Evans leaned his back against the tree and pulled out a few pieces of hardtack and his canteen. Tiscornia sidled up next to him, “So, how long before we move out?”
“About fifteen minutes I think. Or whenever I finish lunch.”
Tiscornia dropped his pack and pulled out a tin of meat, “So why the hiking?”
“Well, if my experience has taught me anything, it’s that our trucks will break and we’ll have to march from town to town,” Evans replied before he muddled the hardtack in some water and ripped off a chunk with his teeth. After he chewed a little, he looked at Tiscornia, “So, you and Turner?”
“Nothing serious. Just distraction. Might as well have fun before we all die,” Tiscornia pulled the can opener and spoon out of his boot and continued, “So, Johnson and McGilligan are getting along?”
“I don’t know why, but ever since our evening off, they’ve been wonderful.” Evans slung his mapboard off his shoulder, oriented it, and pointed at a topographic high about three kilometers to the Northeast, “I figure we get to the top of this then head back to base. Probably will have a nice view.”
Tiscornia pulled out a protractor and plopped it down on the map, “051 degrees about.”
“I figure we take the fun direct route.”
“Through a deep valley with a river at the bottom?”
“I could go for a swim Dom,” Evans said with a smile, “It’ll be fun. Plus we might need to cross a river in the field someday, so might as well practice.” He yawned before finishing his hardtack and went on to his meat. They sat in silence for a few minutes before they both finished eating. Evans stood up, grabbed his training rifle, and raised his voice, “Alright! Moving out. Tiscornia takes point.”
First Squad grumbled a bit while getting their packs on and picking up their training rifles. They had hiked about twelve kilometers through rough terrain since sunrise. Most people were still somewhat hungover from the night before. Sheppard had barely enough time to put on her makeup. Even with that, and how much she drank last night, she was probably the best performing on the hike. She had only puked once, always kept pace with the front of the group, and never once complained.
With her rifle scores back, Evans had pretty much decided that she was the ultimate infantry soldier. She could go far if she stayed in the army. If she survived long enough for a promotion to happen.
The rest of the squad had some sort of flaw that Evans had to watch out for. Johnson still acted superior to most people. Tiscornia was too depressed. McGilligan was too timid. Callahan was more focused on women than war. Ollie got distracted easily. Howe was focused on Nivelle. Nivelle was focused on Howe. And Madison wanted to act fatherly even though he was one of the youngest. Plus, there was something in Evans that made him trust engaged or married people.
It took the squad about twenty minutes to reach the river. There was more grumbling. Evans dropped his pack and said, “We need to cross this river. Callahan, your team sets up. Everyone else, security.”
“Yes Sergeant.” The squad responded in unison.
Evans decided to watch Callahan set up the crossing. Callahan dropped his pack and walked to his team and said, “Shep, you’re doing the crossing. Get the rope around your waist. Madison, get the other end and tie it around that tree. Shep, once he’s done, cross and tie it around that tree across the river. Make sure the ropes higher on this side, and make it taut. Bowline this end and Three half hitch on Shep’s. Move.”