Space Roman Empire.
OPENING SCENE: Exterior Shot of a 20,000 seat
Roman style amphitheater, filled to capacity.
In the arena stands the unmistakable form of
Turanga Leela. She is unarmored, wearing only a simple red legionary
tunic and sandals. In her right hand is a straight cavalry sword,
called a spatha. Covering her left hand is a small round shield with
a 4 inch spike in the center. Facing her is a seven foot tall,
opponent who is wielding a wicked looking, two-handed spiked club.
His armor is of Grecian style, richly ornamented, with a red-plumed
Corinthian style helmet, a breastplate, back plate, greaves, and
vambraces. The two circle each other warily, looking for an opening.
The crowd is hushed, awaiting the first blows.
In an attempt to seize the initiative Leela's
opponent lunges forward, trying to skewer her on the end spike of his
club. "Too slow," Leela thinks as she deftly sidesteps to
the left. Remembering that the spectators want a good show, not a
simple execution, she merely punches her opponent in his bicep with
her shield, inflicting a jagged wound. As the spike draws blood the
crowd screams its approval.
Roaring like a bull, her opponent whirls about and
takes a swing with his club. It passes through the spot where Leela
had been a second before. Leela uses her shield once again to punch
her opponent in his other bicep. As a result, blood now runs down
both of his arms. The noise of the crowd increases in volume, with
some spectators getting to their feet.
For almost ten minutes, Leela deftly dances away
from her opponent. Occasionally, she uses her small shield to draw
blood. Twice, her opponent drops his club because the blood coursing
down his arms has made it too slippery to hold. In an elaborate
display of nonchalance, she patiently waits for him to pick it back
up. After the second drop, Leela notices that there is an almost
imperceptible decrease in the level of the crowds' excitement.
"This ought to perk them up," she
thinks. Leela plants the point of her sword in the sand and walks
away. Gasps of astonishment come from the crowd. Slowly, she strolls
over to the side of the arena. Once there, she appears to strike up
an animated conversation with some of the spectators. Her opponent
stands bewildered, obviously trying to figure out what to do. The
crowd just as obviously loves every minute of it. Stinging catcalls
and jeers begin to ring out as well.
That seems to make up her opponent's mind.
He charges, but Leela simply trots ahead of him, leading him twice
around the arena before he stops chasing her, his chest heaving with
the exertion. Breathing easily, lightly glistening with sweat, Leela
walks over to her sword. She grasps the now bone dry handle and cuts
several exaggerated arcs through the air. The crowd howls its
approval. Her opponent stumbles over, trying to keep on his feet.
Loss of blood and the merciless sun beating down and reflecting from
the sand have obviously taken their toll.
He raises his club as if to strike. As his club
rises above his head, his breastplate rides up, exposing his lower
abdomen. Leela slashes his now exposed muscles, once…twice…and
a third time. Her opponent staggers, then falls to his knees, and
finally collapses on his face in the sand. The crowd goes absolutely
Leela faces the sponsor's box, waiting for
the signal…Death or Life? The crowd…entertained by
Leela's performance…is in a good mood, so the majority
gives the "let him live" sign of thumbs up. The sponsor,
clad in a white toga with a broad purple border pauses dramatically
before giving the thumbs up. Leela salutes the sponsor, who throws a
hefty bag of coins to her. Using her sword tip, Leela flips the bag
into the air and catches it with her left hand. By feel, she guesses
that it holds around 100 Denarii. She salutes the sponsor once again.
The crowd cheers this bit of bravado as well.
As she trots towards the entrance to the gladiator
area she waves to the crowd. They begin a rhythmic chant of
"Cyclopia Victrix! Cyclopia Victrixi!"
Twenty thousand sets of stamping feet and shouting voices combine to
produce a thunderous cacophony. Leela gives the crowd a broad stage
smile and continues to wave. As she enters the darkness of the
tunnel to the gladiator area she thinks, "How did I ever manage
to make it this far?"
SCENE ONE: Exterior shot of the Planet Express
Ship cruising through space. The shot moves to the interior of the
ship where Leela is at the helm. Bender and Fry are sitting on the
couch, drinking beer. Amy is seated at the astronavigation station
to Leela's left.
AMY: Leela, I'm picking up a massive object
moving on an intercept course.
LEELA: Can you identify it?
AMY: No. (Concentrates on the readout) I'm
not sure, but I think it is a very large ship. (Pause.) No…I'm
sure it is a very large ship. (A note of concern enters her
voice.) It has increased speed and is heading straight for us.
LEELA: (Frowns.) I don't like this one
little bit. We're taking evasive action. Fry, get off your can
and man the turret. Bender, get down in the engine room and take
Nibbler with you. We may need to pour on the dark matter.
FRY: Aw, can't I just finish this beer?
BENDER: Yeah, Leela. What's the rush?
LEELA: (Fiercely) I said move, damn it!
FRY: (Sets unfinished beer down) Yes Captain.
(Fry rises and moves out of camera view quickly.)
BENDER: (Gulps down his beer, emitting a fiery
belch) I hate to see alcohol abuse and a half-finished beer is the
worst sort of abuse of alcohol! (Bender picks up Fry's half
finished beer and gulps it down as well, emits a second fiery belch).
LEELA: Bender, so help me, if you don't move
your metal carcass, I'll have the Professor install another
BENDER: (Sarcastically) Yes Miss Leela, I'm
a going! (Picks up Nibbler) Come on you three-eyed dark matter
factory, let's see how fast we can make this tub go. (Exits
muttering to himself.)
AMY: Leela, they are closing fast. (Pauses) I'm
getting a transmission, voice only.
LEELA: Play it.
VOICE: Unidentified vessel, this is the Imperial
Warship Augustus. Heave to and prepare to be boarded.
LEELA: This is Planet Express Ship, Galactic
Registry India Mike Charlie Romeo Zulu Yankee Romeo Uniform-One Two.
Why are you stopping us?
VOICE: Planet Express Ship, this system has been
annexed by the New Space Roman Empire. You have trespassed into a
military exclusion zone. The penalty is that your ship, cargo, and
all persons in it are the legal property of the Emperor.
LEELA: Negative Augustus, we will not submit to
being boarded. (Off microphone) Amy, send a distress signal, all
AMY: (Curses in Cantonese) I've been trying,
but they are jamming us.
LEELA: (Into microphone.) Bender, are you in the
engine room yet?
BENDER: Sure am, sausage link.
LEELA: Fry, are you in the turret?
FRY: Roger dodger, oh great and mighty Captain.
LEELA: (Frustration showing on her face, Leela
says angrily.) Cut the baloney, you two clowns. Bender, you red-line
the engines…now. Fry, hold your fire until they fire first.
FRY and BENDER: (In Unison) Clear!
AMY: They are in visual range. (Surprised
Exclamation in Cantonese) Dude! They are huge…twice the size
of the Nimbus!
LEELA: Pour on the dark matter, Bender! Fry, hold
your fire…we don't want them to have an excuse to shoot.
Before Leela can react, the Augustus opens
fire. Four bluish energy beams hit the Planet Express Ship. The
beams cause the engines to cut out, but leave the ship otherwise
undamaged. The ship slews crazily in space; it then begins to tumble
slowly end over end. Both Leela and Amy remain in place as they are
seat belted in. However, loose items do begin to cascade throughout
LEELA: Bender can you restart the engines?
BENDER: (Clanking sounds in Background) Ouch!
Damn! Ouch! If I could stop…Ouch… tumbling for…Ouch…two
seconds, I'll give it a…Ouch…shot.
Abruptly, the ship stops tumbling.
AMY: They've got us in a tractor beam!
LEELA: Stand by to repel boarders! Amy, Bender,
Fry…arm yourselves! (Leela pulls her side arm)
Just then the hull begins to resonate with a
low frequency humming, which increases in volume with each passing
AMY: They are hitting us with some sort of low
frequency pulse…I feel dizzy.
LEELA: Stand by to…
Amy collapses, followed by Leela.
SCENE TWO: Exterior Shot. Leela, Amy,
Fry, and Bender are standing on a raised platform in the center of a
distinctly Roman Marketplace. They all have glowing bluish collars
around their necks. Bender's has set of bolts that hold his
collar in place. Leela, Amy and Fry are dressed as in rough brown
woolen tunics. Also on the platform is a human wearing a spotless
white tunic, flanked by two Legionaries in what looks like armor from
the Early Imperial Period of Earth's Rome.
AUCTIONEER: What am I bid for this fine coffle of
slaves? As you can see, they are in fine shape.
LEELA: (In a low voice to Fry and Amy) Just keep
cool and we'll escape this mess.
SOLDIER ONE: Shut up, slave! (The Legionary walks
up to Leela and attempts to slap her.)
Leela throws a punch that flattens the first
Legionary. The second Legionary approaches Leela, drawing his sword.
Leela and the second Legionary circle for a moment, before he
thrusts with his sword. But Leela evades by leaping from the spot to
deliver a flying kick to his head. His helmet flies off, and he
falls to the ground.
LEELA: (To the others) Come on, let's go!
AUCTIONEER: Not so fast.
The auctioneer presses a button on what looks
like a key fob. Leela, Amy, Bender, and Fry's collars begin to
glow. Leela, Amy and Fry begin to gasp. Bender goes rigid and
begins to sing, "Blowing in the Wind."
BENDER: How many roads must a man walk down…?
AUCTIONEER: Had enough?
Everyone nods, yes. The auctioneer presses the
button again. The collars cease glowing, Bender becomes quiet, and
Leela, Amy, and Fry begin to breathe normally again.
AUCTIONEER: (Laughing.) Very combative! And so
entertaining! How much for this fine assortment of slaves?
The camera pans to the crowd.
MAN 1: 1,000 Sesterciiii!
MAN 2: 1,500.
MAN 1: 2,000.
WOMAN 1: 2,500.
MAN 1: 3,000.
WOMAN 2: 4,000.
MAN 3: 100,000 Denariiiii!
(Crowd gasps, a few seconds pass) The third man
to bid is tall, with a dark complexion and luxuriant white hair. His
spotless white toga has a purple border. On his feet are maroon
sandals and on his right ring finger is an iron ring. Grasped in his
right hand is a slender ivory wand, capped with an eagle with its
wings spread. Standing close by him is a knot of men, six of
whom are dressed in white togas and are carrying a bundle of rods on
AUCTIONEER: Going once, going twice, sold for
100,000 Denarii to the Consul Marcus Marcellus. You may take
possession of your property when payment is rendered.
LEELA: How dare you try to sell us? We are free
citizens of Earth!
AUCTIONEER: (Sneering.) Perhaps you need to be
taught a lesson, free Cyclops. (The auctioneer takes a whip
from a rack on the platform and begins to unroll it.)
(OC) MARCELLUS: Stop! Payment has been made. They
are my property now.
AUCTIONEER: (Almost sneering) Suit yourself
Marcellus, but they are dangerous…particularly the Cyclops.
MARCELLUS: (Coldly.) You mannerless oaf! How dare
you think to adopt that tone with a Consul!? Mind your tongue, or I
will crush you in the law courts for insulting my dignitasiv!
(Without giving the visibly shaken auctioneer a chance to reply,
Marcellus turns to an older man standing close by.) Juncus, please
escort the new members of our household home. I will join you there
JUNCUS: Yes, Dominev.
Leela looks at Juncus briefly. He is a
medium-sized, middle aged man wearing a brown cotton tunic. He is
bald, with a kindly but weathered face. Trying to make sense of the
situation, Leela attention switches to Marcellus as he strides out of
the marketplace, preceded by the six men carrying the bundles of rods
on their shoulders. She wonders, "Consul? What does that
mean? It certainly scared the auctioneer when he mentioned it."
As Marcellus merges into the crowd she thinks, "You couldn't
do a 100 yard dash in a toga, but he certainly looks good in one."
The auctioneer hands Juncus the control unit.
AUCTIONEER: You'd better keep both eyes on
them…particularly the Cyclops.
JUNCUS: Of course, sir.
Juncus motions to Leela, Amy, Fry, and Bender.
They approach him cautiously. Once they gather close by, Juncus
JUNCUS: (In a very low voice) I know this is a
terrible shock to all of you, but please believe me; you could be in
a worse condition. Come home with me and our Domine, Marcus
Marcellus will explain all that he has on his mind for you. This is
neither the time nor the place for discussions.
LEELA: Alright, fine. We will follow you…for
The others nod in agreement. Juncus motions to
them to follow and he heads through the streets of the city.
LEELA: Juncus, where are we? What City is this?
JUNCUS: We are in the City of Ostia on Terranos
Prime, the home world of the New Space Roman Empire. It is the main
entry point for all traffic, both sea and space.
LEELA: Speaking of space, I thought the Space
Roman Empire fell about 40 years ago.
JUNCUS: Yes, it did. We are their heirs, so to
speak. Our world was a major colony of the Empire. The Brain Spawn
destroyed our home world, but we have since begun to grow strong
FRY: (Interrupts the conversation.) This slavery
stuff stinks! And this collar chafes my neck. Why aren't you
JUNCUS: All in good time, my red haired friend.
Ah, here we are!
The group has arrived at the Villa Marcellii.
The Villa is surrounded by a twelve foot, whitewashed stone wall.
They enter through a massive wooden gate. Juncus, Leela, Amy, Fry,
and Bender file through the door. The scene ends as the door closes
SCENE THREE: Interior shot. The group is in a
large atrium within the Villa. The walls are covered with paintings
with scenes from classical mythology. The floors are decorated with
richly colored mosaics. In the center of the atrium is a large
fountain, with a dolphin spout gushing clear water. Playing near the
fountain are a boy with jet black hair of about ten years of age and
a platinum haired girl of about seven. They both wear white simple
A grey haired, elderly lady enters. She is
dressed in a plain grey stola, her shoulders draped with a
silver-grey palla, and a plain silver amulet on each arm. Juncus
focuses his attention on her as soon as she enters.
Lady Vibia! I have four new members for our household.
VIBIA: (Smiling) I see, Juncus.
The Lady Vibia looks the four over searchingly.
Fry and Bender merit only a short glance. Amy elicits a smile.
But, she seems fascinated by Leela.
I don't believe I have ever seen such a unique collection of
beings in one small space. My son has outdone himself. (Abruptly)
Juncus! Get those restraint collars off of them, at once.
JUNCUS: Yes, Dominaviii.
Juncus reaches into his tunic and withdraws the
control unit. He presses a button and the collars open with a loud
click. The crew discards their collars and Juncus collects them.
JUNCUS: Domina, by your leave, I will go and get
their clan disks.
VIBIA: Very well. (Looks at the group) What are
your names, please?
LEELA: I am Leela, this is Fry, this is Amy, and
this is Bender.
VIBIA: Well, Leela…I take it you are the
leader…you are now part of the House Marcellii. We all
fulfill different roles in the household. My son will come home soon
and explain all to you. Until then, Juncus will see to you.
BENDER: We're boned!
LEELA: Lady Vibia, we are not slaves. We were
taken by an Imperial warship and condemned without a trial.
AMY: My parent are very rich, they would pay to
get us back…or at least to get me back.
VIBIA: Both of you has much to learn, I fear.
Still, wait until Marcus comes home. Ah, here is Juncus.
Juncus arrives and is carrying four silver
necklaces with 2 inch diameter hammered silver disks attached. The
disks bear the likeness of a man in a lion skin robe, carrying a
club. The disks are scored in the center.
JUNCUS: Put these on, they show that you are part
of the House Marcellii.
LEELA: What if we don't?
JUNCUS: (Startled) Then you would have no status
at all. You could be crucified! These disks are worn by all of us
who are not free citizens. (Juncus reaches into his tunic to pull
his out) See?
(OC) MARCELLUS: Juncus, I hear that our new
household members have questions. Bring them to my office.
JUNCUS: Yes, Domine. (Looks at the group) This
The group follows Juncus into Marcellus'
SCENE FOUR: The interior of Marcus Marcellus'
Office is very plainly furnished, with a scroll case, a simple wooden
desk, four stools along the wall opposite the desk, and an armchair
in which Marcellus is seated. Directly behind Marcellus, a short
sword hangs on the wall.
The group enters the office and stands before
MARCELLUS: I know that this is a shock, but you
must accept it…for the time being. By our law you are now part
of my household. Since you are outworlders, let me explain what this
means. I am the paterfamiliasix,
the head of the household. Under our law, I hold absolute sway over
everyone in this household. I can punish or even kill any household
member without fearing any repercussions whatsoever. This includes
my mother and children. Do I make myself clear so far?
MARCELLUS: Good. I have paid a very hefty price
for the four of you and an even heftier price for your spaceship and
the three-eyed monstrosity that we found aboard.
So that is its name? (Laughs) A most inappropriate name, because it
has eaten several whole pigs in the past day. I'd call him
Rapax…rapacious in your language.
LEELA: He's my pet, poor baby.
MARCELLUS: (Raising an eyebrow) Poor baby? Well,
no matter. Let's get back on the right road. I have an offer
for you, one which I think you can not refuse. Simply this, serve
this house until you repay the debt and you can go free.
AMY: My parents would pay you to have us freed.
Or at least they would pay for me.
MARCELLUS: That is not our way. Once you are in
servitude, only you can earn your freedom. Normally our bound
servants receive a sum of money monthly that they can save toward
buying their freedom. Right now, your collective debt is 500,000
Denarii. This is equivalent to what could feed and clothe eight
thousand families for a year.
BENDER: We're boned!
LEELA: Shut up, you two! Marcellus, how could we
ever earn that kind of money?
MARCELLUS: I was coming to that, my charming
Cyclops. I am a connoisseur of the games, since in many ways they
are part of the road to political power. I've seen you fight.
I am confident that, with the proper advice, you could earn your
freedom in under a year in the arena. That is provided that you
live, of course. In order to gain your willing cooperation, I would
grant you twice the normal cut of the profits for a Gladiatrix,
LEELA: How about thirty?
MARCELLUS: Thirty! May I remind you that I'm
bearing all the expenses? But to increase your incentive, I'll
make it twenty five.
LEELA: Well, it sounds good, but…
FRY: Leela, don't do it! You could get
killed. I'll be the Gladiatrix.
JUNCUS: (To Fry) Not unless you managed to change
BENDER: Been there, done that…don't
MARCELLUS: Also, I'll guarantee…in
writing…that your friends go free in the event of your demise
in the Arena.
BENDER: Hey, I could live with that!
AMY: Bender, shut up!
MARCELLUS: Excellent. I shall have the
appropriate contracts drawn up. Now, put your clan disks on. Juncus,
take our other household members to Lady Vibia to learn their duties.
Also, send for Corvo, will you? Leela, you will remain behind.
Everyone takes a disk from Juncus and puts it
on. Then, one by one they file out. Leela remains standing in front
of Marcellus. She studies him a bit more, noting that he appears in
good physical shape. His face, although still handsome, is a bit
weathered and careworn. She can see that there has been much sadness
in his life. Her best guess is that he is somewhere between 45 and
50 years old. "I wonder what his wife is like?" she
thinks. Before she forms a mental image of Marcellus'
wife, Juncus returns. With him is a small, scarred, bald-headed,
wiry old man. His movements are quick, almost birdlike. With a
deeply tanned complexion, he gives the impression of someone who has
lived a hard life.
MARCELLUS: Corvo, I have the new pupil that I
spoke to you about briefly this morning.
CORVO: (As he speaks he paces around Leela,
looking her up and down very carefully.) Hmmm…excellent muscle
tone, erect carriage, calluses on her hands, and a Cyclops! Domine,
you have an eye for the unique! She looks like a one-eyed Diana! Is
MARCELLUS: I saw her defeat two fully armed
legionaries bare handed. But, ask her! Her name is Leela.
CORVO: So, Leela is it? That will never do for
the Arena. No, it must be something that excites the crowd.
LEELA: Hey! Don't I get a say in this?
CORVO: Have you ever fought in the Arena before
or managed any fights?
LEELA: Well, no…but…
CORVO: Then the answer is no. (Pause) But Leela,
what fighting arts are you trained in?
LEELA: Arcturan Kung-Fu, Bo-Stick, and Classtia.
CORVO: The Arcturan straight sword?
CORVO: By whom?
LEELA: (Sighs) Master Phnog of Arcturus.
CORVO: Edepol! That old pain in the Podexxi!
Isn't he dead yet?
LEELA: Unfortunately, no. He is still alive as
far as I know.
CORVO: Too bad. Still, I'll tell you some
juicy stories about him later. Now, what we have to do is come up
with an Arena persona for you.
CORVO: Yes, something the crowd can fall in love
with. Win the mob, that's the name of the game. (He begins to
pace back and forth almost in a crouch, with his right hand holding
his chin, gesturing wildly with his left hand.) What to do with a
Cyclops? How do I make her the darling of Rome? How do I get Rome to
take someone so obviously alien to her breast? (Suddenly Corvo
straightens up) Eurekaxii!
MARCELLUS: Yes, Corvo?
CORVO: Leela is the daughter of a Roman Legionary
and a Cyclops mother. She came to Rome to show her love for the city
by voluntarily battling Rome's enemies in the Arena. She has
sworn only to fight foreigners to display Roman superiority!
LEELA: (Incredulous.) Who would believe such
MARCELLUS: Leela, you do not know the Roman Mob.
I think it will work. We want the crowd to love you. This will
flatter them. Corvo, use our usual resources to spread this rumor.
Now, as pleasant as this is, I have tasks to do. Corvo, show your
pupil to her school. Leela, may Hercules Invictusxiii
grant you success in your training.
CORVO: Of course, Domine.
LEELA: Thank you, Domine.
SCENE FIVE: The scene begins with an interior
shot. Lady Vibia is standing in the atrium of the house with Juncus,
Amy, Fry, and Bender.
LADY VIBIA: In the House Marcellii, we try to fit
each person to tasks for which they are suited. Right now we need
kitchen help, a gardener, and someone to help with the children.
BENDER: Oh! Oh! I'm a great cook…pick
AMY: I use to do a lot of baby sitting.
FRY: (Sighing) I guess that makes me the
LADY VIBIA: My, that was easy. Juncus, please
take our new assistant cook and assistant gardener to their places of
work. However, before you do, show them around the grounds and help
them to understand the place of the House Marcellii in our world.
AMY: What about me?
LADY VIBIA: (Smiling.) You will come with me,
Amy. Let me show you the Villa Marcellii.
Lady Vibia leads Amy through the 40 rooms of
the Villa. As they walk, she instructs Amy in her duties.
LADY VIBIA: Where are you from, child?
AMY: I'm from Mars. And I am 22 years old.
LADY VIBIA: (Laughing) I will be 68 this coming
AMY: Spleesh! You don't look a day over
LADY VIBIA: Thank you, my child. Amy, I know this
is not your world. So feel free to ask any questions you wish.
AMY: Thank you, Lady Vibia. How many children do
you have at the Villa?
LADY VIBIA: Only the two children you saw earlier
today. They are my grandson and granddaughter. My grandson is Marcus
the Younger. He is almost eleven years of age. He excels in school
and on the sports field…a marvelous lad. His sister, Julia,
is a wonderfully sweet child of seven years with a very keen mind.
She misses her mother most, I think.
AMY: What happened to her mother?
LADY VIBIA: (Sadly, with a pained expression on
her face) Lavinia died in childbirth…the child died with her
AMY: Oh, I'm sorry. Couldn't your
doctors save her?
LADY VIBIA: Sometimes our traditions come at a
terrible price, Amy. We have decided to tightly control technology
because we believe it weakens our culture. As you may have noticed,
we do not have robots in our home nor do we have electricity. Of
course, there are places on our planet where technology resides, but
not here, not in Italia. Here, we live according to the way of our
ancestors or the mos maiorumxiv
as you may hear some say.
AMY: But what about slavery?
LADY VIBIA: What about it? I have read that on
your planet, you get a chip implanted in your hand that determines
your career. If you refuse to do the work assigned you, you are
fired out of a cannon into the sun. How is that different from
AMY: I'd never thought about it. I'm
not sure, but I know there is a difference.
LADY VIBIA: Enough of politics, here are the
children! Marcus, Julia, this is Amy. She is from a distant planet
called Mars. She will be your new nursemaid.
MARCUS: (Excited) Really? You are from the War
god's planet? Are you a warrior?
AMY: (Smiling) No, I'm actually a starship
co-pilot and engineer...and a nursemaid.
MARCUS: (Sounding disappointed) Oh.
JULIA: Do you like children, Amy?
AMY: Yes, I do…as long as they are well
says we must always behave, because we are Marcellii.
AMY: (Laughing) I certainly hope so.
LADY VIBIA: Amy, let me show you the rest of the
grounds. Children, remember that Amy speaks with my voice. Valexvi,
MARCUS and JULIA: Vale, Grandmother.
The scene ends as Lady Vibia and Amy continue
to walk through the Villa.
SCENE SIX: Marcus Marcellus sat alone in his
office. A guttering oil lamp seemed to make the shadows flutter
about the room. Deep in thought, Marcellus found his thoughts sparked
by the images the fluttering shadows evoked in him.
His thoughts were of his wife Lavinia…now
dead for three long years. Her beautiful face seemed to dance before
his eyes. Her jet black hair, it was so black that it was almost
purple…like unwatered Falernian wine. How he had loved to
watch her comb it out in the mornings. She had such lovely dark eyes
and flawless alabaster skin. Burying his head in his hands he moans
aloud, "Oh Juno Sospitaxvii,
why did she have to die?"
His thoughts ran on, "How she would have
loved to see me inaugurated as Consul last month. How often we sat in
this very office, planning my rise to power in the Republic. She
would say, "You will be the first man in Rome one day, Marcus."
"And you will be my first lady," I would always reply.
Now her shade flutters in the realms of the dead and I am left alone
with my memories."
He continued his silent reverie. "Still, to
honor her, I have one further prize to attain. I will be
elected Emperor by the Senate and People of Rome. Our ancestors were
wise to make the office of Emperor for life an elected one. The
Senate proposes the candidates and the People elect him. The People
were the key to the equation. He had strong backing among the
Knights, mainly because of his generalship in two major wars. But the
Mob…the head count…they were tough to gauge. Please the
Mob and you smooth your path to glory. Until this afternoon, I was
unsure as to how to do that."
"Leela…she is a remarkable creature.
She is a gift from Hercules Invictus that offers the Marcellii a
chance to have an Emperor in their ancestral line. The glory that
she earns will strengthen my auctoriasxviii
with the entire People. How fortunate that someone from the other
end of the galaxy would arrive just in time to aid my political
plans. The Emperor Titus is ill and on his last legs. My time is
Marcellus bent his head, pulled a fold of his toga
over it, and began to intone a short prayer, "Oh Hercules
Invictus, hear your descendant and servant! Grant thy blessing to my
plans, for the glory and honor of the House Marcellii."
Sitting upright, Marcellus calls out, "Juncus!
Send for Corvo. We have much to discuss."
SCENE SEVEN: Leela and Corvo are in the center
of a small practice arena. Leela is holding a wooden spatha and a
small round shield. She wears a legionary helmet with her ponytail
pulled through the top, a red legionary tunic, and sandals.
CORVO: Leela, you must remember that your purpose
is to entertain the crowd. They come to experience danger
vicariously…to witness drama. Your past two practice fights
would have been viewed as mere executions…butchery. (With a
touch of exasperation creeping into his voice) Your technical skills
are top rate, but you must control your instincts.
LEELA: I understand, Corvo.
CORVO: Do you? I hope so. Edepol! You
broke your last opponent's arm in two places. He will be out
for months…because the Marcellii do not put injured Gladiators
into the Arena. Still, it's better to profit by a horrible
example than to be one. Now, do you really understand what I meant by
the Mob wants to witness drama?
LEELA: Not really, no.
CORVO: An honest student! (Looking skyward) Oh
Hercules Invictus, I thank you. (Looks Leela in the eye) It comes
down to this…which has more real danger, a sword thrust in the
Arena or poison from an assassins' hand?
LEELA: The poison, I think.
CORVO: Good! But who would pay to watch someone
drink poison? No, it is the apparent danger that the Mob wants to
witness. The fact that you fight an opponent who has no chance of
winning does not matter, if you make it look dramatic. On the
other hand, if you fight a truly deadly foe, but kill him with your
first blow…where is the drama? It looks easy. Do you
LEELA: Yes, Corvo, I understand.
CORVO: Good! (Shouting) Statilius, send in the
Leela looks toward the main entrance to the
Arena, holding back a gasp when her opponent enters. It is a blonde
haired woman almost tall enough to be an Amazon. Unarmored, but
armed with a net and a wooden trident, the woman strides confidently
forward until she is within three feet of Leela. Leela thinks, "One
of the petite women?"
CORVO: Morrigan! This is Leela. I want a fair
MORRIGAN: Yes, Corvo.
CORVO: (Taking a step back) Begin!
The two women begin to circle slowly around
each other. Corvo moves with them, obviously as a coach/referee.
Morrigan adopts a slight crouch, swinging her net in her left hand,
while holding her trident in the right. Leela keeps he eye on the
net, knowing that it has lead weights that could blind or stun her it
they hit the right spot. She also remembers having an Amazon sit on
her a few years ago, not a pleasant thought.
Morrigan swings her net in an attempt to snare
Leela's legs, which Leela avoids by leaping into the air. As
it swishes under her feet, Leela swings the flat of her sword at
Morrigan's head. It connects with a loud cracking thump. In
response, Morrigan merely grunts.
CORVO: Good! You avoided the easy kill!
Morrigan next tries a series of thrusts with
her trident, to no avail. Leela parries each one with her small
shield. After each parry, Leela swings her sword…only to be
parried in return. For five minutes, the two women continue to
exchange thrusts and parries without either gaining any apparent
CORVO: Alright! The noise of the crowd is at its
greatest. If you wait longer, you will lose them. Finish it!
Morrigan casts her net at Leela, while
simultaneously thrusting with her trident. Leela does a back
flip…much to the amazement of both Corvo and Morrigan…and
avoids both the net and the trident. Before Morrigan can pull her
net back in, Leela closes the distance between them and thrusts her
sword directly at her heart…stopping just before breaking the
skin. Morrigan drops her trident and raises her right index finger
above her head to indicate submission.
CORVO: Kudos! Edepol! I believe you are
LEELA: Thank you. Morrigan, you really made me
MORRIGAN: You are the first to defeat me. Even
with your wooden sword, you could have killed me. By Lugh of the
Long Hand, I swear my life to your life, my blood to your blood,
through sword blade and serpent fangs, I am your sister and shield
MORRIGAN: By the customs of my people, you have
earned my loyalty through your mercy.
CORVO: Don't forget, girl. You still
belong to the House Marcellii. Your place is at this school.
MORRIGAN: I do not forget. My body is for you to
do with as you will, but my spirit is mine to pledge to whomever I
LEELA: (In a display of maximum charm) Come on
Corvo, can't she be my attendant and workout partner? Please?
I'd learn so much better!
CORVO: This is blackmail! No cavalry or infantry
has the gall to maneuver as coolly as a woman can! (Grumbling)
Alright, Morrigan can be your attendant.
LEELA: Corvo, could you do me one more favor?
CORVO: What favor would that be?
LEELA: When I begin my real fights, can my friend
Amy help prepare me for my fights as well?
CORVO: (In an exasperated tone) Why not ask for
me to free you right now? (Pause) Oh, alright. I'll ask Lady
LEELA: (Smiling) Thanks, Corvo.
SCENE EIGHT: Fry is in the garden of the Villa
Marcellii, digging. He actually seems happy, whistling "I'm
walking on sunshine" as he kneels in the dirt. In the past two
months, he has shown ability in the garden that surprises everyone
including himself. As he carefully digs out weeds from around
several brightly colored flowering plants, Fry thinks about Leela.
Even though she would never be his girl, he was
worried. She spent most of each week in the training Arena in a town
called Capua, somewhere to the south. Once a week she would return,
looking fitter every time. Still, he was afraid that his very best
friend would die in the Arena.
Such thoughts would often swoop down upon him like
the hungry crows that he had to continually shoo away from the
vegetable garden. To make matters worse, he was sure that his new
girlfriend on Mars would dump him…like every other
girlfriend…if he was away much longer. He sighed and
What was it that Plautius the head gardener said?
"Some tragic poet said that two women are worse than one?
That's true." Between the two women in his life, he
scarcely felt a moment of peace.
"At least plants don't judge you,"
he thought taking comfort in that thought. For the first time in his
life, he felt an attachment to a piece of land. He also felt a love
for a family that he had only experienced with the Planet Express
Little Julia would often come to the garden and
ask about his life, his family, and life on Earth. She always gave
him a hug when she came and when she departed. Young Marcus would
come to the garden at times, but only to talk about adventures in
space. He especially liked to hear stories about the crew of the
Star Ship Enterprise. Marcus wanted to command a whole fleet one day,
he often said. Fry gave a low chuckle as he thought of how grave
Young Marcus always was when discussing his future. What a pity he
couldn't just be a kid.
And Lady Vibia, there was a piece of work! She
lived for her son and grandchildren. Any threat to them and the
kindly Roman matron became a she-wolf. For some reason, she would
come to the garden often and sit silently when Fry was working. She
would bring sweets that most servants were not allowed. After having
one or two, she would always say, "Fry, please finish these for
me. I simply cannot stand to see things wasted, or unappreciated."
He always thanked her profusely. She would
usually pat him affectionately and say, "You are the best
gardener I have ever met. Priapusxix
must have blessed your hands." She would then leave by the
garden path, stopping occasionally to smell flowers and enjoy them.
Marcellus had only spoken to Fry twice, because he
was seldom in Ostia. As one of the Consuls for the year, he was most
often in Rome. Still, Fry knew that because of Marcellus'
character, the members of the House Marcellii enjoyed privileges that
were rare indeed. The use of the restraining collar was unheard of
and no one had ever used the term slave to describe those bound to
service. Certainly, no once could remember a servant of the
Marcellii being crucified or flogged, which happened all too
frequently outside the gates of the Villa.
"Well," he thought, "that takes
care of those weeds! Now to go down and check on that set of Rose
bushes that were just brought in from Earth. There is something
about a plant from home!"
Fry rose and began walking down the path toward
the back of the Villa, still whistling, "I'm walking on
SCENE NINE: The scene begins with an interior
shot of a small room, lit by torchlight. On a table in the center of
the room, Leela is stretched out on her stomach…nude.
Morrigan is giving Leela an oil massage. Off to the side, Amy is
sitting on a stool, polishing Leela's sword and shield. Corvo
pokes his head into the room. He hops from one foot to the other in
an almost bird like fashion.
CORVO: (Averting his gaze.) I beg your pardon,
Leela. Morrigan, finish up girl! Leela and I need to go over the
latest news about her opponent.
MORRIGAN: (Quietly) As soon as I am done, Corvo.
(Staring directly at Corvo) She must be properly prepared for this
CORVO: (Obviously irritated) Very well, but don't
take too long.
Corvo withdraws from the room. Smiling,
Morrigan continues the massage for another few minutes. Leela
seems to be in a dream state. Her eye is unfocused and she seems
completely at ease with the world.
LEELA: (Dreamily) Morrigan, I am ready.
Leela sits up on the table and stretches. Her
muscles are well cut and defined. The months of training have
obviously honed her body to a fine edge. She turns to Amy.
LEELA: So, Amy how many fights?
AMY: Not counting training fights, you have twelve
to your credit…all victories.
LEELA: Let's get ready. (Smiling) Corvo will
be on pins and needles until he can go over our strategy for the
Leela stands up and slips on her trademark red
legionary tunic and pair of sandals. She smiles and thinks how Corvo
had thought to put her in this garb. With her Arena persona of a
half-Roman Cyclops, it linked her to the Army of Rome and served to
remind her growing body of devoted fans that she was one of Rome's
defenders. Smiling to herself, she thought how it would be cruel to
keep the devoted Corvo waiting. "Time to call him in."
LEELA: Come in, Corvo.
Corvo enters immediately.
CORVO: Leela, I have the latest information on
your opponent, Antistia.
LEELA: (Smiling with genuine affection for the
man). You always do, Corvo. You always do.
CORVO: Thank you, I try. She will be fighting as
today. That means that she will have two swords but no helmet. She
has fourteen victories and three losses where she was allowed to
live. She is right handed. Remember, Antistia had a training accident
yesterday. Her right shoulder was badly pulled. Her lanistaxxi
nearly conceded the fight today, but her owner Gaius Aurelius refused
to substitute anyone for her. So, work her right side during the
match today. Also, she is wearing new sandals today. That may put
her just a touch off her normal stance. So, besides this, what is
LEELA: (Like a child reciting a boring lesson.)
Give the crowd what it wants…the appearance of danger.
Remember that this is a sport, not an execution. Don't go for
victory until late in the match. Keep working her right side. Keep
an eye on her to see if the new sandals put her off in any way.
CORVO: Excellent! Now, I must join our Domine in
his box. (Pauses.) By the way, I placed your 10,000 Denarii on the
match, just as you asked.
LEELA: Thank you. How much of your own money is
on the match?
CORVO: How impudent! (Pause) 20,000 Denarii.
After all, I started a rumor that you had been ill last night. The
odds shot up to two to one…I just couldn't miss the
LEELA: (Laughs) You wily old crow!
As Corvo leaves, Leela dons her ensemble, aided
by Amy and Morrigan. She wears a greave on each leg, a single
vambrace on her right forearm and a legionary helmet, modified to
allow her ponytail to be pulled through. Amy places a spatha in her
right hand and a small rounded shield in her left hand. Leela jumps
up and down a few times to make sure that her armor is securely in
place. All is well.
LEELA: Well, looks like it is show time.
Leela strides into the corridor. The
murmur of twenty thousand voices rolls down the corridor like the
sounds of breakers on the ocean. All those she passes greet her with
She nods politely, but is obviously already in the Arena in her
mind. The murmur increases to a dull roar as she approaches
the end of the corridor. "I will triumph…I must…for
all of our sakes."
i - "Victorious Cyclops."
ii - The Sestercius is the most common coin.
iii - Four Sestercii = One Denarius. A family of four could live very comfortably on 250 Denarii a year.
iv - Dignitas means far more than mere dignity. There really is no equivalent word in English. It is the sum total of a person's reputation and character.
v - "Sir."
vi - "Hello!"
vii - The mildest of expletives, roughly equivalent of "Gee" or "Wow" that was used by Roman women.
viii - "Madam."
ix - Literally, "Father of the Family."
x - The mildest expletive used by Roman men, similar in meaning to Ecastor.
xi - Podex is Latin for the fundamental orifice.
xii - Eureka means "I have found it," in Greek.
xiii - Hercules Invictus means "Conquering Hercules" in Latin. He was the god of the triumphing general. As such, he was a god of men only.
xiv - The mos maiorum is a concept very dear to the Romans. Although it literally means "way of the ancestors," it has additional meaning. It really means the way things were, are, and always will be.
xv - Tata is Latin for "Daddy."
xvi - "Good Bye."
xvii - Juno Sospita was the Savior of Women, especially those in childbirth.
xviii - The closest English words for auctorias would be personal standing or clout.
xix - Priapus was the Roman spirit of the garden, among other things.
xx - The dimachaeri fought with two daggers and wore no helmet. Generally they were unarmored.
xxi - A lanista was a trainer and promoter, all rolled into one. A simple trainer was referred to as a doctor.
xxii - "Hail, Victorious One!"