The Desert

As the train got further and further into the desert, the temperature in the train car got hotter and hotter. Even with the door all the way open, it was just about unbearable when they finally arrived at their camp, about thirty kilometers outside of Red Sands. The regiment was given the next hour to collect themselves while the officers went to a meeting.

When Evans hopped out of the car, he was unimpressed. The soil was a reddish brown with low brown scrub sticking up every few meters. To the North, there was an impossibly flat plain with no plants that eventually rose up to mountains. Everything looked dead. The only animal Evans could see was the vulture flying in the cloudless blue sky. He looked over to McGilligan, “Where are the cacti Lance?”

McGilligan responded with a smile on her face, pointing to one of the scrubby looking bushes in the distance with many arms, “Over there Sergeant. At least that’s one.” She paused a moment before pointing to a green domed cylinder about waist high thirty meters distant, “That’s a barrel cactus.”

Shaking his head and putting his arms up, he said, “No, the ones that look like this. The big ones with the big arms.”

“Saguaro’s are only to the East of here. I think I actually saw some on the train in,” She shook her head and smiled, “God, isn’t this beautiful Sergeant?”

“Everything is brown and everything is dead.”

Shaking her head, McGilligan ran off into the scrub, coming back a few moments later with her hands cupped together. She opened them slowly, letting the lizard skitter out. She smiled at Evans and sain, “See, life’s everywhere, you just have to know where to look.”

Tiscornia pointed off to the North, “Also, there’s some sheep looking things over there.”

“At the edge of the Lake?” asked McGilligan

“The Lake?” responded Evans, I see no water anywhere Lance.”

She shook her head, “No, it used to be a lake. I once encountered a Geologist when I was deep in the desert who explained it to me. Water has little bits of rock in it that are left behind when they evaporate. Because water is flat, the dry lake will end up being flat… I think it’s something like that.”

“We used to have a Geologist platoon leader. A Lieutenant Stoddart. He’s now a major or something in the Mining units. He was a bit… odd.”

“Yeah,” McGilligan nodded and said, ‘We get a few who come out to my hometown every year to do research. They’re all scruffy, make terrible jokes, and drink constantly. Half of them are Nobility but don’t act it. I occasionally acted as a local guide for their research teams. One time, I was guiding Lady Wick to a mountain. She swore constantly. Wore clothes that didn’t fit and were almost in tatters, even though she is, once again, Lady Wick. Lives in a huge estate with dozens of servants, yet spends three months out of the year living like a bum in the Desert.”

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