After a few minutes, First Squad had changed into their new uniforms. Evans looked around as the soldiers tucked their old uniforms into their kit bags. McGilligan still had her scarf sitting around her neck. Evans asked, “Should you be wearing that?”
“It’s a light scarf. In the desert, you want to keep the sun off you. And your sweat will be held in the scarf and it will cool you down. If there’s a dust storm, you can pull it up over your nose so you can breathe proper. Helps you filter water. Really it’s the most important part of the outfit.”
“So you were a scarf when you’re home?” Howe asked.
McGilligan smiled as she responded, “I’ve got scarves for every dress I have. My parents hated it, because it meant I was always planning on sneaking off into the desert to read and camp. My mother said I was too focused on reading and being out in the desert and not focused enough on boys.”
“Well obviously you focused on boys enough. To be a fallen woman,” Howe said under her breath.
McGilligan’s face went red. Her eyes narrowed in anger. She started to move towards Howe, fists clenched. Johnson and Madison moved quickly to hold her back.
Gibson looked surprised, confused, and a little bit scared. She took a few steps back to put Evans between her and the action.
Evans glared at Howe and said, “Howe, I’m sure you just had a slip of the tongue.”
Indignant, Howe replied, “You know, I’m plenty interested in men, and I’ve easily managed to stay chaste. All I’m saying is that this whore is lying to us.”
Before Evans had a chance to respond, Johnson had let go of McGilligan and dashed forward at Howe. With a single swing of her fist, Howe was on the ground. Johnson knelt on top of her and kept hitting until Tiscornia physically restrained her. Evans turned around and faced the wall of the train, “Johnson, Howe. Next two meals are cancelled and you are confined to the train at all stops. And if I find out anyone else is sneaking them food, First Squad will be fasting until we reach the Desert.”
Evans turned back to the Squad. Tiscornia had let Johnson go, and she was now in the back corner, comforting McGilligan. Madison and Ollie had moved over to make sure Howe was alright. Gibson walked over to Shep, still looking confused and whispered something to her.