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Unit Overview: 66TH LEGION
SEARCH COMPLETE: APRIL 17, 2407
Legio LXVI Pugnus Mortis
66th Legion, "Death's Fist"
This organization began in Standard Year 9 as the 66th Einherjar Regiment, a unit assembled to provide a home for the Roman soldiers who were beginning to arrive in Valhalla in large numbers thanks to the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. The legionaries, understandably startled to find that the afterlife wasn't much like what their religious training in life had led them to expect, found considerable comfort in the re-establishment of military protocols and thus, surrounded by familiar routine, made the transition without incident.
Over the remaining centuries of the Roman Empire's lifetime, the 66th Einherjar (which the legionaries themselves had dubbed Legio LXVI almost immediately) took in more Roman casualties, integrating them all into a single unit. Not all Roman soldiers who found themselves in Valhalla joined the legion, but most did, and the Roman style of the legion also attracted later recruits who lived after the Imperial period but admired the historical Roman army. Eventually their numbers grew to the point where a second Einherjar legion, officially the 102nd but known as Legio CII Nordicus to its members, had to be founded to accommodate them all.
During the 2390 Ragnarok (see Twilight Incident), the Einherjar army's two Roman legions fought with distinction. The 66th's part of the fight was especially dramatic, as it involved a head-on confrontation on the Golden City's south flank with the Nifl forces' own Roman Regiment. This force of Roman soldiers who had disgraced themselves (by perishing in cowardly ways or in the service of evil) was led by the shade of 66th Legatus Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa's son-in-law, Publius Quinctilius Varus, a suicide. As the 66th contained more than a few men who died under Varus's command in the Teutoburg, the resulting battle was one of the fiercest clashes fought that day.
Meanwhile, the 102nd performed a similar defensive action against a Jotun force in the north, which was marked by less personal drama but comparable measures of heroism. Unfortunately, though the two legions were equally successful, they did not fare equally well. The 66th suffered approximately 30 percent casualties, while the 102nd was nearly wiped out; only about a hundred men of the First Cohort survived the battle.
After the Ragnarok, the 66th absorbed the 102nd's few survivors. Recognizing that these men had trained and fought together for centuries, Agrippa constituted them into a special action force - a sort of "roaming century" - within the 66th's structure rather than break them up and integrate them into his legion's standing cohorts. The resulting special force is still technically known as Legio CII, making the 66th a gemina or "twinned" legion. For their boldness and skill in the service of Asgard, all members of the legion were accorded the Right of Return, by which members of Valhalla's armies who have particularly distinguished themselves may choose to return to mortal life without undergoing reincarnation.
To date, the members of Legio LXVI have not chosen to exercise this option, but military observers in Valhalla have noticed an interesting change in the legion's training patterns. Rather than re-enact the battles they fought in life or train for the possibility of a second confrontation with the forces of Niflheim (the two customary occupations of an Einherjar unit), the 66th has of late been training for situations a military or paramilitary unit might face in the modern day - including scenarios right out of the Royal Salusian Ministry of Public Security's counterterrorism handbook. When asked about the change, Legatus Agrippa has said only, "It always pays to keep one's tactics current."
The organization of Legio LXVI is similar to the way a Roman legion was composed in the early Imperial period, but somewhat streamlined. The basic unit of the legion is the cohors, similar to the modern infantry battalion; the 66th Legion has 10. Cohortes I through IX each contain five centuriae, each with a nominal strength of 100 soldiers and commanded by a centurion, whose prestige and function are similar to that of a senior noncommissioned officer in a modern army. Cohors X is a "special" cohort comprised as follows:
Cohors X Centuria I: Heavy armored cavalry company: 10 contubernia (platoons) of five Vespasian-class anti-gravity main battle tanks each.
Cohors X Centuria II Speculatorum: Scout century: 100 scouts mounted on high-speed swoop-type repulsor bikes. Customarily used as couriers and scouts rather than part of the main fighting force, but can be surprisingly effective in a hit-and-run or slashing flank attack role.
Cohors X Centuria III: Light armored cavalry: 10 contubernia of five Aëtius-class light tanks (design variation on the Napoleon class used by the regular Asgardian army).
Cohors X Centuria IV Volans: Air support century. 10 squadrona of five Ballista Superior attack fighters (design variation on the A-10F Super Warthog attack fighter used by the regular Asgardian army). Used for close air support.
Cohors X Centuria V: Artillery century. 10 contubernia of five 4.75dg (88mm) field rifles, each with a crew of two. Derived from the famed FlaK-88 of World War II, these versatile weapons are still useful for antiaircraft and antiarmor purposes.
In addition to the mixture of forces offered by Cohors X, the legion also includes the special "free century" of Legio CII.
Non-combatant support personnel are few; legionaries themselves double in most of the roles that are performed by additional non-combatants in conventional armies (cooks, medics, chaplains, drivers, etc.). Even the mechanical work on the transport vehicles used by the regular infantry cohortes is carried out by regular legionaries. The exception to this rule is the support personnel required to service and help arm the vehicles of Cohors X Centuriae I, III, and IV.
Including these personnel, the on-paper strength of the full legion is 5,500 soldiers.
Though the 66th Legion began as a unit created to provide a home for slain Roman soldiers arriving in Valhalla, its fame and prestige has attracted many others over the centuries. Today only about half of the 66th's members are actual Romans. The rest are soldiers and warriors from throughout history, and from civilizations as far afield as Salusia and the Klingon Empire. Along with racial integration has come gender integration as well; about 40 percent of the present 66th's personnel are women. There are even a few robots in the ranks.
The legionaries of the 66th are similarly diverse in terms of religion. Though many have converted to direct reverence of Asgard's own gods, a considerable number still worship the gods according to the pagan identities they were known by in Rome, while small but sturdy minorities represent pretty much every other religion to be found in the galaxy today.
A typical legionary of the 66th is equipped with the following standard basic kit:
Pilum fulguris Mk. XXXVII
The 66th's signature small arm, the Mark 37 particle beam rifle (the offical Legion name literally means "javelin of lightning"), is a powerful, compact, and extremely accurate weapon designed by Nikola Tesla. In the hands of a skilled legionary, the pilum fulguris can pick an enemy soldier off a battlement at a range of nearly two stadia - if the legionary has time to aim.
The standard close combat weapon of the legionary for most of the Imperial period, the gladius is a short, double-edged, fine-pointed sword that can be used for slashing or thrusting. It may or may not have a waisted blade, depending on the period and pattern. Gladii of all types can be found in the legion, though those that were made in Asgard tend to be of the so-called "Mainz" pattern, with a dramatically waisted blade (this is primarily for decoration). Many legionaries take great pride in their skill with the gladius and, since the opening of Cephiro, the practice of rose dueling has acquired great popularity among the legion's soldiers. Some gladii in the modern legion have been fitted with attachments that make them function as vibroblades.
Another standard weapon from Imperial days, the pugio, a broad-bladed fighting knife, is the last-ditch standby of every legionary. It is in effect a miniature gladius.
Every legionary's best friend. The scutum adamantinium is a a large, curved rectangular shield forged from adamantine, a nearly indestructible metal mined only in the furthest, most dangerous mountains of Alfheim and Jotunheim. A well-drilled centuria can use their shields with incredible effectiveness, rendering their tightly coordinated formations nearly invulnerable to enemy small arms and even light artllery fire. Thanks to their considerable weight and utterly unyielding substance, they can also be used to devastating effect as improvised weapons in close combat. A legionary would sooner abandon his rifle, maybe even his gladius, than his shield.
The powered armor worn by legionaries in the field, another invention of Tesla's. It comes in two forms: the heavier banded lorica electromagnetica segmentata, which is worn by most members of the legion, and the lighter, scale-mail-style lorica electromagnetica squamata, which is worn by the scouts, tankers, and artillerists of Cohors X. A legionary outfitted in a properly maintained suit of segmentata is well-protected against small-arms fire and has the strength of ten men while sacrificing relatively little agility. Squamata is not as sturdy and does not boost its wearer's strength as much, but its power assist effectively counters its lighter weight so that the wearer has full mobility, and it provides excellent protection from shrapnel and other indirect battlefield hazards. Both forms can be worn with a temperature control body sleeve similar to that found in GENOM White Legion armor, proofing the wearer against extreme climates and even permitting short-term exposure to non-Class-M environments.
In addition to the above, the legion employs a wide range of specialized equipment for various situations. For instance, the members of the first centuriae of each of the "conventional" cohortes are fitted with short-range flight packs based on the Hughes X-3, while combat engineers commonly carry single-use force field generators (customarily used to contain enemy explosives during controlled detonation, but they have many other creative uses in combat) and anyone of centurion rank or above is almost certain to have a helmet fitted with a more elaborate suite of sensors and communications equipment than the standard legionaries possess. Medics will carry sophisticated battlefield medical kits; chaplains are permitted some latitude in their choice of personal weapons (those dedicated to Thor, for instance, tend to carry power hammers rather than gladii).
Beyond the various combat specializations, there is one member of the legion whose title and purpose are entirely unique. This is the griffonifer, the soldier charged with carrying and safeguarding the unit's griffon. This golden icon, set upon a pole, embodies the spirit and honor of the legion. Its loss or destruction in combat would be a terrible blow, and so the griffonifer is provided with an honor guard of hardened soldiers to help protect her and her sacred burden.
(In the classical Roman army, the role of the griffon was played by a similar icon called an aquilla, which depicted an eagle - and indeed, the remnant Legio CII still possesses its eagle. The 66th's was modified into a gryphon after the Ragnarok in honor of Gryphon, the Midgard-Knight, whose slaying of Fenris helped turn the tide of battle along the central front and prevented the 66th from being caught in a pincer.)
Esprit de corps
Morale is high among the members of Legio LXVI, even after the mauling the legion's sister unit took during the Ragnarok. They are among the toughest, bravest, most skilled warriors in all of Valhalla - no mean distinction - and they know it, but they try not to let it go to their heads. Drilled from the time they were recruited to be disciplined and professional soldiers, they are sometimes markedly out of place in the generally rough-and-tumble world of the Viking gods, but they try to make the best of things. The steady infusion of people from other cultures and periods of history has gone a long way toward making the 66th Legion one of the most cosmopolitan units to be found among the Einherjar.
Legatus Marcus Vipsanius Agrippa - A legendary Roman general who served under the first emperor, Augustus. He was one of the few Roman commanders to understand the usefulness of sea power, and was also an able politician and administrator, responsible for many significant improvements to the political systems and public works of Rome and Gaul. As commander of the 66th Legion, he has used that same polymathic genius to keep the legion always on the cutting edge despite the many rapid advances in the state of the fighting arts since his arrival in Valhalla. He is beloved by his troops and known throughout Valhalla as both an able commander and a strong, fair manager.
Præfecta castrorum Flavia Satori - Second-in-command of the Legion, Flavia Satori is a member of the long-honored Salusian military family (the fact that she has a Latin first name is entirely coincidental, and can be traced to the huge craze for Earthly culture that swept Salusia in the 21st century). Calm and level-headed, Praefecta Satori (her title literally means "prefect of the camp") commonly leads the legion on the battlefield, where her tactical genius serves as the perfect complement to Agrippa's strategic prowess.
Primus pilus Decimus Helvetius Honoratus - The centurion of Cohors I Centuria I (informally known as "the First of the First") holds the title of primus pilus, literally "first spear". His role is similar to that of the regimental sergeant major in a conventional infantry regiment. Foul-mouthed and obstreperous in the field but fiercely loyal to the men and women of the legion, Decimus is affectionately known by the regular legionaries of the 66th as "Decimatus", thanks to his penchant for half-jokingly threatening his century, his cohort, and occasionally the entire legion with the punishment of decimation when things aren't going well. (Though one of the most horrible punishments possible in the classical Roman army, decimation is little more than an embarrassing inconvenience in Valhalla, where everyone returns to life each morning.)
Griffonifer Eudoxia Britannica - Originally a famous gladiatrix from Londinium (capital of the Roman province of Britannia), Britannica had risen to the rank of vice-centurion of Cohors I Centuria IV by the time of the Ragnarok. She further distinguished herself during the battle against the Nifl forces, retrieving the 66th Legion's eagle when the previous aquilifer was slain. For this, she was made the legion's first griffonifer after the post-battle remodeling of the icon. One of the 66th's most decorated soldiers, Britannica is also among the legion's deadliest single combatants thanks to her extensive training and experience as a gladiator in life.
Legatus Germanicus Julius Caesar - Though he was the adopted son of one emperor (Tiberius), fathered a second (Caligula), was brother to a third (Claudius), and was grandfather to a fourth (Nero), Germanicus never sat upon the throne of Rome himself - and he's happy that way, because the emperorship never brought anything but misery and death to any of his relatives. Mind you, he himself was poisoned on the orders of Tiberius, most likely because he was such a popular commander that the old emperor feared an uprising, but that was a long time ago, and Germanicus has few regrets. As commander of Legio CII, he survived the slaughter of the Ragnarok largely thanks to the devotion and seflessness of his troops. After the battle, when the scraps of the 102nd were absorbed by the 66th, Agrippa let the mostly-destroyed legion keep its eagle, and Germanicus his title of Legatus, as a gesture of respect for their sacrifice. Battle-hardened and wily, Germanicus has forged the remnants of his legion into a premier special action unit, a hundred-strong commando force that could go up against any other such unit in the universe. His surviving soldiers are fanatically loyal and sometimes, only half-jokingly, call their commander Imperator.
Legio LXVI Pugnus Mortis remains one of Valhalla's top units, finely honed, perfectly conditioned, and trained to the absolute peak of both ancient and modern fighting arts. Should they ever choose to exercise their Right of Return and leave Valhalla, they would be one of Midgard's finest armies, bar none.
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