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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.
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


The conversation was tense, it seemed, between those who would at a glance have been close allies. That set him on edge; Were Brotherhood Knights usually so fractious? The way they spoke of Heeling to some elders commands made him suspect there might have been some kind of schism. Was there a Brotherhood civil war on the east coast he did not know about? It would not surprise him, truthfully; The Brotherhood had ever been stubborn and it was in that stubbornness that he frequently found foolishness. In the West, the Chapter the Legion had destroyed proved to be stubborn beyond all reason. Outnumbered often four or five to one, taken frequently be surprise and ambushed in the rocky valleys and mountains, the Brotherhood never properly adapted their tactics. They did not become swifter not more versatile nor more silent, but instead met them as though it was open warfare. By the end of the war, when the Legion had captured so much armour and equipment as to close the technological advantage gap quite sufficiently on that front, utilising missile launchers, high powered rifles and laser rifles against the Knights and Paladins, the Brotherhood had still rarely turned to subterfuge and instead still fought as though they had a significant advantage over the Legion. Their overreliance on their own technology came back to bite them, pulse grenades were highly effective against them and the Brotherhood clearly hadn't expected such weaponry; there were cases where the legion had been able to completely fry the circuitry in the BoS power armour and cause it to freeze up or cause the servos to be disabled at which point the BoS were relying entirely on their own strength to move, which had made them extremely easy prey in melee combat (the Legion would later encounter NCR heavy troopers who were equipped in Power Armour that had been stripped of its servos; these soldiers were likewise extremely easy targets in melee combat where their sluggish nature made them unable to fight effective. He would never understand what it was about profligates that made them want to rely so heavily on very specific things, it had led to their downfall time and time again while the Legion triumphed time and time again!) It had turned that campaign into a bloody massacre before the end, where the Brotherhood were overwhelmed and slaughtered by the legion almost entirely.

He recalled fighting there in the early days of his career. His first kill had been a raider woman, but his Second had been a Brotherhood Scribe of all things. He had fought alongside some of Caesars more veteran legionaries and it was something of his baptism by fire; subduing the Tribals in the region after the Brotherhood had been wiped out had been when he had truly proved himself worthy of a promotion- ironically, after making the same mistake the Brotherhood had made.

For the Brotherhood had been used to fighting mostly tribals and seizing advanced technology from them with ease. Unsurprisingly, low quality firearms, sticks, stones and rusted blades had proven completely ineffectual against their power armour and the Knights and Paladins had come to see themselves as near invincible. When they encountered the Legion, they saw them as little more than tribals and had expected an easy fight. It must have been a shock to them when the Legion proved not only an effective and well armed military force but a powerful enemy who claimed the area and pushed them from it in but a few short years. And when Servius helped to subdue the tribals of the region after this conflict, that was when he earned the agnomen of Vespillo, for he made the exact same mistake about some tribesmen that the Brotherhood had made about the legion; he had begun to see himself as far above them, for after having defeated the Brotherhood, how could some tribals with sticks and stones threaten him? He almost paid for that mistake with his life at the barrel of a gun, something he had never forgotten.

The Legions enemies, it seemed, did not learn so swiftly from the lessons they were dealt. The mistake of seeing the legion as little more than an army of ill-equipped tribals was a mistake made by almost all the Legions civilised enemies- and it was one Caesar had been all too happy to promote, for that mistake gave the Legion power. The machete and the sword, weapons which had become heavily recognisable to outsiders as part of the Legions armoury, were part of this very image; defeating NCR and even Brotherhood in melee made them seem like some crazed wild men who would charge machine guns with sticks. The NCR especially had their morale decimated by facing the legion, likely because the quality of their individual soldiers and their motivation was so poor.

The truth of their tactics was far more nuanced, obviously, and Servius had seen first hand the obscene stockpiles of weaponry and ammunition the legion had built up in its conquest... but the effect this mistake had on enemy morale was undeniable; Being fired upon by guns is all too common in the wastes, especially for soldiers, and forgotten quickly in retold stories of war. Being rushed by a bunch of screaming fanatics with swords, barely escaping with your life as your friends are hacked apart? That is a potent story, far more likely to be remembered by listeners when the battle is retold... even if gunfire was more common in the battle itself.

Once an enemy unit had been worn down and were few in number and ammunition, it wasn't uncommon for a Decanus to give an order to draw blades and charge. The sheer ferocity of such a charge of screaming warriors, the stories which one had heard about the efficiency of the Legion in melee and the unexpected nature of a melee charge would cause most soldiers to break ranks and try to rout almost immediately, and which point they were easily run down and hacked apart or shot dead as they broke cover by marksman who had held back in reserve. When used at a key point in a battle, this would allow these legionaries to then pour through and flank the enemy, pushing in with gun and sword and sowing chaos as the legion collapsed upon its foe- The trick, as Servius later learned, was always to leave one direction open for the enemy to flee. If the enemy thought they had an avenue that was clear, then either their courage would falter and they would end up in a panic stricken race towards it in the hopes of escaping the storm, or their officers would a tactical retreat that would likely break down into chaos in the hope to avoid facing the legion in tight melee. Either way, it would displace them from their positions and make them far easier to annihilate. He could recall many battles where the legion had been outnumbered, even, and if the enemy battalions could have but been turned around and stood their ground they would have won the day in a landslide- yet instead they fled, like sheep chased by dogs.

When the battle was told by the few survivors or onlookers, it would be heard as though the Legion had massacred their better equipped enemies with nothing more than old lawnmower blades. And then, they would be amazed by how 'slight' the resistance of the soldiers would have been, and the Legion would seem like an inexorable wild man horde. Which was, of course, exactly what they wanted everyone to think. Legion war was as much psychological warfare as physical fighting, involving complex stratagems that one didn't expect of tribals. They didn't mount their capture enemies on crosses for the fun of it, they didn't unleash mongrel dogs into the enemy lines because it looked cool; they did it because it spread fear. Their strategies were designed to win them the battle, yes, but the true genius of it all was the fear. It became the ultimate tool of the Legion.

The Brotherhood Chapter the NCR had fought on the west coast had many of the same problems from what he understood; their commanders were blinded by their hubris and arrogance in their superior technology and equipment, as well as their greed in seeking more of it, and they had held an inherently indefensible position against the NCR whom they expected to be unable to defeat their superior technology. With the BoS outnumbered even worse than the Brotherhood the Legion had faced, the NCR issued higher calibre weapons to their troopers and rangers and overran the brotherhood, destroying them nearly utterly but for a few survivors who had fled into the wastes... and even then, those survivors refused to recruit outsiders in spite of their imminent destruction. He wasn't sure, then, whether it would have been better if they had been overcome by fear and fled immediately into the wastes in panic than stood their ground against the NCR. The Brotherhood on the west coast, it seemed, were never let down by the rank and file, but rather betrayed by their leaders. It was a waste of life; standing your ground and following your orders to the end out of bravery is honourable, but it is on a commander to spend the lives of his men, not waste them. The Brotherhood, it seemed, lacked for good commanders but had no lack for good soldiers. And now, if this had caused a schism on the East Coast? Perhaps the Brotherhood was well and truly doomed from its failure to learn from its own history. Ironic.

But before long their exchange was done, and to his surprise the Brotherhood Paladin said that he didn't understand a word Servius had said. Bah! Then the Brotherhood may as well have written their mottos in jibberish if they couldn't even read them. Again, of course, he supposed he wasn't too surprised by the Brotherhoods hubris, nor by the fact that they didn't understand what they were even talking about. Many of the scribes captured in the West had barely known anything about their own history.

"They do not even speak the tongue, such arrogance to claim for themselves words they can not understand. Ad victoriam meos clunes." Servius scoffed and muttered near silently to himself so that few, if any, could hear him, shouldering his rifle as he followed after them. Babies babbled, blurted words they didn't understand. Men should know better; words carry weight because you understand them, using words you cannot understand is like hanging paintings as a blind man. Why then should the Brotherhood claim a motto in Latin, when they do not speak it? An absurdity of the highest magnitude.

**

He watched the machinery that the Brotherhood Decanus had referred to as 'decon' work with a wide eyed look; he'd not seen anything quite like this before. The chamber itself reminded him of one near the entrance to one of the Vaults he'd taken a contubernium too to scavenge from back in Colorado, but that hadn't been active (Indeed, not much in that place had been, even the lights were dead... and it seemed more like it was meant to be some kind of prison camp for its inhabitants than as a safe haven, the rooms were tiny and there were fences and guard posts everywhere. Some of the rooms even seemed dedicated explicitly to torture... Even by the standards of the legion, he would have felt like a prisoner in a camp like that)

Stepping into the bunker, Servius noted the hum of a reactor and the lighting that clung around them. It seemed cosy enough, as far as underground bunkers went. A little musky perhaps, but that is to be expected from underground and air tight facilities, given that they couldn't risk any contamination from that radiation stuff.

It was in this dim light that he first caught a sight of the holotags and belongings on the beds; he stepped over carefully and examined one of the holotags. He reached out and took it in his hand, moving it to look over it before letting it fall again with a light grunt. Requiescat in Pace. Had their lives been spent, he wondered, or wasted?

Then Servius turned and stepped off to the size, unzipping the hazmat suit carefully and stepping out of it with a heavy sigh, happy to be breathing air through his own nose rather than the mask again - which smelt horribly of plastic and rubber. He peered down at his creased tunic and straightened it out lightly. Out of the suit and bearing some of his uniform, though not all of it, Servius felt much more normal... Though without the trappings of his rank and culture, it still felt wrong. He felt naked.

Bah, by the hairs on Caesar's head, what was the point of going without.

He took his Cingulum militare from his backpack and fastened it around the waist, fixing his Pteruges into place. He wrapped his scarf around his neck again and brushed the sweat from his brow. He caught a glimpse of himself in the reflection of one of the bedposts. There, that was better.

Servius unfastened the power armour from his shoulders and wrist, running a finger momentarily along the red X mark on it before laying it down carefully onto a counter and rolling his shoulders, glad to have taken the burden off. He took his helmet from his head and set it down, attaching the plume again and staring down at it for a few moments. Then he placed his rifle down alongside it, keeping his Sword by his side as ever as he turned to face the group.

He saw first that Khaliya had stepped out of her power armour and he examined her for a moment, then darted his eyes to the Paladin to whom she talked; he couldn't hear their words but body language alone let him know it wasn't particularly good, as did the expression Khaliya's face. That was troubling again, more trouble between the two of them? He hoped that it would not interfere with their mission.

With that, Servius went about directing his attention to the bizarre BoS soldier with the hat for a moment with some bemusement for several moments as he folded his arms over one another. It reminded him of the hats the NCR patrol rangers used to wear, he had heard them referred to by many names over the years. 'Cowboys' was one he had heard come up alot, and indeed there seemed to be a great fascination in the west with these 'cowboys' and their lifestyles. He had once come across a talking robot with one of the most obscene and outlandish accents ever, complete with flinging around 'pardner' and 'howdy' like it was a comma. Most of the westerns, thankfully, had not been that extreme with their accents. The softer accents some of them had were actually somewhat soothing, but there were a few with strong ones - and then there was always one or two who clearly wanted to become one of these 'cowboy' stereotypes, speaking with all the jargon and lingo and singing Big Iron and Jingle Jangle Jingle whenever they got the chance. It was quite amazing actually, he supposed, how many times he had heard those two songs sung or playing over the radio just by sneaking up on NCR camps and patrols, capturing them as prisoners or simply passing through neutral towns - and how many different stereotypes of the west he could find among them. Surely, one of these stereotypical exaggerating aspirants had not found their way so far east, and certainly none of them naturally emerged in the east- right?

Then Marvin spoke and interrupted his train of thought, and so Servius turned his attention to the ghoul, smirking a little. Exciting, eh? He supposed that was one way of putting it, it had certainly been quite the journey. Many creatures he had never encountered before had come out to play, what with those powerful flying monsters? They'd claimed the life of one of their own, which was certainly worrying... to have lost someone so soon into the journey was concerning, though perhaps not unforeseen; their intel going into this place seemed to be extremely limited, perhaps the Brotherhood would be capable of shedding more light on the matter- if they could get over whatever had driven a wedge between them, that is, which he wasn't too sure given the tone. Then again, they had led them to this place in the end after all, so perhaps all hope was not lost

"Yes, do tell us about your purpose in this place- and of it, you have been here longer, your knowledge of it will be more comprehensive." Servius said as he looked towards the BoS types, glancing to the cowboy hat that sat on one of their heads for a moment before looking back down to their helmets. T-51 power armour. By now he recognised it well, the eyes of that helmet gave him memories. Knight Girdeux had been wearing it when he managed to get the blade underneath it, at the junction between the head and the helmet he had forced it in with an almighty thrust- straight through the suit beneath, fitting between the frame and the helmet and piercing into her neck. He'd almost fallen then himself; not just in the fight with her, where a single powerful blow from her arms could have shattered his bones into dust, and where he ducked and weaved around her like a man possessed, his heart leaping into his throat. Indeed, there were many occasions where it seemed extremely close, but he had always been just about able to evade her knife... but when she fell as well; His hand snagged under her holotags after the blade was forced into her neck and as she fell over the side of the bridge, she almost took him with her.

Indeed, but for the holotag snapping and him fortuitously grabbing onto one of the old cables that hung from it, he'd have fallen into the deep and rocky waters below from which he doubted he would have emerged. He and a couple of recruits and headed down there afterwards to scavenge from it, and although they managed to get underwater they were unable to retrieve any of the pieces of her power armour from the lake; her laser weapon was retrieved from the bridge, though. Servius still carried her holotag now, partly as a trophy and partly in her honour.

She'd been a good fight, a very good fight, one from which he was extremely fortunate to have emerged from alive. She too had been the last of her unit who had foolishly tried to recover a cache of laser weapons from the Legion with relatively little ammunition and support of their own (and subsequently ran out during the firefight, as the Legion would later discover when they looted the corpses for weapons and armour) and still fought on until the very end bravely. She had destroyed a section of the bridge with a plasma grenade in a last ditch effort to kill the Contubernium pursuing, and although only one of their number had died, it caused a large chunk of the old bridge to crumble away into the water and left the legionaries dashing for safety. When the dust had settled, it left only Servius and a badly wounded Marcus on the bridge with her, the rest of the Contubernium on solid ground. Had she been able to kill Servius, she doubtlessly would have escaped to trouble the Legion another day. Although she was clearly junior in their ranks and had been let down by her commanders, she faced the Legion without fear, with great intelligent, ability, cunning and the traits of a natural warrior.

That was perhaps one of the many moments that had proven instrumental in giving him a respect of the Brotherhoods rank and file, even if he found some of the strategic and tactical decisions of their leaders and the Brotherhoods inflexibility completely baffling. Their rank and file had many of the attributes that made for a good army, but were too few in number and relied far too heavily on their equipment.

He had heard that the East Coast Brotherhood was more successful, clearly in spite of whatever schism he was detecting here. It was said they had greater numbers and a great flying fortress, as well as a small fleet of vertibirds. If this was true, and these Brotherhood proved to be as adept and skilled as the average rank and file of the West, then perhaps with the right leadership they would come to dominate the east coast completely. The quality was certainly there in the average Knight and Scribe he had encountered, and Khaliya seemed competent - though her argument with Jeremiah and now these newcomers was giving him the impression that perhaps things were not quite as well as they had first sounded. He had once heard a word or two about some kind of Brotherhood 'outcasts' on the rumour mill but it was very limited, he had assumed that they had vanished completely... but if a schism had developed and it had reached this point, then perhaps said outcasts were still active and this entire thing would be their downfall, just another sign of their ideological and dogmatic inflexibility and their poor choice in leaders.

He somewhat hoped not; from what he had seen so far of the east coast, it needed a powerful stabilising force. Perhaps for the East coast, the Brotherhood could provide it - though then again, they had historically proved extremely incapable at that too. The territory the Legion had taken from them had been poorly governed at best, overrun with tribals and raiders and the occasional civilised community regarded the BoS as little more than raiders who stole and hoarded advanced technology. That had always seemed to be their main goal and one of their key weaknesses; a complete greed for and over-reliance on advanced technologies. One day, perhaps the Legion would spread as far as the East Coast, and then perhaps proper law, order and civilisation could be established. Or perhaps the Brotherhood would come to their senses and make some real progress. Either way, it was sorely needed; Raiders, Tribals, Mutants and Gunners seemed to dominate almost everything for the past few hundred miles west, and the latter were effectively just the former with better gear.

Madness, all of it. It reminded him of the lawless and wild regions the Legion had conquered. Even the NCR would have been better for the East Coast than this anarchy.

Regardless of whatever their overall abilities, goals and decisions would ultimately be worth for this Eastern Coastline, here within this Necropolis he was glad of their presence. That military quality and bravery he had identified in the Brotherhood... it was good to have that on one's side when they were in the jaws of a city of the dead.
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius looked to Prism momentarily as she waved a hand to grab his attention, listening as she recounted the man's name, continuing to peer around as they moved further

"When a man dies with no due, it is said that his soul remains stranded on the wrong bank of the river of the afterlife, unable to pay for passage. Even if it is not true, it is bad form not to mark the passing of a dead man. Since any one of us might be im his place soon, it was slightly surprising nobody else bothered to pay respects." Servius commented regarding. He was somewhat pleased someone had appreciated the gesture, whether they would believe the reason for it or not. Perhaps he had misjudged these mercenaries, and they were not quite as faithless as he had suspected.

"I believe we could have killed it if needed. I have seen steeper odds. But many more of us would have perished, and we have a long way yet to go. It was a choice that had to be made."

"And he broke ranks, defied orders; He knew the risk when he ran, though his mind was clouded by fear. It could not have been placed on us to risk our mission for him after that. Had it found him by chance, perhaps we would have owed him such an effort." He gave her another look for a moment, she seemed pragmatic enough about this, and clearly had some experience. Though she was quick to point out that he was only here because she had convinced him to come, a curious thing; perhaps she felt some degree of responsibility for his death? It wasn't uncommon for those in positions of power to have to make such decisions, and though he knew little about the east coast, he had picked up from the rumour Mill along the way that the Talon Company had been all but annihilated a few years prior.

He knew what it was like to watch ones cause and faction crumble down around them, the sorts of decisions one had to make, whatever tier of officer they were it was a turbulent time... And he got the feeling that such decisions weighed on her more heavily than she let on, and this was far from the first time she had to trade one life for another.

"His death was not of your making, leaders are supposed to convince people to follow them into danger, and make the hard decisions for the good of the unit and their mission. Better one man than all of us."

He looked up to Jeremiah as he stood in the rain as he said his piece. Indeed. If it had sat well with them, well, they'd have been queer folk indeed...

Being reminded Talon company had seemingly managed to endure its catastrophe and maintain somewhat capable leaders, he did feel a small degree of homesickness. The Legion too was stabilising somewhat-- well, by that he meant that at least when he left, a victor was emerging. Who knew, perhaps by the time he returned, his intervention wouldn't even be needed. Although certain... Legions were not perfect, a stable government was better than none.

Of course, such a legion might just crucify him as a deserter or traitor. That was always a risk.

---

He regarded the inside of the wall with curiosity, running his eyes over all its features. This was a very elaborate set up, especially for somewhere which seemed to have few human inhabitants... He'd seen many walls in his time, but none as grand in size or technology as this. But what was its purpose? To keep outsiders like them out? To keep something else in? Something else entirely?

Servius heard Khaliya call out and spun from watching the side streets just in time to see Prism's gun go off, he looked up to the sky that was tinged with a blue field... And then with red, as it seemingly caught and destroyed the bullet.

It's like an oversized hound cage, only instead of mesh across the top, you have some sort of energy field. He thought to himself as he peered looked across the skies, bringing his weapon to bear as he scanned them for any beating wings of those blasted creatures. Nothing came from the sky though, but instead by land.

He spun quickly and raised his rifle to the appearing brotherhood men for a moment, but as he noticed them as bearing a similar allegiance to their group leader, he lowered it somewhat and narrowed his eyes beneath his visor, examining them each in turn. They wore brotherhood armour, but their leaderr had some unusual markings as well. Some east coast chapter, he supposed, that he hadn't encountered before. That was to be expected, he was far from his land. Still, that was enough to keep him cautious; So far their encounters in this city had not been good, but these didn't seem hostile.

"Avete, milite. Egó sum Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo. Quí estis vós?" Servius asked, suspecting that the brotherhood were more than capable of speaking Latin. After all, what kind of idiot would use a Latin motto if they didn't even know the language? That'd be almost as stupid as using a Spanish one without knowing Spanish...

Though come to think of it, he had encountered that before with one of the profligate troopers...
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius watched as the creature began to be drawn off by the rock he had thrown. Internally, he smiled and thanked Mars for such fortune. Perhaps the Shadow of the Bull walked with them indeed and gave them protection. He waited for the creature to pass him by, heading towards the back of the tunnel. Soon, they could make their move, he quickly scanned the place and found several passages they could try to take. This was going well.

But then something happened the legionary did not intend and which showed Mars had not yet granted protection to his comrades or else this one had proved wanting; A Mercenary of the Talon company, showing ill discipline as profligates and mercenaries often did, broke ranks and moved to flee.

Stultus, Servius thought to himself, he is going to get himself killed! Had he controlled himself but for another half minute we would all be safe!

Within but a few moments, the situation had gone from hot to cold to hotter than the Mojave sands at noon. This fool was throwing all their lives away. ; it wasn't favourable for them here, trapped in these tight confines with such a deadly killer and with several more of those creatures above. Death seemed likely now, but if this was to be their end then so be it. He would face it with gun and sword and the iron will of the bull.

Servius immediately brought his rifle to bear, taking aim at the head of the creature as it barreled past in pursuit of the Mercenary, ready to intervene and rescue his newfound comrades- but to his surprise he was sent tumbling sideways by a sonic blast as the creature threw its prey to the floor. It seemed this creature did not only use sound to locate them but was also capable of weaponising it against them. Would today's misfortunes never cease?

Servius was quick to realign his aim from his position, training his rifle on the beast again. He thought that his aim was true - as true as could be through the blanket of the darkness that enveloped them like the night swirling around stars - and tightened his finger around the trigger, ready to fire and as he did he opened his mouth to yell out for the others to join him for a focused barrage of fire might yet cause it to fall dead upon the stones of the tunnel - but he was stopped short before a sound ever escaped his lips for another voice spoke.

'Hold.'

Khaliya's voice came over the commas and Servius immediately stopped dead, as though he had been frozen in time. One word, one moment was the difference; He would not disobey such an order, and although he would never admit it even unto himself perhaps he was somewhat grateful for a reprieve from duty against this beast. Maintaining his posture as still as a statue once more, he watched as the beast finished off the mercenary swiftly and as mercilessly as Lanius himself. It crushed his head as though it were delicate china rather than bone; at least such a fate would have been quick.

The beast toyed with its prey for a few moments long, yet each second felt as long as a year. It engaged in what sounded almost like an argument with its fellows, roaring back and forth loudly. Servius did not envy those closer to the beast, for he wouldn't be surprised if their ears bled from this repeated and horrific cry.

When the beast tossed the carcass up the stairs and followed after it, the sound of beating wings fading away into the distance, Servius finally rose from the ground.

He moved a pace towards the centre of the hallway, rifle in hand, and checked around cautiously. No sign of the beast, nor of anything else having been drawn to them by the commotion.

"Is anyone else injured? That screech carried quite the punch." He asked as he looked around quickly, checking to see whether any of the others were injured by the outbreak of violence. That blast of sound had been power, more than enough to throw an armoured man and himself to the ground. Thankfully, it seemed none were hurt by it and so he quickly moved kn

There was no body left and it appeared none had moved to do much, either out of self discipline or out of a lack of caring for the deceased. The latter perhaps, as the stranger had been a coward in the end, and there were few things worse than being a coward. Still, the members of his own unit wouldn't likely take his death happily, and he doubted they appreciated being prevented from interfering as one of their own were torn apart.

Mars would be the judge of him, and it was no mortals duty or privilege to usurp that role; he would speak nothing ill of the dead. Perhaps the rest of this man's life might redeem him in the eyes of the god of War. Perhaps.

And so, Servius felt as though someone ought to give something to the departed here so he might pay his fee, even if no one there cares for him and there was no body to burn. He knelt over the pool of blood, grey matter and skull fragments that had once been the man's head and took a denarius from his pocket, placing it down into the blood. He looked towards the man's fellow Talon Company mercenaries and for but a moment considered asking for the man's name but he thought better of it in the end. For his part, Servius couldn't help but pity him.

Still, Khaliya had been right to order them to hold, had the other two come down, who knows what fate might have befallen the group? Certainly, Servius wagered they would have lost more than a single man. It wasn't worth losing more of them for the life of a coward, and especially not to merely avenge his death. Yet he couldn't shake a small pang of guilt for not having intervened, and worse still, he had acquired a newfound dislike and distrust of these Talon Company Mercenaries.

This man's running and his fate proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they could not be relied on, they were clearly not as disciplined as he would have liked. No legionaries would ever have shamed themselves in a such a path - and no legionaries would ever have abandoned one of their own without claiming retribution. Even without knowing this fallen comrade, Servius had been within an inch of opening fire. Yet these mercenaries had abandoned him to his fate. Those people were not legionaries nor soldiers, they weren't unbreakable warriors who would fight to the last breath. They didn't even have the redeeming qualities of some of NCRs troopers who he has seen engage in suicidal selfless acts on occassion. No, these ones were worse than that. They seemed more like raiders or powder gangers, selfish and quick to abandon their own to save their own skins - well, they were mercenaries after all. If these mercenaries wouldn't try to save one of their own, would they save any of them?

The Legionary turned away from the macabre scene and crossed back towards the rest of the group, ascending up the staircase after their leader. They were all still part of one unit, and they had to work together whatever the cost. So he pushed the doubts from his mind and told himself that these Mercenaries, like everyone else, didn't intervene because of their orders. They all wanted to, but had to restrain themselves. After all, was that not what he had done? Yes, it was discipline, not weakness that stayed their hand.

He managed to convince - or deceive - himself.

"Ita, Imperatrix." Servius replied to Khaliya following behind her on their pathway. He kept himself slightly hunched over, careful to remain in the shadows and behind cover as much as possible as they made their way, his hands gripping his rifle tightly and checking the sight lines for more danger. He secretly wondered whether they were merely leaping from the cooking pot and into the burning embers of the fire; It occurred to him that if he thought they were easy prey for that monster down here, they would have it even worse in the open where it had room to fly.

He had to trust to hope that those beasts would not return before they had found shelter in this bank. Yet hope, it seemed, had forsaken these lands.
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius immediately killed his light when Khaliya's voice came over the radio. If he'd kept it in, he may as well have put up a neon sign saying 'free meal here', at least by his reckoning. Then he quickly moved to the side, dropping down into cover against the side of the Kiosk and a bench, keeping himself obscured from sight. Taking his rifle in both hands, he pushed up against the Kiosk edge, peering around the corner and watching a creature descending down the stairs through the windows in the side of it. It wasn't a great view but it was sufficient and made it easy to keep himself hidden and blend in with the Kiosk itself.

He narrowed his eyes slightly beneath the visor of his hazmat suit, struggling to see as his eyes adjusted to the new found darkness he had plunged himself into. Still, from just from its silhouette cast by the bright light flowing in from behind it, he could tell he did not recognise this beast. Some monster of the east, he supposed, perhaps the others would have a better idea of what it was. He froze as still as a statue, careful not to make a sound.

Clicking. Thunderous clicking, even, maddening and almost deafening. It reminded him of the artillery the Legion had at Hoover Dam, like the cracking of thunder as it launched bolts of wrath into the sky to arc down upon profligate battle lines... For a moment he thought he was back there, fighting his way out onto the roof of the dam and breaking another profligate line. But he was not there, he was here in a darkened pit beneath a skeleton of the old world... And this beast would not break, cower and die so easily as an NCR squad. But perhaps it could be fooled.

Clicking.

So it was a bat like being perhaps, it certainly had the wings of one but its shape seemed very different indeed. It had passed by the two on the stairs, apparently, so perhaps it had difficulty seeing, maybe even smelling (though admittedly their hazmat suits likely helped with that...) Still, he wasn't going to write off sight just yet as he wasn't close enough to see whether it had them (and Mars willing, would never be that close) and since even bat's had deceptively good sight... It wasn't a safe assumption for him to make yet. So stay out of sight and stay silent unless necessary.

Consequently, he had already wrapped his hand tight around a small stone from the floor, lifting it carefully to its side behind the Kiosk. If it looks like it was getting a bit too curious about anyone in the group, he figured he could toss the stone well enough to the tunnel the party had come out of or one of the side passages to attract its attention that way. The group could then sneak away to safety. Hopefully. It was worth having it as an option before resorting to fighting it.

"It. uses. sound." Came Emil's voice over the radio. Servius didn't dare respond, in case it was capable of hearing the output from their radios too. Too many of the group were close enough for that to be risky. He wished he could ask about how the beast looks up close, about potential weaknesses. About whether any of them knew what in Caesar's name it was.

Worse yet (or perhaps better yet, given their circumstance...), he couldn't see all of the rest of the unit and so might have some difficulty judging whether it had become a threat to them, whether it was catching on to them. He could see a handful... And at least he knew where Bailey was. Behind the Kiosk and under the cashiers till. He didn't dare to turn his head to properly look around the room, even though he figured from this angle he was safe from the beast. Better safe here than sorry, it wouldn't do anyone any good if he got himself killed trying to see where they were hidden. So he had to rely on only his eyes, and an ever so slight inclination of his head either way that wouldn't translate into hazmat suit movement. It probably only gained him a four or five degrees either way, but it was better than nothing.

Yes, Marvin had grabbed the medic (at least he assumed so, she was shortest) and was by the wall, he could just about see them.
Monika? She had been by the ticket desk when last he checked, but he hadn't seen where she'd ducked in. He didn't dare turn any more to look, as much as he wanted to.
John had moved off from the terminals, but had he ducked in anywhere? If he had he was just outside his field of view--he could vaguely see a shape out of his blurry peripheral vision.
Devon? She'd been at the back, she was hopefully in safety then. There had been plenty of alcoves and gaps to squeeze into back there (indeed, he'd been careful to check the lot as they passed for any sneaky ghouls or raiders...)
A couple of the mercenaries had taken cover around the room, hidden from sight. That was good.
Emil... Was that him over there? It was hard to tell with the hazmat suits, but he thought it was. He was fairly close - and the creature had started towards him. It must have heard him speaking, or heard his radio. Caesar on a bike...

Servius paused for but a moment, keeping his breathing as shallow as possible and keeping that rock tight in his hand, his other hand keeping his rifle tightly held to him. In his head, he cast a silent prayer for Mars to look over them all; Vos precor, uti sitis volentes propitii nos.

Now, it was time to act. This had been exactly what he'd grabbed the rock for.
He waited for the next click and after it had passed and silence reigned again for a few moments (well, as close to silence as one can get with a monstrous creature slowly stomping its way towards one of them) he tossed the rock in his hand off towards the empty tunnel behind them, which fortunately no one still obscured. He tossed it under arm in order to reduce his movement and keep himself obscured by the Kiosk and bench, ensuring that the sound bouncing off the Kiosk should keep him safe from the next click of the echo location and the creatures sight. He quickly readopted as close to his original posture as he could, just to be safe, peering at it out the corner of his eyes again.

He'd always been a good throw, with spear and grenade and blade alike, and was thankful to hear it echoing off in the distance as it bounced along the floor several times, skimming along the ground and then over the edge down a slope, landing in a small puddle with a splash. Mars must have heard his prayer indeed to bless them with such good fortune, such noise was surely enough to draw attention at least for a time, right? Perhaps it might be mistaken for footsteps even! He offered his silent mental prayer again, hoping it was so.

With good fortune, that would be enough to lure it off and lead it to begin to pass them once more. Perhaps it would even descend into one of the tunnels. Then perhaps they could make a break. Stealth, evasion and cunning. He almost felt like he was back west again, skulking around the rocks of the Mojave...
Double post.
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius glanced over the skeleton a single time as he passed, sparing it no further looks. He had seen worse things. They trudged along and halted at a Kiosk, where the Brotherhood Pladain Khaliya stopped to access one of those terminal things. She did it swiftly and simply, and Servius could not help but nod approvingly. It was good to know somebody in the group knew how to break the security on these things, for he certainly did not.

A fortified location to rest sounded good, given the breakdown one of them had earlier and how shaken up some of them had been, rest might be good for them.

"Then let us find our way to this bank." Servius replied simply. Getting out of this fragile hazmat suit was very, very desirable. He felt too vulnerable in this damn thing, a single nick could expose him to an invisible, undefeatable enemy. He didn't like it.

Bailey began to access the terminals and ordered the others to check; she seemed like the soldier kind, especially from that song earlier. He approved. Yet only the detective yet took her up on the offer.

"Devon, take over rear guard." Servius said as he broke off and moved into the Kiosk, holding his rifle in one hand and attempting to access one of the terminals with the other.

Immediately it became apparent to him that he shouldn't have. He fumbled around with the buttons to turn the damn thing on, it took him a good 10 seconds to find it. Thankfully this one didn't require a password - but that didn't make it much better, as he hot buttons slowly and with all the clarity of a mole rat.

"What's this... 'Read Me.' Hmpf." Servius muttered to himself as he skipped over the terminals read me. What stupid raider tried to set a trap up using that? Like anyone would be stupid enough to fall for that, you may as well make a button with 'Press me' attached to it. No doubt if he pressed it, it would trigger a bomb or set off an alarm or something. Nice try but I'm just a bit too smart for you, Servius thought in blissful ignorance...

And then came a yell, a heavily accented yell- Servius couldn't help but look, and Short Fuse went bounding out from the group and up ahead, vanishing up a darkened staircase until he was completely out of sight. Nobody from the group seemed to particularly care any, in fact one of them, the detective John, offered a small bet that he'd die while Bailey suggested they leave them to their fate. Charming.

But this man, though he might be an apparent fool in the art of war, was part of the group. And so, Servius thought with a quiet sigh, it fell to him to protect this man. There were no gunshots... Yet. Perhaps that meant it was clear... Or perhaps it indicated their foe had melee weapons, or else still lay in wait. Who knew yet.

Well, they'd lost the element of surprise thanks to him bolting hp there yelling. It would be best for them to move forward quickly to help their comrade then. Heavily armoured up front so that they'd be the first into the fray being more likely to soak up damage. Then everyone else could in from behind them, using them as a screen to get out of the choke point of the stairs in case there were any hostiles who would otherwise mow them down. Then they could fan out and find cover on the surface. Yes, that sounded like a plan.

"Oh, irrumatio... We must move up and make sure he doesn't get himself killed. Those with power armour, take point and be ready for the worst, everyone else form up behi-" Servius started but then stopped himself short. He wasn't in command here, it wasn't his place to give orders. This wasn't what he was used to anymore, but the BoS Paladin had seemed to take the role of decanus. And so again, he deferred and turned his attention towards Khaliya "Mea Culpa. I await orders."
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius watched the two Paladins curiously for a moment, his eyes lingering on the male paladin. Insubordination. Between two of the same, none the less. This was perhaps a bad omen for them and this mission. Perhaps this was how the brotherhood types operated.

The male paladin wanted to kill it, he longed to slaughter it. This made Servius grim indeed; he recalled in great detail the lesson he had been told of the Lone Ranger, the many soldiers lost to the haste and fury of a foolish Decanus. And here another soldier was making such a mistake, blinded by hatred and pride and fury. The sight of the red mist and the willingness to act with insubordinance was not good for any warrior, but he was surprised to see it afflicting one from the Brotherhood. From his experience fighting the Midwestern Brotherhood, he had judged the knights of the brotherhood disciplined from their training, yet perhaps the chapter of the brotherhood these two belonged to suffered from the lack of self-discipline that afflicted the profligate troopers of the bear. Perhaps this Paladin Bertrand would benefit from such a story, and a firm scalding. As Khaliya rightly pointed out, any attempt to take the fight to the enemy here rather than lure it out was suicidal at best. Still, he seemed willing to throw himself into such a hopeless fray. At least he was brave. A fool perhaps, but a brave fool.

Whatever the case, it was not his place to speak on the matter (and indeed, they had invited no speech by switching to a private channel), and thus he kept his thoughts entirely to himself, turning his attention back to the tunnel and maintaining his vigil.

Emil was right. This being had not come after them. It was entirely possible that it held no malicious intent towards them - in which case blowing up the tunnel in an attempt to kill it was a surefire way to change that, for naught was a better way to anger something than to try, and fail, to kill it. That said, calling it an insult to life was harsh. That ghoul had survival - its mental faculties apparently intact - for a reason, whatever that reason was; whether it was strength or guile or sheer dumb luck, it had endured in this dangerous place and that was admirable. It would make a powerful warrior, doubtlessly. Whether they were it's enemy or not, who was Emil to judge its very existence insulting? Mars could claim right to such an opinion, but no living man bore such a privilege.

Once Khaliya switched back to the public channel and relayed their instructions, Servius nodded. It was time to move again and continue with their task, and he was glad of it. They has already lingered in this place too long, they needed to keep moving before something worse found them.

"Audio." He replied in acknowledgement, having realised that through the hazmat suit a nod was almost impossible to detect. He would be glad once they could remove these suits, he felt too fragile in it; and tear or damage might expose him, it was not like armour wherein one might shrug off many blows. Certainly, he didn't want to get a fight whole dressed in it.

Servius waited for the rest of the group to fall in after the paladin and took up a rear guard position at the back, keeping his eyes peeled for any sign they were being followed by their mutated host. It was time to ascend from darkness and into the streets of Necropolis, where fouler things than Ghouls might lurk, gnawing upon the carcass of this concrete jungle...
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


When the scouts returned from their mission in a rush and panic, Servius was well aware that something was wrong without a word needing to said. Whatever had been on his mind in that moment, both the girl and her outburst and the information he had just received on the USSR, was pushed from his mind as the situation changed. He shifted into combat mode, as it were; he unsung Requis and checked it as loaded, nodding to Emil and taking a step in advance towards the tunnel and peering into it for a moment as he raised his rifle and took aim into the darkness. So far, he saw nothing following them. With his steps careful and steady as to not throw of his aim should the beast emerge, he drifted off towards the side and knelt down behind some fallen debris that covered up to about his ribcage after he knelt down, providing decent cover. By the time Khaliya had finished ordering them to firing positions, Servius was ready to blast whatever might emerge from the darkness to challenge the party - or die trying.

"Let us split the tin man open. If anyone has explosives, be ready to use them. Its maile will not break easily." Servius said. It's cadence was almost as though that of an order, although he certainly had no authority to give it. Force of habit, perhaps, had stopped him phrasing it as a suggestion in the heat of the moment.

Power armour. He'd killed men (and women) wearing it before, brotherhood knights and paladins from both the midwest and on the west coast chapters, experienced fighters with the equipment and technology to back up their abilities. He had fired the shots that had brought down several of their number and had even killed one in melee combat, for which he'd received quite the praise and honours from the Centurion. They were never easy fights; he had seen their armour deflect bullets and attacks that would have ripped an unarmoured man in half as if they were nothing. They had been far, far greater threats than even the most ardent of the NCRs troopers. Still, Servius expected that by now he had at least some idea on where to shoot to bring this abomination down, he would see whether what he had learned fighting the brotherhood would also apply to whatever this was. And so he waited, weapon at the ready for the target.

And he waited.

And waited.

And... nothing. Not even a shifting shadow nor a footstep to mark the passing of something else. No sound at all save for the creaking of centuries old concrete and girder, and the occasional echo of a distant drip of dew that had perhaps fallen in with the rain and seeped down into the underground. There was nothing but the sounds that one would expect from an abandoned underground tunnel. Perhaps whatever this beast they had encountered was, it was not as hostile as they had initially believed or at the very least, it was not aggressive enough to waste its time chasing them down the tunnel. Else perhaps it had been either unable or unwilling to chase them through the tunnel. Hmph.

He stood up slowly from the ground and still, although it now seemed that nothing was following, Servius didn't drop his guard; he was well aware it could be a ruse and kept his weapon focused on the gap. It could easily be looking for an alternative path as well, perhaps it realised that this choke point would be a disaster and had instead sought another route or otherwise was now lying in wait further along the tunnel, ready to destroy them the moment they dared venture into the darkness.

Hearing Khaliya again and then Marvin, Servius spoke in response. He was rather surprised that the group had nothing more to offer than a 10mm pistol, he had expected from the look of everyone that they had more equipment than that. Apparently this was not the case and that was perhaps cause for concern given the place they were entering. Perhaps he would ask if they could take inventory later so they knew what the unit had to work with. Still, what was done was done.

"Not a rifle, but I've got a 12.7 submachine gun. Stay on overwatch and cover me, I'm moving over." He reported as he quickly and softly slipped across the room, keeping an eye on the tunnel at all times. He kept each step as light and quiet as he can, not wanting to give away anything to the creature should it have been listening for them or trying to observe them before it struck. As he reached Devon, he took note of how she seemed to be at least on the surface calmer and more composed about this than Emil was; he seemed on edge and jumpy, having fallen over once they had escaped the tunnel, and from the rapid description he was giving them it had clearly shaken him up. While her heavy breathing and the speed with which she had exited the tunnel clearly betrayed that she had seemed something, it seemed not to have shaken her as deeply as it had shaken him. He gave her a quick nod and, letting his rifle temporarily fall to his sling, he took the 12.7mm SMG and an extra magazine of ammunition from his side, handing it over to Devon - or perhaps more accurately described as practically thrusting it into her hands. Khaliya was right about this, if this power armoured thing came barging into the room, knives were not going to cut it. She needed a gun and a 12.7mm had a far better chance of piercing this beings armour than her knives did; An extra gun firing was an extra chance of someone getting lucky.

"12.7mm sub machine gun. Powerful and rapid, reliable and short ranged. Perfect for these close tunnels. Watch the kick. Take it. Debate not until later, once we are certain that everyone's safe. For now, be armed and alert." Servius said matter of factly, releasing the weapon into her possession and then taking Requis with both hands again, taking aim at the tunnel as he slipped back across the room towards some cover and kneeling down, making sure there were a couple of meters between him and any other member of the group.

Re-assuming his firing stance, the Legionary waited for instructions to fall back. Khaliya had apparently assuming something of the role of Decanus and so Servius would follow her authority; at the very least she seemed to be the one who was most aware of what was going on and certainly seemed to be very experienced. From his timing fighting the Brotherhood, he knew they were not a force to be underestimated and was certain that she was thus one of the best of the group to lead. His mind dwelt on what Emil had said about the thing they faced; it had spoke which could be either a good sign or a bad sign. Perhaps it was not as aggressive as they had first expected - or perhaps it was simply too smart to charge them and would instead stalk them and wait for an opening. The latter was a very grim proposition, to his mind. Still, if it had bullet holes and had sustained a large amount of damage to its armour to the point that its ribs were visible, its armoured shell was already compromised and thus they would have a far easier time penetrating it. On the other hand, if the helmet had fused to its skull as he had suggested - that could be either very good for them by compromising the protection it provided, or very very bad. It would be hard to tell which until he had tried to shoot it in the head...

An E surrounded by stars. That founded painfully familiar by now, as Servius had come to grow far more familiar with the symbology of the Enclave as of late. Servius grimaced a little and kept his eyes peering into the dark through the visor of his hazmat suit. So, the Enclave had sent people in here... how long ago had that been, he wondered? He pushed the question from his mind for now; he could not afford for his concentration to be compromised. Instead he went back quickly to thinking over the description he had been given and focusing on the darkness, ready to take aim at anything which might try to emerge after them...
Servius Curius Proculus Vespillo


Servius had lingered towards the rear of the group, listening to their conversations where possible while acting as a rear guard. It seemed as though removing the more overtly legion symbology had worked - or they just hadn't noticed before he'd put on the hazmat suit. Either way, it was not a moment too soon either, as some of them seemed more than hostile; He had half wanted to defend the legion against the allegations it had simply collapsed into small tribes... The truth was a tad more complex than that. Civil wars often were. Still, he managed to hold his tongue as they pressed on. Others had seperate rivalries that seemed to burn almost as deep, and there was something of a lack of confidence in their leader due to her connections to the BoS. This seemed much too fractious to work together for long, nobody seemed to trust each other...

Hazmat suits. Not exactly the most comfortable things on the planet. He exhales heavily as he geared up, thinking about their task. Descending into some pre-war building sounded like an excellent way to encounter some of those damnable machines or ghouls. He dwelt on the thought of the Pariah for a moment, puzzling something out in his head before moving on. This whole thing was sitting more uncomfortably with him as he got closer...

Rebuilding American under a single flag. He couldn't really comprehend the idea, to tell the truth. No legion, no NCR, no brotherhood. After an entire life spent in that dichotomy, the idea that it would be different just seemed too foreign. And the promise too much like Caesar's own pipe dream of taking New Vegas. Perhaps it was possible to finally bring some peace and safety across the continent... But people would resist. The NCR wasn't about to quietly submit to a New America, that much he could be certain. He'd spent his entire life bringing order, safety and civilisation across the wastes and rarely had it been embraced quickly and willingly.

***

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here

Servius laughed a little at that one. "Here be deathclaws, per chance?" He murmured darkly, checking his rifle quickly. As the scouts went ahead, Servius tried to make out each member of the group. He hated this damn hazmat suit, but from the sounds of the clicking he'd be dead already without it.

Above ground didn't sound too bad to him right now, provided it wasn't radioactive sludge. He wanted to feel the air, he wasn't exactly comfortable down here. Still, he could see the tactical value in it and was glad to see two of the others volunteer. He thought of it himself, but two seemed the best fit, else they may as well all just walk in anyway.

Mars guard them, he silently prayed

He checked his weapons quickly, so that if they were caught out by something he'd be ready for the fight. All seemed loaded and good to go, which eased him slightly but didn't vanquish the concern. There was no life here, at all. Not even a creature. Everything was way too quiet-

Spoke too soon, evidently!

A loud shout drew his attention go the side and he brought his rifle up, ready to fire at whatever the threat was- yet he couldn't see anyone or anything. He cautiously lower it slightly and advanced a few paces, shining his flashlight over. Although he couldn't make out any features, the voice and the latin led him to the conclusion that if was that former slave girl... Yet he couldn't see any threats to her.

"Is everything okay over there?" Servius called across, his hands tightly wrapped around his gun. Maybe something had just startled her, a rad roach or rat or something - though why shout in Latin, that didn't make sense. Deep inside, he wanted it to be a creature of some kind; even in the Mojave, there was life around. Here there was just... Death.

But she was just huddled up as though a primal animal cowering before a monster, as a slave before a wrathful legionary or as a wastelander before a deathclaw. He remained motionless for a few moments, unsure on what ezactly to do - and then she unfurled and appeared to be quietly mumbling to herself.

As she stood up and headed back over to the formation, Servius tracked her with his gaze. He dared to take another step in advance so he was some 10 feet from where she had been slumped , and leant to the side to peer around... No, there wasn't anything there at all. Just dust.

With a light grunt, Servius turned his back on the corner and headed back over to the group. He couldn't see her face, but from the way she was avoiding looking towards anyone he guessed she was a bit shaken up still. He opened his mouth to speak but closed it again, thinking better of pressing her on the matter; that would only make it worse, and the group needed to be able to rely on her.

Servius could see some of the others looking at her, including the grizzled detective and the younger medic (at least, he thought that was them. It was difficult to tell with the suits on) Probably the last thing she wanted right now. He grimaced beneath the visor of his hazmat suit, he knew that feeling and it wasn't pretty for ones mental state or morale.

Maybe he could help ensure her a reprieve by stimulating a different conversation. He jumped straight into asking about the consulate, even though he wasn't particularly knowledgeable on the matter. The USSR, were they the Chinese or the Russians? Why was old world politics so damn obscure.

"So, what do you all think we'll find in this consulate? USSR - those were one of America's rivals, weren't they? I don't think they would leave any vital data or blueprints of their own in enemy territory so what do you think they had hiding down there that the Pariah wants? They got some documents through espionage maybe? Stolen prototypes?" He finished, looking around the group quizzically. He'd rarely have asked questions like this - it wasn't in the legions nature to dwell on what they were ordered to do, only to do it. Obviously whatever it was would be important, along with everything else in this city; nobody in their right mind would have assembled such a diverse group if not, it was doubtlessly a large investment to have tracked everyone down and brought them together here.
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