Hungry Like The Wolf, Part Two: Need To Know

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(March 25th)


“Argh!” Catherine threw down the folder in frustration, watching it flop open against the dresser. “This is ridiculous!”

“Problem?” Lance stuck his head around the bathroom doorframe, eyebrow raised and covered in shaving cream. He got a slight, crooked smile before her annoyance returned.

“The SEA finally delivered those personnel files I requested. Two weeks ago. The problem is, they're completely absurd,” she complained. “How am I supposed to be the field leader of a team if I don't know anything about them?”

Lance frowned, wiping at his chin. “You've already been on a mission with them. Last week.”

“That doesn't count, it was a warm-up. Anyway, Director Henry put that plan together, I just provided some support, and everything went well enough that we didn't need in-field tactics beyond what we already had. But if something comes up, I'm going to be screwed.” Catherine opened the file to an early page, flipping through it as she spoke. “Roland Lamontagne applied to the Forbright Academy Of Heroes in 1999, but was turned down by its panel. Why? No mention. He applied to the UNSC in 2003, and the SEA in 2004. Turned down both times. There's a nebulous reference to attitude problems, but why did they change their minds seven years later? No idea. But that's not the worst of it, oh no. Listen to this.” She cleared her throat, and then recited. “Mister Lamontagne possesses the power of invunerability, rendering him essentially immune to magic, psychic powers, and physical assault. He still requires food, and ages normally. For a list of powers theoretically able to penetrate his defenses, please see the attached Form C.”

Lance waited expectantly. Catherine shrugged. “That's it. There is no attached form C. I called Director Henry to ask him, and he said attached form C is classified. He's looking into clearing it.”

Lance considered. “I can see why they might classify that. If everyone knows a way to hurt him…”

“How can I send him into battle if I don't know what he can do?!” Catherine exploded. “But that's not all. No, that's not all. Listen to this one. It's Blossom's historical record.” She rummaged for a piece of paper, held it up, and cleared her throat. “Blossom was created.”

Lance blinked. “And then?”

“And then she joined the team, I gather. Nothing about how she was trained, who built her, why they did it.” Catherine gritted her teeth. “And that's nothing to say about Jack's record, which just vanishes for his life before the age of eighteen, apparantly under child criminal laws.”

Lance crossed the room, sliding onto the bed behind Catherine, and started rubbing her shoulders. “That's quite a team.”

“I know. Director Henry's file is equally mysterious. It's pretty much clear back as far as the Accords, but before that? Nothing.” She sighed. “He was probably a supervillain too, with my luck.”

Lance frowned. “That was thirty years ago.”

“I know.”

“He's aged well,” Lance observed. “I would not have pegged him as being old enough to have a record stretching back that far.”

“Welcome to superhuman life. You can never tell how old someone is,” Catherine grumped. “He's some sort of mage, but he's really cagy about the details. Like everything and everyone else in the building.” She sighed, leaning back into Lance's hands. “I don't know about this, Lance.”

“What do you mean?”

“I'm not used to this sort of craziness. Last week, we fought a woman who could imagine swords into existence, and who was spinning glass to take over Detroit. I'm a soldier. I'm used to fighting people, not crazy…maniac…” Words failed her, and she stumbled to a halt.

“You know what I think?” Lance said, his mouth close to her ear.

“What do you think?”

“I think that you're made for this stuff.”

Catherine pulled away, jaw clenching as she twisted to look at him. “Meaning what, exactly?”

Lance looked hurt. “Meaning,” he said roughly, “that ever since you came back from Sayleen, you've been too quiet. You barely left the house, you just waited for your life to end when they cashiered you. This Mr. Henry walks into our life, and you're breathing fire again.” He grinned, and reached out to take her hand. “It's good to see you angry again, Cathy.”

Catherine half-smiled. “Yeah,” she said softly, pulling him closer. “Thanks for being here, Lance.”

“Hell, I knew what I was getting into.” He shrugged, grinning down at her. “I was ready to be a soldier's wife. This isn't that different.” He kissed her, gently.

On the bedside table, her cellphone beeped urgently. With reluctance, she pulled away. “Speaking of which…” Grabbing the phone, she snapped it open. “Becker. What's up?”

Director Henry's voice filled her ear. “Good morning, Catherine. I hope that I haven't woken you.”

She glanced at the clock. 6:15 AM. “Not a chance, sir.”

“Brilliant. Something's come up. We need you at the base as soon as possible.”

She grimaced, then sighed. “Not a problem, sir. I'll be there in half an hour.”

“Excellent. I'll see you then.” Catherine hung up, then looked over to see Lance giving her a sorrowful look. “Sorry.”

Lance sighed dramatically. “I was just about to fix you some breakfast.”

“I'll settle for coffee.” Catherine pushed aside the files and stood up. “I've got to get to work.”

“Going out to save the world again.” Lance nodded. “Knock 'em dead, honey.”

“Don't tempt me,” she said as she pulled on her clothes. “I'm not ruling it out just yet.”


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