Chapter I

Many years later in Northern Brittania, in a fort along Hadrian's Wall, the young man had grown into a fine officer in charge of a century of his own. He had through some scientific processes over the years had found a new substance that he knew would revolutionize warfare forever. In the process, he developed weapons that used this substance as a propellant. In that time, with help from nearby blacksmiths and woodworkers, he had produced a large number of them enough to arm an entire legion. He sat in his quarters finishing assembling the most recent addition to the armory, it was a fine weapon, from end to end it was fifty-nine inches long. The stock was made of stained ash with a bronze butt plate. It had a forty-eight inch barrel held down by three iron bands and used a flintlock ignition system. He had a different weapon with a much sleeker stock leaned against the table he sat at which was forty inches long, had an octagonal barrel and had spiral grooves cut into the bore and used the same ignition system.

The centurion was in his mid twenties, had a narrow chin with short, black hair and a moustache and beard. He was wearing a red tunic that came down to his knees and trousers with brown shoes. This was Centurion Mamericus Accius Caecus, also in his quarters were three other individuals whose origins were a mystery, the Legionnaires considered to be devine creation whereas the Celts beyond the wall regarded him as something demonic. The Optio Centurae, Quintus Titurius Quietus a unique individual, his body was mostly human, but his face was partly canine with a four inch muzzle with a big, black nose and big, drooping jowels, his body was covered with short, brown hairs and a head of short, black hair. The second was Centurion Laelius Milo, an average size man with short blond hair and a moustache and goatee. Unlike the rest of the men, he had what some might consider a gift, while others, a curse, he had lycanthropy. The third was Decanus Octavius Sabinus who everyone referred to as "Anubis" due to his resemblance to the Egyptian god of the same name. Quintus approached the table, "Is that weapon completed sir?" "Yes, very much so Quintus," said Centurion Caecus as he set the weapon down; "with this, we now have enough to arm the entire legion. Not to mention the artillery we have sitting in storage. You three can take your pick of any of the weapons in the armory." Centurion Caecus stood up and picked up the rifle leaning against the table. Quintus, and Milo each picked out a rifle and Anubis picked up the musket that had just been completed. After a moment, a knock came at the door, Anubis set the musket back on the table and left to answer the door, he came back a few seconds later with a middle aged man, "General Germanicus Gramatticus to see you sir." Centurion Caecus stood and faced his commander, "General sir," he politely said with a bow; "what brings you here to my quarters?" with a stern expression on his face he replied, "I came here to tell you that your century will have the watch on the wall tonight." Then he noticed the musket on the table, "Centurion," said he; "what in the name of Mars is that?" Centurion Caecus turned and picked up the musket, "This is a weapon I have been developing for some time, uses a completely new substance to propel a lead projectile." He said handing the musket to General Gramatticus who looked over it with some curiosity, he asked "How many of these do you have here?" Centurion Caecus paused a second while he counted them in his head, "I would say enough to arm all the enlisted men in the legion, there are variations for the auxiliaries, officers. I also have artillery pieces that work on the same propellant." "Centurion, that's excellent," General Gramatticus said with a slight grin; "I want you to issue out these weapons to the men and instruct them in their use." With a nod, Centurion Caecus said, " Yes, sir it will be done. I will need to set up a different practice range outside the fort walls with a berm constructed to stop the projectiles from killing any bystanders because they can still be deadly at a mile." "I will have the engineers set up a practice range." Gramatticus said handing the musket back to Centurion Caecus; "How many units do you want to train at a time?" Centurion Caecus handed the musket to Anubis who rested the butt by his right foot, he paused for a minute while he contemplated the answer, he then said, "I would be comfortable training one cohort at a time. First, I will run them through new formations and a new manual of arms before I move them on to actual loading and firing." "I will have some of my staff help pass out these weapons first thing tomorrow morning. In the mean time, I want you up on the wall keeping an eye out for the barbarians beyond." Gramatticus said starting to leave. "Yes sir, thank you sir." Caecus said as General Gramatticus turned and exited. After a pause, the four picked up their rifles and muskets and cartridge boxes and exited the room.

The next day, the four stood on the parade grounds with the cohort containing their century in just their red tunics and trousers with a cartridge box and a belt. The enlisted men had muskets and the officers had rifles, on their belts, the enlisted men had a thirteen foot long triangular blade that was made to fit over the barrels of the muskets for close combat and the officers had their swords. Centurion Caecus with his rifle in hand and his subordinates with their units faced his men. "Men," he began; "the first thing we must do is re-organize this cohort's battleline. Cohort, into two ranks – March!" he paused while the soldiers formed two ranks, "The next important thing will be the manual of arms," he continued while demonstrating; "The first is what we will always use on the parade grounds or at formation, will be the simplest of all the others. All one has to do is keep your weapon butt on the ground and barrel against your right shoulder, the order for this is 'Order – Arms.' While we are in a marching formation down a road or marching into battle in our battle line, the easiest way to carry your weapon is to rest the wood against your left shoulder and cupping the butt in your hand, arm at a sixty degree angle like so. The command will be 'Shoulder arms!' Cohort, Shoulder – Arms!" He paused while his men did so, "When an officer enters the area, the command will be 'Present – arms' at this point, your weapons should already be at the shoulder, you reach around with your right hand and grip the stock behind the lock, place your left hand between the first and second bands, bring the weapon in front of you with the striker at your belt buckle and the second band at your eye level. This is a basic salute. Let us run through the drills a few times before we move on." Centurion Caecus ran the men through the manual of arms sixteen times before they got it, then he taught them Arms Port, support arms where you rest the hammer on your shoulder, trigger guard facing out, secure arms where you hold the rifle or musket barrel down and lock tucked under the arm and the thumb on the ramrod and trail arms. Next he ran them through new marching drills, the new battle line, column of twos, column of fours, from a column into the battleline, right wheel, left wheel and so on. A few days passed while the cohort was put through its paces marching, practicing the manual of arms, and then doing them again until it was certain the men had learned it to the letter.

Dawn arrived to see the cohort assembled with their rifles and muskets in hand at the new practice range which was one hundred fifty yards long, but for the moment the soldiers were seventy yards away, with hundreds of straw dummies in a standard battle formation in front of the berm. Behind the men was a platform where officers could watch in relative safety. General Gramatticus was the man currently observing from said platform. Among the men stood the officers and NCOs including Opteo Centurae Quietus, Centurion Milo and Anubis each with their weapons at their sides. Centurion Caecus stood up front with his rifle clutched firmly in his hands, he held it above his head for all to see, "Men," he began; "today I start to teach you how to use these weapons in battle. You notice the leather pouch on your side, they contain the ammunition we will be using, it consists of a propellant in precisely measured amounts and a lead ball big enough to fit in the weapon all contained in a thin paper tube. The proper way to load it on the battlefield is as follows:" Centurion Caecus drew a paper cartridge from his cartridge pouch and demonstrated while he talked; "We will be doing this by the numbers. Number one: Pull the striker back until it clicks once. Two: Withdraw a tube from the pouch. Three: Bite the paper near the top and tear it open. Four: Pour a small amount into the pan. Five: Shut the cover. Six: pour the remainder of the powder down the barrel. Seven: With the ball still in the paper, place it in the barrel. Eight: Draw the ramrod. Nine: Ram the ball and paper all the way down until it stops. Ten: Return the ramrod to its housing. Eleven: Bring your weapon to the shoulder. Now you're ready to loose your rounds. The commands will come in threes, they will be: 'Ready' at which point you will grip the stock with your right hand, place your left hand on the first band, and bring it up with the lock facing out even with your eye. At the same time you will pull the striker back until it clicks a second time. The next command will be 'Level' at which time you will level your weapon in the direction of the enemy with your finger resting on the trigger. Those in the front rank will form a 'T' with their feet and those in the back will step slightly to the right keep in the ear of the man in front of you between the first and second bands The final command will be 'Loose'. When you hear it on the 'L', you will squeeze the trigger sending the ball down range." With that Centurion Caecus aimed at a dummy and fired the rifle, the noise startling the men who had never heard such a thing before. He then moved off to the side of the range. "There are four ways to use these in battle, three involve volleys, they are by rank, by century, by cohort and independently. Most of the time, we will loose volleys by rank or by century so as to keep up a slow, and steady rate of fire. When the volley by century order is given, your centurion will have control over your firing." He paused before yelling; "Cohort, load!" He stood off to the side counting the steps out loud in cadence until every man had loaded their rifles and muskets, Centurion Caecus drew his sword and held it up in the air, and yelled out, "VOLLEY BY COHORT! READY!" he paused as the men brought their weapons to the ready; "LEVEL!" the men leveled their weapons in the direction of the dummies, jerking hi; "LOOSE!" the cohort let loose a deafening volley knocking two hundred off their stands. While the soldiers reloaded, slaves ran out and set the targets back up. Centurion Caecus ran the men through the "volley by cohort" routine several times before he decided to go through "volley by rank" he continued, "Next is 'volley by rank' in which each rank takes turns loading and loosing their projectiles." He then raised his voice "FRONT RANK, READY!" he paused while the men in the front rank comes to the ready; "LEVEL!" the men in the front rank leveled their weapons; "LOOSE!" the front rank fired a volley before Centurion Caecus gave the order to reload; "REAR RANK READY!" he paused while the men in the rear rank came to the ready; "LEVEL!" the rear rank leveled their weapons; "LOOSE!" the second rank unleashes a volley into the targets. The cohort was run through the routine for three minutes before they were put through "Volley by century" which was done by odd numbered centuries, then the even numbered ones. After a few minutes of volleys, they switched to independent fire for a minute before the cease fire was called. "Very good men! Very good!" Centurion Caecus shouted putting his sword back in its scabbard; "Now that that's done, you might notice the triangular blades on your hip. It will essentially turn your weapons into spears for close quarters combat against infantry or cavalry. Like any spear or pike you can thrust the blade into your opponent, you can also smash the butt into his head. When we go into battle, we will go in with these spikes attached, the command will be 'Attach – spikes.' It will come in a cadence of motions, at 'attach', holding your weapon in your left hand, reach across with your right hand and grip the socket, at 'spikes' draw the spike from it's scabbard and slide it over the end of the barrel making sure the forward sight lines up with the slot on the socket and the blade is on the right side." He paused for a second, then yelled, "ATTACH – SPIKES!" this was followed by the sounds of bayonets being drawn from their scabbard and fixed them to muskets. "When we are in battle these spikes will be crucial as we will probably only get a few shots off before an attacking force makes contact with our battleline. When we are ready to push the enemy off the field the command will be 'Spikes forward' in which those in the front rank will point their spikes towards the enemy force while those in the back will go to arms port. At first, we will advance slowly in our lines and then charge." Centurion Caecus walked up onto the platform next to General Gramatticus and shouted, "COHORT, SPIKES – FORWARD!" he waited until the men were ready, "ADVANCE!" the cohort started slowly forward, after several seconds he yelled, "CHARGE!" the soldiers still in their lines surged forward and after half a minute they made contact with the dummies stabbing and clubbing them. Centurion Caecus turned to the General, "What do you think sir?" he asked leaning his rifle against the railing, "Centurion," General Gramatticus replied; "I think you have forever changed the face of war." "But for better or for worse is the question sir." Caecus said to which the General replied, "Indeed."