Black days under occupation in Roma Nova

Caius Tellus

Caius Tellus

The morning after the power grab by Caius Tellus on the night of fires (INSURRECTIO), people woke to find the following proclamation pinned on noticeboards, on the doors of public buildings and in the forum in Roma Nova city.

By order of First Consul Caius Tellus
Due to the national crisis, the provisional government will apply the following emergency orders for the next 30 days.

  1. All citizens must be indoors by 21.00 and will not leave their homes before 05.00.
  2. We will respect citizens’ rights but anyone instigating or committing a breach of these orders will be punished severely.
  3. All orders given by the civil authorities or their authorised representatives are to be strictly obeyed.
  4. Personal ownership of all rifles, guns, revolvers, daggers, sporting guns and all other weapons whatsoever including training blades of every kind together with any ammunition is now illegal. However, citizens have until 18.00 tomorrow, 7 October, to surrender any such items currently in their possession to the nearest vigiles barracks. Discovery of failure to do so will result in summary imprisonment even after the expiry of these emergency orders.
  5. All service personnel on leave must report to the nearest military barracks by 18.00 tomorrow, 7 October.
  6. No boat or vessel of any description, including any pilot, fishing or tugboat, shall leave the river harbours or any other place where same is moored without an order from the local Curia office.
  7. All international flights and cross-border rail services are temporarily suspended and all road crossings are strictly controlled. Expect long delays for verification which will only be granted in exceptional cases.
  8. Foreign citizens in Roma Nova will be respected, but should remain in their hotels or residences until they have either registered and obtained a permit to stay from the local Curia or applied for an exit visa. These will be issued via their national legations.
  9. Emergency services including doctors, veterinary and social personnel will be granted fuel and supplies subject to registration. Agricultural units and food suppliers will be granted movement orders and fuel subject to registration.
  10. For the time being, there will be no fuel allocation for private use.
  11. Food shops will remain open as before; increasing prices is forbidden.
  12. All television and radio organisations apart from the National Roma Nova Broadcasting Company have been switched off. Their male personnel will be integrated into the new national company and the female staff dismissed.

Signed this day 6 October Caius Tellus

Caius’s seizure of power had been very carefully worked out, even down to street level; he’d given each local Roman Nationalist Movement (RNM) organiser precise instructions about their role and goals. This was the main reason the coup was so successful so quickly. Checkpoints, curfew, house arrest, raids and detention by the RNM political troops acting in parallel with the civilian police, the vigiles, follows in the next eighteen months as Caius exerts complete and ruthless control. He reintroduces the death penalty.


Hand-in-hand goes the development of  a “personality cult”. Photographs glorifying Caius as a ‘true Roman’ are hung on the walls of local and central government offices within days as well as at the Golden Palace, the traditional home of Roma Nova’s rulers. Wherever he goes publicly, he wears his black uniform with red mailed fist armband.

New controls and content are introduced for children’s education and as Sextus, a student and resistant, reports in RETALIO, political education is compulsory for males of all ages. Women are not required to attend; they’re excluded from secondary and tertiary education now and no longer considered full citizens. As Aurelia discovers, people obey on the surface but there’s a great deal of resentment and anger. Roma Novans aren’t yet immersed in the new ideological regime, but although bitter at the previous weak government for letting this happen, they’re starting to adapt as they face new struggles in daily life.

Food shortages, confiscation and work conscription have become normal; inevitably, a black market in food and other essentials develops. Open disobedience leads to reprisals and the risk of being sent to one of the new work colonies. But Roma Nova has not yet become a ‘telling’ society even though Caius’s RMN political troops and auxiliaries actively encourage people to inform on neighbours, work mates and even friends. Unfortunately, a few suffer simply as a result of jealous neighbours or fellow workers.

The experience of this sudden regime change and the harsh regulation, especially for women, is a deeply psychologically disorienting one for the Roma Novans as what was once familiar and safe  has suddenly become strange and threatening. Many living in the city itself and the main towns of Castra Lucilla, Brancadorum and Aquae Caesaris can’t get over the shock they experienced when they first saw the huge red RMN mailed fist banners draped over public buildings and flying on top of the Golden Palace.

At the beginning of RETALIO, Roma Nova is not under foreign occupation as France was in our timeline in the 1940s, but under internal occupation as in Soviet Russia under Stalin. It takes fortitude to endure this day after day, and extraordinary courage to resist actively. Will that courage be ground down by fear and despair and the natural instinct of risk averse humans to reconcile themselves with the circumstances however miserable?

Read RETALIO to find out…


Alison Morton is the author of Roma Nova thrillers INCEPTIO, PERFIDITASSUCCESSIOAURELIA and INSURRECTIO. The sixth, RETALIO, is due out on 27 April  2017. Audiobooks now available for the first four of the series

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