Brine rather than sweat drenched his entire body as Oppius rose up from out of the sea, having leapt over the rail of the transport vessel. The silver eagle of the standard broke forth first from out of the foaming water, the sunlight glinting off its head and reflecting into the eyes of Caesar.

Before he had jumped into the water Oppius had offered up the legionary's prayer,


"Jupiter Greatest and Best, protect this legion, soldiers every one. May my act bring good fortune to us all."

Witnessing the act of a madman - and eyeing the prize - a brace of enemy cavalry broke off and charged towards the isolated standard bearer. The first horseman screamed wildly and raised his axe, ready to bring its flesh-stained head down upon the Roman's shoulder and chest  -  yet instinct and timing kicked in as Oppius drove the standard upwards and into the torso of his enemy, knocking him off his coal-black mare. But where was the second horseman? Spray misted up in front of Oppius and stung his eyes. The second Briton was less obliging in offering up a war cry up to reveal his position, as he came at the Roman from the side. His sword edge was a foot or so from his enemy's head  -  but it travelled no further as a Roman pilum sang through the air and skewered his stomach. Blood turned the blue dye purple.

"And there you was thinking that you could defeat the bastards all by yourself," Roscius shouted and grinned. The brutal looking legionary had jumped into the water shortly after the standard bearer. He would have followed his friend into Hades, for he knew Oppius would do the same for him. Teucer and  -  more hesitantly  -  Marcus Fabius followed their comrades into the sea. The legion was shocked and irate at witnessing such a suicidal act. But as they witnessed another dozen or so horsemen ride towards the eagle they scrambled into the sea too and rallied around the valiant, or unhinged, standard bearer. The loss of the eagle would mean a loss of honour for all and the stain could never be washed away. Far more than Rome, the Tenth Legion fought for the Tenth Legion.

At first Caesar cursed his aquilifer for such a rash act but his mouth, twisted in rage, soon formed itself into a smile. He had his spark. Now he needed to fuel the flames. Caesar immediately gave the order for his archers and artillery to provide covering fire. He also called for the captain of his own ship to close in on the beach. Caesar was keen to wash his sword in the blood of the irksome barbarians too.

Individual splashes swiftly turned into one long whooshing tumult as the Seventh, not wishing for the Tenth to shame them or take all the glory, disembarked from their transports too. The legions formed themselves into make-shift shield walls and moved forward, some chest deep in the sea, their pilums held aloft to defend against the enemy's cavalry. For all of their bravery and numbers the barbarian army could not prevent the Romans from driving forward and making it onto the beach.

Rome had landed upon Britain.

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