Sharon’s Note: Still with me? Awesome! We’ve all had a good cry, so now it’s time to get on with the story. Warning: Author taking maybe a little too long to get to the inciting event.
I laughed and pushed myself to my feet as Seth rolled out of my way. I did need to go clean myself up. If nothing else, even though I hadn’t gotten any snot on Seth’s shirt, I was going to end up swallowing some if I didn’t blow my nose.
Hearth was an oddly constructed building. The Operator’s area had been specifically designed for its purpose. The bullpen was a large room with computers along one wall, book shelves on another, and four large tables spaced throughout. Currently, there were three people around one table, seriously studying a map. That was the purpose of the bullpen. Operators were the ones on the other end of the coms from the Hunting teams. We were the ones that found solutions to the problems Hunter found in the field. If our team ran against something troublesome that they didn’t know how to kill, we found a way.
Off of the Bullpen, there were a series of small offices. These were for the operators currently supporting their teams directly by com. I shared one with Phagan (Not his real name), and Marion (Unfortunately his real name). Marion was finishing up his shift.
I’m sure Marion had been picked on a lot as a kid. He was 5’3, slightly built, and his name was Marion. This explained why he had grown up with a compulsive need to shoot things in the face. Fortunately for all humanity, he had directed this urge towards things that tended to eat people. Eight years ago he had been nearly crushed to death by a giant snake. Most of his rib and arm bones had been reduced to the consistency of grape nuts, but somehow he had survived. He was even mobile after a few rigorous year of therapy. He just wasn’t field stable. This had only served to make him angrier.
As I walked into our office, he chucked the headset at me. “Here, Joy. Talk to this moron. I’m sick of arguing and am going home.”
Marion pushed to his feet, snatched his own cane, and wobbled out the door. For an operator to leave without a report like that meant that nothing even remotely interesting was going on.
I plopped carelessly into the chair and put on the headset. “What did you say to tick him off?”
“Nothing!” Ethan protested. I rolled my eyes. Ethan was new to my team. He wasn’t a bad kid. Even though he was only 18, he was a reliable Hunter, but sometimes he could be such a thoughtless ass.
“He was trying to convince Marion that he should use the name ‘Ron’.” Mike sounded like he was trying to keep his laughter to a minimum. “I tried to tell him not to mess with Marion.”
“I wasn’t.” There was a chorus of chuckling from the rest of the team over their coms. “I was just trying to be helpful.”
“Yeah, here’s a tip from your Operator,” I picked up the nightly report in front of me and began browsing through it. “Don’t even lightly tease Marion about his name. He will punch you in the nose hard enough to break it even if it will break every pin in his arm.”
Out of the corner of my eye I saw the attention light start to flash. It was a small yellow rotating light that went off when an Operator needed help. I heard a scuffle of people moving in the bullpen. One of the Hunters who was temporarily helping out while his arm healed held up a yellow writing pad with a message written in fat blue marker “Shanda’s got a werewolf downtown. Can your team help?”