Asterix and the Centurion

Chapter 3- On the March ('True Rome')

In Iberia, Claudius Devious returned to camp, "Ave O Brutus, that minx Lea Regina won't be a bother to us anymore, all roads are clear to Rome," Centurion Claudius said proudly and sinisterly to Brutus in his tent as the Son of Caesar was busying eating his dinner, a big feast made for a man of high status like himself.

"Excellent," Brutus replied tearing off a piece of bread and sipping at his goblet of wine, "but there's still a minor problem, Regina's troops refuse to march under my command, they disbanded and left late last night," Brutus then saw the brighter side of the plan, "it is no matter, we still have 12,000 to march…on Rome,"

"My spies have informed me that those rogue legionaries are heading toward Armorica, toward the Fortified Camp of Aquarium, the numbers say around 2500 legionaries with 1,000 cavalry and 1,000 archers, what do you suggest, O Brutus?" Claudius asked his superior officer, Brutus smiled a wily smile to his question.

"It does not matter, we still have the advantage in numbers, those rogues know if they are spotted by our legions they face…decimation," Brutus explained clinching a fist at his side, "what I want is…Lea Regina," he said with a sinister smile, thinking of ways he could use the female centurion to his own sick desires.

On threat of decimation if any of them were caught by Brutus's soldiers, Lea Regina's 2,500 former legionaries plus 1,000 archers and 1,000 cavalry marched toward Armorica to their officer, Meanwhile, Regina rode off to the Village on her stallion. She was met by the guard with a winged helmet and armed with a spear and shield,

"What do you want, Roman?" He snarled,

Lea's horse reared up its front legs, "Whoa…easy boy, easy…," She said, calming him down by patting him on the shoulder, "I wish to speak with your chief, my business is my own," The guard left his post and went to the chief. Chief Vitalstatistix came out to meet the officer atop his shield being carried by his shield-bearers.

Lea showed no fear in the face of the warrior. Her eyes were calm as she dismounted her horse and took off her helmet, "O Chief, I come to you at a time of great urgency and I seek your counsel," She came into the village. Everyone in the village glared at her. It was bad enough a Roman was being allowed to enter the village.

In the village chief's hut, Asterix, Obelix and Getafix were also summoned by the chief just in case, "Now then…what business do you have with me, Roman?" He asked wanting to get straight to the point. Dogmatix was growling at Lea while being held in Obelix's arms. In the back of the Centurion's mind, Dogmatix seemed rather cute.

"This message came from my legions in Iberia, I feel it concerns you," She explained,

"So…Brutus seeks to overthrow Caesar by force? But I don't see how this would effect my village," Vitalstatistix replied, the young centurion sighed. She knew she might be asking too much from the village chief considering how many times the Romans have tried and failed to take the little village by various means.

"Brutus is not a man to be trusted," Lea stated, placing a hand on the pommel of her gladius, "if he comes to power, he's going to put all this on me for inciting rebellion and I will be thrown to the lions," she explained to the chief, recalling a certain time when the little Gaulish village was nearly burned to the ground.

"I speak of that incident with Caesar's child, what happened to your village was just a sample of his wrath," Lea explained clinching a fist, for she had admiration for the bravery of the little village's warriors, "if Brutus becomes emperor, he will use his newly-found power to make war on all the conquered lands,"

"But these are your people's issues, Roman, we should not stick our noses into your people's business," Vitalstatistix explained to the young officer, "we will not march alongside you, Roman, that is final," the centurion looked disappointed, but somewhat not surprised. But Lea Regina decided to put one last roll of the knucklebones.

"If you won't fight for us, fight for your lands, time and time again, your brave warriors have fought off Caesar's Legions," Lea praised, "to that I ask, would you rather fight for a wolf, or a snake?" She added, crossing her arms and waiting for an answer from the chief. She knew this would be difficult as she was a Roman talking to Gauls.

"Lea has a point," Getafix said, putting his finger up to give himself permission to speak, "at the least you can escape from the jaws of a wolf…a serpent will squeeze the life out of its prey until there is nothing left," Lea nodded to the old druid, either way the three fortified camps would still stand outside the village walls.

"If Brutus claims the title of emperor he will stop at nothing to see to it that your village is destroyed and none of you will be spared," Lea warned, "forgive me, O Chief, I believe I am wasting my breath and my time here," Lea Regina was about to exit the village. She untied her horse from the post, but she got a surprise,

"Wait!" said Asterix stopping her, "If we help you defend Rome from Brutus, what do we get in return for our services?" Asterix asked the female centurion. Lea lightly smiled at the Gaulish warrior, but she had brilliant idea in her head, knowing she had to figure out something that benefited both her camp and the village.

Of all the warrior she faced the other day, Asterix was the bravest, "If you help us, I will open trade between your village and the men in my camp, I'll see to it that my men treat you fairly as equals," Lea Regina said getting back on her horse, "do we have terms?" She asked, a normal Roman would not even think about such terms,

But Lea Regina was no ordinary Roman officer in the army. The centurion put back on her helmet and fastened the cheek pieces, "It's a deal!" Asterix said brightly shaking her hand. Lea Regina galloped back with haste to Aquarium where her men waited. Decurion Quintus Terminus received news from Lea's Iberian legionaries.

Back in Iberia near the border with Gaul, Brutus Son of Caesar and Centurion Claudius Devious were on the march, "O Brutus, my spy in Gaul has informed me that Lea Regina has made allies with a little Gaulish village," He explained, it seemed nothing was safe from the eyes and ears of Brutus's spies, but it did not matter.

"Heh, heh, heh, so she's adding treason to her list of crimes?" Brutus joked mounted on his white stallion riding alongside Claudius Devious, "maybe throwing her to the lions is too light a punishment, I'll put her back in the chains where she belongs, that will show her not to mess with the likes of me," Brutus stated.

Meanwhile in Gaul, even with the terms made by Regina and Asterix there was still no word yet from the chief, "O Centurion Lea Regina, I have received word that your Iberian Legions are heading to Aquarium to offer assistance in battle," Quintus Terminus said saluting his superior officer, "what do you suggest, O centurion?"

"Brutus is smart," Lea explained, "he's most likely going to take Rome by sea, it will take him a week to get his men prepared, my Iberian troops will have the more difficult route through the mountains," it was a risk, but her men had survived a Gaulish attack, and they knew that the safety of Rome hung in the balance.

"Permission to speak?" Quintus asked, Lea nodded lightly giving him the go-ahead, "why don't we make a rendezvous point here in Helvetia? Brutus may have the easier route but we have the shorter one," it was a shorter route, but a more dangerous route through the mountain trails and snow-covered peaks.

"I like the way you think, Quintus Terminus," Lea complimented with a light smile, scratching a written papyrus message and strapping it to the ankle of a peregrine falcon and sending off in to the air, "by Mercury, I hope that message get to them in time," and it did just as the Iberian troops were heading to the border with Gaul.

"By Saturn, we are in a race after all," Quintus explained putting on his helmet and fastening the cheek protectors, "if we use out time wisely, we will beat them to the walls of two days ahead of them," he informed her, it would give her troops times to set up defenses, and hopefully move the city's people to safety

"We mustn't be late then," Regina said exiting her tent putting on her helmet with Quintus Terminus behind her, "MOVE OUT!" she ordered and the Romans of Aquarium were on the march to defend Rome. A second message was sent to the guard at the gates of the city by mounted messenger, but there was no reply.

Back in the little Gaulish Village, "Lea Regina's troops are on the move O Chief," Asterix informed the Chief. The men of the village were out of the gates to march alongside their newly formed allies from Rome. Lea began to wonder if the messenger even made it to Rome with the threat of Brutus's legions on the move.

"Then we must move it too," Chief Vitalstatistix said as the village women made their farewells and good-byes to the men. It was going to be a long trip for both the men of the village and the Romans. Lea sighed in relief to know that she was not alone in this fight for good and all for both her legionaries and the Gaulish Village.

To most in the empire, this was unheard of, but the future of both cities hanged in the balance. To some, the army looked like slaves were being marched to Rome. Asterix and Obelix walked alongside her. Vitalstatistix was at the head of the Gauls with Getafix was idling along in an ox cart, "So tell me about yourself, Lea," Asterix requested.

"There isn't much to say, Asterix," Lea said looking at him and at the road ahead, "I was trained as a Gladiatrix, since I was a child I was forged in the sands of the arena, I voluntarily asked my father to have me trained, my skills were so great that I became Rome's only undefeated champion, thus Caesar asked me to use my skills in the army, and I enlisted,"

"It must have been hard for you, seeing that you are a woman and all," Asterix said intrigued by Lea's story. It is true; Lea had to go through a lot of hardships as she was Rome's only female soldier. Lea Regina proved one does not always need to be a man in order to have the right to lead soldiers into battle.

"Everyone, both man and woman, can hold their own in a fight, Asterix, you would know Asterix, your countrymen have been Caesar a headache for some time now," Asterix chuckled at Lea's comment, "if a man can look at another despite their differences, and hold out his hand to him instead of a sword, that, my friend, is 'True Rome',"

"These Romans are crazy," Obelix commented tapping the side of his helmet, and Obelix was right. In the span of one day, the Romans with their Gaulish allies marched one hundred miles in a single day. Lea knew her men and the Gauls were tired and hungry, especially Obelix,so she decided they did enough for one day.

"Halt, we shall rest here tonight," She commanded, Obelix went on the hunt for wild boar while the others rested and fortified for the night. The army covered a lot of ground. The combined army was now near the border of Germania and Gaul, but there were many challenges ahead. One was the looming peaks of the Alps.

Her men were living up to the reputation of any soldier that happened to serve under Lea Regina in the army. She trained so they would be able to outdrill and outperform any legion in the entire Roman army. "Here, have some boar, Lea, you need your strength," Obelix said, offering Lea a leg of boar. Lea accepted his offer,

"I am terribly sorry for trying to thump you yesterday," Obelix apologized,

"There is no need to apologize, Obelix," Lea replied sharpening her formidable sword with a whetstone, "I am an experienced soldier, I am used to fighting men your size on the battlefield and in the arena," Chief Vitalstatistix and Asterix gather with Centurion Regina and Decurion Terminus to discuss their plan-of-action,

"Hmm…there are still the mountains to pass through, this presents a problem, I suggest we stay on the trail, Lea," said Asterix, "we need our men to conserve their strength for the fight, which goes for both your legionaries and our men," Lea Regina scratched her chin in thought, as Asterix had made a valid point

"I must stand by Asterix on this one, O Centurion," said Quintus Terminus outlining the trail, "if we keep following the trail, we can meet up with the Iberian Legionaries in Helvetia and make it to Rome in three days…maybe four," he informed the best warriors of the village, and the female centurion present at the map of the area.

"That should give us enough time to build up our defenses, with that in mind, I feel we can all rest well…we leave at dawn," Lea said adjourning the meeting. The next morning, the men were on the march, and were greeted by the sight of legionaries in blue tunics marching toward the. Lea know who they were, it was her Iberian troops.

By the afternoon of the second day, the army of Romans and Gauls made it to the border of Helvetia where her Iberian Occupational Legionaries were waiting at their camp, "As I have said, I am one of my word," they got the message. and gave the combined army of Romans and Gauls a fighting chance again Brutus's men.

Her Iberian legionaries looked different from those who served in Gaul. Her Iberian legionaries wore brass armor and helmets. They also wore white pants and blue tunics instead of green tunics and red pants. They also carried the same standard 'scutum' shield but Iberian troops had lightning bolts coming out from the boss.

The rumble of hooves signaled the arrival of her cavalry. Her loyalist cavalry wore scale armor like Quintus Terminus and carried Praetorian cavalry shields. They used a lance called a 'Contus' and a cavalry sword at their sides called a 'Spatha'. These were skilled horsemen, and considered the best Roman cavalry in the whole of the empire.

Her legionaries from Iberia were all happy to be reunited with their commanding officer that they were the most loyal to. Even though Brutus vastly outnumbered Lea Regina's troops and Chief Vitalstatistix's warriors, the men remained confident that they could defend the city with the help of proper strategy.

Lea was happy to see her regulars from Iberia. Even with them, they were still outnumbered, but the Gauls got a surprise."So," said a voice interrupting the merriment, "we meet again, Armoricans," said a well-rounded man with blond hair and a matching mustache wearing light purple trousers and a majestic winged helmet.