Futurama

Fan Fiction

Gladiatrix
By Ramon 51

I 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 wild.

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?"

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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). Ah, smooth!

LEELA: Bender, so help me, if you don't move your metal carcass, I'll have the Professor install another empathy chip!

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 frequencies.

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. Clear?

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 the cabin.

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 second.

AMY: They are hitting us with some sort of low frequency pulse…I feel dizzy.

LEELA: Stand by to…

Amy collapses, followed by Leela.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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: Hi-Yah!

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 their shoulders.

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 shortly.

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 speaks.

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 now.

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 again.

FRY: (Interrupts the conversation.) This slavery stuff stinks! And this collar chafes my neck. Why aren't you wearing one?

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 behind them.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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 tunics.

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.

JUNCUS: Salvevi, 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.

VIBIA: Ecastorvii! 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 way.

The group follows Juncus into Marcellus' office.

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' desk.

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?

Everyone nods.

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.

LEELA: Nibbler!

MARCELLUS: Edepolx! 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!

FRY: Crud!

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, twenty percent.

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 your sex!

BENDER: Been there, done that…don't do it.

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!

LEELA: Done.

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 she trained?

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?

LEELA: Yes.

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.

LEELA: Persona?

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 trash?!

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.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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 me!

AMY: I use to do a lot of baby sitting.

FRY: (Sighing) I guess that makes me the gardener.

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 Sextilis.

AMY: Spleesh! You don't look a day over 50.

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 as well.

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 bonded servitude?

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 behaved.

JULIA: Tataxv 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, Children!

MARCUS and JULIA: Vale, Grandmother.

The scene ends as Lady Vibia and Amy continue to walk through the Villa.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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 coming soon."

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."

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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 understand?

LEELA: Yes, Corvo, I understand.

CORVO: Good! (Shouting) Statilius, send in the next opponent!

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 fight, understand?

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! Continue!

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 advantage.

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 learning.

LEELA: Thank you. Morrigan, you really made me work.

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 maid.

LEELA: What?

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 choose.

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 Vibia.

LEELA: (Smiling) Thanks, Corvo.

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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 continued working.

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 crew.

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 sunshine."

FADE OUT

FADE IN

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 match.

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 hundredth time.

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 a dimachaerixx 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 our strategy?

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 chance.

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 "Ave, Victrixxxii!" 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."

FADE OUT


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!"

Buddies