A month later, Hannah, Hunter, Shadow, and Blade were deployed to Caracas together, in a joint operation between Delta and SEALs. To her pleasant surprise, said SEALs were none other than Aedan and Snake.
Snake was far more diplomatic, clearly having noticed that any ill-advised comment on Hannah's gender would be dealt with by the rest of her team. Aedan, although quiet, proved to be a tactician on par with Shadow and Hannah. The others generally left the trio to their own planning devices, content to carry out their orders.
“I don't get it,” Hannah muttered as the three sat around the table of their safe house, “A six-person team? All for one briefcase?”
"If there's one thing I've learned in the military, it's that Central Command likes overkill," Aedan said.
“Don't we have budget issues right now?” Shadow answered.
“When don't we?” Snake muttered.
"Well, I never said CENTCOM was cost effective,” Aedan shrugged. “I heard they were planning on keeping us together, though. Something about how there'll be extra funding if we have some inter-departmental cooperation. Bunch of politicians begging for cash, basically. Anyway, bang and clear? Is that our final plan?”
“Roger bang and clear,” Hannah said.
“All right. Rosie, take your team to this left door of the room. We'll breach the right door."
Blade grinned madly and pulled out a briefcase of his own, revealing three grenades painstakingly packed away inside. “Brand new prototypes,” he boasted. “A little present from me to me.”
"What are they?" Hannah asked.
"These are MDVX Heart Breaker Grenades. We can detonate them like normal grenades if need be, but the pulses are much more fun.”
“How do they work?”
“I'd get into the science of it, but let's put it this way; it's basically a concentrated pressure wave that'll overload your heart in less than half a second.”
“Won't that affect us the same way?”
“We have these,” Blade said, handing them each small, flat, round discs. “Put them on you somewhere. They activate when the grenade detonates, and release a perpendicular wavelength, which will negate the grenade's pulse.”
Hannah grinned. “So much for techies being useless,” she said.
“Let's roll,” Snake ordered, taking charge. “Rosie, Aedan, Shadow, and Hunter, you all move to secure the package. Blade and I will secure our exfil point, then join you.”
The team fanned out and moved to their assigned positions, stacking up behind a door. Aedan tapped the top of his helmet, signaling Shadow to breach the door. Hannah opened the door slightly, and Shadow tossed a grenade into the room.
The reaction was sudden and silent; Hannah's ears popped under the pressure, and she heard bodies falling to the ground. The team entered and found that the guards were dead, eyes wide open in shock, all apparently from a heart attack. On the table in the center of the room was a briefcase, open and empty.
“Search the room,” Hannah said. “The papers have to be in here somewhere.”
They cleared the room, but still found no files.
“The files were there,” Snake's voice said over comms. “I saw them.”
“What are you getting at?” Hannah asked.
“He means there's a traitor in this room,” Hunter said, his voice cold with rage and betrayal as Blade and Snake appeared. “One of us.”
"Who would do this?" Blade asked as the SEALs entered.
“Yeah, who?” Hunter growled, glaring at Aedan with cold, angry blue eyes.
“Hey, are you suggesting we're responsible for this?” Snake snarled back, stepping closer to his teammate.
“I'm saying it's awfully suspicious that something like this happens the first time we deploy together.”
"Maybe it's you. Everything always goes wrong on the Ops you go on."
“Dragon! Hunter!” Hannah called. “Stop that, both of you!”
"Rosie, who do you think did it?" Hunter asked, rounding on her. “If you're so sure he didn't do it, then who did?”
Hannah looked down, shaking her head. “I don't know,” she said, “but being suspicious of each other is only going to break us apart. We can't afford to be unstable.”
“Did you do it?” Blade asked quietly.
“No!” Hannah said. “Why would you even think that?”
“With you, I don't know what to think anymore. You're not the woman I knew in Rangers.”
“Blade, stop,” Shadow ordered. “You're being ridiculous. She's changed, but nobody changes that much. Rosie isn't a traitor.”
"How do we know that? Any one of us could be the traitor."
"Hunter, You're so eager to accuse someone. That's a sign of guilt," Aedan said as he raised his rifle at Hunter.
“Stop!” Hannah cried. “All of you, shut up and lower the weapons!”
"She's right. Let's get back to base, then we can get to the bottom of this," Snake said.
“Everybody, let's go. We can't afford to be weak.”
The chopper ride back to base was tense. Everyone gripped their weapons so hard that their knuckles turned white under their gloves.
There was silence, nothing but tense silence, and Hannah gripped Aedan's hand as though her life depended on it.
Traitor, her mind whispered. One of them is a traitor...
“Aedan,” she whispered quietly, “I'm...”
“Not here,” He answered, too low for the others to hear her. “Not where they can hear.”
She nodded wordlessly and squeezed tighter. He squeezed back in reassurance.
When they arrived at the base, Hannah tugged Aedan away, towards the privacy of her room.
“Who do you think it is?” he asked, sitting on her bed.
“I don't know,” she answered, “And I don't want to. Whoever it is, He'll prey on our weakness, if the team falls apart. He'll turn us all against each other. There's no team that can survive without trust. We need to forget this ever happened.”
“The rest of my team is coming soon,” Aedan said, dutifully changing the subject. “Five of them, all at the same time. My brothers, Wraith and Blackburn, and Ryder and Blank.” he frowned suddenly. “And Tex,” he said uneasily.
"Why did you frown?" she asked.
"Tex is a little unstable."
“What makes you say that?”
“He's fine, with the guys,” he said. “He's a good teammate, and a great fighter. It's you I'm worried for.”
“He has a... history with women. We don't know anything for a fact, but we all know something's going on.”
"I'll take care of myself."
"And I'll protect you."
“I don't need protecting,” she said.
“That won't keep me from doing it anyway,” he answered. “Just... try to keep a shirt on when you're on base with him?”
“Not a chance,” she said. “I'm a big girl. I can fight just fine.”
“He's stronger than me, and a better fighter. I know you're strong, Rosie, but if I could beat you, so could he.”
She looked down. “I know,” she said. “I'll figure something out.”
"I'm here if you ever need anything," Aedan said as he took her hand.
She nodded. “I know.”
“Take care of yourself.”
“I will,” she promised as he stood.
“I'm going to get the teammates' bunks ready,” he said. “Snake and I'll be bringing them in.”
Hannah nodded. “I'll tell Hunter and the twins to stay off this Traitor thing,” she said. “Whoever it is... Worrying about it won't help. Bye, Aedan.”Aedan grinned at her as he left. “Bye, Rosie.”