For Rome

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Flash Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic
The price of glory for a Roman soldier during the Germanic Wars.

Submitted: May 23, 2014

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Submitted: May 23, 2014

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The scouts were wrong.

This is no small uprising.

A surging hoard of naked, longhaired spearmen poured over the rocky cliffs and spread out in a thunderous wave.

In his quick, seasoned calculations Gaius numbered the force of the Germanic tribesmen at twenty thousand.

This is a slaughter. The imagined years of his remaining life compressed into the here, and the finality of the now.

“Testudo!”

Together, as one, the legionnaires raised their shields as the barbarians stampeded into javelin range and unleashed a barrage of polearms, raining skewers from above.

Beneath their protective canopy a youth named Polimous, who in the evening shared warm baths and sometimes poured wine, turned his wide-eyed gaze to Gaius. “Have you ever seen-“

“No. Today, dying will be easy.” Gaius drew his gladius and motioned for the boy to do the same.

Urine flowed down Polimous’s thigh, puddling the ground between his feet. “I’ve never killed a man before. I didn’t want to go to war. My father was promised I’d man a wall.”

"These aren’t men, they’re heathens, but they’ll bleed just the same. When formation breaks keep your head down. When the limbs fall kick them aside, give your feet room to pivot. You can’t fight if you can’t move.“

The wave crashed into the wall of Roman red, trampling the front line, plowing through rows.

A soldier reaps glory on the battlefield. For himself. Gaius dug his heels into the soil, squared his shoulders, and lowered his head. For Rom-.


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