Hannah was watching TV in her room when Overlord walked in. She instantly turned off the TV and directed all of her attention to her commanding officer. He produced a file out of his pocket and place it on the small table at Hannah’s side.
Hannah raised an eyebrow, lifting her arms. They were attached loosely to the sides of the bed, enough for her to reach the table but not enough for her to be able to undo them. “Gonna untie me sometime?” she asked. “Because I’m pretty sure if I wanted to reprogram and murder you, I’d have done it by now.”
“Slow down, Solomon,” he answered. “Now, according to intel gathered from interviews with your team, your story checks out. Some research people found traces of the drug they were using in your blood.”
Hannah went pale. “They isolated it?” she asked.
He nodded. “The file has all the notes, maybe you’ll understand it better than I did. The way the meds explained it, it influences the parts of your brain that control pleasure, and rewards certain patterns and feelings differently.”
Hannah nodded. “So that when we’re in pain, our brain says good, and when we’re doing something for ourselves, that’s supposed to feel good, so our brain says bad. That explains the headaches.”
“They’ll know more as they continue studying the stuff. They’re having trouble replicating it.”
Hannah blinked. “They’re not going to actually replicate it, are they?” she asked.
"Of course not. We just need more to be able to study it properly. When we understand it, it will be destroyed."
“That’s a lie,” she growled. “I know how this goes. They’ll want to understand it, then they’ll realize it’s useful, and next thing you know, we’re taking ‘volunteers’ to participate in an experimental program for a new special forces team.”
"We would at least change the order, to make the good things feel good. So that there will be no more traitors."
“People deserve the choice to betray their own. Forcing people to follow orders isn’t any better than what the department did to me.”
Overlord shook his head. “The topic will be re-discussed if they decide to use the stuff,” he said. “No point getting philosophical. Besides, they’d have to get through Congress, and God knows that’ll take years.”
Hannah snorted, but said nothing.
“So you are reinstated to your rank and position on the team,” Overlord said, finally removing the bindings around her wrists. “Just don't make me regret this decision. I’m tired of explaining this team to the desks upstairs. I brought the file because I think you'll like to see what you're teammates said when I asked about you as a teammate."
Hannah took the file and opened it as he left. The first few dozen pages were analyses and lab results on the tests that had been conducted. She flipped past them quickly, not really caring about the specifics. She stopped when she reached the interviews with her team, all carefully typed up.
S. Powell: Rosie, a traitor? Not on your life. She’d never do something like that.
Interviewer: How can you be sure?
S. Powell: We know her. She’s been through a lot of shit for us, she’d do anything for the team.
Interviewer: PO Jones, you said you and PO Stevens had some mistrust for your Sargent Solomon in the beginning?
R. Jones: Well, you gotta admit she’s a weird one. It was my fault, though, calling judgement before I knew all the facts. And Blackburn didn’t say anything, I just didn’t trust her at first.
Interviewer: And now?
R. Jones: Now, I would take a bullet for the woman.
Interviewer: She seems to inspire a great deal of loyalty. Do you feel that she has very different capabilities than the men?”
R Jones: Not at all. The fact that she's a woman has never impeded her ability to fight alongside us. She's one of the best operators the military could recruit.
Interviewer: And as I understand, one of your teammates is currently dating said teammate.
A. Smith: I don’t see how this has anything to do with what happened in Kiev.
Interviewer: It would explain how long it took to report a leak to Command. One could argue that she’s manipulated this team into believing her. She wouldn’t be the first pretty face to charm her way past someone’s defenses.
A. Smith: For your information, Hannah's loyalty has never been a question for me, as her team leader and her friend, so you can take all your insinuations and go to Hell."
B. Powell: Rosie isn’t a pretty face. Well, she’s pretty, I’ll give you that. Aedan’s a lucky guy. But come on, if she wanted to manipulate us into our doom, she’d have found an easier way than this. Hell, if she wanted Shadow and I dead, she could have done it years ago.
A. Smith: Hannah's one of the most loyal friends a teammate and human being could ask for.
Interviewer: You all seem to call her something different. Do any of you know her real name?
A. Smith: Hannah Marie Solomon. Most people call her Rosie.
Interviewer: Then you will be interested to know that there’s no record of a Hannah Marie Solomon of that age or description, until her papers magically appeared in her possession.
A. Smith: I don't care. That in no way changes her loyalties.
Interviewer: And the rest of you? You don’t even know her name, what else is she hiding?
M. Stevens: Look, I get it. Op went way further south than expected, but we’re not helping you pin this on our teammate. She’s not your scapegoat. We trust her. All of us. So that’s enough of your loaded questions.
A. Smith: So either end this interview, or learn what happens when you mess with a member of the Wolf Pack.
Interviewer: Chief Petty Officer Smith, are you threatening me?
A. Smith: I wouldn’t dare to threaten a CIA agent. But accidents happen, don’t they, guys?
Interviewer: I see. You’re dismissed. Good-bye.
S. Powell [muttering]: Good riddance.
Hannah put down the file, grinning as she closed it. She stretched her arms, glad that they were now free, and sat up, ignoring the head rush and standing. She fell immediately, head slamming against the side of the bed. She growled under her breath.
“Woah there, Kitten, don’t hurt yourself,” Aedan’s voice said from the doorway.
"I was just doing some interesting reading," she said as she grinned at him.
"About what?" Aedan asked as he approached her.
"About true friends."
“Aw, don’t get sappy on me now,” he teased, hands slipping about her waist to pull her closer. “Everything went okay?”
“Overlord says I’m back in business. They want to test the injection that they extracted. I don’t like that, but I can’t stop them.”
"Command's always been crazy like that. So, how's my girl doing?" he asked as he pulled her close.
She grinned. “I have all limbs and colors of the spectrum accounted for,” she promised. “How’s everyone else? Your nose healed up okay?”
"Yeah it is. I'm glad they didn't harm my perfect face."
Hannah snorted. “Watch it, your ego will push me out of the room.”
"And we can't have that, can we?" he asked as he kissed her deeply.
She grinned, taking his hand. “Come on,” she said. “I need to ambush the twins.”
“Because they’re sappy sons of bitches and I gotta keep them on their toes, that’s why. If I didn’t ambush them from time to time, they’d think I’d been possessed.”
"Well, I can't say no to ambushing some D boys," Aedan said, stroking her hand with his thumb.
She grinned. “How good are you with piano wire?”