solarbird: (widow)

Alliances, it has been said, are at their weakest on the brink of defeat, and on the brink of victory. After defeating the China Sea omnium, the gods of Oasis offered their help to Russia, to defeat their own Siberian threat, and Russia accepted that offer - but made additional secret plans of their own.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Conflict
Edda 14b: What Would You Have Us Do?

solarbird and bzarcher

As the details of what happened in Russia begin to spread, the Gods must make a decision. Will they be vengeful? Or will they offer Katya Volskaya as chance to stop the war before it begins?

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Conflict is a continuance of The Arc of Ascension, The Arc of Creation, and The Armourer and the Living Weapon. It will be told in a series of eddas, sagas, interludes, fragments, texts, and cantos, all of which serve their individual purposes. To follow the story as it appears, please subscribe to the series.
solarbird: (Default)

Alliances, it has been said, are at their weakest on the brink of defeat, and on the brink of victory. After defeating the China Sea omnium, the gods of Oasis offered their help to Russia, to defeat their own Siberian threat, and Russia accepted that offer - but made additional secret plans of their own.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Conflict
Interlude 2: Moments in Time and Space

solarbird and bzarcher

These are moments, nine of them, across space, and time.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Conflict is a continuance of The Arc of Ascension, The Arc of Creation, and The Armourer and the Living Weapon. It will be told in a series of eddas, sagas, interludes, fragments, texts, and cantos, all of which serve their individual purposes. To follow the story as it appears, please subscribe to the series.
solarbird: (Default)

The new gods have risen, ready, at last, to grapple with a world of heroes. Moira O'Deorain herself has been reborn, now made one of the creations her previous self meant to rule, and she works with her wife - the goddess Mercy - and their ensemble of new deities to remake the world, to improve it... for everyone.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Ascension
Saga 7: Dancing Around the Table

solarbird and bzarcher

Korea hangs on the precipice of destruction, waiting for the next attack of the Giant Omnics created by the omnium in the China Sea. MEKA Lieutenant Hana Song, formerly of the reborn Overwatch, stands as one of their best and brightest hopes for a future free of fear. But when an old friend comes with an unbelievable offer, she has to ask herself how far she is willing to go, and who she is willing to trust.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Ascension is a continuance of Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Creation, a side-step sequel to The Armourer and the Living Weapon. It will be told in a series of eddas, sagas, interludes, fragments, texts, and cantos, all of which serve their individual purposes. To follow it as it appears, please subscribe to the series.

solarbird: (tracer)

The new gods have risen, ready, at last, to grapple with a world of heroes. Moira O'Deorain herself has been reborn, now made one of the creations her previous self meant to rule, and she works with her wife - the goddess Mercy - and their ensemble of new deities to remake the world, to improve it... for everyone.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Ascension
Fragment i1,1: Power Play

solarbird and bzarcher

The gods of Oasis have launched their Concordat, offering promises of advanced medical technology, miracle treatments, sharing their advancements with the world. But as the remnants of Overwatch gather their allies to observe the proceedings, they are convinced these “gifts” must come at a hefty price.

Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Ascension is a continuance of Of Gods and Monsters: The Arc of Creation, a side-step sequel to The Armourer and the Living Weapon. It will be told in a series of eddas, sagas, interludes, fragments, texts, and cantos, all of which serve their individual purposes. To follow it as it appears, please subscribe to the series.

solarbird: (tracer)

Of Gods and Monsters
Saga 4: (Caught in) Suspension
solarbird and bzarcher

Even old-line Talon is starting to get nervous about Moira and Angela's activities, particularly regarding Efi Oladale, and Maximilien, Kamaia and Jabari begin working to secure their own positions both inside - and outside - of the terrorist organisation.


Of Gods and Monsters is a side-step/alternate-ending sequel to The Armourer and the Living Weapon, told in a series of eddas, sagas, fragments, texts, and cantos, all of which serve their individual purposes. Eddas and Sagas appear late Sunday/early Monday, fragments, texts, and standalone cantos appear Thursday and/or Friday. To follow the story as a whole, please subscribe to the series.

Because this is a co-authored work, I'm only posting links here.

solarbird: (Default)

Of Gods and Monsters
Saga 1: Winter Kills
solarbird and bzarcher

Overwatch - and Fareeha Amari - have discovered that the missing Angela Ziegler is alive, but not necessarily well, not necessarily herself, at least, not the herself they knew, and Fareeha Amari will take whatever steps are necessary to get her back. But what she and Overwatch both do not know is...

...Angela feels exactly the same way.


Of Gods and Monsters is a side-step/alternate-ending sequel to The Armourer and the Living Weapon, told in a series of eddas, sagas, fragments, texts, and cantos, all of which serve their individual purposes. Eddas and Sagas appear late Sunday/early Monday, fragments, texts, and standalone cantos appear Thursday and/or Friday. To follow the story as a whole, please subscribe to the series.

Because this is a co-authored work, I'm only posting links here.

solarbird: (Default)

I remind everyone - for the final time - that the AO3 archive warnings and tags are there for a reason. Please consider them appropriately before continuing. [View warnings and tags]

As these final chapters form the climax of the story, they will all be placed below cuts. This does not indicate anything about whether they are worksafe, though some will not be.

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]

against your first and better judgement )
solarbird: (tracer)
Chapters 2 ("the far too many we have lost) and 3 ("that which may yet be found") of Requiem have been posted; the story is now complete.

http://archiveofourown.org/works/13801161/chapters/31730745
solarbird: (tracer)

For the last little while, bzarcher and I have been quietly working on a three-chapter novelette set in his The Wizard Triumphant series - an Overwatch AU in which both Lena "Tracer" Oxton and Amélie "Widowmaker" Lacroix were reacquired by Talon, and rebuilt to their... preferred... specifications.

There are three chapters; the first is up now, the second will be posted tomorrow (Monday, 25 February 2018), the third the day after, on Tuesday. Because it's a collaboration, I'm not going to post the entire story here - I'm going to link back to AO3, instead.


The Wizard Triumphant, part six: Requiem
Chapter 1: your attendance is hardly expected
by bzarcher and solarbird

The more Angela Ziegler spoke to Slipstream - the woman who had once been Lena Oxton, before Talon acquired her - the more she realized that she needed to say goodbye to the friend she had lost.
[Read on AO3]

solarbird: (widow)

I have changed the tags on AO3.

Previously, this story had the "hurt no comfort" tag attached, but that was always a bit of a caution, because I didn't want anyone going in without warnings that this is in many ways not a happy story. But having written the ending, and the coda, I have been told: while it is not a happy story, there is too much comfort - important comfort - in amongst the hurt, and so, I have removed the tag.

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]


Oilliphéist rolled over in her bed, alone. She could sleep, if she really pushed herself into it, and it would be adequate sleep - but that's all it would be, and she wanted better.

She missed Widowmaker's presence. She missed her counterpart, her companion, her other self, and having been apart for so long, to have to split time like this... she didn't like it.

She wasn't even mad at Tracer. Who wouldn't want to be next to her? How could anyone not want that? Lena just had the good sense to go for it, that's all. Emily smiled a little as she thought about that, and rolled over again.

She's already become everything I'd hoped she'd be, the assassin mused, the boat dual a few nights before flashing across her mind, and well on her way to who she could be, without even any real remaking. She took a long breath. I can't wait 'till we really all get to fight together properly, it makes me want to...

She shivered and then laughed to herself, softly, thinking of the night after São Paulo, when she and Lena both decided to entertain their common lover, suddenly falling on each other as well, ravenously, not love, just need, just lust, but none the less so satisfying for it...

I know what I want, she realised. I didn't mind... so... maybe she won't, either.

All but silently she rose out of bed, crossed the hall, and entered Tracer's bedroom in the temporary apartment that already felt so very much like home. Lena had left the door open, as she was wont to do, and Emily knew already that somehow, none of them set of each other's defences, not as long as they were calm and quiet, and she was rewarded with the view of her spider holding her pet, big spoon and little spoon, calm, at peace - a small hold of serenity in the middle of a mad world.

Ever so carefully, she stepped over and onto the bed, under the covers, nuzzling against the back of Widowmaker's neck, and her lover rolled, still mostly asleep, onto her back, nuzzling into Oilliphéist's hair, breathing in reflexively, and stilled again, at peace.

And Emily slept deep, and well.

Some hours later, Lena woke, slowly, eyes still mostly closed, sun not yet risen, but the first hints of morning light just peeking their way past the blinds. She opened her eyes the slightest bit more, then blinked, seeing Emily across from her, on Danielle's right, asleep.

Her eyebrows furrowed for a second as she wordlessly took the sight in, unalarmed but briefly wondering if maybe this is why she was awake before either of the others, for once. She bit her lower lip and nodded, just the tiniest bit, an unvoiced assent, a silent yes, before closing her eyes again and going back to sleep.

An hour later, Lena woke again, the room a little brighter, Emily stirring, her eyelashes fluttering open, as Lena's eyes opened as well, copper meeting silver, halfway.

"Hiya," Lena said, softly - not a challenge, not even a question, just a greeting, with a a small but genuine smile.

"Hey," whispered Emily, smiling in return. "G'morning."

"G'morning." Lena reached over, gently and without active thought, and ran her hand through Oilliphéist's hair. Emily's eyes closed again and she breathed out, a long, slow exhalation of pleasure. She nuzzled gently into Tracer's hand, the cool touch of her lips soothing against the teleporter's palm, and together, they waited for their beloved to awaken, before - again, together - they would face the day.

-----

Hana Song frowned across visual comms, having read Tracer's mission report overnight. "This is not 'protecting Widowmaker,' Lena. This isn't being 'backup.'"

"I seem t'recall sayin' from the start it wouldn't be just that," Lena retorted, irritation in her voice.

Morrison nodded his agreement with the MEKA pilot. "You weren't supposed to take the lead."

Song scowled, encouraged to hold her ground. "You're supposed to be an observer and maybe support, not DPS."

"I think it sounds pretty durn good," McCree interjected. "Nice improvisation, good use of the landscape..."

"Thanks, luv," Tracer said, with a little grin and salute.

"That's exactly what I don't like about it," Morrison snapped, as Lena leaned back, frowning, across the table, with one of her two counterparts, the other, outside, in the next room, waiting. "You seem awfully happy about having killed this man."

"Kinda the point, wannit? I'm RAF. You see a way to complete a mission safely, with no risk to civilian life - you take it."

"Yeah. You do. But..."

"I didn't hear you complaining about those Omnic troopers."

"Hardly the same thing."

"Exactly the same thing."

"They were in violation of treaty - and they attacked you," Song pointed out.

Lena's mouth twisted a little bit between sadness and defiance. "Just as dead either way."

Jack nodded, "That's the first hint of regret I've seen out of you for any of this."

"Don't regret it, luv. None of it. Unless Mei's data's changed..."

The climate scientist looked up. "It has not," she said, wishing very much that it had.

Lena nodded, gratefully. "...then we don't have much choice, do we?"

"Lena, I'm..." Soldier: 76 rubbed the bridge of his nose, high, between his eyes, "I'm not angry. I'm worried about you."

"Worried I don't know what I'm doin'? Worried I'm too good at it? Worried I'm taking that Blackwatch patch too serious?"

Morrison put his hands together, and his elbows on the conference table, and leaned forward, eyes closed. "I've killed a lot of people, Lena. A whole lot of people. Too many."

Tracer paused, and frowned a little, but not angrily.

"I've been glad I did it. I've been convinced it was the right thing - the necessary thing - and for the most part, my conscience is pretty clear." He leaned back, eyes open again, looking at Tracer's copper eyes. "But I've never enjoyed doing it. It's never been... fun."

Oxton nodded, chewing for a moment on her upper lip, as Danielle smirked dismissively beside her. Your emotions make you vulnerable, echoed the remnants of her conditioning, as she mentally batted it aside.

"Don't cross that line, Lena. Reyes did. Ogundimu did. I came... closer than I want to admit."

"I remind you," said the Widowmaker, "that I am the one who took that particular shot."

"And enjoyed it, I bet," Hana said.

"It was exquisite," replied the assassin, her voice warm. "Perfect."

The small smile Lena flashed her lover made Winston flinch just a little, and he reached across the table and took Tracer's hand. "I... Lena... don't lose yourself, okay? That's all we're talking about. We are working with some..." she hesitated a moment, looking at the Widowmaker, who arched an eyebrow amusedly, "...pretty frightening people, and doing some pretty questionable things. Just don't forget who you really are."

Widowmaker chortled at the softened word choice, but Tracer smiled. "Aw, luv - you know better than that." She squeezed Winston's hand, a wistful expression on her face. "There'll be time to sort all that out soon. Get this stashed away, then afterwards... anybody know a good therapist?" she joked.

"Yes," nodded the Ecopoint survivor. "I do."

Ouch, Lena thought. "Sorry, Mei, didn't think about that..."

"Oh, it's okay. I'm sure she will accept you as a referral. And she follows very strict medical privacy rules."

Tracer snorted a short laugh. "Also didn't mean it literally, luv, but - if it'll make you feel better, I'll give her a call once all's said and done."

"You could even do it before that. I will call her today, to let her know," she replied.

Winston nodded. "I think that would be a very good idea."

Lena rolled her eyes. "Really?"

"Yes," said Winston, firmly.

Lena smirked a little. "All right, big guy. Fine. I'll give her a ring tomorrow. Happy?"

"Not really," he said, "But it's a start. Thank you."

"When's the next mission?" Morrison asked, a hint of reluctance in his voice.

"A few days. Don't know the details yet. But now we've reached the board, everything's gonna move quickly."

"Good," nodded the former Strike Commander.

"Yeah," echoed Hana Song. "This sooner this is over, the better."

[An hour later]

"I know they mean well, but cor blimey, that was grating," Tracer complained, over lunch - curry on chips, of course, courtesy the only English takeaway in the city, picked up and taken home. She leaned back, into the sunbeam shining through the western window.

"They didn't appreciate your work?" Oilliphéist said, poking at a reasonably convincing Cornish pasty, from the same location. "Philistines. I thought it was bloody marvellous. You looked brilliant out there."

"Aw." She smiled, a little, sipping from her water. "Thanks."

"So - y'gonna do it?"

"Do wot?"

"Call that therapist," Emily reminded.

"Right, that." Lena shrugged. "I suppose. No harm in it, yeh?"

"Not the most fun people in the world, therapists," Emily replied. "But it's up to you."

"I wasn't going to bring this up," the Widowmaker added, amused, spreading cheese across another piece of baguette. "But I must say, their reactions... I still enjoy being - how should I put it... I enjoy being..." she waved her knife around, a pointless motion, "...a little bit feared? Perhaps you should consider the value in it."

Tracer laughed, despite herself. "Mei did jump a bit every time you said something, didn't she? Kinda funny. But... you're gonna have t'let that go, love, leastways within Overwatch. S'bad for teamwork." She picked up another chip, and threw it into her mouth.

"But not in public!" Oilliphéist insisted, with a grin. "You're a legend, sweet - you've got a reputation to maintain! And, of course, scared people don't aim so well."

"I know," the spider replied, smiling wickedly. "Believe me - I know."

-----

Angela Ziegler rubbed her eyes, or, at least, around them - being a doctor, she knew better than to rub them directly. This is brilliant work. But so complex.

She cycled through sets of responses, tracking Lena's enhanced nerves through her body. So much interconnection, and yet, still so fast. I can't imagine how much faster it'd be if all this wasn't...

She blinked - Oh! - as the pieces fell together, the realisation tingling down her spine. Oh, this is brilliant, why do you have to be on the wrong side of everything, Moira? This is... it makes a self-stabilising cycle! Of course! And every perturbation is felt almost instantly across the whole system, because each one upsets the entire cycle, so reflex actions and analysis are also distributed, shared...

"Ahhhhh," she breathed, leaning back in her chair. "Moira... you are a genius."

"You found something?" asked Dr. Ngcobo, her lab's peripheral nervous system specialist.

Ziegler nodded. "I've figured out the basic operating structure. It's... oh, it is very good. This is... so clever. It is breathtaking."

Knowing, now, how it worked, she could filter data to show the system in action, and did, both in physicality and abstraction. "Do you see, do you see, the stimulus response? How it's shared, spread across the entire structure?"

"That is astounding," he replied, in all seriousness. "There's... not even really a periphery anymore, it's so integrated - at least, on this level. All of this is unlike anything I've ever studied."

"Well," she said, cheerfully, smiling. "I think I know where to start, then - right here."

"Good a place as any."

Angela leaned over in her chair, pulling up the armrest, watching the abstracted system move in time with the physical system, replaying the session from the beginning, through the new view, seeing reactions spread, so quickly, so cleanly, cycles building upon cycles, forming curves, settling back down, stabilising themselves.

It's beautiful, she thought, as they watched the cycles form and dissipate. Genuinely, just... beautiful.

"May I add another layer of abstraction?" Dr. Ngcobo asked. "There's a differentiation function that's useful, sometimes, when studying self-stabilising feedback systems like this. It was developed for studying vertigo problems, but I think it might..."

"Please - do!" replied Dr. Ziegler, and he did, on the station next to hers, and they brought the three displays together. The third display formed a ring that rotated in three dimensions as Lena's nervous system reacted to stimulus. She started the replay over, watching the ring vibrate, shimmer, moving slowly around its axes.

"It's memorising," she said, aloud, as they watched the abstractions play out.

Huh, she thought, as the ring reacted sharply to one particular stimulus, throwing itself sharply along one axis, before drifting back, and a little past, where it had been before. "...I don't know this particular filter... what was that?"

Dr. Ngcobo leaned in, confused, and replayed that segment of data, watching more closely. It only showed up in the second abstraction layer - at least, as an obvious phenomenon. He stood up, and scratched the back of his head. "That is very strange. My first guess would be that the filter was not designed for this sort of application, and it is just noise. But if it is not that... then..." He put his left hand to his mouth, playing with his lower lip, "...I have absolutely no idea. What's the stimulus?"

"Already bringing it up." She played the short audio track - a snippet of traditional song in Irish Gaelic - in synchronisation with the collected data, watching the ring react when the singer hit her low notes, and she frowned.

"I'm not getting it," said the specialist. "It's just singing. What is that language?"

"Gaelic. And I'm not sure I get it either," replied the head research scientist, "but I have some ideas that I do not like. Not one little bit."

-----

"The police have ruled Korpal's death an accident, and Deshmukh's, a murder. They're looking for a mugger, but..."

"You've got to be kidding me," Reyes growled in his deepest hiss.

"I'm just relaying the police reports," the Talon field operative replied. "Don't kill the messenger."

"They don't know who was piloting the Brazilian boat and there's no second body and they're still calling it an accident?"

Across comms, the agent shrugged. "Everybody knows Sanjay had a lot of enemies in São Paulo, but nobody wants an assassination on record at the Grand Prix, so..."

"So everyone involved has reasons to keep this quiet. I just didn't expect they'd be so blatant about it." He covered his eyes with his right hand, and rubbing his temples for a moment, before speaking again.

"Get me every piece of video and every still image with a face that you can find from that party. Particularly of the boat launch, but cover the whole area. Also, throw in whatever you can find from outside, nearby, starting about an hour before."

"Yes, sir."

"And get me anything and everything you can from inside the Paddock Club the previous two days. Whoever did this probably cased them in advance, and we'll start there."

"Sir. I'll forward material to the facial recognition database as I get it."

"Copies also to me directly."

"Acknowledged."

"Reaper out," he said, cutting the channel.

Photographs began arriving in under a minute, and the former head of Blackwatch sat down in his chair and began flipping through them, one at a time, sorting the known from the unknown in his head, looking for faces, for body shapes, or any part of anyone he might possibly know.

You're in here somewhere, pilot, he thought, leaning back as pictures flickered by. And I will find you.

solarbird: (widow)

The Armourer and the Living Weapon, Chapter 5:
"'Hello, cherie,' said the Widowmaker, quietly, in her ear"

I'm posting this a little early because tomorrow is a very busy day, mostly for boring reasons.

[AO3 link]


Definitely not here, thought Oilliphéist, scanning the apartment through her infravision sights. But not so long gone, either.

She'd had no trouble identifying Lena Oxton's King's Row apartment. Tracer's recurring presence had never been a secret to anyone, and Widowmaker already had a pretty decent estimate of the location, before. Emily keened a little, inside, thinking of her, and her absence, and shook it off, floating back up above it, happily. Soon, she thought, smiling again.

She ghosted over to the most likely balcony, and looked in. Definitely the Oxton apartment - who else would have a charging station appropriate for a chronal accelerator? Alarmed, almost certainly, thought the assassin. Police won't be an issue, but other Overwatch agents might be. We should move quickly, when we do.

Her comm vibrated, silently, the haptics tapping against her skin, and she enabled her earpiece. "Oilliphéist here," she subvocalised.

"Hello, cherie," said Widowmaker, quietly, in her ear. "I have missed you so very, very much."

Emily gasped, entire body tingling, spinning around from the glass door, no longer subvocalising. "Oh, oh, oh, beloved, where are you? Are you nearby?" She reactivated her infravision, scanning quickly around her, near and far, without finding her lover. "I don't see you..."

"I am not where I think you are. You are in London, I suspect?"

"Of course, Moira sent..." said the newer assassin, without thinking, then, upon thinking, not caring she said it. "You are not?"

"No. Not at the moment. But I am desperate to see you."

"I am coming, I promise, I will rescue you, I will bring you home, I swear," the armourer said. "Did you get my message, the one I left via the camera?"

"Yes, I did - you were right, that one was mine."

"Can you speak freely? Are you being monitored? Tell me how to retrieve you."

"Yes, but yes - Tracer is here - and I do not need rescue. My plan has been to rescue you, once you received my gift."

"Once I re..." She blinked, and thought, and thought again, and fire, lovely fire, raged through her mind. "You... you arranged all this?"

"I was certain they would accept your petition, if I disappeared. I'm sorry you got hurt on the way out, but - it did, at least, appear to provide cover."

Emily sank to her knees, shaken, more than she imagined she could be. "You... you did all that, all on your own, just for me?"

"Yes. I was so afraid it did not work, and then, I finally saw you..."

"Oh, beloved, thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you, I am so happy, all the time, everything is..." she stretched, feeling her body, feeling every cell and sinew and rod, "...wonderful."

"They... did not disable your emotions, as they did with me? You do not need that kind of rescue?"

"No. Aunt Moira had a free hand, she left me happiness - and she wanted to give that to you, too. But I told her, there was no need, we'd already done that ourselves, oh, love, you're so brilliant..."

It worked, thought the Widowmaker, back in Gibraltar, gasping softly, quietly, sinking back into the console's chair. It worked. She smiled, as broadly as she had at Lena when she realised they'd both played each other into actual love, and Lena nodded, and squeezed the senior assassin's hand.

"Tracer," Emily said, a hard edge to her voice, "Since you are listening: you will release Widowmaker, at once. Let her come to me, freely, and I will allow you to live."

Lena shrugged, hands in the air, uncertainty on her face, and mouthed, "You gonna tell her? 'Cause she needs to know." Widowmaker nodded her agreement.

"Emily - I am not a prisoner. Lena has been aiding me in this. At first... we were using each other, but..." she swallowed, "...it became more than that, much like it did with you. I still love you, more than anything else, even the kill, but... I also love her. We want you to come be with us, and away from Talon. Talon would never permit what I have become, and I will not go back to what I was."

Oilliphéist frowned, and tilted her head, and thought, What matters most?, and thought some more. "Everything else aside... you still love me."

"More than anything I have ever known in my world."

Bliss washed over the newer assassin like luminescent ocean waves, and she closed her eyes and rocked herself, diving through the joy. "And her?"

"You'll notice... she is still alive."

Oilliphéist breathed out long and slow, accepting the statement on an almost primal level, knowing exactly what the Widowmaker meant - yes, she thought, she does, more than she is even willing to admit. She nodded, and smiled, again, though no one could see. Ah, my spider, she thought, always weaving such beautiful webs. "Then... then I don't care. If you want her, too, I don't mind. But we have to meet, in person, to work this out. Just us. I have to know you aren't being... coerced."

"Where?"

"Hoof & Haunch, King's Row, seven o'clock tomorrow night? They're already used to your new girlfriend, surely they can handle two women showing up in blue..."

My home turf, Lena thought, and smirked. And it'll be two on one, if things go south. Easy peasy. But let's not count chickens. She looked at Jesse, Jesse who'd done this kind of thing before, Jesse who had experience in King's Row, Jesse, who could shoot flies off horses at range, and mouthed, "Backup?" And he nodded, and Lena smiled. Three on one. She turned to Winston and mouthed, "Pilot and backup?" And he nodded as well. Four on one. She tries anything, she'll never know what hit her. We've got this.

"I'm willing if you are," said the Overwatch agent.

Over comms, Oilliphéist's voice, or no, Emily's, specifically, again, so familiar. "How 'bout it, Blue? Is it a date?"

Widowmaker narrowed her eyes, weighing possibilities. Emily couldn't call on Talon for support - the video showed that clearly. It would be her, possibly a few of Moira's personal agents... and not much else. All she'd need to do would be to convince Emily there wasn't any going back, and her original plan would come together, exactly as she'd planned.

I overreacted to the video, she decided. We can fix this. Most of it has already fixed itself. They could repair the rest of it, she felt sure.

Widowmaker smiled. "It sounds wonderful. We'll see you tomorrow."

"I can't wait."

-----

Lena wandered the halls of Watchpoint Gibraltar, late at night, alone, carrying Widowmaker's Kiss on her back, the assassin asleep on the double bed in in Lena's new quarters. Even with much of the new Overwatch together in one place, and generally one building, the facility felt cavernous.

She walked up to the old control centre, lately Winston's office, and looked out the bevelled window. Her flyer sat quietly, below. Tomorrow, they'd take a heavier craft, one with more gear, enough for Winston to scan for incoming hostiles from Talon, or Vishkar, or whoever else might be oh so very interested in the two products of Moira's Widowmaker process.

A door opened, and closed, behind her, and she looked back, over her left shoulder. "Hello," said Winston, loping down the hall. "I thought I heard somebody out here."

"Y'have good ears, y'know that?"

"I do."

Tracer grinned. "Ready for tomorrow, big guy?"

"Are you?"

"I think so."

"I'm surprised you're out here alone, given that you're carrying her rifle. She didn't seem to want it out of her sight, before."

"I asked her, before she went to bed. She... stocks up on sleep before missions? Does that make sense? Says it builds up cellular energy storehouses, so she doesn't have to eat or sleep in the field." Lena shifted the Kiss on her back, just to feel it move. She liked the reminder of her presence - she felt nice, an odd thing to feel about a firearm, but true nonetheless.

"How'd you get here, Lena?" asked her oldest friend.

"Flyer's right there, luv, don't you remember?" she joked.

"Lena..."

The teleporting pilot bit her lower lip, and thought. "You know the story. Thought I was playin' her. Turned out, I wasn't, I was playin' myself. Same for her."

"You raged for a month after she killed Mondatta."

"I know." She shifted the Kiss again, subconsciously.

"You're carrying the weapon that killed him."

"I know."

"And you're... fine with that?"

"It's... complicated." She pulled Widowmaker's rifle off her back, holding it gently, not putting it down. "It's... you weren't there, luv. You can't know. I screamed when I saw what she'd done. I howled. I could've just killed her, if I'd been able, and at the same time, I couldn't." She ran her hands along the firearm's bluish-grey casing. "It... it wasn't just me bein' angry, and it wasn't just me grieving... it was... I felt so... betrayed."

"Betrayed, that she did... exactly what we'd expect? Exactly what she came to do?"

"Yeh," she nodded, still looking at the rifle.

"That doesn't make any sense. Anger makes sense. Grief makes sense. How could you feel betrayed, unless..." and his eyes widened.

Lena took a big, deep breath. "Y'got there. Can't feel betrayed by somebody if y'don't care for 'em, and y'can't feel betrayed like that unless it's strong."

"Already? Then?"

Tracer just nodded.

"I... I had no idea. You barely even knew Amélie."

"Didn't know her at all, luv! Not even sure we ever met. I don't have that excuse."

"Then... how? Why? "

"Dunno. It was always just her, just Widowmaker, since the first time we ever met, but some part of me knew. Just took the rest of me a while to figure it out, that's all."

"She still killed Mondatta."

"Yeh, she did. And she didn't feel a thing, yet - least, not much of anything, other than the kill. But while all that's true... she didn't kill me, when she could've. My accelerator was barely holding me in time, I couldn't've fought her - I was done. She could've finished me, or, worse, taken me back with her, to be... transformed, like she was."

"And she didn't," he said, understanding, at last.

"And she didn't. Even hid me from her extraction team. Took me a while to figure that out, but I got there eventually." Lena pulled the Kiss close to herself, held it tightly for just a moment, and slipped it carefully back over her shoulder. "And if we can reach each other... maybe she can reach Em." She shook her head. "Emily."

"You just don't give up on people, do you?"

Tracer grinned her famous half-grin, and fuzzled her best friend's hair. "Nope! Leastways, not if I can help it."

"Never change, Lena." He patted his best friend's back. "Never change."

"Don't worry." She skitched his head a little more. "I won't."

solarbird: (tracer)

"None of these are nice people," said Widowmaker.

"Goes without sayin', don't it?" said Lena, popping a bit of handmade picture candy into her mouth, flavoured hard candies with an image running throughout, looking like little round slices of pomegranate, pips and all, made entirely by pulling sugar. "These came out great, love. I thought you couldn't cook."

Amélie raised an eyebrow and smiled. "I have some talents beyond shooting people. But this is confectionary, not cooking, it is different."

"How's that then?"

"Because I am French and know better than English barbarians about food."

Venom laughed. "Oh, right. Of course."

"But - yes, that these are bad people does go without saying. Still, moreso, even than usual, these are not good people." She threw Venom a file from her padd. "Here is a dossier on everyone I expect to attend - you should memorise it."

"Gotcha." Venom slid aside news of the latest anti-Omnic violence in North America - and the latest retaliation from Null Sector - to flip through the pages she'd just received. "Huh... Most of these... they're just ordinary criminals. Bad ones, but just criminals."

"Yes," Widowmaker agreed. "They are suppliers and sellers, not movers of history. They are without ideals," she frowned. "But we need to deal with them, occasionally, and that means dealing with their, um... muscle? Yes. Muscle. Bodyguards. I had to make an example of one, a few years ago."

"That's too bad."

The elder assassin shrugged. "Yes, I'm sure he was an adorable child with a mother, once."

Venom laughed. "And probably killed her."

"I do not have room to talk," said Amélie, pointedly. "But I do not wish to make any further examples. Bringing you, I hope, will help make that less likely."

"Really?" asked Tracer, wondering if Amélie could make these candies with maltose. Chocolate's great, but variety's good too. "Why?"

Widowmaker smiled. "Your reputation in certain circles precedes you."

Venom licked her lips. "Fantastic."

"But behave," said the blue assassin. "I'm bringing you to prevent problems, not cause them."

"'Course, love," said the teleporting assassin, cockily. "Don't I always?"

"Honestly?" asked the spider.

"Never but," said the striped assassin.

"Yes," the blue woman smiled, "You do."

"Aw," the younger assassin pouted, "You're no fun today."

"Should I start lying to you, then?" asked Amélie, amusement in her voice.

"Fiiiiiiine," Venom said, with greatly exaggerated exasperation, "I'll be good."

-----

Widowmaker touched her comm. "McCree, from Widowmaker. Do we have an all clear?"

Over comms, the cowboy replied, "Widowmaker, McCree - I hear ya. All clear. C'mon down whenever when you're ready."

"McCree, thank you. We'll keep you looped in, but otherwise, we'll take over from here. Switching to monitor mode."

"McCree switching to radio silence and out."

The meeting had been scheduled for a large conference room on the second floor of a older, nondescript, and otherwise-empty metal building in Caracas, hosted by a trusted neutral party specialising in such arrangements. "Why are these things always in warehouses?" Venom asked, as she landed their stealthed light flyer on a rooftop two blocks away.

"Because warehouses are boring," replied Widowmaker. "Clients rotate in and out of light industrial facilities like these constantly, as companies build and fail, and so strangers are not..."

Venom broke in, "Rhetorical, love," as she unstrapped from the pilot's seat.

"Ah, of course," the spider said, opening the side hatch. "I will punish you later."

"Ooooh, goodie," said Venom.

"Behave."

"Yeh, yeh."

The two assassins executed their own secondary recon of the facility before approaching, and a second facilities check before entering. "Looks clean," said Venom, from atop a building on one block; her partner agreed, from atop a building the block opposite, and they fell in together.

Most of the expected buyers and sellers had arrived already, a few early, some just entering from the lower level as the Talon pair entered from the balcony entrance above. Widowmaker spotted the Menger Group's muscle as soon as she walked in, but not Javier Menger himself. She leaned to Venom as the two descended the stairwell and said, "Menger Group, on the opposite wall, but no Javier. I am concerned. He does not miss these meetings."

Venom nodded affirmatively, a subtle gesture. Texans, she remembered from the dossier. SIG Sauer specialists and neo-fundamentalist survivalists. "One of the muscle has a much better suit than in the photos," she said quietly to Widowmaker. "Something's changed."

Widowmaker agreed. "Caleb. I've seen him - and his bodyguard - before. Javier kept them both on tight reins."

As the senior assassin side-eyed that new suit, Caleb caught her glance and bristled. "I see you brought your new guard dog," he called from across the room, a bit of extra sneer in his heavy Texan accent. "She better be well-trained."

The room instantly grew very quiet. Other groups subtly edged away from the Menger representatives.

Oh, thought the spider, how tiring. The new boss feels he must establish himself, and has chosen me. "Javier, are you here?" she called, scanning the room for the older Menger. "Is this the kind of help you've resorted to hiring these days?"

"Javier's out," said Caleb. "You aren't dealing with the old man anymore. I'm running the show now."

"That is unfortunate," said the Widowmaker, wondering how recently it'd happened. Enculer, she thought. Bizarre religion or not, he would keep his promises. Aloud, she continued, "Javier was reliable, and often pleasant. I will hope his successors decide to continue that tradition."

"That right?" said the woman with him, Haley, the bodyguard, possibly a new lieutenant, judging from the swagger. "We all thought it was time for some fresh blood. People who won't let themselves get led 'round by a pretty blue face."

The Widowmaker frowned.

Turning to Venom, Haley gazed down at the much smaller woman. "But we ain't the only fresh blood, are we? Careful, little bitch," she mocked, "don't want to get hurt playin' with the big dogs." She pronounced it like "dawgs."

They do not deserve artistic deaths, thought the Widowmaker. But examples must sometimes be made.

"Venom?" asked Widowmaker.

"Yes, love?" asked Venom.

"Sting." said Widowmaker.

"Yes, love." said Venom.

She never even appeared to move. There was a flash of light, which was actually three, and what sounded like a single shot, but was actually two. Both offenders dropped to the ground, dead, individual bullets placed precisely into the centres of their forebrains.

Instant, perfect death. Not as elegant as some, perhaps, but strong lines, and good design, a clean, modernist improvisation. Widowmaker approved. "Nicely done."

Shouts of shock echoed around the room as the bodies hit the floor, not all of those dead. Venom smiled, sweetly, and looked up to her spider. "Anyone else, love?"

"Thank you, no," said the Widowmaker. "I think that should do." She turned her gaze slowly across the room. "Unless, of course, anyone else has additional commentary to bring to the conversation?"

The room became quiet, and still.

"Then shall we get to the tasks at hand?" asked the Widowmaker. Looking past the table, she said, "I'm sure our hosts can handle the mess, can't you?"

A couple of agents in matching grey suits nodded. "Just waiting for your permission to move, ma'am," said the smarter of them.

Widowmaker chuckled. "Excellent. Please do." Turning back to the room, she said, "Why don't we get down to business?"

solarbird: (tracer)

"Ah'm not sure that was the best idea," the cowboy said, from Arizona, in North America, "just lettin' her waltz out like that."

The hacker nodded, from an unknown location, probably further south, but not necessarily. "I know. Amélie has been acting very strange lately. All emotional. When she first started this project, I caught hints of it and thought, 'that'll be useful someday,' but now, it's just splashing around everywhere."

"Hasn't affected her aim any, has it?"

Sombra snickered, and popped some obscenely hot bit of candy into her mouth. "Made it better, maybe. She's always been obsessive about targeting, but since Oxton showed up, it's even worse. She hits targets I can't even see."

"Means she's nervous. Did the same thing in '71."

"We were all very nervous in '71," the hacker shuddered. 2071 had not been a good year for anyone interested in not having another Omnic War.

"Yeah, but she's the only one whose aim improved." He leaned back in his chair and flipped pistols around, nervously practicing spin tricks, before turning back to the conversation. "We're dancin' 'round the point - what're we gonna do if Tracer spills the beans?"

"Oh, is that what you meant?" said the hacker, looking back at the screen. "I thought you were worried about the spider."

"I'm worried about the organisation. You keepin' an eye on Oxton?"

Sombra laughed and slid a display over. "You see this? This is a livestream of MI5's tracking feed. I'm not watching her so much as I'm watching them watch her."

The cowboy smiled and chucked. "Well, then. At least we'll know."

"I'm not worried about Lena giving us up - I don't know if she knows it, but she's tooootally in love with Amélie. It's a little scary."

"I'll take yer word on the love part, but you sure 'bout that not talkin' part? 'Cause I sure as hell ain't."

Sombra smirked, knowingly. "I've kept you in the loop, but you weren't there, and I was. Trust me, she won't talk."

"And if they make 'er?"

"Even if they put her under a deep probe, all she knows is a little house and a couple of labs, and they're scrubbed now anyway. It looks like a tourist rental. I made a nice little lease history and everything."

"If you say so," he said, dubiously.

"I even made a rental listing," she told the sharpshooter. "I can show you. It's in all the archives since last year, as of, oh, a week ago."

He waved one hand dismissively. "Yer good, ah hear ya."

"Me," she said, sending the links anyway, "I'm not so worried about what happens to our little teleporting pilot. What I am worried about is what happens to Amélie if they decide to take her lover apart."

"Gérard all over again, you mean? It's that bad?" he said, pronouncing it almost correctly, but still a bit like 'Gerald.' "That was hard on 'er, I gotta admit."

"Worse."

"Hard t'get worse than that," said the cowboy.

"Worse," emphasised the hacker, darkly. "I think they'd be lucky if they still had a government the next day."

April 2019

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