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Rated: 13+ · Novel · Action/Adventure · #1675731
Action/Adventure similar to National Treasure, Indiana Jones and The DaVinci Code.
Chapter 62

May 17, 2012 – New Berlin Base – Antarctica

The Nazi time ship was large and could carry a complement of thirty passengers plus crew along with their gear. Monday’s team consisted of, Scout, Weps, Bones, Dom, Lofton, and Henri. Monday and Henri spoke Latin, Dom spoke Latin and Aramaic.

Wilhelm von Liegntz commanded the Nazi contingent. Wilhelm had with him Doctor Vlad Szekler, Fleischer, Lieutenant Beck and twelve Commandos. Wilhelm spoke Latin and Szekler spoke Latin and Aramaic.

The decision was made to travel as a Roman military replacement force. Wilhelm’s cover was posing as a new Centurion posted to the Tenth Fretensis Legion, and a duty assignment with the, Cohors Prima Augusta, a unit known to be stationed in Judaea in that era. Other Roman units stationed in Judaea during that time period were the, Cohors Prima Italica Civium Romanorum, and the Cohors Secunda Italica Civium Romanorum, primarily auxiliary units.

Doctor Szekler was a provincial administrator assigned to assist the Prefect with religious matters, while the remainder of the commandos and Monday’s Team were simple Legionaries, always welcome replacements.

Szekler explained that official looking documents had been forged with the Senate and Emperor Tiberius’s signatures. Should the local Prefect, Pontius Pilate, or Judaean Tetrarch Phillip become suspicious, it would take months to verify the authenticity of their claims. Before then, their mission would be completed one way or another.

One of the main problems that the Prefect had to cope with, was religion. The Romans were tolerant of different cultures and religions, and Judaism was a respected cult. As long as the Jews paid their taxes, the Romans did not really care about their beliefs.

There were some differences of opinion, but none that could not be overcome. For example, the Romans demanded taxes in money, but Mosaic Law forbade the use of coins with an image of the emperor or a pagan god; therefore, the Jews were allowed to use coins without the emperor's head when they were in Jerusalem.

However, there were aspects of Judaism that at least some Romans considered barbarous: the best known example is the circumcision of children who were not of an age to consent with this mutilation.

They were subjected to a short class on ancient Roman customs. Little errors could easily jeopardize the mission. Little things like; footwear also defined a person's position in society. Women wore closed shoes that were white, green or yellow. Men wore sandals. Patricians wore red sandals with an ornament at the back. Senators wore brown footwear with black straps that wound round the leg to mid-calf, where the straps were tied. Consuls wore white shoes, and soldiers, heavy boots.

Roman dress differed from one class to another. The tunic was worn by plebeians (common people), herdsmen and slaves was made from a coarse dark material. The tunic worn by patricians was made from white wool or linen. Magistrates wore the tunic augusticlavia, and senators wore a tunic with broad strips, tunica laticlavia. Military tunics were shorter than those worn by civilians.

A Roman could tell how important or wealthy a person was from their toga. Free Roman men wore the toga instead of a cloak. It was originally an Etruscan garment worn in earlier times by both men and women of all classes. The toga was made from white wool or white Egyptian linen. It was square or rectangular in shape and was worn draped around the body.

The toga was worn often during state occasions. Consuls and senators wore a toga edged with purple.

The Romans switched to comfortable tunics, which looked like long tee-shirts. They were far more practical. Tunics were made of cool linen, for summer wear, and warm wool, for winter wear. Sometimes, they worn trouser like garments

Prior to leaving on their mission, each member had to learn the composition of the basic Roman Army of the time. Although Szekler and Wilhelm would do most of the talking, a misplaced title or strange phrase could jeopardize the mission.

A Roman Legion was comprised of ten cohorts, known simply as "The first cohort", "The second cohort" etc. The first cohort was considered to be the most senior and prestigious, and the tenth the least.

A cohort consisted of six "centuries" of 80 men, each commanded by a Centurion assisted by junior officers. At various times prior to the reforms, a century might have meant a unit of 60, 80 or 100 men. It is almost certain that the most senior centurion of the six would have commanded the entire cohort.

In order of seniority, the six centurions were titled hastatus posterior, hastatus prior, princeps posterior, princeps prior, pilus posterior and pilus prior (most senior). This followed the order of seniority in the earlier legions, where the youngest and least experienced units were termed hastati, next principes, and the oldest and most experienced triarii (pilus was an alternative name for triarius, the singular of triarii).

During the first century AD, the command structure and make-up of the legions was formally laid down, in a form that would endure for centuries. The first cohort was now made up of five double-strength centuries totaling 800 men, the centurion of its first century automatically being the most senior in the legion: the primus pilus or "first file". (Note that pilus is file and pilum is spear.)

The legion at this time numbered about 5,400 men, including officers, engineers and usually a small unit of cavalry (equites); 120 men and horses.

What was more difficult for them to learn in short notice was the composition of their weapons and armor. It wasn’t like the movies where they could pretend; they had to be capable of using the equipment and weapons.

Their equipment consisted of a functional tunica, caligae, balteus (very important) with a pugio, and a pera (bag) for needed tools. Some of the men were equipped with a pilum or a short hasta/lancea, and a gladius, helmet (coolis type) shield, insignias, etc. They were equipped with the Hamatas armor, the newer Segmentatia armor having not arrived in Judaea yet. Their shields were oval since they were auxiliary and they would not have the Augustian scuta which was for the Legionnaires. Szekler’s orders were for everyone to keep their mouths shut and eyes open.

One thing they realized early on was that most Roman armor did not shine and few wore the glittering armor portrayed in the movies. They used a lot of chain mail (a sort of cloth made of circular links), which doesn't shine. They also made scale armor (metal plates about 3 inches long and about an inch wide, sewn together on a linen/leather backing.) Scale armor shines a little, but not much. And, they made leather armor, with the metal on the inside, or at least under the leather, probably again on a backing of linen, to make three layers. So, although the ancient Romans loved the ornate and glittery, their armor most probably did not shine!

Because of his commanding appearance, Monday was designated a Tesserarius, or commander of forty, and assistant commander of the detail. Henri, because he spoke Latin, was designated a Decurion, or commander of ten.

The trip through time was completely unnoticed. One minute they were orbiting in space, the next they landed on a dark night on the road from Bethany to Jerusalem. The date was June 10th, 27 A.D. Szekler chose that date because he figured it would be early enough to pinpoint the location of Jesus and also give him time to ingratiate himself with Pontius Pilate’s court. A well-placed administrator was given all the juicy details about the comings and goings of merchants, caravans, and strangers. Szekler also figured that The Brotherhood would want to try to assassinate Jesus before he started spreading his gospel. Szekler also chose Jerusalem instead of Ceasarea, the location of Pilate, because the local garrison commander would most likely be a junior centurion and dumb as doornails.

They timed their landing for several hours before dawn when most of the inhabitants would be sleeping. Even so, a small caravan of half a dozen men and donkeys was terrified to see a glowing object land near the road. As they fearfully approached the strange object, a portal opened in the side and Roman soldiers started walking out. They quietly hid behind a small pile of boulders and rocks.

The pilots of the craft warned Wilhelm that locals were in the area. Heat sensors quickly found them hiding behind a small mound of rocks. Wilhelm ordered Lieutenant Beck to clean up the situation.

Monday glanced at the retreating form of Beck and several commandos. “You’re not going to start things by killing innocent people?”

Wilhelm smiled back. “No. They are not innocent; they are guilty of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. No doubt their story, of Romans coming from a flaming meteor that landed on the road, would be just another tale of ignorant men affected by desert heat and would be readily dismissed by the locals, but we do not need members of The Brotherhood learning about such a thing. They can put two and two together and figure out that it was the landing of our time ship.”

A quick burst of automatic weapons fire and the screaming of dying men came from the dark. A few moments later Lt. Beck returned. “Five men and one boy,” he stated. “Also a small herd of goats, two donkeys, and a pile of junk. Probably things they were going to sell in town.”

“Load the bodies into the Fliegenkämpfer. I will have them dumped at sea.” Wilhelm acted as if nothing had happened. He turned and ordered one of the commandos to offload his stallion from the airship. The only animals they brought were two donkeys and his stallion. A centurion would not be expected to walk the dusty roads with his infantrymen. “Save the two donkeys, we’ll use them as pack animals, but load the junk with the bodies. We don’t need someone identifying private property. Just let the goats run free. I’m sure some local tribe will steal them before the day is over.”

Monday turned away to see the smiling face of Dieter Fleischer. Evidently Fleischer had accompanied the commandos on their grisly errand. Fleischer looked as if he had really enjoyed the brutal murders.

Two hours later they were well along the road towards Jerusalem. Wilhelm was in the lead riding his mount, constantly complaining about having no stirrups. He had forgotten they hadn’t been invented yet. The rest of the men were strung out in two parallel lines in imitation of marching soldiers. They paid no attention to dress and order, since auxiliaries were not expected to be as sharp as Legionnaires, and it was also too hot and dusty to care.

Several times they passed locals on their way to market. They had no problem with them, they simply moved off the road to make way for the Romans. They were familiar with soldiers and kept their distance when possible.

One thing Monday did notice was a lack of scent. The locals stunk, whereas their small unit had little odor, other than normal body sweat and road grime. The Roman diet was heavy in garlic so they would have to rectify that as soon as possible. Their odor, or lack of odor, was clearly noticeable.

The terrain had changed very little over time. Monday had spent many months in the deserts of Arabia and throughout Israel and knew the lay of the land. One thing he did notice as they drew closer to Jerusalem was much less irrigated land. Obviously the people of this era did not have the luxury of irrigation pumps and massive water systems, so the land had not been reclaimed yet.

Around noon they reached the summit of a small rise and saw the great city of Jerusalem laid out before them. The massive walls surrounding the city were imposing, walls that no longer existed in modern times. A steady stream of people were entering and leaving through the massive gates, and even from their distance they could hear the buzz of thousands of yelling people and noisy animals. They were still too far away to smell the open sewers and putrid stench of the metropolis, but Monday could visualize it in his mind. He shuddered at the thought of all the disease and corruption that such a place bred.

As they neared the great city, Monday spotted a hill to his right that resembled a skull. Golgotha? He thought. “Is that the place where Jesus was, would be, crucified?

He knew that the Bible called the place where Jesus was crucified Golgotha—an Aramaic word meaning "the skull." Calvary was the Latin form of the word. Scripture did not reveal the precise location of Golgotha. It simply stated that Jesus’ crucifixion took place outside the city of Jerusalem, though near it. Jewish law did not permit executions and burials inside the city. Further, Jesus was undoubtedly crucified near a well-traveled road, since passersby mocked him. The Romans selected highly visible places by major highways for their public executions. The crucifixion probably took place on a hill, because it was at an elevation high enough to be plainly visible at a distance.

As they passed the hill and entered the gate to ancient Jerusalem, Monday noticed Dom make the sign of the cross. His thoughts were obviously along the same lines.

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