The story so far:
The rest of the day was spent unpacking and setting up the home. Kelly was almost constantly on the phone with either Samantha in DC, Fran en route, or Greg at home. She didn’t set down her phone until she heard a jeep pull up at 7:30 pm.
“Right on time,” Kelly muttered.
The three British team members all entered noisily while carrying duffle bags on their backs. Kate’s eyes lit up when she saw Frances.
“Good to see you, Fran!” Kate grinned, embracing the tiny woman.
“You too, Kate. Nice to see that that shoulder healed up nicely,” Fran said, slapping Kate’s right shoulder. The rest of the women looked on, confused. “Ah, sorry, I know Kate from her days in Iraq. She managed to get shot while guarding my convoy back in 2003.”
Emily looked up, interested.
“Marines,” Kate replied, causing Emily to break out in a huge grin.
“Royal Marines,” Emily said, offering her hand. “Emily Smithe.”
“Kate Mitchell. You know a Jordan Allen?” Kate asked. Emily’s smile turned wicked.
“Very well,” she laughed. Kate’s eyes widened as she dropped Emily’s hand. She turned to Iris.
“Iris Quinn, pleasure.”
“Iris is one of mine at MI-6, Kate, and Emily was a scout and reconnaissance marine until about a month ago,” Fran explained while Jack shook hands with the two Brits. The six women settled down in the living room, with Kelly left standing to speak.
“So we’ve all been hand chosen by Samantha Beck to create a black ops team that will perform counter terrorism ops and various intelligence gathering ops as well. Basically, I’ve been working for Sam since I joined the CIA about ten years ago. We recruited Jack from the FBI, Iris and Fran from MI6, Emily from the Royal Marines and Kate from NSA. Now, Fran, Kate and I have seen all of your files but why don’t we go around the room and explain our specialties?” Kelly sat down and nodded at Fran.
“Yes, well, I’m Fran, I believe I’ve worked with you all before except for you Jack. I’m a senior officer at MI6 and I specialize in intelligence gathering and analysis. I’ve been in the intelligence field for twenty-five years and I have a degree from Oxford.”
Fran glanced at Iris.
“I’m Iris, I worked for Fran at MI6 up until last week, though I’m sure I’ll go back at some point… Spying is a bit of a family tradition with me, both my grandfather and my father work for MI6.”
“Hang on, they wouldn’t be Simeon and Abraham Quinn would they?” Kate asked.
“Yes, it would,” Iris said. Kate cut her eyes to Kelly and then back to Iris.
“Who?” Jack asked.
“Put it this way, if there’s an intelligence situation in Britain the Prime Minister gets a call from Simeon,” Fran explained. Jack nodded quickly with wide eyes. “Sorry Iris, continue.”
“Right. I too have a degree from Oxford and thanks to that and my time in boarding school I have connections to every prominent family in Great Britain. My job was keeping tabs on all of them to make sure they weren’t using their money for nefarious means.”
“What’s your degree in?” Kate asked.
“Finance, I interned at The Royal Bank of Scotland before I joined MI6.”
Iris glanced at Emily to speak.
“I’m Emily. I too went to boarding schools in England but I joined the Royal Marines instead of going to university. I got out three weeks ago and since then I’ve been pub hopping throughout London, bored off my arse. I’m originally from Ireland but I’ve also spent time in Wales and Scotland, so I can speak all of the dialects and bartend in any country in the world. I’m a sniper as well and I have some decent arms connections.”
“What’s your count?” Kate asked quietly. Emily glanced over at her.
“Twenty,” Kate replied.
“Count?” Iris asked.
“Sniper kills,” Kate explained. Kelly tensed on the arm of the sofa, staring at her little sister.
“Twenty?” She asked, her voice a little higher than usual. Kate met her gaze and shrugged.
“What did you think I did in the Marines and NSA, Kelly?”
“I tried not to think about it actually,” Kelly admitted. The other four women glanced back and forth between them.
“Sisters,” Jack explained. Iris and Emily exchanged a look of surprise.
“Sisters?” Iris asked. “That will make things interesting.”
“It won’t be an issue,” Kate said.
“The hell it won’t,” Iris said. “Look, let’s not beat around the bush here, ladies, we’re black ops. Someone’s going to get shot at the very least, not to mention the fact that we will probably be killing someone at some point. Can you handle ordering your little sister to kill someone?”
“I’m bigger than her,” Jack said in a low voice.
“Beg pardon?” Iris asked, confused.
“Technically, I can’t be her little sister because, in fact, I am bigger than her. Have been since I was fifteen. And right now she’s not my sister, she’s your senior officer.”
Iris was taken aback by Kate’s steady stare.
“Understood,” Iris finally said.
Jack cleared her throat and glanced around the group.
“I’m Jack, graduate of MIT and Harvard and I’m a tech expert… I only worked for the FBI for a little while and am really happy that we don’t have a dress code. Also, I have a bit of expertise in demolitions and a slight problem with setting things on fire…”
“You’re a pyro?” Emily asked, eyebrows raised.
“No, pyros get off on fire, I just like making **** burn,” Jack corrected.
“Fair enough,” Emily laughed. The rest of the room glanced at Kate.
“Well you already know a few things about me so I won’t repeat myself. In addition to having an older sister, being a Marine sniper and an NSA black ops agent I also speak three languages, smoke heavily and enjoy long walks on the beach at sunset. I’ve been shot, tased and tortured and I’d really prefer to avoid those things again, if possible, because they suck. Oh and as team leader there will be no drug testing because, let’s face it, I’d fail.”
“Jesus Kate!” Kelly groaned. “What if I mandated a drug test?”
“You won’t,” Kate replied with a shrug.
“And why is that?”
“Because the team leader would fail!” Kate shot back.
“Oh yes, this whole sister thing won’t be an issue at all,” Iris snorted, making the others laugh and glance at Kelly.
“Fine; I’m Kelly, I have a degree in International Studies from Stamford. I was a field agent for five years and I spent a lot of time in Asia and the Middle East. As senior officers, Fran and I will not be joining you four in the field very often. It will be Kate’s job to get orders from us and coordinate the team. For the time being, though, we will be assisting in training you all.”
The team nodded and looked around at each other. Jack had the least amount of experience in the intelligence world, but Emily was the youngest. Iris was older and had exceptional contacts but she wasn’t a field officer. Kate was a warrior but she was used to working alone. They would all need some intense training over the next few weeks.
“Now, our training will start in the morning. We’re combining some techniques borrowed from the Marines, CIA and NSA so Jack, you’re about to get a crash course in intelligence,” Fran said.
“Looking forward to it,” Jack said.
“Before we get any further, we need to fill out some paperwork,” Kelly said, pulling out four folders from her briefcase. “Technically none of your positions exist on paper so we have to pay you the old fashioned way. Each of you now has a Swiss bank account that you will be able to access from any part of the world. Every week you will receive a deposit to this account, whether you’re working or not. When you are on assignment the amount will be significantly higher. You are each responsible for your own health insurance, but if you are injured on assignment you will receive medical care from the nearest military hospital, free of charge.”
“Remind me not to get hurt,” Kate grinned.
“What about retirement?” Jack asked, flipping through the packet.
“That depends on performance,” Kelly said. “If you guys work yourselves out of a job then the team will be disbanded and you each will receive a sizable bonus and a decent pension for the rest of your life. If the team is disbanded due to poor results, though, you get nothing.”
“And what happens if we’re killed?” Kate asked, looking down at the file. Fran cleared her throat to answer while Kelly studied Kate carefully.
“Your deposits continue until the team disbands. They will be given to your next of kin or whoever you designate to receive the money. The form for that is in the folder.”
Kate flipped quickly through the packet and without pausing she filled out the form. Emily followed suit while the other two team members watched, looking slightly shell-shocked.
“Lesson number one, Ladies,” Kate said after finishing, “People in this business die. Lesson number two, some people need killing. If anyone has a problem with either of those lessons they need to get out now because they don’t get any easier.”
Iris and Jack flipped through their packets and filled out their beneficiary forms. All four of them passed them back to Kelly who glanced over them. She stopped when she got to Kate’s.
“They’re my niece and nephew, Kelly. And don’t call me Katie,” Kate said, glancing at another form. “We get to pick our aliases?”
“Yes, and don’t you dare put my name down,” Fran said.
“Don’t think I could pull off Frances,” Kate said, rubbing her chin. “Can I use my old NSA aliases?”
“If you want Neil to be able to track you, sure,” Kelly said.
“Neil?” Jack asked.
“Former boss, world’s biggest ****,” Kate explained. “I’ll pick new ones.”
“Good call,” Kelly said. Fran stretched her arms over her head and glanced to the kitchen.
“Kate, you were stationed here before, correct?”
“Yes ma’am,” Kate said, still scribbling on forms.
“Any chance that the kitchen comes stocked?”
“With food, sure,” Kate said.
“And with alcohol?”
“Check the ceiling tiles in the kitchen, Marines generally leave a welcome gift for anyone coming in,” Kate said. Fran stood and paused. “Hang on, I’ll get it.”
Kate stood and walked over to Fran, whom she towered over. She walked to the small kitchen with Fran following and looked up at the ceiling. After a moment of studying she smiled and hopped up on the counter. After a few moments of shifting tiles, swearing and carefully reaching around she pulled down a bottle of Cuban rum, a bottle of dry gin and a bottle of brandy.
“Someone was very generous,” Fran commented while pulling glasses out of the cupboard.
“No, they just knew that the only way to get through a tour at Gitmo was to drink heavily,” Kate said while hopping to the floor. “Dibs on the rum.”
The two of them re-entered the living room with full arms, causing the others’ eyes to widen happily.
“Well, I suppose this meeting is adjourned,” Kelly said, closing her file. “Take it easy, though, training starts in the morning.”
“Sure, sure,” Kate said, pouring a generous shot into her glass. While the rest of the team grabbed drinks Fran winked at Kelly. They had no idea what they were getting into.