Disclaimer:I don't own Bleach. Duh.
Thank you again to the wonderful Langus for the brilliant beta job.
No Honor Among Thieves
Slumped lightly against the corner of the wagon, Rukia worked furiously to free her hands, making as little movement as possible while sawing through the rope. Feeling it start to give, she halted momentarily when she heard Renji's barb, obviously intended to provoke the orange-haired idiot. She almost rolled her eyes at the weak jab, but that was before she noticed the twitching of his hands. The moron was actually getting riled up over it! She didn't know why Renji had decided to bring this imbecile along, but she did know that he wouldn't stand a chance if he attacked Renji alone. Though they were probably equal in size and strength, Renji was armed, and was experienced in using both his weapons and his wits. She harbored no love for the fool, but she wouldn't watch him die in front of her if she could prevent it.
"Renji," she said quietly but forcefully, drawing both men's attention to her. "Let him go. He's not worth your time, and it's me you're after anyway."
Rukia tried to catch the simpleton's eye to silently reiterate that he should wait, but he was too preoccupied with processing her words, most likely wondering if what she had said figured up to an insult. Ignoring his accusing stare, she did give in to the urge to roll her eyes then, but barely suppressed a wince at Renji's next statement.
"And here I thought you two had already been introduced," she heard him say, as she turned her attention desperately back to the knife in her hands. With a few hasty saws and a small jerk, the rope fell away and her hands were freed, though she made sure to conceal this fact from her captor.
"Kuchiki Rukia, meet Kurosaki Ichigo. You're both wanted for robbery and murder."
Liberated from her bonds, Rukia didn't wait for Renji to elaborate, although in the back of her mind she was mildly surprised by the gravity of the charges against…Kurosaki? Was that his name? While he was certainly a fierce opponent in a barroom brawl, he didn't seem to have a malevolent personality or cruel nature.
Giving herself a mental shake, Rukia realized that now was neither the time nor the place for such conjecture. She absently disregarded the question for the moment and focused instead on her next move. Her muscles were sluggish from their inactivity, but obeyed when she tightened them and coiled her body in anticipation of a strike. Glancing quickly at Kurosaki, she met his eyes briefly before springing forward.
"Now!" she cried, and was forced to be impressed with his quick response.
His reflexes were good, better than she had expected them to be, and with the element of surprise working in their combined favor, Renji didn't stand a chance. Their auburn-haired captor was momentarily stunned as each of them rammed a hard shoulder into his chest. He toppled easily from his precarious perch atop the wagon to the ground. Kurosaki followed him and immediately began to punch any body part within reach. Rukia, without the benefit of a human cushion to break her fall, winced as the hard, cracked earth rushed up to meet her.
Renji recovered his senses quickly. Grabbing Ichigo by the edges of his coat, he rolled and reversed their positions. His hand went to his hip and he rapidly withdrew the long Bowie knife from its sheath. As the deadly blade descended toward Ichigo's throat, though, Rukia scrambled up and launched herself forward. Her heavy boot drove between the two men in a wild kick that caught Renji sharply in the wrist. The knife flew from his hand, but its landing went unnoticed as Renji half-stood and gave Rukia a hard shove that sent her careening back towards the wagon.
As her head cracked loudly against the unyielding wood, Rukia's vision swam and for a moment she could only watch, dazed, as Kurosaki grabbed Renji from behind, trapping his neck in the crook of his arm in a tight chokehold.
Renji pounded furiously at Ichigo's arm while his face began to turn a deep shade of puce from lack of oxygen, but his sharp instincts finally prevailed and he drove his elbow hard into Ichigo's ribs. The orange-haired man lost his grip completely at the sudden blow and Renji turned, delivering a heavy punch to the midsection that sent Ichigo staggering backwards, clutching a hand to his bruised ribs.
Rukia gave herself a shake to clear her vision, wincing at the lancing pain that shot through her skull at the motion, but, seeing Renji's hand move toward the holster at his hip, found herself darting forward with a harsh cry. She caught him off guard as she plowed into him, and his hand had not yet reached the pistol as her small weight overbalanced him. They tumbled to the ground in a confused tangle of limbs, and a desperate battle for dominance ensued. Bruised but victorious, it ended with Rukia straddling his chest and she settled all of her weight onto her knees, strategically placed in the crooks of his arms. He was effectively pinned while she reached behind her and took his revolver for herself.
In the space of a heartbeat, Rukia had drawn the gun and leveled it at Renji's head. Finding himself staring down the barrel of his own sixgun, he froze and narrowed his eyes. The look of utter hatred he evinced cut through her like a knife, and Rukia found her hand shaking as she kept the weapon pointed in his face. All the anger and adrenaline that had fueled her drained rapidly, leaving behind only sorrow and regret.
"Are you going to kill me, too, Rukia?" he asked her in a quiet, bitter voice, craning his neck forward to stare at her accusingly. Rukia, quite unwillingly, flicked her gaze toward the immobile orange-haired man, who silently watched the exchange with guarded expression.
He doesn't matter! She berated herself angrily, and turned her attention once more to the man beneath her, who stared at her with a mixture of rage and despondency.
Rukia's brows drew together and she shook her head slowly before replying, striving to deny through gesture alone the incriminations in his eyes.
"You don't know what you're talking about, Renji," she said in a subdued tone.
There was nothing else I could do, she added silently.
She held his gaze for a moment longer, trying desperately to communicate her remorse, before flipping the revolver around in her palm. Gripping the barrel, she fought the urge to squeeze her eyes shut as she slammed the wooden grip against the side of his head, returning the blow he had given her the previous night. She watched numbly as Renji's eyes rolled back and his head fell against the dirt with a soft thump, both the action and its consequences leaving Rukia feeling all but paralyzed.
She remained still and silent for a little while longer, before an odd feeling of composure began creeping over her. Despite the overwhelming emotions that threatened to break through her stony façade, she slowly tucked the pistol into the waist of her pants, strangely comforted by its cool weight against her back. Bracing her hands on the unconscious man's chest, she stood and calmly began brushing the dirt from her clothing in a business-like manner. Forcing herself to assume a professional and detached attitude, she glanced briefly at Ichigo. Though she avoided eye contact, Rukia now began a careful analysis of this enemy-turned-ally, who was now a potential threat once more.
He was certainly tougher than she had originally thought, and a remarkable shot, as well. Both their encounter in the saloon and the struggle with Renji attested to that. She wasn't sure, though, how to reconcile her first impression of him as an infuriating, orange-haired buffoon with that of a hardened killer. In retrospect, she found it curious, considering his crimes, that he had not aimed to kill the men in the saloon, but the contradictory nature of the man only reinforced her instinct that he was not to be trusted.
Turning her gaze to the individual in question once more, she noticed that he was still standing in the same spot, staring at her with a quizzical and vaguely distrustful look that suggested he was taking her measure as well. Ichigo looked at her only a moment longer, though, before pointedly turning his back to her and moving towards the seat of the wagon, where he immediately began rummaging through a misshapen sack on the footboard.
The casual dismissal instantly irritated her. Was he suggesting by showing her his back that she was not a danger to him? It certainly wasn't a display of trust, and the impression that he thought her inferior in some way nettled at her.
Ichigo, seemingly oblivious to her scrutiny, stepped back from the wagon, his long gun belt suspended between his outstretched hands. After a perfunctory examination and a nod to himself, he brushed the split tails of his duster aside, wrapped the belt around his narrow hips and fastened it securely at his waist. He then promptly brought his leg up to rest his boot on the edge of the wagon, and as he slid his newly recovered hunting knife to its place inside his boot, Rukia found herself fighting a traitorous blush when the action pulled his trousers tight against his firm backside. She managed to look away before he turned and casually tossed the bag in her direction, an obscure expression on his permanently scowling face. It landed with a muffled thump at her feet.
Rukia shot an angry and suspicious glare at Ichigo, who had propped himself comfortably against the side of the wagon and taken to following her movements with unreadable eyes. As she looked down toward the lump of a bag, she scowled at her inability to read his intentions. If their positions were reversed, she definitely wouldn't have returned his weapons so lightly. Had he forgotten that only hours ago she had been trying her damnedest to beat the daylights out of him? Well, if he underestimated her, he would be sorry. She would see to that.
He still hadn't said a word, and though his silence – and staring – grated at her nerves, she finally decided to simply ignore it as she crouched down to retrieve her own belongings, keeping her expression as stoic as possible. Thoughts roiled under the surface, but thanks in large part to her upbringing and partially to her training, Rukia had excellent discipline and a will of steel. She would allow no man, handsome or not, to penetrate the carefully constructed mask she presented to the world.
Gritting her teeth, she briskly withdrew her own weapons from the small sack. She carefully examined the two Colt double-action revolvers, and almost permitted herself a smile. Rukia took pride, as always, in their impeccable condition. Despite their frequent use since their government issue two years ago, not a scratch could be found on the gleaming metal surface of the barrels. The hard wooden grips felt solid and reassuring in her hand and had a muted luster that defined the concept of loving care.
However, even the comfort brought by being reunited with her pistols couldn't overcome her aggravation with the idiot staring at her, scowling even as he silently appraised her. Is that the only expression he's got? She thought incredulously, but resigned herself to ignoring his enigmatic behavior while she sought a solution to the awkward, and much more pressing, dilemma of 'what next?' Frustration with the tense silence finally got the better of her, though, and when the words came to her lips, she was surprised by their ferocity.
"What!" She snapped viciously.
If there was one thing Rukia hated, it was being stared at. Actually, there were many things Rukia hated, but his scrutinizing served only to rub salt in the wound. It didn't help that his probing gaze tended to linger unnecessarily around her chest and hips. It was to those facts that she attributed the vehemence of her response.
She had been hated and lusted after before, sometimes simultaneously, by far more despicable men than he, and the taunting look and arrogant set to his lips should not have been nearly enough to unsettle her. Everything about this man seemed designed to irritate her, though, and she had a feeling he knew it! It was only the instinct that he was intentionally provoking her that allowed her to slowly rein in her errant temper.
"What do you mean, 'what'?" Ichigo replied gratingly. He even had the nerve to narrow his eyes and glower at her audaciously. Though the evasion was obvious, it only infuriated her all the more. That simple utterance was all it took to shatter her composure, and she found herself turning to him aggressively, her hands balling into small fists at her sides.
"I'm sorry; I guess I wasn't specific enough the first time. What the fuck are you staring at?" The anger was radiating off of her in waves now, and only her well-conditioned sense of restraint prevented her from launching, once again, an all-out attack on the maddening, arrogant, despicable, attractive man before her.
Attractive? her mind objected wildly. She brushed off the inane comment from her subconscious, and instead focused her attention on the forthcoming response from said maddening, arrogant, despicable, and most assuredly not attractive person.
Ichigo glared at her with a stubborn, impish expression, clearly a mask for his discomfiture at having been caught. Frustratingly, he chose to leave her question unanswered, and Rukia was sure it was purely out of spite. After spending several long moments waiting vainly for a response, she turned on her heel, fuming, and made the impetuous decision that she would be leaving the wagon, Renji, and the infuriating criminal behind. Right then, she was willing to go offin any direction, consequences be damned, as long as they remained far behind.
Wasting no time in the wake of her mental declaration, she went to the back of the wagon, where she began tugging at the saddle stored there. Her posture became stiff and movements fitful in her struggle to be effective in her endeavors yet indifferent to the slow, heavy footfalls that almost hesitantly followed her.
Why did this man get such a rise out of her? Rukia had always prided herself on her ability to keep her cool under any circumstances, but something about him just got under her skin. Seething, she pulled at the saddle harder than necessary and stumbled backward. Her mouth opened in a silent cry of dismay as her feet began to slide out from under her, and as the saddle dropped clumsily to the ground she almost went with it, pinwheeling her arms comically in an effort to stay upright.
Gravity began to assert its uncontested pull, and she had just enough time to belligerently note that that Kurosaki fool would probably find her fall amusing. Squeezing her eyes shut, Rukia braced herself for a painful re-acquaintance with the dry, packed earth, only to be halted by the sudden appearance of a firm hand underneath each arm. Anger was quick to replace surprise, as she abruptly realized that only the object of her fury could have prevented such a spill.
Rukia recovered her senses quickly and exchanged indignant glances between the face of her orange-haired nemesis and his hands, which were rather conveniently brushing the sides of her breasts. She disregarded the strange sensation of goose bumps rising on her skin, and even in her nearly horizontal position managed to tug angrily against his hold.
"Get your hands off me," she spat, her fiery tone, hopefully, disguising her wounded pride.
Snorting derisively, Ichigo righted her quickly before speedily drawing his hands back, and looked at them with an expression that suggested they had been steeped in garbage, rather than wrapped around a woman's body. His disdainful and slightly shocked expression indicated quite clearly that only reflex had brought him to her rescue.
Rukia, for her part, roughly jerked away from him, and mustered all the dignity she could before turning a cold shoulder once more. Hefting the saddle and carrying it toward the front of the cart, she upended it so it rested on its horn.
She was surprised to hear his footsteps echoing hers, and Rukia forced herself to squash the brief spike in her temper. He was persistent, she would give him that. Now if only he could turn that determination to some other end than annoying her.
"You didn't kill him," he conceded finally, as he halted behind her. His observation vaguely surprised her and was jarring enough to halt her movements, though only for an instant. Even with her back turned Rukia could feel his calculating gaze upon her as she rose from her half-crouch.
His statement was not a question, but she could hear the inquisitive note in his voice. Bristling at both the observation and the implication, she tossed the saddle blanket over the horse's back carelessly, and it whinnied in surprise.
"Should I have?" she asked him more heatedly than she intended, surveying him through narrowed eyes.
She bent to seize the heavy leather saddle then heaved it up and settled it gently against the chestnut mare. Detaching herself momentarily from her irritation with the man standing behind her, she gently stroked the horse's neck in apology for her earlier haste, before reaching down to fasten and tighten the girth.
Though she was trying quite hard to ignore the orange-haired ruffian, Rukia found it was quite impossible not to meet his eye as he moved to the opposite side of the horse and pulled experimentally at the cinch before adjusting the stirrup height. He continued his newfound hobby of studying her, and her hard stare met his. The awkward, static quiet descended once more before finally, magnanimously, he deigned to respond, and Rukia loathed him even more with each condescending syllable that left his mouth.
"No. But I find it strange that a wanted murderer doesn't kill the man hunting her," he said simply, ignoring her questioning stare.
Rukia quirked an eyebrow at the nosy observation and turned away once more. That wasn't the type of answer she would have expected from a rogue killer, either, but she immediately classified the discrepancy as yet another reason that he was unpredictable, and therefore untrustworthy. His proclamation made her feel slightly indignant, and though she silently debated the wisdom of providing a potential enemy with insight into her actions, she responded nonetheless.
"Not that it's any of your business, but I don't kill anyone unless I have to," she answered coldly, even as another part of her mind berated her for the admission.
Positioned again at the rear of the wagon, Rukia's gaze swept doubtfully over the supplies Renji had garnered for what she hoped was a short trip. She still wasn't exactly sure where they were, and could only hope that the nearest settlement was within easy riding distance.
Shading her eyes with her hand, Rukia took a moment to survey her surroundings, but she couldn't discern much about their specific location, except that it must be somewhere between El Paso and the Davis mountains, if the low line against northern horizon and more rugged eruptions of rock to the southeast were any indication. The unchanging pattern of sand and scattered scrub in between suggested that they were currently at the edges of the Chihuauan Desert, but more than that she could not glean from the surroundings.
A day's travel to the east would most likely take her through the wide valley between the outstretched arms of the mountains, and it was a fair bet that turning northward at that point would eventually bring her to the small string of budding railroad towns that lay on the trail to Pecos. Though it was nothing more than conjecture at the moment, it was the closest thing she had to a plan.
She shot a very dirty look at her pompous companion as he maneuvered around her presumptuously and without a backward glance began filling a small sack with potatoes, bacon, a jug or two of water. Heaving the bulging sack over his shoulder, he walked back around the wagon to begin loading them into the saddlebags. He had finished the process of securing two bedrolls to the back of the saddle before she could respond. Closing her mouth, she was on the verge of asking him angrily what, exactly, he thought he was doing, but he overrode her offended look and began to speak in a low, thoughtful voice.
"I don't usually question people about their pasts. I'm sorry," he said.
The simple admission of an apology was enough for Rukia to raise an eyebrow at, and she stared at him in disbelief, wondering briefly if his struggle with Renji had knocked something loose in that orange head of his. To her, it seemed more likely that he was trying to put her off guard than make amends. Incredulity was quickly replaced by annoyance though, as he continued.
"It's just, if we're gonna call a truce, I needed to know that. I try to make it a habit to judge a man at present value, not by anything that went before¹," he said matter-of-factly as he finished loading the saddlebags and pulled their flaps closed. He turned to her with a sage expression, clearly expecting her to be impressed with the wisdom of his words. In spite of her growing annoyance, she was secretly pleased to see that he was taken aback by what must have been a very sour expression on her face.
"I'm not a man, Kurosaki," Rukia growled, in a voice that would have intimidated Santa Anna² himself. She fought the urge to grind her teeth, and instead only squinted her eyes menacingly before she went on. "And who says we're calling a truce?"
"Well, first of all, Kuchiki, as far as 'men' go, you're close enough," he spat, and she immediately bristled at the comment. She opened her mouth to utter a retort, but he cut her off again.
"Second, we're in the middle of the desert, with who knows how many miles to go, and we're both in a hurry. A horse'll travel faster without a wagon, which I'm assuming you know, since you were kind enough to saddle it," he smirked, the expression more mocking than mirthful.
"Since there's only one horse though, that doesn't leave much option. That is why we should call a truce," he finished arrogantly.
"I don't know," Rukia said contrarily. "The idea of you rotting in the wastelands while I ride off into the sunset is actually a little appealing."
Without bothering to wait for his reaction, she bent to un-tether the horse from the yoke of the wagon. The aggravation brought on by the nuisance of a man standing silently beside her made her movements hurried and clumsy. Scowling, she tried to ignore the feeling of his eyes as they studied her and focused instead on the task at hand, firmly squashing the defensive and competitive emotions engendered by his scrutiny.
Though her instincts told her not to pay any attention to the ruffian at her side – it would probably only fuel his ego – Rukia found herself looking up sharply at the vehement curse, and was surprised to see Ichigo's head turned away from her. However, when she followed his line of sight she muttered an oath of her own, and swiftly redoubled her efforts.
A billowing, roiling wall of dust stretched across the horizon, as far as she could see in either direction³. It rose up from the earth in a cloudy brown mist that nearly blotted out the bright blue of the sky. A sand storm in open terrain was nothing to be taken lightly, but she swallowed her fear and quickly released the horse from the wagon, tossing the reins over the saddle. The rational part of her mind told her that she should have been mounting the horse and riding as far and fast in the opposite direction as she could, but as she glanced at Renji, still spread unconscious on ground, her heart tugged her back toward him.
She was surprised to note that even as she ran toward Renji, Ichigo did the same. Leaning down, she quickly pulled Renji's kerchief up over his face, and then reached below her to grab his legs. Ichigo grasped him under the arms, and together they heaved him up and tossed him into the wagon, now emptied of all but a few supplies. As she raced back around, she paused only to toss the flap of the canvas front closed, before darting towards the now quite unsettled horse.
The vast cloud of dust was much nearer now, and Rukia felt her pulse quicken in apprehension as she hooked her foot into the stirrup. She threw herself up in the saddle and only spared Ichigo one quick, angry glance as he followed suit and climbed up behind her. The horse reared up in alarm, nearly unbalancing them both, before she gained control and urged it forward, toward the low, hazy outline of the mountain range to the east.
She immediately pushed it into a gallop, and after tossing its head briefly in fright, the mare followed her command. In her determination to find safety, she even forgot to reprimand the fool behind her for the improper, and quite forceful, grip of his hands against her waist as his chest pressed flush against her back. Her thoughts strayed quickly back to Renji, but she reassured herself with the fact that the wagon would provide some semblance of protection, while two people and a horse would require greater cover.
The wall of sand and dust drew closer in spite of the reckless speed at which they traveled, and cast a shadow over the fleeing pair. Rukia searched desperately for some type of shelter, her vision blurred by the blistering particles of dust and wind that raged about them on the fringes of the storm. The massive cloud drew ever closer, and Rukia began to despair of finding any refuge from the violent storm at their heels. Then, almost by chance, she spotted a small outcropping of rocks dimly outlined against the blurred and shifting scenery of sand and scrub. Veering suddenly toward it, she felt Kurosaki's hands tighten about her waist as she urged the mare to greater speed.
Chancing a look over her shoulder, Rukia's trepidation increased when she saw how close the impenetrable wall of wind and sand had drawn, and her mouth formed a grim line when she saw Ichigo's squinting expression, most likely mirroring her own. Visibility was almost nonexistent, and all the world was transformed into a whirling panorama of muddy light as the blasting gusts whipped stingingly at their clothes and hair. Tiny grains of sand became painful projectiles in the onslaught of wind, and Rukia pulled her kerchief over her face, though the scrap of cloth was unable to completely shield her from the furious gales. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Ichigo draw his own dark bandana up as well.
Facing forward once again, she leaned low over the neck of the horse and dug her heels into its sides. The mare gave a terrified, exhausted, and final spurt of speed, tossing its head in fright, and as they moved at last into the limited shelter of the scraggly rocks, Rukia pulled sharply on the reins. The horse reared, then pranced fitfully as Rukia and Ichigo leaped from its back.
Tugging forcefully at the reins, Rukia finally persuaded the horse to shift further into the lee by removing her kerchief and wrapping it over its eyes. Suddenly blind, the horse became much calmer, in spite of the storm raging around them, and allowed her to guide it, with Ichigo's added strength, flush against the rocks. Ducking down, Rukia released the reins to Ichigo and pulled the edges of her duster up around her face and squeezed her eyes shut, though it did little to ease the sting of sand against the sensitive skin of her face.
She crouched, making herself small, and did not bother to fight as Ichigo pulled the horse closer and knelt beside, and slightly in front of her. Their shoulders pressed against each other and the antsy, blindfolded horse protected them somewhat against the biting winds, but the storm raged unabated around them, a furious symphony of screaming, blasting gusts of scalding air mingled with the sharp zing of airborne sand and gravel. The world did not exist in this murky, impenetrable cloud of flying earth and in the insanity of the moment, Rukia was grateful for the fact that she was, at least, not alone.
A/N: Well, hello again! And thank you so much for reading :) I apologize deeply for the delay in getting this chapter up, but I didn't anticipate the many difficulties of working the graveyard shift at the casino. Hopefully I can get my schedule regulated and be more productive in the future. And thank you so much to everyone who has reviewed. It really means a lot to me, and has done wonders for my confidence level :D Now (dun dun dun) for my copious notes about historical, geographical, and meteorological events within this fic. Feel free to skip them.
Get ready, this one's a doosie:
¹ Code of the West – though it was never chronicled in writing until around 1934, there was an unwritten code of conduct in the Old West that was based on ideas of "hospitality, fair play, loyalty, and respect for the land." Obviously, Ichigo's ideas about a person and judging their worth stem from this. I can't guarantee that he won't break a few of the others in the future, but if you're interested in reading about them, here's a link:
w w w. legendsofamerica .com/WE-CodeOfTheWest. h t m l (remove spaces)
If you do check it out, check out the rest of the site, too. It's a veritable treasure-trove of knowledge ;)
² Santa Anna – so, growing up in Texas, I apparently took general knowledge of its history for granted, and didn't realize that it might not be that widely-known until I made the comparison to Santa Anna and my beta said "Who's that?" An understandable and valid point, but I wanted to keep the reference, so here's the explanation. Antonio de Padua María Severino López de Santa Anna y Pérez de Lebrón (what a mouthful), more commonly known simply as Santa Anna, was in the early 1800s first an opponent, and then a supporter of Mexico's independence from Spain. He rose through the military to the rank of general, and then in 1833 became the elected President of Mexico, after the previous president was overthrown and killed. Initially he had little to no interest in running the country, but eventually decided that Mexico was not ready for democracy and declared himself dictator.
In 1835 the Texas Revolution began, and the Republic of Texas declared its independence on March 2, 1836. Santa Anna personally led troops north to reclaim it in the interim, and his ruthless tactics became a rallying point for the Texas army. At the Battle of the Alamo (March 6, 1836), 4000 Mexican troops (arguably one of the best-trained armies in the world at the time) laid siege against the 182 defenders (possibly more– the numbers today are unclear). This battle is considered by many to be Texas' own Thermopylae, and Santa Anna's troops gave no quarter to the brave men when the Alamo was finally overrun. This was the basis for the famous battle cry, "Remember the Alamo!" Its counterpart, "Remember Goliad!" was derived from the event a month later where the 350 defenders of the town of Goliad, who had surrendered, were executed en masse. Oh, there's so much more I could write about this, but long story short, those are a few reasons that Santa Anna would be intimidating :) So there you go, the Texas Revolution in a nutshell.
³ Dust/sandstorms and the Chihuahuan Desert – though it is actually the largest desert in North America, the Chihuahuan Desert is a scrub desert, meaning that it is populated by low-lying and hardy plants, and I have yet to find any information regarding the frequency of sandstorms within it. Obviously, they happen, just like tornados in Pennsylvania, but I was unable to discover whether they were a common or freak occurrence. And this fic is about fifty years too early for the Dust Bowl, which was caused in part by the removal of trees and plants, whose roots contained the loose soil. So anyway, it's not a completely off-the-wall, unbelievable event, but I hope it fit into the context of the story. That said, did you know that more people die in the desert from drowning than thirst? This is because the same weather conditions that produce sandstorms are also ideal for thunderstorms (yes, they do happen in the desert) and the soil of the desert doesn't absorb water easily, which causes flash floods.
Okay, I'm done being nerdy (for the moment). I hope you found that interesting, but if not, I understand completely. I'm just rather passionate about learning in general and history in specific, and I can't help but want to share I'll try to get the next chapter up quickly, but I doubt it will be before Sunday or Monday. Thanks again, and see you next time.