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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) )
solarbird: (tracer)

Surprise! Guess what has a Chapter 2. And a Chapter 3, already a complete first draft. I did not know about any of this until the most words I have ever written in a single day (I think) came pouring out of my brain yesterday.

[AO3 link]


[Two months later. Watchpoint Gibraltar.]

With a tooth-shatteringly loud screech, the outer wall of the medical bay peeled away and fell towards the ocean, just as Dr. Ziegler's nurse assistants finished prepping the Widowmaker's first treatment.

"Sorry, luv," Tracer shouted, appearing in the void, one pistol aimed straight at the doctor, as the ringing, clanging metal fell, its sounds fading in the distance. "Can't let y'do that. We made a promise. Back off."

"Lena," said Angela, half-deafened, clinging to her composure, thinking, this shouldn't be happening, but backing away carefully towards her staff. "You lost this argument. I know how you feel about what's going on, but it's better than a death sentence. Do not do this."

"Can't not. I keep my promises, you know that." She fired a shot over the doctor's shoulder. "And stop moving towards your staff. Can't have that, either. What's she on?"

"A twilight sleep sedative, voluntary muscle paralysis, and saline I.V., that's all. We wanted her partially responsive and were about to administer the first dose of treatment. Lena, you do not know what you're doing, this is not a..."

"Stow it. I know she didn't consent and I know this ain't right." Tracer glanced at the closer nurse assistant. "Pull her off the drip. Right now." The assistant looked nervously at Dr. Ziegler, and Tracer decided to make it less optional by shooting the saline unit with her other pistol. "I said now, luv," and the nurse moved to work.

"She can't consent," said the combat medic. "She will murder you in your sleep, and that's if you are very, very lucky."

Kestrel swooped in, a wary eye still attentive to the skies outside. "What's the hold up? We don't have time for chats."

"I have this under control, can you get her up off the table?"

Kestrel waved her gravity blade at the nurse assistant - Odion, she thought - who moved away quite rapidly. Stepping forward, she snapped her fingers in front of Widowmaker's half-closed eyes, and saw those eyes track her fingers, just a little - somebody was in there. "Widowmaker, I'm Kestrel, I sure hope you remember me, we're getting you out of here, just like we said we would, back in London." She pulled the blue woman off the scanning bed, and onto her back. "Let's go, while we still can."

"Emily," warned the doctor, as the flying agent carried the Talon assassin towards the light transport hovering outside, "reconsider. You can't come back from this."

The flying agent paused at the gap, and nodded grimly in return, watching as Tracer backed slowly towards her, one pistol still aimed at the doctor, the other at the two assistants. "Neither can you."

Buggery hell, this isn't how I wanted this to go, thought Lena. "Sorry, doc. Just how it has to be, I guess."

The flyer's loading door closed in front of her as she stepped onto the main deck. She could see Angela diving for the alarms before it sealed, and teleported to the pilot's seat as Kestrel got Widowmaker into the crash couch. "CLEAR!" the flying agent shouted, bracing herself for evac - and Tracer lit the engines up bright.

-----

Widowmaker opened her eyes, but not too much, examining the ceiling. Another Overwatch transport, she thought. Not the same one back from Egypt. Smaller. I am no longer at Gibraltar. How long have I been unconscious? Other than a deep legsrthy, she did not feel different - but then, how would she know? She compared her thoughts, and how they felt, to memories of previous thoughts, and how they felt, and they seemed very much the same, very much unlike Amélie's, her only other reference. It would have to do, for now.

She struggled with half-aware half-memories of being in a... medical unit? And being prepped for something. And voices, some unfamiliar, some... not.

"We've lost the last of 'em," she heard Tracer say. Tracer, who had not been in Egypt, who had not been at Gibraltar... or had she been, at the end? "I'm gonna keep us in the soup, but it should be smooth enough 'till we change ships at Iwik."

Change ships? Iwik? Why would they need to...

"I'm going to check on Widowmaker." Another voice, the flying one, Kestrel, who had also been missing when she'd been taken, taken again, this time, by Overwatch, no doubt to be remade yet again, if not just killed, but whose voice she knew...

"Widowmaker, can you hear me?" The assassin heard the voice, but could not see its source - keeping some distance, perhaps. She let herself smirk, internally. Even sedated, she invoked fear. Good. "You're safe, and you're unchanged. We kept our promise. We broke you out before Ziegler could do anything. You're safe."

What?! The assassin's eyes popped open, all the way open, all at once acutely aware of her situation, before her mind snapped back to promises made some months ago in London, promises she did not want to believe, but couldn't quite not. Then Kestrel's face appeared over her, and she was talking, saying, "Hi. We've kept our word. Do you remember being captured in Egypt? We got you out of the Watchpoint. You're safe. Well, as safe as any of us are, now - we're all in real trouble, but since when's that new?"

The words confused her, memory of promises or not. Is it a... no, it makes no sense, this cannot be a trap, they already have me, why would they... She did her best to move, but her arms, so heavy, why...

"Oh," Kestrel breathed, "you're definitely awake now, aren't you? Probably a little panicky, too. I'm sorry, it's the muscle relaxant. They had you pretty well sedated before we reached you, but that's all, as far as we know - they were still prepping the first course of reconditioning meds when I ripped the medbay's walls open."

Widowmaker's eyes locked on Kestrel's, and she shivered, an involuntary action, and the flying agent saw it, and reached to touch, to comfort - but thought better of it. "I... wish I knew whether you found touch comforting."

I wish I did too, thought the spider, a little dismayed by her own reactions as they span round and round in her head. You... kept... your... you... kept your... you kept your... you...

"We've just got away from pursuit craft, and we're heading towards a little nature reserve in Mauritania, where we'll be swapping ships."

"...ah..." Widowmaker managed, and she remained locked on Kestrel, Kestrel, who she barely knew, Kestrel, who'd kept her word, Kestrel, who had... saved... her...

"You're tearing up a bit, can you blink for... oh, good, there y'go. Can you follow my fingers with your eyes?" Widowmaker looked at the Kestrel's fingertips and watched them trace a rectangle, slowly, around her field of vision. They were strong hands, solid, a little square, chunky, much like the rest of the hawk. Strong, and unexpectedly beautiful. Well, I suppose I know who is more butch in their arrangement, she thought, and a "heh" popped out, to as much her surprise as Kestrel's.

"She just laugh?" she heard Tracer say from outside her field of vision. "Hey, luv, you just laugh a little?"

"I think she did, yeah."

"Well, tell her after this, we're headed towards... oh, bugger..."

"What?"

"It's official. Bulletin just went out. We're listed."

"Surprised it took this long. Can they shut down the transport?"

"Nah, I changed the codes and blew the interlock, we'll be fine."

Widowmaker grimaced. Intentionally. And it worked. She tried moving her mouth, and managed, focus back on Kestrel's face, "...liffsted?"

Kestrel sighed, and sat, next to Widow's bunk, leaning close. "Word's gone out. Our personal IFF codes have been invalidated. Overwatch may be illegal, but we had a few privileges within it to revoke... we're now 'foe', not 'friend'."

"Ah." said the blue assassin. Slowly, carefully, she looked into Kestrel's eyes, and whispered, "Je... regrette."

"Don't," replied the hawk. "If Overwatch is gonna start doing things like this, I can't be a part of it anymore anyway."

"And just so y'know," called Tracer, "Talon put a termination order out on your head once Overwatch got y'to Gibraltar. No goin' back there, either."

"...how?"

"Friend of yours let us know. We'll be seein' her in a bit."

"...big mouth...?"

Tracer laughed. "Yeah, she said you called her that."

The spider tested her arms. A little movement at the shoulder, not much yet. But fingers - yes, those, those were free. She tapped at the bed, experimentally, and saw Kestrel smile when she noticed, bright like cloudbreak. "It is, then..." managed the spider, "...us, against the world?" She tried her wrists. Yes. Wrists. More quickly, now. Almost to the elbow.

Us, Kestrel thought. Already? "Sounds like."

A louder heh, and the spider found she could move her head. "Then... a challenge. Good." She gave Kestrel a fierce look; it excited the flying agent in ways she did not expect, as did the spider unexpectedly - if weakly - taking her hand in her own. "We will destroy them both, cherie," the assassin said, with utter conviction. "We cannot lose."

-----

"As far as she knew," said the Swiss doctor, some hours later, "it was just sedation." Power had not yet been restored to the medbay, but the wall had, at least, been braced and covered, and structural stability insured. She sat at a small table in medbay's small consultation room.

"So you told her nothing about the enhanced receptivity effects?" asked the hirsute scientist sitting opposite and to her right, snacking on his favourite peanut butter, with oatmeal cookies and lactose-free milk. Hoisting girders about - that was heavy labour. He deserved a treat.

"Of course not," said the doctor, sipping her coffee. "But I didn't lie, we hadn't undone anything Talon did - and it really was a sedative, just one that leaves patients a little more..." she waved one hand back and forth, "...open to ideas, while under its influence. It would've helped with our treatments of her, helped her return to who she really was."

"Nicely played," said Jack Morrison, nursing a judicious amount of Tennessee bourbon. "Hope this doesn't come back to bite us on the ass any more than it already has."

Dr. Ziegler smiled warmly at her old friend, sitting opposite and to her left. "I'd suspected Lena might do something she'd come to regret. I'd hoped she wouldn't, or if she did, I'd hoped I could talk her down. But if push came to shove... she might as well have that thin chance." She shuddered. "I think she has made a grave mistake. I do not think that... construct... is a person or can be reformed, and I wasn't lying about being killed in her sleep, either."

"You did what you could," said the soldier. He put down his glass and rubbed at his eyes. "She's always been impulsive, but this is another level. If they come at us... we'll have to assume the worst. They might as well be Talon." He put the drink down, and rubbed his eyes.

"That will not be difficult," smirked Angela. "I am quite angry, both about being held at gunpoint, and at losing my best change to recover Amélie. And Kestrel," the doctor snorted, "she made a strongly negative impression on Gina and Odion. Gossip will insure everyone knows."

"I know their hearts are in the right place," Winston insisted. "Particularly Lena's. I think they're both being extremely foolish - but do not doubt their hearts."

"Just their judgements. And maybe their sanity," said the soldier.

The three sat quietly, for some moments, letting what happened today finally settle in as the sun went down. Morrison, thinking maybe they should've just handed the Widowmaker over to legal authorities; Winston, wishing he'd found a middle way, something to keep everyone happy, while knowing no such path existed; and Ziegler, angry, but still afraid for the two women who had, to her mind, made such a terrible mistake.

"To absent friends," Winston lifted his glass of water. "May they not become present enemies."

"I'll drink to that," said Morrison, raising the last of his bourbon.

Angela lifted her coffee cup, touching it against her friends' drinks. "To absent friends," she echoed. May they not be dead come morning.

solarbird: (tracer)
So normally these gaming posts lately have Widowmaker's icon, but today is definitely a Tracer icon day. (I've also been playing around with my Widowmaker sight/targeting settings, now that linear tracking mode is working as it should on PS4, and I'm still getting used to it but I like it.)

Right. Offense. Junkertown. We're inside, but haven't been inside for long, on the last leg. I am in full-bore Manic Pixie Murder Machine mode, I end up with some very large and enjoyable kill streak that I card for, all that. That's all fairly normal.

But I've never been the greatest with Tracer's bombs, right? They're everybody's weak point because they're so damned random and often just won't deploy and even when they do sometimes they just don't go off. This has been seen in pro play, even. But today was not that day.

'Cause I've just killed their Mercy and their Hanzo and somebody else in their backfield (maybe their Junkrat? I forget who, I was doing a lot of backfield killing and they were not picking up on it) and their D.va comes charging by out of the shortcut just as I'm looking back towards my team and the payload to see what's up.

So I empty both clips into the back of her mecha a couple of times, getting her about, eh, 60% down or so? And just as she jets away, I follow it up with my Tracer bomb.

As I'm doing this, she hits her nerf. Her mech goes flying forward, into the rest of my team, and...

...my bomb goes off, and her self-destruct doesn't.

That's right. NERF THIS CANCELLATION MOTHERFUCKERS. She lost the ult completely, straight up cancellation, had to earn it back from scratch. In other words: nerf this? No, nerf this.

I didn't even think you could do that. I didn't know it was possible.

They didn't even give me play of the game. WRONG. I know who had play of the game. It was me.

eta: IT SHOWED UP IN MY HIGHLIGHTS AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA :D
solarbird: (widow)
I've still got this damned head cold or whatever it is and it's awful and won't go away. I was feeling better yesterday but that didn't last.

I was fuckin' terrible today in lunchtime Overwatch. Well, as Widow, anyway. I was good as Tracer as always, and the weird thing is, the one time I wasn't terrible as Widow, it was in deathmatch, where I was surprisingly competitive against a pretty heavy set of enemies including three Pharahs and a D.va, which is not normally a recipe for competitiveness but I was.

So I was feeling pretty okay in warmup. But christ, go into quickplay and suddenly it's WHAT IS SNIPERS? and I can't hit a shot to save my life. (And that included while winning. So.)

This is in huge contrast to yesterday where I was not just playing well, but had another entire game of being the Widowmaker I want to be. Defence in Hollywood, 70% scope accuracy, eight criticals, golds in objective kills and objective time and silver in total kills, enemy Bastion got so sick of me that he tried being enemy Widow and yeah that did not help, enemy Pharah kept trying to go over the gate wall and I just kept one-shotting her out of the air until she got so mad that on their last serious push she apparently decided "y'know what, fuck the objective, fuck the game, I'm killing that fucking Widowmaker at least once" and went through the security office while I was busy with other people, jumped me from behind and let loose her one and only ult at point-blank range just for me.

Honestly, I felt quite flattered.

I guess the short form is I am still a work in progress, and it shows.
solarbird: (widow)

Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton, who then helped her break through Angela Ziegler's insistence that Widowmaker was not really a person, and that Amélie Lacroix could yet be recovered. But despite that truth, sometimes, some of Amélie's last memories - mostly but not always tightly compartmentalised away - trouble the spider, and this is one of those times.

This is the sixth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017 (pre-Doomfist/Masquerade), which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.

This story follows "It's not easy to explain, said Lena Oxton" in chronological sequence. [AO3 link]


"Do you remember what it was like?"

Lena held Widowmaker's hand, gently, as they sat together, otherwise alone, mid-afternoon, in the smaller canteen at Gibraltar. She drank tea, cream, two sugars. Her counterpart drank obscenely hot coffee, unsweetened, strong, and dark.

For the most part, Amélie's memories stayed safely in their place, out of Widowmaker's way, but there were a few, occasionally, at the border between her birth and the previous woman's death, that picked at her, at times. Dr. Ziegler suggested that was because of the emotions around them - emotions could, perhaps, last long enough, even if the thoughts themselves didn't, to become Widowmaker's emotions as well.

"A little," said the former Talon assassin, after some delay. "Not very much, thankfully. I do not think she was making new memories very well, by then. But there are some."

Lena shuddered a little. "I can't even imagine it."

Widowmaker shook her head. "For her, it was not even the fear of it happening. It was..." She pondered a moment. "It is not easy to explain."

"I can't imagine it would be."

"She would feel, and think, one way, one thing, and then, she would find herself thinking another way, a different thing, a thing like I would think, sometimes, but she would be thinking it, and not me. And sometimes it would be something neither of us would think, but something they very much wanted her to think. And she would believe what she thought, and what she felt, but she would know, she would remember, moments before, thinking very differently about the same thing."

"And she'd fight it," assumed Tracer, "and that would hurt."

"No - but yes? Both would feel like it was her. There was nothing for her to fight. But the difference in the two... that, she found horrifying."

Lena let out a long breathy hoo sound, and took another sip of her tea, before continuing. "So they were making her think... their thoughts, then."

"My thoughts, at least, at times." She leaned her elbows against the table. "Or, to be more correct, the kind of thoughts they wanted me to think. About... how lovely, how beautiful, how perfect it would be when they put her back, and she killed Gérard. And she would believe it, because she could already feel it." The assassin smiled. "As I do, when I kill."

Tracer shuddered. She knew, she knew that the assassin enjoyed her kills - that for a long time, it had been all she lived for. But making Amélie feel that, and Amélie knowing they made her feel that... "Was it you, then? When they did it?" she asked, hoping for an unlikely yes.

The blue assassin laughed, a sound that still made Lena's heart ring every time it happened, no matter the context. "No. I could hardly have imitated Amélie so well for so long. I'd've been discovered, almost immediately. No - it was still her." She took a sip of her coffee. It had cooled a bit, but remained hot enough for her tastes. "That's why it took her two weeks to strike."

"So in the end..." the teleporter said, voice distant in her own ears, "Amélie killed Gérard. And enjoyed it."

Widowmaker nodded. "In a way. They were never above to achieve everything they wanted with her, but they were able to recondition her enough to kill - at least, for a time. And so, she assassinated Gérard, but being torn between the grief and the guilt and the ecstasy..." She shook her head. "That all but shattered her. When she returned, as programmed, they took her apart completely. And built me."

"But you feel some of her... emotions, from then? Her conflict?"

"I do," she said, a tinge of sadness in her voice. She put down her cup. "It was the only death about which I felt conflicted, until Mondatta, and the fight with you."

Lena put a third sugar in her tea. She needed something sweet right then. "D'ya ever wonder," she said, as she refilled her cup from the teapot, "if they'd done a better job sealing her off, if you might not've started to, y'know, think on your own?"

"Internal conflict as the source of self-awareness? Dr. Ziegler has suggested that idea as well." She shrugged. "I do not know. But let's say it's true - in which case, Talon did me yet another favour. They..." she picked her cup back up, sipped at the coffee, and put it back down, "left me open, on accident, to you." And she smiled again, just a little, at the side of her mouth.

The Overwatch teleporter let out her breath, and her eyes softened just a bit, as she looked into those metallic eyes. "Aw, luv. That's..."

"May I kiss you?"

Lena blinked, putting down her tea. "...you... care about..." She shook her head, just a little. "...things like that?"

"I don't know." The spider shrugged again, this time with something artificial in the nonchalance. "But I am finding I... may. At least, with you. Shall we find out?"

Lena wasn't sure what she expected. Would she be cold? Would she feel wrong, would she feel like some dead - and then no, she did not, she was not, she was none of those things, she was cool, yes, but not cold, cool like the first breezes of autumn, like the first hints of snow off the mountains, not chilling, but invigorating, and Lena returned the kiss, almost involuntarily, herself warm, no, hot, like summer sun, like the last day at a Spanish beach before the turning of the weather, and Widowmaker was just as surprised, finding herself melting just a little bit more, and she gasped, pulling away, panting, looking down at her coffee, thinking, How can she be so warm?, before looking back up at the one who had reached past her eyes of molten gold, and finding she had no words then at all.

"Blimey, luv..." managed Lena, after a moment. "You're... only the second woman ever to make me feel like that with a kiss."

"For me, you," breathed Widowmaker, eyes wide, "...are the first."

"I hope it don't make you feel like killin' someone," Lena half-laughed, half-serious, half-joking, a lot nervous and a little afraid, and if that made more than a whole, so be it. "Chiefly, me."

"Never." Widowmaker reached across the table, grabbing Lena's hands with both of her own. "Do you understand? Never. I could not."

She pulled Lena forward, close, quickly, knocking the teacup across the table, shattering it on the floor, and the smaller woman gasped, startled, but did not flee.

"I do not know why, and I do not know how, but..." The spider kissed the teleporter, again, the meeting short but intense, "...I have found someone I could never kill."

Hooooooo, thought a part of the teleporter, unexpected emotions swirling around her mind, throwing her into responding before she even knew she was doing it. This is not gonna be easy to explain, to... to anybody.

unf

Oct. 16th, 2017 05:14 pm
solarbird: (widow)
last time i posted, i was in a bit of a slump - possibly more perceived than real, according to the numbers - but i've been digging back out a bit the last couple of days. i definitely needed to do more annabots, because of what it does for my tracking, which deathmatch does not do. the two training modes compliment each other well.

anyway, i'm home sick today with a head cold, and so had two daytime sessions and i just gotta say

do not step to me as widowmaker on defence in hanamura

just

don't

okay, so, i'm up to a 12 kill streak and my scope percentage is pretty good and my critical hit count is decent, and there's like 35 seconds left and we seem to be in good shape on defending the second point. torbjorn's got his turret up, all that, i'm coming back from spawn where i've re-healthed 'cause we don't have a healer, but while i was healing up, somebody blew up my mine on the upper platform on our left.

so i'm running out the right corridor and it's mccree and his ult is up and nobody on our team takes him down. he pulls a quadruple kill, then takes out a fifth, but gets taken down doing it.

i proceed to hold the point solo as widowmaker against reaper, lucio, and the piggy, the latter with no doubt the most brutally effective widow:76 play i have ever pulled off.

15 kill streak. and my whole team has seen it 'cause I'm the only one alive.

they all come charging out as i'm finishing off roadhog and i just wave - "hello there!" - and present them with a cleared objective, and we win.

smooth as silk.

unf.
solarbird: (tracer)

[AO3 link]


"I'm pretty sure I know what we're gonna see on this video," Venom said, back in her Tracer garb, but still more than a bit blue at the edges and entirely gold in the eyes. "'Cause I'm pretty sure I know what I saw." She gave Angela Ziegler a pointed look. "But... I might be wrong."

Most of the current members of Overwatch Lunar Embassy sat around a table in the ambassador's workshop - even Fareeha, though her thoughts clearly chased rabbits elsewhere. Lena glanced over with more than a little sympathy - she hardly even remembered her mother, and couldn't even imagine what it would be like to have one return from the grave.

"If everyone's ready, I'm going to start with Ana Amari's recording," Winston said, to general assent. "I haven't looked it yet - Athena's just finished deep-scanning the media for anything... inappropriate... to our systems."

-----

Jack Morrison looked at the drive containing the video. He didn't really want to play it again - it scared him. He had some ideas about why, but he didn't like them. Being a super-soldier was one thing. Being... whatever this implied... was another entirely.

He sat quietly in his temporary quarters on the small Los Muertos compound just south of the New Mexico border. He could hear Delgado outside, running her fighters through the training regimes he'd taught her, with that new man, Arturo, acting as her second. Jack smiled to himself, hearing the noise. If we're not careful, I'm going to end up with a pretty good strike team here. Already got one that's not half bad, he thought.

The former - and, arguably, again - Strike Commander looked at the drive a third time, thought, the hell with it, and linked it to his padd. A notice came up, saying the file system was damaged, and he let it repair itself, which took only a couple of minutes, and produced a slightly larger video file.

-----

Winston hit play. The large wall display showed a view through a sniper rifle - a conventional firearm, not Talon make - and Venom chuckled a little to herself. Still using the old-style scopes, grams? Good to know. Through it, from above and from two alleys situated a town that looked hot and had signs in Spanish, a group of Los Muertos fighters spilled out, led on the far side by one all too familiar white-haired super-soldier, on the near side by a woman clearly his lieutenant mirroring his actions, and through upper windows by a set of three sharpshooters. Military tactics against cheap street thugs means a battle that would end quickly, until blam, blam, blam, and all three sharpshooters were down, and there was chaos.

Morrison dodged into view, and the sniper fired, again, quickly - Venom could see Jack all but centred in her sight - and again, that blur, and then, Morrison is fine, and dodging away, and one of the fighters with him is dead on the ground.

"What th'..." said Reyes, as Mercy blinked, and looked confused. Mei looked at the screen, and back to the doctor, similarly confused. "What just...?"

-----

Morrison saw himself spill out of the passenger side of the lead vehicle, face bloodied, just as he remembered. He stopped the video, and zoomed in as far as the footage would allow - the resolution wasn't bad, but the lens wasn't great, and the image could've been shaper. Then, the blurriness got much worse, before returning to sharper focus, and his tactical visor was intact.

What the hell, he thought.

He stopped the replay, and backed up the video, and ran it again, in slow motion, frame at a time, zoomed in as before, tracking his own movement manually.

-----

"Winston, stop the replay?"

The scientist nodded, and motion stopped.

"...re-run that last shot at Morrison, slowly."

The sniper's scope tracked the soldier, a second fighter next to him, close by, but not unduly close. The shot rang out, just behind the former strike commander's motion, but still clearly a headshot. Then the blur.

-----

His visor had definitely been wrecked. Whoever took the shot had hit it perfectly, sheering right across his eyes, ripping most of it off his face without touching his skin. Hell of a shot, he thought, complimenting whoever - or, knowing Talon, whatever - had taken it. Then the blur.

He stopped the video, and studied the frame carefully. The compression wasn't too bad, but the resolution could've been better. He zoomed out, and saw the side of the truck in as sharp a focus as it had been a few frames before - just the upper part of his face became an indistinct mass.

-----

"Stop," said Venom. The video froze in place, blur still covering most of the field. She walked up to the screen. "See these?" She pointed at the sniper scope ticks around the frame, still in perfect focus. "And this?" She pointed at a perfectly-focused truck lamppost base, in the upper left corner. "This isn't recorder artefact."

Winston nodded. "I agree. Whatever this is, it's a real effect."

"Sorry luv, but the news gets worse. I saw exactly this happen," Venom said, "though my sight. I didn't talk about it yet, 'cause I figured maybe I blinked" - though she knew damn well that was impossible - "or maybe someone ran between me and Jack right as I took the third shot. But I know I had him dead in my sights, and when I fired, somebody else was dead on the ground."

"You took a kill shot?" asked Reyes.

"Third time, in that mess? Bloody right I did."

Mei looked unhappy and Gabriel frowned, but found couldn't really argue. "...fair enough."

Venom nodded. "Step through, frame at a time?"

-----

Several more frames of blur, and then, one where it seemed to thin, and then form a line along the horizontal centre of the visor, and there the visor was, again, intact, and Morrison saw himself reaching up and activating it, without a second thought, just as he remembered, during the battle.

He flipped through the last set of frames. Nothing more than what he'd already seen - a broken visor, a blur, and an intact visor, in that order. It didn't make any sense. Nothing in the Soldier Enhancement Programme could do anything like that.

Unless.

Unless it wasn't the SEP.

-----

Several more frames of blur, and then, one frame where the blur, the fog, seemed to coalesce on the right side, and then the soldier's head was to the right, apparently unharmed, and the fighter whose head had been all but out of frame was dead, on the ground, a large section cut out, almost scooped, mostly missing, and Mei made a small choking sound as the view through the scope swept from the dead fighter's body, back to Morrison's intact and dodging head, and back to the woman, and back to Morrison, before the shooter took another shot just too late, into a wall, as Morrison dove down an alley and behind a skip.

Winston blanched, and spread the key frames across the display. Gabriel looked more than a little ill, himself. "I have seen some fucked up things in my life, but that..."

Venom looked over to Dr. Ziegler, her anger controlled, but not entirely concealed. Angela said nothing, staring intently at the images. "Doc? You gonna say somethin'?"

-----

Morrison thought back to the failed defence of Overwatch Geneva, when everything came apart, falling into Angela Ziegler's lab, badly hurt, bones broken, stumbling around in the dark, the only light the emergency exit signs and his biotic field, as he grasped around, looking for the aid kits he knew had to be down here somewhere.

He remembered finding one, no, two, and applying them both, and passing out as another blast hit the base.

And then he remembered nothing until he awoke, having somehow made his way outside, having scavenged a UN uniform from one of the Talon soldiers, and feeling more than a little out of joint, like he didn't fit back together quite right, like everything was just a little off, or a little more than a little off, and he remembered putting it out of his mind and concentrating on getting away, getting as far away as possible, before Talon's UN puppets could get ahold of him, and make him pay for his defiance.

What were you working on down there, Angela? he thought to himself.

-----

"I... this cannot be happening," the doctor said.

"Pretty sure we just saw it," replied Venom.

"What are you talking about?" asked Winston.

"Angela?" the assassin prompted.

The medic shook her head. "I know what you are thinking," she said to Venom. "But you do not understand. My experimental nanosurgeons were not capable of doing what we just saw. Not even the most advanced ones."

Mei jumped in, supporting the doctor. "It's true! I knew that generation, this was not in their operating parameters."

-----

Jack pulled out his knife, pulled up his sleeve, and cut a long gash in his arm - nothing too deep, just enough to test his enhanced healing. The skin knit itself back together, normally, like it had ever since the treatments all those years ago back in California.

He cleaned his knife, put it away, and pulled out a pistol to replace it. He stared at the medium-caliber firearm, not sure he was ready to do what he needed to do, then chided himself for not being enough of a soldier. Enough of a man. It worked.

"Delgado!" he shouted.

"Yeah, Spooky?" she replied from outside.

"Pistol's acting up. Gonna fire a couple of test rounds in here, clear it. Don't freak out."

"Sure you don't want to go to the range for that?"

"It's fine, I've got a fire box."

"Oh, okay. Thanks for the warning."

"No problem."

-----

Venom pressed the point. "You're sayin' that's not some kind of experimental nanosurgeon swarm? 'Cause it looks to me like Ana made that headshot, and then somethin' stole some parts from whoever was nearby to fix it."

Dr. Ziegler rubbed her temples. "I agree that is what it looks like. But it cannot be what I made. If nothing else - I am careful! None of my experimental versions will, or even can, remain active for so long. The last time he could've had access was when the UN moved against the Geneva watchpoint, and nothing from that generation could survive."

"The evidence," said Winston, "indicates otherwise."

"It can't be!" She slammed her palms atop the table. "None of the experimental models from that era could!"

Venom narrowed her eyes at the doctor. "None of 'em? You sure about that, doc?"

Dr. Zhou leaned over to Dr. Ziegler. "I don't think you should rule it out, I could help you go over the old records, over everything that was in there when the fighting happened..."

Angela looked over to Mei-Ling gratefully. "I really don't think it's necess..." and she blinked at a thought, and looked back to Venom. Is... that what you think? Venom's face caught the doctor's surprise, as she realised that the researcher hadn't actually put it together herself yet, and the Talon assassin just nodded, and the doctor bit her lip. "...I... it has been some years, and that was a tremendously hectic - even chaotic - time. It... we should investigate. I would very much appreciate your help in that, Mei."

"Sure, Dr. Ziegler," confirmed the eco-biologist.

"Thank you," Venom replied, nodding. About time.

"God damn," said Reyes, "Could it be more than just him? Could others be... infected?"

"Absolutely not," said Angela. "My nanosurgeons would've impressed themselves with the initial contact DNA, it would be impossible for them to spread successfully. All" - she stressed, pointedly - "of my technologies rely on that. All of them."

-----

Morrison pulled up a trouser leg, pulled off his left boot and sock, and aimed the pistol at the outer edge of his foot. It'd hurt, but it wouldn't kill anybody - particularly not him. But he hesitated.

Do it, you coward, he thought to himself. God damn it, just do it.

And he fired.

The pain was brilliant and sharp, more than he expected, but muted itself quickly. He felt suddenly almost like he was in a dream, half asleep yet fully awake, as he watched his foot splatter, then turn into a greyish and pink mist, and reform, in front of his eyes.

-----

"Meanwhile," said the Talon assassin in Tracer orange and Overwatch white, "I don't think there's any safe way to bring him in alive now. I think our friends should get the next shot."

"No!" interjected Mei, with unexpected force. "That's not what we agreed!"

Tracer, or Venom, looked over to the Chinese scientist. "We agreed Overwatch gets first shot, then..."

"No!" she insisted, even more forcefully. "I will not go along with that!" She looked straight into the assassin's gold eyes. "You are not the only one he abandoned to her death. He abandoned my entire team and I want him tried for that. I want it exposed! I want my friends to be..." she choked a little, and suddenly she was crying, "I want my friends to be remembered! I want justice for them! In court, with it all exposed for the whole world to see him for the monster he is!"

Lena blinked, and blinked again, shocked by the intensity of the normally cheerful woman's outburst, and leaned forward, "Oh wow, Mei, I'm sorry, I know what..."

"No, you don't know!" The small woman shouted. "You know what it's like to disappear for years and wake up in the future but you do not know what it is like to wake up and find all of your friends dead because he couldn't be bothered to send a rescue ship! He knew we were in cryogenic suspension and still alive. At least with you, he thought you were probably dead, but with us, he knew we were alive, and just decided to let us die!"

She continued in a small, quiet voice, "And most of us did. Slowly. In the cold. As the power ran out."

Nobody knew what to say. Gabriel and Winston knew it wasn't that simple, but knew better than to open their mouths. Angela just leaned over to the smaller woman and offered her hand, and Fareeha just sat quietly next to her wife, comforting her in turn. And then Venom found her voice, at last. "I'm... I'm sorry, Mei. You're right."

Lena "Tracer" Oxton took a long, slow, deep breath, and let it out. "I withdraw my motion. Our friends will remain on stand down. Overwatch will try again."

-----

God damn you, Ziegler, the stroke commander thought, staring at his perfectly intact left foot, which moments ago he'd shot through for a second time. He shook with unreasoning fury. What the hell did you do to me?

solarbird: (tracer)
I've had a few pretty ugh days of play lately - my averages aren't dropping off (in fact, my crit shot number is up a little) but it's felt like I've been sucking, and I've been losing a lot, even outside of free-for-all deathmatch, where frankly I expect to lose, because that is not a good forum for Widowmaker.

I just have to keep reminding myself: for me, it's not a game, it's an intentionally-unfair live-fire exercise.

But lunchtime Overwatch today was better. I was even competitive in FFA deathmatch a bit, but the real fun was an unremittingly funny - to me - game in China where I just kept sending the same piggy swimming in the Garden over and over and over again with boops. Seriously, it was like four times, and he ragequit mid-round because he simply would not learn.

(He didn't even wait 'till end of the round like half his team did before dropping. After that fourth boop he was just RAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAGE I'M OUT. It was one of those "I can hear you shrieking from here." XD )

And then at the end of the round, two more of his team quit too. But there was backfill, which kind of meant we were facing a new team, which was definitely better but we still beat them handily.

I do rather wish that team had stuck together for a bit. People knew their business. It was nice.
solarbird: (tracer)

[It's about time I showed this story deserves that pharmercy tag, don't you think?]

[AO3 link]


"She's alive." The rocketeer looked up at the ceiling from a small private berth in the medical wing. The nanosurgeons and biotic field had done their work, and both she and Dr. Zhou were fine, all checked out and ready for action - at least, physically. "No call, no letter, no hint she'd survived, and now... this?"

The combat doctor sat by the bed, holding her wife's hand. She shook her head. "It's..."

"I can't believe it," Fareeha continued, unheeding. "I can't believe she's still alive. I just can't." She squeezed her eyes half-shut, still looking at the ceiling, but really, looking at memories. "We buried her, years ago, how...?"

"I remember." The funeral - like so many, at the time - had lacked a body. But there was a ceremony and a marker and a reception and most of all that empty feeling that wouldn't ever entirely go away, as much as Angela might try to fill it, a feeling of finality that did not sit well with being undone. "I had no idea."

"I know," said the soldier, gently squeezing that slender hand. "How could you have?"

"Are you angry at me for hitting her?"

Fareeha snorted. "I... no? Why? I don't think so. It sounded to me like she deserved it. Had I been awake, I think I might have given her more than a good slap - but I don't know." She rubbed her forehead with her free left hand. "She is my mother, and I always loved her, but she has always been like that, and now this, and now I don't know what to think."

"It feels unreal to me, even now, and I was there," said Angela. "I saw her myself, with my own eyes, but..."

"'Unreal.'" Fareeha sampled the sound of the adjective. "That's a good word for it." She shook her head. "I know, at some point, this will sink in. But right now, it hasn't."

Angela leaned down on her lover's shoulder, and no, that did not work. "Scoot over, there is room," she said, sliding onto the berth with her wife. "I am still very angry at her."

Fareeha put her head on Angela's shoulder. "I'm not surprised. I will be too, I think, eventually." She took a deep fortifying breath, trying to steady herself. "But she's right about one thing - about doing what is necessary. It's a military ethic, and I do understand it."

"Schiisdräck. It's just another excuse. She has always found excuses."

She has indeed, Fareeha thought, though she did not want to admit it. "You are not from a military family," she deflected. "You wouldn't understand."

"Don't give me that," she replied, poking her wife with pleasant indignity. "I'm Swiss - we are all military, in one way or another."

"Real military," goaded the Egyptian, a little smile on her face.

"Oh ho ho, is that how we are going to play this?" she chortled. "Do I have to slap you today as well? I remind you whose army has not lost a war in two and a half centuries."

"Do I have to remind you who hasn't fought a war in two and a half centuries?" retorted the rocketeer with a bit of a smile, for the moment.

"Because no one dares fight us," she said, with customary Swiss satisfaction. "Of course."

"I certainly will not fight you, not in the face of that logic," said the rocketeer, a quiet wryness in her voice as the sound of it went soft. "I surrender."

"Another glorious Swiss victory! But so easily?"

Fareeha rolled onto her side and wrapped her arms around her wife, and let out a long, low, shuddering sigh. "Would you just... hold me, for a little while, until we have to go upstairs?"

Oh, beloved, Angela thought, is it starting to register with you? "Of course I will. Come on, love, let it out." She pulled her lover's head against her chest, and slowly, softly petted her head as she quietly started to cry. She put away her angry thoughts about Ana Amari, and comforted her wife, instead - a far better and more immediate concern. "I'm here for you," she whispered, "as long as you will have me."

Hopefully, she thought, forever.

solarbird: (widow)
I took Widowmaker back into quickplay games tonight. The first couple of rounds, I was with some furiously terrible teams, but I had decent shot percentages and such even if my numbers otherwise weren't exactly good.

But then I finally got a game with a decent team - well, sort of, eventually; we were down 4 on 6 for the first two checkpoints and being steamrolled. But then we got two backfill players and I got hot and we won because:

26 KILLS.
22 KILL STREAK.
60% HIT RATE.
8 CRITICAL HITS.
DON'T EVEN KNOW HOW MANY TURRETS BUT GODDAMN IT WAS A LOT THAT WAS A BUSY DWARF WHEN HE WASN'T DEAD.

towards the end half or more of the enemy team made me first target and could not bring me down. d.va charged me three times with rockets and guns flying and never made it to me once.

I've been the Widowmaker I want to be for 30 seconds or so at a time before, and once, for two minutes. This was six minutes thirty seconds.

pow

pow

pow

it was wonderful.
solarbird: (widow)
SOLO DEATHMATCH PLAY OF THE GAME AS WIDOWMAKER

I LITERALLY SHRIEKED WHEN IT CAME UP

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

also in a separate game came in second and was literally in contention to win until less than a minute to go when the eventual winner pulled away

because ults mostly

but damn

play of the game motherfuckers

pow
solarbird: (widow)
There's a big gap between Anabots* and playing against actual people in Overwatch, and that isn't really a surprise to anyone. Obviously, they respawn instantly, they can't really kill you, there's not really a "winner" (even when you win, which you should), and so on.

But the movement is just all wrong. They don't move anything like actual players, even ramped all the way up. They tend to strafe longer than real players do, which is really handy if you want to shoot them but not so good otherwise, or they'll just kind of vibrate in place (it's really odd looking), and that's all fairly easy shooting, and they really overgroup (again, easy targeting), and so on.

But I don't like just playing Widow full-time against players, either, mostly because there are too many situations where I'm going to be a big handicap. Even in solo-queue hell random-play, I don't like that. I do like to think I improve the reputations of Widowmakers overall, in my tiny way, but that's in part because I know when not to play her at my current skill level, which is a lot of places.

And last night I finally figured out that the solution is eight-player non-team deathmatch, where it's each player for themselves, and most kills - most final shot kills - wins. I don't enjoy that game mode as a game generally; I can enjoy two-team deathmatch, four vs. four, as Tracer, but I don't tend to enjoy the free-for-all. And I particularly do not enjoy it as Widowmaker, because she is wow not suited to that kind of gameplay.** Basically, as her, you get one shot, maybe two, before you're either elsewhere by chain jump or killed, because Widow is not good at close range, and everyone closes on the Widowmaker. As a result, every shot has to be a critical hit. Every shot.

It is deeply unfair if you treat it as a game. It'll make you rage as a Widowmaker player. It really will.

But... if you treat it as an intentionally-unfair live-fire exercise... suddenly it's not so unfair. Or, at least, not so rage-inducing. And - this is key - there's no team I'm causing to lose. The only person I'm keeping from a "win" is me.

I can do that. And I did that for a couple of hours last night, and then went into Team Deathmatch as Widowmaker, which I never do for all the same reasons.

I brought my team back from behind and we won. With, again, me as Widowmaker.

That is new. My shot percentage didn't shift much, but my critical hit count did.

I think this is the missing training stage I've been needing. I need to spend a lot of time in solo deathmatch as Widow, finishing last almost all of the time, getting beat the fuck up, until I'm not... I won't be winning? But until my critical hit count will become competitive, I hope. Anabots isn't doing it by itself. I need another mode, and I think I might've found it.



*: Realised I'm assuming knowledge - Anabots is when you set up a custom came with you vs. six Ana AIs all set to hardest level, headshots only (which means they can't kill you), payload-escort levels only, zero respawn time so they're always six, a few other settings, good for working on your aim and fire rate. And you use Ana because she has the smallest head in the game, so is hardest to hit. I consider it a good round when I clear the point, which I've started doing with more regularity, because I'm killing them quickly enough to get all of them before the first one down returns from spawn.)

**: Particularly when my chain stops working right randomly, like it did last night and would not attach to fucking anything for a while. And by 'anything' I mean 'things I regularly attach my chain to.' That is some goddamn insanity-fuel right there. Resetting the game fixed it for a while but what.
solarbird: (widow)

I was tagged by apeacebone on tumblr for this.

Current job?

Musician. I have a small recording studio. I also manage some commercial properties.

Dream job?

I have no idea. I do want to be seriously good at Overwatch though so... pro gamer?

talon sniper? or possibly a particular talon sniper's enemy/girlfriend. is that a job? it should be. XD

What are you talented at?

I learn processes and systems very quickly.

What is a big goal you are working towards, or have already achieved?

IBM no longer dictates computer system design and use. Email exists and works for everybody across all platforms and everyone uses the internet. You're welcome, I guess.

What is your aesthetic?

Supervillainy.

Do you collect anything?

Targets.

What is a topic you’re always up to talk about?

Honestly, at the moment? Overwatch. As if you couldn't tell. XD

What’s a pet peeve of yours?

I don't have time or emotional space for pet peeves anymore.

Good advice to give?

Have a backup plan. Have two.

Three favourite songs?

Seriously? fffft. Like I can narrow that down. I'll pick a few I've liked for a long time though.

  1. coloris - she
  2. Listen Up - bis
  3. Less Talk More Rokk - Freezepop

I'm not gonna tag anybody but whoever thinks it might be fun should do it.

solarbird: (Default)
Grabbed from [personal profile] ckd who got it from other people.

Tattoos: None
Surgeries: Lots. Four on eyes alone.
Broken bones: Yes
Shot a gun: Yes
Quit a job: Yes
Flown on a plane: Yes, including little seaplanes.
100+miles in car: lol touring musician yes
Gone zip lining: No
Watched someone give birth: No
Watched someone dying: No
Ridden in an ambulance: Yes
Been to Canada: HAHAHAHAHAHA Yes
... to Europe: Only Scotland, but yes.
... to Washington D.C: Yes
... to Florida: Yes
... to Colorado: ...Not really. Only in layovers.
... to Mexico: Nope
... to Las Vegas: Yes
Sang karaoke: Yes
Had a pet: Yes
Been downhill skiing: Yes
Gone snowboarding: No, honestly, what even is that no.
Ability to read music: Sort of. I can piece my way through it slowly. Mostly it's an ocean of dots and lines.
Rode a motorcycle: Yes
Rode a horse: Yes
Stayed in a hospital: Yes
Driven a stick shift: Yes
Ride in Police Car: No
Driven a Boat: Yes (Sailboat)
Eaten Escargot: No
Seen a UFO: No
Been on a Cruise: No
Run out of Gas: Yes, in grad school, while at an ATM to pull out enough money to buy a couple more gallons of gas.
Eat Sushi: Yes
Seen a Ghost: No
solarbird: (widow)
oh my gods so

on attack at Hanamura, enemy Reaper does his DIE DIE DIE, and I'm not in range so I can't stop it - or be killed, which is important.

He gets most of our team, and is doing the spray thing for his (assumed) Play of the Game video...

...just in time for me to headshot him as he does it. POW. :D

If there cannot be victory, there can at least be hilarity. ^_^
solarbird: (tracer)
Yeah, I need a Pharah icon now.

Nepal. We'd lost round one, and it was bad. I was doing my best, but nothing worked.

Round two started, in the Sanctum, and they charge us, meeting us on our end of the point as we come around, and they're so bunched up, and I've had so much trouble with Pharah's boop in the last couple of revs, but I fly over them, and from behind, I let one fly right in front of the whole cluster of 'em as they're charging my team, between my team and theirs, and...

...they all go flying. One back to opposite corner. One back onto the point. And four - four - down the bottomless moat around the objective.

And the whole game changes. Suddenly, we're not just competitive, we're better than them, we take the point, we mostly hold it, they get it back once, I throw some JUSTICE from above at them and we take it back, and the third round, they don't take the point even briefly, though it's hard fought the entire time.

My Tracer play - while still quite good - is feeling a little stagnant. Not sure what to do about that, if anything. Minion Paul still says he doesn't even know how I do it, or even what I'm doing half the time - he can't even follow my play, and can't see how I kill anybody with her, much less triple or quadruple-gold regularly.

I'm also feeling a little plateau-ish with Widowmaker, though at a lower level. It's a bit early to say that, really, because it's just the last day and a half, and my numbers are still maintaining above my current averages. I should try to think of it as consolidation, perhaps. I'm making more shots, even if it feels like fewer, because my standards are rising faster than my skills, perhaps. That feels kind of right, so maybe that's it. (I have had more bursts of being the Goddess of Death, and honestly I think they spoil me a bit. Becoming FIRST TARGET because WILL SOMEBODY KILL THAT FUCKING WIDOWMAKER is always hilarious, though. XD )

I did have a highly enjoyable couple of games (one as Tracer, one as Widowmaker) against an enemy Widowmaker, and really looked forward to the apparently-inevitable rematch, but in the third game I guess she decided I was winning too often, so she changed to Junkrat and became very effective. Which, clearly, was the correct decision, I just wish we'd had one more where I was really focusing on the duels. I enjoy the duels, even when I'm losing.

Starting to feel like New Mercy is a little OP with the resurrections, but maybe the group I was with at the time just wasn't any good. But when you kill the same enemy three times (D.va, in fact) and every fucking time she's immediately rezzed, it does wear on you a bit.

Also, I am so fucking sick of Hanzo and Hanzo players. His bouncy arrow is one thing, though I hate that too, and I'm willing to assume the "headshot dead before he even fires" thing is some sort of sync issue, but the "full body height away to the right is somehow a magic headshot" shit is really pissing me off, and yesterday - goddamn you fucking Hanzo dickbags - yesterday, Temple of Anubus, on offence. We'd taken the first point. I was on this platform near the first point, facing the second objective, there's another platform in front of me, lower towards the ground. He fires. His arrow lands on the FRONT EDGE OF THE LOWER PLATFORM.

And I'm dead. Headshot. Because fuck me is why. Apparently.

Meanwhile, if my reticle dot is the size of an enemy player's head and it's merely 50% overlapping that head, it's a clean miss.

FUCK. HANZO. AND. ALL. HIS. PLAYERS.

Seriously.

At least I got to commiserate with another Widowmaker at GeekGirlCon on Sunday. I bought one of her drawings - of Amélie, of course. ♥
solarbird: (tracer)

Lena "Tracer" Oxton gave up on Widowmaker, but somewhere underneath it all knew that wasn't the right thing to do - so much so that she and her wife Emily "Kestrel" Oxton (from it is not easy to explain, she said) punched a hole across spacetime to find a universe where things had, in the end, worked out - coming across Lena "Venom" Oxton and Amélie "Widowmaker" Lacrox of Talon, from on overcoming the fear of spiders.

But really, all you need to know is that Lena and Emily are both with Overwatch, and are taking one more shot at pulling Widowmaker out of Talon's clutches. And this is probably the most current-canon Widowmaker I've written.

This is the third time I've visited this Lena and this Emily so apparently it has to be a series now. Thanks, brain. [AO3 link]


And just like that, she was down.

Widowmaker fell, panting, crouched, trapped between air conditioners and rooftop access, Kestrel overhead, Tracer in front, rifle damaged but regenerating, chain broken but rebuilding, and entirely out of venom mines.

Nowhere to go. 45 seconds, she thought, glancing up, glancing ahead. 45 seconds to replenished ammo, she thought, watching Tracer, with her gold eyes burning. 45 seconds. They can't take me in, not in 45 seconds.

"Hey, love," said the smaller Overwatch agent in front of her, the annoying one, the one who kept getting under her skin, no matter what she did, no matter how infuriating she became. "Truce?"

...what? thought the spider, and she blinked.

Tracer lowered her pistols, well aware that the Talon assassin could still punch like a prizefighter. "Truce? Three minutes. I know you've got another 40 seconds or so 'till you have rounds again, I'm askin' for three minutes' time. Truce?"

Widow glanced up towards the flying agent, who saw her look, and in response, nodded back down to the assassin. "Truce," Kestrel said. "Three minutes."

I... what? Truce? What? They have me, and... what have I got to lose? the assassin decided quickly, not lowering her weapon. "Why? So you can take me in to be undone, cherie? I think not."

She spoke! thought Tracer, her already-rapid heart jumping just a little bit more. She spoke. "No! Not that, love," she exclaimed. "It's so I can apologise. Apologise proper, and all that. I'm sorry. I just want to say why."

Widowmaker... hesitated. Surprised, not in the combat way, but in the cognitive dissonance way, and she shook her head and failed to clear it, stuck on the idea of being apologised to, and overrode her reaction, sure she must've heard wrong, and tried again. "Three minutes, so your friends can close in, and..."

"I promise, no, that's not what we're doin'." Tracer pulled her earbud and thumbed her comm. "McCree, Tracer here. No sign of Widowmaker. Sweeping north for further recon." She received a brief "I hear ya" from McCree, and Widowmaker could hear it too, just, from the tiny exposed speaker.

Thirty seconds to bullets. Thirty seconds to possible escape. Or, three minutes to... what? She narrowed her eyes, but lowered her weapon. "Truce." she said. "Three minutes."

"I'm sorry," said Tracer, again. "I've been doin' everything wrong for three years and I am so sorry."

Widowmaker felt confusion, and again, not the uncertainty of battle, but an unfamiliar emotional reaction she did not want to admit she felt. "Pour quoi? We fight, it is what we are for. And you have hardly ever managed to hurt me."

"I think I have, though," replied the teleporter, earnestness clear in her voice. "Emotionally. Not on purpose, I swear. I talked to some..." - she nodded her head back and forth - "...can't say friends, can't say enemies, it's complicated, they're kind of Talon, they're kind of not... 'bout a month ago, and they set me straight about you. And about what I've been doin' wrong."

Mystifying, thought the assassin, but she mimed a bemused look. "Are you talking about the hacker? Are you and the Mexican woman talking about me? My controllers will be interested to know that."

"No," the Englishwoman shook her head. "Not Sombra. It's... look, it's nobody in your Talon. It's complicated and three minutes ain't long enough. But that's not important! What's important is I got shook up, but good. An' I realised I've been tryin' to get to Amélie, and trying to tell her we'd get her back, and I've been an bloomin' idiot because I've not been tryin' to talk to you."

Widowmaker snorted - this is nonsense, she thought, but something scratched at her, something in her head saying this is important - and flipped her rifle onto her shoulder. "I seem to remember a large number of rather one-sided conversations, myself. Even more, including the ones spoken only with bullets."

"Not what I mean. I've been..." she grimaced.C'mon, Lena, she thought, you've been practicing this, don't let's throw a spanner in these works. "You're real. I finally get it. You're a person, not some ... construct. And I've been promising we'd change you into somebody else, just like Talon did to Amélie, and that's wrong, and I'm sorry, and it's gonna stop, starting now."

Widowmaker tilted her head, dismayed, as she picked through what she was hearing. Is... that... why...? she thought, but did not know what to say.

"I've seen you, you talk about how emotions are my weakness, and you say you don't have any, but you do, it's obvious, even if you don't like it, and I've been takin' that as Amélie peekin' out, but it's not, it's you, it's just you, and I'm sorry for... for everything."

"What..." the assassin managed, feeling strangely light, strangely separate from her place on the rooftop, surrounded by her enemies. "...what is the point of this?"

"She'd given up on you," came Kestrel's voice, from above. Two minutes, she thought. "But I hadn't."

"...you?" the assassin looked up. "I do not even know you. You are not a priority target."

"I know," said the flying agent. "But my wife's into you, if it isn't obvious, and - cards on the table - I kinda am too. Giving up made her all depressed, so... here we are."

"Kestrel!" shouted Tracer. "C'mon, I'm not on the pull, that's not why..."

"It is so," retorted Kestrel, "underneath everything."

"...it is so, isn't it?" The Widowmaker smirked, grasping at a little more control of a decidedly out of control situation. "You are trying to, you say, chat me up? Pathetic. We are enemies, and that is all, and you are a fool to think otherwise."

"Oh no," said the teleporter, "Don't pretend this don't go both ways."

"It does not," sneered the assassin. "I am not burdened with such trivialities."

"Oh yeah?" asked Tracer.

"Yes," said Widowmaker.

"If that's true - you've had bullets again for 45 seconds. I don't even got my pistols out, and here I am, all not shot up. Why not?"

What?! thought the assassin, knowing her opponent was right. She hadn't even lost track of time, she just hadn't acted, and she could've. She should've. She grasped for a reason, and settled on, "...we have a truce."

"Okay, maybe. This time. But why ain't I dead? You fought anybody else who lived this long?"

"No," admitted Talon's most effective killer. "But it is not for lack of trying."

"Don't underestimate yourself, love. You've had your chances, I'm number one on Talon's hit list, and you ain't even been takin' the shots, even though I've been promising to take your mind apart and not even knowin' I was doin' it. It's more than I deserve. Thanks, for that."

Widowmaker raised her rifle, Tracer in her sight. "Should I fix it, then? Right now?"

Kestrel froze, gravity blade ready. But Tracer did not raise her pistols, or grin, or dodge, or dance. She held her ground, being very still. "Y'could, y'know. G'wan. I'm right here."

Widowmaker stood, looking through the site, the shot unmissable, time counting away. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. Tick. And, again, confusedly, she lowered her rifle. She couldn't even say why, other than it did not seem... right, to shoot. "70 seconds," she said, softly, almost distractedly, her focus disturbed, disrupted. What is wrong with me?

"Look," said Tracer, "I'm not gonna try to bring you in, not now, maybe not even later. I'll stop ya if I see ya at work, but... c'mon. Y'gotta admit, Talon's no good. Maybe Talon made you, and maybe I'll even give 'em that, but on the whole, they're no good."

From above, Kestrel quietly noted that Widowmaker did not bother trying to defend her makers, or even dismiss the attack. She'd just accepted it as a given. Halfway there, she thought to herself. C'mon, blue girl, show me. Show me you're real.

"From now on," continued Tracer, "I'm promising: no changin' you. No tryin' to turn you into somebody else, not even somebody you maybe used t'be. But if you want out - if you want out, as you - tell me. We'll find a way. And if Overwatch does catch you, somehow, if we bring you in, I will not let them change you against your will."

The woman built from Amélie Lacroix raised an eyebrow, sceptically. "No one in Overwatch would tolerate my existence. None of you..." - no, she thought, I don't believe that, do I? - "...present... company... perhaps excepted."

"I mean it, love," Lena said, as plainly and honestly as she knew how. "I swear. Even if I have to break you out of a Watchpoint myself, they won't change you. It won't happen. I won't let it."

Widowmaker believed her. Something inside her believed Lena's oath, believed every word of it, knew it to be true, and the spider dropped her rifle in shock. "I... I do not believe you," she lied, a hitch in her breath betraying her.

"I think maybe you do," said Kestrel, gently, "even if you don't want to." Oh fuck me, what am I about to say here? she thought, swallowing. "Lena's promise goes for me, too. I'm no Pharah - but I'll provide the air support. We'll get you out." C'mon, c'mon, be real...

Oxton nodded, looking up gratefully at her lover. In for a penny. "I'm not sayin' come with us now, love, I know that's not gonna happen. But if you want out..." started Tracer...

"...we'll get you out. And not to Overwatch," continued Kestrel...

"...unless that's what y'want," finished Tracer.

Widowmaker picked up her rifle. Twenty seconds, she thought, absently.

"Have they ever reconditioned you again, love? After the first time?"

The assassin frowned. "They did... once, after..." She did not finish the sentence.

"Tekhartha?"

"Yes," she nodded. "Because I laughed."

"Did y'like it?" asked the teleporter.

"...no," admitted the assassin, after a pause, resentment in her voice, and above her, Kestrel silently cheered, clenching her firsts, Yes!

"We wouldn't try," repeated Tracer. "I get it now. I swear."

"Never," said the flying agent. "We both swear," she said, in for a pound.

Widowmaker looked down at her Kiss, ready, pulse rounds fully charged and ready to go. Enough chain regeneration to get away, as well - three minutes is a lot of time, if you think about it, isn't it? Talon, signalling, in her headset, trying to raise her, trying to make sure she was alive and, if not well, at least functional. This could all be a new lie, she thought, warring against herself. But... it also might not be.

After Tekhartha, she'd learned now not to tip off her controllers. It wasn't the only thing they'd missed.

"Your three minutes are up," she said. "And I do not trust your masters, either." She threw her rifle onto her back, looked up at Kestrel, over at Tracer, and leapt up into the air, but not far, chain assisted to a nearby perch. "But your offer... a third way, all of us free from Overwatch as well as Talon..." she called, as her chain rewound, and she threw it again. "...I will consider it." And she vanished into the night.

Kestrel flew down to Tracer, eyes wide, after the assassin disappeared into the darkness. "I... I think we might've done it."

Tracer nodded her head, half in shock, but entirely in agreement. "I'm gobsmacked, love - I think we really might've. But... I... it can't be that easy."

"It wouldn't be," her wife agreed. "We made some hard promises. We'd likely have to quit Overwatch ourselves. Become freelancers, maybe."

Tracer shrugged, thinking of the many possibilities - and difficulties - involved. "Winston wouldn't throw us out, love - it's not like any of it's legal anyway. And even if he does, there's good money to be made in adventuring, I should know." She started shaking, as it all sank in. "Gor blimey, Em. What'd we just do?"

"Threw away our careers?" Emily giggled, weakly. "And maybe... just maybe... started saving some lives, too?"

Lena's half-grin popped back onto her face. "One life in particular, y'mean?"

"Yes," her lover confirmed with a grin of her own. "In particular. But also her targets."

"Hoo," breathed the teleporter, shaking tension out of her arms, out of her hands. "It's a big gamble. Long odds. We must be starkers."

"Better odds than we had a month ago."

Tracer snorted. "No question about that."

"None." Her lover put her arms around her, and kissed her nose, gently. "C'mon, sweetie, finish shaking it off. Risk is what we do, isn't it?"

Lena let out a little 'heh' sound, and rested her forehead against Emily's.

"And put your earbud back in," said the ginger. "McCree's getting curious about our sweep."

"Righto." She puffed out a big breath of air. "We've made this bed, might as well lie in it. North it is!" She keyed her comms. "McCree, Tracer here, your signal got week, you say somethin'? ... Yeah, we're still sweeping north. No sign of her yet - I think she's gone home. ... Right. We'll keep looking a bit more, then circle back in a few. Tracer out."

From closer than either of them imagined, the Widowmaker listened intently, laser microphone bouncing off the HVAC's metal shell. The part of her - and it was part of her - that had believed Lena Oxton implicitly sat proud, vindicated, and a little smugly in her mind. And the parts that did not...

...began, most reluctantly...

...to contemplate hope.

solarbird: (tracer)
Levelled up in writer today, apparently - got a comment from a guy on AO3 that I'd kept him up all night as he binge-read on overcoming the fear of spiders and Old Soldiers.

Also, I turned a game completely around yesterday by showing up as Widowmaker, much like I often do by showing up as Tracer. They were getting steamrolled, and then I replaced someone, and then they weren't, and we won. I've also now made an enemy Widowmaker retire from the field. My scoped percentage isn't climbing much lately, which bugs me, but my critical hit per game count most definitely is. Widowmaker play is showing up in more of my highlights, and I'm occasionally getting Plays of the Game.

I'm getting close to being willing to take Widowmaker into competitive play. I'm not there yet. But... I'm closing in.
solarbird: (Default)

Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and at first couldn't or wouldn't say why. Her first breakthrough in explaining herself came in a talk with Lena Oxton. Now, a few days later, she is back for her daily check-in with Dr. Angela "Mercy" Ziegler, who seems to understand nothing, and she has run out of patience.

This is the fifth in a series of stories set in the It is Not Easy to Explain, She Said continuity, a timeline largely compliant with known canon as of July 2017, which is when I wrote and posted the first story. It is largely canon-compliant with what we knew pre-Doomfist/Masquerade, and is not part of the on overcoming the fear of spiders AU.

[This story is set in time just after the first story in this series, "It is not easy to explain, said the Widowmaker."]

[AO3 link]


Angela showed her patient a photograph - a candid shot, taken backstage at the ballet in Paris, the two of them with her ballet friends, everyone tired, but happy, after their season premiere in 2069.

"Do you remember that day, Amélie?"

The Widowmaker glared pointedly at Dr. Ziegler. "I am not Amélie."

The doctor nodded her head, and made a show of contrition. "Widowmaker."

The assassin kept her frown, recognising being humoured for what it was, but carried on. "I... it is not easy to explain."

"Why don't you give it your best try?"

"I have tried. Repeatedly. You do not listen."

"I have listened to every word you have said, I swear to you." She pointed at her copious notes. "And studied them deeply."

"Then you do not bother to hear," she waved dismissively at those same notes, "and I am tired of pretending you do."

Angela sighed. Lena had told her, in surprisingly emphatic terms, about their conversation in the rec room, that Widowmaker was not Amélie and she should get used to that. But... she couldn't not try to reach through to the woman she'd known. Amélie had to be in there, somewhere, she was sure of it. "But you remember so very many things from when you were her."

Widowmaker did not snarl, not at all, but instead went very, very cold. She was good at cold. "I was never her."

"You were, until Talon kidnapped you."

"I did not yet exist," Widowmaker said, impatiently. She had grown tired of this, and she knew it - even someone built for patience ran out of it eventually. Worse, she had finally been understood by someone, and the thought of it made her slow breaths almost catch in her chest because finally, finally, someone knew, someone understood, and she knew she was finished with entertaining those who simply would not see.

"But so much of what you are is your memories. Surely, you..."

"Yes," she said, crossly, "I have access to those memories. But I do not remember them. They are not my memories. They are just in my head, and I hate them."

Dr. Ziegler pressed on. "I know that Talon programmed you to revile your old life. But it is still yours. I think if we could together examine those..."

"No!" the Widowmaker shouted, now done, done walking on eggshells for these people, done being the most polite her she knew how. "Idiot!" she shouted, and stood, grabbing the smaller woman by the collar. "You cannot understand what it is to have someone else's memories in your head. I am the one who hates them. Talon did not make me hate them, they wanted me to have those memories. It was necessary for my missions. But they are not me and they are not mine, and I wish they had taken them all."

Angela gasped, and, for the first time in any of these sessions, felt genuinely frightened, and Widowmaker smiled a little, pleased at her reaction. "Good," she said, putting the medic back down. "Perhaps a little fear will break through your memories."

The Swiss woman panted, eyes still wide. "...but Amé... we..." and she stopped herself, then thought, No, now, if there is ever a chance, it is now, she'd never seen Amé, Widowmaker, so emotional, so ... alive. "Do you remember what we were..."

"I know," said the assassin, with just a little calculated unkindness in her voice. She calmed herself, partly using her own internal controls, partly using the meditative thoughts Tracer had shown her. She permitted herself to sigh, as much for effect as anything else. "I know how you felt, and I know how... she felt for you. Talon planned to use that - and me - against you again, someday."

"...you know?" said Angela, eyes wide, as close to praying as she'd ever come. Do I see you, Amélie? Please come home, please...

Widowmaker leaned forward, close, taking Angela's chin in her left hand. "I know all of it," she said, quietly. "Your first kiss, in the mountains, the scent of late snow and new pine and spring flowers. Your first time making love together, in the south of France, in the autumn heat, the tastes of strawberry preserves and bagette and cheese and wine, the intoxicating feeling of knowing you were a little too close to the next hut, knowing they might hear you, and not caring, maybe, even, hoping they would, so you could stop pretending, so everyone would know..."

Mercy gasped, and reached out to the assassin, to hold her, to touch her again after so long, "Amélie..."

Those golden eyes locked onto hers, and the spider, with no trace of warmth, and maybe even an edge of cruelty, quietly continued, "But I do not care." She dropped her hand away from Angela's chin. "She felt for you. It may have been infatuation. It may even have been love. But I do not love you."

The blue assassin folded her arms as she sat back down onto the examination table, and she looked to the side, anger and resentment clear in face and tone.

"And I hate knowing that she did."

Angela's heart, so close to hope, shattered, and she sobbed, suddenly, a wet sound filled with pain. Staggered, she fell, hard, into the examination room's chair, crying, delicately, but shaking, hoping for comfort as none came.

The spider sat quietly on the examination table, waiting, apparently patiently, apparently calmly, for the Swiss woman to compose herself. She hated diving into the dead woman's memories, and she, too, needed to collect herself, even if she hid it better than even the notoriously professional Angela Ziegler. After a few minutes, she spoke again, a cool and patient question; "Are we done for the day yet, doctor?"

Bleary-eyed from tears, Dr. Ziegler looked up, and, for the first time, saw the Talon defector, the legendary assassin named Widowmaker, the strange woman who had come in from the cold, sitting there calm and undisturbed, and knew, for the first time, in her heart, that her lover was indeed gone. Closing her eyes, she shuddered, gritting her teeth, thinking, Control yourself, doctor, she has been trying to tell you, and it is not her fault you would not listen. She took a hard, deep breath, and reopened her eyes, but could not raise them, gazing instead at the floor. "Yes, Widowmaker. I will see you again tomorrow at the usual time," she managed, her voice sounding high and distant to her, but steady.

"Thank you." The Widowmaker slipped off the examination table, took off the gown, put back on her uniform, and stepped to the door to leave.

As she touched the exit pad, she paused, just for a moment.

"If it is worth anything," the assassin said, not turning, but tilting her head just a little to the side as the door opened, "...I am honestly sorry for your loss."

"Just go," whispered the doctor, "while I have this much composure. Please."

The door closed behind the blue woman as she stepped into the hall. As it shut, she could hear Lena stepping up to the Widowmaker, hope in her voice, asking her how it went, and Angela cried again, for herself, for her lost Amélie, for what they'd had and never taken, and she cancelled her afternoon teleconference, leaving an apologetic note about nothing but apologies. Then she keyed Fareeha's comm, and her other love answered almost at once, and saw her face, and understood, and came over immediately, and held her in her arms while she cried and cried and cried.

"It is never easy to lose family," the rocketeer said, after a while, gently rocking her partner, knowing that loss all too well. "Even after so many years."

Angela buried her face against Fareeha's chest, sniffing, but not as much as before. "I mourned her when she was first lost, and yet, here I am, a complete mess. I am a fool."

Fareeha chuckled. No one really thought of her or Angela as being very emotional people, really, and no one else - if either of them could help it - would ever see either one of them like this. It was something they shared together, it was their bond. "Yes," she answered quietly, "you are. We are both secretly fools, together."

Angela cried a little more, but laughed a little, as well. "I think... I think I am feeling a little better."

The Egyptian woman petted her lover's head. "Are you sure?"

The doctor nodded, and turned to lean back against her flying angel. "I think so. I think... I've finally let go." She was rewarded with a kiss on the top of her head, and almost chuckled, holding her love's arms against her, tightly. "Just ... don't make me let you go."

"Never," said the flying agent.

The combat medic looked at the clock. "There is still time to eat, and I cancelled my entire afternoon... why don't we go in to town, for lunch?"

Fareeha smiled, and kissed her girlfriend's head again. "Why, Doctor Ziegler, are you asking me on a date?"

"I am," she sniffed.

"Well, Doctor," said the rocketeer, hugging her girlfriend tightly, "It would be my pleasure. Shall we?"

"Yes," Angela said, dabbing away her tears, ready to stand up again, ready to be somewhere, anywhere else. She took a deep breath, and put on a smile she at least partly felt. "Let us go."

solarbird: (widow)
[personal profile] ninquelen has posted some lovely photographs of dewy spider webs over on their journal; I particularly like the first, fourth, and eighth. You should take a moment to look. There are also some nicely-done Ghibli-themed macro photographs.

In other news, it is a cool and soft day with gentle rain. I'm sitting next to an opened window listening to the water and feeling the air. Autumn has won, again. Finally.

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