The First of Many

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Chapter 29

Hannah and her team remained on the Air Force base for a few weeks, in order to get their weight and nutrition back up to par, then returned to their base.

Four weeks after their return, the Delta base was ready to receive its brand-new recruits. Hannah had been told there were three of them: Two former Rangers and one former Aviator.

"So, why do we do about the new boys?" Mike asked.

"I say toss them into a pool of ice water."

"I like the way you think, Hunter."

Hannah rolled her eyes. “What are they, Squids? Bury them in mud or something.”

"Agreed. Nice Save, Rosie."

“Damn straight,” she answered. “Think we've let them squirm enough? They must be dying of heat out there.”

“Fine,” Mike answered. “Come on, all. It's time to meet the new guys.”

The whole Delta team filed out, standing in a row in front of the small row of three stiff-looking men.

Hannah immediately recognized two of them, and her face turned an ashen gray hue.

Only seconds later, one of them, an olive-skinned, dark-haired man with a lean, wiry physique, spotted her. He flushed red with rage, broke out of the line before the identical man by his side could stop him, and stormed up to Hannah. “YOU BACKSTABBING LITTLE BITCH!” he roared, throwing a solid punch that hit her squarely in the jaw, sending her sprawling on the ground.

Hannah retaliated with a vengeance. She came up on her knees, knife flying into her hand, letting out an inhuman roar of rage as she launched herself at him, tackling him to the ground and lifting the knife, arcing it down towards the man's throat.

The second man broke the line, pulling Hannah off her victim, and she let out a screech as she twisted in the air, aiming at her new attacker.

She managed to hit the second man in the arm with her knife, giving him a neat, deep slice through the bicep, just enough to keep him down. She returned her attention to the first, letting out a scream of pure adrenalin as she fell on him, her teeth sinking into the flesh of his shoulder, hot blood leaking out and on her tongue. The taste made her recoil in surprise and revulsion.

She let the man go, dropping the knife and standing up. The man didn't seem to notice his shoulder, but stood, advancing on Hannah, towering over her impressively as she backed away from him.

“NO NOTE!” he roared. “NO GOODBYE! YOU COULD HAVE BEEN DEAD AND WE WOULD NEVER HAVE KNOWN! DAMNIT, SOLOMON, DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT YOU'VE PUT US THROUGH? I SHOULD KILL YOU FOR THIS! TRAITOR!”

“Stop, please...” she whispered, backing away, blood trickling down her chin.

"YOU SHOULD HAVE TOLD US! I THOUGHT WE WERE A FAMILY!!"

“We are!” she pleaded. “Don't do this. You know it wasn't a choice for me.”

“IT DAMN WELL SHOULD HAVE BEEN! WHY? IF YOU'RE GOING TO JUST UP AND LEAVE, YOU'D DAMN WELL BETTER TELL ME WHY!”

Hannah stopped, her face going pale. “I wasn’t thinking,” she said softly, shoulders slumping in defeat. “There are no excuses. I’m sorry, Blade.”

The pair stopped for a moment, panting heavily as they stared at each other.

Suddenly, in two long strides, Blade reached her, enveloping her in a hug and burying his nose in her hair. “I'm just so glad you're safe, Rosie,” he said finally.

"I'm okay," she answered.

"I missed you."

“I missed you too,” she whispered, then pulled away, turning to Shadow. “Heya, little brother,” she said with a shy grin.

“I'm two years older than you, Rosie,” he said.

“You'll always be my little bro,” she said. “Get over here, you complete and utter waste of oxygen.”

“Love you too, little sister.”

“Shut up.”

“Umm...” Mike frowned. “Rosie, what the Hell is going on here?”

Hannah grinned and turned to her team. “Guys, these are my brothers, Shadow and Blade. Play nice. Hunt, get over here and feel the love. As for you–” she turned to the other new guy, who looked uncomfortable with the proceedings, “Who the Hell are you?”

“Jim Fuller,” he said uncomfortably.

“Used to be an aviator?”

“Yeah.”

“You don't seem to have a problem with Rosie being here,” One of the Delta men said.

Jim grinned, his whole face opening up with the motion. “Nah,” he drawled. “Had a woman on my team. Learned the hard way to respect her.”

“I like this one,” Hannah said approvingly. “See, Blade? Learn from him.”

“You'll never let me live that down, will you?”

“When I see the scars in the mirror every day? Not damn likely. Hey, Fuller, what was your callsign?”

Jim blushed slightly, ducking his head. “Caboose,” he muttered quietly.

There was a moment of dead, dumbfounded silence before the whole team burst out laughing.

Hannah recovered quickly. Through chuckles, she asked: “What abysmally stupid thing did you do to get that one?” she asked.

Jim ducked his head again. “I might have... accidentally... brokenthesoundbarrieroverasmalltowninengland,” he muttered.

“I'm sorry,” Hannah said sweetly, “I didn't catch that.”

“I might have accidentally broken the sound barrier over a small town in England,” he repeated, louder.

“Idiot,” Mike coughed out.

“I've heard it all before,” he answered. “Go on, laugh it up.”

“Come on,” Hannah said. “Mess, all of you.”

Shadow raised an eyebrow. “Hunt, since when does Rosie give the orders around here?”

"She's team leader now." Hunter said.

Dead silence.

“She's what?”

"Team leader. She was promoted after our old team leader got out. You have to take orders from our sister."

“What, me? Take orders from this maniac? She'll kill me first chance she gets!” Shadow yelped.

Hannah grinned. “Welcome home, li'l bro,” she said. “And this time, I'm in charge.”


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