It was not what Captain Colbourne had in mind when the Lieutenant made his opening move. The younger officer spreads the column up as thin as paper, almost 500 metres in length. The captain himself became the vanguard, with Sergeants Trake and Carwell accompanying him. He sneered in disgust as he could hear them coming up to them- it was not that he could predict based on the footsteps who was coming up to him. It just didn't matter who it was coming up to him, he just hated them. Regardless, in the hopes of teaching the Lieutenant a lesson if his tactic fails and thinning out his unworthy herd, straining the real killers from the husks, he let the Lieutenant's unorthodoxed methods slide. For all he knew, modern warfare had long been bombed out of existence, leaving behind... something else, turning the rules of warfare inside out.
Corporal Lulu was confused as to who to follow. She was attached to the British specialist, Carwell, and yet the Lieutenant specifically ordered just the sergeants to be at the front... Eventually, she stuck to the Lieutenant's orders, writting off her British superior as being confused, and she accompanied Shaheen instead. There was silence- even Kaylin knew there was something wrong with the 'standard' column, but being the 'recruit', she kept mum. Sergeant Geary and the Happy Farmer (some would say from the funny farm) was put at the back, and so they went to the back. Johannesburg did not say a word, but kept up his sunny smile, happy that he would be someone they would fall back on in case something happened, or that he would be at the frontlines of any backstab if a battle were to happen.
The sun was beating down on the scorched Earth as it was slowly rising, painting the sky blood red, as if angry at the Khans for what they had done. The air was dusty, stale- it would be years before the air would see any improvement in its quality. Sand, dirt and rock had long piled up along the road and by it in ditches, with numerous abandoned cars. There was the odd skeleton inside and outside the cars once in a while. As half a mile was marched and then one, up ahead of Shaheen's group was a family of four skeletons, with the largest two still bearing old pistols that appears serviceable. The holes in their skull were clue enough for what had happened. Without batting an eye, the captain passed by one particular skeleton that had a rusty pump-action shotgun up its jaw, and half a skull left. 'At least the reserve Phoenixes will have plenty of guns to scavenge,' he thought. While it was standard practice for federal forces to stockpile such abandoned supplies and resources, the Phoenix Expeditionary Company had better things to do. There were many more skeletons and their cars, waiting to be picked through. The reason they weren't was likely due to the fact that the great sandstorms had just abated. This, however, horrifyingly means that the highways would likely be rich with scavengers good and ill...
In the distance, a pair of binoculars glinted for a moment before disappearing. A few yards away, on the great abandoned cars and small sand ridges that looked like sloped walls was slight movement. Something did not feel right. The captain stopped, and held up his left fist, signalling everyone (if they could even see his fist) to hold positions. If it comes to it, it would be easy to take cover in the sea of rusted, dusty cars, though on the downside, movement would be impeded. There were even times when the cars were forming walls, as if back when the Khans' strike were imminent, citizens were so anxious that they were crushing each other with their own cars. Already, the formation was out of order, and their paper-thin column was likely longer than 500 metres. Despite this, Recruit Billy was still whistling a tune. Lulu Faust did not notice anything, and was still struggling to keep calm from the captain's earful. The napkin given to her, however, she cherished- even if it was uncharacteristic of her, she knew who to turn to now, when things get rough, and it certainly won't be the captain.