solarbird: (widow)

This chapter is worksafe, but somewhat violent. [AO3 link]


"Well, that's the funny thing, Ana," the assassin told the enraged woman in front of her. "We have you? But we don't actually want you."

Most of the two parties had spread out, in the woods and brush, in separate sectors, looking for any sign of Morrison. Venom had weighed the odds carefully, decided this would be giving Laticia her chance, and stayed back at the house, with Angela, to interrogate their prisoner.

The oldest sniper spat, glaring at the young woman who had once been a test pilot, then the so-called "Hero of London," and a Talon sniper, and then... "So who have they made out of you today, pilot? Is there even a 'you' in there, anymore?"

Lena frowned, and growled a little. "Look, Captain, would you bloody get off it? You can't be as crazy as Jack - though I have to admit, that mail you sent makes me think you've come pretty close."

"That mail I sent...?"

"To Ree. Pretty nasty, I have t'say. But at least it got her off th' pot."

"Ah." Ana wondered, for a moment, what that last sentence meant, before carrying on. "So. You intercepted it, then? Or did she hand it to your controller, there?"

Amari glared over at Angela, in her Devil field kit. One of Lucifer's abilities is to heal, she thought. I will grant that it is clever. "I presume you're doing the same thing to my daughter that you've done to whoever this poor woman used to be, and to Amélie, before that."

Angela's face passed through a series of expressions, from confusion, to brief amusement, to anger, as she realised her mother-in-law was serious.

"You think... that I..."

Ana grimaced. "The suit is fitting. How long have you had it? Since you founded Talon? Was the angel always a joke at our expense?"

"Wow," Venom said, laughing, "you are gone." Then she frowned. "But this isn't my interrogation, Cap - or hers. It's yours."

She hunched down in front of the chair holding the senior Amari. "We know what you saw, thanks to that mail, and we've wiped the video off your rifle. But we're not stupid, and neither are you. You've got a backup, somewhere."

She didn't mention that a copy had already been sent off, to be edited, just so. The first fake version would appear on an Overwatch conspiracy theory site in two hours, from a regular on the board generally believed to be living somewhere in the Philippines, though some suspected they were really in Curaçao. Both groups, naturally, were wrong.

The former Strike Commander's former XO merely glared, and did not deign to reply.

"All we want to know is where the backups are. We're not unreasonable people, luv. You can be whatever kind of crazy old conspiracy nutter you want - we just want that video. Convince us all the copies are gone, and we'll let you walk away."

"So generous of you," she spat. "Give you the one piece of evidence I have that you care about - the one piece of power I have over you - and if I don't, you will... what? Kill me? You will kill me once you have it."

"Rather not, t'be honest. Kill you, I mean."

"I find that difficult to believe. Aren't you Talon's greatest assassin?"

"Flatterer. But that's my wife." She smirked. "Honestly, mate, it's all the same to me. You're part of the same rot who broke the original Overwatch. You're the ones who got my friends killed - who got Reinhardt killed" - Venom noticed as Ana blanched, a little, at that - "and who left me out to die in the Slipstream."

"So you... remember that much."

"Balls! 'Course I do. Why wouldn't I? I remember all of it. 'S far as I'm concerned, we'd be better off without any of you hanging around, still trying t'find ways to screw things up."

"Then why don't you just kill me? Afraid I have some sort of deadman's switch on the video?"

Venom nodded. "It's a possibility. But mostly, that's not it. Mostly, I just don't want to make Fareeha sad."

"What?"

"Straight up," the assassin replied. "That's the real reason."

"...why do you care?"

"Because she's bloody great, that's why."

Lena stood up, walked over, and opened the fridge, finally finding that sangría señorial she'd been wanting for two days, and grinned, opening it, taking a sip.

"Must be from her pop. 'Cause it sure as hell didn't come from you."

-----

They'd sedated Ana and put her in the small hut's only bedroom, safely away from prying eyes, when she wouldn't talk.

"So, Angela," Amélie asked. "What happened?"

Angela looked at her little projector, all systems functioning perfectly - or so its diagnostics claimed.

"I do not know. It should be working. It should have kept him from being able to ghost, it should have locked the nanites of his swarm into their state, and..."

The two women looked at each other, realising, both, at the same time.

"...he ghosted first," Amélie said, eyes wide.

"...of course! He can't come back," Angela said, astonished. "He's, he's, he must be locked in that form? Is it possible? Yes. It could be. He, he... could be still ghosted, now. Just... moreso. More, more, dispersed, and possibly even still dispersing. There are failsafes, but..."

"Can he survive that?"

"I have no idea how he survives any of it! I certainly have no idea for how long."

"And if we turn this off..."

"...he could pop back right in front of us. Or, if he moves out of range, he could fall back together on his own. At any time."

"How far is that range?"

"Perhaps... 450 metres. 500 at the very most."

The spider picked up her rifle. "Let's get everyone warned."

"Yes," the Devil said, wholly in agreement. "Let's."

-----

"We have to presume," the Widowmaker said, "that he could be here, right now. This very moment. Presumably aware of us, presumably able to control his position, as he appears able, when normally ghosted - we have no way of knowing."

The Talon team had kept the cabin, Ana still bound and sedated in the bedroom; Overwatch, the southeastern ridge, out of sight, but along the easiest escape route.

"When we deactivate the field generator, he could appear in the middle of either team, or nowhere visible at all - or not even appear. He may even not have survived this; Teufel says she cannot know, but given everything else, that we must assume he did, and that he could attempt to absorb anyone nearby as soon as he attempts to materalise, before the field can be re-established. We must all be ready to attack on sight."

She let that sink in, for a moment.

"Is everyone in position?"

Sombra nodded, her scanners set and machine gun out; Angela nodded, her staff at the ready, hand on the field generator's control pad; Venom nodded, pistols and bomb readied, watching the perimeter. On the ridge, Laticia nodded, once, and last of all, Gabriel responded, "We're ready to go."

Angela swallowed, and tested her resolve, and found it... firm enough.

"Deactivating field," she said, "in five... four... three... two..."

"...one."

solarbird: (Default)

This story...

...is back on a schedule.

I have a complete draft. All the missing pieces finally fell into my head this past weekend, and filled in all the gaps, and I wrote them, and boy are my arms tired. No, really, I'm taking anti-inflammatories today. But it's fine, because 30 chapters of 30 written, this work is complete pending revision on my side, and we are back on a publishing schedule.

I'm really surprised by this too, and really, really pleased.


Chapter 26: highly experimental work

or, "damn chupacabras getting into everything"

This chapter is worksafe, but somewhat violent. [AO3 link]


"I don't get their whole dynamic," Sombra said, watching the site through one of the multiband cameras she'd left behind, hidden. "Not from what you've told me. She's apparently been trying to kill him since that old Overwatch HQ blew up, and now they're best buds again, all at once?"

Gabriel managed a tiny bit of a laugh, over comms. He worried that this was not enough distance - the fiction of separation became awfully small, this close to a shared target. But, well, here we are. "She's always been a bit ruthless."

"That's pretty damn ruthless, amigo. And that's coming from me. I have done some shit."

"She has!" Lena agreed.

Laticia sat, with Gabe, listening to the voices - disguised on her and Gabe's end, not maybe not enough. She... the way she talks... who did you used to be, chica?

"It's an asset," Reyes said, "in the military. At least, to a point. You do what has to be done to accomplish the mission."

"I guess I'm not very military, then," the hacker replied.

"You're right, though," Gabe continued. "She has to have some sort of plan here. Any guesses what it might be, team?"

"Maybe.. she's going to ground? And trying to talk Jack into going along?" Angela hoped, on the far side, as Widowmaker shook her head, dismissing the notion.

"No," Gabriel nodded his head, from his side of the canyon, unseen. "She's always had contingency plans." He snorted. "You should've seen her this one time in Italy - little part of Venice called Rialto. We were holed up in this restaurant, waiting for extraction, with damn near every omnic trooper in the world coming down on us us..."

Is that the same Rialto that Jesse's talked about? the hacker desperately wanted to know, but would not ask. "What'd she do?"

"Noticed the kitchen was propane and turned the entire building into a giant shaped charge, aimed right at the primary force. Saved us all."

He paused, letting the moment sit.

"She wasn't always like this. Neither of them were. It's been a while but... we were friends, once. Real friends."

"You're really hoping you can talk her down, aren't you?"

"Of course," he admitted. "If I can. Jack..."

"Nope," Venom said, flatly.

"I know that, Venom," Gabriel said. "I get it. As I said, Jack, by contrast, is a clear and present danger, and... we're going along with doing it your way. It's not my first time in the field."

"Y'know," the hacker said, "If we can't get her to cough up all the copies of the video..."

Attention in both vehicles turned to Sombra's voice. "Go on," Amélie urged.

"What if we just... hold her for a while. Get the best copy from her we can, and start dumping altered versions on conspiracy theory sites."

"You know some good ones?" Laticia asked, poking.

"I know all the good ones," Sombra shot back, and Laticia smiled, a suspicion supported.

Sombra hopped up, out of her seat in the back of the transport, and started pacing back and forth in the low-ceilinged space, thinking about the video, her footsteps audible on the link. "The videos, though, right? It's not that she has 'em, it's that they're real. So we make 'em fake. Bad. Like, really bad. And some of 'em good. Maybe the first one. Make one of 'em what actually happened, but with Tracer edited out first and then edited back in, with, maybe, slightly fucked up lighting, and some paste effects you don't notice until you get in close. Looks real, at first, but then doesn't, when checked. Underlay somebody else under Tracer, then put Tracer back on top, leaving a little fringe."

"Dirty the water," Gabe muttered, thinking.

"Yeah, amigo, exactly, right? No, better. Change the question. Get them going, 'this isn't really Tracer, so who is it really - and who's behind it?'"

"Oh," Gabe said, a smile in his voice. "I like that."

"Then maybe some meme versions, right? Making fun of the original. Have Tracer turn into an omnic, or into that gamer from Korea, or Bowser, or," she laughed, "or a chibi version of your friend, Winston. Something like that."

Lena laughed and laughed and laughed. "Seriously?"

"Absolutely!" Sombra said, getting excited by her own idea. "By the time the real one comes out - if it ever does - our fake version of the real one will have been out so long that nobody will give it a second glance! It's just another refinement, you know?"

"I knew there was a reason I kept you around," the Widowmaker said, a small grin across her face.

"Old-style psyop, straight up. Active measures, they used to call it, back before the Omnic Crisis," Gabriel mused, calculating, trying to weigh against his own confirmation bias, wanting so much for it to be enough. "...it could work."

"We should check in with, uh," Venom said, not finishing the sentence. "You know. See what they think. Get their buy-off, 'cause we'd need them to, you know."

Amélie hummed her agreement. "I think I agree. Yes. Venom, that will be for you."

Lena groaned a little at the thought of having to call Overwatch, but couldn't deny her wife was correct. "Mind you," she said, carrying on, "we need t'get them apart before we can do anything." The younger assassin looked back to her drawings of the layout. "Got t'get an original of that video."

"Peel Ana off from Jack. Yeah." Gabriel acknowledged the point. "Tricky, though. If you wound him, and the doc's suppressor field isn't effective - no offense, Teufel -"

"None taken," the Swiss German said, waving off his worry of insult. "It is still highly experimental work."

"...he might... absorb her."

"Or, he may do something more conventional, but still particularly rash," Widowmaker added. "Or she might. It is difficult to tell."

"Gabe and I found a bunch of proximity alarms," Delgado reminded the teams. "Most of 'em were dead, like the ones you found. Maybe we trip one, maybe he comes out by himself, or she does, to check it."

"And either way, then we grab 'er, that what you're saying?" Venom asked. "And the other party goes after whoever doesn't come out."

"Seemed like worth a try," Laticia said, a little defensively. "I mean, she's a sniper..."

"It's not a bad thought, luv. I like it." She grinned to herself. "And, depending on how th' dice roll, we might both get a shot."

-----

"I heard it," Jack grumbled from the couch, resting after working out. He really needed to get to those outer alarms. He knew local wildlife had tripped half of them - that every alert had just been one more false positive - but the situation had become more serious, now. "Probably another chupacabra. Every time one of those alarms gets triggered it's some damn animal or another."

"Perhaps," Ana said, frowning, dismayed a little at his casualness. "But I will check."

"No," the soldier said, rousing himself out of his torpor, feeling more out of joint than ever. Usually, workouts helped, but not as much today. "No. You cover me, while I go out." He shook himself out, trying to rally himself, physically. It worked, to a degree. "And... when I ghost... don't freak."

That much, at least, is wise, she thought, as she picked up her rifle, got into position, and nodded.

In the trees surrounding the small cabin, Venom sat, watching. "He's comin' out," she said, with a predatory grin, "and he's alone. Checking the door..."

"They are rightly suspicious," Widowmaker added. "Ana is..." She activated her helmet. "She is covering him, from inside. Do not underestimate her, even now."

"I've seen her shoot," Laticia chimed in. "I won't."

"Shit," Gabe said, "he's ghosted." They'd let the field generator untriggered, not wanting to tip Jack off, Angela and Venom both suspecting he could feel its effects. "Teufel, hit the trap!"

"Activated," Angela replied. "Is he..."

"Fuck!" Lacitica said. "Where'd he go? I saw him, I saw his cloud, then.... where the hell did he..."

"I do not have him in my sights," Widowmaker growled, frustrated. "How? How could he...?"

"I'm goin' in," Venom spat, through clenched teeth. "He's somewhere, but he's not here. We get Ana, maybe he comes back for her."

"Go. I have her in my sights - let us make sure she knows."

The single shot smashed the window, the bullet deflected as she'd anticipated, missing the Egyptian sniper. As the older woman spun to track back the shot and respond with one of her own, Venom teleported behind her, and with one blow, knocked her to the ground, dazed but not out. Ana's hand dove into her cloak for her knockout pistol, and the Talon assassin grabbed it as she did, the two wrestling, briefly, before the gun fired, once, into the wall, and a second time, into the Egyptian woman's shoulder.

"Sorry, mum," Lena said smirking, as the older woman's consciousness faded. "Not this time."

-----

Jack Morrison floated, sightless, enraged, a diffuse mass, spreading, uncontrolled.

He'd felt himself scatter, when the trap triggered. He'd felt himself fly apart, the thinnest mist, held together for now, barely, buffeted by the breeze - how, he didn't know.

But he could hear. Vibrations in the air also vibrated what was left of him, and somehow, whatever network held him together, that still - barely - let him still think, also let him understand sound. He heard the Widowmaker's shot; he heard the glass shatter; he heard the sound of Venom teleporting, he heard a scuffle, he heard two shots, and he heard Ana fall, unknowing what it all meant.

And then, as he drifted away, he heard Venom's shout.

"Y'STILL OUT THERE, Y'MONSTROUS FUCK? WE'VE GOT 'ER, NOW."

"YOU WANT 'ER BACK?"

"COME GET HER!"

solarbird: (tracer)

Ana plans ahead, Sombra thinks maybe Lena has been overestimating Morrison the whole time, and Laticia Delgado knows who to talk to, particularly around here.

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]


"She's saying the old dude is back," Sombra reported, listening in on Laticia's conversation with the older woman running the little store by the side of the road, near the nature preserve. "The creepy gringo who scares off the kids."

Amélie and Lena could hear everything being said over their headsets, and understood it all. But Angela appreciated the translation.

"Does he have a friend with him this time?"

"Sssh, she's asking."

More Spanish, and Sombra grinned. "Yep. He brought 'er along. We've got 'em."

"El es un problema," said the shopkeep. He's a problem.

"Nos desharemos de ellos por ti, Simona," Laticia replied. We'll get rid of him for you. "Gracias por hacérmelo saber. Lo aprecio." Thanks for filling me in. I appreciate it.

"Oye, también nos estás haciendo un favor. Gracias." Hey, you're also doing us a favour. Thank you.

"No es nada," the younger woman said, with a grin, bringing her candy to the counter. It's nothing.

"Nos vemos más tarde," Simona replied, ringing up the small purchase. Don't be a stranger.

"Could you follow the conversation?" Gabriel asked, over comms, as Latica paid for her saladitos and a couple of bottles of sangría señorial, before making her way out of the little shop, into the sun.

"Yes, Gabriel - thank you," the Widowmaker responded. "Her signal is loud and clear."

"We'll still have to pin him down, but now we know where to look." Lena chewed her lip a little. "He'll have the place boobytrapped to hell and back, won't he?"

"Hell yeah he will. He's pretty good at that, too. I used to be better, but he's still in practice."

"You'll run us through his library of tricks?"

"It's nothing you wouldn't know, but sure."

Laticia's voice broke in, now over comms as well, back in the second stolen - 'borrowed,' Reyes insisted - transport. The door closed, making a noise under her voice. "Hey, did you all get that?"

"We did," Sombra replied. "Thanks."

"I bet he's holed up in one of the old counsellor's cabins." The sound of one bottle cap popping, and a second. In the background, Reyes thanked her for the drink. "He's not gonna be in the ranger house, it's too close to a road. But I'd bet good money he's in one of the cabins."

"What?" Angela broke in, surprised. "Counsellor... cabins?"

"This is a park," Laticia laughed. "I thought I explained that. There were older kids from school who worked here in the summer, before things went to hell."

Angela could hear a rustle as the gangster settled in, buckling her seatbelt.

"How do you think I knew to ask Simona? Nosy old woman knows everything. She's trying to get it going again, wants him gone."

"...I like you, amiga," Sombra said, not keeping her grin out of her voice, looking for older maps of rather different sorts, online.

"Not sure how much I want to be liked by a Talon agent," Laticia quipped, "but I'll take the compliment."

Sombra just laughed, as she forwarded around an old camper's map of the extensive park and nature reserve, with all 14 cabins clearly marked. "Venom, I know you keep saying we have to be ahead of this guy, but... I have to tell you... he looks to me like an easy mark."

"I know," Lena agreed, nodding. "But he just keeps..."

She growled a little, frustrated, wishing she had a soda.

"...slipping out of traps. He's way too good at getting away. Don't underestimate him."

"I guess so, la rapidita, but..."

The hacker shrugged, her hands a little in the air, not seeing it, and Lena shook her head and wondered, not for the first time, if they'd been - no, if she'd been...

"...I think maybe you've been overestimating him this whole time."

"He's a legend," Lena insisted, defensively.

"Oooooooor... consider... maybe these days... he's just a myth."

-----

Ana watched, silently, as Jack napped, unsettled, writhing, on the large couch. Occasionally, wisps of grey smoke, foglike, would trail off of his body, and she shuddered when it did.

How much control does he really have? she wondered, again, and not just about his physical form.

Jack had become... erratic, over the years, it seemed. In public, or on mission, or when planning an action, the old man could pull himself back together pretty well. But on his downtime...

If I hadn't known him before, she thought, I probably wouldn't've realised how far he's gone. He's still quite the charmer, and he can put on a good show when he needs to, but...

He'd started rambling, earlier, the previous evening, a little drunk, first about how they would take apart the conspiracy at the UN, and how once they could just show everything, how they'd be hailed again as heroes, and that struck her as unrealistic enough, but then, as the night wore on, he went on about Spain, and about a girlfriend he'd had once, while in the Spanish army.

He'd never been in the Spanish army. Ana knew this. And he'd most certainly never had a girlfriend. Jack could do many things, but pretend to be straight - or even bi - wasn't one of them. When she asked about it, he looked confused, and said he had no idea what she was talking about, and she said she must've misheard, because they both knew that was impossible, and they laughed about it. On the outside, at least.

How many people have you stolen from without knowing, she wondered. And how many pieces of them are you still carrying around with you?

She pulled up the tactical plan they'd worked on, for California, glanced over it again - it was a stretch, to put it mildly, but sound enough - and then back up at Morrison.

Perhaps I should work on a second plan, as well. For afterwards.

She put the tablet down, and sunk deep into thought.

If I am going to finish this, after all... I should really finish it. He may be the lesser monster, but he is, still, a monster. And monsters must be slain, even if they are useful. To a point. For now.

A part of her wanted to grieve at how far they'd both fallen, but she did not let it. Grief, too, would have to wait for after.

-----

"I have him," Widowmaker subvocalised over comms. "Through the west window, off of a mirror. But I have no shot."

She frowned.

"I also recognise the glass. It is not original. It will not stop my bullets, but it will change their course - I should not target through it."

Lena nodded, and smiled. "Good," she replied. "I want 'im."

"Not in the daylight, ma chérie. Not unless you also want a firefight."

"Kinda do," she said, spotting another trap. "But... yeh. I'm still findin' his little surprises."

She crawled over to the tripwire, following it, carefully, found the bullet trigger, and the little pack of explosives it would ignite, when fired. She pulled the cartridge carefully from the rig, and the explosives, but left the rest set up, not obviously molested. Across, on the far side of the ravine, Gabriel and Laticia were doing much the same, up and down the hill. They'd found multiple areas with proximity alarms, but the cordon... well. Once, it had probably been comprehensive. Now, not so much, and they'd make their move before either Ana or Jack could try to fix it.

"Mexican police are gonna spend weeks in here trying t'clean all this out," she muttered, pocketing the cartridge. "Listen to me - he's got me sympathising with the bloody filth." She suppressed a snort at herself. "Another thing he's bodged up, the absolute rotter."

Widowmaker continued to watch, through the scope, off the mirror, as Morrison slept, writhing a bit, wisps of smoke floating around him. We should not assume he is done with surprises - but where is Ana? She has not left him, I do not think.

She shifted her sight, looking for reflections, and spotted a metal pitcher, and through it, reflected in it, distorted, thinned, the other target, the target they still hoped not to take, apparently still, apparently also at rest, and the sniper smiled.

"Ana confirmed," she subvocalised again, over comms. "Sombra, if you could place the beacon within range?"

"Already there," the hacker replied, a smirk clear in her voice. "I planted it as soon as you called Spooky."

So close to ending this, she thought, a little excited by the prospect of the kill, even if - most likely - she would not be the one to get to make it.

She adjusted her scope, and looked again.

I see you, she thought.

Do you see me?

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: (widow)

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 12: Russia, and the Omnium

solarbird and bzarcher

The long, warm, peaceful summer has - as was inevitable - come to an end. But no one, really, could have imagined how turbulent autumn might become.

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 renegade Jack Morrison has bolted, with Ana Amari, to a hidey-hole he thinks no one knows about. Laticia Delgado thinks he's wrong - but wants something in return for her knowledge.

This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]

"He's gone?"

Laticia Delgado frowned as Gabe nodded.

"Surprised?"

"A little. I... it's..." She scratched at her head, concentration clear on her face. "He always acted like he was going to be... like he wanted to make us into something. I didn't think he'd just ... bolt, like that."

"He was always good at building a team," the former Blackwatch commander agreed. "Maybe he hoped to build one with you?"

"Maybe," she granted. "He..." She looked down, to her left. "He had a way of making you feel like... he was in charge, sure, but that he cared. That he'd take care of you." She looked back up. "But he was never one of us, you know? He..." She grunted, frustrated. "He always stood back, a bit. I thought it was just being a commander, yeh?"

"Some of it's exactly that," he confirmed. "You have to keep some distance."

"I know, but..." She stopped, and shook her head, clearly conflicted. "I kind of... liked him. But he... but then..."

"But then, Araceli."

"Yeah," she muttered. "Then that."

"Not having second thoughts, are you?" The old soldier gave her a sympathetic look. "You don't have to be there. Our friends can take care of this. They have," he chuckled, a bit grimly, "...experience."

She shook her head. "No. I'm just..." She set her expression and hunched her neck a little. "I guess I'm glad he's run. I mean, he's... away from my gang now. He's away from my friends. We can take him down and it's..." She stood up, suddenly, pacing. "They're good. They've, we've got ourselves out of all kinds of scrapes. And they can take care of themselves, believe me. But..."

She thought of Araceli's face melting, dissolving, into the monster that was Jack Morrison.

"...not against somebody like this. With them out of the picture... I know they aren't gonna get hurt now, you know? I might, but they..." A scowl crossed her face, and she stopped pacing. "This is out of their league."

Gabriel Reyes gave her a considering look. "Yeah," he said. "It is."

"It's out of my league, too. Isn't it."

"A week ago, I'd've said yes," he granted. "Now... honestly, I'm not so sure." He leaned back on the bench, with more than half a grin. "I like the way you think, kid, you know that?"

Laticia Delgado snorted. "I'm not a kid."

He raised an eyebrow - "When you're as old as I am, everybody's a kid" - and checked his watch. "They're gonna call us, soon. Brainstorm, try to figure out where he might've gone. I'm supposed to keep some distance between you and them, but I could push back if you want in on this."

She looked back and forth, a little, as she thought.

"Yeah," she said. "Push back. I might have some ideas."

-----


"Amélie?"

Widowmaker turned to the doctor, and gave her a little bit of a smile, perhaps a little bit more than she meant to, or thought she would, particularly given that not the slightest bit of it was anything less than entirely genuine. "Yes, Angela?"

"Do you have a moment?"

"For you?" The assassin gestured to another seat in the small room she and Lena had taken up as a remote office. "Of course."

"Thank you," Angela replied, as she closed the door behind her and sat down.

"Have you and Sombra had any breakthroughs in determining how to find and destroy that unfortunate video of the Captain's?"

"A little," the Swiss woman replied. "Now that I've given her better images of Ana, she's able to search more effectively for any sightings. But..."

She frowned.

"Have you considered how we got here?"

"I consider everything," the assassin answered, a you-know-better smirk on her lips.

"Of course. And I know that - if you're right - this has become important, now. But..."

"But... it didn't have to be?"

Angela hesitated, and then frowned her agreement, looking down, looking up, nodding at nothing in particular. "If... if Gabriel hadn't brought in that photo, if Lena had... just left Jack alone... none of this... none of this had to happen, did it?"

The spider smirked, but there was fondness in it. "If everything was completely different, then everything would be completely different, I think you are asking, no?"

"No," Angela replied, sharply, reconsidering it even as she did. "But... fine. Perhaps. But it's still true. Jack could've still been dead, as far as the world knew. Ana, as well. Eventually, he would've actually died - what he is would not prevent that, I don't think. Honestly, I am astounded he is still alive. The mice and rats did not last very long, but... well. He is human, and I cannot be sure of everything, regardless."

"I see," Amélie said. How... interesting, she thought. Perhaps that would solve our problem, eventually. But he'll last long enough, despite that.

Angela plowed ahead, heedless of Amélie's thoughts. "Instead, the Overwatch project is endangered almost as soon as it's been reborn. Jack has almost killed Lena in view of Ana, who almost certainly recorded both that and her revival, and might expose Talon and Overwatch both, and has... what she said to Fareeha, it is unforgivable, and..."

"And Lena is entirely willing to kill both of them, and eager to kill one, and you don't like thinking of her as being... like that. Like me."

"I..." The doctor sighed, and closed her eyes. "I... do not. I do not deny what she is - what you are. And I've never denied that I have also been a soldier, of sorts."

"It is not the same," the assassin stated, knowing it was not.

"It isn't. I like to... play one, with Fareeha. I joke about the Swiss military, and how we are all trained - and we are - but... now, we are here, and almost ready to move, and..."

"I understand, I think." Améliie gave her a thoughtful look, and leaned back, a bit, in her chair. "I can't tell you if he would never have begun to matter, eventually, even had none of this had happened. But..." She allowed herself a little bit of a laugh. "How many people would Jack have... absorbed... keeping himself alive, until he died? How many would he kill, or would Ana kill, trying to kill him?"

"We can't know."

"Similarly, we cannot know this. We cannot know how it would've gone, had Gabriel, and Lena, done nothing."

The doctor frowned. It seemed valid to her, but...

"And most of all, as far as I'm concerned - had none of this happened, would Fareeha have accepted your gift? Would I have received mine?"

Mercy shuddered, and closed her eyes. "...I know."

Ah, the spider smiled. There it is. She stood up from her small desk, walked around it, and knelt beside her friend, and, once, a little more. "Angela?"

The doctor looked up, eyes open, again.

"You do not need to feel guilty that you have benefited from this."

"But I do. I'm... all this has..." Angela shuddered again. She was so happy about everything Amélie mentioned, but the reasons, the why it had happened... it hurt. "It all hinges on killing - on assassinating - someone, Amélie. Someone who... used to be a friend, even if he has become something else. It's not what I am. But... Lena, and... you..."

"It depends upon assassinating someone - stopping someone, permanently - who has killed hundreds. Many, many people would consider it no less than overdue justice. You seemed to agree with that, back in... back at our previous stop."

"I did. I thought. As... as far as it goes. As long as we can spare Ana. But even if it's just him, I can't look away from what I'm doing. I won't."

"Knowing what Jack is, can you live with there being only one way, really, to stop him? Can you not live, after all, with that? Does benefitting from it make it so much worse?"

"It's hard. Everything I've ever done has been about stopping death, not about... dealing it."

"I know. But you will save lives, by helping us end his."

"That's different than... perhaps it is hypocritical of me," the doctor granted, "but it is different to helping do it."

"And yet, you were a field medic for Overwatch."

"And not for Blackwatch. Ever. That was why."

I see, Amélie thought. So she did draw that line, before. At least, insofar as she knew.

She reached over, and took Angela's hands in her own. "I wish," she said, after a moment's hesitation, "I wish... our world was more... compatible, with your ideals. I wish the lines could always be so clean. That my art, and Lena's art, were not so necessary."

Angela managed a sad little smile. Somehow, she thought, that helps. "Thank you. So do I."

"It is nothing. Talon is... pragmatic, in our own way. Gérard and I were even more so, which is why I know he would've understood what I did." She sighed. "This is the world we have, and we do what we think we must, for the best. But that doesn't mean I can't admit... sometimes, I wish, perhaps... that it wasn't."

"Even though... it is."

Amélie nodded, resolutely. "Even though it is."

"I've missed you," the angel said, looking into those golden eyes.

"I've missed you," her friend replied, those eyes soft, and warm.

"Let's not let it happen again, shall we?"

The blue assassin smiled a most un-spiderlike smile. "Never."

-----


"So you think you might know where he's gone, then?"

Lena looked at the young gangster sitting next to Gabe, across the display, her own image and voice disguised via software. Amélie sat across from her, at the same table, at her own display, her voice and image similarly distorted; Angela and Sombra watched, out of camera view, across the room.

"Not exactly. But he's got someplace down south." Laticia leaned forward, her image and her voice not disguised at all. "He never said where, but it's somewhere people won't go, and won't be found, at least, not easily."

"People stay away on their own?"

"I think so. And he can't be spotted from above."

Sounds about right, the junior assassin thought. "Well, it's a start. I don't suppose you have any more specific ideas..."

"'Course I do. But I want some promises."

The younger assassin smiled. "Fair enough. What?"

"I want in."

Lena blinked, surprised, face quizzical. "Wot? You want in with us? We're not recruiting, luv."

"No," the gangster dismissed, "I want in on taking him down. I want to be there. I want a shot."

Oh, Lena thought, unhappy at the suggestion. "Nope. That's for me. I've owed him for more, and for longer."

"You owe him for more? What do you know about it? He was on my side, and killed my last family."

Venom growled, now angry. "Yeh, well, he killed my..." she started, before biting her lip, stopping herself. No. She looked up at Amélie, across the table, who'd tilted her head just a little bit, her hands under her chin, giving her one of those looks, and Lena understood, Professionalism, she thought, and nodded. Control.

"You aren't us, and you aren't going to be - so you have to stay with Gabriel. Got that?"

Laticia nodded, knowing that few people who saw Talon agents in the field ever lived to tell about it. "Got it."

"But if your information checks out... then... if you get a shot... we won't stop you from taking it."

"If we're both there, I want to fire first."

Then I'll have t'make sure that doesn't happen, Venom thought. He's mine. But aloud, she said, "Then you can fire first. Deal?"

Lena watched as Gabe leaned in, and spoke, quietly, off microphone, with the Los Muertos gangster. She tracked Laticia's eyes as they flicked nervously from Gabriel, back to the camera and screen with Lena's distorted image, and back, and eventually, she nodded.

"Deal," she said, a little reluctantly. "Okay." She straightened a bit in her chair. "Here's what I know."

-----


"What," Venom asked, eyes alight, "is that?!"

Angela snorted, adjusting the 'horns' on her headset, securing them down into place. "You don't like it?"

"Gordon Bennett, there's a tail. There's a tail!" The assassin turned, calling down the hallway. "Amé, Sombra, c'mere - you have got to see this!"

Amélie arrived first. "What is the matter, aren't you..." She blinked, seeing, and smiled. "That... is a delight."

Sombra trailed in, behind her, and beamed. "Ah, la ángel - a demon? Or..."

"A devil, if you are to be particular about it," the Swiss doctor said, thinking, and if I am to be honest about it, as well. "A surprising amount of this is my basic kit, with the camouflage modes reprogrammed."

"I adore it," Lena said, finally finding her voice again. "Didn't think y'had it in you, luv!"

"I did," Widowmaker said, a knowing smile on her face.

"I could hardly go into this with my Overwatch colours, now could I? I can at least pretend someone has..." - she whirled her staff around, careful not to scrape it against the ceiling or floor - "stolen, or perhaps reverse-engineered, my technologies. It's far from a perfect solution, but..."

"I think it's pretty great, luv. And absolutely, I get it."

"You know, conjita, I have a lot of makeup, including temporary hair dye... want me to make the eyebrows match the rest?"

"Would you?"

"We have time, rápida?"

"Can you do it in ten minutes?"

"I can make her into a completely different person in ten minutes."

If only, Angela thought.

"Brilliant!" Venom chirped. "We'll finish loading up, and meet you outside!"

Angela almost nodded, but stopped, as Olivia grabbed her chin. "No, no, none of that. Let me work!" The hacker grinned. "Trust me. You're going to look amazing."
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
Edda 12: The Crucible

solarbird and bzarcher

As the war in Siberia escalates, the Concordat begins the first stage of their plans to assist the Russian people against the Omnium. But as the temperature rises on all sides, what will rise to the challenge - and what will, inevitably, be burned away?

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: (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
Fragment s9,2: “I thought that was a joke.”

solarbird and bzarcher

As the new Ecopoint comes online, Angela Ziegler finds herself making a couple of unexpected discoveries.

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: (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 e9,1: Restitution

solarbird and bzarcher

With absolute control of the Vishkar Corporation, Satya Vaswani takes stock, and finds that perhaps there is more to be done than she had previously considered.

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: (widow)

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 s5,1: I Wish I Believed That

solarbird and bzarcher

Ana Amari's visit to Oasis has ended in anguish for her, and heartbreak for Fareeha. In the shadows, Widowmaker has been watching over their reunion, but what will happen as Ana flees, and when the Huntress returns home?

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
Saga 5: That’s Me Trying

solarbird and bzarcher

Ana Amari has found a way into Oasis. It is a short-lived chance, and must be taken - if it is to be taken - at once. So of course, she goes.

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
Interlude 1: The Concordat
solarbird and bzarcher

JOINT PRESS CONFERENCE
OASIS | NUMBANI | 4 April 2078 (Monday)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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
Fragment e7,3: Early February, 2078
solarbird and bzarcher

A new balance of power within Talon is being struck, but Sombra has goals of her own in mind.


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: (tracer)

Of Gods and Monsters
Edda 7: Palladium-eyed Michael
solarbird and bzarcher

Innovation never stops, and the medical research community is always happy to meet and discuss the latest advances on someone else’s expense account. Dr. Angela Ziegler, though, is more looking for one particular lunch date - but Dr. Michael Ngcobo would rather not stay for dessert.


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: (tracer)

Of Gods and Monsters
Fragment s4,2: January 1st, 2078
solarbird and bzarcher

The Weapons and their friends are hanging out together late on New Year's Eve and into New Year's Day, waiting for the ball to drop in New York, when Sombra starts asking a lot of very carefully considered questions.


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: (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: justice rains on your face (pharah)

Of Gods and Monsters
Fragment e6,2: Mid-November, 2077
solarbird and bzarcher

Moira O'Deorain kept a lot of data secret, and separate, even from her wife, Angela Ziegler - and has no idea why, anymore, really. So she stops.


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: (tracer)

Of Gods and Monsters
Fragment e6,1: Early November, 2077
solarbird and bzarcher

Sombra discovers something she didn't know could be done can, in fact, be done, so, as always - she does it.


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.

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