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[Round 16] Sgt. Kestrel Cagliari - Dreams and Shuttles

Alleran Tan

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(( Mono Gigante Outpost - Four Years Ago))

:: Tired, thirsty, sweaty and covered from head to toe is grey, slimy mud,

Private First Class Kestrel Cagliari crouch lowed in the trench, back

pressed up against the mud and rock wall. Shots were still being fired

somewhere down the line - she could hear the whine of phaser discharge and

the distant crackle of the Gorn disruptors as they responded - but the

fighting was far enough away that Cagliari and her unit could relax. A

little, anyway.

She took off her helmet and lifted her face toward the sky, allowing in

the rain to wash away some of the muck and to allow her the clostest thing

to a feeling of clean that she'd experienced in a week. Mono Gigante

Outpost was supposed to be one of those easy, in-and-out missions -

nothing too dangerous, nothing too strenuous and the USS Discovery-B would

swoop in after two days and bring them all home. But of course Murphy's

Law intervened and the ronin Class ship was diverted to a bigger crisis

just as the Marines discovered the Gorn waystation just a few kilometres

beyond the Mono Gigante boundaries. ::

Thadat: Nngg... Where ~zzxt~ reinforcements...?

:: Cagliari looked down at the Breen. No one knew for sure why he'd been

in the Federation outpost, but he'd fought alongside the Marines when the

gorn struck, so he'd earned a small measure of respect, if not trust.

Still, Cagliari was hesitant to give away too much information - she'd

heard all about the Breen and their alliance with the Dominion, not to

mention their attack on Earth during the last war. Thadat had been

injured in the last wave, his chest sliced open by the claws of the lone

Gorn to make it through their defenses. Cagliari herself had put a kife

through the Gorn's throat, but the damage had been done - no one expected

Thadat to be alive when they finally got their evac. ::

Cagliari: Hell if I know.

:: Strapping her helmet back on, she wiped mud away from the beam emitter

on her rifle. The strength of the beam would burn away the mud, but she

always felt better having her weapon clear. ::

Cagliari: Could be any minute. Could be never.

:: Hearing someone splashing toward them, she looked up. Another one of

the impromptu additions to the squad - a Marine from another detachment

who had been visiting family at the outpost. A medic named Sypher. Or

Sopher. Or Jones. She really couldn't remember. The man knelt down

beside the Breen. ::

Sypher: How are you doing, Thadat?

Thadat: Not well ~zxxt~ Getting worse. More... ~zzzzxt~ pain.

:: The medic nodded and gave Thadat a shot of something. Sypher (she was

pretty sure that was the name) was just wearing jeans and a t-shirt and

through the mud, Cagliari could make out the emblem on the shirt. She

couldn't make out colours - everything looked grey in the perpetual

half-twilight at Mono Gigante - but there was a lion and a grouping of

stars. A Marine patch to be sure, and she was fairly certain it was from

the USS Challenger. Either way, Sypher was now stuck here in the trenches

with the rest of them. ::

Sypher: What about you? You injured?

:: Cagliari shook her head, then paused as some kind of explosive went off

in no-man's land and showered the three of them with dirt and mud. ::

Cagliari: I'm fine. Or at least as fine as...

:: She trailed off as a loud rumble rolled their way from farther down the

trench. The dull grey light began to get brighter and take on an orange

hue and Cagliari swore loudly. ::

Cagliari: Get the **** down!!

:: She dove into the centre of the trench, where the accumulated rainwater

was deepest, and covered her head as the series of explosions ripped

through the trench. she felt the fire scortch her back as it rolled over

her and the intense heat baked the mud onto her clothing in an instant.

Rolling onto her back to put out the flames, Cagliari looked first to

Thadat. the Breen was on fire, motionless. Dead. ::

Cagliari: $#$@! :: beat :: Sypher? Where-?

:: She found him in three different places. There was even a little bit

on him on her right shoulder. And then, through the smoke and rain, she

saw a dozen hulking silhouettes staring down from the edge of the trench.

Gorn. ::

(( USS Achilles - Marine Quarters ))

:: Cagliari sat bolt upright in bed with a gasp. The red alert klaxon was

screaming at her and she was sweating from dreaming of Mono Gigante yet

again and to top it all off, she was hung over. ::

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