The US Army must collect trees or something. I had been to Forts Campbell, Knox, Lewis, Leonard Wood, McCoy and Ethan Allen Firing Range in Vermont. All of them, with the exception of Campbell, were loaded with trees. Fort Drum had them beat.
Even peeking through the tiny window of a C-141 at ten o clock at night I could see the snow covered trees below. I hadn't lived full time in California for two years now, but snow still creeped me out. At least winter meant less spiders. We landed at the post airfield and lugging our gear made our way to whatever our orders called for.
I pulled my field jacket and gloves out of my duffel and bundled up so as not to become a Buffy-cicle. The sun had gone down and the temperature was not rising. Closing up my duffel and slinging it and my rifle over my shoulder, I picked up my ruck and headed for an MP who was trying not to freeze while standing flightline guard.
"Summers, I'm on temporary duty from 33rd MP," I turned so he could see my unit patch, "How do I get to the 87th Infantry Regiment HQ?"
He smiled, "They put a woman TDY with infantry?"
"Do I look like I understand guys with stars on shoulders?"
"Oh yeah...No problem. You're family, I think I can whistle up a ride over from one of the road patrols."
"You do that, and next time you're in Chicago you get a good dinner."
"Deal...Hang on. This is post four requesting shift supervisor."
"Got it post four. On the way."
A few minutes later a Humvee pulled up with a PFC driving and a Sergeant in the passenger seat.
"What's up Horwatz?"
"Lost sheep Sarge. Sergeant Summers here just got in and no pickup had been arranged. She's with the 33rd out of Illinois, I figured maybe we could give her a lift?"
"Where are your orders to?"
"87th Infantry. Yes I know I'm a woman."
"Somebody probably screwed up, but I can give you a ride. That all your gear?"
"Okay, hop in."
I threw my gear in and climbed in after it, "Thanks Horwatz!"
"Take it easy Sarge."
It was snowing lightly as we drove across the base. At least the hummer's heater worked so I wasn't getting anymore colder. Finally we pulled up in front of a typical brick building. I hopped out, grabbed my gear, and after thanking them for the lift, watched them drive off into the night.
I walked into the office area and took my hat off.
The Staff Duty Officer was a First Lieutenant with a set of crutches leaning against the desk. He had been reading until I walked in.
"Sergeant Summers reporting Sir," I handed him a copy of my orders.
He looked at them and his eyebrows raised. He leaned over and pulled out a binder and started flipping through it.
"You are Summers, B. A. last four 9719, E-5 Illinois National Guard?"
"Yes sir, why?"
"Because you're supposed to be male."
"Sorry sir. I can't do that."
"Chill out Sarge, this is a milpers issue. Got your 201?"
"Right here," I handed him a copy of my personnel file.
"Arabic AND Farsi proficiency scores? Mountain Operations Winter, Air Assault, and LDAC early, PT scores maxed for 18 year old male! Qualified expert with pistol, rifle and shotgun! Is this thing real?"
"Uh, yes sir. I tend to be a little bit of an overachiever."
"Yeah I'd say so."
"So what now sir?" I had relaxed a little.
"Sit down, take your coat off. You've reported as ordered, it's not your fault the Army screwed up. The thing is we really need linguists with what's going down. The division sent out a general request and you got tapped," he was stamping and filing my paperwork as he talked, "Tomorrow morning I'll talk to the Sergeant Major. He can get this cleared up. In the mean time, as soon as my driver gets back from the shoppette, he'll grab you a room over in the Headquarter's Company area and some bedding so you can crash. I can secure your weapons. We'll transfer them to the armory in the morning."
"Thank you sir."
"No problem Sarge, even if you didn't go to Penn State."
I rolled my eyes and laughed.
I woke up the next morning at 5, showered and changed into duty uniform. Other soldiers were in the halls and I asked a private where the food was hiding itself.
He told me where the chow hall was lurking and recommended I stay away from the waffles. A corporal passing by nodded his head vigorously in agreement to that. I wandered over to the food and stood in line for a while just waiting for the doors to open. This was the first time I had actually been on a military post as something other than a trainee and it felt weird but right. I got let in and flashing my orders and ID, was allowed to enter.
The food, except for the waffles was good and there was plenty. I may have overloaded my tray a little, as one of the mess sergeants was giving me the evil eye until I finished all of it.
Then it was back to the HQ to find the Duty Officer and unscramble the mess.
I had been sitting outside the Sergeant Major's office for two hours as he argued with various bureaucrats over the phone. Finally after a pretty impressive bout of growling he called me back in.
"Yes Sergeant Major."
"What the hell am I going to do with you?"
"Uh...not shoot me?"
"No, shooting's for the admin remfs. Problem is, we put out a general call for linguists. You were selected because of your skill set and as well as your superb physical qualifications and military school rankings. It's just that someone neglected to select 'Male Only' when they were looking."
"I've seen women in this unit area."
"Admin, supply, mechanics...the linguists would be attached to forward teams."
"Sergeant Major, the only reason I went MP is because I couldn't go infantry. I may be a Cadet slash Nasty Guard, but I do know that I could be attached as an intelligence asset, regardless of gender."
"You serious? I mean what's coming up is going to be really nasty Summers."
"I joined the Army to pay for school. But I know my obligations. If I can help, I will."
"Alright, we'll get you assigned to a platoon and you can start working with them. We're on a short clock though, wheels up could be any day now."a/n
I know ! I know! Where's the crossover!?! I like logical (as much as possible in a Buffy fic at least) set-ups, and getting Buffy somewhere is the set-up in this one.
Buffy as a member of the ROTC Simultaneous Membership Program, is considered an Sergeant (E-5) when she is on active duty. Her Cadet rank is Staff Sergeant. Her current schools are Basic Training, Military Police Advanced Individual Training, Air Assault, Mountain Warfare School (Winter), Cadet Field Training, and Leader Development and Assessment Course.