Rome
Testudo Et Lepus (The Tortoise And The Hare)

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M. Giant: B- | Grade It Now!
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A New Man

Cut to the Senate chamber, which is nearly empty except for Agrippa, Cicero (back in his Senator's robes), and a few janitors. And I'm glad to say that the only blood in the room is inside the humans where it belongs. Cicero is thrilled to receive the news of Octavian's victory. But as he continues reading the scroll in his hand. Cicero's face falls (although not like Servilia's would have a few scenes ago). "He's bringing his army to Rome?" Cicero demands. "Why? He has no enemies in Rome. Why bring his army?" As if Cicero doesn't know. That's just what you do, dudeus. What good is an army if you don't use it? Agrippa pleads ignorance of his friend's motives. He says that "Caesar" will explain himself when he arrives in Rome. "Another Caesar," Cicero marvels mordantly. "Just what we need...Gods, I'm so tired of young men and their ambitions." Agrippa assures Cicero that Octavian is only looking out for the Republic. Cicero's heard that one before. Every goddamn week, in fact. "It is all vanity," he declares as he gets up to leave. Poor Cicero. Disenchantment must be tough for someone who's already supposed to be so jaded and cynical.

Vorenus and Pullo have arrived at the slave camp, which looks to be a huge, open-pit quarry. Slaves are mining dirt n the sweltering heat, loomed over (and frequently whipped) by mounted overseers. "This is the place," Pullo tells Vorenus, and they ride on in. As they approach one overseer in mid-whipping, Pullo asks Vorenus to let him do the talking, and greets the overseer with a hearty "Salve, friend!" He asks directions to the procurator's office, making up a vague excuse about runaway slaves. The overseer says that the camp's closed to visitors, but that a couple of slave catchers like themselves might be able to spread a little bounty in exchange for admittance. Vorenus is about to rip the man's head off, but Pullo smoothly hands over a few coins and gets his directions. The two leads ride on, Vorenus fixing the man with a look of poisonous hatred as he rides by. "Oh, leave off!" the overseer bellows at a colleague. "He's bloody dead! Uncouple him!"

As Vorenus and Pullo ride through the camp, Vorenus spits on the ground in contempt. "Your spit dries fast here, brother," Pullo advises. "Best to save it." They ride past a couple of crucified corpses. I wait for Vorenus to do a horrified double-take, but none of the blackening carcasses appear to be of Vorenian descent. Small favors.

Pullo and Vorenus arrive in the procurator's tent, and Pullo tells the gravel-voiced, smirking gnome behind the desk that they're there to retrieve some runaways who got sold here. "Two girls," Vorenus says. "And a boy," Pullo adds pointedly. He has to admit that they don't have any papers, and the procurator grins knowingly, guessing, "Two soldiers out for some young cunny, eh?" Vorenus is mortally offended, which means that the procurator's about to be mortally thumped, but Pullo manages to keep his friend on his leash for now. And then he spins a real yarn, claiming that the slaves in question are "the private property of Gaius Caesar Octavian himself." He says something suggestive about feeding them biscuits in bed, "especially the boy." I can't imagine that Octavian will be too thrilled to hear about this tale if it gets back to him. The procurator's doubtful, even when Pullo produces his scroll with Octavian's seal on it. "What is it, an otter?" the procurator wonders. Heh. "It's a fucking sphinx! Mark of Caesar!" Pullo snaps. He says that the sealant is actually mud from Mutina, and that they came straight from the battlefield, which should demonstrate the urgency of the situation. The procurator still isn't convinced. Pullo plays his ace: "Are you calling me a liar?" The procurator gives in.

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