*3:00 AM*

The screeches of the small portable alarm clock were quickly snuffed by a flailing hand.  Uttering a low curse, the woman attached to the hand opened her eyes; the last wisps of her sleep induced fog drawing back in the darkness as she reached out her other hand to feel for the familiar ball of fur that was always nearby.  A reassuring head-butt against her palm brought a smile to the blood red lips.  “Always watching over me, aren’t you Heimdal?”

Head-butting his mistress’ hand again, the giant Maine Coon purred, the sound filling the small hotel room they were sharing.  If she was awake, it meant that it was only a matter of time before her routine started, the one that began with his breakfast.

“I know, you want breakfast.” the young woman laughed quietly as Heimdal purred louder, drowning out the sound of the diesel trucks warming up outside.  “Well you’d better make sure to eat everything today; we have a flight to catch in a few hours.”

Every morning was the same routine: awake by 3AM, feed the cat, shower and dress, and then eat breakfast while reviewing her plans for the day.  At least, that was the routine when she wasn’t in the field.  When she was in the field, well, that was a different story all together.  Only guarantee on those days was Heimdal got fed.  Today, that routine was about to be broken.

The phone rang, startling the giant cat and causing his mistress to raise an eyebrow.  Lifting the receiver, she did her best to stifle a yawn.  “Hello?” she asked sleepily.

“Please forgive me for calling so early, Dr. Lokasenna,” stuttered a nervous voice from the other end, “but there is an issue with your schedule.  It appears that you failed to notify us that you were taking an earlier flight, and now I can’t guarantee that you will have anything ready when you get to Mexico City.”

“What are you talking about, earlier flight?” now wide awake, Sigyn jumped out of bed and grabbed her bag, pulling out her cell phone.  “This had better be some sick joke of yours, James.”

Sigyn’s assistant laughed nervously.  “I know better, Dr. Lokasenna.  I like my body without broken bones.”

Flipping to her flight data, Sigyn growled.  “You’re right, my flight is changed…to an hour from now?!”  Heimdal yowled in protest as Sigyn sped past his bowl, his breakfast forgotten.  “Make all the calls you need, James, and keep me updated.”  Sigyn hung up with her assistant as she stripped from her night shirt and threw on a pair of slate black slacks.  Next came the white lace bra, followed by a soft green cotton blouse.  “I hear you, you can stop complaining.”  Grabbing a tin of tuna, she popped open the can and set it on the floor as she snatched up Heimdal’s bowl and packed it away.  “You can eat out of a can this one time, it’s not going to kill you.” she grumbled, packing her belongings and dialling for the front desk.

“Ah, Miss Sigh-gine!” came the overly cheerful voice of the night auditor. “How may I help you?”

Sigyn bit back a growl.  “It’s pronounced like sing, you know, as in singing a song?”

“Oh, a thousand apologies, how may I help you, Miss Singin?”

“I need my baggage brought downstairs,” breathed Sigyn as she shut her bags and stuffed a very put out Heimdal in his crate.  “You can eat on the way.”

“I’m sorry, miss?”

“I need my luggage brought down stairs and a cab called to take me to the airport within the next five minutes.”