solarbird: (Default)
Lena watched the hacker's fingers fly across the console next to her bed. Cables ran to the device strapped around her torso, and the world around her occasionally rezzed out, blue and red in surges. She wasn't growing used to it.

"So," she asked, "What's your name, anyway? I still don't know."

A particularly strong bit of blueshift, and she let out an involuntary gasp of fear.

"That... wasn't funny."

The hacker replied, "I'm not trying to be funny, don't bother me while I'm doing math in my head. Bad things could happen, you know?" as her eyes darted between six screens.

Finally, the world settled back down; ░░░░░░ scowled at the monitors, and disconnected the hard links to Tracer's chronal accelerator. "I don't like to say it, but I'm sure now. We're going to have to build another."

Lena laughed nervously, looking at the device holding her in sync with time. It never had looked entirely finished. "You mean, this one's really not quite right, then?"

The hacker looked down at the floor, to the left, to a scorch mark left from another calibration attempt - one Oxton didn't remember, and one ░░░░░░ was in no mood to tell her about. "This one, you see..." She looked back to the pilot. "You were never supposed to have it. Nobody really was. It was a test device. You were supposed to have the one Winston built, he built it for you. I built this to learn how Winston's worked, and, hey, I'm glad we had it when we needed it, but... it's not my best work."

Tracer shifted in place. "You mean it's unstable."

░░░░░░ winced a little. "Unstable is a very unpleasant way of saying it. It's not getting any worse!" At least, not quickly, she added, to herself. "It just will not get any better, and I can't fix it. I'll have to build a new one. It'll be better, I swear - but you will have to trust us maybe a liiiittle bit more."

"Then let's get started already. Build it and slap it on me, what's the holdup?" the pilot nervously joked.

"It'll have to be part of your body."

"...oh." She blinked, and thought about what that meant. "So there's really no... putting the old me back together, then."

"No. But if it means anything, I think Winston knew that, too. His acelerator was supposed to be implanted. I've learned a lot in the last couple of weeks, and now that I really understand it, it's kind of obvious. You would've had a glowing ring in your chest, like that superhero of the old movies" - she gestured at her chest, making a circle - "What was he called?"

"Dunno - never cared much for superheroes, honestly. Not unless they had airplanes. Or spaceships."

"Eh, it doesn't matter. I'm all over it. I already have a design worked out, it'll be verrrry elegant. A lot more controllable." And all but unhackable, she thought to herself. Amélie insisted. The "on pain of death" part went unstated, but understood.

Tracer huffed. "Already worked it all out amongst yourselves, then. Could've told me."

"I think I just did."

"I think if you're going to be building something that's gonna be part of my body, I have a right to know who you are."

░░░░░░ gave the pilot a long, hard look, and thought about it for a moment. Always the truth, she said. Fine. "My name doesn't matter, because after I'm done here, this girl be disappearing forever anyway."

"What?" said Tracer, blinking. "Why?"

"Because, you see, I've been noticed, by the wrong people. In my line of work... that's always, always a fatal error."

Shocked, Lena could only get out, "...I'm so sorry."

"What? No, no, no, don't be so melodramatic! I'm not going to let myself be killed, I'm far too smart for that. I'll still be out there, just, not like me, now. Improved. This version of me needs an upgrade anyway." The hacker reached out her hand as holographics appeared in the air, and the room went dark save for her own screens, casting a shadow in purple against the wall.

She leaned forward, and quietly said, with broad grin, "En el nuevo año, busque una nueva Sombra."

"Oooh, scary! Like a bit of drama, then?"

"If you think that's dramatic, you're going to love my new hair." She brought the lights back up, and folded away the PADDs.

Lena chuckled. "At least you can do something with yours. Mine just grows like this." She ran her hand through her hair. "Can't do a thing with it. Not that anything fancy would survive a flight helmet anyway."

"Huh," said the hacker. "You've tried letting it grow, of course?"

Tracer nodded. "Yeh, when I was a kid. I looked like Goku, from Dragonball."

"I'm so sorry."

"I'm so bored. You look finished, can I go back to the gym yet? I need to stretch. I get all stiff if I sit around too long."

"Sure, I'm finished here." She hoisted a small bag of gear over her shoulder. "But you need to decide."

"Decide about what?" asked the pilot.

"...the new chronal accelerator? The embedded one? We just talked about it?"

"Oh. I already did. I wasn't joking, really. I mean..." - Lena jumped off the bed, and blueblurred almost into the floor, until the accelerator stabilised again. "...what choice have I got?"
solarbird: (Default)

This isn't Greece, thought the pilot, through the haze of shimmering blue and red and rapidly fading sedation. It... smells wrong.

She tried to open her eyes, and to a partial degree, succeeded. The sunlight from the window didn't exactly hurt her eyes, but it didn't feel right either. That's wrong too. She closed her eyes again, tried to think. The Slipstream felt fine. Felt normal. Good flight weather, dry, cool. Ground control confirmed go. Then...

...then blue and red and blue and red and red and blue and blue and explosions and flashes and flashes and flashes and so many flashes and grey and blue and red and even that woman looked blue, she looked familiar though, even at a glance, then the medics, they didn't look familiar though, then numbers and names and a sedative and black and now still more blue and more red, but not as much, and everything feels so fuzzy...

Everything, except the... bandages. Bandages make sense. But those could feel a little more fuzzy.

"È Prendiendiendi i medico," said... someone. Medico. I got that part. Doctor. In Italian. She tried to speak, it came out strange, garbled, distorted. This must be some sedative. "It's o.o.o.kay, p.ot, l.ill, t. .tor is coming." Accent. That accent. Sicilian. "Sicily?" she tried to say, it coming out stuttery and strange, like the words she heard, though her thoughts felt mostly clear. "What's wrong with me, doc?" No better.

Doctor Mariani knocked on the door almost as Oxton spoke, but didn't stop on the way in. Lena forced open her eyes, keeping them open, seeing waving red and blue and shimmers around everything, but the pilot recognised the medic nonetheless. She said something to another woman, who had already rushed to a piece of hardware by her bed. The blurring and phasing briefly became much worse, and Lena shouted and lurched and felt a little sick, making her hurt all at once all over. Ow! Ribs? Leg? Arm? Ow! and there was a


"How's that?" said a suddenly very clearly Hispanic-accented voice.

"Much better, I think," said the grey-haired woman she had not realised was beside her, holding her arm. Lena flinched, as the older woman asked, "Let's ask our pilot. Can you understand me? How're you doing?"

Lena Oxton blinked, confusedly, finding herself sitting up, finding surprise at the stability of... everything. "That was... strange. What'd you give me?"

Dr. Mariani smiled. "Good! If strange is the worst of it, amico, you are doing very well. But lean back, please, your physical condition are not so bad as they should be, but you are still, yes, it is 'pretty banged up'? Yes."

The pilot did, for once, as she was told, glad for once to have the world not moving. "What happened?"

The doctor aimed a little light in her eyes, and poked at her with various instruments, being very doctorly in a very old fashioned way. "Your airplane, do you remember? It exploded."

"Yea, I know that part, Doc - I was there. But what happened?"

"I'm Doctor Mariani, by the way. But you can call me Geanna."

"Oh, sorry, right. Flying Officer Lena Oxton. Which, I guess you know. But. What. Happened."

Dr. Mariani didn't hesitate. "Well, we got to you on the ground, got the fire out - do you remember me talking to you in the medical tent?"

"Yea, and my Slipstream exploded and somehow next thing I know I'm in a... room? and then a tent, nothing in between but... flashes..." Flashing. Images. Strange. What? she thought, suddenly anxious in new ways.

"Yes, you were, and the mind can get very confused under stress like that. It's surprising you remember all that you do. But now, here you are, and out of danger." Her voice was calm, but it didn't help.

Tracer frowned, agitatedly, adrenaline spiking all on its own. "Yea. Here I am. Ten thousand metres at Mach 3 over Greece and exploded, and then somehow everywhere and then somehow on the ground and indoors and now here and I'm pretty sure this is Sicily, and I don't know how any of that works but I didn't even black out and I know what blacking out feels like, and something feels wrong and you're not talking about it and I want to know why and..."

The smaller woman working with the strange device next to her on the bed delinked a display and said, "I've got my numbers, I'm out of here" and exercised what appeared to the agitated Flying Officer to be the better part of valour, as the doctor continued, "You shake off sedatives very quickly, don't you?" said the doctor. "But the mind plays tricks, and it's difficult to explain..."

", no, no, everything is shimmery and strange except when it's not and nothing personal doc but your bedside manner is terrible and what is going on?! and..."

"Just tell her," came another voice, French-accented, from the doorway past Dr. Mariani. "If she wants to rush headlong into this, too, then, so be it."

"Woah!" said Tracer, locking on to the voice, as the woman joined the doctor at the right side of her hospital bed.

The woman offered a cool, blue hand. "Hello, Ms. Oxton. We've met before, I believe, a few times."

"You..." The pilot's racing thoughts caught a bit of grip. "...are you blue? You, I mean, I think, do I know you, I think so, but not blue, are you really blue? I thought that was the... what is going on?!" But, shakily, she reached out as well.

Widowmaker laughed, a little, almost delighted, and took Tracer's hand in her own. "You do remember me! I'm flattered. My name is Amélie Lacroix, and I am, really, blue."

This did little to reduce the pilot's confusion, though the one clear thought in her head - my god, she's beautiful - was straightforward enough. "...why? How?"

"That," she smiled, "is a long story." Then, more sombrely, she held Lena's hand more tightly, and - looking directly into the pilot's eyes, her own clear and open - she said, "But, first, what has happened."

"It has been five years since your Slipstream failed, throwing you completely out of normal time in the explosion. You were gone, without a trace, and Overwatch presumed you lost. But Winston, he felt you might still be alive, and might yet be saved. And though he built a retrieval device, he was not allowed to try."

Not allowed to...?!, thought the pilot.

The assassin continued. "Overwatch was shut down a year later; it no longer exists. You are in my organisation's medical station in Italy, where we transported you, after pulling you back into real time using Winston's mostly-completed chronal accelerator, which was destroyed in the process. We are still making adjustments to our own version, calibrating it, so you do not disappear on us again. That is why you're feeling so fuzzy, and why everything - in addition of me - has a bit of red or blue to it."

She took a breath.

"And many things have changed while you have been gone."

solarbird: (tracer)
Nobody expected a fireball. Or screaming, or the containment chamber suddenly exploding. But it all happened nonetheless when flame, fragments of metal, silicates, plastics, and the distinct tang of burning jet fuel showered the interior of the small building.

And then a small woman in a flight suit collapsed onto the scorched floor. "Get it on her!" shouted the hacker, retrieving the second chronal accelerator from the bench behind her, throwing it towards Amélie, already there, who slapped it onto the body just as it began to shift to red.

The figure solidified, the flight suit suddenly Overwatch blue and grey and a bit too much red, but with blood.

Mon dieu, elle est en vie! thought the assassin, as she and the medic, Taviano, pulled the young pilot - and freshly-minted accelerator - from the smoking remnants of had been a containment chamber, onto a stretcher. "What happened?!" she shouted, as the medic ripped away the shredded flight shield and threw on an oxygen mask.

░░░░░░ grabbed a fire extinguisher, swearing, spraying down equipment, "I dunno, but get her out of here, I'll take care of this little problem."

The assassin, medic, and pilot were already out the door, moving towards the emergency aid unit set up the previous night. "Vitals are good," the medic told Dr. Mariani, who nodded, "Keep an eye on lung function and blood oxygenation levels, let's get her on the table" - she grabbed the stretcher - "tre, due, uno, hup!"

It didn't take three people to lift the small woman, but three were involved nonetheless. "Thank you, Amélie - now let us do our jobs." The assassin nodded once, and backed away. "Let's get this flight suit off - can you hear me, pilot?"

Tracer's eyes snapped open, and she looked around wildly. The doctor looked at Taviano - "Sedativo pronto?" - "Sì." Buona, she thought. "Pilot, the slipstream you were flying exploded, but we have you on the ground now. I'm Doctor Mariani, I'm a field medic. Do you understand?"

The pilot's eyes locked on the doctor's, and she nodded, blinking.

"We're going to give you a little sedative while we check you out, and then we're going to transfer you to a medical unit. Do you know your name?"

Through the mask, a garbled, strained, but understandable response: "Lena. Lena Oxton."

"How many fingers am I holding up?" She held up three, and Tracer's answer was correct. Occhi non dilatati? Non c'è concussione? The mediscanner verified - no concussion. Che era un buon casco.

"You're very lucky pilot, Lena. Here comes the sedative."

Inside the building, ░░░░░░ put out the last of the fires, mostly caused by flaming debris from the chamber. Now, what the hell was that about? Everything was fine until the fire attacked... Flames doused, she opened the second door behind the bench to clear the remaining stink of jet fuel.

"Oh." she said aloud, getting it all at once, as Amélie marched back into the building. "Nique ta mère, what went wrong?"

░░░░░░ laughed, filled with the delight of success, and the assassin glared evilly. "This is not a good time to be laughing."

"Nothing happened! Well, nothing we shouldn't have expected, anyway." She swept debris off her chair and plopped down with what was left of Winston's original device, poking at it and flipping between screens of data in the air. "It was perfección! We all just forgot something very obvious."

Lacroix narrowed her eyes, smelling the jet fuel again. "...the slipstream exploded."

░░░░░░ nodded, grinning. "...when the field generator failed, sending her out of time, along with the explosion in progress around her."

"C’est le bazar."

"Hey, you're just lucky you hired me. Someone not as good might've brought back the whole thing, and then we'd all be in that tent."

She gestured. "But, don't keep me in suspense - how is she?"

Amélie Lacroix exhaled, slowly. "Alive."
solarbird: (tracer)
also before, but only just, and not as far before

Amélie punched a very old access code into a keypad lock, and the door opened, silently and quickly. The morning sun lit the small workroom inside, the overhead lights popping on unnecessarily. "Will you have enough room to work here? The medic can set up just outside the door."

The hacker stepped around the room, carefully avoiding one corner. "I think so. This tracking equipment needs to go - we'll need to set up the containment chamber in the corner. And I want that workbench from the main floor. The nice one, with the grey top, against this wall." She pointed towards the western wall. "It'll block the other door, but we don't need it."

She paced around the room. In the corner she avoided, a faint flicker of light, then gone.

"So let's say she's alive, and this works, and we get her back, and she survives that too... what's your plan?"

Widowmaker raised an eyebrow. "Recruit her, of course. You know that."

░░░░░░ shook her head, no. "I know you said that, but, well, I've read her files, and I have to tell you - that's hilarious."

"Not at all. If this device works as Winston believed it would, she'd become a tremendous asset."

"That's not what I mean and you know it."

Lacroix said nothing.

"What are you going to tell her? What could you tell her?"

Ah, thought the assassin, a question I can answer. "The truth."

░░░░░░ threw back an amused, you-cannot-be-serious glare. "...the truth."

"Yes. Starting with the truth about me. And about Gérard."

What?!, thought the hacker. "Now I know you have to be kidding. Mi dios, why?"

"Because that way, cherie, she'll know."

"Know what?

"She'll know that if I'll tell her the truth about that, I will not lie to her. Not about anything."

░░░░░░ tilted her head to the side, and thought hard, trying to figure out how Amélie Lacroix telling Lena Oxton about how she assassinated the head of Overwatch's anti-Talon task force - and her husband - could convince anyone of anything other than running away now seems like a really good idea. "'I assassinated my beloved husband but I'm totally fine with it.' That's very reassuring."

"You know nothing about him. Or her."

"I know none of this makes sense and I don't think I want to be here if she wakes up."

Amélie laughed, delicately. "The support staff will be so disappointed."

The hacker sighed. "Fine. It's all pointless anyway if the accelerator doesn't work. Help me haul this gear - we have a lot of setup to do before I can test anything."


Apr. 13th, 2017 12:07 am
solarbird: (tracer)
[this bit of story, chronologically, goes before the previous story post here]

"Okay, hang back a second, I've set the lifter but I don't know how much charge is left in the battery pack..."

Lacroix backed away from the wrecked door as ░░░░░░ punched a sequence into a small handheld pad. The sound of metal scraping against metal followed a loud, low hum and electrical snap, and half the ruined door slid into the ground, and the other half bent upwards towards the ceiling.


░░░░░░ looked atypically confused at the damage. "ah... I don't..." She shook her head. Materials science wasn't really on her list of priorities. "eh, whatever. We needed it open, it's open, I'll take it."

Widowmaker activated her visor, scanning for potential targets, finding none. "We're still alone, for now." The two women stepped into the ruined research lab. "But be careful. I do not think we've done the floor any favours."

"No, I don't think so either." said the hacker, throwing a light onto the ceiling. "Do you see the accelerator?"

"Yes. It's still here. Incredible." Widowmaker retrieved the small chrono-tunneler from its storage case, and laughed a little, in her best mission-accomplished way. "It's not even dusty."

░░░░░░ frowned. "This was too easy."

Half of a smile. "Leading you down through 15 stories of collapsed building was not 'easy,' even for me."

"Yeah, well, whatever." She pulled down the light. "I don't mean to crash the party mood, you know, buuuut..." started the hacker, drawing out the u.

"Yes, we are finished here." Lacroix replaced the tunneller core into its protective case. "Let's go."

"That's not what I mean."

"No?" said the assassin, stepping back into the ruined hall.

"No." replied the hacker, following the blue woman upwards towards the next level. "I mean, don't get me wrong, this is a neat bit of tech, and I'm glad to get my hands on it. But..."

Amélie's expression didn't change, as she launched her grapple upwards through three stories of ruined training room. "We don't even know that she's not already dead."

"She probably is, you know. It's been years."

The assassin nodded, and triggered the winch. "Elle est en vie ou elle est morte. De toute façon, nous allons le découvrir."
solarbird: (tracer)
"You know," said ░░░░░░, carefully manipulating microforceps above the small silver device sitting atop the matte glass workbench, "I really have to hand it to the gorilla. This is a very clever piece of hardware."

A short series of beeps, a blue light, and she leaned back, smiling at her own cleverness. "It's a shame they sent him back to the moon."

"He always was the smart one," agreed Amélie. "I met him... a few times, before." Before Overwatch was shut down. Before its agents were decommissioned or exiled. Before many things.

"But can you make it work?"

░░░░░░ laughed. "Can I make it work. Please! Of course I can! All it needs are some tweaks to its software. And a few more functions." The Talon hacker raised some screens, flipping through lines of code. "He obviously never got to finish this code. There are all sorts of missing case handlers." And, she thought, peering at class stubs, extensions. What they don't know won't hurt them. "But the core functionality is all in the hardware. It'll be easy."

Beside them, in the corner of the room, an empty chamber flickered, and lit up, glowing right blue, then briefly yellow, then brighter, almost taking form - before, after a flash of red, it was again empty. For just a moment, if the right person looked at the right time, they might've seen a small figure in a pilot pressure suit, before it was gone.

"She keeps almost being able to land here, doesn't she?" said the assassin, who most definitely did see it. "I wonder if she has any idea what has been happening since..." She looked back to Winston's little device, and then to ░░░░░░. "How long?"

"If I had to push it?" said the hacker, ", two, maybe three days. But if you want me to be suuuuuure..."

"Be sure."

"...oh, give me a week. And unlimited access to hardware, so I don't have to waste time stealing things."

She'd lied, of course. She could write and test the software in a day. Even Winston - who was far better at hardware than software - could've done it in two or three, if the UN hadn't stepped in when they did. But it would take that long to make a second version of the hardware, for herself, which the upper-ups would find and she'd say was for testing, which was even kind of true, and a third version, for herself, which they would most definitely not find and which she would most definitively keep. As she was fond of saying, a girl always needs the latest tech.

"Very well. I'll talk to the directors, but - consider it approved. On my authorisation." She touched a panel; a door unlocked, and opened, revealing the ruins of the Overwatch research facility outside. "Don't short-cut this, ░░░░░░. Be. Sure."

That, thought the hacker, almost sounded like an emotion. Let's file that away for later. "C'mon, Amélie, am I ever not? Stop bothering me. Go outside, shoot some wings off of mosquitoes or something." She cracked her knuckles, dramatically. "Let me get to work."

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