The First of Many

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Chapter 21

Hannah's first act upon beginning the ranged weapons stage of her training was to spend ten minutes complaining about the lack of crossbows. When told by her instructor to 'get off your ass, Solomon, and fire that damn weapon!', she rolled her eyes at him and fired haphazardly at the target, hitting the target in the head. Hannah stared at it critically through her scope for a moment before shrugging. “So I was a bit off,” she muttered. “Sue me.”

"A bit off?" Mike asked, "You were spot on, and you didn't even glance at the target."

"It's off. I was looking at it the whole time. Peripheral vision." she answered.

"It was spot on, Solomon," one of her instructors commented, raising an eyebrow. “I'll be the judge of what's off or not.”

“One centimeter is the difference between him having time to fire back before he dies,” she snarled. “I was too fast, got cocky.” She raised the gun again, glancing for a moment at the target before firing again, hitting the center perfectly.

“Better,” she grunted.

"Holy shit. You really never miss a shot, huh?" Hunter asked.

"Yeah, if I had a crossbow," she answered.

"We are getting you a crossbow when we graduate," Mike said.

“Way ahead of you, brother,” Hunter said.

“Enough talking,” their instructor said. “Solomon, again.”

Hannah groaned, and aimed again, taking almost a full ten seconds before letting loose a single shot.

The bullet whizzed through the previous bullet hole, not so much as grazing the rest of the target.

"Holy shit," they all said at once. The instructor's eyes bugged out slightly, and he motioned over a few coworkers as nine more shots rang out into the dead silent range. Not a single bullet hole appeared on the target.

“Solomon,” the instructor said finally, a faint smile on his face. “I can't say this on record yet, but congratulations on passing sniper school.”

Hunter grinned and let out a whoop of joy, tackling Hannah with a hug. Hannah let out a brief scream and shoved him away before she realized what she'd done and smiled sheepishly at him. “Sorry, Hunt,” she told him.

Hunter grinned. “It's all right,” he said, dusting himself off. “Damn, Rosie, congrats!”

Hannah smiled faintly. “Thanks,” she said.

“Where'd you learn to do that?” The instructor asked.

“Guy I lived with when I was a kid,” Hannah said noncommittally. “He insisted on teaching me knives; said any street kid should know them, even if they didn't intend to fight, but the only way to make sure I'd never miss was to start me off with a crossbow. Once I learned to split arrows, knife-throwing was plenty easy.”

“That's one hell of a guy you lived with,” The instructor answered.

Hannah nodded, smiling wryly. “He was,” she agreed.

“He's dead, then?” The instructor asked.

Hannah's face darkened. “As good as,” she muttered.

“Damn,” The instructor answered. “I'd been hoping to give him a job here.”

“Sorry,” Hannah answered.

They continued their training, and Hannah indeed passed weapons training.

Her stunning success in weapons training, however, was quickly overshadowed by her abysmal failure in psychological evaluation.

Hannah had honestly forgotten it even existed, and was unpleasantly reminded of the fact when she was ushered into a comfortable sort of room with a stern-looking man sitting at his desk.

After the customary introductions, the man got down to business quickly. He didn't seem to be the type to waste time; Hannah decided she liked the man.

“Tell me about yourself,” he said, twirling his pen between his fingers. “Your enlistment came completely out of the blue. Why'd you join? And none of that bullshit you told the guy in MEPS, either. You have no more personal information, as far as I'm concerned.”

Hannah snorted. “I had to run away because some former family of mine was trying to kill me,” she said casually, leaning back in her chair.

The man didn't so much as blink. “Is that so?” he asked coolly. “Maybe you should start at the beginning. What do you remember of your childhood?”

Hannah sighed. “My parents died in a house fire when I was seven,” she droned. “I don't remember it very well. I was left in the care of the Duke family in Chicago.”

“What was it like?”

“I only remember bits and pieces of my childhood, I spent a vast majority under the influence of experimental drugs that they were using to control me. I was heavily experimented on, and trained as a fighter. That’s the extent of my knowledge. When I was seventeen, the drugs failed. Nobody knows why.”

“Are they still after you?”

“Yeah,” she answered, “But they think I've left the military, so they can't find me here.”

“You say you were trained as a fighter. What do you mean by that?”

Hannah looked him straight in the eye. “I’m afraid I can’t answer that,” she said.

“What part of ‘no personal information’ wasn’t clear?”

“All due respect, sir, there is nothing you can say or do that can even come close to what those people are capable of doing to me if I talk. Besides, as I told you before, I remember very little. The bits and pieces that I do remember are enough to keep me from thinking more about it.”

“If you don’t remember most things, how do you know you were experimented on?”

“When I ran away, I stole the data chip containing my medical file, which contained detailed notes of all procedures implemented on me.”

“Where is the file?”

“Can’t tell you that either.”

“Why not?”

“There is only one copy of it, and it’s in my possession. Since most procedures were highly experimental and mostly illegal, most of them were never replicated. Many of the compounds used have never been written elsewhere. That data is worth more than a billion dollars.”

“Are you implying that I could be bribed for that information, if you showed it to me?”

She shrugged. “Everyone has a price,” she said. “And the more expensive the information, the more determined the people looking for it. If you can’t be bribed, you can be blackmailed. If you can’t be blackmailed, you can be tortured, and if you can’t be tortured, you can be killed.”

“And this isn’t a concern for you, then?”

“I’m perfectly capable of handling it,” she said. “I couldn’t reach the file even if I wanted to, which means that even if they do kill me, they won’t get it.”

“It’s that important?”

“The drugs that were used to control me are fully capable of producing an army of mindless, nearly invincible soldiers who are in so much pain that they can no longer feel at all. And even if they didn’t use that, most of the rest of my file could be used for chemical warfare on a massive scale. If the right people got their hands on it, they could wipe out the whole northern hemisphere.”

“If you’re so capable of taking care of yourself, why are you here?” he asked.

“I have a person on the outside making sure that the people looking for me can’t track me through the military. It’s the safest place.”

“So the army is a human shield?” he asked derisively.

“That is its primary function,” she added. “But no, I have no plans of going rogue at the first chance of advancement. The weakness that the drugs never did get out of my head was my fondness for teammates. I haven’t got anything to lose, really. I would happily die for them. That’s why I wanted to join Delta Force. To keep them safe.”

“Are you aware of how ridiculous this story sounds, Solomon?”

Hannah shrugged. “I’m in your hands. If you choose to not believe me, be my guest. Declare me unfit for combat. I can find work elsewhere.”

The man nodded and wrote something down. “You're free to leave,” he said.

Hannah nodded and made her way out without another word.
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