Sarah learned there was a lot more to being a scout than she’d expected. A quarter of her day was spent having the Scout Code of Conduct and Scout Protocols drilled into her head. Another quarter of it was spent training in wilderness survival. That was easy since she’d been a girl scout, and had attended many a boy scout camping trip with her brothers. The last half of her day was spent in combat training. Sarah couldn't help but smile as she found herself in the top of her group.
In the quiet of the evening, Sarah would repeat to herself all that she had learned that day. The repetition was tedious, but without a notebook, or even a text book to review, it was all she could do. Thankfully Reed and Aaron and Kirk, who was beginning to shun Marcus, helped her. Marcus; however, was nothing but a thorn in Sarah’s side. If there was a way to make her life more hellish he found it.
Her sword had flown out of her hand during her second afternoon of combat training. Sarah laughed it off saying she must have been overzealous in her cleaning. When the instructor wasn't looking she glanced toward Marcus who was chortling with his cohorts. The only thing she could figure was that they had greased the handle on her sword. The question was when?
After that it was something new every day. The chamber pot emptied onto her bed. Horse dung in her leather armor. The list went on. By the seventh day she, Reed and Aaron took turns keeping watch at night. It wasn't much use, though. Marcus and his cronies always seemed to find a way.
“Why don’t you retaliate?” Reed quietly asked her as they headed out of the dining hall on the tenth evening.
“What? And get blamed for the trouble?” Sarah shook her head. “Been there and done that. Won’t do it again.”
“When?” Aaron asked curiously.
“Did I mention I had four older brothers?” She grinned, deciding not to mention high school.
“Four?” Kirk asked astonished. He’d slowly migrated from Marcus’s group to Reed’s, though everyone seemed to look to her now.
“Yeh.” Sarah grinned. “Four older brothers and I seemed to always get caught every time I tried to retaliate against them.”
“Weren’t you able to do anything?” Reed asked.
“Eventually,” Sarah smiled. “I never caught up in size, but I got better and smarter until I could beat them at their own game.” Her head nodded to where Marcus, Bennett and Michael lounged against the barracks, having once again managed to get out of evening chores with a minimum of work. “I’ll grin and bear whatever he throws at me until he gets so frustrated that he’s the one that initiates retaliation.”
“Ah,” Reed's brow furrowed. He shook his head slightly and smiled. “Well, we’ll stand by you however it happens.” Kirk and Aaron nodded in agreement.
Sarah smiled. She wondered if Jason’s men would have accepted her quicker if she’d posed as being male. She was still amazed that they never questioned her gender. Well none of them except Marcus, and he only questioned her gender preference. Deftly jumping over his out stretched leg, Sarah made her way up the stairs to Class B's sleeping quarters.
Now if only there was a way to get a private bath around here, she thought. Sneaking a pitcher into the outhouse in the late evening to wash wasn’t enough. With almost two weeks of grime and sweat Sarah was ready to jump into an ice lake if she had to. Or, she thought, as the grey sky finally let loose its rain, stand naked outside in a downpour.
That image sent Sarah into a silent fit of laughter. Not only would it do nothing to keep her gender hidden, she’d probably have twenty-one pairs of young male eyes gawking at her. She remembered the first time Jason had seen her in a bathing suit. He had looked as though he would faint from embarrassment.
“You all right Smith,” Reed asked as he came into the room. “Marcus didn’t dump the chamber pot on your bed again did he?”
Sarah took a whiff of her bed where she was bent over it and composed herself. “Nope, it seems fine.” She felt it. “It doesn’t appear to have been tampered with.”
Sarah looked up to see Marcus smirking. Great, she thought, he’s done something else. She sat on her bed and nearly fell through. Swallowing a swear as Marcus and his cronies laughed, Sarah set about tightening the bed rope with the help of Aaron and Kirk. Reed glared at Marcus who just smirked. Sarah smiled to herself as she saw London step away from him. He was losing his support, which meant her time for payback was coming and Sarah was certain she’d be able to get him good.