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: (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: (Default)

[All comments in «angle quotes» translated from the Spanish]

[AO3 link]

"Mockingbird, got a moment?"

Mockingbird looked up from where she'd been watching Angela tend to Mei and Fareeha on the troop carrier's medical bunks. Still deep in the web, she replied, almost without inflection, "Yes, Strike Leader?"

Gabriel caught the tone and knew what it meant, took a deep breath and decided to take the careful route. "I need to apologise to you formally, Mockingbird, and I want to do it in front of everyone. Tracer, are you still on comms?"

Mockingbird tilted her head, and touched her microphone. In the same flat voice, she said, "Gabriel, Tracer here. Monitoring."

Not even really trying to keep up the illusion, he thought. Damn, she's hella mad. He cleared his throat. "I'm sorry. I should've stepped in against Ana's ... I don't even know what that was ... sooner. Immediately, even."

"Sir."

"She's not under my command, so I can't reprimand her, but I could have stopped it. That's part of my responsibility - to defend my team - and I didn't do it, and I apologise."

"Sir."

"I will not let it happen again."

Lena let herself lift a little of her controls, and shook just a little, taking in a quick breath, quicker than her current physiology needed. A hint of inflection returned to her voice. "...I appreciate that, Strike Leader."

"I hope you will forgive me."

Mockingbird nodded, slowly, and lifted a little more of the web up.

"Tracer, Gabriel - you got all that?" Reyes said, towards his microphone.

"Gabriel, Tracer - roger that," Oxton said, towards hers, in a voice a little more like Tracer's.

"I screwed up, Tracer. I... god, I thought she was dead in the rubble, like everyone else. Seeing her again after all these years... I wasn't ready. And if I'm going to play this role, I need to be at least a little ready for anything. So - I apologise to you, too."

Lena lifted another layer of the web, and a little bit of a smile crept out. "Roger that." She blew out her breath. "Guess none of us were expecting..." She shook her head, and felt a little better, a little less like demonstrating what it meant to be a murder machine, and a little more like a proper Talon assassin. "What d'ya think happened to her? "

Gabe shook his head, slowly, glad to see a little more of Venom in those gold eyes, and just a little surprised by that feeling. "I really, really don't know. Ana never used to be so..."

Fareeha stirred herself from her medical bunk. "...Ana?" she said, "...who...?"

Angela gently intervened to help her wife. "Awake already?" She checked Mei - still out. "Be careful, I've got you in good shape but I'll need to do more when we are back at the embassy."

"No." The rocketeer struggled upwards. "I heard a voice, and it sounded like... and you said... Ana."

Gabriel, Lena, Winston, and Angela all glanced at each other nervously, and the assassin spoke first. "She's gonna have t'find out. I'd want to."

"Tell me," demanded the flying agent, an intent look on her face. "Tell me what I'm afraid I already know."

Angela's face went a little grim, and a little paler even than usual, but she nodded her agreement. Taking her wife's hand, she looked into her eyes and said, "I will tell you everything, but we will start with the beginning." She braced herself. "Your mother... she is alive."

-----

Morrison looked over the wreckage. Half the cargo destroyed, five fighters injured, one critical, one dead, only one transport running, and now, apparently, this so-called Overwatch - Talon, really, of course - on his tail.

But that isn't what bothered him, or rather, he thought, that's not what bothered him most. He looked down at the dirt, at the wreckage of his tactical visor, and at the one he'd just taken off, the one tied into the neural network inside his head - and back at the one in pieces on the ground.

This... doesn't make any sense, he thought, picking up the wrecked visor. He replaced the one he'd been wearing, and put it through its self-test - it came up fully functional, targeting at one hundred percent, which was pretty damned strange in and of itself, given that it hadn't tested above 85% in three years.

«Did anybody get any pictures of the ambush?» he called out to his surviving team members. «Anybody here armed with a camera, not just guns?»

Leticia pulled hard on something inside a panel, and a second transport roared, glowed, and floated back into operation. «Ha! Damn, I'm good. Sorry, Spooky, you say something?»

«Nice work. Did anybody get video of the attack? Pictures? Anything?»

«Not me, I was getting the shield generator going. Arturo, you got anything?»

Arturo shook his head. «Nothin', sorry. The best shot I got was getting a pistol load into that rocketeer.»

Leticia smiled, grimly. «Nice job. Anybody else?» she called out, but got no positive responses. «Sorry, Jack.»

«Worth a try,» Morrison replied, brusquely.

«That sniper - not the same one, were they?»

«Well spotted. No. Different gun, different MO. God damn, I wish I had some photos.»

«You check the dashcams? Maybe they caught something.»

The dashcams. Of course. They won't have erased themselves yet. What the hell is wrong with me? thought the former Strike Leader, as he half-barked half of a laugh. «Good call.»

The first hadn't recorded anything but the road ahead, and he found the second smashed against a rock next to the road, pieces of windshield scattered around it. Crawling into the wreckage of the last transport - the one beyond repair - he found the third camera's lens had been smashed. But the user interface responded, and he pulled down what video there was into his padd to watch it while the rest of the team moved the surviving cargo to the two functional transports.

Two-side flank attack, he thought, watching the video. Heavy fire from the northeast, sniper and... single infantry on the southwest, maybe. The camera hadn't caught any of the attackers, but had plenty of their work. He watched himself, too, as he came out of the passenger side of the lead transport, face bloodied from the sniper's missed - or was it missed? - shot, the one that wrecked his visor, and blinked as he saw his own face blur, almost mistlike, in the image, then focus again, unbloodied, visor intact.

He replayed the video. It did not change. He played it again. What... what am I looking at here? he thought, touching his tactical visor.

«Any luck?» called Leticia. «We're about ready to move. Bring it with you!»

«No need,» he called back, quietly crushing the camera's control screen, before dropping it on the wreckage of the front seat. «It got trashed early on in the crossfire - nothing worth keeping. Let's head out!»

-----

Ana watched the "so-called Overwatch" strike force lift off, and, once they were out of range, shuddered quietly. What Talon must've done to that poor girl... She shook her head, sad at the thought. And now they're working together? Rayes, that's one thing, black ops do what they must, but how Winston can go along with it... maybe Jack really isn't so...

She stopped herself, mid-thought, remembering her daughter fighting alongside the Talon agent, and considered again. No, she concluded, it can't be all true - not if Fareeha is involved. She's a good girl, she would never go along. Perhaps... perhaps their sniper broke away from Talon. It has happened before.

The eldest sniper packed away the inactive beacon, her rifle, and her dart pistol, crisply snapping the case shut, satisfied for now. And even if Jack's not completely wrong, he's still become a monster. And monsters must be destroyed.

She headed down the hill, towards her camouflaged flyer.

All of them.

solarbird: (tracer)

Sorry this one took so long. I'm not good at large action sequences, and this chapter was difficult to write, mostly because of that. I was trying to keep it gamelike, in that it would be evocative of a failed charge onto take a point with a payload on it in game, as opposed to a realistic infantry scenario. I hope it works.

If nothing else, it's way longer than most of my chapters, so at least nobody's being short changed. ^_^

[AO3 link]


The opportunity came sooner than expected. An arms shipment, escorted by Los Muertos, task force almost certainly to be led by Jack Morrison - or, as it seems they called him, the white ghost.

Jesse McCree had been the one to catch the rumour, talking with some of his old Deadlock Gang contacts, who, turns out, would be happy if a rival gang did not get to run goods through their territory. And so, they passed the news to him, and he passed it to Amélie, who passed it to Venom, who gave it to Overwatch, and Gabriel Reyes, who built a plan.

Mockingbird lay atop the crest of the hill, silent, even her breath inaudible, even to herself, even she wasn't entirely sure she was bothering to breathe right then, as the small three-vehicle convoy stirred itself, beginning its early-morning trundle out of the two-building ghost town that had once called itself Cloverdale. There had been more here, once, before the climate warmed, but really, it had ended before then, a former bit of a farming town, a little store, a dance pavilion, enough water - just - for a bit of crop and cattle raising, but now, even that last was gone, which is, of course, why they were all where they were.

The sniper had been in her nest since two days before, had watched the convoy trundle its way across the desert and to a stop, loading out into the little stone ruin, and calling it a night. She had not slept; she did not need to, for this watch. Once everyone had tucked themselves in so nicely, so quietly, she'd then confirmed via radio to Gabriel that Jack Morrison was, indeed, in the front truck, and that they were not, in fact, transporting refugees or undocumented workers - there were no innocents to get in the way. Just a simple cargo delivery - maybe the weapons, maybe a side delivery before the main delivery, no way even to know.

Not that it mattered, really.

She watched as the convoy slowly rode its way west, towards her and past burned out soil, past former farm gates, now collapsing along the road, the paint bleached in the sun. She took in a breath, just enough to speak. "They're on their way."

Gabriel's voice in her ear. "Do you have the target?"

Lena allowed herself the smallest of smirks. Less than a kilometre. No breeze, at all. Crystal clear skies. Do I have the target. Honestly, Gabe. But she kept it to herself. "Target confirmed and moving into go/no go. Do I have go?"

Reyes ran through the numbers one more time in his head. Everyone in position for the ambush. A lot more fighters on the Los Muertos side - more than they expected, and it bothered him - but only one hard target. The gang side wouldn't be trying for a capture - they'd be shooting for kills, without hesitation - but Overwatch had surprise on their side.

"Nearing optimal range, Gabe. Go or no go?"

Who knows when we'll get intel even this good again, he decided. "Action confirmed. All team, on my mark - go."

Venom - no, Mockingbird - smiled the spider's smile, and pulled the trigger. Morrison's head jerked to the side as the tactical visor went flying out across the desert in pieces, and he swore, loudly, in Spanish, blinded by his own blood, but not really hurt, despite the proximity of the bullet. The transport vehicle swerved, blocking the road forward, but did not fly out of control, and seconds later he was shouting orders to his team as the Overwatch group moved in from the northeast, from the dried-up spring.

"Visor down," the sniper confirmed, as Mei threw up a wall behind the convoy, Gabriel lay down fire blowing out the front vehicle's tires, and the unlabelled Overwatch carrier blared its orders to drop weapons and be commandeered. Pharah charged into the air, letting loose with a series of rockets aimed at vehicle engines, as Mockingbird readied for a spray of long-range discouragement fire from her position, to keep the grunts under cover. She grinned as she watched the Los Muertos gangsters circle their vehicles and swarm for weapons, and then her grin froze as Jack darted away from her sight, without a visor, then reappeared on the other side of the transport vehicle, with one.

What th'...?! She looked back towards the wreckage of the visor. Yes, there, pieces, still on the ground. She called into comms, "Gabe, he has a second visor somehow, watch it!" just as Jack triggered the device, visual overlay screen appearing almost instantly, knocking Pharah out of the air just as she'd disabled the third vehicle. Mockingbird adjusted her sights and took a second shot, surely hitting him dead on, but somehow apparently not as he just kept shooting through the visor, after briefly jerking to the left.

She waited for a third shot, and Jack's head popped up again, again through the front transport, behind two windows. Mockingbird reacted instantly, and fired. Her vision seemed to blur, and suddenly, it was a Los Muertos grunt splayed out across the sand, her head smashed, and Jack Morrison was still firing.

Nobody's that lucky, she thought, coolly. Something's going on.

Los Muertos got a shield generator running as Mei threw up another wall while taking bullets to the shoulder and chest, saving Gabriel, who had also been hit and hurt by the barrage of bullets. Pharah limped back into the air, got off a single rocket knocking Morrison down, and went down again herself almost immediately, Mercy flying to her wife's side. Gabriel, Mockingbird, and - a moment later - Mercy's fire kept most of the rest of the Los Muertos fighters ducking for cover, as Winston leapt down, shield in place over the wounded Mei, Tesla cannon keeping braver Los Muertos back, as Athena flew in as pickup for the injured.

"Gabriel, Tracer here," Mockingbird shouted into comms, trying to force some emotion back into her voice. "Mockingbird's hit this guy in the head three times and he just shakes it off, something is very wrong. We need to..."

And then Jack fell to the ground, unconscious, and an older woman's voice came over the Overwatch comms, saying, "He's down, but it won't last more than 30 seconds. Get your wounded out while you can, and regroup at my position. Tracking beacon enabled."

-----

"A second visor?!" Gabriel - limping, but mobile - looked incredulously at Mockingbird as the small Overwatch strike force mended its wounds at the beacon site deep in the hills to the north. "He can't have a second visor. It's unique to each soldier. It was wired into his brain."

"Don't care," insisted the woman in black and green. "I shot the first one off, just like we planned it. It was on the ground, in pieces." She folded her arms. "My sight takes pictures, I can show you."

"But a second visor - that's not possible," Gabriel insisted.

"I know I hit him. I know I did. Three times. There's something we've missed, Gabe. This should've been easy and it was a disaster."

"You look very familiar," said the older woman with the beacon, looking with narrowed eyes at the younger sniper.

Mockingbird blinked, and looked over to the older woman, finally realising who she was seeing. "...no question of it on my side," she said, recovering. "The legendary Ana Amari, in the flesh. You're supposed to be dead. What the hell, mate? And how'd you get on our comms?"

Gabriel glanced away from Mockingbird and brushed dust off his hands, looking resolutely unsurprised. "Ana, this is our sniper specialist, callsign Mockingbird. Mockingbird, this is Ana Amari, apparently not dead."

Ana snorted at her former Blackwatch friend, and gestured over to Mockingbird. "You think that can replace me?"

"You have been dead since 2069," said Winston, stepping in between the new and the old, "as far as we knew." He gave Reyes a look, a look that said they would be talking about Reyes's lack of surprise in the very near future. "She's an independent contractor willing to work with us, and we're happy to have her service."

"I know that kit," said the Egyptian, with a sideways glance back to the younger woman. "And I know that blue tinge. Working with Talon, are we, now? Maybe Jack's not so crazy as I thought."

"Not with Talon, luv," Mockingbird lied. "But I always buy from the best. No second chances in this game. 'Cept for you, apparently. And Jack." She looked around at Angela and Gabriel and Ana, and frowned. "And apparently all you old lot."

Amari glanced disdainfully at the young assassin, then returned to ignoring her, looking back to Gabriel. "And where's the so-called Hero of Old London supposed to be, then?"

Mockingbird glared, anger a flash across her face. No, she told herself. Lena's not here. Ana's trying to provoke you. Realising that, she found she didn't even need to bring up the web further to keep control. It's a game. She knows, she just wants us to admit it. Spill the beans, grams? Not likely.

"We all thought it was for the best if she stayed out of any direct action involving the man who left her to die in the Slipstream." He looked directly into the sniper's eyes. "Knowing you're here, I'd say that was the right call."

"Afraid she'd lose her cool, get hurt?" She made a little unimpressed sound, a kind of pffft. "And yet here you hand whatever they've made of her" - she waved at Mockingbird, without looking - "a sniper rifle. You're fools."

Lena almost spoke up, then almost laughed, but kept her expression flat. Nice try, she thought. "So I shouldn't ask for your autograph, then?"

Winston shook his head at Mockingbird's verbal jabs, and Gabriel crossed his arms, with a frown. "I have no idea what you're talking about, Ana. More importantly - where the hell have you been all these years?"

"Really? You're going to keep up this laughable facade?"

"Whatever. You gonna tell us where you've been all this time?"

Amari glared. "No. But I will give you this." She pulled a small memory card out of a coat pocket. "It's video and notes from a... previous attempt to solve the Jack Morrison problem. If you're going to try to kill him, I need you not to make things worse."

"We aren't trying to kill him," Winston said, taking the card. "We're trying to bring him to justice."

Amari spat at the ground. "There's no justice for what he did, or for what he's become. I thought you understood that."

Well, thought Mockingbird, there's one place we agree. She found she didn't like the agreement. "That's what I thought, too. Maybe I ought t'reconsider the point."

"Does it always make this much noise? Maybe it should be reprogrammed again."

"ENOUGH OF THIS." Mercy glided down from the flat spot on the hillside above, where she had been tending to Mei and Pharah, watching since Ana showed herself, stunned to see her mother-in-law, of all people, reappear from the dead - not her way, but alive and well the entire time.

"Angela, why are you mixed up in this idiocy? I thought you'd know better."

The field medic marched over to the old military officer, and slapped her across the face, hard, staggering her back. "You dare show your face? You dare act like this to my friends, after what you have put us through?!"

"Woah!" interjected Mockingbird, jumping forward to restrain the doctor. "Angela, no! It's fine, she's just horrible!"

"No," she said, looking back, and shaking her arms free, "it is not fine!" She turned back to the old soldier, and pointed to Pharah, unconscious, but recovering. "She mourned you. You ignored her as a child and she loved you anyway and then you died and she put it behind her and now you are here and alive and she is here and wounded and you have not even acknowledged her existence?!"

"I've done what has been necessary, and I've stayed out of the way of the medic while she works. Fareeha will understand that."

"Will she? I hope not! But I will make sure she knows. I will make sure she knows everything. Including how horribly you have just abused our Mockingbird. 'It?! '" She shook herself, as though fluffing feathers she did not have, except in her wings. "You call her an it?! She is a person, not a tool, and you have become a monster."

Quietly surprised, Lena's heart tore, just a little, at the medic's furious defence. "Doc, really, it's fine, she's just digging..."

"I know what she's doing," Mercy said, not looking at Lena. "And I don't care why." She turned to the openly astonished Reyes and Winston. "We should get the wounded out of American territory as soon as possible. They will not be happy with our actions today."

"I agree," said Reyes, taking the opportunity. "Ana, we can pick this up later. Do any of your old dropboxes work?"

"No. Do yours?"

"Boxburg does."

"I'll leave a contact point there, then."

"Thanks. And... thanks for helping out."

"You're welcome. Maybe next time we can work together, make sure the grown-ups are in charge."

Mockingbird's face showed absolutely no sign of emotion, and her hands did not tighten visibly on her rifle.

"We'll talk later," said the former Blackwatch head. "Team - back to the ship. Mockingbird, give Mercy some help with Mei; Winston, I wouldn't mind a little help myself. Let's roll out."

The Lunar gorilla offered his friend an arm, as Mockingbird turned towards the Chinese scientist with a curt "acknowledged." Behind Venom's mask, beneath the web, the assassin roiled viciously, but no hint of that storm made it outside.

Maybe I've got more than one problem to solve, she thought, as she guided the semi-sedated Mei up off the ground. Maybe I've got two or three.

solarbird: (tracer)

"Hey, doc!" The pilot waved her arms, and shouted across the square. "Angela!"

"Lena!" The doctor waved back in response, and walked quickly through the thin crowd. "It... it really is you. You look almost exactly the same."

"So do you!" The two women hugged, close. "Gor blimey, doc, it's been so long. You're the first person from the old team I've actually seen in person since Greece. How's Fareeha?"

Angela hugged the pilot again, and whispered into her ear, "I am certainly being surveilled, we should get to my office at the embassy" before leaning back, taking Tracer's shoulders in her hands as if everything were perfectly ordinary. "On a mission, like always. But we're both very well, thank you. I'll be back home with her again in a few days." She showed a decorated gold band on her ring finger. "It's our second anniversary."

"Oooh, nice," said Tracer, looking closely at the interweaved inlays, the halo and the hawk. "Very nice. I'm not surprised, though - you two weren't exactly subtle." She scrounged her pockets for cash. "Let me grab something from the takeaway and we can head over to your place. You don't mind, do you?"

"Of course not! I have the entire afternoon, go ahead." She gestured to the order window. "So tell me, how is life back in London?"

Tracer frowned, and ordered a vindaloo and joined the short queue for pickup. "I'm not alive yet," she said flatly. "Still trying to get that sorted."

"Still?" asked the doctor, confusedly.

"Yah, that's why I'm doing everything in cash. It's like being a tourist in my own home town. Still living in hostels, couldn't get work if I tried, it's just every-day all-day throw myself at another corner of military bureaucracy."

"That sounds terrible. Have you tried the civilian authorities?"

"Yeh, I gave up and submitted a bunch of forms earlier today. But if I could get the bleedin' forces to pay attention, I wouldn't have to. I'm an officer! This shouldn't be so difficult."

"Surely some sort of official status is better than none," said Angela.

"Not too sure about that, luv." Tracer's curry arrived, and she grabbed it, a couple of napkins, and her tea. Turning to go, she confessed, "Honestly, outside flying, outside Overwatch... I'm starting to wonder if I ever even had a life."

-----

"Sorry if this messes up any of your tests," said the pilot, putting away the last of her second lunch. "But I was ravenous. Happens a lot these days."

"Well, I won't be able to tell you much about cholesterol levels or blood sugar, but that's not exactly why we're here, is it? You look quite fit."

Lena just smiled, happy to be looking at anyone she recognised. "Bloody hell, it's good to see someone I know. Even if you were always just 'the doc.'"

Dr. Ziegler smiled professionally back. "Before you say anything else - anything else - authorise this." She offered the pilot a padd, with forms.

"What is it?"

"It confirms that I'm your doctor. Doctor-patient confidentiality is core to my organisation and we're prepared to defend it. I assure you, whatever I see or record, it will not go to the British - or Swiss - governments. We are on Swiss soil, and I am notoriously prickly."

"Brilliant." Tracer keyed her acceptance. The form even looked like an Overwatch document. It felt like being back at old home, and her heart ached a moment for it.

"And this document," the doctor changed pages, "is not standard. But it authorises me to share your data with Winston. He has legal standing with us in ways he does not in Britain." Tracer approved again.

"Now, we may talk freely. But clothing off, please. Let's get you looked over."

Lena threw her shirt and trousers off, onto the chair, revealing the intricate pattern of bands of light, blue or red or white, flowing across her body, from upper right shoulder to lower left leg.

Angela was visibly taken aback. "Gott in Himmel. It's beautiful. You are living art."

"Clever, innit? I can control how it looks," she said, and faded it to a series of thin lines across her skin. "But I wanted to show off."

"This is what it takes to keep you in time, then?"

"S-," ..ombra, she almost said, but did not quite, "Since I got pulled back, yah. There was an earlier version that just belted on, but it wasn't stable. I kept," she shuddered, a little, remembering the feeling, "trying to phase back out of time."

"One broken strap from vanishing? That does not sound like a good solution, no," offered Angela.

"I'd've lost the plot in a month from stress and lack of showers. Can't lose this, though - it's part of me." She ran the traces through a cycle of soft, calming blues. It reminded her of No, she thought to herself, leave it. "I tell people it's bioluminescent tattoo. The latest thing, in Greece! Everybody wants them now."

"I understand why." Dr. Ziegler selected a pair of scanners. "With your permission?"

Lena hesitated. "You sure this place isn't bugged?"

The doctor smiled, and nodded. "Quite sure."

-----

"Good morning, Winston," said the doctor, a week later.

"Angela," he said pleasantly, sipping at a cup of tea, one and a half seconds ago. "How are you this fine morning?"

"Quite well, thank you. I'm in Egypt; Fareeha's just off to work. I'm ready to transmit the data, if you're set up to receive it."

"Go ahead," said the scientist.

"Sending," she said, pressing confirm.

"How was she, in person?" he asked, as the progress metre slowly climbed.

"Physically well. She's in fantastic aerobic condition. She has some new scarring - in my opinion, almost certainly burns from the explosion. She lost a toe, and broke several bones, but I see nothing to worry about. On the whole, she had to have been remarkably lucky."

"But is she still herself, to you?"

"As far as I can tell, she is. But while were perfectly friendly, before - professional friends, yes? - I didn't know her like you did. I would miss subtleties." She looked thoughtful. "Even so... even to me, she seems very lonely."

Winston nodded, sadly. "I can't even imagine what she's been going through. If I could just get down there..."

"I think that would be good, if only it could be done." The doctor paused a moment, collecting her thoughts. "But to the larger question..."

"Don't say it."

Mercy smiled, as close to wickedly as she ever came, "the ten thousand pound gorilla in the room..."

"For the last time, Angela - I am not ten thousand pounds!" he huffed.

Angela giggled, the Swiss equivalent of a guffaw, and continued, "...the hardware itself. It's extraordinary. The shielding is perfect, and where it cannot be shielded, it is too fine for nondestructive deep scans. I could get nowhere with it."

"Damn," said the ape. "So we still don't even know what it does."

"Not so," she gestured with her left hand, "we know it's a chronal accelerator. Of that, I am sure. We just don't know what else it might do."

He put more sugar in his tea. "Like mind control."

The doctor drew in a deep breath. "No, I don't think so. The brain interfacing is all motor cortex and reflex. It's meticulous work - it had to have been grown into place - and the guiding was magnificent." She highlighted some of the interface points, and at each level further down, the integration became, if anything, more complete. "It is truly a part of her, as much as any other part of her body."

"Huh." Winston peered at data sets as the first files completed upload. "Like your nanites?"

"A different approach, but if anything," said Mercy, "moreso. Whoever did this - it's not new to them. They've been doing this. They have practice."

"You could replace someone's whole brain with these techniques, couldn't you," he said, grimly.

"Certainly. But you can also do that in a chair with a combination of drugs, conditioning, and high-precision electromagnetic fields, and not leave so much evidence." She leaned forward on her elbows, towards the screen. "I know what you're thinking. Amélie had nothing like this in her brain. Whatever has been done to your friend Lena - I think her mind is still her own."

"With respect, doctor, you thought that about Amélie. We all did."

Dr. Ziegler nodded, resolutely. "I still do."

October 2017

S M T W T F S
12 3 4 567
8 91011 12 1314
15 161718192021
22232425262728
293031    

Most Popular Tags

Syndicate

RSS Atom