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Literature / Casca: The Eternal Mercenary

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When they flew Casey into the hospital at Nha Trang, Vietnam, the medics were sure he would die. That he didn't was only the first surprise. The second, and bigger one, was that Casey had been fighting for two thousand years, ever since that day on the hill of Golgotha when he thrust his lance into the side of the man on the cross. "Soldier, you are content with what you are. Then that you shall remain until we meet again." Thus does Casca's journey begin, a man who cannot die, does not age, and who is forced to live through the ages, through many wars, only as a soldier until Christ returns.
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A paperback book series written from 1979 to the present day, Casca is a Wandering Jew series about Casey Romain, AKA Casca Rufio Longinius, AKA... the list goes on. While initially written by Barry Sadler (of "Ballad of the Green Berets" fame), ghostwriters took up the job in the late '80s. After Sadler's death in 1989, other authors have written the rest, the most notable being Tony Roberts.

While the first book starts during the Vietnam War, the series chronologically begins in Jerusalem, 30-something A.D. After Pontius Pilate hands Jesus over to the Jews, Casca Rufio Longinius is tasked with crucifying him. However, when Casca spears Jesus in the side "just to make sure", Jesus turns about to be less dead than the Bible would have you believe. Jesus then announces "Soldier, if you are content with what you are, then that is what you shall remain. As I return to my Father, so you shall return to me". Casca is then cursed to walk the earth until Jesus' second coming. What happens after that depends on his behavior, but judging by his behavior... who knows?

He then fights in virtually every major war that has occurred in the past 2000 years, fighting alongside and against some of history's greatest generals and soldiers. Later on, he finds the "Brotherhood of the Lamb", a pseudo-Christian cult that worships Casca's old spear. The Brotherhood keeps Casca in their sights until the Armageddon; though they may hate Casca for his actions on Golgotha, they must not prevent him from meeting their Lord. Casca Longinus is their path back to Christ and they will stop at nothing in keeping their most hated enemy in their sights for all time.

A Comic Book adaptation was announced by Wicked Studios in 2012, but seems to have gotten stuck in Development Hell.

This series provides examples of:

  • Artistic License Religion: Jesus forces Casca to live a lifetime of Soldiering, even though it's clearly stated in The Bible, that God (and thus Jesus) cannot mess with mans free will. Then again, Casca's predicament is based on the medieval myth of the wandering Jew, who is also not biblical, so you probably can't blame Sadler.
  • Black Comedy Rape: In Casca: The Trench Soldier, Casca and Cockney Dave rape two French girls (who are insinuated to have enjoyed it.) After beating up the husband of the older girl, (the young one is his daughter) and tying him up. It's "justified" by the fact that since the man was physically fit and of military age, but was still operating a café as a civilian, he is probably a coward, who has bribed his way out of conscription and thus deserves it. Seriously.
  • Been There, Shaped History: Casca has fought with/against everyone from Mohammed to Blackbeard. Oh, and do you think Hitler committed suicide in his bunker? Nope, Casca killed him.
  • Blood Knight: Not by his own choice. This series has a much more sober and problematizing view of war, than what could be assumed at first glance.
  • Dented Iron: Casca is immortal and has a Healing Factor. Still, depending on the severity of his wounds, he may still feel pain and require rest to heal. In Casca: The Damned, Casca reminisces how he was burned at the stake by a Persian Vizier, and how he still can't sit near an open fire for long, or feel the smell of roasting meat without wanting to vomit.
    • He also recognizes this very early on. In the first book during a time when he was a slave, he notes that the punishment for escaped slaves is impalement (hung on sharpened stake inserted in the rectum and let gravity do its thing). He realizes he can't risk that because no matter how bad it is in general it has to be much worse for someone who can't die.
    • In addition to being burnt alive, at one point he is trapped in a long underground river. There are occasional pockets of air, so he drowns, reawakens, drowns, etc. He is EXTREMELY irked when he finally gets out.
  • Eternal Hero: Justified, Encounters with Casca tend to spur prophecies of his return at some future time, and sure enough, he returns! (He was was mistaken to be the god Quetzalcoatl in 3rd Century Mexico, when he left he said he would return, and sure enough he was one of Hernan Cortez' conquistadors that arrived in 16th century Mexico)
  • Immortal Hero: Subverted, he is certainly the Eternal Protagonist, but he can be both brutal and heroic when the mood suits him.
  • Flat-Earth Atheist: Met Jesus, received miracle, NOT A CHRISTIAN. (But given how he feels about his immortality, why would he worship the guy?)
  • Flying Dutchman: Of the Wandering Jew variant.
  • Go-Karting with Bowser: Remember, Casca's fought in every major war for the past 2000 years. Meeting guys like Hitler, Ghenghis Kahn, Atilla the Hun, Blackbeard, Montezuma, or-what-have you is practically a given.
  • Healing Factor: The basic modality of Casca's Immortality, all wounds heal in minutes or at most hours.
  • Living Forever Is Awesome: Casca, the eponymous mercenary, is rather satisfied with his immortality as a whole although he has his occasional moments of regretting it when stuck in a Fate Worse Than Death like being buried alive for decades.
  • May Fly December Romance: A love interest in every book, none of them immortal.
  • The Mutiny
    • Anti-Mutiny: He has been on all sides of it you could ever possibly imagine.
  • Old Soldier: Subverted, he does not age physically of course, but he is OOOOOLD
  • Suicide Mission: Never actually results in permanent suicide.
  • Stop Worshipping Me: The Brotherhood of the Lamb does not think he is the messiah per se; but they won't leave him alone because they think he is the harbinger of the messiah.
  • Undying Warrior: Casca Rufio Longinus was the Roman legionary who drove the spear into the side of Jesus on the cross. Jesus cursed him to wander the Earth aimlessly, always as a soldier from one battle to the next until the Second Coming. If he is "killed" in battle, he just regenerates and walks off the battlefield, looking for another war.
  • Unwanted False Faith: Commonly mistaken for a god, much to his chagrin.
  • Walking the Earth: What Casca is cursed to do until Jesus comes again.
  • War for Fun and Profit: It's not that he starts wars for profit, it's just that is how a lot of real wars in history have begun. Casca is just a mercenary. And very good at his job.
  • Who Wants to Live Forever?: Casca flucates between this and Living Forever Is Awesome depending on his current situation. For the most part he does fully acknowledge the downsides and has his lows but at the same time seems rather satisfied in general with his lifespan.