Since people are still interested in my fics over here and FFN has fixed a couple (but not near all) of the issues it's been having, I'll start posting my stories here again. This is really against my better judgment and if they screw up so that dashes disappear or the ads somehow get more annoying, then I'm not coming back. It's bad enough they still don't allow tildies for no apparent reason.

I'm posting this in chapter one of all my stories so everyone knows where I can be found. See my profile for the link to my homepage.

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Men stared and shared half-hidden whispers. No one could quite understand what they were seeing: an oddity was seated at the training camp's makeshift bus stop. Two oddities, in fact.

One was sitting straight-backed with dark hair knotted in a tight bun only slightly softened by the stray curls at the forehead and each ear. Ankles were crossed and hands were folded in a lap covered by a floor-length, striped dress in rusty earthy tones. Her expression was a slightly relaxed severe, framed by oval glasses.

The other was in a more languid pose, leaning on the armrest with one leg at full extension. Coppery auburn hair was also tied back in a bun, but far looser with wisps escaping all around. A thick red work shirt a size too big was covered by black denim overalls, which were tucked into well worn boots. Eyes were covered by dark welding goggles but no doubt bright as the smile.

The onlookers boggled at the toolbox and medic's pack leaned against the bench's sides as the two women continued their chat and ignored them.

"I can't wait to get out there in the field, personally," the one in overalls drawled. "Book learnin' is all right, but nothin' beats the compellin' force of reality."

The other woman smiled, not as wide as her companion perhaps, but then she was a much more reserved person. "Ze action is more interesting, ja?"

"Hah, that's real amusin' comin' from you."

"How so?" she asked, pretending not to know what her companion was talking about. They'd sat next to each other on a four day bus ride and had already exchanged life stories. The German woman was a nurse turned meatball surgeon (and occasional Angel of Death) when the War hit, and when it ended she was unwilling to go back to blindly taking orders from the 'real' doctors. The Texan worked the oil fields since she was a teenager, more recently becoming the first in her family to go to college and earning an incredible number of PhDs.

In the past months they'd both joined Reliable Excavation and Demolition.

"I'm talkin' about you runnin' 'round war zones fixin' people up... and fixin' people, if you catch my meaning."

"You have also done vell, my hard hatted friend. Zis 'roughnecking' is dangerous vork, and your schooling is truly impressive."

"Aw, you're makin' me blush."

At length a paper-pusher type came to fetch them and enter their information into the system. He didn't seem to know what to do with either of them, but he tried to keep his composure. He also tried to be a gentleman by picking up the Texan's toolbox and found it was too heavy to handle. She laughed good-naturedly, swung her bag over her shoulder, and easily hefted the thing off the ground. The German smothered a rare impulse of non-sadistic laughter as she shouldered her own gear and personal effects. The man hid his embarrassment by carrying on with business.

"Welcome to RED Training Camp One. From this moment on you belong to Us. You have no pasts, no names, only your class designation. Engineer, Medic," he said, nodding to each of them in turn, "follow me."

The two headed off, ready to prove their worth in the RED Experimental Female Team.

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It turned out that Medic and Engineer were the first of the new team to arrive at the final camp. They'd all received their class training at various other facilities; now they were to learn how to work together. Usually a team didn't train together before shipping out, but as they were the Experimental they had to jump through a few extra hoops. They'd have to be a better team than any of the men ever were in order to pass all the tests and clear the way for other women interested in the questionable business.

Medic was pleased to see that Engineer was similarly aware of what her contribution could mean to future female employees of RED, though the Texan seemed to be more interested in the early learning stages. Teach the girls how to change a tire at 12 and maybe something will take, that sort of thing. Medic was fascinated by Engineer's persona and personality. While personal bonds weren't absolutely necessary, she was glad she'd found at least one friend in the Experimental.

They got to the place set aside for the nine of them, a small building that likely had a past life as a storage house. It wasn't spacious, but then barracks aren't supposed to be. Four bunk beds and one slightly larger cot stood in a row against one of the long walls, a row of roomy lockers and specialized storage for their gear lined the other. One short wall housed a few battered desks and the other the entry for their 'bathroom,' a couple sinks, a couple stalls, and a curtained off arch to their own communal showers.

"Reminds me of the sleepin' arrangements when we worked a rig outta state," Engineer said with nostalgic fondness as she hauled her things inside. With a marker left for them she claimed a locker in a scripty-yet-neat scrawl before handing it off to the other woman. "Guessin' we're the first ones here."

"Ja," Medic said distractedly as she concentrated on writing her 'name' in English. She hoped her days of written tests with essays were over; it was enough to learn speaking the language.

Engineer leaned out to see the interior of Medic's locker and raised an eyebrow. "You own nothin' but dresses?"

"I could never get used to trousers," she replied, shrugging. "No worries; they are all combat-ready."

"To each her own, huh?" the Texan smiled, hanging up her stack of overalls. "When do you reckon the others will get here?"

"I hope soon." the dark haired woman sat down on one of the beds. "I do vonder what they are like."

Engineer joined her. "I can help a bit. Our Sniper stopped by the base I trained at once. She didn't have to go through basic since she's been an assassin for years."

"Oh? Vat vas she like?"

"I only got to meet her for a minute, but she gave the impression of bein' real serious about her job. Real straightforward."

"Zat is good"

"Yeah, I think I like her. 'Course I also met our Spah."

"Is zat not--"

Medic was suddenly cut off by a wordless shout coming from the direction of the door. That was all the warning either of them got before a blur tackled Engineer.

"Hardhat!" the blur squealed, resolving into a young girl. Long, bright blond hair was tied back into a high ponytail, fuzzy armbands adorned her wrists, and she was wearing baggy capris and a red T-shirt that fit without being tight. That, coupled with her obviously considerable energy, made it clear who she was meant to be.

"Scout?" Medic asked in a neutral tone. She knew Scouts came young and hyper and it was almost endearing, but she worried that this girl wouldn't take her responsibility seriously. She was the first female Scout in history... Medic forced the preemptive negativity into the back of her mind.

The girl became aware of Medic's presence and removed herself from the laughing Engineer. She leapt off the bed and stood over-straight as she thrust out her hand in greeting.

"Yeah, I'm Scout!" she said in belated introduction. Her handshake was a little too vigorous, as expected, and there was some definite grip to it. "Nice ta meet'cha."

Medic still stuck on how young Scout looked--she couldn't be more than eighteen--but knew that was a trait shared by others of the girl's class. She smiled politely and made herself reserve judgment until she saw the blond in action.

Scout became a flurry of action putting away her things. With barely a glance to ensure the outside door was closed she kicked off her pants and donned a skirt she said came from her high school field hockey days; it was a possible explanation for the oddly shaped wrapped object leaning against the wall. Through her chattering to Engineer, Medic learned that the two were indeed in the same training camp and thus their camaraderie. She made herself comfortable and merely observed the interaction.

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They were left to wait with no further orders, presumably until the rest of the team arrived. Once Scout settled down to... well, still hyper, but a more manageable level, they settled into a game of cards. Medic was surprised to learn that it was Scout with the impervious poker face and that Engineer was as easy to read as a book. She herself was middle ground, her detached researcher expression gave away no tells but the fact that she'd never actually played Texas Hold 'Em worked against her.

Scout probably picked up on Medic's uncertainty as her talk quickly turned to tales of brawls. Knowing that the girl had seven properly violent brothers explained why she was good enough to make the Experimental. The calico-wrapped package was indeed her old field hockey stick, altered to better suit a higher swing. While the girl's stories were full of teenage language and mention of cute boys, there was just enough morbid humor to keep Medic reminded that this girl probably did belong on the battlefield.

"So then I circle this guy, yeah? And he thinks my bruddah's are jumpin' in any sec. Too busy looking at them to even see the first couple swings, and by then he's on the pavement." The girl grinned at Engineer. "Call."

It was amazing how bad the Texan was at poker. "Um... you first?" she suggested weakly. They never got to hear Scout's reply as the door suddenly slammed open.

"Atten-HUN!"

Scout half jumped up, Engineer dropped her cards, and Medic regarded the newcomer with her usual stoicism. Combat boots, a deeply defined frown, and a military style helmet were the overall first impression. The woman at the door wore army green fatigues, a white tank top, and was shouldering a duffle bag that looked like it had similar origins. Her dirty blond hair was cropped somewhat roughly--Medic guessed it was a self-cut--and her demeanor seemed to suggest that a lot of her was self-done.

Medic absently wondered how she saw past the helmet covering her eyes as she stomped over. The newcomer regarded the desk-turned card table with distain before raising her hand to her temple and greeting the small group.

"SOLDIER, reporting for duty." She dropped the over-tense salute and returned to the previous distain. "Why do you maggots think you have enough time for recreation? We're HERE for a REASON."

Scout instantly assumed a classic teenage pose, hand on her hip with her spine so out of alignment she looked like a case study in scoliosis. With more than a little attitude she replied, "Hey, I wanna get out there bustin' heads, too. They ain't gave us nothin' to do."

"You will address your superiors with RESPECT."

"Lady, I'm from Boston."

There were another few moments of tension between the two before the older woman burst into laughter that beat Engineer in rambunctiousness. There was a touch of insanity to it. Medic liked her already.

They fell into another round of auto-biographies as Soldier organized her locker and critiqued Scout's heap still by the door. 'Maggot' was certainly the woman's favorite word. As her exploits were explained in loud drill instructor voice, Medic realized she might have heard of them already. If Soldier was the same lone mad woman who tore a path of destruction through the Nazi army then she was indeed a force to be reckoned with. Medic looked forward to seeing her, and the rest of them, in action.

About an hour after Soldier's appearance, the man who checked them all in arrived. He didn't stay long, only handed out a few sandwiches and gave them instructions to follow the crowd to the mess hall in the morning. They were on standby until the day after next, when all the team save Heavy would be assembled at the base. The next day was for waiting. He didn't have to tell them it would also be for dealing with the rest of the trainees once they figured out what the women were there for.

They continued their card game before breaking off into reading, diagramming, and rearranging lockers until lights out.