Who: Byrd, Linefork, Morgenstern

What: Just another day in the trench. The three have recently returned to the front after time spent in Arras, resting. Now they're back to the realities of war and the usual lack of cigarettes.

Allied Front Line North

The lines have been through here at least three times now. The reek of blood and death is thick in the air from the corpses of the men scattered all around that fought for this place.

Trenches old and new scar the bare earth, mostly old an unusable, but recently cut trenches, with redoubts and bunkers, mark the current front line.

Already the poppies can be seen pushing up through the earth, the hardy flowers thriving in a soil made acidic by explosives.

Nothing good lasts forever and the rather comfortable time spent billeting in Arras has come to an end. Back to trenches that are, at least, mostly dry and have been fortified and improved continuously when they've not been shelled to oblivion. Morgenstern is leaning over a map of the trench area, some sappers showing him what the area looks like and where wiring in no Man's Land is needed. Morgenstern doesn't look optimistic.

Byrd is sitting back in a hole dug into the side of the trench, something of a burrow for a soldier, smoking. The Kiwi is usually a jovial man, even in the muck, but his good spirits haven't returned to the trenches wit him. He looks more tired than anything else. Morgenstern and his party of sappers are within sight of his hole. Byrd watches them with mild interest, though smoking has his main focus.

Morgenstern nods to something and then folds the map and hands it back. "So, we got a lot of wiring to do," he notes, his voice drifting towards Byrd. The sappers look grim and nods; after all, they're the ones likely to put that wire out. They scramble off for some work further down the trench and Morgenstern turns to light a cigarette and duck over to where Byrd is. "Heard that?" he says, squinting into the burrow. "Germans have cleared a large part of wire."

"Heard enough," Byrd says, heaving himself out of the hole with a groan. He does some more smoking, managing to crook a grin. The expression still looks forced. "Bloody rotten luck for our engineers, eh?" And for the rest of them, too, he knows well enough, but maybe if he doesn't say it he can hold off whatever he'll have to do a moment longer.

Morgenstern smiles thinly. "Their chance for glory and honor," he says dryly. "Maybe we should start training monkeys to do it. I mean, we already have dogs, horses and pigeons doing a lot of important work." At the talk about dogs he habitually checks around to see if Skip and Tommy are about somewhere.

Byrd snorts, returning Morgenstern's smile with a rather slim one of his own. It doesn't quite reach his eyes. Corporal Morgenstern has just finished a meeting with some of the sappers. A large part of their wiring has been cleared by the Germans, it seems. He barks out a chuckle. "Maybe we can convince the generals to stock the whole army with monkeys, Corp. Apes on the rifles, apes on the wire, apes getting bloody blown to bits. War could go on forever without a single man dying again." Tommy, of course, is never far from Byrd. The mongrel is laying back in the burrow hole, front legs lulling over the side of it, panting. He's doing far better about being back in the trenches than Byrd.

As usual, Morgenstern doesn't approach the dog to talk to it. He's settled in with some mutual respect and little cuddling with the animals, as if afraid that if the dog dies and he's grown fond of it, that'd be worse than if a soldier he knows dies. People aren't rational about animals and Morgenstern is no exception. "Wouldn't that be something," he says, sounding almost wistful. "But too cruel towards the monkeys. Couldn't happen. I've seen men rather run with a message than letting a dog or a pigeon carry it and they've died from it."

Linefork smokes a cigarette and listens to the Corporal's comment on animals. He makes a small snorting sound and exhales a large plume of cigarette smoke. He keeps his opinion to himself, but its obvious he doesn't mirror Morgenstern's sentiment.

Byrd idly scratches Tommy on the head, smiling an easier smile as eh pets the dog. He's taken the thing to his heart like a boy with a stray pup he brought home. Morgenstern's words make him stop, though, folding his hands behind him and shrugging roughly. "Stupid thing to do," he mutters, taking another drag off his own cigarette. He catches sight of Linefork out of the corner of his eye and, after a moment's hesitation, offers the man a small nod. Just a nod. He doesn't call out any sort of greeting or look him in the eye.

Morgenstern finishes his cigarette and drops it to rest amongst lots of other old cigarette butts on the duckplanks. "Yeah, very stupid," he agrees with Byrdie, somewhat pointedly. Not that he's going to forbid anyone to become fond of the trench-dog. It'd be pointless trying, anyway. He follows Byrd's gaze to Linefork and nods too, eyeing the man curiously for a moment. "So, how about some food?"

Linefork returns the nod slowly and then listens to the coporal. "I think I'm rather famished," he says lowly. He looks down the trench, "I suspect the field kitchen should be fired up plenty about now." He too extinguishes his cigarette butt and tosses it over the trenchside.

Byrd shifts on his feet, shrugging at Morgenstern, but that's as much remorse as he's going to show. "C'mon, Tommy," he calls softly to the dog, who jumps lightly out of the burrow to come and sit obediently by his feet. "I could go for a bite, come to it. I'd rather be having it at that cafe in town, I must say. I swear I can still taste their bread. When they just take it out of the oven. Better than my own mum's, that is."

Morgenstern is suddenly realizing how ravenous he is. His stomach makes sounds. "We've been spoiled, back in town," he mutters. "Going to take awhile to get used to less again." Still, that time of rest and better eating has raised the spirit a lot. Not to mention preparing everyone for fighting again. "Don't tell your mom that, Byrdie," the Legionnaire mock-warns even as he begins to make his way towards the field kitchen. "Morgenstern," he introduces himself to Linefork, not sure if the two have met previously.

"Private Overdon Linefork," the Kenyan says extending a somewhat dirty hand to the Legionnaire. "I'm game for whatever you chaps are game for. Bread sounds good to me, but I'm craving some fresh meat. Perhaps we can lay our hands on some unlucky barnyard animal if we have liberty to scrounge." He pauses and then says, "I could use a fresh supply of cigarettes as well."

Byrd clucks his tongue at Tommy, and the mongrel heels right at his side as he follows Morgenstern to get some chow. In many respects, Byrd is looking better for his time in town. He's cleaner, certainly, and it gave him time to recooperate from the hard living in the trenches. But the going back has taken something out of him. He's quieter now, less apt to smile and joke. "Don't think the mess'll have much in the way of fresh vittles. Maybe a farmer'll let one of his chickens flutter off, if we've any luck." His cigarette has been put out, crushed under his hobnailed boot as he walks.

Morgenstern shakes Linefork's hand with a firm and strong grip, nodding amicably enough at him. "No luck on the scrounging, the brass turns crazy if we so much as look an egg from a hen," he says dryly. "No accounting for animals who wander the wrong way though…" he adds, to confirm what Byrd said. The smell of cooking drifts down the trench, from the field kitchen somewhere in the maze of trenches. Morgenstern's long steps carry him there habitually. "I'm out of cigarettes too." Morgenstern is /always/ out of cigarettes, so that's nothing new. "Try to find Jason Drensby, a British Sapper. He should be around these parts. He always got nice supplies to trade."

LInefork nods and looks at Byrd. "I'd be happy to find this lad, Jason. Smoking is about the only comfort in these holes. That and poppin a Hun's head open with my Betsy.." he pats his slung Enfield. He waits for someone to suggest a course of action.

"I bummed my last smoke off an Aussie fellow," Byrd says. "Don't have a pack on me. Drensby, eh?" He nods a little, as if committing that name to memory. "I'll have to give him a look-up." He sniffs the cooking, more noting the smell than having much of a reaction to it. He shifts a look over a Linefork when he mentions popping the heads of Huns, but he doesn't comment.

Morgenstern's obvious course of action right now is to get food. He takes out his tinbowl and walks around the corner to where the field kitchen is set up. This is a semi-crowded area right now and if a shell hit it'd take out quite a lot of soldiers. The Legionnaire gives Linefork a look too, but he doesn't have anything to say on the topic of shooting Huns either. "Oh, there's another one. ANZAC called Clive Henricks. He's a machine gunner. You know him right, Byrdie? He might have some extra cigarettes."

"Well you lads should show me around to your mates then," Linefork says, "I had connections in my old unit, but those men have long since met their maker for the most part." He looks into his pocket at the remaining cigarette and says, "Bloody Hun bastards caused me to smash half a package of cigarettes yesterday. I salavaged a couple though….already smoked most of them." LInefork frowns. Such was life at the front. Terror, waiting…boredom..terror….

Byrd thinks on the name a moment before nodding. "Henricks, aye. I think I've come across him. Hard to keep all the blokes straight out here. Here today, gone tomorrow, eh?" He laughs, a little too loud, but there's no humor in the sound. He gets a tinbowl for himself and, when he thinks no one is looking, grabs a second. Most likely for Tommy, who's still following along obediently. The dog has a more military bearing than the Kiwi.

"I'll point them out to you," Morgenstern says with a nod, moving to stand in the relatively short line. Food is handed out quickly and without ceremony. Looks like a very watery kind of stew, but at least it's hot food. He snorts without humor at Byrd's 'joke'. "Easier to just call everyone Tommy or Frenchie or something like that, eh?"

The Kenyan was used to getting along with new chaps. He had been lucky, as Byrd hand mentioned before. Almost a year in the trenches now and only a single incident with a leg wound to show for it. He steps up and grabs his own mess kit. He takes his load of rations and digs a silver French-made spoon into the soupy ration which still steams hotly.

"That's right enough, Legion," Byrd replies to Morgenstern, in that same humorless yet joking tone. He takes a bowl of soup, but there's no way he can sneak two. He does with just his own for now. He starts right in on it, slurping hungrily with this spoon. "Now Mum, she could cook a right spot better than this."

Morgenstern gets his own bowl and gos to sit down somewhere. He eyes Tommy for a bit, then looks at his food and it's almost with a certain guilt he digs in. But, the dog will get his share later. He eats in silence for awhile, for once taking his good time with it as if wanting it to last. "You heard the Americans took Belleau?"

Linefork spoons some of the goop into his gullet and munches on it hungrily. It wasn't homecooking, or even as good as he could cook himself, but it was food. "You know, the French know how to feed their soldiers…when they have food anyway." Linefork's comment isn't taken kindly by the cook who stands nearby. "Get yer bleedin ass over to Frenchie then…wanker!" The man goes on, but the Kenyan simply ignores him and walks down the trench where he comes up beside Morgenstern in time to hear his comment. "Where is Belleau?"

Byrd looks at Tommy apologetically as he sits and eats. The mongrel begs but he's not too pushy out it. He's well trained enough not to. Besides, between his own rations and the treats he scrounges from the soldiers, he's far from starving. Byrd doesn't even get a chuckle out of cook's words. He yells a quick, "Slag off!" at the cook, before focusing back on the conversation. "Aye. I heard. Great victory, they're making it sound like." He doesn't sound as if he believes 'them.' To Linefork he answers, "Some little town by a big-arse forest up north of here. I think it's north, least ways." He doesn't sound sure. "Had a bunch of Germans in it. Now it's been fought over and it's got a bunch of Americans in it."

Morgenstern chews and swallows, then shakes his head a bit at what Byrdie says. "Not north, more like southeast. Not too far from Paris actually. Made the Parisians go all panicky and now the Americans are big damn heroes for saving them." He sounds faintly ironic on that score. "Not that I'm complaining. I'm damn glad they're here fighting." He can't take it any longer; he looks around to see if anyone's paying much notice and then subtly tosses a piece of meat from the stew to Tommy.

Linefork continues to eat in silence, then he comments, "Well, the way the bleedin officers run this war, it'll take those million Americans if we're going to win. Bleeding fools…" The Kenyan's anger toward officers is apparently hot and old. He changes the subject, "You lads fancy football down under?" Linefork asks Byrd.

Byrd shrugs. He was only mostly backwards. "I guess," he mutters, shoveling more soup into his mouth. "Took the damn Yanks long enough to get their arses over. Maybe they are putting themselves to good use for true." Not that he sounds particularly hopeful. Tommy snaps up the meat gladly, then turns the full force of his begging on Morgenstern, staring at the legionnaire with his big, brown, doggy eyes. Mention of sport finally draws some enthusiasm from Byrd. "I played a bit. Was always a better hand at football than rugby. Or toe, I guess it'd more properly be. Me cousins and I used to play in the fields outside of Christchurch, until one of the farmers'd chase us away." He chuckles. A wistful chuckle, but a genuine one.

Morgenstern has gotten himself in trouble now, after having relented to the puppy-dog eyes once. "Don't blame them a bit for staying out of the war as long as they did," he murmurs, and he tosses another strip of meat to the dog. Leaving almost no meat for himself, but he'll survive. He too perks up a bit at the talk of sports. "I was rather good at football too."

"Next to hunting that was my favorite past time growing up, playing football with the villagers near Mombasa…" He leans against the trenchwall and devours the remainder of his rations. "Not as good as eggs or chicken… I used to be the runner for a Battalion Commander for the Yorkers, that was a great job. I got to forage everyday."

Tommy catches the meat and the mongrel gives Morgenstern a soft bark. The dog goes on with the staring. It seems effective. Byrd grins at the two of them, some of his seriousness dropping away. "Never did much hunting," he says, tossing some of his own meat to the dog. "Either back home or in this shite hole. Fishing was my trade, but there ain't much opportunity for that in these parts. Would be nice to find a bit of creek to cast in. Only ponds near here are the ones made by them bloody shell holes, and there ain't much living in them."

Morgenstern doesn't really have anything else to give the dog. He slurps up the broth and scrapes everything out of the bowl before leaning back, looking faintly puzzled. "Mombasa, where's that at?" he wonders, admitting defeat as he can't remember it. On the topic of hunting and fishing he has nothing to say, but he listens with interest.

"Mombasa is a hamlet on the coast of Kenya," Linefork says, "I lived most of my life there." He pulls his Enfield around and pulls the bolt back, making sure the weapon is spotless within. The colonial does so ever so often. "My family is of English blood though, Cornish mostly."

"Sounds a damn sight more exciting than Christchurch," Byrd says, finishing off his food. He gives the dregs and bowl to Tommy to lick. "I guess my family's all New Zealand. Well, they're English a long way back, but they've been on the islands so long that hardly matters. Mum's side at least. My father…" He trails off, shrugging. "Well, there's no matter about that. I best be off. One of them frog tankers said he's show me the underside of one of their Renaults. Show me the workings of the thing, instead of just the driving." He actually sounds eager, though it still falls short of real enthusiasm.

Morgenstern stands up, nodding at Linefork, his curiosity sated. "You tell me more about that another time," he suggests. "I got some work to do too. Got to see where our wire has went that we need." He packs his things away and tips his helmet at the two before he wanders off. And he even gives Tommy a little pat.

"Be safe then," he says to both men at once. He pauses and then says, "I'll try to find you fellows some cigarettes." He heads south in the trenchline.

Tommy noses Morgenstern's hand affectionately when he's patted. The dog's no fool. Nosing is an effective way of getting more food. "C'mon, Tommy," Byrd calls to the dog. He offers Morgenstern and Linefork quick nods of good-bye before heading off. The mongrel heels along at his side.

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