The First of Many

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Chapter 22

Hannah's graduation ceremony, in her opinion, was a poor reward for the months of agony, considering that they barely had any time at all before making their way through SERE. Fortunately, after the ceremony, the new team, consisting entirely of Hunter, Cole, Mike, and Hannah, decided to make their way to a bar Mike knew, at the end of a pier on the coast.

On their way there, they passed by a seedy looking shop with a sign on the window saying: 'Tattoos, piercings, and gages'. Hannah frowned at it for a minute, then stopped.

"Rosie, you coming?" Mike asked.

"Let's go in here," she said

He gazed at the door in surprise. “What, you getting a gage, Solomon?”

“No, a tattoo.”

Hunter raised an eyebrow. “Didn't take you for the type, Rosie,” he said.

“Don't call me that,” she answered. “And I don't know. I just want to.”

"Well, all right," Mike said as they entered. "Is this about that teammate Hunter told me that you lost?" He asked.

"And if it is?” she challenged hotly.

A young woman with more ink than actual skin was sitting at the counter. She looked bored, but perked up as soon as they entered. “Ooh!” she said, sounding much younger than she looked. “Couple tattoos! I love doing those!”

“They're not for couples,” Hannah said shortly. “It's just me. Unless...” She turned to her partner. “Mike, you didn't want one, right?”

Mike snorted. “Already got one,” he said.

“Where?” she asked, curious.

“Wouldn't you like to know?” He answered.

Hannah chuckled and turned to the woman who was bouncing slightly on the balls of her feet in excitement. “Just for me, thanks.”

“Sure!” she said. “What do you want, and where?”

Hannah frowned, thinking. “A vine,” she said finally. “A vine, with roses on it.”

“What's that mean?” Mike asked.

“It's for Ted,” she said stiffly. “I'd thank you not to ask any questions that don't concern you.”

One hour and one very painful tattoo later found Hannah and Mike joining their team in a bar near the beach. She greeted them with a grin, promised to show them the tattoo as soon as she could remove the bandage, and sat down at the bar with them.

She drained a brandy with ease, and asked for a beer, which she drained with slightly more decorum, only grimacing slightly in disgust.

“Here's to a year of Hell,” she told the other men, who grinned their approval and drank with her.

“Hard to believe we made it,” Mike said.

More laughter, more drinking. Hannah drained her beer and ordered a shot of whiskey.

Hunter raised an eyebrow. “Hey, Rosie, you sure about that?” he asked. “I've never seen you drink whiskey before, what's with all the alcohol today? Usually Vodka’s your poison of choice.”

She shrugged. “Feeling adventurous,” she said.

Hunter frowned, but decided to leave well enough alone.

They were down to their third bar when Hannah stood and walked out without a word.

The Team followed her outside the bar, down the pier, and to the beach.

"Why are we here? Last time I checked, I was Delta Force, not a SEAL," Mike asked.

Hannah stared at him blankly, her face devoid of all emotion. Her vision bled into reddish tints, and she could barely see through the mist clouding her brain.

"что моя задача?" she asked Mike.

"What?" he asked, confused.

Hannah dropped into a defensive stance, and Mike frowned in confusion. “Rosie, calm down,” he said gently. “What's going on?”

"что моя задача?" Hannah stormed up to him, her breath labored and her fists clenched, her eyes unfocused and dim as she glared at him. “что моя задача?”

Mike backed away from her, slightly frightened, but she kept at him as he shook his head, not understanding and having no weapon, no defense, and again, louder, she said: "что моя задача? что моя задача? что моя задача!" until she was screaming, begging. Her voice cracked under the strain and she started shaking as she screamed the sentence over and over again, the only words she could hold on to, to bring her through the phantom pains that rocked her head.

A job, she thought fiercely. All I need is a mission, a job, please, PLEASE...

“Rosie,” Hunter said suddenly, appearing out of nowhere.

Hannah recognized the voice dimly, whirled around and stared unseeingly at the man before her. “что моя задача?”

“No,” he said. “There's no mission, Rosie. No job. You're okay here.”

“что моя задача?”

“You don't have one.”

“Где я?”

“безопасный,” Hunter finally said, slumping a little. “безопасный.”

“What're they saying?” Mike asked to nobody in particular.

Cole frowned. “I don't know much Russian, man,” he muttered, “But the last thing she asked was where she was, and Hunt just said she was safe. The fuck is going on here?”

"Beats me. My advice, don't interfere," Mike said.

"Let's go get another beer," Cole said. "Something tells me that we may need it."

They never had time to go get another beer, as it happened, because suddenly, Hannah started screaming again, nonsensical syllables in no language in particular, until finally, Hunter snapped and roared: “ASSET! SHUT UP AND LOOK AT ME!”

Hannah froze instantly, stumbling for a moment before she faced Hunter at perfect attention.

“That's better,” Hunter said softly, his voice smooth as he approached her. Hannah didn't move an inch. “Now, Asset, you are not allowed to move, do you understand me?”

Nod.

Hunter nodded back and rounded Hannah, pressing a thumb into the pressure point at her collar until she collapsed, unconscious. Hunter caught her as she fell.

The last thing Hannah registered before her world went black was that the sea was red with blood.


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