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Literature / Remember To Always Be Brave

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And so, the world passed, darkly.

Memento Audere Semper! (Remember to always be brave!) by Daniel Rodriguez, is a Military Science Fiction novel published in 2014. Set in an Alternate History where Rome, at the cusp of the dictators and emperors, reverted back to the Republic. Set around 1,200 years after the last Dictator was killed by the Senate, Rome finds itself a superpower, vying for control of the planet against the only other superpower, a collection of (mostly) Pacific-Ocean ringing states. The Roman Republic and the Alliance of Nations are locked in a cold war that has entrenched into every aspect of society, and has gotten slightly warmer - if not outright hot - due to perceived Alliance instigation of various Roman Republic allied and vassal states in Africa, an instigation that leads to war, a war wherein millions of deaths and a piece-meal Roman response only prolongs the suffering.

The story begins orbiting Zoticus, a young Roman soldier, as the instigation dies down, and the 2000th birthday of Rome approaches. However, even with the easing of affairs and rise of peace, Zoticus finds himself struck personally by the war, and fear of something much more sinister, causes him to investigate to help the world in some tangible way. However, no good deed goes unpunished....

Can be found on Amazon Kindle here.

This novel contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: The Roman Republic has a full set of these, specializing in heavy weapons/melee affairs, and the unspecialized females fight with the unspecialized males in the armed forces, and nearly every female fights during the course of the book or is unflinching in the direct line of fire.
  • Aliens Are Bastards: Pomona thinks that if there is an Alien force nearby, it won't be for the best interest of mankind. She's right.
  • Alien Invasion: This is mulled upon by Pomona due to the various weird factors, and Zoticus goes back and forth in believing in it or believing in a more terrestrial excuse. They show up a month after the Nuclear war, and most ills of the story can be pointed to, but not really traced, to them. The Romans codename them “The Tenebrae”, meaning, roughly, the Night-Shadows.
  • Alternative Calendar: The dates are set in the Roman Calendar - Ab Urbe Conditia (AUC), which started 753 years before the BCE/CE one.
  • Alternate History: As revealed in a speech, Aeneas and the Trojan war seems to have really happened, Crassus didn't ignore the Armenians and thus won heavily in Parthia instead of losing, and around 1000AUC/248AD, it seems that super volcanoes erupted, causing population movement and die off in an 'age of winter' that lasted nearly 1,000 years, and it all went from there....
  • Always a Bigger Fish: Historically, Rome faced Mongolia, China, Japan and then the Alliance of Nations for most of the 1900s. Story wise, the cult is overtaken quickly by the Tenebrae.
  • Amazon Brigade: Literally called "the Amazons", or "Amazonians", they show up in a few battles and a few ex-Amazons are transferred into The Squad : Adela, Emilia, and Ursula.
  • Archaeological Arms Race: The third kind. The heroes know what they need is out there, but where?
  • Badass Normal: Everyone is trained the same, then some light specialization, their armor is more useful for environment control than preventing bullets/weaponry, and they have no cultural belief in an afterlife, yet still the army is wholly volunteer; and even as any of the three wars go along, they continue to fight willingly, even when given the choice to leave.
  • Biological Weapons Solve Everything: The Alliance went this way more than the Republic did. After the nukes fall, the Tenebrae coat the world in at least two more viruses, one causing violence and the other causing organized violence.
  • But What About the Astronauts?: Before the war, there were many space stations and habitats, Humanity had colonized in part the Moon, Mars, parts of the Asteroid Belt, some Gas Giant moons, and Chariklo are, or in the case of Chariklo, will be inhabited. So what happens when the war on the world breaks out? The surface or orbiting installations don't make it, but some underground ones do.
  • Cessation of Existence: No character even has hope of an afterlife, directly calling death this, this seems to be a cultural hat of the Romans as a whole. Makes you wonder how bad the age of winter, and the cultural shift, was.
  • Crapsaccharine World: Sure, no one is a serf anymore, sanitation and hygiene and infrastructure is good, but it is all for the oncoming military conflict. Everything is geared towards it, and while you can choose ones place in society without the state telling you, you will be graded accordingly and in the end pressed into service if need be to fight in the war everyone dreads to arrive, only hastening the arrival so doing!
  • Darkest Africa: The first and second chapters take place here, however, it is "dark" not due to the lack of infrastructure or civilization or technology, but do to the war, plague, death, and lack of life. Before the war, as later told, the whole world was roughly modernized and equal in infrastructure.
  • Death of a Child: Children die in this work, and as the technological capacity of the belligerents allow, they die horrifically. As well, the nuclear exchange brings this about to well, just about everyone who cares about anyone.
  • Demonization: Some of the troops at the beginning have done this to the enemy, spreading over to all people who look like the enemy. Zoticus is not cool with this, particularly for personal reasons.
  • Deus ex Nukina: How the heroes deal with Ravana.
  • During the War: The Novel starts near the end of one. Then goes on throughout two more.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: The base right next of Coco/Salinas is this, and where the heroes operate for a good chunk of the book. The base in the Amazon is somewhat similar. The Tenebrae and Cult have these as well. At the end, working with the assault on Ravana, the main Tenebrae base in the Khyber pass, Surpanakha, is attacked by surviving local Roman and allied forces to tie down as many Tenebrae resources as possible, who seemed to have had an adventure of their own in the region.
  • Empowered Badass Normal: Everyone is a run of a mill human (with some cyborgization to make up for deficits and doesn't really add to the senses), who fling themselves to some of the deadliest battles known to man - and then they get upgraded with technology as the war goes on, making them this.
  • Enemy Mime: In Cilva, the Romans are called in by the Alliance to help with an uprising, ironically enough since the Alliance spurred uprisings in the rest of the Roman Vassals around Cilva. Rome accepts. Later on during the Alien Invasion, Rome and the Alliance unite, though its more of "Rome annexes the Alliance", and then the Cult in the form of Corna unites with Rome.
  • Energy Weapon: The military gets their hands on some of their own designs and they are used by the enemy; though human technology is not up to par to use them.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Roman Republic and the Alliance of Nations are this to each other. The Cult/Illuminated try to be this to the Military, but are quickly pushed out of the way.
  • Faceless Goons: The Roman Republic (and thus our heroes) and the Alliance of Nations have full face and head covering helmets (to protect against gas and chemical attacks), thus this trope is in effect for most of the book. And when they get to space, other than some light, easily overlooked markings, they can't see each other's face behind the space helmets.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Based off the Roman one, in a streamlined way.
    • Tiro (Recruit) > Milites (Private) > Decanus (Sergeant) > Centurion (Captain) > Tribune > (Major) > Legate (Colonel) > Dux (General)
    • Along with a specialist/warrant officer branch for selective specialization in fields and branches:Discens (Apprentice) > Immunes (Journeyman) > Magister (Master)
  • Fetch Quest: Zoticus and his Century are at the forefront of this, and it drives most of the story, as Pomona sends them along to recover needed caches of technology to strike back against the enemy before the enemy can strike back more efficiently.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: The Roman Navy held its head high for the 2000th birthday of Rome and was part of the military parade there, and a grandly described fleet was about to sail through Panama to supplement the Pacific Front. Keyword : was.
  • Gender Is No Object: For the Roman Republic, at the least, this seems to be the case, as one of the Consuls is a female and the military has both females and males in the fighting forces.
  • Gladiator Games: There is one in the fourth chapter as Rome celebrates its 2000th birthday, with one main battle emulating a Roman-Macedonian battle.
  • The Glory That Was Rome: Or, still is. Most characters are in the Roman Republic's military, or closely aligned to it, and even with the grinding war and being under-everything, it still eventually kicked butt in Africa and then in the war against the Alliance.
  • Great Offscreen War: The wars at the turn of the last century in the 1900s AUC - The first with Rome against Mongolia, the second against Rome and China, the third and final being Rome against Japan. Decius is a veteran from the last one, and the wars lead to the formation of the Alliance of Nations as a forum and supranational union in the region to prevent another war, only for them to become polarized against Rome, beginning a cold war.
  • Greater Scopevillain: The Alliance is this to the rebels in Africa as seen by the Romans, and a good chunk of the first half of the book is about gearing up to the fight the Alliance. And then comes the cult, and the Tenebrae behind them.
  • Grey-and-Gray Morality: The conflict between Rome and the Alliance is this. They are both large, powerful democracies, nearly technologically equal, both with assets in Space, and high levels of development: by all rights, there should not be any conflict at all. However, the Alliance formed out of the ashes of nearly a half century of non stop warfare in the region, wars that Rome stroked in short-term result problem solving, causing the region more lives; the Romans are particularly keen on getting Zesan/Azania, and while nearly a half century more of peace followed the formation of the Alliance, Rome treats them like an enemy that will be fought one day. This keeps the Alliance paranoid, causing them to have knee jerk reactions to anything Rome does, which gives Rome more fuel to keep their thinking of the Alliance firm, causing a cycle to form and which led to war.
  • Guilt-Free Extermination War: The conflict between the Alliance and the Romans seems to be leaning philosophically this way, only driving it further into reality. The Tenebrae are presumed to feel this, and humanity as a whole takes it take way against any and all non-earth life.
  • Hordes from the East: In the backstory, Mongolia still had an empire, and caused the first great wars between Rome and the eastern States, which causes the Alliance of Nations to form in the end, and the Huns still, historically, rampaged around.
  • Humans Are Survivors: No matter what they or nature or the universe throws at them, they survive it - if bloodied.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Zoticus and Pomona especially lean this way with their actions.
  • Istanbul (Not Constantinople): In spades. Roman names ride alongside local names. Most glaringly, the Caribbean is the New Mediterranean, The Bahamas are the New Aegean, the Greater Antilles are the New Tyrrhenians, the Lesser Antilles are the New Ionians.
  • Lensman Arms Race: The Cold War between the Roman Republic and the Alliance of Nations took this turn, and presumably between Rome and the Asiatic Empires they fought a century ago. Horses and lots of them came, so they dug trenches, threw gas, and to fight back with mobility, light tanks and armored cars. This beats the first round but then the second round has both with tanks. Then leads to bombing from the air and anti-tank guns, leading to bigger bombs and a focus on the war at sea, allowing the third round to happen. Then to end that, the Nukes are made and dropped. It is due to this the world can put up a fight up against the Tenebrae at all, and just then barely, helped by the fact that the Tenebrae are not really a real military force.
  • The Men in Black: The “Interrogators” are these, and despite being mused as antidemocratic and nearly unnecessary, they are still used on suspect people, and Maxentius engorges them greatly – showing where his priorities were.
  • Mile-Long Ship: The Roman colonization ship Bea is the longest Roman ship ever made. The Tenebrae's ship, codenamed Ravana, is a kilometer long.
  • Million Mook March: Occurred in a sense on Rome's birthday, but never for combat or even getting to combat - modern weapons would rip such formations to shreds.
  • Multinational Team: The Roman Republic's military, if not the state itself, is this, stretching from the foot of the Rockies to the end of the Ganges. Zoticus is from what we know as Puerto Rico, his mother and father are German and Roman specifically, he is serving with a South-African based Legion at the start, and then as the war begins again, people from all over join the squad, from France to India.
  • Mysterious Waif: Corna is this.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Historically, Rome and how it dealt with the Asiatic powers. Story wise, Zoticus, Pomona, and Gauis uncover and disseminates information of a coverup of the plague, a plague which is affecting both the Roman Republic and Alliance - and the Alliance goes ballistic. To their credit, the Alliance reacted in a way no one expected, as the politicians put the plague on Rome and thus public opinion, drawing the world closer to World War III. Whoops.
  • No FEMA Response: Averted. The Civil Defense of the Roman Republic is very, very, very strong. Played straight in the Alliance however.
  • Oh, My Gods!: Due to the Romanic, not Judeo-Christian, influence on the prevalent culture. Adela comes to mind, though she did not refer to them by name but by concept ('God of Oaths') and Corna, who leans towards the Indian pantheon.
  • Outgrown Such Silly Superstitions: The religious influence on the culture is nearly squarely Roman, and besides mentioning gods (and more for concepts than as deities), both the narrator and characters hold no view on an afterlife, instead chalking up death as utter cessation of existence.
  • The Plague: Zoticus is a survivor of 'Shit-water' (later labelled 'Allaince' fever), and plagues spread during and after the war.
  • Praetorian Guard: The First Legion is this for the Consuls, Government of Rome and the City of Rome itself. Zoticus becomes this for Pomona.
  • Space-Filling Empire By 2000AUC, there is no neutral state on the world, or even off it. Either one is a part of the Roman Republic or directly tied to it as an ally or vassal, or one is a member of the Alliance of Nations.
  • Space Station: Mentioned, the spinning, big types.
  • The Squad: Zoticus belongs to two throughout the book.
    • The first is the 10th Legion, 6th Cohort, 2nd Century, 7th Squad. Zoticus is in the 4th Section, being the 8th person overall.
    • The second is the 140th Legion, 1st cohort, 2nd Century, 1st Squad.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: What Rome did to Mongolia, China, AND Japan in the backstory. To combat Mongolia and alleviate pressure from their front, they roused up the Chinese. That worked, but then the Chinese went after Rome. To combat this, Rome hastily modernizes and aides Japan in their wars against China, causing Japan to be the numero-uno power of the region, which then attacks Rome, causing a nearly two decades long war against Japan than ends with nuclear bombings of the main isles and the 'peninsula' (Korea), and possibly what caused the Alliance to form, a Roman coalition against Japan, which went after Rome after Japan was defeated (but not immediately with force).
  • Storming the Castle: The assault on the Rebel compound in chapter one. The expected storming of the cult castle of Rich Port turns out to be a shocking lie. And at the end, the Romans do this to Ravana.
  • Synthetic Plague: The Alliance is generally thought of as of doing this, and the disaster of Cilva came from released Alliance biological weapon stocks, and that disaster spread across the whole Continent, and not just one plague but many.
  • Tank Goodness: Whenever the infantry are around, they are either helping or being helped by tanks in all their glory. The infantry protect the tanks from enemy infantry, while the tanks deal with built in positions or enemy tanks/armored vehicles.
  • Urban Warfare: Whatever happened in Cilva(Romanization of 'Kilwa') was chock full of this, and fighting in the ruins after World War III proves to be as vicious as before it.
  • War Ishell: And we get front row seats as everyone is affected by the capability of modern warfare, showcasing this. No one is spared. Maxentius tries to use this indirectly to get elected.
  • Weapons of Mass Destruction: Biological weapons have been developed and released by the Alliance of Nations, especially in Azania/Zesan. Chemical weapons are in use, since the troops of both sides tend to wear gas-masks all the time and the fear of gas sends people running. Nuclear Weapons were used in the past, by Rome against Japan and the "Peninsula"(Korea), and by the time the story comes around, both the Alliance and the Republic have massive stockpiles. The Nuclear ones are unleashed in a grand five day or so war.
  • We Have Reserves: Strongly averted throughout the book. While the Roman Republic and Alliance have billions of citizens and huge chunks of that number militarized and trained, to avoid outright war before the right moment, both parties move through instigation, stop-gap and piecemeal reinforcement of local and indig troops, and due to the plagues, troop numbers can be cut down by half in a week or so, thus tempting smaller, quick actions. The main Roman unit is a mere 10,000 men (though for their credit, they have a lot of them, just not together for the most part). And after the nukes fell, the amount of humans hover around the single digit millions, and any concentration of troops can easily be wiped off with nuclear weaponry, so surgical and quick strikes - plus a lot of luck - go into both sides.
  • World Half Empty: No matter what the heroes evidently do, it just finds a way to get worse.