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Coexistence Alpha: a responsive mobile and desktop overlay for Dreamwidth
[28 Apr 2018|04:15pm]

[ mood | ambitious ]

You Want Mobile Dreamwidth, Artie? You Got It:

Coexistence Alpha: a Neutral Good CSS patchset v0.842 BETA 1

As of 7 May 2017, *** WE ARE NOW IN BETA ***

This is a fully-responsive mobile-ready theme modification layer intended to make Dreamwidth's default style fully functional on both mobile and desktop devices wherever it can be applied. Features include journal and reading pages with near-zero horizon scrolling on mobile, including in long comment reply cascades, and more-comfortable comment creation, including on iOS.

To install: Choose style "Neutral Good" for "Practicality" in the journal style selector. Copypasta all of the linked CSS into the Advanced Seettings Custom CSS box, and save. (This may require a desktop device.) Apply "your style" to everything you can.

This build includes Navbar 2, which is mostly cosmetic but somewhat mobile-aware upgrade of the Navbar.

Revision history and bleeding edge code (there will be a beta2)Collapse )

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth. Please comment there.

The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 13: someone you more fully trust
[15 Jan 2018|10:04am]

[ mood | thoughtful ]

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]


"Didn't know there were good restaurants in Latvia," Lena said, bemused, standing outside the little blue-walled building in the heart of old Riga. "Or... d'ya just really like blue? 'Cause I can see how y'would."

Emily snickered and Danielle raised an eyebrow and smirked as Moira tutted at the Overwatch agent. "We have a layover, we may as well enjoy it. And Latvian cuisine is under-appreciated." She opened the door, and gestured. "Ladies?"

The four agents had smuggled themselves back out of Russia via the cold compartments of slow cargo planes, much the same way as they'd smuggled themselves in. From here, they'd depart at 3am in yet another hold - this time listed as network infrastructure equipment - which left them several hours to kill.

The restaurant's interior consisted of several rooms with vaulted ceilings in white plaster. Graceful full-width brickwork archways connected each section, pillar sconces providing warm and decorative light.

"I wonder what this would've looked like before," Lena said, quietly, copper eyes revealing every detail, even in the darkest shadows. "I bet the ambience would've been fantastic."

"A bit old fashioned for me," Emily said. "Warm, though, and the food's good. It's nice."

"Been here before, then?" Lena asked, receiving a nod of confirmation.

"I think it's lovely," Danielle said. "Is it real?" she asked, touching the brickwork. It felt old, and sturdy.

"I have no idea," said the Oasis minister, as the maitre d' escorted them to a reserved table. "I'm not sentimental about such things - or about much at all, really." Moira ordered for the table, of course, in surprisingly fluent Latvian.

"How many languages you speak, mate?" Lena asked, over her Valmiermuižas, once the beer arrived. Emily took a drink of her Brenguļu and smiled, while Widowmaker found herself presented with a small amount of Riga black balsam liquor, and water.

"As many as I need to," the doctor replied, sipping her Kvass. "I imagined you to be a beer person. How is it?"

"Not bad," she admitted, reluctantly, watching Widowmaker sample her liquor. "Don't know much about Latvian brewing, but..."

"I've gone a bit in, I admit," Moira replied. "But it's hardly anything I can't afford. You all performed very well yesterday, and I think we deserve a bit of indulgence, don't you?"

"This is ... extraordinary," Widowmaker said, eyes closed, savouring the dark liquid in front of her. "I've never tasted anything like it."

"The water's there for a reason, love," Emily noted. "There's a lot more vodka in that than you think."

Danielle gave her lover half a smile, reopening her eyes. "Thank you."

"Buckle in," she continued. "It's a Latvian restaurant, so there's going to be a lot of food."

"Given your metabolisms," Moira interjected, "normally, I'd order for two. But with Lena here, I've gone ahead and ordered for four."

Oxton frowned, then noticed exactly how hungry she was. "...the accelerator core." She had her vest with her, carefully tucked away inside a backpack, power left on - the advantages of separate pieces had not been lost upon her.

"I imagine it's been working overtime. How you haven't noticed before now is beyond me."

"I've been hungry, just not... hoo, yeah."

"Drink your beer," the scientist said. "You'll need it. Oh, good, look - here come the pirāgi."

"Ooooh, Lena, you'll love these," Emily chirped.

"Pirogi? Sure, love 'em..."

"Pirāgi," she stressed. "Better! Y'like bacon?"

"Oooooo."

"Yeh, then," she grinned. "These are good."

"You want to, I dunno, help guide me through this? Never had all that much eastern food before... least not eastern Europe..."

"Glad to!" She held up one hand, sticking up fingers as she went. "Rule number one: drink a lot. Rule number two: eat a lot. Rule number three: y'don't need to like beets. But it helps. I'll be skipping the soup. Rule number four: see rule number one. Got it?"

Lena's grin mirrored Emily's own. "Got it!"

[an hour later]

"So I told Jack, I told Jack," she said, a bit in her cups, but not too much more than she realised, "this is bloody happenin' mate, and that's all there is to it. And it did! So if I won that argument with him - a bleedin' American white guy - I'm sure not gonna lose it w' you!"

Emily laughed, a little bit in hers as well. "Sorry, luv - not tryin' it next time, either. Beets are rubbish."

"You even said yourself - you said it - how good the aukstā zupa looked," Lena said, finishing off the last of her kartupeļi ar siļķi un biezpienu, as the rupjmaizes kārtojums arrived. "And how good it smelled, and you're stickin' by that? Won't even try it?"

"I'm afraid have to side with Lena, cherie. And I am both French and very picky."

"Sorry, but, sorry, no. Beets are gross. You're both wrong, and that's all there is to it."

"Fffft," Lena articulately opined. "Barmy."

"At least we agree on the herring," smirked the senior assassin.

"Oh, yeah, no, this is the only way I'll eat cottage cheese. That's true. Tho' it's funny... I think I like it more, now. Normally, I don't mind it that much, and it... kind of rounds off the fish, doesn't it? But this time I think I actively liked it."

"Really?" asked Moira, meditating on the last of her karbonāde, waiving off dessert. "That is new. I didn't do that. At least, not intentionally."

"It's been a while," Emily shrugged, smiling. "Maybe my tastes just changed. Or I'm just misremembering."

"Right, then!" Oxton exclaimed. "Shopping list amended. Cottage cheese in the fridge is fine, but beets? Right out."

"Well, they can be around... I don't want to... I don't know... kill all beets... tho' they'd probably explode nicely... they're just..." She shook her head, nope, nope, nope, nope, "Not food!"

Lena laughed, tipping over almost but not quite into her newly-placed dessert plate, overwhelmed with giggles. Oooh, that smells good! She sampled a piece of the cranberry, rye, and whipped cream confection with her finger. Ooooh, it is!

She looked back up at her tablemates. Bloody hell, she thought, how am I enjoying this so much? She leaned back, took another drink of her Valmiermuižas, and smiled softly as Widowmaker and Oilliphéist continued to debate affectionately about vegetables.

Must be the company, she thought, a little dreamily, while expertly ignoring Moira on her left. Must be that.

-----

Dr. Ziegler pulled the full-body scanner head down from the ceiling, centring it over Lena's body. "Now, we're doing a different type of scan than anything we did three weeks ago. This is an experimental device, very new. It makes a series of process images, so we'll be here for - oh, a good 45 minutes or more. Do you need to use the facilities?"

"Nah, I'm good. I went before I left." Tracer had come directly over from the short-term leased apartment she was sharing with Oilliphéist and Widowmaker. A compromise neutral ground agreed to by the two doctors, monitored by both, it would be their joint residence throughout the operation. And possibly after, if all went well.

"But..." she added, "how'm I gonna stay still that long?"

"You shouldn't," the research doctor said, pertly, adjusting controls. "I will be showing you several images - they'll appear above you, you won't need to turn your head - and occasionally asking questions. Say whatever comes to mind at any point, and if you feel like moving, do not suppress it except to stay on the table. Don't make extra motions, but anything spontaneous - just let it happen."

"...am I gonna remember this?" Lena asked, nervously.

The doctor blinked. I hadn't anticipated that. I should've. "I... suppose that is a very good question, given what we did the first time, isn't it? Yes. You will remember all of this."

"That's good," Lena said, nervousness still in her voice. "I didn't like that. Not rememberin'."

That's not good enough, the doctor thought. "No. I... no. This will not do. May I drop medical privacy protocols for a moment?"

"...I guess so? Why?"

"Because - given everything that has happened, and is still happening - I think you should have someone here you... more fully trust, in this matter. May I invite Danielle to observe?"

Lena smiled, and relaxed, visibly. "I'd like that, doc. If y'don't mind. She's right outside with Emily anyway."

"I am not surprised." She touched a few buttons and the room became ever so slightly less quiet. Stepping over to the door, she opened it, and spoke quietly with the former Talon assassin, who, after a few moments, stepped into the small room, whispering her assurances to her lover, who remained just outside.

"I apologise that it's a little cramped - we don't normally have a third person present. But I appreciate your cooperation," she said, reactivating privacy protocols.

The Widowmaker nodded, as the room went ever so slightly more quiet. "I appreciate you thinking to ask for it." She looked to her left, noticing her rifle's presence. "I am standing next to my Kiss. Does that violate security protocol?"

Dr. Ziegler looked - strictly speaking, it does, doesn't it... but I think... - and shook her head, no. "Thank you for alerting me. It... you do not need to move either yourself or, ah, her."

"Thank you. It makes me feel more comfortable, this way. Hello, cherie."

"Could y'leave privacy off, luv?" asked Lena. "Em... there may not be a lot of room in here, but I don't mind Emily hearin' stuff. And she and Widowmaker..."

"I would prefer to keep them on. I value confidentiality highly. Unlike in Switzerland, it is not mandatory, but..."

"It is fine," the senior assassin told the doctor. "We discussed this possibility earlier, and she does not object."

"You absolutely sure?" asked Lena.

"Yes. She's largely just relieved that I'm allowed in here - for obvious reasons."

"Aw," Lena blushed the tiniest bit. "Can I hold your hand? Is that all right?" she asked, looking over to the doctor mid-query, and taking her lover's hand anyway.

It will take a very long time for me to get used to that, the doctor thought, a little nervous, now, herself. "For the moment only. During the session, I'm afraid not - your arm needs to be under the scanner, like the rest of you. I'd let you hold hands on the table, but I don't know how your two nervous systems would interact, and I do not want the readings intermixed."

"Ah, yeah, that makes sense." She squeezed Widowmaker's hand, briefly, and moved her arm back under the scanner.

"Some of these questions may be fairly personal. Please just respond however comes to mind, regardless of Am," she corrected herself, "Danielle's presence. Can you still do that, with her here?"

"Absolutely," responded the teleporter, and the assassin smiled.

"Do you mind that, Danielle?"

"Not at all."

"Then let us begin."

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth. Please comment there.

Old Soldiers, Chapter 21: prophesies and confirmation [bias]
[13 Jan 2018|11:42pm]

[ mood | sleepy ]

This chapter contains a scene some readers may find disturbing.

All text in «chevron quotes» translated from the Arabic. All text in "double quotes" translated from the Spanish. All thoughts in italic translated from the native language of the thinker.

[AO3 link]


[Geneva — 2070]

The blue-helmeted Spanish soldier stepped around another piece of debris - a large chunk of glass, heavy, thick, still attached to a piece of wall, and partly buried into rocky ground. Probably fell from pretty far up, she thought, looking around it.

Infirmary, she read, knowing at least that much English. Ironic.

She pulled on it, and it tilted a little to one side in response - not buried deep, not much larger than it looks. Recording its location, she continued on, following the fall pattern of the outer tower's shell. Most of the complex had fallen inward, not outward, the result of the implosion device used to bring it down and end the Overwatch resistance - but some parts had flown out, and away.

She made her way to the next large chunk of debris. ¡Cáspita! she thought, that's a big one! Large enough to have been a small room, or even two, flattened, collapsed in on itself, it lay strewn across several square metres of mountainside, the trail left behind by its impact clear in the landscape.

I wonder if it's more of the infirmary? She logged its location as she walked towards it, skirting its outer perimeter. Something... huh. Something's... hot? Is that steam? What is that?

As the mist flowed towards her, she did not have time to draw, much less fire, not that it would've made any difference, not that she'd even have considered it - it's not as though anyone can shoot the fog. And indeed, it wouldn't've made any difference at all. All she had time to do was recoil in horror and fear as her hands, first, then her arms, and then the rest of her, melted away.

Several minutes later, Jack Morrison awoke, and shook his head, violently, confused, feeling deeply out of joint, trying to place himself. What the hell... how did I get out? He looked down at himself, in UN blues. Or into this uniform?

Must've blacked out, he thought, and looked around, evaluating the situation. The battle was over, the complex in ruins, UN forces above, up the mountain, where Overwatch HQ had once been. We've lost. God damm you, we've lost. He looked the other way, down, towards the lowlands. I guess... it's time to live to fight another day, he thought, and followed the water down, running, running, running away.

-----

"Morrison."

"Amari."

«It's been a long time,» the sniper said, changing to Arabic.

«Not that long,» the mercenary retorted, looking up from his chair in the small outdoor restaurant on the outskirts of Tampico. «You were just shooting at me a few months ago. Nice replacement eye, by the way.»

«Thank you,» the former captain said, archly. «By all rights, I ought to be shooting at you now. But... I have been astonished to discover that you seem to be the lesser of monsters, so, here I am.»

The soldier took a drink from his tall glass of ice water, followed by a sip from his whiskey, before pointing to the opposite chair. «Well, if you're here - want to take a seat? Or are you going to stand there and glare at me like some sort of angry owl?»

Ana shrugged, pulled out the chair, turned it around, and sat, facing the table. «You'll forgive me, I'm sure. I'm just finding it more difficult than I expected to look at the man who got Reinhardt so meaninglessly killed though anything other than a rifle scope.»

Morrison winced. «He was a good man. Loyal, to the end - unlike a lot of people I could mention. I miss him.»

«I do, too.» She glared. «Obviously.»

«You're not being fair, though. It wasn't me.» He picked up his whiskey and took another sip. «It was Talon. I know you'll never believe that, but...»

«I have cause to change my mind, on that. Or at least, to reconsider. You gave the orders, but... you may, after all, have had reason to give them.»

Morrison put down his shot glass and stared at his former executive officer. «You... what?»

«I told you, in my message - I had new information.»

He nodded. «You said you had information about Talon. Information I'd want to see, that'd I'd pay anything to get.»

«Yes. It regards Overwatch, as well.»

«And? What's the price?»

She snorted. «I've never been in this for money, Jack.»

He nodded. «I know. None of us were.»

«At least there's that.» She flagged the waiter, walking by, and asked - in Spanish - if he could bring her a strawberry soda. He returned with a can and a tall glass of ice, a few moments later.

"I'll get it," Morrison said, also in Spanish. "Just add it to my bill."

Ana's head tilted, just a little. "Your Spanish is much better than your Arabic. You'd pass for a Madrileños."

Morrison just snorted. "I've had a lot more cause for practice."

"I suppose so."

«But... you were about to say?»

Ana took a long drink of her soda, put it back down, took a deep breath to fortify her resolve, and dove in. «The person calling herself Lena Oxton - whoever or whatever she really might be - is a Talon agent. She is, specifically, the Talon assassin known as Venom. She is also the supposedly-freelance sniper Mockingbird, and the so-called Hero of London, Tracer.»

The former strike commander slammed his hands on the top of the table. «I knew it! I knew it wasn't her.» This is what I've been waiting for, he thought. Vindication. At last. «She was probably the sniper who shot my tactical visor in New Mexico... but can you prove it?»

«I'm not even finished with what I know.»

«Please!» He leaned forward. «Go on!»

«She appears to change who she is, becoming different people to suit a task - I have video of this, of her changing from Tracer to Mockingbird. She can be any of them, and possibly even more people - I do not know.»

«Of course... I never thought of that. That explains so much. She can't be the only one. Maybe they're all shapeshifters.»

«I... don't know that, either.» She closed her eyes, pain across her face. «But I do know... that my daughter's wife is her handler, and she is the one who controls the changes. Or, at least, she is one person who can.»

«Your...» He thought about it. «Angela?! Angela Ziegler was the mole?»

The old soldier dipped her head, once. «It appears likely. In the video I have, she changes Tracer into Mockingbird, using that 'healing staff' of hers. Clearly, it does more than we ever imagined.»

«So.» He took another sip of his whiskey, imagination running with this new information, galloping along unhindered. «Reyes, Ziegler, and Oxton, all Talon, all guiding the new "Overwatch," all under the nose of the Swiss and the UN. Or with their cooperation.» He let out a long, slow breath. «You're right,» he agreed, «I would pay anything to have this.»

«I believe it's clear now that the entire Overwatch revival effort is a Talon project - for what purpose, I do not know.»

«And... if Angela's involved...» He dreaded the answer to the question he was about to pose. «...Fareeha's involved, too?»

Ana's eyes closed, her face scrunched into a knot of pain. «I... I fear so. God, Jack, I stayed away too long, chasing after you... I should've been there, I could've kept her from that witch... I contacted her, when I contacted you, begging her, telling her what I knew, telling her, leave Overwatch, leave Angela, while she still could... if she still could...»

His mouth set into a firm line. «She didn't?»

She shook her head. «No. I... I have to presume she... can't. Or doesn't want to, given her messages back to me. I have to presume... that she isn't who she was. That she...»

«Ana, I'm...»

«...I fear my daughter is gone, Jack.»

Her mask broke, and all at once, she dissolved, in sobs, and Jack Morrison took her in his arms, comforting her as best he could in his own gruff way. «Ana, I am so, so sorry.»

She cried for a moment, then, as quickly as she broke, she forced herself back together, sniffled heavily, coughed, and sat back up. «My apologies, Jack. That was... unprofessional.»

«No,» he disagreed. «It was natural. I've never had a daughter to lose, but... she was kind of all of ours... we all cared for her, very much.»

«And you... you're... not exactly who you were, either. Don't lie. I know.»

He looked into his whiskey, did not take another sip, and looked back up. «I've done some awful things, Ana. Things I didn't even know I was doing. They - they made me a monster, too. During the attack, I stumbled into Angela's lab, thought I was patching myself up...»

Her eyes widened. «So, that's how...»

«I can't be sure, but - I think so.»

She shuddered. «Even back then, she was... with them. Working on such unspeakable things. And we never knew.»

He nodded. «Is that why you've been after me all these years?»

«No - not originally. I thought you were a monster, but... only metaphorically. I thought I was avenging Reinhardt. But then I saw what you could do, and... put pieces together, and had another reason.»

«I can control it now. It, it took a while, but... I can control it.»

«And you didn't even know, until,» she shook her head, «when?»

«Someone - Mockingbird, I think - shot off my tactical visor, last year, on a convoy run. Then I had another one, suddenly, somehow, and the old one was on the ground, broken. There was dashcam footage, and then... I spent a few months shooting myself to watch what happened. Learning to control it.»

«That's... grotesque.»

«Desperate times, Ana. Desperate times and desperate measures.»

Ana looked into her former CO's eyes, thinking, for longer than he was comfortable, but she didn't care. He wasn't so wrong, about the owl-like stares. After several moments, she nodded, curtly, once. «So. Now, I have the pieces I have been missing, and you have the pieces you have been missing. What can we do with what we've both made?»

Morrison gave his executive officer half a smile - he knew he'd passed a test, even if he didn't quite know what kind. «I know this - the governments are corrupt. They're all in Talon hands, or, at best, Talon-infiltrated. So we have to take the fight straight to the heart of the beast.»

«That's a tall order, Jack.»

«It is. But I've been building Los Muertos into a real fighting force - I wasn't even entirely sure why, it just felt like I needed to do it.» He took a long drink of his water. «Guess I've finally figured out why.»

Captain Amari nodded. «My message to Fareeha - or...» barely suppressed pain flashed across her face, «...whatever she is now - will have tipped them off. If we're going to act, it will have to be soon.»

«All the more reason not to waste any more time here.»

«No,» she said. «Jack... it's been a long while. We should... if we're going to be working together again, we should take a little time. Catch up.»

The strike commander smiled a very old smile. «Hardly feels like any time at all, to me. Feels good to talk again, too - despite everything. It's almost like picking back up where we left off.»

«I guess we haven't changed as much as we like to think, have we, Jack?»

«Guess not. You still like corn cakes?»

«I do.»

«They make good ones here.» He let himself relax, just a little. «Let's... just have brunch. Catch up, like you said. For a little while.»

She nodded, and then looked over to the waiter who had brought her soda before. "Excuse me?" she called, in Spanish, bringing the young man back over. "I think we're finally ready to order."

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth. Please comment there.

Old Soldiers, Chapter 20: you really, really should
[09 Jan 2018|10:00am]

[ mood | busy ]

I didn't realise I hadn't posted a new chapter since mid-December! Sorry for the late.

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]


«Look, friend, all I'm trying to tell you is that big trouble is coming, and it's aimed straight at your guy. Cut him loose.»

Sombra made a little frustrated noise as Flores didn't answer immediately. He'd been fighting her on Morrison since she first contacted him about it. «Look, Olivia, this isn't...»

«Don't call me that.»

«Sombra, this isn't - you aren't with us anymore. We all know it.»

«But I'm still your friend, friend. Or aren't I?»

He sighed. «No, no, you are... I just... he really, really knows what he's doing. Militarily. We're so much more effective now, we've thrown the Maras completely out of the whole state. The police are starting to think of us as maybe not even so bad.»

«And when he turns on you, like he turned on Laticia and Araceli?»

A moment, and then another moment, silence, over comms. «He didn't... look, we don't know what happened to Araceli...»

«I do. I told you. I've seen it.»

«That - it makes no sense. It's impossible.»

«You want the video? I can see about that.»

«And Laticia, she's turned state's evidence, sold us out to Overwatch! Why shouldn't he...»

«Is that what he says? He's a liar. Well, he was a liar before. Look, have I ever lied to you?»

«Yes!»

«About anything important.»

«...no.»

«And I'm not lying to you now. You heard what Talon did to that Mara cell in El Salvador, right? Do you want that? Because that's what you're going to get.»

She could almost hear him thinking.

«...can you get me that video?»

«I think so. Want to clear it with my source, first. Very delicate, you know? Don't want to alienate them.»

«Sure, sure. Let me know.»

«I will. Sombra out.»

The hacker leaned back in her chair. "Well, how 'bout it? I figure we let him sweat for a day or two, then hand it over."

Lena smiled. "Sounds good. I don't want t' have to tear through Los Muertos to get to that bastard. They're just kids, mostly, and none of this is their fault." She fuzzled Sombra's hair.

"Quit it, rapido! This hair takes time!"

"Make me!" Lena giggled, and, of course, made it worse, as she and the hacker got into a hair-messing competition that the teleporter could only win.

Angela looked on, mildly astonished, from the couch across the room where she sat, surrounded by notebooks. Yesterday's meeting of the minds had run late into the night, followed by a massive exchange of documents in the morning, after breakfast and some more personal catching up with Amélie.

She looked around, again, a little overwhelmed. She'd handed over a data chip, and had not imagined getting stacks of paper to read, in exchange. Dr. Marani wasn't so much old-fashioned in her record-keeping, as prehistoric. It looks like so much more, when it's all physically in front of you, she thought. But it painted a crystalline picture, nonetheless.

A burst of laughter caught her attention, and she looked up. Lena's so relaxed, here, she thought, contemplating what she was seeing. And arguing against killing, rather than reminding us she's an assassin over and over. She gazed intently at the roughhousing Talon agents. It's because... she's just Lena here, isn't she? Not Tracer. Just ... herself, and she doesn't have to insist on anything to remember that. She shook her head, and went back to reading lab reports.

"Agh, you win, stop it!"

"Yeah!" The assassin punched the air. "Venom wins again!"

Sombra got out a hairbrush and began working her hair back into place. "You know, it'd go a long way if he heard it from Laticia himself."

"What, get her sprung, you mean?"

"Something like that. It'd carry a lot of weight."

"Hmf," said the assassin. "Somethin' to consider." She glanced over at the Overwatch doctor. "If we have to. Don't quite want t'be asking favours at the moment. Not 'till we've got everything else sorted out."

"What's Overwatch gonna do with her? They aren't police or courts or anything. They have to hand her over to somebody, eventually - why not us?"

"What would happen to her afterwards?" Angela asked, suddenly.

Lena shrugged. "...let her go, I guess? Back to Los Muertos?"

"With what she'd know, by then? How could that work?" She leaned forward, intently. "You could never let her go. Not with her knowing what she would about Talon, combined with what she does about Overwatch. She'd be a threat." She leaned back, and shook her head. "I cannot risk that."

The assassin frowned. "We wouldn't, but... I get your point, I guess."

"What if we kept her at arm's reach?" suggested the hacker. "Your friend, Gabriel."

Venom grimaced. "He's not really..."

"Fiiiiine, your colleague, whatever. When we decamp to Mexico, he goes too, brings her. We co-ordinate at a distance, he lets her go back to the gang when the job's done."

"That's not bad, luv. Whatcha think, doc?"

Doc, she thought. Well. That's an improvement. "I think... Overwatch could go along with that. Obviously, it is not my final decision, but... I think so."

"It'd help. But... y'seem to have got used to the idea we're gonna finish off Morrison awfully quick."

The doctor leaned forward, face in her hands, elbows on the glass table in front of the couch. "He's my fault," she said, resigned. "At least... partly. And I saw - well, I did not quite see it, but I saw the results when you were tried to bring him in alive." Her hands closed to loosely-held fists, forehead pressed against them, carrying the weight of her head, of her thoughts. "If he is willing to do that to you, or worse, to Mei-Ling... then he is no longer the man I once admired."

"Makes it easier, then?"

"I have always been a field medic, and then a doctor, first. But I have also always been a soldier. Just like him. Just like Fareeha. Just like you. But even with that, I am not on a mission to kill him." She lifted her head, and looked Venom in the eyes. "I am here to do my best to save my mother-in-law. If helping you kill him does that... so be it."

"Wow, this got somber," interjected the hacker. "Where's the fun in that?"

The assassin snickered as Angela frowned, and she swatted at her friend's head. "Right, then! It's late. Go flirt with your girlfriend - didn't you say you'd call her tonight?"

"Ah, she's used to it," Sombra said, nonchalantly - but also packed up her physical kit in one quick swipe.

"You complete reprobate - go call her. Now. She hates it when you're late."

"Don't have to tell me twice. And don't disturb me, we'll probably be verrrry naughty."

"Out!" Lena picked a cushion off one of the chairs and threw it at the Mexican woman as she fled, missing, Angela suspected intentionally.

"So... Lena - may I still call you that? Or is it Venom all the time, here?"

"This is my home, doc. You're at my house. If it's not Lena here, where is it?"

"I think you know what I mean."

Tracer managed a half of a smile. "Yeh. I guess I do." She sighed, retrieved the cushion she'd thrown, put it back on the chair where it belonged, and flumped down on it. "Honestly, I wish you wanted to be here. I'm not in love with you, but... bloody hell, doc. Of all the old crew, you were the one I wanted back. You were... you were the one I trusted. Maybe it was London, maybe it was... I dunno why. I just did."

"I have already made my apologies..."

"I know. I'm not lookin' for another one. I'm just..." She waved her hands around. "I want that trust back."

"But that's not why I'm here."

"No," she admitted, "I guess not."

"So then, Lena - why am I here?"

Lena smirked at the Overwatch doctor. "Helpin' us kill Morrison's not enough?"

"All you need is my field suppression device. I could've handed that to you in Geneva." She didn't pretend it would be any less involvement that way, not to herself - but it didn't require a trip to any secret bases. Or, apparently, homes.

"Fair enough. But with us, you've handy, if things go wrong. And, like you said, maybe y'can help us not have to kill someone else."

"Ana, again."

"Yeh. We take down Morrison, we get any video she might have of that little mistake of yours... she gets to live."

"How would I do that?"

"No idea. That's somethin' for you to figure out with Sombra."

"Lena," she said, leaning forward. "I appreciate that you're trying. But..."

"Again," the assassin stressed. "Trying, again. I hope you get that, luv, 'cause like you just said, last time tryin' it this way got me a hole in my back big enough for Zarya to put her fists through."

"But you would not be trying if you did not have some other reason to bring me here. She'd just be on your kill list. We both know it." She scowled. "Why am I really here? Not my reasons. Yours. You want trust back, between us? Tell me this."

Lena looked around, tapped the surface of the table with one finger, got up, and closed the door.

"All right, then," she said. "Didn't want t'get to this 'till later, but fine." She sat back down. "Remember how you said I didn't look any different, first time y'saw me, back in London?"

The doctor nodded. "You still don't, not really. It's only been a few years, after all - for you."

"Yeh - it's still explainable that way, for me. So far, anyway."

"What is?"

Lena gave Angela a long, thoughtful look. She's not this good a liar, she decided. Not with stuff like this. "Y'really don't know."

"Lena..." the doctor said, confusedly. "Would you please just tell me?"

The Talon assassin bit her lower lip, nodded, and took a deep breath, before continuing. "You're not the only one not gettin' any older, luv."

Dr. Ziegler started, leaning forward. "You're not... Dr. Mariani hasn't talked about work anything like this. If not her, then how...?"

"That's the trick, innit?" She sighed. "We don't know. Somethin' to do with the slipstream, we're pretty sure, but ... no idea what."

"...and Amélie is, isn't she."

"Yep. Nothin' you'd notice yet, particularly not on her - we're both hard to kill, and awfully durable. But... she is."

"I see."

"That time I asked you about Fareeha? Hoped you'd win that argument?"

"You knew, already? About yourself?"

"Sure did."

"That's what you want out of me, really, then, isn't it."

"Yeh," she nodded. "I..." Fear - real fear - flashed across her face. "I... sometimes, when I rewind, I..." She swallowed, hard. "I see things. Other places. Other us. Dunno if it's real, not for sure, but sometimes, sometimes... I see myself... at her grave. It's a hundred years from now, and she's long gone, and I'm still... me. As I am now."

She shuddered, and sniffed a little. Lena reached over, pulling a tissue from her pocket, offering it to her.

"I couldn't take that, doc," she said, taking the tissue. "I won't lose her. I won't. Not to that. Not to anything."

Dr. Ziegler nodded, eyes soft. "That... is something I understand. Fully."

"I still hope y'get it sorted with Fareeha. I like her."

For the second time since arriving at the small Talon base, Angela Ziegler smiled a genuine, broad, reflexive smile. "Then... I have some good news for you."

Lena blinked, and sat up straighter, eyes wide. "She..."

"Yes. Finally."

"And it's worked?"

"As far as I can tell, everything is perfect. Her scars started fading within hours. Not so much that she can see it, yet, but..."

Lena Oxton breathed heavily and deeply. "So ... there's hope. It's not just you anymore."

"No."

"If you can do this for us... t'hell with all of it, luv. I'd forgive you anything. Forever."

"Possibly, literally."

Lena laughed, her old laugh, the kind of laugh that cut straight through to Angela's heart, and the doctor, too, laughed, in kind, so relieved. "I am sorry for what I did, but really, I am not sorry at all," she said, huffing halfway to giggles. "I know what you must have been going through, now, and honesty, it all makes so much more sense..."

"It's been workin' on me, luv, not gonna lie," Lena said, shaking her head, eyes wet, but with a smile. "Maybe... maybe it's made me a little too extra, can't say..."

"Does Amélie know?"

"'Course she does. We don't keep secrets."

"Well. That explains all this," she said, pointing to the stacks of lab notebooks and research notes. "You were so angry that you thought I'd figured you out, then I get here only to have all this thrown at me..."

"In trade. The doc - our doc - has been wanting a colleague for a while."

"Certainly, but still - the dichotomy... well. It is now explained." She shook her head. "My approach will not even have to change. Just the specifics."

"Still killin' Morrison, you know that."

"Don't spoil the moment."

"We don't lie, luv. Not internally. It's somethin' Talon's got over Overwatch."

"...really?"

"Really. It's not just me an Amélie. We are what we are, we don't pretend we're anything else. Secrets, sometimes, sure, y'gotta keep 'em. But not lies."

The doctor let out a little bit of a laugh, a heh sound, almost appreciative. "No wonder you're so... thin, at the upper levels. Well. I suppose there is something to be said for Talon, after all."

"Big step up from the old Overwatch."

"All too true."

"I'll take that as a compliment!" Lena snarked, cheekily.

"You should," the doctor agreed. "You really, really should."

"Oh god, Ange..." She leaned forward, like the doctor had, head in her hands, eyes and smile visible through it. "You'll really do this. You really will."

"If I can."

"Thank you. Oh... I..." She leaned forward, and took Angela's hands, tightly, in her own. "Thank you."

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth. Please comment there.

The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 12: everything I came for
[08 Jan 2018|09:19am]

[ mood | busy ]

I was going to post another chapter of Old Soldiers today, but this is ready, and that chapter needs to sit a little more, so you get this instead.

This chapter is worksafe. Canon-level violence, at most. [AO3 link]


"Well well," the doctor said, as the door closed, muffling the sound of flight engines revving up. "It's been a long time since I've seen that particular emblem on anyone's shoulder."

Lena, all in black, smirked. "Seemed fitting, mate, if I'm workin' with th' likes of you."

They'd found the old Blackwatch armour Tracer now wore while looking through storage at Gibraltar. Tracer had gone looking for her locker not long after the recall, and found it empty, but the storage closet at the end of the row had held all sorts of surprises.

"It won't slow you down, will it?" Oilliphéist asked, already settled in next to pallets of boxed cargo. "All that extra weight..."

"It's not so bad, luv," Tracer replied, "Lighter than it looks."

"But not as light as mine," pointed out Widowmaker, making room next to Oilliphéist, and further room for Tracer, on her opposite side. "We should find a way to get you something made of the same material."

"Might do," Tracer nodded, sitting down next to her lover, "later. But," she smiled at Widowmaker, "maybe somethin' with a bit more to it. Maybe you don't feel the cold, but I sure do. Particularly places like where we're goin'..."

"Be glad it's autumn," Widowmaker noted, "and not winter."

"Got that right." She felt the aircraft launching forward and up. "Hup, we're off!"

"I brought blankets," Emily said, smiling while pulling one over.

The pressurised - but not entirely climate-controlled - cargo hold in which the four women sat wasn't the worst transport Tracer had ever been on, but it wasn't a day in Spain, either. Officially, all four of them were "machine parts," which Emily in particular found strangely funny.

"Well, we're all here now - let's hear it," the Overwatch agent said. "Where're we going, other than 'north'?"

Moira tipped her head in acknowledgement. "Tiksi. It's the closest remaining inhabited city - if you can call it that - to the Siberian Omnium. From there, we're going to Kyusyur, which is both uninhabited, and closer still. It was held as military outpost early in the previous war, before being abandoned. If my information is correct - and I'm quite certain it is - there will be a small cluster of abandoned computer storage devices containing files showing how our analysts stole a rather substantial portion of defence data for resale." She handed out three disposable PADDs. "Maps, with all routes and relevant locations. Memorise them."

"How'd y'find out about this?" Lena asked, dubiously.

"They ended up selling it to us, dear. I've met the charming couple. Unfortunately for them, they like to tell stories - including the one of their daring escape from the Omnics."

"'Course they did," she snorted, flipping through pages on her device. And now you're betraying 'em. "So if you've got the sale, why not... oh, I get it, y'need proof of theft, 'cause that wasn't you."

"Proof of a high crime connected in no way to Talon," the doctor nodded. "Exactly."

"And you're along 'cause..."

"Because I'm the one who can confirm the data. But surely you wouldn't turn down a field medic on assignment, would you?"

"If it's you, I might."

"Well, then, also consider me an observer. I need to see how the three of you work together in practice, not just theory."

Emily smiled, hopefully. "We might see some action?"

"I'd be surprised if we didn't. Kyusyur is officially abandoned and demilitarised, but I think we all know better than that."

"Omnics, then?" asked Tracer.

"Better than nothing," said Emily.

-----

Widowmaker scanned the remnants of the former military outpost, once the administrative centre of the Bulunsky District, back when such a district existed more than just on paper. "There are definitely a small number of Omnic forces active and on site. I scan what appear to be three OR-14 variants, but the outlines are different - heavier armour, or perhaps insulation, I cannot say - and... ten NT-5s, presumably support."

"NT-5s? Really?" replied Tracer. "Null Sector had a lot of those on their side in London. There're still up and running?"

Widowmaker nodded. "Running well enough to appear in my sights, at very least." She touched the side of her headdress, transferring the data to their PADDs.

Oilliphéist chortled. "Do you think they're aware the war is over?"

Tracer snickered. "Good question. Guess we'll find out!" She shook her head. "No, wait. These... aren't actually in the way?"

"No," said the sniper. "If we are stealthy, we should be able to retrieve the data without alerting them."

"Then we ought," said Tracer.

"Ah, well," sighed Oilliphéist. "Another boring mission. Omnics aren't as much fun as humans anyway."

"You weren't there for Null Sector, mate. Don't underestimate 'em," Tracer warned, but Oilliphéist just shrugged.

"I will take this tower," Widowmaker indicated the highest point on the map. "It will give me a good view of the building on the two sides closest to the Omnic presence. Oilliphéist, you take the other side, on the roof of the low building just northeast. We'll maintain tight contact. Tracer, you and Moira can enter the facility together and acquire the data, yes?"

"Gotcha," said the teleporter. "I can jump ahead, make sure the coast is clear before the rest of you move in."

"Then let's not waste any more time," Moira said. "Go."

Tracer teleported ahead, jinking faster than any eyes other than Oilliphéist's, Widowmaker's, or her own could follow, reaching the back of the target building in under half a second. "Nothing on the southeast side," she said, waiting for recharge. "Tower looks clear and sound."

She jinked around the building, verifying ground level all around. "Wids, move in?"

The quiet chain of the Widowmaker wasn't quite silent, and Tracer watched as her lover launched herself up, onto the top of the abandoned lookout tower. "Tower clear," she said, scanning the surroundings. "No additional Omnic activity detected. Northeast building appears clear; Oilliphéist, move in."

Oilliphéist ran half the distance, than teleported the rest of the way to her designated rooftop, laying low to the surface. "Position clear and held. Moira, clear to move in."

Tracer jumped as Moira appeared next to her from a small cloud of black smoke. "That's even creepier when you're the one doin' it, y'know that?"

"I should add sulphur to my field kit to complete the impression, don't you think?"

Lena grimaced, and pointed. "Door. Open."

"Of course." The Talon director pulled a small device from her coat pocket and placed it over the disabled lock and hit a small red button. Coils inside induced power to the circuit; the lock reactivated, and she punched a very old security code into the keypad, and the door politely opened just enough to slip inside.

"Neat gadget," admitted the teleporter, looking into the darkness. "Widowmaker, anything?"

"Not yet. Still watching."

"Follow me," said Moira, lighting a very dim lamp as she stepped into the hallway. "This should not take very long."

The two women walked quickly down the empty corridor. Most of the doors remained closed, as Tracer presumed they would've been at abandonment. A left turn, then a short right. Another closed door, a replay of the previous lockbreaking, and they were in.

"This should be it," said the Irish woman, looking at the small workspace, with its sensor equipment, radio gear, desk, rotting chair, and most importantly, Omnic War-era computer system, sitting where it had been abandoned, all those years before.

Tracer stood guard at the doorway and watched over the corridor back out as Moira worked to take apart the antique computer. "So, Lena - how do you feel?"

"No time to feel anything, mate. Guarding a hallway. Creeped out, a little, maybe."

"No difficulties with your vision, then?" She pulled open an access panel. "You've clearly adjusted to your improved reflexes and nerve speed. You haven't encountered any problems?"

Lena frowned, eyes flickering back to the Talon doctor for just a moment, before turning to her primary task. "...nah. Everything works fine."

"Good." Moira pulled a set of storage elements from the case, and started plugging them into her padd's special interface, one at a time, as it scanned for data on each one. "Is Angela satisfied? She was always so conservative. It has always held her back."

"Most of Overwatch is a little afraid of me, thanks to you," the teleporter replied, quietly, with a hint of a hiss. "If this wasn't so damned important, I'd probably be helping hunt you down right now, not Akande - Ministerial position or no."

"So suspicious, all of you! You'd think I'd sent you back cold and blue, not copper-eyed and warm." She flipped through more storage elements. "Even we wouldn't've kept you locked up so long - Talon knows a good thing when it sees it."

"Y'mean, like you saw Amélie Lacroix?" Tracer did not hide her hostility.

"Exactly like we saw her - and who she could become." She smirked. Ah, there's the first half... She pocketed the card, and moved to the next. "It would have been so much easier to condition her to assassinate first Gérard, and then herself. But we saw who she could be. You see it, too, or you couldn't be in love with who we made."

"Dangerous ground, mate. Watch it. I could still change my mind about all this."

"I'm sure you could," she agreed, a hint of amusement in her voice, "but our purposes are aligned, so why would you?" She moved to yet another card. "It's too bad, though - you'd make a wonderfully effective Talon agent. Should this work out - and once we've eliminated the threat of war - I'd hope you'll consider it. Humanity does need to improve, and you'd fit in well."

Ugh, Lena thought, shuddering. "Now you're just bein' mean. You done yet?"

Ah, the doctor thought, there we are, as her padd confirmed the missing data's integrity. "Yes." She pocketed the second matching card.

"Movement," said Widowmaker's voice over comms.

"Did we trip something?" asked the teleporter. "A silent alarm?"

"I do not think so. They are moving out, but not quickly."

"I've got them - heading northeast, away from us," reported Oilliphéist. "Maybe just a patrol..."

"Possibly. We should evacuate immediately, nonetheless," continued the senior assassin.

"Yeh," Tracer replied. "We got what we came for."

"That we did," agreed Moira, packing the last of her toolkit, and heading for the hallway. "Let's make for the flyer."

Widowmaker's voice appeared again on comms as the two women slipped through the exterior door. "Drone incoming! Omnic. Armed. RO-12." She shot it out of the sky with a single shot as it approached Oilliphéist's position. "Move!"

Oilliphéist appeared beside Tracer in a puff of black smoke. Somehow, it didn't seem as creepy to Tracer when she did it. "C'mon, girlfriend-in-law, let's don't dawdle..."

Tracer nodded, pistols already out, scanning the sky for another drone. "Looks clear, but eyes up, people. Wids, join us at your..."

"Patrol has changed course. Incoming hostiles." She threw herself over the tower railing, then reached back with her chain and launched herself high into the air just before touching down. At apogee, she fired. "First OR-14 down."

The three women on the ground jogged towards their flyer which lay hidden in the wide, frozen ravine to the southwest. "The OR-14s aren't fast, but they have good range, and those troopers can make pretty good time..." Tracer said, as bullets flew overhead, and all three women teleported further along, catching up with the landing Widowmaker.

"Nice shot, love," Tracer said, as the sniper fired another round.

"Second OR-14 down, but the troopers are closing upon us."

Moira frowned at Oilliphéist. "I said you should've let me give Widowmaker teleportation."

"Sounds like now's the time to see how we fight together, Em," Lena said, and Oilliphéist grinned broadly. "About time! Moira, you and Wids keep going."

"No. There is a third OR-14, I will continue to provide cover."

"And I am your field medic." Moira launched a strange, yellow sphere towards the oncoming troopers. "I will take care of you."

Oilliphéist and Tracer nodded, and separated, left and right, flanking the incoming group of NT-5s as single-person pinchers, dividing the group into forward and rear halves, five a person.

They're so much slower than I remember, Tracer thought, as she emptied clips into Omnic heads, smashing sensor arrays, destroying processors, dodging lagging fire. Must be the cold.

At least these old models explode prettily, Emily thought, smiling, as she smashed chassis with the hilts of her fangs, alternating rifle shots with body blows. Smell awful, though. Must be the electrics.

The two women met, back to back, in centre, unharmed, and finished their last remaining opponents almost simultaneously, Oilliphéist with a shot to a primary sensor array, Tracer with a set of shots separating a head from its body, and they turned their heads and looked at each other.

"Wow," Tracer said. "That was..."

"...fun," grinned Oilliphéist. "Nice shooting, by the way."

"Nice punching. Didn't know you had that."

"It's nice to get up close once in a while."

Lena found herself smiling back at Emily. "Yeh. It is."

Widowmaker smirked, rifle at her hip, not so far away. "Third OR-14 down, if you were wondering," she said, over comms. "We should still not dally, reinforcements are almost certainly en route."

The two younger fighters teleported back to the group, and Moira smiled a thin smile as she bathed them in her biotic healing field. "I admire your efficacy. Do you realise that took you all of 18 seconds' time?"

"18... seconds?" blinked Tracer. She'd felt unhurried.

"I know, coulda been faster," Oilliphéist grinned. "I was just enjoying the dance."

"I enjoyed seeing it, as well," replied her creator. "But fun time is over. Widowmaker is correct, we have accomplished our mission." Oilliphéist relaxed, subtly, at those words. "We should depart."

Moira watched out of the side of her eye as Oilliphéist and Tracer joked with each other, and Widowmaker smiled, almost softly, at them both. That went well, she thought, as she quietly disabled the omnic intruder alarm she carried in her coat pocket. No need to bring in any more enemy troops - not now that I really do have everything I came for.

Also posted to ソ-ラ-バ-ド-のおん; comment count unavailable comments at Dreamwidth. Please comment there.

The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 11: how we see each other, now
[03 Jan 2018|09:40am]

[AO3 link]


Lena looked in the mirror, blinking, tilting her head back and forth, looking at her brown eyes. She frowned, a little. The coloured contacts fit well enough, but she could feel them, just a bit, and didn't like it.

"Whaddya think, love?" she asked, calling over to Widowmaker.

The defector walked over and examined her lover's reflection carefully. "They look very much like your old irises. They will pass ordinary inspection, I'm certain. But not a more careful check - anyone who knows your history should wonder why you are wearing contacts, if nothing else."

Lena nodded. "They feel a bit funny in my eyes. And I think..."

Widowmaker raised an eyebrow, and hummed, inquisitively.

"...I think I'm not seein' as many colours, with 'em in."

"That is possible," the assassin agreed. "Seeing into ultraviolet changes other colours, as well, and those lenses almost certainly filter UV."

"And they itch." She took care not to rub her eyes, not with lenses in, but squinted a little. The lenses settled further, and she felt them less. "Nah, that's not right, but I feel 'em. Don't like that part."

"Are you sure they're properly fit?"

"Yah. The doc said I'd get used to 'em pretty quick."

"That would be for the best, for operational purposes."

Tracer pursed her lips, and stared. The truth of the matter was that they didn't itch. She barely felt them, now, and could tell she'd lose the feeling entirely in less than an hour. And they'd be useful if she had to go anywhere undercover, or where Tracer's brown eyes were known. But...

"...I don't like 'em," she said.

"Your new eyes - they look very much like your old irises, you know. Copper, rather than brown, but the patterns are much the same."

"I know," the teleporter replied. "Angela talked about that."

"And brown, or copper - both are lovely." She leaned forward, brushing her lips against the curve of her partner's ear.

Lena nuzzled back, then emptied the contacts case of its old fluid, replaced the sterile solution, leaned forward, and took out the coloured lenses, one at a time, putting them away. She dabbed her face, a bit, with a damp towel, blinked a few times, and looked back up in the mirror, seeing herself, and Widowmaker, standing just behind her.

Copper and gold, she thought, and nodded. That's much better.

"We match," said the blue woman, pleased.

Lena leaned back against her counterpart. "Yeah," she said, relaxing into her body. Reaching up and around her lover's head, she smiled a gentle smile. "We do."

-----

"Since you're just across town, I thought I could demonstrate my good faith by meeting with our common friends at your own facility," Moira O'Deorain said, over comms. "I could call it an inspection, Dr. Ziegler, if you feel an excuse is required - or I could simply refer to it as a courtesy call. I don't make them often, but with someone of your stature, it wouldn't cause surprise."

"I assure you, we are fully current on our inspections," replied the Overwatch researcher, "but I can't imagine how a visit from the minister herself wouldn't be an honour." She did not say it would be welcome, of course. "Perhaps that."

"That'd be lovely, then. A private meeting of the minds. Brunch at 10:30 tomorrow, perhaps? My staff could cater."

"I already have a service I quite like, and would prefer to use," the doctor demurred. "Amongst other things, they already know where and where not to wander."

"Of course," replied the minister. "They make those lovely little Swiss-style chocolates, don't they? A bit fussy, but in the good way."

"Yes, that's them."

"I've hired them myself, in the past. Tomorrow, then?"

"We will see you in the morning."

Angela dropped the connection, and looked across the room, out of camera range, to the table around which the gathered Overwatch core staff sat. "Well," she said, "That's that. We have a date."

"Here, huh?" asked the cowboy. "Goin' out of her way to be friendly, isn't she."

"She better!" Song interjected. "She better at every step."

Morrison nodded his agreement. "I presume you'll want us out of the picture tomorrow, too?"

"On site, but not in sight, I think so. I will be there, of course. Mei-Ling, are you willing to be present as well?"

"Absolutely!"

"...and Lena and Danielle. Emily is en route, and I presume will be at the table. Everyone else should... be ready. Just in case."

-----

"Do not take our cooperation as unconditional," Dr. Ziegler stressed, as Dr. Zhou nodded her agreement. "It is not. The primary condition of Overwatch's agreement to stand aside is that all three people involved must be allowed to step away once this is over."

"If that is what they wish," Dr. O'Deorain replied. "My primary interest is always the advancement of knowledge. I've already learned what I can from the Widowmaker project - nothing personal, Lacroix - and..."

"Do not call me that," the senior assassin interrupted.

"Guillard, is it, then?" Moira raised an eyebrow. "Regardless, my techniques were only somewhat advanced by the Oilliphéist refinements. That research track has run its course."

Ziegler nodded, slowly. "Insofar as that goes, it is sensible. But..." She looked over at Widowmaker and Oilliphéist. "You are both extraordinarily effective at what you do. You have to understand my hesitation to accept your freedom at face value."

Moira shrugged. "I can't argue with that."

Mei-Ling nodded. "So you see why we have to ask - you created them. How can we trust you to let them go?"

"I could give you is my word, if you'd accept it, but..." the Minister of Genetics smirked, "I know what you'd think of that. But look at it this way - if they decide to leave... well, as you've just noted, they are both extraordinarily effective at violence. Stopping them would be a difficult exercise, at best."

Widowmaker looked smug, and Tracer snickered a little, at that last bit. Got that right, she thought.

"I might suggest," said the Swiss doctor, "that they would not be the only ones demonstrating capability for violence."

The edge of Moira's mouth quirked up. "Well. Haven't we changed."

"Times change us all. I presume we have an understanding?"

"I think we do."

"I'm sure you already have a plan," said Dr. Zhou.

"Of course. And I've already been at it myself. Emily's been kind enough to come along, when some light field work's been necessary."

"It's been dull," the newer assassin said, "to be honest."

"Now, dear, not everything has to be violent."

"No, but it could be."

Lena suppressed her giggle and kept her separate annoyance to herself, as best she could. "F'instance," she said focusing her copper eyes on the doctor, "what?"

"Oh, starting at the bottom, like you'd expect," O'Deorain replied. "One of Akande's key sources in Shanghai suddenly contracted cancer. She'll live, but will be ... unavailable, for some months. Another, in Numbani, developed rather serious heart problems. She is, unfortunately, very loyal - and won't pull through. An accountant in Ukraine has a confusing neurological condition; she'll be fine but won't be able to work for three months, at least. The man I refer to as Mr. Butterpot - I believe Widowmaker has told you about him - just got arrested in Belgium. And so on."

Widowmaker smirked, and Moira nodded her head in her direction. "Thank you for that, by the way. They're calling it tax fraud, but don't let's pretend."

"That on purpose, love?"

"No, cherie," the sniper replied. "Coincidence, honestly."

"But thank you, nonetheless," the Irish doctor insisted.

Lena looked back to the minister. "So - remove the eyes, the whole body goes blind, that sort of thing?"

Moira looked ever-so-slightly amused. "Yes, precisely. Exactly that sort of thing."

"So if you've been so busy already - what'd ya need us for, then?"

The Talon board member laughed. "Field work, particularly at the next stage, once we're done laying the groundwork. I don't like doing it myself, but I'll see it done."

"And we start... where?"

"First, we need to shift the allegiance of a particular pair of analysts. They need to be persuaded to take a sudden but temporary leave of absence. I don't have the hard evidence for blackmail, but I know it exists, and where it is. I need Widowmaker and Oilliphéist to acquire it - and I'd like you along, as backup, to keep them safe."

"Just a bit of thievery, then? Doesn't sounds like something requiring our particular talents, t'be honest."

"It doesn't. Think of it as putting on your trainers - unless you'd rather I threw you in together in a firefight first."

"We could, y'know," Tracer said, annoyed. "Don't underestimate..."

"I'd like the chance to work together a few times, first," Emily interjected. "You and Widowmaker have history, but you and I don't." Her smile returned. "Honestly. I'd really like to get some field time together, before taking on the bigger guns."

Lena humphed, but couldn't argue. "Fair cop."

"Once blinded and deprived of analysis, we'll move a rung up, to his higher level staff - and from there, to his inner circle, and then, to him."

Lena looked around at her lover, and her lover's lover, and back to Moira. "Looks like overkill t'me, doc. Why not go straight to the top?"

"Allies matter, dear," Dr. O'Deorain said. "It may be a bit pre-emptive of me, but I don't want anyone left who will cause the wrong kinds of trouble afterwards. Talon will end this in a fair bit of disarray; I want to be able to reassure everyone quickly, without having to do cleanup work later. If you're going to do a job, do it right the first time."

"Also," said Dr. Zhou, "I imagine his allies support his war plans?"

"Of course," nodded the Irish doctor.

"Then they need to be gone," agreed the Chinese doctor. "This war cannot happen." She'd already explained why.

"Right, then. A bit of thievery to get this thing moving." Lena snorted. "Takes me back t'my youth, t'be honest."

Emily blinked and turned her head. "You stole?"

"War orphan, luv. Things got dicey 'till I got picked up, sorted out. How d'ya think I know nobody likes a thief?"

Emily just giggled. "That's hilarious. Can't wait to find out you also ran numbers."

"Hey now, none of that!" Lena replied, a little embarrassed. "I was just hungry."

"Weren't we all."

-----

Gabriel Reyes sat alone late at night in his office, cowl back, mask set aside, looking over personnel and source reports from the last few months.

Cancers, brain tumours, sickness, heart conditions... none of this smells right, he thought, sorting through the lists of the affected. Outbreaks happened, including of strange diseases and conditions, in this between-wars world, and the contagious cases had civilian co-cases around them, but something about this one just felt a little too... focused. A few too many outliers in the odds.

He leaned back in his chair, reminded himself of his paranoia, and ran the list - and their politics - through his mind anyway. Some of Moira's agents, some of Doomfist's, some of Maximillian's, a couple of his own, a few without particular allegiance to anything but money. Most would probably survive, but... Someone's making a move. Or getting ready to make one.

He considered the possibilities. Moira, of course. Always suspect number one, no matter what. Maximilian could hire the right talent, if he'd decided Akande's plans were too grand. Angela Ziegler could do it, certainly, but it's not the sort of thing she does - or did. People change. Geanna Mariani, perhaps, but it's not her style - she enjoys playing with people, but not with diseases. Several covert government agencies, all capable.

I see you, he thought. I don't know who you are. But... I see you.

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Okay then!
[31 Dec 2017|06:09pm]

[ mood | surprised ]

Who just had FOUR plays of the game in a row as Widowmaker in Deathmatch?

YES THAT WOULD BE ME.

jfc that was nuts.

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now, where were we?
[31 Dec 2017|11:20am]

[ mood | thoughtful ]

And that was 2017. For the most part, the less said, the better, let's be honest.

I did hardly anything musical. The band has been on hiatus. I've done a lot of politics, because hey, guess what, it's fight for personal survival time again. Isn't that just fucking awesome.

But while I haven't been able to make the music happen, I have been writing. Not blog posts - as is clear from the blogroll this year - but fiction, instead. Kind of crazy amounts, for that matter - just over 130,000 words since April, a good... I don't know, five times my previous total fiction writing history? And I actually got published once, back when.

And it's all Overwatch-inspired fiction. I've never written fanfic before, but I am now, and it's a torrent, and a lot of it - more than I'll ever talk about - is deeply personal in different ways. Confusingly - to me at least - I've been told by several readers that they aren't Overwatch fans, and don't really know anything about the lore, but it works for them despite that. So that's neat.

(I've also had a few people say variations on "for the love of god file off the serial numbers and sell this," but I'm like, "Why?")

Regardless, this seems as good a place and time to make a checkpoint tally. I also just put up a new short story - one that's part of a series - that's basically my New Year's Eve story. So here are my works from 2017:

Novellas and novels:

  • on overcoming the fear of spiders, a complete 35,000 word novella, kind of an origin story for Amélie "Widowmaker" Lacroix and Lena "Venom" Oxton, professional political assassins, and, over time, lovers. The story's neither grim nor dark, but it is deeply political. Start here. After all - I did.
  • Old Soldiers, the sequel novel, still in progress. It'll be a short novel when completed, and isn't one yet, but I'm pretty confident it'll break past the novella size limit before we're done. This is also a very political novel, but entirely through allegory. Lots of generational politics here - a couple of my characters are direct stand-ins for reality-orthogonal Boomer political insanity, but it's nowhere near as simple as that.
  • The Armourer and the Living Weapon, still in progress, about 33,000 words at the moment. This one's about getting everything you ever wanted, and how that might work out for you. It's also about making choices that may be necessary but may not go where you'd hope - or even survive. Read the tags. No, seriously, read the tags. This will either be a very long novella or a short novel.
  • And Just Like That, She Was Down. 13,000 words, it'll probably be another novella, but it's also the third in a series of stories collectively called the manic pixie murder machine. I thought the first chapter was a standalone short story, but then my characters had other ideas and it wasn't. A novella about identity and the ethics of power, underneath everything, I think.

Short works and collections thereof:
  • It's Not Easy To Explain, She Said, seven short stories, all quite short - the longest is 1900 words. These are mostly about how an artificially-created personality thinks. It's also about how people around them might think, particularly in relation to her, particularly when trying to have a relationship with her. The most recent addition, "'That seemed to go well,' she said, making the effort" is my new year's story. This series will never go dark.
  • the web of time, a series of short stories set in the on overcoming the fear of spiders universe, containing - amongst other things - a couple of continuations of events started in the founding novella. (In one case, we follow a couple of American agents outside of a room, to hear their conversation; in another case, we have a short story which is basically Chapter 26.5 of fear of spiders, but which I moved to standalone for various reasons. It's still canon, though.)
  • the manic pixie murder machine - two short stories that set up the novella And Just Like That, She Was Down, and the novella itself.
  • "the deadly neurotoxin homebrew club," a silly short story wherein GLaDOS from Portal chats up Widowmaker from Overwatch about their mutual interest in deadly neurotoxin and parallel problems with teleporting annoyances.

I have no idea what 2018 will hold, musically - but the only way out is through. Let's hope we get lucky.

And that's where I've been. How's about you?

Mirrored from Crime and the Blog of Evil. Come check out our music at:
Bandcamp (full album streaming) | Videos | iTunes | Amazon | CD Baby



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"That seemed to go well," she said, making the effort
[30 Dec 2017|11:35am]

[ mood | pleased ]

This is the seventh story of the It's Not Easy To Explain, She Said collection of short stories. It takes place about six months after the previous ("It's not easy to explain how she felt," said the Widowmaker, about Amélie Lacroix), and about a year and a half before the third story ("It's really not easy to explain," said Emily Oxton).

All of Widowmaker's thoughts are translated from the French.

I wanted to end a very bad year on a very happy story, so - here we are. May 2018 be better. [AO3 link]


Emily worked outside, in the sun, laptop on hand, references up on PADDs, watching her wife and her wife's girlfriend dance, from afar, on the Overwatch practice range. They called it battling - or more correctly, battle training - but one careful glance put the lie to that. They danced, and anyone looking - really looking - could tell it.

They're awfully good together, she thought, a little bit disgruntled, a little bit envious, a little bit uncertain about how she felt. She'd got what she'd joked she'd be fine with, six months before, and really, she was fine with it - glad, even, to have the world's best sniper on her wife's side, rather than as an enemy.

But she couldn't lie to herself. She felt a bit left out. Lena tried, and it helped - they were all still trying, even Widowmaker, in her own way, and it helped - but all that help made it no less true, just the same.

If only she wasn't so damned remote all the time, even when she's trying not to be. What's it take to get through to you, woman?

The two Overwatch agents mopped up the last of the target robots - cleanly and efficiently as always - and Emily waved as they both made their way back up to the starting platform for another run.

"That seemed to go well," she said, making the effort, as Widowmaker landed not two metres in front of her.

The former assassin shrugged noncommittally. "It was too easy." Her frustration - and some boredom - surfaced into her voice. "The robots..." - she frowned, shaking her head a little - "they are not a worthwhile challenge. I have requested substantial upgrades." She cycled her rifle, cleaning the barrel, and reloading. "At very least, they should return fire."

She paused, and hummed, a little. "I am surprised you are interested."

"Of course I'm interested."

"Why?"

"It's important to Lena, and also, to you. And so, I'm interested."

The spider puzzled at that, for a little bit, wondering why, as Tracer teleported up next to the aeronautics engineer, kissing the top of her head. "How's the design rev goin', luv?"

"Oh, it's all fine - this is just iterative, for the most part." She looked up and kissed Lena back. "Regulations compliance updates, really. I'm just finishing up."

Lena looked over to Widowmaker, and back to Emily. "We've got another couple of runs - don't think you have to wait for us, if y'don't want to."

Emily smiled. "Of course I want to. We've got dinner in town after, remember? All three of us." Another date night. The last one ended up with Emily and Widowmaker arguing at each other for no particular reason, about everything and about nothing, two slightly-wary cats picked up together and made to go HUGGY HUGGY HUGGY. They'd talked about it, after, and hopefully, tonight would go better.

"You sure? Y'don't have to. We'll catch you up, if you want t'go on ahead."

"I think it's..." She looked over to the blue woman. "I think it's important to know your work."

Widowmaker puzzled at that, as well, just a little bit. She didn't know anything about aeronautics, and did not really care to. But she thought on what her lover's wife said, tasting it, almost, trying it against what she had of an emotional range, and found that it resonated, somehow. Something is there, she thought. Something I think I would like.

"Besides - it's a lovely day, both my girls are out in it, I'm almost done with work and I've got a side project I want to play with. What else could I need?"

"Brilliant," replied her wife, beaming, as the warning timer sounded and she moved back to start position. She turned to the former Talon assassin. "This one has me starting first - I get 30 seconds head start."

The blue spider nodded affirmation to Tracer, and then blinked, as the confusion of emotions in her head fell into place. She looked at Emily, first mostly with one eye, then mostly with the other, saying, "You are..." She is trying to... empathise? with me? Not just to be friendly, but to... empathise, and her expression relaxed, opening up, just a little, and she nodded, slowly, her eyes a little more open, her voice softened, ever so slightly. "I understand."

Lena took it to mean the exercise, but Emily caught the expression, and the tone, and tried to figure out exactly what it meant, as Widowmaker brought up her rifle, pre-evaluating the new range configuration through her sight, so calm, so cool, so much the same as last time, but something about her ever so slightly different, ever so slightly more present to her, ever so slightly more... real...

Emily started, looked closely, and looked again, her head tilted, just a little, and her breath caught in her throat. She's... it's like she's... almost... glowing, in the sunlight.

She shook her head as the starter buzzer sounded and Tracer blinked ahead, then looked back down to the design rev on her screen, and then back up to the sniper, and a layer peeled back, almost, of reality, and sunlight or no, it didn't make any sense - they'd even been sharing a bed, occasionally, for a while, and it had been comfortable enough, but she didn't really feel anything, even if the Frenchwoman was a quick student of, of, of, and then Emily couldn't think at all, she could only see, see the spider, the sniper, her wife's lover, the woman, just standing there, and yet glowing, eclipsing the entire world, and everything else, everything, everything else, even Emily's breath, fell away to nothing.

My god, she's beautiful, she realised, the thought electric across her skin. How have I never... is this... is this what Lena sees, looking at her? She dropped her stylus, as time slowed to a stop. Is this... how does she do anything, if this is what she sees?

"Twenty five seconds," said the counter.

Widowmaker lowered her rifle, and looked to her left, seeing Emily's eyes, locked on to her, her mouth, slightly open, and she raised an eyebrow and smiled, just a little.

"How..." Emily whispered, "...have I never seen you like this, before?"

"Quoi?" asked the spider, friendly, but bemused.

"This is mad, but... no, it's not, but..." She put her face in her hands for just a moment, and looked up again, past them. "I've... never really seen you this way, before. You're always gorgeous, but... when your rifle is up..."

"Twenty seconds," said the counter.

"...you're stunning."

Something unabashedly lethal deep inside Widowmaker rose and preened, and the sniper smiled, broadly, despite herself. "That... I should be conflicted, in some ways, about that, but mostly, I feel..." She thought, looking around for the word, an emotion she did not often experience, "...proud? Honoured? Perhaps both. That you see me for what I am, and are not afraid." This is a strange combination of emotions. I will have to process them carefully, she thought. But, softly, she simply said, "Thank you."

"Fifteen seconds," said the counter.

"But, but, but, it's like, it's like..." Emily knew the spider sometimes needed brutal directness to understand. Normally, that meant discussion of negative emotions, but this time... "It's like you're... the only thing in the world. Is this how she sees you?"

"I have no way of knowing," Widowmaker answered quietly, fascinated. "She has not said so, not in those words... but, of course, the first several times, she mostly saw me down the barrel of my rifle. So, perhaps, she does."

"Ten seconds," said the counter.

"May I... touch you?"

The spider's head tilted, a little unsteady, a little uncertain. "Yes. But... now it is different. Why is it now different?"

"Because... I don't know. Because I don't know." She set aside the laptop and stood, stepping over to the woman she'd seen and held so many times before, but never like this. "May I?"

"Yes."

"Five seconds," said the counter.

She reached across, stepped close, and touched the blue woman's chin, cupping it in her right hand, and looked into those bright gold eyes as the spider unepectedly leaned forward, and kissed her, gently, as the start timer sounded, and as she raised her rifle towards the range, and shot the first two target robots, disabling both with one shot, without even looking.

Emily looked in the direction of her fire, a little stunned.

"Perfect," they both said, in unison.

Widowmaker's head jerked back to Emily, and Emily's gaze flashed back to Widowmaker, just in time to see the assassin's wide-eyed astonishment. "Perhaps... we have more in common than I once thought."

"I'd like that." It felt like a prayer.

The sniper smiled wickedly, eyes bright. "So would I." She raised her rifle again, and fired, taking out the next three targets in rapid succession, before launching herself into the arena with her chain, leaving the engineer behind.

Emily watched her fly out over the range, thinking, How does she do that? as the sniper took out two more targets from midair. It frightened her, more than a little, but excited her, more than a little, too.

She sat back down at her laptop, still watching her wife and her wife's lover, teleporting and chaining around, closed the main project, and opened another - a design for a new type of antigrav airfoils, all her own.

Wow, she thought, dazed, gaze flipping between the airfoils and the range. ...I think we finally did it... She shivered, breath quick. And, she laughed, quietly, a little out of control but she didn't care, I think... I may've just fallen in love with a spider.

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The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 10: she even got me, once
[28 Dec 2017|12:13am]

This chapter is worksafe.

[AO3 link]


"Are you ready?" asked Oilliphéist, over audio-only comms.

"I am," replied Widowmaker.

"Château," said Emily.

"Châteauneuf-du-Pape," responded the sniper.

"Vaucluse."

"Signal de Saint-Pierre."

"Lavande."

"What're they doing?" asked Winston, quietly, leaning to Lena, as the two assassins continued to exchange words.

"They did this before, Widow explained it to me," the teleporter replied, leaning to Winston, equally quiet. "It's a kind of integrity check? It's a series of trigger words that key other words. It changes on its own, over time, so if one or two words change, it's no big deal, right? But if it changes a lot, quickly - somebody's mucked with her."

The scientist nodded. "Handy, given where they came from. Emily's English, though - why's it all in French?"

Lena just shrugged, focusing on the word series. The sequence sounded the same as before, to her, but she wasn't entirely sure - she'd tried to remember the list, but there were so many words. She heard Emily say, "Livraison," and immediately thought, Metro.

"Metro," said Widowmaker, and Lena smiled.

"Centre météorologique canadien," replied Oilliphéist.

"Armoiries."

"Exactly the same as last time."

"Your side, as well," said the spider, "to my distinct relief."

"So," said Lena, "you both basically... check out?"

Widowmaker nodded. "Yes. I wish you had this facility, as well. It is... reassuring."

"Talon didn't build that into you, did they." It wasn't a question. "I wouldn't think they'd want you t'know."

"Spot on," said Emily, over comms. "I think it's a side-effect. We found it ourselves, in her, first - and now I have it, too!"

"Nothin' personal, but if the ability to checksum my brain comes only as part of gettin' my brain rebuilt, I'll opt out."

Widowmaker allowed her lover a small smile. "Understandable."

"Em, you still hiding out at the safehouse?"

"Yes, and it's incredibly dull. Have you talked to Overwatch's council yet?"

"About to - we wanted to check in with you, first. Let you know we were alive."

"I do appreciate that - but Aunt Moira's getting pretty impatient."

"Yeah, well, she can wait - this is our first day out of quarantine. We'll be meeting up after lunch."

"I'll tell her you're out of Overwatch jail, at least... oh! How is, um, the cowboy?"

"Embarrassed," said the defector. "Deservedly."

"Don't be mad at him," Emily replied over comms, "Auntie's good with those darts. They're self-guided. She even got me, once!"

"Before, or after?" asked Widowmaker.

A laugh, over comms. "Before, obviously. But still."

"She wouldn't get me now," said Tracer, as Widowmaker nodded in agreement. "Nor me, I think," her lover added.

A giggle. "I'm pretty sure she'd love another chance to practice those upgrades, if he wanted to come by..."

"No," interrupted Tracer, firmly. "Now that we've checked in - we've got some prep work to do on this end, and I need to get some workout time with those pistols you made."

Widowmaker agreed, humming quietly. "Cherie, do you mind? We will contact you again after the meeting."

"I'll be waiting. And tell me how it goes, on the range! I'm so glad to hear your voices again - both of you."

"I know," replied the sniper, eyes half-closed, "it is the same, for me."

"Oilliphéist out."

"Widowmaker out."

"I don't remember giving you clearance for your pistols," Dr. Ziegler said, sternly, as the comms went quiet.

Tracer shook her hands. "C'mon, doc, we've both been locked up for days. I know I need a workout."

"As do I," noted the spider.

"You must have something we can use..."

"This is a research facility, not an Overwatch station. We have a weights room, which you are both welcome to use, but we have nothing like you're requesting." The doctor considered. "Fareeha uses a Helix Security facility when here, perhaps," she thumbed her comm. "Perhaps we can work something out. I'll be right back." She walked to her private office, and the two women talked, quietly, over comms, for a few minutes, before returning.

"Good news; we have a site. She'll meet us there," said the scientist. "No sniper rounds, I'm sorry. But we do have clearance for pistols, supervised, as long as they're kept unloaded outside the range."

The assassin shrugged. "I could, I suppose, limber up with my chain, and re-establish targeting. It is better than nothing."

"Yeah, love," smiled her partner. "Maybe you can even keep up with me now!"

A derisive snort. "I always could."

An hour later, Tracer jinked from target to target, faster than ever, four to five teleports at a time. This is... this is wizard, she thought, as she unloaded entire clips into targets in patterns - smiley faces, outlines of airplanes, her initials, whatever came to mind.

Widowmaker watched from a level above, tracking her lover with her empty Kiss, and finding it difficult at first - until her own quickness started to settle in, overriding old habits, old limits, and as it did, she purred. Ooh la la, she thought. This is better. This is... this is wonderful.

Pharah, in turn, watched from above, astonished at their raw speed, occasionally exchanging words with Winston over comms, Winston, who worried - deeply - for them both.

-----

"So that's basically the situation," Lena explained. "We can intervene on one side of this civil war Talon's got going. If we pull it off, we tip the balance back to where it was before Akande got sprung. Moira continues to be terrifying and awful, Talon continues to be a pack of wankers - no offence, love..."

"None taken," replied Widowmaker. "I defected for reasons, after all."

"...but we stop Talon's attempt to start a Second Omnic Crisis. Millions of people - both omnic and human - don't die in the next couple of years just 'cause Doomfist and Reaper have some kind of fascist hard-on for 'struggle.' Both sides of Talon lose a lot, and come out weaker."

"And all Overwatch does is... stay out of the way?" Winston asked.

"Pretty much. I'd be the intermediary, and ... I'd be involved, up close, and unexpected. Mostly to protect Em and Wids - but not just."

"There are reasons I kept you out of Blackwatch, Lena," Morrison said.

"Think I'm not suited for it, then?" she glared just a little, copper eyes glinting.

"Too well suited for it. It's corrosive. You saw what it did to Rayes."

"Someone from Overwatch has to see what happens, dad. Unless you just wanna take their word on it."

"Preventing another war has to come first," said Mei-Ling. "The data I have is all very bad. I do not think the ecosystem could handle another conflict like the last one! There is already so much damage, and everything is so unstable now... another war like the last one would push us over several different edges, the results would be catastrophic. Millions dead is far too low an estimate."

Angela nodded. "I have served as a wartime medic and surgeon in enough wars. If we could preempt one - particularly one so large as that..." She shook her head.

"Not to mention, with Talon busy, we could really go to work on Vishkar," added Lúcio, no longer in Brazil, but at the table, stopping by while on tour. "With an Architech on our side, pointing out where we should investigate - we could do a lot of real good while Talon's busy having their little showdown."

"It's almost too good." Hana frowned, skepticism in her voice. "If I saw this in a game, I'd be all 'ha ha no not fallin' for that, n00b.'"

Lena nodded. "Too right. We'd have to be on the lookout for some kinda betrayal at every point."

"Sure," the Korean replied. "But - we're missing something. And here you are, talking about working with" - she gestured at the smirking French Talon agent, who had the sense not to talk about her finest kills - "Mondatta's assassin..."

"I'm already sleeping with her, luv, this isn't a big step," Lena snipped, shifting the rifle on her back, just a little. She missed her new pistols already - but the Kiss being there helped.

"...and maybe she got better, okay, but you're siding up with the mad scientist who made her, and her crazy niece, all to pick a side in their civil war? I'm not the only one seeing bait here, am I?"

"No," said Morrison. "You're not."

"Not trying isn't an option, though," said Mei-Ling.

Oxton nodded, and sighed. "I'm not sayin' I don't see the possible traps. I do. At best, it's messy and it's awful, but I ... I know that Mondatta would want this war stopped. He'd care about how, it would matter, but most of all, he wouldn't want this war to happen."

"And we're not just going after both sides, because...?"

"Because that is probably the one thing that would force them to mend their fences," interjected the blue assassin. "They would go back to working together, rather than fighting each other."

"Nothin' creates alliances like a common enemy," added Lena.

"I still don't like it," said the Meka pilot. She turned to Dr. Ziegler. "I don't care what you think about her personally, doc, but as far as I can tell, Moira's a psychopath." She heard Lena snicker, to her right.

"I never said she wasn't," replied the Swiss woman. "Many psychopaths are personable, when they want to be."

"If she decides she wins by turning on us, she will," Song insisted.

"Absolutely," Lena agreed. "That'll have to be in every decision we make."

"It will be," insisted the soldier. "Assuming we're foolish enough to try this."

"We have to," insisted Dr. Zhou, again, before being interrupted by Lúcio, objecting, "I don't see how you can even think about working with her, after the way she grabbed you like that. No way I would."

"T'be honest, I'm scared of her. But... not even for a prize this big?"

Lúcio had to think about it, and didn't immediately answer.

"What if it would take down Vishkar?"

The DJ took a long, deep breath, and nodded, slowly once. "...yeah. Maybe."

"There y'go. That's why."

"We have to try," interjected Mei-Ling, again, with surprising vehemence. "Are none of you listening? If they are trying to start this war, if that is Doomfist and Reaper's plan, we have to try. We also have to tell every agency who will listen to us, so they can work against it as well."

Winston nodded, but Morrison and Song started to protest, but Dr. Zhou raised her voice over them, "Did you not hear me? The biosphere cannot take another Omnic war! Look, I have made projections." She threw a set of charts and graphs up over the centre of the conference table. "Carbon stability is only the start of it. Do you think the megastorms of 30 years ago were bad? I have been preparing a paper with the data collected while I was in cryogenic suspension. Imagine one covering half a hemisphere!"

She flipped another set of graphics up. "Now imagine 62-plus degree weather across North Africa, and 65-plus degrees in South Asia."

Another set. "Now imagine the oceans - barely recovering now - essentially devoid of life. There would be no recovery path."

Another set. "Here are agricultural projections. Ignoring war dead, we can project global crop collapses and multiple pandemics resulting from malnutrition and other knock-on effects. This projection - I would expect two to three billion dead. With extremely aggressive use of genetic modifications on a yearly basis, in a best-case scenario, we might cut it to one billion. The first year."

The room had grown silent as the reams of data had shuffled past. "The paper on which these projections are based is going to Nature next month for peer review, but I am confident of my numbers. Do you understand, now? Another Omnic war kills civilisation. Maybe the entire planet. For anyone biological, this war would be a death sentence."

She turned back to the copper-eyed Overwatch agent. "I'm sorry, Lena - if this is what he is trying to do, then Akande must be stopped. If there is any chance, any chance at all, you must take it."

"I... had no idea it was so bad," Oxton managed, after a few seconds.

"It isn't, now, but... it would be."

Morrison flipped through smaller versions of the images on his padd. Hana Song did the same. "Wow," she said, after a few minutes. "Okay, I guess... we have to."

"I think we do," Winston agreed. "The rest of us can dedicate ourselves to analysis - and to other actions against the more militant anti-Omnic groups. This is too important for a single approach. Governmental intervention is critical, but it will take them weeks or months to respond."

Lena frowned. She'd won, but it didn't feel like winning, not at all, as the weight of the situation fell on to her shoulders. "Then, I guess... we're in. We're doin' this."

"I'm sorry," said her best friend, as Morrison and Song both nodded their reluctant but clear assent. "I'm very much afraid we are."

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VICTORY
[26 Dec 2017|10:36pm]

[ mood | ecstatic ]

GUESS WHO JUST WON DEATHMATCH IN A RUNAWAY AS WIDOWMAKER

THAT'S RIGHT

THIS WIDOWMAKER IS WHO

this is literally the first time i have won ffa deathmatch as widow

second place was a reaper with 13 kills - it wasn't even close

i got the "five kills remaining" announcement and went, '...I have never heard that before.' okay settle down beavis And then four, three, two, and the last one was an already-wounded Bastion. VICTORY

I mean, I know, this is lot easier on PC? Aiming is 2000% easer with mice. But I'm on PS4, and this is literally only the second time I have seen any Widowmaker win in FFA deathmatch AND IT WAS ME :D

ps: Did I also get play of the game? Why yes, I did get play of the game. (▰˘◡˘▰)

pps: AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA /╲/\╭ºoꍘoº╮/\╱\

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The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 9: the safest way
[21 Dec 2017|10:31pm]

[ mood | sleepy ]

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]


Lena strapped herself into the pilot's chair and hit the fastest takeoff sequence she'd ever hit, jetting away from Oasis airspace at the best speed her flyer could manage. She checked tracking on Oilliphéist's flyer, headed towards Vienna, and found it still en route, as promised.

Next to her, Widowmaker sat, contemplative, calculating silently for several minutes. Finally, she turned to Lena and said, "I agree. It is the safest way."

Lena reached over and touched her hand, gently, then took it in her own. "I know this is a lot to ask. I know what it means. Thank you."

She pulled up Overwatch comms, and gave her lover another worried glance. "They sure aren't going to expect this..." She hit transmit, and thumbed the manual microphone switch. "Overwatch, Overwatch, this is Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, declaring emergency, do you read? Overwatch, this is Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, declaring emergency, do you read?"

Nothing. She repeated the call. Nothing again, until, "Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, this is Winston, Lena - is that you? Really you?"

Lena took a relieved breath. "At least he's answering." She hit comms again. "Winston, this is Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, we are declaring emergency. We are outbound from Oasis at best speed with good fuel supply. We have just got away from Moira O'Deorain and we need..." She swallowed. "We need destination and arrival protocol for any facility capable of immediate force quarantine on touchdown. Something that could hold me... and Widowmaker both."

"Understood. Do not approach Gibraltar under any circumstances. Please confirm - do not approach Gibraltar. We will fire. Can you provide a locator beacon?"

"Locator beacon active. Do not approach Gibraltar... confirmed and understood."

There was a long wait, and they were almost to Greek airspace when they finally got another response. "Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, this is Winston. Prepare to receive destination and approach information."

"Winston, Tracer Delta Echo Four Five ready."

The data streamed in. She looked at it twice, and then again. "Overwatch from Tracer... Winston... this takes us back to Oasis."

"Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, that destination is correct."

"But..."

"Tracer Delta Echo Four Five, this is Mercy. I have special facilities at Oasis."

"But... Moira!"

"You may not like to hear this, but... she was with Overwatch, once. We have an agreement. She stays on her part of town; I stay on mine."

Lena didn't like it - but the channel was valid, and the encryption was solid, and she swallowed, and accepted it. "Overwatch, Tracer Delta Echo Four Five acknowledged. Setting course and flight plan."

"Thank you," replied the doctor. "Now - tell me everything you know about the last two weeks."

-----

[day one]

Tracer and Widowmaker stepped out of their flyer, both with hands behind their heads, fingers interlaced, the unloaded Kiss on Lena's back, Lena's accelerator turned off, Lena's new pistols - and her old ones - in plain view, leaning on the wall next to the hatch behind them.

"Are you unarmed?" they heard, from behind the bright lights greeting them. Lena couldn't help but smirk a little, as she discovered Moira hadn't lied about her new vision - she could see everything, bright and dark, even if it was a bit low-contrast.

"We're unarmed, as agreed," she replied, looking directly at Dr. Ziegler. She leaned a little to her lover, and asked, quietly, "You always seen the world like this?"

"I imagine so, yes," Widowmaker replied, just as quietly. "Despite everything, it is... pleasant that we now share the view."

"Please stop talking, and walk forward single-file, Tracer ahead of Widowmaker. You will be sedated but will not be harmed. Do not resist, or we will open fire."

Winston watched the two women walk forward from behind the shields, catching the copper glint of Tracer's eyes in the spotlights' glare.

I failed you, Lena, he thought, shuddering. I guess the only question is... whether anyone in there will let me beg your forgiveness.

-----

[day two]

"Physically, we're focusing mostly on the brain and nervous system changes, of course. Both of their nervous systems have been extensively reworked - my staff and I think that would've required that week they're missing."

"And... psychologically?" Winston asked, trying to keep himself as clinical as possible, and only partially succeeding.

"Tracer" - Angela wouldn't call her 'Lena,' not yet - "has been taking a series of psychological profile tests and memory examinations. So far, she's giving the same results she gave before. But these would also be the easiest to fake."

"And Widowmaker?"

"We know far less. Obviously, she doesn't score similarly to Amélie at all, and biologically, she's ... not human. But we have the scans I took when we granted her sanctuary, and those are fairly detailed. We're seeing changes, but so far, nothing out of line with what they both described."

"Well, that's good, at least."

The doctor shook her head. "It's expected. No, if they've done anything not obvious, we'll have to dig for it. Probably quite deeply."

-----

[day three]

Widowmaker - very much not Danielle, not here - nodded. "So, physically, I seem to be largely the same as I was two weeks ago?"

"Yes," concurred the doctor, through 20cm of transparent barrier. "Other than the nervous system changes. Are you noticing any differences I have not yet found?"

The assassin smirked, and reached over for a pair of dice from one of the board games they'd been allowed in their room - at least, she thought, they're letting us be together - and rolled the numbers two through 12, then 12 through two, then odd numbers, then even, all in rapid sequence. "I could already do this, before, but it's much easier, and more reliable. They'll never allow me at the craps tables in Monaco again."

-----

[day four]

Tracer looked at the doctor and her friend Winston through copper eyes. "So I'm not bugged?"

"Or in any danger of vanishing," Winston replied. "I'm still studying what she did, both to you and to the accelerator vest, but on the whole, it's still all my work, just componentised." Keep it clinical, he reminded himself. Nothing... personal. Not yet. "I'd even thought of moving the core like she did, after Numbani, but I'm not certified for medical devices."

"Much of it is surprisingly conservative, for her," added Dr. Ziegler. "The lung function improvements are meaningful, but known technology, already applied to people with damaged brachial systems - the only advancement is that it's now part of your genetics, and will grow back if damaged. The eye work..."

"What she said about my retinas, was that true?"

Angela snorted. "Not entirely untrue - statistically, with your history, there is a ten percent chance of what she described. But I could repair it, outpatient, in under an hour - and grow you an entirely new retina in a day. It was an excuse."

Tracer nodded. "I could see everything, at landing. Even in the bright lights. I could see the lenses in the lamps, and I could see you, and the guards, in shadow... so... there's that, at least."

"That work is largely her own. But it's much the same as Widowmaker's - and you aren't 'bugged' there, either."

"Well, that's a start."

"As for the nerve conductivity... we're still studying that. Can you do Widowmaker's dice trick?"

The pilot smirked, picked up a bunch of dice from one of the games, and threw them into the air in front of her. She bounced them around on her fingertips for a couple of seconds, fingers moving at blinding speed, keeping them all airborne, until she let them land.

16 dice from a Boggle set landed in a line, spelling TRACER OWNS THE SKY.

"Luv," said the former test pilot, "You have no idea."

-----

[day five]

Lena and Widowmaker looked up from their dinner at a soft knocking at the clear glass wall.

"I thought they were finished with us for the day," said the sniper.

"So'd I," replied Tracer, nervously.

"Relax - it's just me," said a familiar voice - Winston's - over the speaker. "I'm not really supposed to be here, but I'm not really not supposed to be here, either, so..."

"Hey, big guy," Lena said, turning to the window, surprised when the room behind it lit up fully. "What's up?"

"I couldn't..." Winston looked at Lena's copper eyes, and managed not to flinch. I'll never get used to that, he thought. "I couldn't go another day like we have been," said the scientist. "I had to talk. Just... talk."

Widowmaker raised an eyebrow. "I would offer privacy, but obviously, I cannot."

"No... Am... Widowmaker, you're included. I failed you too, after all. McCree and I both. We were your backup, and we weren't there when we needed to be... in your case, twice."

"No," said Widowmaker. "Only once, for myself. Once also, I suppose, for Amélie, but - that was her."

The gorilla nodded. "Either way - an apology won't cut it, it's not good enough. I reached the apartment ... not even a minute too late. Maybe not even 45 seconds. But still too late."

"Wouldn't've helped," said the teleporter, "if you'd got there sooner. The video from Guillard wasn't even half of it. She and Moira would've taken you down in a second flat."

"Maybe, or, maybe not," he insisted. "I'm pretty hard to knock out - all this hair has some real advantages. A neck dart wouldn't even reach my skin."

"In which case, Oilliphéist may well have killed you," said the assassin. "She's fully capable, and was on mission - with her current conditioning, that would've overruled everything else."

He frowned. "She could try."

"Don't underestimate her, luv," said the teleporter. "We did, and, well, here we are."

Winston's head fell, and he chuffed, quietly. "I saw the flyer leaving - not clearly enough to get a registration number, but I knew you both had to be on it." He closed his eyes. "I tried to pursue, but..."

"Diplomatic vehicle?" asked the assassin.

"Yes."

"Figures," nodded the teleporter. "Given where we ended up."

"There's so much I'm not supposed to say... so much I wish I could say. But I can't. Not 'till Angela's team is done with you. But I can say I'm sorry."

Lena walked over to the window, and put her hand against the glass. "I know, big guy. It's not your fault - we all underestimated them both. But... thanks."

Winston put is hand up opposite Lena's, and said nothing.

"So... how's Jesse? Wids told me Moira left him alive."

"Or so she said, before I was sedated."

Winston did not grimace, or frown, but also did not smile. "Can't talk about that, yet. Sorry. I don't know why, but it's off limits."

"Well, for what it's worth, I have t'tell ya, from my end... I feel same as I ever was."

"As do I. I choose to think Emily's protection had weight. She certainly thought it did."

"I am desperately hoping all three of you are right."

"So'm I, luv," Lena murmured. "So'm I."

-----

[day seven]

"This is actually the eighth time we've let you out," the doctor said, breezily.

"Wot?" said Lena, confused. "I don't remember..."

"You wouldn't. I've been keeping you from making long-term memories. I'm sorry, but... we had to see how you'd react to a variety of scenarios. Just because I couldn't detect anything..."

Lena nodded, glancing over at Widowmaker, who was just putting on her boots.

"This time's for real, though. We've got a welcome-back dinner..." she looked at the woman who had been made from Amélie Lacroix, "...and in your case, a welcome dinner. You've helped bring Lena back to us, and we are grateful."

The blue assassin smirked, and then, relaxed just a little, and almost smiled. "I... admit I am surprised. But thank you."

The three women made their way outside the cell, and down the hallway, towards the dining hall. Angela's personal research institute wasn't an Overwatch facility - not technically - but it had a lot in common with one.

"Lena!" Winston bounded over to the small woman as she lead the way into the mess hall. "I'm so glad you're finally out. We've been so worried."

She hugged the big gorilla and fuzzled his hair. "Oh, us too, luv. When we found out we'd been out of it for over a week... hoo."

"I've gone over and over what she's done to your accelerator - particularly the distance-teleport functionality. It's not a bad solution, I have to admit. I could build a variant of it into our drop ships. As an area effect with main drive power behind it, you could teleport at will, as long as you stayed in range." He scratched his ear. "I wish I could've done it myself. But trying to rebuild the core into a medical-safe housing - well, like I said. It's not my area of expertise."

Lena grinned and noogied her friend, and looked around the table. Wow, everyone turned up! She ran from person to person, as Widowmaker stood in the background, a little afraid to come forward until Lena made her. "I can't believe you've all made it all the way out here - Ana, you too?"

"We're not so far from Egypt, and it was worth the trip," said the older sniper. "Hello again, Widowmaker. Or may I call you Danielle? Your codename has... unpleasant associations, for me."

"I am well used to it, so..." she shrugged. "If it makes you feel better, then I do not mind."

Halfway through dinner, Widowmaker realised she couldn't remember what she'd had to drink. She looked over at Tracer, externally calm, and asked, "...do you remember the first course?"

Lena blinked, and looked down at her food. What had she eaten? Wait. How'd we get here from containment? What... She blinked, scared, and looked around.

Dr. Ziegler sighed. "Ah, you've noticed. I'm sorry, Lena. I lied. This is the eighth scenario. You won't remember it either, but if it helps, it was the last. The next time will be for real."

-----

[day 11]

Over dessert, Tracer realised she couldn't remember what she'd had as a main course. She looked over at Widowmaker, suddenly afraid. "...do you remember the entree?"

Widowmaker blinked, and looked down at her wine. What had she eaten? And what is this wine? "...how... how did we get here from our cell?"

Dr. Ziegler nodded. "It took longer for you to notice than usual. I'm sorry, Widowmaker, but - I lied. We're testing your reactions to various Overwatch personnel in various situations, and this is the fifteenth scenario. You won't remember it either, but... if it helps, it was the last. The next time will be for real."

-----

[day 14]

"We've definitely beaten them back on our side," Tracer said into comms, Talon agents retreating to their ship. "They're in full retreat. Widowmaker took out their... uh... when they... um..." She shook her head and looked up to her sniper, three stories above, who was looking just as confused. "Hey..." she looked around. "How'd we get out of..."

Mercy flew over in full Valkyrie mode, healing field enveloping them both. "Tracer, Widowmaker - I see you've started dropping memories. I'm sorry; I lied, before. This has been a simulation; we're testing your reactions to various situations, and this is the 21st scenario. If it helps... we're done. The next time you wake up, it'll be for real."

-----

[day 15]

Over her latest pint, Tracer realised she couldn't remember how many she'd had. She didn't think it was that many, and she looked over at Widowmaker, confused. "...how much have I had to drink?"

Widowmaker blinked, and looked up from her sherry. She didn't usually drink sherry, but this wasn't bad. But... "...how... how did we get here from containment?"

Dr. Ziegler, sitting next to them, leaned across. "I'm sorry, Lena, but - I lied. We're testing your reactions to various Overwatch personnel in various situations, and this is the 24th scenario. You won't remember it, but... if it helps, it was the last. The next time will be for real. And this time, I actually mean it."

"...how many times have you said that?" asked Lena.

"I've lost count."

-----

[day 17]

"I've got a few more scenarios to run, but after that, I think I've done everything I can do."

Winston nodded. "She seems all right to me, given everything. Same old Lena." He'd started to let himself hope.

Angela leaned forward, looking down a little, and tapped a finger nervously against the conference table's white surface. "To me, as well... I think... But there is something my grandmother used to say, from when she worked in computer security, and it is - what is the expression? Chewing on me?"

"I thought your whole family were biologists or doctors," said Mei-Ling, surprised.

"Most of them," Angela replied. "It is something of a family tradition. But my father's mother was an early computer developer. And a long time ago, in the old days of the Internet, they had a saying - "you can never know, for sure, that you haven't been hacked. You can only know, for sure, that you have."

"And you think that applies here." Morrison pondered the implications of that.

"It clearly does. At least they were not held long - that limits what could've been done. I can say that I am confident they will not turn on us, at least, not quickly, but... we should not take ours eyes off either of them. Not for some time."

-----

[day 18]

Ugh, thought Lena, waking up on her and Widowmaker's bunk. At least it was shared. She reached over and touched her lover's shoulder. Two weeks. As cells go, it's comfortable, but I'm goin' nuts.

She heard a knock outside the cell, and the chime of the intercom. "Are you awake yet?" Winston said, over the speaker. "Or, I guess, really, are you... decent?"

Widowmaker blinked herself awake, and had the presence to reply, "Never, Winston - at least, not if I can help it. Are you bringing breakfast?"

"Lena, Danielle, please be serious," came Dr. Ziegler's voice. Danielle? thought the Widowmaker. "I am Danielle again?"

"Yes," returned the intercom. "You don't remember, but you said that was acceptable. I apologise for that - and shouldn't've used it before showing you the video. May we enter?"

Lena sat up, slowly, shook her head, and pulled on a tank-top. "Wids?" The blue assassin still had her bedshirt from last night, put it on, and nodded. "C'mon in - not like we could stop you anyway..."

The door unlocked, and it opened, and Winston and Angela did not step in. Instead, Winston had a big grin, the one he used when he was trying to be happy, and was, a little, but not as much as he wanted to be, contrasting against Angela's smaller, but more genuine smile. "Get your clothes and come on out. You're cleared."

"...What?" blinked Lena. "We've... checked out?"

Angela nodded. "I've done everything I can, and we've run you through ... a lot of scenarios that you do not remember. But I have video of all of them, so you can know all of what happened."

"Why... why don't we remember them? What'd you do?" asked the Overwatch agent.

"Kept you from forming long-term memories, so we could run each trial fresh. Welcome back dinners, nights out at a bar with the team and with individuals, emergency situations, even a few combat trials, to make sure you wouldn't change targets... a lot of tests. But nothing else was blocked - just the tests."

Widowmaker scowled, as Tracer nodded, slowly. "Hoooooo... that's scary, luv, gotta say it. But... if it's what y'had to do, it's probably for the best y'did it. Particularly," she said, stepping out into the hallway, "...given what I'm gonna to propose we do." She grimaced. "Despite who we'd be working with."

"You just viscerally dislike Dr. O'Deorain, don't you. It's a physical repulsion. I've never seen you react like that to anyone else."

Tracer snorted. "As soon as I met her. Can you blame me?"

"No." She shrugged. "I've always found her rather personable - it's her ethical standards I can't tolerate - but had she put me through the same things, I'm sure I'd feel the same way as you."

"I've never liked her," Winston added. "So I'm on your side of this one."

Lena grinned at her friend and exchanged a quick fistbump with the gorilla as Widowmaker appeared behind her at the doorway. "Must Lena still retain custody of my Kiss, while on site?"

"I'm sorry, but yes, and it remains unloaded." Tracer reached over, and squeezed Danielle's hand, as the doctor continued. "Also, Lena... for the moment, your pistols need to stay on the flyer. It's not that we don't trust you, it's that... well... we want to give that more time before deciding there won't be any surprises."

"Na, luv, I get it. S'long as nobody shoots at me if we get raided by Talon and I grab my guns."

"Do we have authorisation to resume contact with the outside world? Emily - Oilliphéist - is expecting to hear from us."

"Absolutely. Except for weapons, you're cleared for the facility. You may use the same transmitter as you used before."

"Thank you. Lena, we should do that."

"Yeh. Winston, you comin'?"

"Sure," said the scientist. "Breakfast first? The whole team is here. Everybody's waiting in the dining room."

Lena shook her head - that sounded almost familiar, somehow - and looked at Widowmaker inquisitively, and her partner shrugged. "Why not?"

"Then - yeah!"

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The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 8: she's always been there for me
[19 Dec 2017|12:10am]

This chapter contains material some readers may find disturbing. It is, accordingly, placed behind a cut.

[AO3 link] she's always been there for meCollapse )

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Old Soldiers, Chapter 19: the only way out is through
[18 Dec 2017|12:55am]

[ mood | calm ]

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]


Angela Ziegler looked over the boxed-up contents of her laboratory, everything safely put away, new access codes on the doors and cases. The last round of prepared auto-aid kits - capable of handling most of the sorts of injuries an Overwatch agent was likely to encounter in the field - were neatly stacked on the cart outside her office, ready for transport up the elevator and across to the Lunar embassy.

She picked up her bag and backpack, and grasped the cart's handle, making her way to the elevator, then up, to the courtyard, where Fareeha and Winston waited for her, at the line marking the boundary between Swiss and Lunar territories.

"One last time, Angela," the scientist said, "Are you sure about this?"

The doctor nodded, firmly. "I care about this project as much as you do, Winston. We are needed, and... we need her. If this is what is necessary to repair the damage I caused, so be it."

"Then... thank you. And good luck." The ambassador took the cart from his friend, and wheeled it aside, well into Lunar territory.

"You look very much like you need a hug. I know I do," Fareeha said.

"Yes, I do. But - think of it as just another mission. We have been apart before."

"Not like this."

"It's just Lena, liebchen. She's not so frightening as all that."

"But it's not just her. It's all of Talon, and you are going into the heart of it."

"I know. But I should not be gone for so very long." The two embraced, kissing both fiercely and tenderly, before Angela broke away and stepped back to the Swiss side of the line. "They want no one else in the courtyard, so..."

"Come back to me," said the rocketeer, as she stepped back, into the Lunar Embassy's entryway.

"I will."

The courtyard now clear, the doctor pulled a violet hexagonal device from her bag, and placed it on the ground in front of her. "The beacon comes in two parts. I don't know why, but I know they will respond quickly," she said quietly, knowing her wife could still hear her nonetheless. Then, from a small, round, metal box, she extracted a smaller, round, black device, clicked its power cell into place, and depressed the top button until it beeped, twice. "That's all there is to it." She looked up, looking for a ship. "See you when I see..."

And then she vanished.

-----

"I was not expecting that," said Winston, from inside the building. "But we have the promised proof of life." He threw the image up on the wall of the conference room - Mercy, in a small, featureless cabin, holding up a padd with the latest news headlines as of half an hour before. Mei-Ling let out a big breath. "Thank goodness!"

Gabriel almost let himself laugh a bit. "Talon has a top-level software and hardware hacker - I don't know her real name, but she's head of the Sombra collective, the one behind that hacking spree last year. That teleporter trick has to be her work."

Hana flipped the image showing Angela's disappearance onto her personal padd, examining it curiously, as Winston said, "An extraordinarily powerful tool, regardless."

"I wasn't worried," said Fareeha. "Not any more than I already had been. If Talon had wanted to kill her for what she did, they'd've already done it." Or, she thought, at least, tried. "They wouldn't hide behind special effects."

Winston shook his head, no. "I wouldn't've cooperated - ever - if I was afraid of anything like that. Widowmaker is very strange, in some ways, but she is also very rational." And still Amélie, he thought, but could not say. "There are confidences I'm keeping, but it comes down to one thing: they trusted us, and we blew it, and now we have to trust them."

Fareeha nodded in agreement. "Exactly."

"So what are you worried about, Ree?" asked Gabriel.

The rocketeer's expression grew sober. "I worry about... what Angela might decide she needs to do."

-----

Doctor Ziegler felt herself being led off the small transport ship. She'd been blindfolded since the photograph, but felt now the heat of what she suspected was a Mediterranean sun. "Are we there?" she asked the pilot, a woman she did not know by sight, and who did not identify herself.

"Yes," she heard the unnamed woman reply, the one who had blindfolded her, the one with the Talon patch on her shoulder. "The way forward is flat. Follow my lead and the direction of my voice, please."

The doctor stepped carefully along a hard-surfaced walkway. It sounded like concrete, but could've been stone, or anything like it, really. She heard the sounds of seagulls, nearby, and sandpipers, in the distance. "When may I remove the blindfold?" she asked, nervously, when she suddenly felt the sun fall away from her skin with a last pair of steps, and she stopped, at a half-height metal gate. Behind her, she heard a door close.

"Now," said the pilot. "Here, I'll do it," and she removed the cloth.

After the blindfold, even the inside seemed bright, bright like midday. Behind her, a grey metal door sat framed in a small concrete entry leading back, presumably, to the aircraft. Directly before her, the gate, unlocked. And ahead, a stairwell down.

"Don't worry," said the pilot, "it's quite safe. Please proceed."

Through concealed camera feeds, Venom and Widowmaker watched Dr. Ziegler walk down the cement stairs. Everything was being recorded, of course. Perhaps they couldn't entirely trust Angela Ziegler on her word alone, but having just a bit of leverage changed the situation entirely. And if proof of active cooperation with a globally-notorious terrorist organisation didn't count as leverage, well - what would?

"I'm surprised she went along with this, honestly," the teleporter said. "But I'm glad she did."

"I am, as well," said the spider. "But I am... less surprised than you, given what I remember, and all you've said. I do not think she is as much of a rationalist as she likes to believe."

"Wot," she said, a small smile quirking up on one side. "You sayin' she's doin' all this just 'cause she's fallen for me?"

"No," her wife replied, "but... that is part of it. She has strong emotions."

"She's married! And - the doc? Strong emotions? You serious?"

"The first," smirked the spider, "I do not think has to matter so much. And the second... I suspected, even in the old days, but is it not obvious now? Everything she's done screams it. Particularly at the end - she didn't even try to triage you, she just swept in like a goddess and rebuilt your body." Her smirk relaxed into a smile, almost sympathetic. "As one who controls her own passions tightly, I recognise it in another. It is part of why I am not so angry at her... poor decision-making."

"F'real?"

"Oh, yes. Seeing her again, even if in video - it is enough to confirm it. She may hide it from you, and from her current friends - but not from me."

Venom shook her head, and grinned a little. "Y'know... knowin' that... I almost wish it was returned."

"I have always found her quite attractive. And I suspect she is an absolute beast in bed."

"Oh, now, don't you start."

Widowmaker laughed. "Do not worry, cherie, we were only friends - if close ones. And... one time, perhaps a little bit more. I think I will remind her of it." She squeezed her wife's hand. "But it was not serious. I have already fallen, I have no need to fall again."

"I wouldn't mind tho'. As long as y'always came home."

Amélie leaned over and kissed Lena. "J'adore."

"Aw," said the junior assassin, blushing just a little. "I love you too."

-----

Dr. Ziegler walked ahead of the Talon agent, down the well-lit stairwell, once her eyes adjusted to the light. A storey down, and then an elevator with an access pad and locks, and then a hallway, empty of people, at the end of which stood two metal doors, the left of which lead to a comfortably-appointed room, with a set of wooden french doors on the far wall, a couch, a large, round, wooden table, a set of chairs, and an older, Sicilian woman, accompanied by a younger man with a broad, pleasant smile.

"Doctor Ziegler!" said the grey-haired woman, motioning to a chair, as the pilot disappeared quietly back out to the hallway. "It is an honour. Please, sit down. Would you like anything to drink?"

"Some water would be lovely," said the Swiss woman, as she sat. The older woman nodded to her companion, who scooted over for a bottle of water, and two cups of hot tea, from the sidebar.

"I am Dr. Geanna Mariani, and this is my nurse assistant, Taviano Bonsignore. And it is a pleasure, finally, to meet you."

"I suspect I am familiar with your work?"

"More than you should be, I think? But yes."

"Not actually so, but what I know of it is miraculous," Dr. Ziegler said, sincerely. "You have been described to me as a fan of mine - I am, I think, an admirer of yours. But... amongst other tasks, I have a data delivery to make. Will anyone else be attending?"

"Ah, I'm flattered. Thank you. Yes, and they should be here any moment," she said, as the second set of doors opened, and Venom and Widowmaker - both in full Talon field gear - stepped out. "Ah, there you are!"

"Venom," said the Overwatch doctor, nodding, carefully neutral, getting a small but polite smile in return. "Widowmaker," she said, nodding again, a little wary despite herself.

The senior assassin smiled. "It has been a long time, Doctor Ziegler, has it not? Perhaps too long." She reached out her hand to the Swiss woman, who offered her own only to find her fingers brought to cool, blue kips, and gently kissed. "But there is no need to be so formal. Surely, Angela, you have not forgotten Tripoli."

She remembers, thought the doctor, relief cascading through her. It is you. It was always you, the whole time. I knew it. "Of course I haven't," she whispered, smiling, and kissing that cool blue hand, in turn. "It truly is wonderful to see you again in person... Amélie."

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The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 7: they are beautiful, but they are new
[15 Dec 2017|12:50am]

[ mood | enigmatic ]

This chapter is worksafe, with the possible exception of some moderately strong language. [AO3 link]


Lena Oxton bolted upright in her bed, leapt vertically, and jinked across the room. Where am I?! She grabbed at her chest, missing the weight of her accelerator, pawing at herself, terrified until she slowly realised that she wasn't slipping out of time - she'd teleported, without even thinking.

Looking over next to a closed door, she saw her accelerator - or a smaller, thinner version - resting on a charging station not unlike her own. What the bleedin' hell...? How'd I do that? Is this a Slipstream world?

Looking down, she realised she was in front of a window, dozens of stories above the ground, and standing on a dresser. She stomped at the piece of furniture - quite solid, quite real. Looking back at the bed from which she'd leapt, she realised, suddenly, Widowmaker?! as the assassin sat up, blinking, looking over to Lena, confused, then remembering, looking around, afraid... and then, less so, as she saw the Kiss, unloaded, but quite intact, by the nightstand next to their bed. She grabbed her, reassured herself with her presence, and placed her back down, nearby.

"Looks like we've got first class accommodations," Lena said, quietly. "And they were kind enough to keep your counterpart close. Thanks, invisible room monitor." She walked quickly over to Widowmaker, leaning her head against her lover's, whispering, "Do you remember anything after my apartment? I don't." "No," the defector replied, just as quietly. "But clearly, time has passed. Your eyes are..." she looked closely, to be sure, "...copper. They are beautiful, but they are new."

Lena paled as the room's door opened, and Oilliphéist came rushing in. "You're awake! Finally!" She wrapped herself around her lover, who found it took everything in her to push her back away. "You lied to me!" Widowmaker shouted.

"No! Yes! A little!" replied Oilliphéist, standing off, giving her counterpart her space. "It was horrible, and I hated it - I didn't want to, but I had to get you home! But that's the only thing I lied about, and Moira's agreed I'll never have to do it again."

"What's she done to us?" demanded Tracer.

"Nothing! Well, nothing much. Why, do you think I should?" interjected Dr. O'Deorain, as she stepped into the room, following Emily by some seconds.

"You call this nothing?!" Lena pointed at her eyes and snarled at the infamous doctor, a spike of instant loathing for her running across her body.

The doctor laughed. "Nothing psychological. Yes, I... fixed a few things for you, while you were here. I was, after all, an Overwatch medical officer, and you are a member of Overwatch, and I am, still, a doctor. You'll like it, once you know. Here, see?"

She reached over, and turned off Lena's chronal accelerator. Lena shrieked, and failed to teleport, but did back quite quickly into the wall behind her, which remained as substantial as ever.

"I thought you might appreciate a little insurance against incidents like the one in Numbani last year."

Lena reached around her, touching the wall, the bed, the wardrobe - all still entirely solid. "...how?"

"The anchor core was separable, and easily powered. It's part of you, now."

"...you implanted it?" She didn't trust it, or any part of it. Get it out, get it out, get it out...

"It runs off your own glucose - a far better solution, I think you'll agree, than before. You'll need to eat more, but not too unreasonably more, and you'll still need the vest for teleporting and time jumps. But you no longer need to be wearing it for that, and you'll get more jumps per charge."

"Yeh - I'll believe that when Winston verifies it, and not before. How'd you make room... inside me?" She shuddered at the thought.

"Easily enough done. Your lungs are slightly smaller, but vastly more efficient; you've come out ahead, I assure you. But let's skip the Q-and-A, shall we?"

She held up a hand, and started counting on long, long fingernails. "Thanks to all the head trauma you've suffered, your retinas were going to disintegrate well before you turned 40. Now, they won't." A second finger. "While I was in there, I got rid of your blind spots. Also," a third finger, "you'll see better in both darkness and extreme light." A fourth; "And, I have this wonderful new technique for improving nerve conductivity, so I threw that in as a bonus. You're even quicker, now, and more dextrous." She flipped her hands open, palms up, and took a little bow. "You're welcome."

Lena just stared at the doctor, the fear in her mind rising as the list grew. "Bleedin'... anything else?"

"Welcome to Oasis?"

The Overwatch agent glared in silence, trying not to shake.

Through all of this, Widowmaker had been inventorying her mind. She didn't feel reconstrained, but she knew from previous conditioning that she never did - she always felt like herself. She looked over to Oilliphéist, who still looked so beautiful, so perfect, and to Tracer, who still looked so perfectly annoying, so perfectly foolish, and yet, so perfectly... wonderful. If nothing else, she has let me keep this, she thought.

"And me, docteur?"

Dr. O'Deorain gave her an exasperated look. "My niece would barely let me touch you. You can't ghost, like she can, which is a bit of a shame. But she did at least allow me the nerve conductivity - you're now her equal in speed, though neither of you can keep up with your diminutive... friend... here."

I'll never trust my quickness again, thought Tracer, enraged. Fuck. Fuck you, doc. Fuck you.

Emily walked back over to Widowmaker, and knelt beside her on the floor, by the bed. "I'm really sorry she made me lie to you. But she swore she wouldn't touch you, not the real you, not your mind, not ever again, and I've stayed awake the whole time, making sure." She reached up, offering her hand. "Forgive me?"

Widowmaker hesitated, then took Oilliphéist's hand, and nodded, once. "Oh, god, I've missed you," the newer creation repeated. "It's so good that you're home." And Widowmaker smiled, relaxing, resting her head against Emily's and running her hands through her beloved's hair. "It's... so lovely to be with you again," she whispered. I wish we could do an associations check, she thought, but that is not a tool we should reveal here...

"How long we been out, luv?" Lena asked Emily, kindly, a little touched at the scene, despite herself.

"A little over a week," the once ginger replied, sleepily. "I've been watching over you both, worrying, night and day. I really need a nap."

"Why don't you take one, dear," said the doctor. "I owe our guests an explanation, and I do have a proposal to make."

Emily crawled into bed next to Widowmaker and held her, so tightly, and this time, Widowmaker didn't push her away, and didn't even want to. She smells so nice, she thought, sliding aside and off the bed as Emily curled up to sleep. And she feels so wonderful. But then... she always did.

"I imagine you're both hungry. Lunch?"

"No," said Tracer, as her stomach growled. "Well... maybe."

-----

"So you're sayin' that part's true? Akande really wants to start another Omnic War?"

They were both back in their "guest room," Oilliphéist still asleep, the two of them at a small round table with four chairs, surrounded by windows overlooking the city. Tracer had turned her accelerator back on at first opportunity, not taking any chances.

Widowmaker nodded. "He has - or, at least, a few weeks ago, had - every intent of doing exactly that. All my most recent orders had involved helping him consolidate his power - I made a particularly lovely shot to kill a rather... more pedestrian... member of council, interested only in money, and not politics. A common criminal, risen far above his level, but at least he died beautifully."

"Killing Mondatta was part of the war effort, wasn't he." It wasn't a question, and Widowmaker did not treat it as one.

"Yes, absolutely."

Lena snarled, but considered the repercussions. "Seems t'me this kind of infighting must really weaken Talon. It happen often?"

The assassin smirked, wryly. "How do you think Akande went to jail?"

The door to the guest room opened again, and Moira appeared, with afternoon tea. Lena glared at the minister, who smiled in return. "Checking on my information? Good - that's only the proper thing to do. Tea?"

"No. Well... what kind?"

"A nice tippy assam, I find it good in hot weather. I'll go ahead and be mother, it seems only fitting," said the doctor, as she sat down and began pouring cups for the table. "And yes," she tilted her head just a little to Lena, "we'll share the same pot. We can even swap cups if you'd like."

"I insist," said Lena, after the cups had been poured.

Moira waved at the tea set, and smiled a tiny smile. "At your pleasure."

"You did it," Widowmaker said to Moira, as Lena swapped cups around. "She's... wondrous."

Dr. O'Deorain smiled the least-ungenuine smile Tracer had yet seen her manage. "She is. I always backed her petitions for enhancement. I have no idea why the rest of the board was so hesitant." She added just a hint of sugar to her tea, and took a careful sip.

"What else did you do to her?" demanded the senior assassin.

"Other than the obvious?" she laughed. "Very little. There were reasons she was the template, after all." She looked over to her niece, still asleep in bed. "She is more mission-focused, now. If it makes you feel better about what happened, I'm certain that's the only reason she was able to lie to you about the meeting. She even fought me on it. Honestly, I was surprised."

"She wasn't always floatin' about in a little cloud of euphoria, was she?" Lena asked. "Doesn't seem your type, love."

"No. That is also new," replied the Frenchwoman.

"And not my doing. I gave her everything she wanted, everything she'd ever dreamed, and it all actually worked just like she'd always hoped. What did you expect, depression?" Tracer glared, but Widowmaker laughed, just a little. "But... as you have demonstrated, the mind has a way of rebalancing itself to a kind of neutrality over time, and I've enabled her to avoid that fate, if she chooses. You can hardly blame me for wanting to see my niece be happy, can you?"

"Mate, I could blame you for saving an orphan from a runaway lorry."

The doctor laughed. "I can't blame you for that, right now. But I do hope that over time you'll forgive me this little incident. I couldn't exactly ring you up for a teleconference, could I? Not with what you know."

The minister put her tea back down, and leaned forward. "Look, I'll be direct. Akande is a danger to the entire world, and needs to be stopped. I do not have the political power within Talon to do it, which means it is time for a short, vicious, but small war, to prevent a long, disastrous, and genocidal war. I intended to go into it with myself and my two most brilliant creations, but I would prefer to go into it with you on my side, as well, and with Overwatch specifically deciding to keep its distance. If we lose - no loss for you and yours, it's all on us, and no "heroes" are implicated. But if we win... everyone wins."

"I don't believe you, mate," glared the teleporter, putting sugar and milk into her tea. "Somethin' else is goin' on."

"Something else is always going on," the doctor agreed, picking up her teacup. "Akande is shorting my budget within Talon, and it is affecting my work. Nothing matters more than that - nothing - and I will not stand for it. Renewed Omnic incursions would absolutely target this city, and, therefore, my facilities and experiments, and I will not have that, either. The chaos would set my research back years." She sipped her tea. "There. Is that selfish enough for you? I do not pretend to be otherwise."

"What's this 'small war' involve?" She almost growled the question. Bloody hell, you irritate me, she thought. No wonder Ziegler doesn't like you.

"Widowmaker will be familiar with kind of actions needed - distance assassinations, close-up killings, some theft, some intelligence gathering for blackmail, all the nasty covert games Overwatch pretends to hate, but did so very much of the first time around." She placed her cup back in its saucer, and added a little more tea. "This time, Overwatch wouldn't have to be involved, not directly. But you... you'd make a lovely addition to our little task force, and with your personal involvement with my two favourites, you can see why I had to ask."

"I'm not agreein' to anything," Lena said. "Not here, not like this." She sipped from her teacup, and looked down at it. Huh. A bit light for my tastes, but... not bad.

"You're free to leave, you do realise that?" asked the minister.

"Am I? Really?"

"Yes."

"Then where're my pistols?"

"Did you check the dresser?"

"...you serious?"

"Absolutely," the doctor said, adding just a little more tea to her cup.

As Lena arose to check the dresser - where her guns and wrist braces had been neatly put away in the top drawer - Emily stirred, muttering, "...pistols?" She sat up, blinking. "Pistols? Oh! Yes! Pistols! Lena, I have presents for you!"

"...wot?" replied the teleporter. "You..."

"Your old pistols are terrible! " She smiled, and shook her head ruefully. "Awful balance, erratic kick - how did you ever hit anything? " The armourer yawned, broadly, and stretched.

"Emily, you should get some more sleep. You've been up for days."

"I know, but..."

"You can give her your presents in the morning, dear. That's an order."

Emily muttered, and rolled back over, wrapping her arms around her pillow. "Fine..." she said, and closed her eyes.

Lena had snapped on her wrist holsters, and popped her pistols free, spinning them in her hands. Loaded, she thought, more than a little surprised. She pointed them straight at Moira's face. "So I can leave whenever I want, then?"

"Yes. But I wouldn't recommend shooting me first. Assassination of a government minister is frowned upon, here in Oasis."

Tracer flipped back her pistols. "Leave... alone, abandoning Wids here to be monkeywrenched? Not hardly, mate."

"You too," she said, turning to the former Talon assassin, waving her right hand airily. "At any time."

"And Emily?" asked the assassin.

"She should stay, at least a few more days - I'm not sure you remember this, Widowmaker, but the first months after your upgrades, you required extensive adjustments and maintenance, so that..."

"I remember," said the senior assassin, abruptly. "It was... extraordinarily painful."

"I learned a great deal from creating you," said the doctor. "It will not be so, for her. And less will be required." She sighed. "I'd've done it already, except she refused to sleep."

"Then," Widowmaker said, "we will have to wait, until that is finished. And I will watch you, every single moment, while you work on her, and if you do anything - anything - to her mind..."

"Bullets?" offered the doctor. "I know she's empty," she said, gesturing to Widowmaker's rifle. "Here." She reached into her jacket and pulled out a standard set of sniper rounds. "Just stay out of my way, while I work. You know how much I hate interference."

Widowmaker nodded, and took the rounds, inspected them, validating them as real, and loaded the Kiss. "Lena?"

"I don't like it, but - I'm not leaving without you, and I'm not gonna ask you to abandon her."

The assassin reached out, squeezing the teleporter's hand tightly. "Thank you."

"I take it, then," said the Irish doctor, "we're all in agreement?"

Lena nodded briefly, and the Widowmaker echoed her, a moment later, more slowly.

"We are agreed."

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The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 6: I see what you see in her
[12 Dec 2017|09:27am]

[ mood | amused ]

I'm several chapters ahead of what's posted, and that's really starting to bother me? So I'm going to be posting a little more often for a bit - maybe every four or five days instead of weekly. Not sure yet. We'll see. ^_^

[AO3 link]


"Even aside from her unique skills, she is quite pretty... and enthusiastic... I can see what you see in her." Oilliphéist smiled, gliding the tip of one blade along the unconscious Lena Oxton's neck.

Widowmaker could only glare, bound and gagged - not helpless, not for long, and her lover didn't pretend to think she was, but it would be a while, so the senior assassin glared, and glared hard, while working at her bonds, not even pretending not to.

"Oh, love, don't worry, I didn't lie to you - I really don't mind! In another world, another time, I could even see myself loving her, too... but... here, I'm afraid I don't." She looked up at her beloved, and grinned, broadly, an idea, "...at least, not as she is now. But we can bring her back with us!" she said, quickly. "It's not part of my mission, but I'm flexible, you know that - she could join us. With just a few changes, a few improvements - she could become one of us."

The ambush - Widowmaker didn't know how it was possible for anyone to be so fast. They'd met, at the pub, as planned, and she and Lena had it it off right away, surprising them both, surprising Widowmaker herself. Everything had felt so strangely... normal. It felt almost like being back on base, in the canteen, with Lena instead of Sombra, her sense of humour different, but not that different. Then, to Lena's apartment, for more explicit discussion, for discussions not meant for public spaces...

The gas that took down Lena, that, she understood. But the silent attack from behind - that mystified her, still. No whip of chain, none of the snap of Lena's teleporting, or hiss of Reaper's smoke - just zip, and a knockout blow before she could even turn.

The silver-eyed assassin had tilted her head, looking at the Overwatch agent. She could see it, now, the copper-eyed girl, with hair so blue as almost black, skin the colour of the deepest sky on the warmest day, teleporting, dancing with time, herding some targets in, finishing ones that somehow fell out of their sights - nothing could escape her. Nothing would escape them.

She reached down with her right hand, still smiling, gently cupping the Briton's cheek with her hand. "I know my weapons. She would be ... truly magnificent."

"Y'know the trouble with you, mate?" Tracer's eyes snapped open. "You talk too much." The teleporter teleported, and was all at once on the far side of the room, pistols out.

"Oh!" replied the newer assassin. "Did I misjudge the dose?" She sheathed her knives and flipped her rifle around, again impossibly fast, pointing it at the bound Widowmaker. "That's fine, we can play it this way, too."

"No!" Tracer didn't lower her guns, but didn't fire, either. "Don't you even think it!" Widowmaker tried, as hard as she could, to signal - She won't. Call her bluff. Call it. Please. - but that's so much to convey just with eyes and a nod.

"Oh, Lena, I don't want to, you know that! She's told you so much, I'm sure, and it's all true - it'd be like killing myself, and I love myself, I don't want to kill me, much less her. But I needed you to freeze, so I could talk to you, and she needs to come home, where she belongs. And she wants you so much, almost as much as she wants me, and... we can do that! I wasn't lying either, I'm more than happy to share, and the three of us on the field, her at distance, me at midrange, you close-in and melee - we'd be legendary."

I should just shoot her, the teleporter thought, but... dammit, Wids, you have the worst taste in women... sorta... c'mon, Lena, dig... "Take her back to Talon, to have everything she's achieved wiped away? Doesn't sound like much of a deal to me. And what happened to our little truce?"

"Wiped...? No!" She laughed. "Of course not. No, no, no, I couldn't stand for that, either, not for a moment!" She leaned over and gently kissed Widowmaker's forehead, as she struggled at her bonds. "Never, love. You have done so much for me, how could I even imagine betraying you? Never think that."

I believe you, the senior assassin realised, glancing up at her lover's eyes. I... do, and her struggles ceased, just for a moment, before she went back to it. But don't do this. Don't.

"As for the truce - I wanted to, I really did, but I have a mission. I can't... I can't not complete it. She has to come home."

Where the hell are you, cowboy?! Lena's eyes flicked to a small panel at the end of the hall. Purple. The silent alarm tripped, just gotta stall her, keep her talking... "If we take her back, they'll recondition her again. You have to know it. You saw it, with Amélie. You helped."

"I know - and look at who we made!" she said, gesturing proudly. "Don't you understand? Do you really think I'd let them wipe her out, let them wrap her back up inside herself, undo the unfolding I helped make happen? " The Irish dragon laughed. "Never."

Lena regarded the once-ginger assassin with confusion. She still has freckles, she noticed, distractedly. "And how, exactly, d'ya plan to stop 'em?" She swallowed. "Look, Emily, this doesn't have to go this way. Neither of you have to go back to Talon. She's not the only one we could give sanctuary."

Oilliphéist smirked, but even that was half a smile. How can she be so... happy about this? thought the teleporter, as the living weapon said, "Ooooh, I see - we aren't going back to Talon, you silly girl. We're going back to Moira, where she'll do more wonderful things for all of us! Then - only then - we'll take on Talon." The smirk in the smile vanished, her expression now pure and joyous. "And it'll be so much easier with a fourth weapon on our side..."

This is a... recruitment pitch? Tracer shook her head, just a little. "You're... trying to sell me on the idea that you're trying to take down Talon, and... you want my help?"

"Take down? No, no. Take over. Different."

"Why should I take sides in some bloody Talon civil war?"

"Because Akande wants to start a second Omnic crisis to 'test' humanity, and Moira thinks that's a stupid waste of resources. And also," she said, as Tracer felt the sting on the back of her neck, "because she's already here." Lena, sadly, didn't hear that last part, but it didn't matter, not really.

Widowmaker shrieked around her gag, eyes filled with pure, unfiltered rage, as Moira O'Deorain stepped through the balcony doorway, a small Oasis flyer hovering just outside. "I'm sorry I'm late, dear - I ran into an old friend from Blackwatch on the way over." She answered Widowmaker's look of anguish with a wry glance of her own. "He was never half as subtle as he liked to think, but he'll be awake again in a few hours. Call it... professional courtesy." She looked back to her niece. "We should hurry, though - Winston will be here very soon." Another dart, and Widowmaker's thoughts fell away.

Oilliphéist frowned, saying, "No. Do nothing to her. We agreed," and Moira waved her hands dismissively. "It's just a tranquilliser to make her easier to transport, nothing psychoactive."

She walked over to the unconscious teleporter, kneeled down to look her over, and after a moment, smiled widely up to her newest creation. "You're quite right, though," she said, pleased. "The risk was worth it. This one... she will make a most magnificent weapon."

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Old Soldiers, Chapter 18: if anything, you should be proud
[11 Dec 2017|09:51am]

[ mood | contemplative ]

[All dialogue is in translation from the Spanish.]

[AO3 link]


«Hey, so,» Gabriel said, sitting at the small table in the detention cell, «I don't know your name, not for sure, but - mine's Gabe. Gabriel Rayes.»

The Los Muertos fighter said nothing, just glaring at him from across the little room, not at the table, leaning, against the far wall.

«I know, I know, you don't want to talk to us. So now you're probably expecting some sort of good cop/bad cop deal, here? Or maybe for me just to try to beat it out of you, I dunno. But that's not what we do.» He pulled out a pack of cigarettes, and pulled one out. «Mind if I smoke?»

Her eyes flicked to the package. Morley. The most popular brand in Mexico. She didn't smoke, but Arturo did, and he smoked that.

«I'm not gonna, if you don't say it's okay,» Reyes said. «Lot of people don't like the smell, but I find it relaxing.»

She kept her silence.

«Just as well,» he said, putting the cigarette back in its package. «Angela's been after me and Jesse to quit for years, but I figure - our line of work, lung cancer'll be the last thing that gets me.»

The corner of Laticia's mouth twitched, just a little. Gabe pretended not to notice, and poured himself a glass of water from the small pitcher at the table, and poured a second glass from the same pitcher. Glass wasn't really right, of course, the cups were paper, and the pitcher was plastic, but close enough. He took a sip from one, and put the other on the far side of the table.

«You shouldn't feel bad about losing, yesterday,» he said. «You did well - better, even, than you did in New Mexico, a few months ago. It's just that this time, we knew to take you seriously, and bring in bigger guns. If anything, you should be proud.»

He picked the cigarette pack off the table, put it into his shirt pocket, and pulled out a small candy, which he popped into the side of his mouth. «Supposed to help y'quit. Don't think I believe in it, though.»

He played with the wrapper, making crinkly sounds with the plastic. «Morrison - he's a lot of things, good and bad, but one of 'em's being a good field commander. He picks good people, and he's really whipped you into solid shape. We went into the army together, back in the day. Used to be friends, though that's,» he chuckled, «...long over. Yesterday felt a little like old times.»

Again, a little twitch in the fighter's eyes. He hasn't taught them anything about interrogation, though, he thought. Good.

«You know,» he continued, taking another sip of water, «we're not looking for anything about Los Muertos. As far as we're concerned, that's a Mexican problem, with Mexican jurisdiction. We want to bring in Jack, hand him over to the international criminal court - not for anything he's done with you, but for what he did, before, in Overwatch. He got a lot of my friends killed.»

He leaned back a little in his chair, and finished his glass of water. «You hungry? I'd think by now you'd have to be. I know you didn't eat breakfast, but given what the Swiss call breakfast, I can't say I blame you.»

That got a smirk. Just a little one, but a smirk.

«It's not too late for breakfast, you know. C'mon, sit down. You need to eat, and you don't have to talk.»

He opened the bag he'd brought into the room, and pulled out two covered plates, sealed in large airtight plastic bags. As soon as he broke the seal, the spicy scent of huevos con tortilla filled the small room, and he pulled the plates from their bags, and set them both across the table.

«I made these myself, just before I came in, when they told me you didn't eat. I'll eat with you, so you don't think we've done anything to it. You want the left or the right?» He saw her react to the scent - he wasn't a half-bad cook, and he knew it. «Or, we can combine them, or I'll try anything you want first - whatever makes you feel a little safer. We know Morrison's kind of... out there, these days. Who knows what he's been telling you, am I right?»

Laticia stepped forward, slowly, towards the table, and sat down, giving him her best glare, saying nothing.

«Thanks. So. Pick a plate? Or...»

She picked a plate, then saw there was no fork, or spoon, and looked back up as Gabriel handed her a plastic utensil. «Sorry, no metal. But it'll get the job done...» and as he said that, she pushed the plate back, and took the other one in its place.

«Fine by me,» he said, smiling.

She looked at him, and waited.

«Oh, me first?»

She nodded, and he smiled. There we go, he thought. And now we're talking. «No problem.» He took out his own plastic fork, took a big piece of egg, chewed, and swallowed. «If I say this was my grandmother's recipe, would it be too much of a cliche? I think so, but it's true, so I'm stuck with saying it. She'd never forgive me if I didn't tell people where it came from.»

Laticia smirked, took a taste from her own plate, and then took a second, much larger bite, immediately. Americano can cook, she thought. Damn, this isn't half bad.

«There aren't a lot of things I can make, not right,» he said, between his own bites, «but this is one. I make it whenever I feel homesick. It's LA, not Mexico, but she was from Mexico, and she brought it with her. For me, it's grandma's kitchen.»

She snorted, amiably, just a little, between her own bites, and drank a little water. «I don't remember either of my grandmothers,» she surprised him by saying.

He didn't let on. «I'm sorry about that. I really am.»

A shrug, and she kept eating. «It's what it is,» she said. «You're pretty good at this.»

«Cooking? Thanks.»

«Interrogation.» She shook her head, disappointed in herself. «As soon as I nodded, I knew I'd fucked up.»

«I should be good - it was my job, or one of 'em, when I was working for Morrison. And hey, I'm glad you're talking. Makes it less weird in here.»

You worked for Morrison? she thought. «But you're not getting anything about Los Muertos out of me,» she insistently.

«Not even going to try. On my honour.»

«So,» she said, considering that between bites, «why aren't you just dumping me over to the Mexican police?»

«Good question. We've got a few reasons. First, I've already said. We're not Interpol. Second, we're hoping you tell us a little more about where Morrison might go hide. Third... we've got some video we think you'll want to see, first.»

«Video? Of what?»

«Part of it, maybe you can tell us. You're in it. So's Jack.»

She took another big bite of spicy egg. «Your ambush?»

«Nope. One of yours.»

«Huh.» She looked at her paper cup. «You got any coffee? This wants coffee, not water.»

«Kind of, but not the real stuff. The strongest thing we've got is espresso.»

She shrugged. «It'll do.»

-----

[the next day]

«So,» Delgado said, «you guys shoot this video?»

Laticia sipped her mango soda and leaned back a little bit in the padded conference room chair. It was a lot more comfortable than the detention cell's bolted-down metal.

Gabe shook his head, no, as he pulled up the file. «We don't have that kind of surveillance. We acquired it from the shooter.»

«Shooter?» she said, inquisitively. «Shooter... or sniper, maybe?»

Rayes looked over at Delgado, with half a grin. «You surprise me again. Yes. Do you know who?»

«Don't you?» replied the fighter, with a smirk.

«Yes,» he said, «I do.»

«Prove it.» She took another pull from the can.

She still thinks I'm digging for Los Muertos, he thought. Fair enough. «How 'bout we trade? I'll give you the last name, you give me the first?»

«Deal,» Laticia nodded.

«Amari.»

«Ana.» She grinned. «We have a winner! Ding ding ding ding ding ding ding! You know her?»

«She was with us, back when Morrison was in charge. His XO, more or less, on the Overwatch side. How do you know her? Or is that Los Muertos territory?»

«Nah,» she said, waving her hands dismissively. «Morrison talked about her after she tried to kill us, or, mostly, him. He says shooting at him is her way of flirting.»

Rayes grimaced. «I don't think she's flirting.»

«I didn't feel flirted with, I felt scared. She's good. How'd you get video out of her?»

Gabe thought about it a couple of seconds before replying. «She gave it to us herself, a couple of months before she decided we were all Talon stooges, or actual Talon ourselves. I can't say why, but...»

«Wait,» the fighter jumped in, «she's bought into Spooky's crazytalk? I thought that's why she was trying to shoot him.»

Gabe stopped futzing with video files, and sat down beside the Los Muertos fighter. «...is that what he thinks? That we're secretly Talon?»

«Yeah,» she nodded. «He keeps this notebook. Very secret. But he'll talk about it, if he's tired enough. You guys are Talon, the UN is Talon, the governments are Talon, everybody's Talon, he's the only one who knows, blah de blah de blah. Don't get him started.»

«You ever get a look at this notebook?»

«He fell asleep with it open once, I looked over his shoulder. Lots of tiny words and lines connecting boxes. He thinks its some kind of master dossier, and maybe it makes sense to him, but to me, it's garbage. Is Talon even real?»

«Absolutely,» the tactical lead nodded. «It's not a large organisation, though.»

«Bigger than you?»

«Yes, but not really - we have similar scopes of operation. It's... kind of complicated.»

She sucked in her upper lip on the right side, and ducked her head just a little, thinking. «...Is 'complicated' another way of saying he's not completely wrong?»

Christ, she's sharp, he thought. «No, he's wrong. Before 2070, Talon was all but a nonentity, a lot smaller than we thought even then. It didn't get any real traction until 2071, after Overwatch fell, and its reach is still very limited. It's...» He took, and released, a big breath. Do I gamble this, here? His gut told him yes. «We... communicate, in certain limited ways. They see themselves as kind of a peacekeeping operation, like we do. They just use assassinations to do it.»

«Huh,» she said, suspicion in her voice, but it didn't stop her from taking another big drink of her soda. «Sounds like bullshit.»

He shook his head. «It's not, at least, not completely. I don't like it, but I used to run covert ops, back in the original Overwatch, and we did some... pretty nasty things in the name of peace ourselves.» He tapped the tabletop with his fingers. «Do you remember the big news last year, that foiled bombing in London at an Omnic Rights rally?»

«Yeah,» she replied. «Biggest 'nobody got hurt' news ever. Things seemed to calm down a lot after that.»

The former Blackwatch commander nodded. «There were two women involved. One, Lena Oxton, of Overwatch, was identified in the press. The other wasn't ever identified at all, but they were both involved, and on the same side.»

Her eyes went wide. «The other woman in that picture that went everywhere... she was a Talon agent?»

He nodded. «One of their best. We know who. And now you know one of our biggest secrets - not that you could prove it.»

Holy god, thought the Los Muertos fighter. «So are you after Morrison, or are they?»

«We both are.» He poured himself some water.

«Why, particularly?» she asked, gaze intent. Wait, wait, wait, I know this guy. Somewhere. Where?

He took a sip. «We want to hand him to the ICC for trial, for crimes under his leadership at Overwatch. They...» he tilted his head back and forth, «They just want to cut to the chase and kill him.»

She stared at Gabe, intently. This guy, this guy... I know you. I didn't realise it before, how do I... She jumped, in her chair. «I know you. I remember you.»

«The public part of my testimony wasn't that long ago,» he said, nodding. «I don't look that much older, do I?» he said, with half a grin.

«You're, you're that guy. You're that Rayes? You're the dude who blew the whistle on Overwatch?»

«I am,» he said, taking a drink of his water. «One of many.»

«...and now you're helping bring it back?»

«Back, but different. No covert ops, no Blackwatch. None of it. Not this time.» He crushed his cup. «We're not making that mistake again. Not if I can help it.»

The guy who brought it all down. Wow. She blinked. «Morrison's kind of obsessed with you, you know. You're all over his weird little book.»

«Can't say I'm surprised.»

She nodded, slowly, taking it all in. «And this video?»

«You're in it, like I said. We thought... you'd want to watch it. It's you, Morrison, and a bunch of other people we don't know. We think it's your team against the Maras, but we aren't even sure about that, or why. But Amari's trying to kill Morrison, and we think you'll want to know how that went.»

«Show me,» she said, sharply.

«This video's a little grisly. I won't insult you by suggesting you can't take it, but, now you know.» Reyes hit play.

The video showed an MS-13 cargo carrier, escorted, though a familiar street. «Oh yeah,» Delgado said, «I remember this. We were on stakeout for like three days waiting for the Maras to ship these stupid stolen processors so we could steal 'em back. Ha! There I am, there's Jack... oh god, it's Ara, I miss her, she never came ba... WHAT THE FUCK?!»

She stood and spun around on Gabriel. «WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU JUST SHOW ME? PLAY THAT AGAIN. SLOW.»

He nodded, silently, and ran the footage a second time, at half speed. Laticia watched the display, tracing Araceli's progress with her finger, until Morrison was shot, and his nanite clouds enveloped her, and took half her head to repair his own. She sat, hard, shaking with rage.

«He... he lied to me. He said, he said, he didn't know where she went, that maybe she'd circled north, he didn't know what happened...»

Rayes blinked. «I... didn't know she was someone personal to you. I'm sorry. I would've warned you.»

«She was my cousin,» she said, angrily. «We were kids together. Oh god, Ara, you... that bastard.» She punched the holographic screen, which accomplished nothing, not even making her feel better.

Gabriel stood, slowly. «I really didn't know. Do you want to be alone? I'll leave, wait outside.»

The Los Muertos fighter snarled at the video, paused on the spotlessly re-formed head of Jack Morrison. You motherfucker. You lying son of a bitch. You goddamn traitor. You...

She punched the table. At least that felt like something. It hurt, but not the tabletop, and fortunately, not even her knuckles, except two, now bleeding. Carefully, slowly, she opened both her hands, and placed them palms-down on the cool, tan laminate.

«No,» she said, firmly, eyes narrowed. «He killed family. Probably the last family I had.» She looked back to Gabriel. «You want me to help you take this fucker down?»

«Yes,» he said, simply and plainly. «We do. We'll offer...»

«Don't care. He killed family, and lied to my face about it; I'm on fucking board. Where do we start?»

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oh just fuck me
[07 Dec 2017|11:03pm]

[ mood | frustrated ]

Yeah, that was too nice. Guess who has another aim collapse tonight? ME!

Bottomed out at 4%. jesus fucking christ how do you even aim that badly? WELL, FUCKING WATCH ME DO IT.

why does this happen? I hate it so much.

I know from experience the only way out is through. Tipoffs are I start spiralling in with the controller stick instead of actually, you know, aiming directly. As Widowmaker in particular, that's how to fucking die. Trying to correct for that works as far as that part goes, but then my length-of-time-'till-fire is fucked up - I may be moving the sight correctly, but the timing is still based on the endless-fucking-spiral-in.

Got back up to 12% when I ran out of practice time which hopefully means I'm already working through it. They last anywhere from an hour to three days - tho' I haven't had one last more than a day in a while.

fucking miserable

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hee hee hee hee hee
[07 Dec 2017|04:18pm]

[ mood | pleased ]

Today is stupidly busy but I have time for like three rounds of play before back to things, right?

Widowmaker, at Hollywood, on defence. I've been on. All three games, turns out, as Tracer, as Widowmaker, as D.va later. But particularly as Widowmaker.

They got the first point just as time wound down, and have moved the payload some. Enemy Reinhardt is coming down towards the payload from spawn, I get a good shot on him but not a headshot; a second like it would take him out. He throws up his shield and I toss a venom mine where he can't move forward (or to the sides because of where he is) without triggering it. He can't smash it 'cause he'd have to drop his shield and I'd finish him. All he can do is back up, which ends that attack run.

And he looks up at me, and down at the mine, and back up at me, and says, "I SALUTE YOU!" And I say thanks. And he retreats. It was lovely.

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The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 5
[06 Dec 2017|08:45pm]

The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 5:
"'Hello, cherie,' said the Widowmaker, quietly, in her ear"

I'm posting this a little early because tomorrow is a very busy day, mostly for boring reasons.

[AO3 link]


Definitely not here, thought Oilliphéist, scanning the apartment through her infravision sights. But not so long gone, either.

She'd had no trouble identifying Lena Oxton's King's Row apartment. Tracer's recurring presence had never been a secret to anyone, and Widowmaker already had a pretty decent estimate of the location, before. Emily keened a little, inside, thinking of her, and her absence, and shook it off, floating back up above it, happily. Soon, she thought, smiling again.

She ghosted over to the most likely balcony, and looked in. Definitely the Oxton apartment - who else would have a charging station appropriate for a chronal accelerator? Alarmed, almost certainly, thought the assassin. Police won't be an issue, but other Overwatch agents might be. We should move quickly, when we do.

Her comm vibrated, silently, the haptics tapping against her skin, and she enabled her earpiece. "Oilliphéist here," she subvocalised.

"Hello, cherie," said Widowmaker, quietly, in her ear. "I have missed you so very, very much."

Emily gasped, entire body tingling, spinning around from the glass door, no longer subvocalising. "Oh, oh, oh, beloved, where are you? Are you nearby?" She reactivated her infravision, scanning quickly around her, near and far, without finding her lover. "I don't see you..."

"I am not where I think you are. You are in London, I suspect?"

"Of course, Moira sent..." said the newer assassin, without thinking, then, upon thinking, not caring she said it. "You are not?"

"No. Not at the moment. But I am desperate to see you."

"I am coming, I promise, I will rescue you, I will bring you home, I swear," the armourer said. "Did you get my message, the one I left via the camera?"

"Yes, I did - you were right, that one was mine."

"Can you speak freely? Are you being monitored? Tell me how to retrieve you."

"Yes, but yes - Tracer is here - and I do not need rescue. My plan has been to rescue you, once you received my gift."

"Once I re..." She blinked, and thought, and thought again, and fire, lovely fire, raged through her mind. "You... you arranged all this?"

"I was certain they would accept your petition, if I disappeared. I'm sorry you got hurt on the way out, but - it did, at least, appear to provide cover."

Emily sank to her knees, shaken, more than she imagined she could be. "You... you did all that, all on your own, just for me?"

"Yes. I was so afraid it did not work, and then, I finally saw you..."

"Oh, beloved, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am so happy, all the time, everything is..." she stretched, feeling her body, feeling every cell and sinew and rod, "...wonderful."

"They... did not disable your emotions, as they did with me? You do not need that kind of rescue?"

"No. Aunt Moira had a free hand, she left me happiness - and she wanted to give that to you, too. But I told her, there was no need, we'd already done that ourselves, oh, love, you're so brilliant..."

It worked, thought the Widowmaker, back in Gibraltar, gasping softly, quietly, sinking back into the console's chair. It worked. She smiled, as broadly as she had at Lena when she realised they'd both played each other into actual love, and Lena nodded, and squeezed the senior assassin's hand.

"Tracer," Emily said, a hard edge to her voice, "Since you are listening: you will release Widowmaker, at once. Let her come to me, freely, and I will allow you to live."

Lena shrugged, hands in the air, uncertainty on her face, and mouthed, "You gonna tell her? 'Cause she needs to know." Widowmaker nodded her agreement.

"Emily - I am not a prisoner. Lena has been aiding me in this. At first... we were using each other, but..." she swallowed, "...it became more than that, much like it did with you. I still love you, more than anything else, even the kill, but... I also love her. We want you to come be with us, and away from Talon. Talon would never permit what I have become, and I will not go back to what I was."

Oilliphéist frowned, and tilted her head, and thought, What matters most?, and thought some more. "Everything else aside... you still love me."

"More than anything I have ever known in my world."

Bliss washed over the newer assassin like luminescent ocean waves, and she closed her eyes and rocked herself, diving through the joy. "And her?"

"You'll notice... she is still alive."

Oilliphéist breathed out long and slow, accepting the statement on an almost primal level, knowing exactly what the Widowmaker meant - yes, she thought, she does, more than she is even willing to admit. She nodded, and smiled, again, though no one could see. Ah, my spider, she thought, always weaving such beautiful webs. "Then... then I don't care. If you want her, too, I don't mind. But we have to meet, in person, to work this out. Just us. I have to know you aren't being... coerced."

"Where?"

"Hoof & Haunch, King's Row, seven o'clock tomorrow night? They're already used to your new girlfriend, surely they can handle two women showing up in blue..."

My home turf, Lena thought, and smirked. And it'll be two on one, if things go south. Easy peasy. But let's not count chickens. She looked at Jesse, Jesse who'd done this kind of thing before, Jesse who had experience in King's Row, Jesse, who could shoot flies off horses at range, and mouthed, "Backup?" And he nodded, and Lena smiled. Three on one. She turned to Winston and mouthed, "Pilot and backup?" And he nodded as well. Four on one. She tries anything, she'll never know what hit her. We've got this.

"I'm willing if you are," said the Overwatch agent.

Over comms, Oilliphéist's voice, or no, Emily's, specifically, again, so familiar. "How 'bout it, Blue? Is it a date?"

Widowmaker narrowed her eyes, weighing possibilities. Emily couldn't call on Talon for support - the video showed that clearly. It would be her, possibly a few of Moira's personal agents... and not much else. All she'd need to do would be to convince Emily there wasn't any going back, and her original plan would come together, exactly as she'd planned.

I overreacted to the video, she decided. We can fix this. Most of it has already fixed itself. They could repair the rest of it, she felt sure.

Widowmaker smiled. "It sounds wonderful. We'll see you tomorrow."

"I can't wait."

-----

Lena wandered the halls of Watchpoint Gibraltar, late at night, alone, carrying Widowmaker's Kiss on her back, the assassin asleep on the double bed in in Lena's new quarters. Even with much of the new Overwatch together in one place, and generally one building, the facility felt cavernous.

She walked up to the old control centre, lately Winston's office, and looked out the bevelled window. Her flyer sat quietly, below. Tomorrow, they'd take a heavier craft, one with more gear, enough for Winston to scan for incoming hostiles from Talon, or Vishkar, or whoever else might be oh so very interested in the two products of Moira's Widowmaker process.

A door opened, and closed, behind her, and she looked back, over her left shoulder. "Hello," said Winston, loping down the hall. "I thought I heard somebody out here."

"Y'have good ears, y'know that?"

"I do."

Tracer grinned. "Ready for tomorrow, big guy?"

"Are you?"

"I think so."

"I'm surprised you're out here alone, given that you're carrying her rifle. She didn't seem to want it out of her sight, before."

"I asked her, before she went to bed. She... stocks up on sleep before missions? Does that make sense? Says it builds up cellular energy storehouses, so she doesn't have to eat or sleep in the field." Lena shifted the Kiss on her back, just to feel it move. She liked the reminder of her presence - she felt nice, an odd thing to feel about a firearm, but true nonetheless.

"How'd you get here, Lena?" asked her oldest friend.

"Flyer's right there, luv, don't you remember?" she joked.

"Lena..."

The teleporting pilot bit her lower lip, and thought. "You know the story. Thought I was playin' her. Turned out, I wasn't, I was playin' myself. Same for her."

"You raged for a month after she killed Mondatta."

"I know." She shifted the Kiss again, subconsciously.

"You're carrying the weapon that killed him."

"I know."

"And you're... fine with that?"

"It's... complicated." She pulled Widowmaker's rifle off her back, holding it gently, not putting it down. "It's... you weren't there, luv. You can't know. I screamed when I saw what she'd done. I howled. I could've just killed her, if I'd been able, and at the same time, I couldn't." She ran her hands along the firearm's bluish-grey casing. "It... it wasn't just me bein' angry, and it wasn't just me grieving... it was... I felt so... betrayed."

"Betrayed, that she did... exactly what we'd expect? Exactly what she came to do?"

"Yeh," she nodded, still looking at the rifle.

"That doesn't make any sense. Anger makes sense. Grief makes sense. How could you feel betrayed, unless..." and his eyes widened.

Lena took a big, deep breath. "Y'got there. Can't feel betrayed by somebody if y'don't care for 'em, and y'can't feel betrayed like that unless it's strong."

"Already? Then?"

Tracer just nodded.

"I... I had no idea. You barely even knew Amélie."

"Didn't know her at all, luv! Not even sure we ever met. I don't have that excuse."

"Then... how? Why? "

"Dunno. It was always just her, just Widowmaker, since the first time we ever met, but some part of me knew. Just took the rest of me a while to figure it out, that's all."

"She still killed Mondatta."

"Yeh, she did. And she didn't feel a thing, yet - least, not much of anything, other than the kill. But while all that's true... she didn't kill me, when she could've. My accelerator was barely holding me in time, I couldn't've fought her - I was done. She could've finished me, or, worse, taken me back with her, to be... transformed, like she was."

"And she didn't," he said, understanding, at last.

"And she didn't. Even hid me from her extraction team. Took me a while to figure that out, but I got there eventually." Lena pulled the Kiss close to herself, held it tightly for just a moment, and slipped it carefully back over her shoulder. "And if we can reach each other... maybe she can reach Em." She shook her head. "Emily."

"You just don't give up on people, do you?"

Tracer grinned her famous half-grin, and fuzzled her best friend's hair. "Nope! Leastways, not if I can help it."

"Never change, Lena." He patted his best friend's back. "Never change."

"Don't worry." She skitched his head a little more. "I won't."

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