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11 mos ago
Current "Þæs ofereode, þisses swa mæg." - Deor.
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3 yrs ago
"Point me out the happy man and I will point you out either egotism, selfishness, evil - or else an absolute ignorance."
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Hwær cwom mearg? Hwær cwom mago?
Hwær cwom maþþumgyfa?
Hwær cwom symbla gesetu?
Hwær sindon seledreamas?
Eala beorht bune!
Eala byrnwiga!
Eala þeodnes þrym!
Hu seo þrag gewat,
genap under nihthelm,
swa heo no wære.

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Clu Zanith


Clu drew his armourweave cloak around him to keep out the cold of Anchorage, consciously altering the rates of his secondary and tertiary heart in order to better cope with the cold. He took a sip from the mug in his hand and sighed weakly.

This planet reminded him almost of a cheap Muun's Mygeeto. He'd hated that world too but at least it had wealth to make up for its natural dreariness, they were both nothing like Muunilinst with its flowing fields and lush forests, and the warm oceans heated by thousands upon thousands of 'smokers' and other underwater geothermal vents. But the real glory of Muunilinst - something that no where else in the entire galaxy had been able to beat during his travels - was the sky itself. It was said to be the most beautiful in all the galaxy both at day and at night, and Clu could very much believe that claim.

Many nights spent gazing up at the beautiful and glistening sky of Muunilinst had fueled his wanderlust - a very peculiar trait for a Muun and one which had never earned him much adulation among his peers, not until his days with the InterGalactic Banking Clan in the Clone Wars when it came to be a major boon for his allies - and driven him to see beyond it.

When he had been taken across the galaxy to Coruscant by his mother, he had seen the stars from another perspective and it had done little to sap him of his desire to travel beyond Muunilinst further. Yet the rotting under city of Coruscant and the many dangers that lay amidst it had left him with no illusions as to how dangerous and terrifying the galaxy could be, nor did his Mother and Father's downright criminal and unconscionable plans to cause a drug epidemic just to profit off the treatments leave him with any illusions that business with the galaxy at large was a clean and pretty affair. If you wanted to make real money, you had to be willing to crush a few people and go to a few dark places to get it.

This planet was not quite like that; The city that they were in was dangerous, certainly, but it didn't even bother with the veneer of shine that Coruscant lay over its lower levels. It was seedy, reeking of criminality and, to use less flowery language, an absolute shit hole. The planet was almost entirely covered in ice with but a few scattered settlements beneath it and a space port or two dotting the surface of the world; indigenous life was a rare thing indeed in such an inhospitable environment, and watching out the window as they came in to land it looked as though life had simply abandoned the planet entirely.

This comparison held in almost every respect; Unlike Muunilinst where the sky seemed to revel in the wealth and natural beauty of the world, as if in direct competition for your attention, the sky on Anchorage seemed to be as desperate to get away from it as everything else; It was almost pitch black with only a slim band of stars left to mark that it was anywhere in the known galaxy. As adrift in space and time on a course to its own inevitable destruction as most of its patrons, who were adrift and wasting away on a diet of death sticks and alcohol.

In short, Anchorage was Mygeeto with none of the wealth or mineral resources that made it even slightly tolerable. You quite literally couldn't have paid him enough to live here, it was that dreary and rancid of a place, but it had good business and you couldn't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.

At least there was never a dull moment when you're in a cantina of criminals, scum and drug addicts; Clu's attention was drawn across the room for a moment as some poor bastard picked a fight with a KX-Series security droid and promptly got his bones pulverised into dust under the droids blows, a sickening crunch marking the impact of the droids metal fists and the man's cry of torment and agony piercing through the Cantina music. What an idiot.

The new KX Series really was something, though.. Clu had always had a thing for battle droids - or security droids as they were now called to skirt around imperial regulations - and he had been thinking perhaps he'd have to look into acquiring some of the KX Series the next time they made port somewhere with an Arakyd Industries subsidiary. Maybe he would have takenna look over the HoloNet or Shadowfeed with the hypereave transponder, with the proper reprogramming one might make a handy addition to the crew... If a very pricey one at that, having been designed for the imperial military. They were hardened against hacking and other such counter measures, making their acquisition difficult. But if there was someone inside Arakyd itself who might be willing to make an agreement, perhaps they'd be able to have one.

But in the end he'd decided that it probably wasn't worth it. There were enough Clone Wars era droids rusting away all over the place (including in their own shop, since they'd finally gotten a crew to help them manage the whole thing) that risking life and limb to get a KX series wasn't really a worthwhile investment, however much he'd have loved to own the shiny new security droids. Someday perhaps... Someday the Empire kgijt fall apart or even lift the restriction in battle droids, then he could finally see about getting more up to date ones or redesigning some of them. If only the C-B3 Cortosis Batle Droid could be realistically reverse engineered, but that required top of the line equipment which wasn't easily attained under the Empire.

Clu was a little concerned by the presence of such an enforcer droid here on Anchorage, however; Usually, wherever and enforcer droid was, the Imperials weren't far behind, and if there was a crackdown coming he'd rather not be caught at the table with an small band of rogues and wanted criminals. But the Empire wouldn't be this far out. Perhaps it was a rogue? On the one hand perhaps they could get it to join the crew, in the other hand if its programming was unstable it might be more dangerous to them than an assistance. Either way, the crew probably wouldn't take well to an Imperial droid running around the shop but their abilities made them quite the prize for anyone who could them. Perhaps he'd ask Solace about this particular droid once they were done here.

Clu remained quiet as Solace and the Rodian spoke of Viron Jek listening in the conversation. They may as well have been talking past each other, the Rodian was concerned about Viron Jek, and with good reason as far as Clu was concerned. Solace on the other hand... Solace was Solace, and some pirate running around with an edgy name wasn't enough to scare her, he knew that by now.

Now, Viron Jek... Viron Jek had entered back onto the scene recently, making trouble for the Empire and being a general pest for them. The Imperials didn't take kindly to being messed with, and a general rule of business was that you left the Empire alone and the Empire left you alone. Admittedly it wasn't a rule he always followed himself, but anyone brave enough and powerful enough to openly fuck with them and get away with it was a formidable adversary indeed.

As Solace finished and asked the crew if she was right that they'd add Viron Jek to the score, Clu couldn't help but grimace. Some of them crew might chest pound in agreement, he wouldn't be surprised by that, but he was going to take a more tempered approach. That was, after all, what he was here for, to provide the information to the crew. That included information they didn't want to hear, like how Jek was not some two bit pirate but a cold hearted killer who gave the Republic a run for their money.

The crew might stand a chance of killing Viron Jek, but having 'a chance' wasn't the sort of thing that pleased Clu. From what little he knew about Jek and his crew Jek was a veteran reaver with hundreds of raids under his belt, many men had tried to take him and those many men were dead. The Noreaster and her crew were a solid team on a solid ship, there was no doubt about that, but Viron Jek was just as solid and it could go either way.

Indeed, he knew some very respected Brokers who'd already started backing the other side, and that didn't exactly raise Clu's hopes. That he himself had started to shift towards betting on both parties in this equation made his mind even less at ease. If push came to shove, he'd find a way out of the Noreaster and benefit from this- he always did, that was what he did best and it was all just good business. But he did genuinely like this crew and, even if he hadn't, they were still a damn sight better than Viron Jek was.

"Viron Jek should not be underestimated." Clu said as he placed the Holocom down and pressed a button on it, showing an old wanted post from the Clone Wars era as he clasped his hands together, interlacing his fingers and furrowing his brow; His voice was somewhat nasally as all Muun's were, and it cut through the cantina music harshly. Yet it carried with it the undertone of certainty and finality, as if the statement itself were true by design rather than being a matter of opinion.

It was important that the crew know what they were up against, and if they weren't going to listen to the Rodian, perhaps at least they'd listen to him. If they wouldn't, then perhaps it would be best to have an exit strategy for if Viron Jek showed up to play, the best way to lose a fight was to walk into it half cocked and certain you were going to win regardless, especially when you're dealing with a cunning and proven foe.

"Your exaggerated description of Viron Jek may be closer to the truth than we realise; from what I hear of his personal combat skills if he were to attack us now, some of us would be dead before we'd even drawn our blasters. His penchant for ridiculously edgy names aside, Jek is a dangerous monster with a list of war crimes that would make Grand Moff Tarkin blush. He comes from a family of reavers and pirates which had been pillaging and looting the Republic since day one, some of them have been quite successful but I'm personally not sure if any have quite rivalled the brutality and destructiveness of Viron Jek." Clu continued, pausing for a moment to think. Viron Jek was definitely not a man to be underestimated; He remembered the Confederacy having contracted him during the Clone Wars, it was one of the few times that the Confederacy itself had dismissed a commander for being too harsh... And given that the Confederacy had fielded General Grevious, that was saying something. Now if Viron Jek had been messing with the empire without suitable recompense, that made him even more dangerous. The Imperials were not easily trifles with, and any pirate with enough ships or big enough ships to take on the Imperials had enough firepower to turn the Noreaster into a pile of scrap without breaking a sweat.

And if Jek did blast their ship to pieces, they'd have gotten off easy. He didn't even want to know what the man might do if took some of them prisoner. Probably something akin to The Burning. That didn't even bear thinking about. He didn't exactly have a track record for being a kind and merciful man.

Clu lifted his mug and took a long and refreshing drink from it as he let what he said and the holo image sink in for a moment, thinking back to Solace mocking the name of Viron Jeks ship. She was right about one thing; It was a stupidly edgy name, and he understood her discounting him based on that. Names of ships didn't mean Jack shit, you could call your ship the Sun Crusher and it be a useless pile of junk or you could encounter the Rainbow and get smashed by its Turbolasers before you'd even fired off a warning shot. Dangerous sounding names did not a dangerous ship make.

Still, he thought as he placed his mug back down, it was wrong to discount Viron Jek on his poor choice of names alone. The pirate had more than proven himself worthy of taking edgy names here and there, whatever the crew might think of them.

"During the Clone Wars, the Confederacy of Independent Systems contracted Jek to raid and pillage a number of Republic border worlds near the outer rim. It was the belief of the Confederacy that he would send a clear message to the Republic borders that they were not protected, that the Republic did not care for them and that it was better to secede and join the confederacy than face its wrath in the coming storm. Viron Jek excelled at this task... but the sheer brutality with which he did it gave even the Separatist leadership pause for concern and he was eventually let go by the very men who had suggested his services, who thought that his actions were ultimately doing more harm to the confederacy than good." Clu shook his head lightly, the holographic poster floating in circle slowly, listing several of the many dozens, if not hundreds of various war crimes Viron Jek had managed to accrue just in his short time raiding republic planets, let alone his wider career. It contained a smattering of details the republic had on the man, but in truth the list itself was what Clu was hoping to catch their eyes; putting aside the list of atrocities, there were some impressive accomplishments mixed in there, this man had proven himself a deadly opponent against the Republics navy.

And this was just the stuff people knew about Viron Jek, who even knows what he had gotten up to that nobody knew about. Solace was being too laissez-faire about this beast and it out him on edge. Brokers knew what they were on about, and with the way the underworld was swinging, the Noreaster and her crew would have their work cut out for them if Viron Jek decided to start infringing on their business.

"You see, everything was a fair target for Viron Jek; Refugee camps, Hospital ships, civilian offices, prisoners of war. He would bombard his own positions from orbit to deny them to the enemy and whatever you might think of CIS battle droids and whatever pirates he'd have working with his crew at the time, it's needless to say its a rather cold act to blow up your own forces. Jek also wiped entire cities off planets in seething orbital strikes and made little distinction between civilian and military targets and infrastructure. Whereas many separatist generals at least made an effort not to gun down random civilians, Jek didn't care for how much collateral damage he caused, if he could destroy or steal it, he would. No amount of attempts to bring in rules and restrictions on his and other mercenaries conducts from the Confederacy of Independent Systems could bring Jek to heel, he simply did what he pleased as he pleased... and more often than not what he pleased was a bloodthirsty rampage that could hardly have been rivaled by a Rancor high on Spice. That should tell you about the kind of person we are dealing with; He is a man seemingly without a conscience, cold as this planet's glaciers and sharper than an Echani Vibroblade." Clu said with some finality, changing the holoprojector with a click of a button to show one of the scenes from the clone wars that had been captured on the holonet by republic reporters, a single scene from a village by Jek's order; In the centre of the image stood one of Jek's mercenaries with a deathstick in one hand and his weapon clutched tightly in the other, stomping the head of an old woman into the curb as a couple of his comrades passed by talking to each other with almost bored and disinterested expressions on their face, as if the slaughter around them was utterly banal. A single battle droid stood guard over the scene, blaster in hand and making the connection between Jek's wrath and the Confederacy of Independent Systems quite clear- indeed this had been one of many ways in which the hiring of Jek had backfired on the confederacy. Lying beside the old woman on either side were two other people, an older gentle man and another woman. The woman had her hands on her head still with her face obscured from view by the body of the old woman- but a small pool of blood surrounded the mans head, making it clear that he had already met his fate. Clu leant back again, letting the crew take in the grisly scene of the massacre.

"To summarise... Please don't underestimate him, I am rather attached to my head and am not in a hurry to lose it." Clu finished at last, setting himself back in the seat and bringing one of his hands up to his chin, rubbing it lightly as he regarded the Rodian Solace was in contact with. He left the holocomm on the table, the image still displaying the brutal killing for all to see.

If this Rodians reaction was anything to go by, Viron Jek really was as dangerous as he had sounded. He didn't at all seem at ease from Solace's responses, if anything he seemed more worried. Clu glanced over the other present crew members for a moment, furrowing his brow in consideration before looking towards B-22.

The C-B3 Battle Droid had served him well for many years and he had no reason to doubt its durability or its competence. Perhaps even Viron Jek would be unable to best his robotic bodyguard, but he wasn't particularly open to the idea of trying it out. He had lost too many of the C-B3's in the Clone Wars, he wasn't about to lose the last of his batch now because people weren't taking Viron Jek of all people seriously.

Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius gave a small nod as Finn imparted culinary knowledge about the selection go deathclaw steaks. There certainly wasn't a lack of death claws in this city, that was for sure.

"I am not sure how I'd want it done, I'll defer to your greater culinary knowledge and take whatever you recommend." Servius replied, trying to pass off his complete lack of knowledge in a somewhat less embarrassing light. The legion had a fairly one size fits all approach to the way everything was cooked and it hadn't exactly prepared him to even name the different ways it could be cooked.

He turned his attention to Emil as the westerner began to relate a story about a deathclaw.

" A fair kill. Raiders and bandits are not the brightest bulbs in the tanning bed, I wouldn't be surprised if he had been off his head with psycho and jet when he decided to release the deathclaws. ." Servius said, after listening to Emil. What kind of idiot kept a deathclaws as a pet, let alone thought he could control it? Raiders really were beyond belief at times.

So, he wanted to knwo if any of them had fought deathclaws up close...

"I fought several deathclaws in my time, but the only one I have fought in such close proximity was near Caliente. It was a bright day, typical for the area. The town certainly lived up to its name, it couldn't have felt any hotter if it were aflame.." Servius began, reaching for his canteen and taking a long swig. Just thinking about Caliente was reminding him of the sweltering heat and the beating harsh sun.

"I had taken half a Contubernium westwards towards the town on a patrol of our border. Our frumentarii had reported the NCR had moved in and seized control of the town by force, and so we had to be cautious, but little would have made us suspect the presence of a deathclaw." Seized control by force indeed, they'd practically kicked down the doors and shot anyone who disagreed with them. It had been a NCR backed coup against the towns elected government. What a surprise, only pro democracy until it didn't suit them anymore. For a time they were able to gloss over it with propaganda, and had recruited and conscripted a vast number of townsfolk into a militia... But after a while the propaganda began to fall apart, it was clear the NCR didn't have control of the situation and that the Legion weren't going to role over. So Caliente descended into a brothers war with their own, and even more with the NCR. Captain Jay, as it turned out, was able to make people hate the NCR more than the legion. The Legion had turned it to their advantage, of course.

"We stopped short to take cover upon a cliff face, frustrated by what we saw below. An NCR forward position - or what they intended to be a forward base. Two troopers and... Five 'conscripts' I suppose would be the word.. Local towns folk the NCR had pulled into acting as militia. Old men, young farm girls and boys. Not soldiers, and it showed. Their equipment was derisory; Surplus helmets, varmint rifles and nine millimetre pistols. None of them had body armour, a few didn't even have fatigues. The NCR may as well have shot them for us.." Servius shook his head lightly as he fought back to it. He remembered an old man and his grand daughters having been amongst the foes in the militia at one point. Or, rather had heard about it first hand. The Legion had easily killed the old man and one of his kin, and captured the other Granddaughter alive. He had been surprised by what the girl thought of the Legion, she had been convinced they didn't even know how to use guns and were backwards savages whose only hope was to drown the enemy in bodies.
He recalled a young man with only a baseball bat... Brave but hopeless, all the same. He should have been born a legionary, he would have gone far.

No, fighting the militia wasn't war, it was slaughter, even more so than with the usual conscripts. At least they were usually able bodies young men who were given rifles and a modicum of training in how to fire then. More meatshields for the rangers to hide behind and hog the glory when it was done he supposed. It had made sense from a strategic perspective, perhaps. The more men on the battlefield had certainly allowed the NCR to get more done while reducing casualties to their actual soldiers (which, as he understood, had become a major problem for the NCR who were losing countless men each year) but ultimately their combat effectiveness was so low that the Legion had tended to steam roll them. Capturing them was one of the worse conundrums of his legion life. They couldn't release them, they had to keep their brutality and show little mercy and pity to these profligates or else the impact of their presence on enemy morale would have been lessened... But knowing that they'd been forced into it and lied to, and left so hopelessly for dead... It had weighed heavily on his conscience to consign them similar fates to the NCR soldiers, and he could tell it weighed on the Centurion Aurelius as well, however little he showed it. He and the Centurion tended to make their deaths quicker where they could, or else send them into slavery or other such decisions. Apollo hadn't cared, of course, he was the same monster to them as he was with everyone. Or perhaps he was simply better at hiding what he felt, it was sometimes difficult to tell. The mask was never meant to slip.

"It seemed too easy, I didn't trust it, so I had us watch and wait for a bit. Sure enough, before long I caught sight of a glint in a distant rock. I brought up my binoculars to look upon it, and thought I saw the movement of a ranger but I could not be certain. A trap.."

"We decided we would return to the fortress and inform the Centurion, collect more men and decimate the forward base. I left a scout to explore the surrounding area, make sure there were no traps waiting for us and to see if it was indeed a ranger, as the rest of us headed back towards the Fort.."

"We had to cross a stretch of no man's land to get there. It was usually fairly safe so close to our borders, Los Coyotes and various Raiders kept away for fear of being captured by us. But we kept our guard up and it was just as well we did, for our came a deathclaws from its den, a deathclaw that had killed Mars knows how many men. ." He paused for a moment as he thought back to it. The Deathclaw must have moved in while he and the men had been out, because they had passed that cave in the way there without any disturbance. Unless it had been out hunting elsewhere at the time.

"When the deathclaws saw my Contubernium, you should have heard it roar. It was a roar which made the bushes shake, hound did tremble and man did quake, it rose up high upon the peak, it would have made a ranger weep.."

"But there was no time for fear or doubt as it leapt down upon us, a shadow of death cast in the blazing light of the sun. We brought out weapons to bear, but before I could fire it was upon me and swung fiercely for me, claws that could rend apart metal walls poised to rip out my heart. I leapt back as quick as I could, barely avoiding the slash of its claw. I brought my rifle to firing position, but then immediately case it aside; I recalled how close we were to the NCRs position and I called out to my men not to fire upon it. ." Servius grimaced at the memory. It had been a difficult call and made in the moment, but it was necessary. The legionaries would have been very vulnerable while fighting the deathclaw, and the NCR were only a couple hundred meters away over the hill and rocks. It was far enough that they wouldn't come hunting a deathclaws roar, but close enough that they would for gunfire.

"So now we had little choice but to fight the beast in melee, for the firing our weapons would undoubtedly alert the NCR to our presence. Whether they would find us, or the scout, who could say, but I was not wanting either outcome. We would strike when we were ready.."

"But that left us dealing with a behemoth of flesh and bone with little more than our blades. Sure enough, as we learnt quickly as we danced with the devil, the deathclaws had a plague hide that could the sharpest of our steels abide. No sword would enter through its skin, which vexed my legionaries and made it grin... or at least, that is how it felt when it looked upon us with its vile fangs. It slashed at me and I dodged and parried, and it seemed to focus in on my to my shock and anger... I suppose due to my height it thought I was the most vulnerable. I lead it on merry chase, ducking and rolling under blows, knocking away its class with the hilt of my blade and occasionally managing to penetrate its scales, though never deep enough to kill it. Marcus and Gaius also threw themselves at it, but they too couldn't cut deep enough."

"And so we changed our tactics; It was at this moment that Marcus threw his spear into the deathclaw; bounced hopelessly of the monsters head, but it drew its attention to him. He quickly retreated backward and it bounded towards him... And I bounded after it.." And it hadn't been a moment too soon, Servius had been tiring of the long dance with the Deathclaw. He had strained his arm fighting back against its powerful blows and twisted his ankle rolling out of the way of a bite, he didn't think he would have made it much longer. For all the endurance and will of a legionary, a mortal body had its limits.

"I leapt upon its back like a possessed tribal, seizing our opportunity to bring about the beasts demise. As I climbed its back, it ceased its chasing of my compatriot and reached around to try and grab at me. But all its efforts would be in vain, for as in choler it did burn, I fetched the deathclaw a great turn, as a roaring it did cry, I thrust my sword into its eye.."

"I drive the blade in as deep as I could, through soft eye and the tough sinew behind it, I worked the blade in deep as the beast flung itself around, trying to buck me. Marcus and Gaius seized the moment and threw themselves into the fray, that we might be victorious that day. "Ad Victoriam", they cried, and that chorus the deathclaw died.."

"For I forced the blade in far enough, that the beasts cries fell short and it collapsed, the blade had pierced into its skull, and cut into the brain itself. We kept stabbing it as it fell, piercing eye and hide and throat, making sure it was dead as it flailed into the ground, death rattles ringing out.." He gave something of a proud grin as he thought back to it. They hadn't lost a single of their number, which had impressed the Centurion greatly. Perhaps it was sheer dumb lucklre than anything, but he preferred to think of it as skill and teamwork. After all, it had been about coordination and baiting the deathclaw so that it was exposed - he had a feeling that if Marcus was not there, he'd be a very dead legionary.

"We dragged its carcass away to the fortress, thst we might use its claws for weapons, its hide and its meat. Once there, we told the Centurion what we had seen at the forward base, and when the scout returned he confirmed to us that the NCR had tried to set up trap using two rangers on a nearby cliff face. These sort of baited traps became one of the NCRs favourite tactics - and so it became our favourite tactic to subvert them. The fools waited a long time, which was good for us because it gave us a long time to set up. We fell upon the NCR later that day, a Contubernium sneaking around a long distance on their bellies to ambush the Rangers from the side while another Contubernium hit the forward post... But that battle is a different story, one without deathclaws. Suffice it to say, my blade had tasted much blood by the fall of night, man and beast alike had shed its lifeblood.."

Servius finished his tale and immediately took another mouthful of stew, downing it with water. It had been quite a long story, he realised, not at all concise. But he thought he had told it well enough, emphasis and more floral prose where appropriate.
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius gave a small nod as he watched Finn work, listening to his explanation of his origins carefully.
" That does explain the Linguistical similarities." Servius said, then smirked as Finn mentioned deathclaws steak "We tried cooking deathclaw once... It did not go well, I hope yours fairs better."

Finn seemed to be slightly zoned out however, as though he was lost in his own thought while the food was being prepared. Servius watched him with curiosity until eventually the man let out a little laugh and started doling out the food, pouring them glasses of whiskey and offering it to them

"Ah, I can not drink the whiskey. Such drinks are forbidden by Caesar, to consume them is a sacrilege in the eyes of Mars. Someone else may consume that... Chem." Servius said as he glanced at the glasses Finn had poured. Forbidden for good reason if one was to ask him; He felt slightly ill at ease with the idea of relying on comrades who had consumed a depressive chem. Especially if this was common behaviour for some of them; It would severely weaken the unit, and in a place as dangerous as this that was troublesome indeed.

The liqour itself had a significance to the dissolute that was almost sacrosanct in nature, he had earned. He had heard of their traditions of 'drowning ones sorrows', where those who had endured hardship or misfortune would drink to forget and numb their pain. These men and women drank themselves into a stupor, slowly poisoning and destroying themselves to avoid facing the hard truths of their existence. Human weakness and the avoidance of responsibility, expressed through a culture of drugs and numbing that in the long term served as nothing more than a slow and drawn out self destruction. Suicide by bottle. Truly such a solace could only prevent one from truly facing their problems and dealing with the root cause of their suffering.

It did no better for his confidence when he saw the cigar. What was it with dissolute and profligate sand a diehard commitment to their own slow and painful self destruction? Did they not see it? Or were they trapped by a alck of willpower?

He managed to stop himself from grimacing when John said he'd skip dinner and take the drink. From what he understood of 'alcohol', that only made matters worse. And again too from the perspective of efficiency. You never knew when you were going to be able to eat again or whether you'd be wrapped up in battle and stuck on watch, it was better to take what you could when it came your way. He'd learnt that one the hard way when once he had skipped breakfast in Caliente to focus on drilling some recruits. An hour later, the NCR surrounded the camp and started taking pot shots at them. They had them hunkered down for the better part of the day, the two sides trading fire back and forth to little effect before the Legion finally drove the NCR back in the middle of the night. There'd been few casualties on both sides... But his stomach was definitely one of them.

As Finn offered them the food and told them to dig in, Servius took his bowl and examined the stew in it for a moment, peering at the contents. Then he lowered himself down to sit, holding the food in his lap and setting his canteen of water down next to him.

"Mars, qui genus colis alisque hominem, per quem vivimus vitalem aevom, atque ego tibi ante alios deos gratias ago atque habeo summas. Ne invisas habeas neve idcirco nobis vitio, minus quod bene esse lautum tu arbitrare. Purga haec cibus impuritates, modo simile plumbo mutando ad aurum. Ita est." Servius prayed quietly with a slightly bowed head. When he finished, he began to eat from it carefully; It tasted good, better than most of the meals he had eaten in his life. The threat of something 'not as good' didn't seem quite so intimidating when the food was good.

"You cook well. Did you learn this back in this Carolina? It sounds like you had a good situation back in your homeland... Yet you're here with the Brotherhood in a place literally called the city of the dead. Why did you leave? It would sound as though you had a purpose with these Brahmin ranchers, what drew you away from it?" Servius asked between mouthfuls of soup. It was a curious question to him, one did not abandon their livelihoods for nothing. A sense of duty perhaps? That was in part what had brought him here after all, and perhaps the most easy answer for anyone to give. It allowed as well some level of obfuscation for any personal reasons - though ironically he had to practice the inverse.

Servius pondered the bizzare situation he found himself in,not for the first time. He was over two thousand miles from where he was born, judging from the road signs along the way. It had taken him a little less than 3 weeks of travelling (Had he not lost the bicycle to a grenade in Missouri, he would have made it in less than two. Fortunately, he still made it on time. He would need to find a faster way of getting home than walking, there had been only tribals in Pennsylvannia and he doubted he'd find much useful out of them for that purpose... Though this Virginia, while a little out of the way, apparently had prosperous people. They, surely, could sell him a bicycle or mount. Perhaps even something motorised, though he wasn't sure how he could raise the funds for that. Perhaps he'd find something valuable here in the city he could barter with, or else make some kind of agreement while there. Finn had mentioned robotic horses? He imagined those would be costly, but would be well suited to travelling the long distance in a short time provided it was I'm decent enough condition.). He was far, far from home and from Amicii of the Legion. And this city was about as cheerful as a graveyard and as dangerous as a Deathclaws den. In fact, it practically was one big deathclaw den. HIC SVNT LEONES.

Out of the corner of his vision, he noticed Prism say something to Bailey before she approached. The comment didn't seem to show much effect on her at any rate, so he dismissed it as inconsequential. Emil and Monika were speaking too, and from the body language it seemed it was heavy hearted. He could understand why, Monika was clearly not enthralled by the presence of a Legion Centurion, and one she knew at that. She'd made that much plain with the barging.

And then the Brotherhood had looked their way, between the two of them. Yes, a fear of disruption or incohesion within the ranks. Understandable as a fear, it had been creeping onto his own mind since the very moment he had joined the group, let alone when he realised the competing interests and the history between himself and Monika... There was clearly going to be a great deal of tension and hardship on the road ahead. Servius didn't intend to add anything to it through starting a fight with Monika. Curiosity as to her life since the Legion was resting lightly on his mind, and on another it was good to see *something* that reminded him of the east - even if it was not a particularly good memory. It was a strange thing, home sickness.

Was home sickness the right word? That would imply he had a permenantly home. He never had. Even Flagstaff was little mroe than memories from his earliest years. But the Legion was itself a sort of home, wasn't it? A family? All its territory was his home, not a single town or city or building as seemed to sit on the minds of others. Perhaps it was rather... Isolation, that troubled him. He had felt the Spirit of the Bull flowing through him and following him ever since he had stepped out from the borders he still felt the eyes of Mars and Caesar upon him, judging him and exhorting him to greater deeds. He knew better than to question their existence, all he had seen and experienced in his life led him to the conclusion that the supernatural was very real and very tangible, and that counter for both the good and bad parts of it... But the lack of contact with a fellow flesh and blood legionary, with someone who understood him and their creed, took its toll on his mind all the same, despite the presence of the gods.

But homesickness, isolation... All it was pointless semantics and philosophy either way. It didn't matter what words described what he felt towards his home, only that he felt it, and the sooner his job here was done the sooner he could return to the lands of the Bull. And to complete the mission here was to ensure that things when smoothly, that he and Monika did not end up trying to murder each other, that the group did not drink themselves onto a stupor and become useless, that group cohesion - or rather what little there was - could be maintained.

Yet he struggled with the internal dilemma. These people were his unit, and so they were now his Contubernium. Yet they were not Legionaries. A few of them had the combat skills, but others did not. The discipline wasn't the same, evidentally. So he wasn't sure what to make of them, in what ways they could truly be relied in before they - or their will - broke. Perhaps it was well that Khaliya seemed to have become the groups de facto leader for that purpose.

Servius would do his part to ensure that he fit the role well and avoid causing any conflict between himself and the other. Following orders, at least, he could do easily.

After all, that was what Legionaries were for. Honestas, Industria, Prudentia, Firmitas, Pietas.
Muhaha, all so be revealed in time, as people are interacted with
Edwin Drakewine of the Britannic Imperial Dominions


Edwin sighed weakly as he straightened his uniform, readying himself as the vehicle passed through the gates of the Palace. He had to rub the sleep from his eyes; Damn jet lag. He hoped it wouldn't make him move like he'd been drinking. After a short while longer, perhaps no more than a half minute, the vehicle came to a halt. The four guardsmen and Richard exited it immediately. After a moments pause, Edwin peered out of the window and gave a short nod to Richard as two of the guardsmen rushed back around the pavement to open the boot, retrieving a large and ornate chest from it, covered by a golden cloth. The two carried it between them as the procession arranged themselves.

"Impressive grounds, are they not?" Richard asked with a light hearted smile as he opened Edwin's door. As the young Prince stepped out of the vehicle, he peered around to evaluate them for a moment before replying with a simple nod. They made their way up the path, passing several guards who gave them and the chest rather peculiar looks. Edwin had sent word ahead to clear it before hand, but of course, no one had quite expected such a spectacle when he asked to 'bring my bodyguards and some gifts' as the gifts to be contained in a chest carried by soldiers who looked like they had just stepped through a timewarp and with a chest that looked almost as though it contained the crown jewels (or at least, part of them. He doubted he could fit the lot of them in this one chest after all).

And indeed, out of time they looked; Edwin himself wore the bright scarlet dress tunic of the Imperial Guard, with black trousers polished golden buttons. Atop his head sat, almost as if it were a crown, an engraved band of gold studded with a single large Ruby. A black cape with gold trim was fastened around his neck by an elaborate and extravagant golden broach, a wyvern with a small Ruby for an eye coiling around a crucifix like a possessive snake. On the smallest finger of his left hand he wore his signet ring, golden with his families coat of arms inscribed on the front, and the rest of his fingers were adorned with jewels and metals. From his belt hung a scabbard with an ornate sword. Although in truth the gothic hilted 19th century officer sword was a rather poor fighting weapon, it was aesthetically pleasing - definitely a weapon expected to be admired rather than used in a full blown battle.
Richard himself fared little better, for he too was clad as though some imperial officer of Old, wearing much the same with the notable absence of a cape or a metal band around his head; it made him look slightly less outlandish and more merely out of time. As he was here as a bodyguard, he still had his sidearm with him, holstered at his side. His broach too was a wyvern, though it had a topaz for its eye, and did not clasp anything but rather sat pinned through the upper right side of his tunic. The two families, Drakewine and Ashleigh, were closely linked and shared a Wyvern for their heraldry. Indeed, it was only due to the Ashleigh family, the traditional dukes of Mercia, that the House of Drakewine even existed; They were raised to the nobility by the Duke of Mercia and eventually superseded them to become their overlords. The Ashleighs had profited greatly from this in the long run. Richard's Older Brother held their kingship back home.
The four guards wore matching uniforms, and although not nearly as ornate or adorned with gems as the uniforms of Edwin and Richard, they were fine in appearence and each bore with them a handgun in a holster and a ceremonial sword, in the fashion of Edwin's, around their waist. From each of their sheathes hung a charm or two, and around their neck they bore pendants of silver and iron.

Edwin couldn't help but grin at the bemused and confused expressions of the guards and servants. It wasn't particularly unexpected- he remembered the staff and the civilians at the airport seeming even more perplexed.

"First we get a knight in shining armour and now this... I thought time was meant to go forwards, not backwards." He heard one of the servants murmur as they passed; Someone in armour, eh? He had a funny idea who that might be...

Finally, this strange procession of men from the eighteenth century arrived at the doors to the palace. With an exchanged glances and a nod, two footmen at the doors pushed open the door. Edwin went in first, stepping in ahead of Richard and the four guardsmen who followed in behind.

"We are fashionably late..." Edwin muttered sarcastically as he glanced over the palace grounds, they were waved on.

He passed Princess Ayleanna on his way in and stopped short, raising his hand to signal to his group.

"My Lady Ayleanna of Aciras, it is my honour to meet with you. Allow me if I may to profess myself a most ardent admirer of Your Royal Highnesses ecological concern and endeavours to promote a more harmonious relation with our Mother Earth and your inexorable battle against deniers of climate change, and to offer your this fine gift, forged by the finest of jewelers on Anatolia and set with a beautiful stone." Edwin said with a long and deep bow, smiling up at her all the way.

As he spoke his spiel, the chest was being laid down gently behind him and opened with a flow of gold cloth and the clink of tumblers. Richard retrieved and brought a small black box from within and handed it to Edwin, who passed it towards Lea and opened the top of it to reveal the contents; A golden necklace set with a Pink Rubellite gemstone. 18 Karat gold and a 6 carat gem as he recalled, rather precious and expensive. It had cost his treasury about £9000, though he wagered it would have been more under different circumstances. Prices are a bit more malleable when you're the son of the emperor.

Edwin ran his eyes quickly along the assembled individuals, recognising them from images. As usual, Richard had made him learn absolutely everything he could about absolutely everyone who was expected to be present. Yet frankly, the most he could absolutely absorb could not even hope to cover everyone in the room. There were far too many people for his liking in truth, these social events were far from his cup of tea as it were. Indeed, were it up to him he would have been spending this time back home with a good book.

Not that he needed it, of course, to identify Dom and Liv. Primarily by virtue of Dom having chosen to wear an entire suit of armour; Well, of course, it might *not* be them beneath the suit of armour, but in truth he'd be something stupid to think otherwise. Who but Dom would have decided to wear a suit of armour to a ball? Well, perhaps some of the Britannian nobility might have sought to do so, but he knew all of those who would be turning up here. To say nothing of their neighbours, who were markedly less flamboyant in - that particular manner. He was, for example, at least certain that was not Rhiannon of Wales.

Elias stood near them and from the movement of his lips and their swapped looks, he could tell that they were speaking to each other. Yes, he knew of this one too; the Pólemesian Prince who was something of a military man himself. The Pólemesians were quite the people, a strange mix of modern and traditional in a manner he quite approved of truth be told. And a very old people at that, their history stretched back several thousand years before his own peoples and given how long they had held themselves together, that was no small feat.

He crossed towards them, brushing past one of the staff as he made his way towards the Duo, Dom in their armour and Liv with a bird on her shoulder. He gave them a small smile as he approached and then raised his right arm into the air with his left hand behind his back. He crossed his legs before him, bending over into a bow and bringing his arm down in a swift arc before him, keeping his head tilted to look at them as he did and going fairly low. The pendant swung aimlessly back and forth in the air around his neck until he righted himself again quite suddenly.

"Well met again, my friends; You both look spectacular this evening and we are most pleased to see that Domitus does bear the uniform of a warrior! A bold statement to wear amongst the others, commendable indeed!" Edwin said as he moved himself to be more at ease. He looked towards Elias and gave a short bow "Prince Elias Kokinos, it is my pleasure to make your acquaintance; Everyone in this room is a lot safer for your presence as I understand, Commander Supreme. I hear you are very brave and have endured more than most men already. Nasty business, assassination attempts. But I shall not darken the light of day with more talk of such things, forgive me."

And with that, Edwin righted himself and snapped his fingers to his guards in a fluid manner. Everything in Britannia worked like this, overly theatrical and garish in its extravagance.

"Amongst my people, a gift is a sign of courtesy among strangers, and affection among friends. Among strangers, a thoughtful gift is a sign that you are cautious, considerate, and aware of their wants and needs. Among friends, it is a private and subtle thing- the test of the gift is how well it is tailored to the receive." Edwin explained as two of the guardsmen came forwards, carrying between them a large chest and opening it up, drawing back the golden cloth that covered it. Richard turned towards the contents and handed Edwin a small plastic box, which he then opened.

"I understand that the both of you like different sorts of music, I saw fit to- well, prowl social media for you Liviana- and although it took us quite the while to find it, you as well Dom. So I decided to buy for each of you a selection of the music from the genres. Orchestral music for Liviana- Dom was far more difficult to choose for. If I failed you in my choices, you must correct me." Edwin spoke as he handed them both a small card; the digital age was a wonderful thing, was it not? Of course, he *did* have to hope that his research into the technology and compatibility and the likes had actually been correct. One could never tell with the byzantine mess that Lusitania had become, somewhere between brutally protectionist and overwhelmingly dominated by the Athenians, although such a thing might be considered itself a strange contradiction.

"And as a gift to your country, although I am certain your Senate might not see it that way, I am making a considerable donation of two hundred thousand in gold to the Lusitanian Women's Forum; Lustiania is well overdue some reform. I chose the most modest and polite reform group there is, and if the Senate cannot even tolerate that, then frankly I have no time for those so-called leaders. Well, whatever your senates objections at least I didn't decide to donate my armoury to the Foeda Flammae; Though perhaps that FF would find some quote pickaxes more useful, what with all the mining they do, hm?" Edwin gave a playful smile and nod to Dom; As he understood, this 'FF' had done quite the hatchet job on them. No matter how many times Dom tried to bring some nuance into the matter, the FF had decided to mine out only the most positive quotes while ignoring all their disavowing of their more- dangerous radical elements. Restocking the fires of war and all that wasn't something they were particularly fond of and he could see why; War had never been nice to women and the FF promoting it was what he would describe as horribly shortsighted.

"Now Elias, I am afraid you will not escape my grasp; As I said, a sign of courtesy amongst strangers. Yet I have done what research I could; A military man but an avid reader besides. And so please, accept my gift of a collection of my peoples most well known poems, finely bound and with handdone lettering and decoration by some of the finer artists of our realm." Edwin said as he took a book from the hand of Richard, who had removed it from within the box the guardsmen carried; he drew back the silk it was wrapped in to reveal the finely bound cover, the lettering silver and decorative silver leaves along the edge as he gave a light bow to offer it to the Pólemesian Prince.








Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius grunted absently as the girl from earlier shoved past him, and he turned her attention to her, beginning an empty "Hey, be careful", only to stop short when he caught glance of her stare, then of the features of her face.

That made more sense. He thought of what other acclamation he could make of her, this Woman of Colorado, Killer of Centurions, Bride and Bane of Albinus.

How many times had he seen her? Seven or eight times? She'd been there when Lucius threatened to lash him to a cross. He didn't remember whether she'd seen him get flogged for daring to defy the man to his face during one of the meetings; Denver had been hard fought to secure, there were relatively few tribals in the region but the place was overrun by wild mongrels, ghouls and raiders. Eventually his Century had been sent to establish a a fortress in the side of a mountain overlooking one of the State Highways, north east of Denver and they had left Lucius and his camp behind (though they had stopped there again on their way to the Mojave, coming down the very road they had helped to refurbish for traders, a colony was established there of Settlers from New Mexico as the population there had expanded.

Colorado had been a very interesting place and he had many stories to tell of it that were not merely war stories. it had been quite the formative place in his life and there were memories there he'd like to keep and those he'd like to forget, and some he simply couldn't explain at all.

Now Lucius, Lucius had been a careerist at his core. He cosied up to anyone influential who so much as looked at his camp in a servile and disgusting manner that had made Servius half sick to watch, a man who fancied himself Lanius or a Legatus at the least but had the skills, bravery and commanded the respect to fill neither. Utterly paranoid, surrounding himself with yesmen.

Indeed, the first day Servius had delivered a message for Sedonus to Lucius and sat in on the warroom, the man had tried to butter him up...

**

A cold wind blew through the camp the winters night, snow drifting down on the High mountains where they had camped. Servius, Decanus of Old Sedona, wrapped in his paenula. He brushed through the opening of the commanders tent and peering around the brazier lit room. A long wooden table ran down its length, chairs on either side and at the head sat a powerful looking Centurion. His eyes examined the Decanus eagerly as he entered the tent, looking past him greedily... And then to him with a light note of disappointment in his gaze.

"Who are you, and where is your Centurion?" The mountain of meat that was Lucius demanded. Servius swept his paenula from around his front and approached the table. Lucius - and almost all his decani- were mountains of men

"Centurion Sedonus meditates, Centurion. The road is hard on his old form, and he conserves strength for the coming battle. I am Decanus Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo of Century XXV Sedona Major, Son of Gaius Curius Proculus Mexicus, Centurion V Sandoval Victrix. Centurion Sedonus has sent me to speak in his stead."

"Hm. But of course, Senex should rest. I have heard the tales of his deeds in battle. Very well, Legionarius, join us." Lucius gestured with a wave of his hand to an empty seat at the table, and Servius removed his headdress and placed it onto the table, sitting down carefully and lowering the mask from his face. Lucius barked sharply as he did, and for a moment Servius thought that he might have somehow offended the centurion - but it was directed at a slave girl instead. "Lupa stulta, Get our newcomer a drink!"

The young girl scurried across the tent quickly, avoiding looking to his eye. As she approached with a pitcher, Servius gave her a light smile as he quickly glanced her up and down. She had clearly taken quite the violent beating not too long ago, presumably at the hands of Lucius himself. Bad news, perhaps? She looked barely able to keep standing, exhausted from the day and the injuries. "Gratias tibi ago, amicus."

" Yes, sir." The girl managed meekly and timidly, as though afraid speaking too loud might result in some horrible fate. Servius narrowed his eyes slightly as she tried to move off, only to stumble lightly and drop the pitcher onto the floor. She hastily ducked down to pick it up and in doing so narrowly avoided being hit by Lucius helmet, which he'd tossed at her across the room while yelling. Servius didn't remember exactly what, but it was a string of profanity that had left him quite shocked. No sooner had she stood back up and looked back to the table in fear and whimpered out a "Sorry sir!" which for now sated Lucius fury. Servius pulled out the seat beside him and gestured to it

"Servus, quaeso conside." Servius said, which earned him a very horrified look from many of the Decani around the table. Lucius stared at Servius for a moment however, for now at least, seemed willing to tolerate this unusual turn of events with little more than a shake of his head. Apparently, the girl didn't understand latin, was too afraid of the repercussions or too suspicious of his intentions to take Servius up on his offer, for she scurried quickly away back into the corner of the tent and kept her head down once more.

"Bah, like her, Decanus? Don't be too friendly- that one of my little whores." Lucius said with a light chuckle, and Servius glanced to him for a moment before looking back to the slave as he drew his now filled cup back. He forced a smile onto his face and gave the Centurion a polite nod, trying to be as amicable as possible.

"Minime vero, Centurion. Just pleasantries."

"She's a good one. She had some spirit. Came in kicking and screaming, broke Gaius' Nose! So I broke her. Quickly too. Almost a shame, I wanted the fight." Lucius said after several moments of silence, taking a swig from his glass and then sitting back somewhat in the large wooden chair he called his own, looking to the girl. "Perhaps I'm being too selfish with her! How does Sedonus like them? Like her, young and pretty? Quiet type?"

Servius paused for a moment and shook his head "Sedonus... is a ascetic man. He doesn't spend time on the pleasures of the flesh." It wasn't entirely a lie- not that it was entirely the truth either for Sedonus had always been a very complicated figure, but the Legionaries weren't here for such matters and neither was Sedonus. He'd likely have been offended by the offer, to tell the truth; Sedonus could get his own pretty little slave girls if that's what he wanted.

"Ah... You have his ear, yes? He would have to trust you to send you here - you must be quite the officer in your own right. Tell me, Decanus, do you yet have a concubine? Officers should be breeding new legionaries, no?" Lucius asked somewhat suddenly, and Servius couldn't help but be taken aback by the forwardness of the question. "I have gathered many slaves to me in this region. You could have your pick of the pit. All hues of skin and hair now... and some virgins too. Can't promise they'll stay that way for long."

"Oh- Minime, Centurion, minime autem gratias."

"Not a concubine, then? Hm. If you were holding out for her-" With a subtle gesture in the direction of the slave girl who was cowering in the corner; he guessed that he was either going to point out again that she was off limits or else make another absurd proposition, either way Servius was not interested.

"Minime, Centurion, I assure you I am quite fine." Servius put an end to the sentence - whatever in the name of the gods it would have become - before it could get half way through, and Lucius puckered his lips, clearly not used to his various bribes falling flat so quickly. Servius himself sought to put an end to this avenue of conversation and back to topic at hand; That of war.

"As you wish, but let none say I am not a generous man." It carried an underlying hint of annoyance and Servius grimaced lightly, worried about offending a Centurion. Had Sedonus not said to keep the man on their side, if possible?

"Ita vero." One of the Decani said, another giving a nod of approval. Servius glanced to them for a moment and then back to the Centurion.

"Centurion Luci, I am grateful for the offer but I cannot accept. Sedonus would not approve. But might we proceed? The night is growing old- and cold, and me and the men of Old Sedona have marched long and far. We would all wish sleep on ourselves before the chill sets in." Servius said, quick to acquiesce yet do all he could to move the subject away. He did not wish to be caught in between this rock and a hard place.

"Ita, ita... This is the plan for tomorrow," Lucius gestured to the map lain out on the table in front of him, several figures arranged across it. Servius leant forward and examined it, taking a long drink of the water int he glass he held, swallowing and narrowing his eyes for a moment as Lucius continued. "Two of my Contubernium will take the north west road here and take this bridge, see it? It's half ruined but its a key path into Dog town and is the one the raiders have been using to cross. Sedonus will send half a contubernium to scout this location here-"

"No need for half Contubernium for such a task. We have Speculatores, Centurion Sedonus can have one dispatched."

"But how would we know one man is telling us the truth, Decanus?" Lucius asked as he stared straight at him. Servius had to take a moment to process the comment and then glanced towards Lucius in confusion. The look on the Centurion's face made it all too clear that he was unfortunately serious. It left Servius somewhat dumbstruck; Sedona had said the man had a reputation for paranoia and suspected even his own underlings, but this was beyond the pale!

"Legionaries do not lie about such things." Servius retorted. Lucius grunted and then let out a dark laugh, and was soon joined by some of his officers. Servius, however, remained silent. That was no laughing matter.

"Speak for yourself!" Lucius laughed for a moments before calming and shaking his head. He drained his glass and then slammed it down on the table, motioning impatiently for the Slave girl to come and refill it "No, I want a full four men. They'll scout out the area, I have reports of a tribe in that region and I want them found."

"The more legionaries, the more attention they risk drawing, it is safer for one man-" Servius was cut off by Lucius, who would hear no more of it. It was somewhat shocking how fast his demeanour had changed, whereas earlier he had been offering out slaves for sexual favours and whoring out his own concubine to Sedonus, now he looked about ready to tear Servius head off if he pressed the issue.

"Enough of that. Four men will do."

"Mea culpa, Centurion, autem minime. We will send a speculatores. If you want another three men with him, you can send them." Servius replied with a firm shake of his head. Lucius stared back at him, clearly bewildered and infuriated that he'd just been denied a request by a lowly decanus.

"Four. Men."

"The Answer of the Centuria Sedona Major will not change the more you ask, Centurion." The Centurion stared at him for a few minutes and Servius could see the anger at such a slight spread over his face; the Decani seated around the table were quiet, looking towards Servius with suspicion and anger; The very atmosphere of the room had changed in minutes and Servius felt now as though he was in mortal peril. But apparently, Lucius didn't feel it was worth risking favour with Sedonus over because he dropped it with a huff, snarling at the slave and shoving her away once she had finished pouring the glass. He took a long drink from it and set it back down.

"Fine. Then a contubernium will assist my own men at the bridge, Gaius you will take..."

**

It hadn't gotten much better from there and each subsequent interaction between the two seemed more and more heated than the last- he instead learnt to hate Servius, and Servius learned to hate him. Servius and the Optio Centuriae, Severus, had found many of his officers wanting and little more than mindless yesmen, and said as much to his face. No doubt Lucius had increasingly felt his own authority and prestige infringed by these two upstarts.

Yet Lucius barely threw an inch of fear into him and not for lack of trying. Servius had thought it annoyed him and had contributed to the growing hate the Centurion had of his liaison. Lucius had punished Servius where ever he had been able to, even if it was indirectly by being unreasonably harsh even by his standards on Servius own soldiers. Eventually, he had Three Hundred lashes dealt out for his insubordination... but when they had met Old Sedonus, Lucius had become more amicable to Servius after that encounter; It had been clear when Servius had arrived that Lucius sought the endorsement of Sedonus.

But Sedonus Major was infamously hard to impress, for he had lived a long time and seen many promising officers and legionaries come and go. Indeed, he was so old that he looked like a wraith of sorts, so stretched and leathery was his old skin (indeed, some thought he was part ghoul and slowly changing, rotting away.) Certainly, the man was in his sixties but had the physique of a man half that age, capable of bounding across the battlefield and slicing men up as though he were still in his prime. It gave rise to all kinds of rumours about his real age; there were stories among the slaves that he was one of the Fleshwalkers, powerful ancient Shamans of forgotten tribes with names older than each tribe of the Legion and older than the flames that had rained down from the sky. They said the town of Sedona, that had stood long before the great fires of the apocalypse, was in fact named after him, not he after the town.

To the best of Servius knowledge at least, he was just a man, who had adopted the name of his Centuria. A creepy and somewhat terrifying man, but a man none the less... Yet there was a difference between thinking this rationally, and thinking it while in the presence of Sedonus. His very demeanour seemed poised to set one against the idea, and he seemed very nearly to have a sixth sense and could predict the actions of his enemies with alarming accuracy.

And while Lucius had written off any superstitious explanations almost immediately, Servius never had. Lucius speaking directly to Sedonus spared Servius the remaining lashes. Servius knew not what it was that the two had said, whether it was some personal threat or some threat to his career. He knew only what Sedonus had told him; 'Lucius will be more amenable to your suggestions about our arrangements. You will remain my personal liaison to our good Amicus--and you shall continue to question his decisions where appropriate. Do not fail me, and do not bring shame to my name; You will show Lucius the respect demanded of his position, and you will not interfere with how his men seek to use their spoils. Are we clear, Decanus?'
'As clear as daylight, Centurion!'

Oh, how Servius wished Sedonus hadn't spared him, and almost sank into his seat the moment Sedonus mentioned his actions. Sedonus did nothing to punish Servius for the slight, but the fear of what he was going to? He had been on edge for weeks. Yet the next day Sedonus took three tent groups and went north west, and didn't return until ten days had passed. He had taken Severus tent group with him, and so for that time Servius was effectively left in command of XXV Sedona Major.

Now her, when last he heard she had killed Lucius and escaped. Quite the accomplishment, though blitz attacks are not necessarily the best indicator of ability. Her outburst earlier now made sense to him, clearly she carried the baggage of her past with her - either inherently, or else perhaps something had brought on a hallucination and it brought it back to her. Either way, he had the tact not to speak of it to her; he imagined her time as Lucius' concubine was not exactly something she wished brought to the forefront of her life, and likely the very reason why she had shoved him aside.

He measured up his next phrase for a moment. He did not wish to allow such a slight to slide but at the same time it was hardly fitting of him to cause friction within the group, or to poke an unstable woman and cause her to explode. After all, truthfully perhaps he did hold some responsibility for what had occured to her and it would be hardly right of him to respond to righteous indignation in such a way at a time like this. Hm.

In the end, he settled on something in between; Not conciliatory but amicable enough, while conveying to her that he clearly knew of her origins. He wouldn't press her on anything, he was a walking and talking reminder of the horrors of her past. He understood that clearly, and had no desire to allow it to cause more problems for the unit than was absolutely necessary.

"More than enough room for all of us, Woman of the Marchlands." He grunted as his eyes followed her, filled with curiosity. He watched her as she checked something from in her pocket, while looking over the Brotherhood holotag.

Indeed, now was probably a bad time to let any of them know he carried with him trinkets of their departed. Brotherhood holotags, dogtags... if there was a faction still wandering the wastelands openly, he wagered he had something of theirs in his possession.

He turned his attention towards one of the Brotherhood members who spoke latin to him, catching half of it and smiling.. So they did know some after all! Or at least some of them did, which he certainly wasn't opposed to.

"Salve, Phineas. Ego sum Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo, Centuria XXVI 'Fulminata Infamia', Legio V 'Malo Mori'; Caesar Pia Fidelus." Servius introduced himself back to the strange Cowboy Knight, to whom there was certainly more than he had first thought "It is an honour to meet you, Knight Phineas, I speak your tongue well if that would be more convenient for you. I am fluent in both Latin and English. Your accent and dialect, it is most peculiar. From where do you hail? Your words would speak as though you were a man of the far west, but the accent and the intonation of your voice clearly say otherwise."

Cowboy nights with music from before the great war, things in this city just got stranger and stranger. It was good to hear latin again, for he hadn't heard much spoken properly in a very very long time; the mans pronunciation was wrong, it was as some had taken to calling it 'profligate latin'- but to Servius' ears, so far from home, it was music and carried with it the calling of his home land. That home he still longed for, regardless of the time spent out here on the road heading east. All the motivation in the world couldn't stop him from wanting to hear latin again, to hear a marching song or a whispered story of the burned man. To walk in the pines near Flagstaff as he had as a child. He missed it dearly, he had to admit to himself. He had missed Flagstaff since the day he had been dragged away from it by those two burly legionaries whose grasps felt as unbreakable as steel.

The cowboys music was old, but not quite so old he wagered as the music he had heard on that holotape so long ago. He still carried it in his pack, perhaps he would offer it to their ears soon. But either way, for now he smiled and listen to the song and awaited the strange Cowbow-Knight Phineas' response. He could hardly make sense of some of the lyrics in the song, so detached was it from his experience of the world. Driving? He had seen functioning vehicles very few times in his life, and never had he personally had control of one. The idea was alien to him, he wouldn't even know how to begin using the Motor Wagons! It was as though looking at something from another universe, or from outer space that had fallen to earth and landed in a ditch only to be found by a human. It was completely and utterly alien to his experience.

And then he realised that likewise, the cowboy would not be able to relate to lyrics in any song (well, almost any song. Thanks to the NCR militaries apparent obsession with that damned Big Iron, Johnny Guitar and Jingle Jangle Mars Damn Jingle, Servius knew well enough how to sing those tunes and there seemed a degree of similarity between some of them and this new song about a MOtor Wagon) Servius could know and sing, so distant was their experience from each other in all likelihood. This song was from the old world, a world he would never know for it had destroyed itself in fire and ash. This cowboy? Soon he would know where he was from, but he was one of the brotherhood, men of steel and lasers and technology.
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