|Fernán Miguel Gómez|
"Hit the dirt! Incoming!"
The sergeant is yelling too late, of course, to save them. The sound disappears, as the world blossoms into a ball of fire, only to be replaced by a deafening ringing.
Dumb luck, it's dumb luck really. Taras Tikhonov - "T.T." in their training group -saves him. His body blocks the blast, partially disintegrating but holding together enough to absorb the shrapnel. The adrenalin kicks in, and Fernán starts crawling for one of the concrete bunkers. The sound of staccato machine gun bursts starts echoing throughout the valley.
I'm an airman; this isn't supposed to happen he thinks, but he pushes the useless thought from his mind and focuses on crawling. The only thing is the door.
Someone cries out from behind him, Ricky's voice maybe. Fernán ignores it; he reaches the wall. He reaches up, pulls the door open and rolls through.
"Thump-thump-thump" the wall rattles as bullets splatter against it, but it's quieter in here. Radio... he runs for the radio.
"HQ - this is marine training battalion Zulu - we are taking fire." He squawks in a panic, repeating his please several times until realizes the line is dead. The power generator, they've hit the power generator.
He unlimbers his assault rifle and pops out the training ammo cartridge and racks the gun. He grabs a new cartridge from the table and slaps it in.
Fernán slowly opens the door and peers out; the deafening sound of mortar fire returns. He shoulders his rifle and looks through the scope; figures with camouflage gear and large crosses. He aims carefully, slowing his breath. One makes a run in the open, heading for a hole in the fence. A young woman with black hair in fatigues, armed with a submachinegun. She thinks she is saving the world; she thinks she is invulnerable. He slows his breath and pulls the trigger...
Fernán wakes up screaming. He rolls up onto the side of the bed, sweat soaked sheets. He reaches for a bottle of whiskey, but his hand grabs only empty air.
Right, señor said no more alcohol while I'm on the drugs. He walks over to the window and looks out the window.
Somehow the marines had taken him, despite his questionable past. Adventure; all I ever wanted was a bit of adventure. I didn't want to kill any stupid kids with head full of stupid ideas. I just wanted to go to the stars, and only the marines would take someone like me. He had joined the marine aviation group and studied gunnery. He was a good shot, and he knew how to work the bureaucracy. And here would be exploratory missions soon. He was going to head with them into the stars, one way or the other. They must find a place for him somewhere; after all, he was famous.
But oh god... the dreams. He didn't want the dreams of the raids anymore. The World's Salvation they called themselves; young idiots who thought they were saving everyone by stopping Telthani's expansion into the universe. They had failed, but there had been a lot of blood. Needless blood; too many people *he* had killed. But he was going to go to the stars. He had to; he had to make it all worthwhile.
Fernán slumps into a chair, takes out a cigarette and lights up. He stares out the window, watching the sun rise. I wonder what it looks like on a different planet.