solarbird: (tracer)
2017-04-23 07:57 pm

before the previous, after everything else, by about a week

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)
2017-04-20 10:26 pm

later than everything else so far, and a little later than you probably think

"So... you're saying she came to you."

Winston, on the far side of a screen with a three second lag, took off his glasses, and polished their lenses, looking down at his bench. "By radio, of course. But yes."

"Winston, I've... I've read up on what she's done. On what's happened. On what the UN and Overwatch and Blackwatch did, and... But..." She waved her hands around, words not coming. "What."

"It was the only chance I had to pull you back into normal time - the first chance I'd had in years." He shifted his weight a bit, leaning a little on the edge of the bench. "I was almost ready, before - I was this close." He held two fingers a millimetre together to illustrate. "I only needed a little more time, that's all. Not even budget, just time. Just two or three more days." Old frustration radiated through his otherwise-calm tone.

"I was so angry when the UN swooped in and shut us down - I'm afraid I may've lost my temper." He chuckled. "I'm not saying 'excuse me' for that."

Lena Oxton laughed, and ignored her almost-mended ribcage's complaint. It'd been an effort, getting up this high. "I know, I know, Winston, none of this is your fault! I'm grateful, believe me, I really am! I just don't understand why."

The hyperintelligent gorilla leaned back into his chair, looking down. "I'm not even sure shutting down Overwatch was the wrong decision. The black ops group..." he sighed. "I wish I could say I was completely unaware, but I wasn't. I didn't know details, and things were worse than I suspected, but the honest truth is that we were... at least to some degree, we were complicit."

Lena nodded no. "That's not what I meant, Winston."

Ah, thought the scientist. "I see. I presume she's trying to get you to join her organisation."

"Ah, c'mon, big guy, I'm not stupid. Sure, she's put that out there, but that isn't what I meant either, and you know it." She waved her hands around in the air, frustrated, frustrated that words weren't coming as quickly as they should - something else that should improve over time. She shouldn't really have been climbing yet, but she missed the heights - and the adrenaline rush - too much not to. Everything gets so fuzzy at the edges, red and blue shifted, drifting just slightly back and forth, like a boat not fully anchored. "I'm a damned good pilot, Winston, but they don't have an air force and this isn't what they do. So what is going on?!"

The face on the screen scowled, and the delay seemed longer this time, somehow. "I don't know. I don't know why she did it. I'm glad she did, but it bothers me that past a point I don't care, because I'm just so happy to see you back with us again."

The pilot once known as Tracer smiled and spread her arms wide. "Aw, c'mere, y'big lug."

"I would, if I could." He smiled, wryly. "I can't even do a lot of digging from up here. Dr. Ziegler and I talk regularly - we're doing some research together on the long-term effects of artificially assisted gravity on mitochondria, I have some ideas to improve our systems - but the rest of us haven't exactly kept in touch."

"Given everything, I'm kind of surprised you talked to her - much less believed her. In your position, I wouldn't've."

"I didn't talk to her, at first. If that friend of hers hadn't managed.. do you know she started leaving messages on our internal comms? They're not even connected to the uplink. I got one in my bathtub - it took us three weeks to track down how she did it. So I decided, if she was that determined... maybe I should listen."

"That, and she threatened to start shutting down your environmental support."

"I think that was a joke."

"She told me it wasn't."

"Oh, dear." That's bad, he thought, leaned forward, and earnestly - even for him - in a low voice - even for him - continued, "Where are you? Do you need help? I can get Angela at any time. Just give me some kind of sign."

Lena laughed, and leaned back. "No, no, Winston, it's fine, honestly - now I'm the one who's joking. Look, I'm - look, I'll show you!" She picked up the comm and aimed its camera around, showing no one around her, showing the rooftops of old London, with the newer, taller buildings behind it, and then pointed the camera down a bit, showing the height of her perch.

"Is that... that's... that's Westminster?" came Winston's voice from the small speaker. "You're on top of Big Ben?! How did you...?! ...are you sure Amélie isn't there?"

Lena put the comm back into its little improvised holder atop one of the spiky ornaments of the tower roof, and laughed again. "Yes, Winston, honestly, it's just me here. Me and the pigeons! They're after my chips." She shooed one away, and distracted another by sacrificing one chip to the rooftop.

"And it's called Elizabeth Tower, Big Ben's just the bell. Honestly, luv, you're such an American - even if you are from the moon."

"But," she added, "she's been showing me a few of her tricks. And... I just needed some air. I just needed some up."

Winston looked particularly grumpily at his now-even-relatively-younger old friend, through the camera, through hundreds of thousands of kilometres, through seconds of time. "You needed some fear. Or maybe you needed to be arrested. Why aren't the police after you, up there?"

"I needed to feel like myself again. This is as close as I could come without something dangerous to fly." She smiled, and twirled a little grapple around in one hand. "And like I said, she's been teaching me some of her tricks."

"Lena..." He rubbed around his left eye with his left hand. "Just... I don't know the whys. I didn't decide to trust Amélie; it was just the only shot I had to save you, and even then - I didn't think it'd work. I thought you had to be dead. I guess... frankly, I guess I was looking for closure. I thought she'd be bringing back a body."

Lena replied, as soberly as she ever had in her life, "But she didn't."

Winston nodded. "She didn't." Not yet. "But it's what she does. The first time we trusted her, and that turned out to be a very bad idea. This time has worked out - so far. Be careful."

Lena blinked. He doesn't know. She told me, she thought, but he doesn't know. Why not? She smiled briefly, and tried to make light of it, but found she just couldn't. She wished she could hug the big ape, instead. "I will be, Winston. I promise."
solarbird: (tracer)
2017-04-18 08:07 pm

earlier than anything told before

before this, this, and this

The woman in blue sat perched on the walkway, still, and waiting, sniper rifle - for once - not at the ready. Across the broken strip of road before her, on the roof of the low empty building found there, a macaque sucked on a bit of orange, pointedly ignoring the seagulls settling in nearby for the night.

If he was right, thought the woman who waited, it should not take very long.

In the corner of a room visible through the open front door of that building, a small hexagonal device lay silent, looking entirely like just another piece of abandoned hardware in this place strewn with abandoned hardware, forgotten. Of course, it was not; and it, too, waited.

From the far distance, across the bay, came the noise of a freighter, anchoring down; a sharp ear could almost hear the crew talking amongst themselves as the stars came out, one or two or four or eight at a time. A small boat launched, towards shore, possibly carrying sailors on leave, and possibly not.

The macaque, finished with its fruit, climbed around the front of the building and leapt over to the cliff face, disappearing into the low shrubbery clinging to pockets of rocky, hard soil. Further down towards the beach, sandpipers briefly argued, then apparently settled things amongst themselves, leaving only the sound of waves and far-distant traffic.

The watcher touched the side of her headdress, and goggles slid quietly into place over her eyes. The device was warmer than the rest of the building, the power supply and sensors creating the smallest glow of heat - not even enough to attract the animals, but just enough to measure.

She waited.

Only after the last maroon of twilight fled, and the bright nearly full moon set, only then, just visible through the entrance, did a glow arise in the deep black gloom, inside the building, past the doorway. The faintest trace of colour, a deep, dark blue - and the device reacted instantly, throwing all of the power it had in its tiny power cell into its small accelerator field. The blue glow strengthened sharply, and the woman on the walkway breathed sharply in, thinking, Now I see you, as the glow briefly attained form - and the field collapsed, power supply exhausted.

The glow yellowed, turned red, darkened, and vanished.

Hooking her grapple, the blue-haired woman dismissed her goggles and dropped to the ground below, running over to the device. Of what she'd just seen, no trace remained, dust on the floor and walls not even disturbed - but the data remained, safely tucked into a small, heavily shielded storage card.

The assassin held it up, and smiled. Now, she thought to herself, I have you.
solarbird: (tracer)
2017-04-15 09:06 am

between the other two

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."