Savoi was promptly admitted to the infirmary and treated for dehydration. A solution of saline and other fluids was injected into her arm. She laid on a cot in a small room and waited for the drip tube to be fully drained. Farouk patiently sat next to her.
“How are you feeling, Thomasa?” he asked.
She looked at him and responded slowly.
“Right now, I’m in a world of hurt.”
Her words frightened him. He stood and leaned over to observe her vitals on the EKG monitor.
“Everything looks fine. Your levels are almost back to normal. Are you in any pain?” he asked.
Silence engulfed the room. Savoi searched her mind to find the best description for what she felt. Everything was foggy. She had been this way for weeks, but managed to successfully accomplish all her tasks. She became unraveled at the battalion run because this was a mission that she could not position herself to prevail in.
Farouk gently stroked her forehead.
“Don’t worry about the battalion run. It was supposed to be meant as a morale booster, but the news of what happened to the deployed 3rd year class has cast a dark shadow over all of us.”
Savoi did not stir at his comment.
Farouk became anxious, so he continued to speak.
“Emmett feels bad about the way he yelled at you.”
Savoi hoisted herself up on the cot.
“You saw that?” she asked fretfully.
“No. I only heard about it from the other cadets who ran in the rear. Everyone was surprised that you couldn’t keep up. Haru took over for calling cadence so that Emmett could fall back with you,” he solemnly confessed.
Savoi slowly slumped back down with a stream of tears. A deep sense of dread came over her.
“I’ve never been fast,” she murmured.
Farouk pulled his stool closer to the cot and sat down.
“What do you mean? This was a distance run, which you only needed to keep up with the formation. Speed was not a factor,” he said.
Savoi glared at him in total despair, which moved him to tears.
“Thomasa, if you’re not feeling well, you need to say something. This is not like you at all. Please tell me what’s the matter. Maybe I can help you,” he pleaded.
Savoi sat up again and mustered as much energy as possible to share her feelings. She choked up as she spoke.
“I thought I could handle all of this. For a moment, I did my very best. Now, I don’t know if I can hang in there,” she wept.
Farouk was confused, as he could not imagine what was the source of her troubles.
“Thomasa, I don’t understand. You’ve done amazing work this term. The grade grid has shown that your lowest exam score was 97%. Your grasp of the coursework is phenomenal. Is it the lab? Is the course load too much for you?” he asked.
Savoi stiffened, as if she had seen a ghost. Suddenly, a male nurse entered the room. He checked the EKG monitor, then looked at Savoi.
“The fluid bag is almost empty, but you look as pale as you did when you were admitted an hour ago. Perhaps I will add vitamin D3 to the solution,” he said, then called for another nurse to bring a syringe.
Once the solution was added, both nurses exited the room. Savoi asked them to shut the door on the way out. She leaned over to Farouk and took his hand.
“Maaz, what I’m about to tell you needs to stay between us in this room,” she said.
He warily nodded for her to proceed.
She spoke in a hushed whisper.
“As you know, Lt. Co. Adame selected me to work with the remaining 3rd years in the laboratory. At first, my assignment was to inventory and catalog chemical agents that were sent from the field. He took a special interest in me when I could identify specific properties within the chemicals.” She leaned in closer and spoke lower. “This is classified information, but I came across some hazardous properties that would blow your mind if you knew what they could do. This war is unfair, because someone has cheated the system with harmful germs that can do long-term damage within the kingdom.”
Farouk was shaken to his core. He did not know what to do with the information Savoi had revealed to him. The blank stare in his eyes let her know she should refrain from divulging anything else. The burden of this information was hers alone to carry. She pretended to be tired and laid down to rest. Farouk did not want to press the situation, so he let her sleep.
A week went by before Savoi was cleared to return to duty. She assured her teammates that she was well enough to train harder than ever. Roudan led the Alpha squad to the beachside nightly. He fashioned fitness drills to maximize their workout sessions. This was the best measure of action to prepare for the tactical exam. Every night, they began with the same dialogue. Roudan would stand in front of the team to say,
“You guys know why we’re here. I won’t waste time with a long drawn out speech. I will just say this much; You will have to pay me what you owe.”
Savoi always asked. “How much do we owe?”
He would grin, and reply, “All of it. Give me all of yourselves, and I promise you won’t regret it.”
~The Waring Robins~