After about a week at Strongfield, building temporary shelters and watching against looters, orders came down to the 202nd. The rebellion in the Western Desert had been mostly taken care of, but as a show of force, units were being cycled through for ‘training’ in the desert before being sent back to the front. So, the 202nd was to spend a week in the badlands practicing how to fight in that terrain. Sergeants and above had to read a pamphlet on Desert Warfare and how to survive in the Desert, written by some of the top minds in Newacre.While Evans was reading it, Lance Corporal McGilligan and Private Gibson quickly scanned it and told him it was worthless and ripped it up. Each squad had been given half a cattle car with some plywood nailed up as a partition to divide them from the other squad. There was some leftover hay that they could use for beds in addition to their kits.
After the first night on the train, they came to a stop in some plains town. Captain Gates came to each of the cars followed by some soldiers with dollies. One of them pulled a bag off the dolly and tossed it into First Squad’s car. Captain Gates walked up to Evans, “New Uniforms, for the desert. They’re lighter material, lighter color. You should be in uniform by breakfast in two hours. Latest reports say it’s thirty five to forty degrees out there, so drink plenty of water.”
Evans saluted and Captain Gates left. He turned to the Squad and opened the bag and pulled out the uniforms, “Alright everyone, change into these uniforms now. Pack up your old uniforms and put them into your kits.” He quickly called out the names and tossed the soldiers their uniforms.
McGilligan and Gibson had weird smiles on their faces as they tugged on the new uniforms. Johnson tossed a loose piece of hay at McGilligan and asked, “What are you so smiley about Kitty? It’s going to be 40 degrees out.”
McGilligan looked knowingly at Gibson, “I take it you haven’t been to the desert Em?”
Gibson nodded, “In the desert, you’re free. The life is harsh, there’s nothing unnecessary. Every creature and plant is a rugged thing. You don’t have to worry about the trappings of your daily life, just survival.”
“That sounds just terrible,” Howe said.
McGilligan just shook her head, “You don’t understand. I once spent two weeks alone in the desert. Just me and a rifle alone in the badlands. You just can’t understand.”
Johnson shrugged, “I’ll take your word for it Kitty.”