The Lieutenant’s droning was interrupted by a panicked shout by McGilligan, “EVERYONE OUT OF THE CANYON!”
There was a moment of silence before the Colonel turned to her, “Soldier! Get a hold of yourself! You will stay-”
McGilligan interrupted the Colonel, “Sir! There’s going to be a flood, if we don’t run, we’ll all die!”
“It’s bone dry out here soldier, not a cloud in the sky, and we’re deep in the desert. There is no flood.”
During the exchange, Evans began to notice a few of the soldiers starting to scale some of the sloped sides of the canyon. The Lieutenant dropped her pack and rushed to the Colonel. She saluted and spoke at a rapid pace, “Sir, Lieutenant Hudson, Apple Company. With all due respect Sir, the Lance Corporal is referring to a flash flood. I would love to tell you why it’s happening but we don’t have time. In moments, this canyon will be flooded with water, and this water will be carrying rubble that will kill anyone who doesn’t drown. If I’m wrong Sir, I will resign my commission on the spot, but I am not wrong.”
Without responding, the Colonel turned to shout, “OUT OF THE CANYON! DROP YOUR GEAR, OUT OF THE CANYON! MOVE!”
Evans went to the side of the canyon and boosted Tiscornia up to a ledge, who then pulled him up. They repeated this leapfrog until they got out of the canyon. Evans turned around to look at the chaos unfolding. He started to hear a rumbling off in the distance and noticed that the water in the stream started to dirty. Most of the soldiers had made it out up a slope on the other side of the canyon. He noticed the Lieutenant from Apple looking around and count on her fingers after most people had gone from the canyon. She nodded then ran back to where she had been conversing with Evans and Tiscornia. Picking up her pack, she started to climb the side of the canyon. Once she got her pack all the way on, she pulled a pointed hammer off her belt and used it to climb her way up the face. Once she got close enough, Evans and Tiscornia reached down to haul her up.
The Lieutenant smiled and nodded, “Thank you kindly.” She took her canteen off her belt and took a drink before continuing, “I’m Noelle by the way.”
With a crash, a torrent of water filled with debris rushed through the canyon. The Lieutenant nodded, “And looks like I’m still Lieutenant Hudson. Your names?”
“Sergeant Evans and Lance Corporal Tiscornia, Ma’am”
“Pleasure to make your acquaintance,” The Lieutenant stood up and counted before shouting across the canyon to the rest of the regiment across, “Lieutenant Hudson, Reporting! Fourteen Soldiers and One Officer This Side! Made Count During Evacuation! From Third Platoon Apple Company! All But Myself Evacuated Your Side! Request Orders!”
After a minute, the Colonel shouted back across the canyon, “Report Names and Units of Soldiers on Your Side, Then Make Your Way Back to Camp.”
Lieutenant Hudson followed her orders and reported back to the Regiment. In addition to Lieutenant Hudson, Evans, and Tiscornia, there were three Privates from Baker, one Lance Corporal from Charles, two Privates from Dog, two Privates and two Lance Corporals from Habit, and two Privates from Ingot.
The Lieutenant then turned to the gathered soldiers, smiled, and said, “Well isn’t this just like a pulp novel. I’m the dashing young geologist, who, after a disaster, is put in charge of a crack team of shock troopers who must make their way overland after being cut off. Ooh, we’re called Noelle’s Expedition. I’m putting that in my official report,” She shook her head for a moment, ‘So I’m Noelle, I’ll be your officer. Before we set off, water check and weapons check.”
After a quick check and report, it was clear that here was a problem. There was about a liter of water per person. The weapons had fared better. Lieutenant Hudson, Evans, Tiscornia, and two of the other Lance Corporals had pistols. Five of the privates had held onto their rifles, and the likelihood of running into rebel holdouts was low.
“Now, bad news everyone, you lost all your helmets in the chaos. Put on your cloth hats so you’ve covered.
One of the Privates spoke up, “But Lieutenant, I still have my helmet. And so does pretty much everyone else Ma’am”
Lieutenant Hudson nodded, smiled, then walked over to the Private. She pulled out her bayonet out, slipped it under his chin strap and cut it. Quickly sheathing it, she grabbed the helmet and tossed it into the canyon. She then walked back to her place in front of the group, “Now, anyone else still have their helmets?” Lieutenant Hudson tossed her helmet, then pulled a floppy wide brimmed hat out of her bag.and plopped it on her head, “Now, let’s move out.”