Aquila:Rhine River Patrol - A Plan

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This article is from the Nova Roma publication "Aquila".
Rhine River Patrol - A Plan
Rhine River Patrol Story Index.

They brought her in the early morning on a litter with a junior surgeoan in attendance. The Optio was just awake, and after greeting them at the entrance to the Navarch's Office, he directed the small cavalcade to a cleared storeroom. The Optio had found a small pallet, and an old military cloak hanging in the storeroom. A good shaking had restored it to usefulness if not to it's original splendor. The long tear along the bottom of the garment from a sword thrust gone astray, would not effect it's usefulness in this instance. Two wooden blocks for litter supports lay positioned on the floor ro receive the litter, and one of the missing floor bricks had been replaced by a temporary wooden substitute. However, the Optio considered that this room would do nicely for now. This woman was something new in this place, and it was obvious that the Commander was not comfortable with the whole situation.

The litter bearers laid the litter on the two heavy blocks, very gently at the admonition of the Jr. Surgeon, and then stood back against the wall. The surgeon looked closely at the sleeping woman checking the position of the splinted arm. Her black Eye and split lip both glistened with a coating of some healing salve.

The young man held a scroll in his hand and he placed it on the optio's desk. Turning to the Optio he said crisply," Here are the instructions from Senior Surgeon Flavius Dinius. Be sure they are followed to the letter!!"

The Optio responded quietly but with a wry smile, and no little sarcasm, "the instructions will be followed to the letter my friend, but there is little need to be officious here. You and I are the same rank!"

The Jr. Surgeon flushed and turned away, whie the two litter-bearers grinned at each other. The Optio turned to look at the sleeping woman. she was probably under the influence of drugs so they could set that broken arm, and would not awaken for some time.

"Surgeon Dinius does not want the woman to be disturbed in her sleep so we will leave the litter here with you." he said in a less abrasive tone. "We would appreciate the litter returned as soon as possible as we are short three litters at the hospital." The Jr. Surgeon attempted to regain some of his pride in voicing the need for he litter.

"Just as soon as she awakens, my friend." the Optio said quietly.

The jr. surgeon saluted and turned toward the entrance, followed by the litter-bearers. The Optio went out behind them shaking his head at the young man's officious and grating manner. He would have to talk with the other jr. surgeons and ask them to speak to this new man. His manner could cause problems later on. However, at the moment the Optio's concern was his Commander and the woman in that order. The Optio, Julius Paulinus, was an old hand at working with different commanders, and he was an excellent administrtive assistant. He liked the rank of Optio simply because he had the seniority to do pretty much what he liked to do, and was junior enough not to have to make the serious decisions often demanded of senior Legion and senior naval officers.

Julius went back into the storeroom and laid the old mlitary cloak gently over the woman. Her arm was bandaged, splinted, and set in a sling tied down just below her breasts. Her face was quite pretty, or would be when the bruises and cuts finally healed. She stirred as Julius gently laid the cloak over her, and she murmured a small groan of pain. Julius stepped back from the litter and went into his office drawing the newly installed curtain behind him. Julius called to one of the libarii working in the large room across the hallway in the outer administrative area, and asked him to get a small table and a pitcher of water and a cup to put by the bedside. The woman would be thirsty when she awoke.

When Julius regained his bench, he saw that the Comander was at his table with a cup of warm wine in his hand. Julius picked up the scroll and laid it on a corner of the Commander's table. He saluted the Commander and said," Here are the Surgeon's instruction's for the immediate care of the woman. She is in the storeroom and still asleep. I think that it wil be some time before she wakes up, and I have sent someone for a table and water, for her."

"That's fine -- Thank You," said Marcus running his free hand through his short cropped hair. He took a sip of the wine, and considerered his aching body. He was stiff from yesterday and needed a brisk walk to clear the cobwebs out of his mind. Marcus looked up at the Optio still standing by his desk and said," I will be in the baths for an hour or so. When your wife brings the goods that I have requested just put them here on the table. I suppose the woman will sleep most of the day. That drug is pretty effective."

Julius nodded his agreement." I'll be here in the office, watching so she won't wake up alone."

"Good man," said Marcus as he heaved himself off his bench and pinned his cloak around him. "I won't be long, he said, "and then we'll have to decide what further arrangements to make."

Julus thought that it was pretty obvious that the Commander was concerned about his new slave, much more so than was usual. However, nothing seemed usual about this officer. Maybe that's why I ike this duty, he thought, He smiled to himself and sat down at his bench after Marcus had left. He gave over to his thoughts, and after some time he brightened at an idea and drawing a blank wax table tohim he scrbbled a message there with a brass stylus and sealed the pad. He called to one of the librarii outside and gave him the sealed message when he appeared in the doorway. "Take this message to Old Golda in the vicus," he said, and wait for an answer. The librarii nodded his assent and left. Julius thought, if anyone can help the Commander, Gold could, and she owed Julius a favor or two. He smiled to himself, as the libraii hurried from the buiding toward the vicus.

Marcus got to the baths after a brisk walk which he forced himself to undertake. He entered the changing room and hurriedly removed his clothes. He went straight through the tepiarium (warm room),and into the Caldarium (hot room) and immediatly felt the room's heat on his dry skin. The steam was rising from the hot plunge as he stepped into the water. He slowly entered the hot water pool and submerged himself in the depths. Almost immediately he began to feel better. He lay quietly in the pool hs eyes just above the water and let the aches and pains which had bothered him earlier drain out of his system. The pool was deserted except for himself at this late hour of the morning, and he was glad of it. He had some things to think over and he really did not want the distraction of company or small talk to disturb his thoughts.

The problem of the Legion Cohort being given to him early and the resultant billeting of the troops in the vicus was not an insurmountable problem in and of itself. However, it was just another concern added to an already full schedule. He would have to sit down with the centurion and work out the locations of the billeting and food rations. There would be complaints from the civilians in the vicus who were selected to care for the men in their homes. together with schedules for training. He thought that he could certainly trust the centurion to the training of his cohort, he hoped. The man looked competant enough but his behavior and the legate's comment to and about him was disturbing. Respect to a senior officer was, of course, expected in the legions but the centurion's behavior was more like a new legionary on parade than an experienced Cohort Commander. Marcus wondered if that was caused by the centurion or the legate. It was something else to look into. The centurion had been obviously very eager to be transferred out of the legion and placed under his command.

Perhaps if he transferred----------. As the stiffness subsided from his muscles a plan slowly formed in his mind element by element. He could certainly trust the centurion to take care of the victualing and housing of the marine cohort once a plan had been devsed. He would speak with his four captains about training the crews that were here, and their plans for training as the new seamen arrived. That will get them started and the marines stationed in the shipyard as the centurion had suggested, would likely speed things up just a bit. It still rankled though, that all these arrangements had been made without his knowledge or his input. It was clear that he would have to tread carefully here until he unraveled the political situation.

Now this woman!!!! What was he to do with her? He had never owned a slave before, and he didn't want one now. However, he had one, and to add to the frustration of the situation she was injureed seriously. To give her freedom now would simply be cruel punishment until she was healed. Not only that but it would mark him as a strange ecentric. Did she have any skills? Was she rebellious as the shop-keeper had indicated? He doubted it consdering the shopkeeper's behavior, but he simply did not know. She would definately need some assistance until her arm could be used again, and he shuddered at the thought of the possibility of the whip cuts on her back growing worse instead of better. He had seen that happen and men die when whip cuts grew worse and there was no-one to tend them properly. He was sure that the Senior Surgeon had considered that. He also remembered the scroll of instructions delivered by Optio Julius. Perhaps some answers were in there. It would seem that this command was to have some very interesting aspects.

Respectfully submitted,

M. Minucius Audens

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