|Servius Vibius Tappulus|
|Date of birth:||2249|
|Date of death:||2281|
- "There is no greater glory then to serve Caesar and the legion. And there is no greater folly or damnation than to defy them"
- ―Servius Vibius Tappulus
Rise to power
Servius Vibius Tappulus was born as Jacob Waters, a member of the Brown Snake Tribe, in 2249. In 2253, the Tribe fell to the nascent Legion, with Jacob seeing both of his parents slain before him as they tried in vain to fight off the advancing hordes. Taken in along with the other surviving members of the tribe, mostly children, he was raised to be a soldier of the Legion. The effect of witnessing such bloodshed first hand did not seem to shy him away from the idea of combat, however. If anything, it seemed to crystalise within him the idea of military force, and using it to achieve one's ends.
At the same time, he became deeply immersed with the Legion's culture at every level. Not only did he fall into its pseudo-Roman overtones, including the use of Latin names and titles, but he also became a staunch believer in the Legion's culture of brutality, concept of might makes right, and supposed manifest destiny to claim all the lands of the West. To him, there was no questioning of Caesar or his goals, and he was willing to kill or die to help achieve them.
Already a soldier by the age of fifteen, Servius (as he was now known) fought in the Legion's wars to claim the former Colorado and Utah regions. Having grown up strong and powerful, he displayed a degree of skill and cunning as a soldier and even a leader that served him well in these brutal, bloody conflicts. He also proved to be a rarity among Legion soldiers for showing some degree of individual initiative, which proved to be key to their victory in the 2268 campaign to conquer the White Hill tribe. After his commander was taken out by a well-aimed sniper's bullet, Servius managed to rally his men and mount a counterstrike that won the day. It was these actions that saw him come to the attention of those above him, and set him on the course that would lead to both his rise to prominence and his eventual demise.
The Colorado Campaign
By 2270, Servius was a freshly minted Centurion with an extensive career history. His Century was composed of members of various conquered tribes, including a few that he had personally fought against. And above all else, his belief in Caesar and the Legion was unshaken despite years of hard combat. If anything, his fervor had grown as he had witnessed first-hand the Legion's power, and seen as all who had dared oppose it fall before them. As Caesar looked west to what was seen as the decadent behemoth that was the NCR, Servius shared the emperor's dreams of conquest, and building an empire that stretched to the ocean. Added to that, he relished the opportunity to do battle with the technologically advanced armies of the NCR, hoping to match his skill and loyalty against their perceived advantages.
So it was with some surprise that he found himself and his command reassigned to eastern Colorado, rather than moved west to do battle with this great foe. Obstinately, several reasons were given; the need to make up numbers after the bloody Denver campaign, the need to keep the borders secure while the bulk of the Legion was fighting the NCR, the need to keep a watchful eye on the Brotherhood of Steel and so on. Externally, Servius understood these requirements and, as a loyal member of the Legion, did not question the decision. Internally, he felt frustrated that he would was going to miss the grand, sweeping conquest of the NCR.
Arriving in the westernmost reaches of the Empire, Servius' troops were reinforced by a group of veterans of the Denver campaign, who had a far greater knowledge of the region and its peoples. This force included an aide, Decanus Harpx Frugius, a native to one of the local Tribes who had also grown up within the Legion. Servius was immediately impressed with the man, who was not only a capable officer, but a strong tactician and an excellent scout with a thorough knowledge of the region and its peoples. The two of them developed a strong friendship as they worked together, one that helped ease the pain of what he saw as a poor assignment.
In the next few years, the pair of them would work together in a number of operations aimed at securing the western frontier and bringing its people to heel under Caesar's banner. While not facing anything as sweeping or grandiose as the Denver campaign, Severus instead oversaw the conquest of outposts and isolated communities, using them to solidify the Legion's tenuous grip on the region while also helping to fortify it against what many saw as an inevitable conflict.
During this time, Servius and Harpx became increasingly close as they worked together, both respecting the other while also knowing that all either wanted was to serve the Legion and Caesar. While openly loyal to his aide, Servius began to worry that he was feeling, as he put it, 'the love that dare not speak its name' towards Harpx. After much internal antagonising and doubt, he felt that he had to risk expressing his feelings towards his aide. To his relief, Harpx returned his affection, simply claiming that he had been afraid to openly question his commander. The pair of them began a discreet affair, while ensuring that they would not let it affect their duties to the Legion.
In early 2277, Servius' command attacked Bernard's Pass, a small farming community on the northern fringes of the Legion's holdings. The battle went as planned; the members of the community lacked the manpower or weapons to hold back the Legion. As per his plan, all adults were slain, while the children, some of them infants, were carried off to be raised by the Legion, while anything of any value was looted. A few survivors were left behind to die as the community burned. Quietly, Servius and Harpix toasted the battle as a victory, given their near non-existent losses for substantial gain.
Two weeks later, one of their patrols came under attack by a concealed sniper. After picking off a couple of soldiers, the sniper vanished, using the terrain and foliage as cover for their escape. While their marksmanship was precise, examination of the bullets suggested that they were using a simple hunting rifle; as such, Servius dismissed the attack as being little more than a random raider or tribal and no real threat to their forces. It was a conclusion that he would later rue.
More attacks would occur over the next few months, each one of them showing the same dedicated patience and skilled marksmanship as the first. In each case, the unseen sniper would pick off one or two Legion soldiers, and then fall back before they could be found. Both Servius and Harpix concluded that this was one sniper acting on their own against the Legion, and lacking any backup. While there was some hope that they would simply run out of ammunition or move on, the attacks would continue into summer of 2278. With losses mounting, he was forced to take action to find and end this attacker.
Stepping up patrols, Servius hoped that the Legion would find strength in numbers. He also began using staggered patrols in the hopes of baiting the sniper and drawing them out. While this did initially result in a decrease in attacks, the sniper began to evolve their tactics and refuse to take the bait. On other occasions, they would deliberately ignore one patrol and then attack the second staggered one that was supposed to be hunting them. The legionnaires nicknamed the sniper Vidiua Rubrum, after the deadly insect that could just as readily strike without warning.
Adding to the pressure was the reports coming back from the west about the battle of Hoover Dam and how it had lead to a devastating defeat for the Legion. Rather then the glorious conquest of the NCR that had been hoped for, the Legion was now forced to rebuild and relaunch its campaign. Servius had hoped to be reassigned to the Mojave front, but before he could do such, he needed to eliminate this problem. A further increase in efforts did see the number of attacks dwindle, but that was only temporary. In the end, the climate had more of an effect than his actions, with the sniper's activity dropping off during the 2278-79 winter.
If Servius thought that the winter was going to claim Vidiua Rubrum, then he was sorely mistaken. Even though they were believed to be dead several times due to extended breaks between attacks, they returned with a vengeance during the Spring of 2279. Now their attacks were being made at longer ranges and with even greater accuracy then before, suggesting that they had access to a more sophisticated weapon. Furthermore, they were now no longer limiting themselves to attacks on patrols, but rather were ranging deeper into the Legion's territory in Colorado. Their ability to pluck off random Legion soldiers shook morale, while also serving to spur on resistance to the Legion's rule.
By the Summer of 2279, the Legion was fighting fires across the Colorado region. Raids on their holdings were becoming commonplace as the tribals of the region, as well as scavengers and other opportunists, seized on the chaos caused by this lone sniper's attacks. The members of the Gulo tribe proved to be particularly resilient, engaging in a spate of violent attacks on Legion personnel and facilities that often left no survivors. Many of these attackers were armed with sophisticated weapons, suggesting that like Vidiu Ruburm, they had some external backer or, at least, had come into a cache of pre-war weapons.
Against this, Servius did his best to control the situation. Broadening his focus, he chose to abandon the hunt for Vidiua Rubrum themselves, and instead focus on the broader problems. The Legion forces under his command began brutal and bloody purges, aimed at quelling dissent and punishing those who were seen as guilty of aiding the uprising. In many cases, the targets of their attacks were tribals who had nothing to do with the insurgents at all, but rather happened to be in the area. In many cases, the heavy-handed approach of the Legion served only to fuel resistance to their rule, rather than suppress it.
Throughout all this, his relationship with Harpx Frugis remained the only stable part of his life. The two were managing a discrete but passionate affair; while to the outside world they were simply a Centurion and his aide, behind closed doors they were an intimate, loving couple. As Servius became more and more frayed over the uprisings, Harpx served to keep him grounded and give him something in his life other then bloodshed and warfare.
A breakthrough came in late October when Servius managed to capture several members of the Gulo tribe alive. Under interrogation, they revealed that they had been in contact with Vidiua Rubrum, and had been working with them to coordinate attacks against the Legion. Further information gave him the location of one of the tribe's caches, where they were keeping weapons and other equipment that they were using against the Legion. Confident of a decisive victory, Servius personally lead the attack on the cache. The Legion caught the Gulo tribe off guard, and were able to capture or destroy much of their stockpile. When several members of the tribe tried to escape, he personally lead the pursuit, determined to capture them. Instead, he was wounded by an unseen sniper (Likely Vidiua Rubrum) who then shot and killed Harpx.
The death of his lover shattered Servius, leaving him bitter and twisted, more determined than ever to kill the sniper that was the source of his woes. Despite having lost an eye himself, he personally lead the ongoing campaign to eliminate the resistance in Colorado, but remained obsessively focused on Vidiua Rubrum themselves. He drove his men onward, even as winter closed in, determined to eliminate them and all other resistance to the Legion at any cost. The winter campaign was a bloody and brutal one, with losses running high on both sides of the conflict. And yet, Servius was still not sated.
With the spring of 2280 came rumblings of movement in the west. The Legion was rebuilding its strength and once more looking towards advancing into the Mojave and towards the heartland of the NCR. And as much as he wanted to be a part of that glorious conquest, Servius knew that as long as Vidiua Rubrum remained at large he would be unable to do such. He could not leave this matter unfinished, nor could he live with the stain on his honour that would come from letting them live.
Drawing on every soldier he could, Servius continued his push against the Colorado tribals and their resistance movement. Casualties continued to mount on both sides as the Legion followed an aggressive, scorched earth policy of ensuring that their enemies would have nothing left to fight for. In turn, the Gulo tribe (which had been supposedly wiped out several times now) fought even harder, knowing full well that they had nothing to lose. The Legion was being bled white, suffering horrific casualty rates with little to show for it. And in the middle of all this, Servius simply didn't care. All he wanted was revenge against the lone sniper that had cost him so much.
For their part, the Gulo tribe's supply of weapons seemed to have dried up, and their casualties were taking a toll. Both the ferocity and pace of their attacks continued to fall, but they seemed to be unwilling to give up. Only Vidiua Rubrum remained consistent, having gone back to unsupported solo attacks against targets of opportunity. The result was a long, drawn out campaign that degenerated into ever increasingly more pointless skirmishes, being lead by forces on both sides that were seemingly unwilling to let go.
It was not until early 2281 that this grinding stalemate ended. Information from a captured trader made it clear that the Gulo tribe were looking to flee the region, with Vidiua Rubrum among their numbers. Seeing a chance to end this conflict, Servius marshaled what was left of his force, and descended en mass on their supposed rally point, a long-abandoned rail yard. However, instead of the broken, demoralized force that he had expected, the Legion instead stumbled into a desperate and vicious band, one that was not willing to back down regardless of the cost.
The resultant battle was nothing short of apocalyptic for those involved. Servius' command was butchered, losing most of its strength. However, this victory came at a bloody price, with the Gulo tribe effectively destroyed in the fighting, leaving behind a handful of critically wounded survivors. And at the end of the battle, Servius came face to face with the individual who had vexed them for so long, and lead them down this path, confronting Vidiua Rubrum themselves for the first time ever. He was killed on the spot, his body left among the carnage as the lone sniper simply vanished, heading westwards.
At the peak of his career, Servius was an impressive man. While not overly large, he was still physically fit and in good health despite living in the wastelands. His features were best described as ruggedly handsome, with fair skin, black eyes and short-cropped dark hair; in many ways, he looked like a model of a Legion soldier. While he bore several scars, he wore them with pride, and saw them as marks of his service and loyalty to Caesar. Later, as the Colorado insurgency continued and his obsession with killing Vidiua Rubrum deepened, his features became drawn and haggard due to a lack of sleep and obsessive focus. Finally, he lost his right eye to one of her attacks, which, unlike his other scars, he chose to cover.
Typically in the field he would wear a set of Legion Centurion's armour, and carry a Gladius and a Hunting Rifle. While he shared the Legion's disdain for technology, he also understood the necessity and utility of using firearms.
Having been indoctrinated into the Legion and its culture at a young age, Servius was very much a product of his upbringing. Loyal to Caesar and his principles, he never once questioned the Legion's goals, motives or objectives. Instead, he saw it as their divine destiny to build an empire that would stretch to the Pacific Ocean. Like Caesar, he saw the NCR as being a "worthy" foe, one that would provide the Legion with its greatest campaign yet. As such, he saw his posting to Colorado as being a disappointment because he would not be able to take part in this forthcoming great battle. He wholeheartedly embraced the Legion's policies of brutality, even though they would create the situation that eventually cost him his life. However, he did not just blindly follow orders, and instead tried to devise the best outcomes for his men and the Legion. More tactically astute then many other Legion officers, he was adept at thinking on his feet and adapting to changing situations.
Conversely, his relationship with Harpx was a very affectionate and tender one, born of the intimacy between two individuals who genuinely love one another. However, Servius and Harpx were careful to conceal their relationship, knowing full well that their love was forbidden by the very same culture that they were trying to enforce.
As the 'war' with Vidiua Rubrum continued, Servius became ever increasingly obsessed with killing his hated foe, especially after they killed Harpx. This obsession became all-consuming, displacing his loyalty to Caesar and his men. His war with them became a bloody meat-grinder, one into which he would readily throw his men in order to achieve a result, regardless of the cost.
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