The First of Many

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Chapter 13

As the end of Ranger school approached, the eager tension among the team was palpable. Hannah managed to redeem a particularly spectacular failure in the Florida phase by excelling in a stealthy patrol operation. A few had asked how she'd learned it, but she shrugged it off, trying not to grin and say that she'd committed more heists than she cared to admit. After graduation, the team went to a bar, proudly bearing their Ranger tab patches on the arms of their uniforms.

Hannah was feeling wary at best and didn’t want any alcohol in her system, so she quite calmly ordered a water and sat back to watch her new teammates make fools of themselves.

“Hey, Solomon,” Blade said, “What's with the water?”

Hannah grimaced. “I'm eighteen,” she said. “Can't drink yet. Besides, someone's got to stay sober to drag your drunk asses home at the end of the night,” she said.

"Well, in that case..." Blade said as he drained his beer, "I'll have another beer."

"So,” Teddy said, “You need a callsign, Solomon.”

Hannah shrugged. “I like Solomon, thanks,” she said idly, “Although I'll answer to pretty much anything, at this point.”

Shadow grinned. “Sorry,” he said. “Between Shadow and Solomon, there's too many common letters.”

“There's only two common letters!”

“But they sound the same.”

“Shadow, shut up.”

Shadow grinned. “Don't be so sensitive, Rosie,” he said.

“You lot have been watching too much Top Gun,” she answered coolly. “We don't even need callsigns. I look like a flyboy to you?”

“Flygirl, actually,” Teddy said pragmatically, “And call them nicknames if you want. We've all got them anyway, and Blade's right. Solomon's a bit of a mouthful.”

“I'll give you a mouthful of my fist,” she muttered. “Why do I have to be Rosie, anyway?”

“You're a girl,” Shadow offered. “Rosie the Riveter, you know?”

"We may have to spray paint all your gear pink," Blade added.

"Do that and I'll spray paint your face pink," Hannah spat.

“Sure, Rosie.”

“My name is Ha-” She stopped. “Fine,” she said quite suddenly.

Teddy frowned. “Ha- what?” he asked. “What is it with your name?”

“It's mine, and I'd like to keep it that way.”

“Tinfoil hat, much?” Shade asked. “We won't steal your identity or anything.”

Hannah shook her head. “I have my reasons,” she said firmly. “Speaking of names, is Hunter a nickname or not? I can't even tell. He's a good tracker, but it's a common name.”

"No idea. We should ask him," Blade said, letting her dodge the question.

"Okay then, Sherlock, you ask him," Shadow said.

Blade shrugged. “Sure,” he said. “Hey, Hunt!” he shouted to the tall blonde in the far corner. “Rosie wants to know if Hunter's your real name!”

“Wouldn't you like to know?” he hollered back. “And who the Hell is Rosie?”

"Oh, that's Solomon.” Blade called. “She wouldn't give us her name, so we gave her one.”

Hunter let out a low whistle. “Damn, Solomon!” he called. “You're going soft! They still have their heads attached!”

“Don't worry,” she answered. “I'm just waiting to disembowel them in their sleep.”

“Oh, we feel so cared about,” Blade muttered. “You have no idea how much we appreciate being threatened.”

Hannah grinned. “A wise friend once told me that men like being insulted by women. It makes them feel loved.”

“Great,” Teddy muttered. “Anyway, if you insist on calling me Teddy, then I get to call you Rosie.”

“Fine,” Hannah muttered, frustrated.

The night was concluded in general merriment, and Hannah had only grumbled slightly as she had to drive several drunk teammates to wherever they were spending the night.

It was the early hours of the morning when Hannah had finally dropped a completely wasted Hunter off, before she sighed, left his car in his driveway, and began the long walk to a hotel. She had little money, but she could probably manage a motel for the night.

Hannah sighed; hiding was more trouble than it was worth. Next time she got a choice like that, she'd just do the smart thing and let them kill her.
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