Yep, still working on Old Soldiers. It's really difficult to switch gears between the Oilliphéist and Venom/Fear of Spiders universes, it really is, but it's happening.
This chapter is worksafe. [AO3 link]
[All dialogue in «angle quotes» is translated from the Spanish. Amélie's thoughts are translated from the French.]
Amélie awoke, early. She often woke before Lena, regardless of where they were, but she didn't mind that. Usually, when it happened ahead of the alarm, she'd doze, and wait, so they could rise together. But sometimes, it there was time, she'd slip out, sneak over to the kitchen, make coffee and tea and get out cheeses and creams and preserves and the morning's good bread, delivered, and the scents would reach over, across, to their bedroom, and awaken her partner, and she'd stumble out, eyes still half-closed, usually remembering to put on a shirt, following the delicious smell of breakfast, and she'd say, "y'know what this needs? Bangers!" and she'd grab the sausages she'd bought a day or two before out of the refrigerator and get to work, and everything would be wonderful.
This was neither of those sorts of day.
The spider plucked at her web. What is it? she thought. It is... something. What?
She didn't really care all that very much about this mission. Morrison had been someone her husband knew, the person to whom Gabriel Reyes reported. They'd met, no doubt, at some function or other. But his time for shaking the world had passed, taking care of him - justice, of a sort, their way - was important to Lena, and so, she was willing to put Talon behind it. And finding herself thinking about that, she let her mind trace that strand further, further down, lower, into thinner, lesser strands - but strands nonetheless.
And she was very surprised to discover that for some reason she did not know, some reason she didn't understand, something had changed.
Jack Morrison, left to his own devices, was going to do something very bad indeed. And it had to be stopped, before anyone else even knew it could happen.
"How did you know?" she whispered, shifting up, and looking at her wife, sprawled across the bed, arms akimbo, hair even moreso. "How did you know before I did?"
Lena stirred just as the alarm rang the chimes of Big Ben. She blinked, groggily, looked up at her wife, and smiled. "G'morffin'," she managed, flopping over onto Amélie's legs.
The assassin smiled back at her partner, but there was a firmness to it. "Get up," she said, firmly, sliding out from underneath. "Something has happened. I must find out what. Suddenly, I think, this mission may be... important."
Amélie pulled her helmet off, frustrated, frowning. Nothing, she thought. Nothing of interest, at least. No new news items, at least, nothing that affected this situation. No outbreaks of violence, of disease, no disappearances, no interesting thefts, not even any strange new conspiracy rumours reaching high enough to matter, not even to her...
Perhaps Sombra has had more luck, she thought, climbing out of her lotus position and off the bed. Or perhaps we can make it not matter. She pulled on the rest of her field kit, and walked into the safehouse's living room, where Sombra sat, intently, poking at virtual keyboards and screens, Lena and Angela keeping each other company, occasionally watching.
"Nothing, araña - sorry." Sombra turned around, facing the spider. "If he's done something, it's too quiet even to make my ears. And I don't miss much."
"Gabe's almost here, though. I was about to talk to my old friend again, too. See what he thought about our little video."
"Good," Amélie nodded. "I'll make some coffee. Anyone else?"
Lena waved her off, holding up her mug of tea. Angela smiled, though, and said, "I would. I always liked your coffee."
"Sadly, this is not the best version," the assassin smiled back, fondly, "...but I will do what I can with what I have."
I've missed her more than I realised, she thought, as she walked into the kitchen, glancing over the cluster of information monitors Sombra had set up for her, but seeing nothing new. She pulled the pitcher of water and coarse coffee grounds from the small refrigerator, pulled out a filter, and drained the cold brew into a second pitcher, giving it a taste.
Much better, she thought, pouring two glasses half-full, adding milk, some sugar, and ice, and tasted. Yes. The beans are good. It is just a shame the water is so hard. Still, it will do.
She walked out in time to hear Sombra speaking in increasingly agitated Spanish with her friend in Los Muertos.
«What do you mean, he left?» she said, confused.
«He left! This morning! We'd watched your video and were trying to figure out how to get rid of him without getting ourselves all killed by whatever the hell that was, and he walked in and says he has an outside job, needs to take a couple of weeks to work on it.»
«Well... did he say anything about where he was going?»
«We weren't about to ask, we were just glad he was gone. We're gonna pick up and relocate before he comes back. You're gonna tell your friends in Talon about that, right?»
«Of course I am - and you're welcome.» She thought for a moment. I think he's telling the truth, but we'll have to check... «Did he say anything about where he was going?»
«No - just that he had to get training for some special mission. He wouldn't tell us what, or when, or where - he just made some joke about the animal at the heart of the animal? Which I kind of think probably worked better in English.»
Lena largely kept up, listening as the Spanish went by, and looked confused for just a moment before her eyes went wide, and she whispered, "No!" She looked up at Amélie, who looked confused by the metaphor.
"The animal - the beast. The beast at the heart of the beast," she whispered, as Sombra joked with her friend, trying to weasel out possible training locations without actually sounding like she wanted the data. "I think that means us, and I think... I think the beast means Winston."
Angela's eyes went wide as Amélie tested the idea and nodded, eyes half-closed to slits. It fits, she thought. "It is possible. We must send a warning."
"Embassy security's pretty good. I'm pretty sure he's safe as long as he stays in Geneva," Lena said, nodding, as Sombra told them to shut up, can't they tell she's talking to her friends? And the junior assassin waved everyone into the kitchen.
"I knew we should've just capped him from th' start," she said, closing the kitchen door behind her. "Could've avoided all this."
"I did not take this seriously enough," her wife acknowledged, adding another cube of ice to her coffee, and motioning to Angela if she wanted another herself.
The doctor frowned, not at the ice, but at the entire situation. "I do not speak Spanish, and did not catch enough of your English - what is going on?"
"Jack's bugged out, luv. He's headed off somewhere - don't know where, Sombra's workin' on that - t'get ready for some mission, and I think that mission is Winston."
"Winston?!" the doctor exclaimed. "Why? That makes no sense."
"'The beast at the heart of the beast' is what he told Los Muertos, yah? Given what we know about his obsessions, I'm pretty sure we're the beast. Which means the beast at the heart of it is Widowmaker..."
"Let him try," she sneered.
Venom giggled, briefly, before getting serious again, "...or Winston, if y'want the 'joke' t'make any sense, right?"
Angela sipped at her coffee - quite good, still - and thought. "Ana thinks," the temporary Talon field medic said, "...that she knows 'everyone' you are. Given what she said in person, we can assume that means Talon. She also said that I'm involved. Which means she thinks I am involved with Talon..."
"Not wrong, now. Ironic, innit?"
"Quiet, I'm thinking..." she said, not wanting to think about that too closely, "...and if Ana thinks that, then... what? She thinks I am your... contact? Your superior?"
"...her creator, perhaps? Perhaps also mine." Amélie sipped her coffee, still thinking, as the other two women looked at her, surprised, and she shrugged. "That ludicrous set of documents from the investigation - if Overwatch and Blackwatch actually believed the official story about my 'abduction' and 'conditioning' to be who I am..."
"You're thinkin' that all came from her?" asked Lena, half a smile on her face.
"No. But if she went to Jack, after sending that letter to Fareeha..."
"...it could've come from him," Venom nodded. "Yeh. He signed off on both reports..."
"And he's latched onto Winston, because, because..." The doctor stood up very straight, very tall. "Because of your accelerator! Of course! It couldn't just be me, because I am a medical doctor, not a physicist - it would have to be Winston!"
"It almost makes sense," the Widowmaker said, "in an oddly... detached-from-reality sort of way."
"We need to get Gabe in on this," Lena said, shaking her head. "He knew Jack best, before. And that Los Muertos fighter, Delgado. She might know something. She said he talks in his sleep."
"It means bringing her in on this side of the fence," Angela frowned. "Please do not do that."
"He can talk t'her, we can talk t'him. He should still be an hour out of customs, we should try t'raise him. I'll do it."
The door opened, and Sombra walked in, her expression a combination of bemusement and outright disbelief. "You guys aren't going to believe what I think is going on."
"Yeah?" Venom grinned, happy to have an even better reason to kill Jack Morrison. "Wait'll you hear our version. But g'wan, luv - you first."
Ana Amari looked around the pocket valley not too far outside Jalpan De Serra, a hidden spot deep in the nature reserve. Under a canopy of forest, a small, single-storey house sat in good order. But the interesting parts were around it - the cleared, low-level training camp hidden from overhead view, boxed off in most directions by steep slopes and cliffs.
"Pretty sure it was originally cleared during the war," Morrison replied. "Local resistance against the Omnics. Deep cover. Well hidden. People stay away - bad memories, I guess." He chuckled, a little. "I try to encourage that."
He pointed with his rifle over towards a particularly green patch. "Latrines used to be over there, I think. Found a bunch of old tent stakes, too. Probably didn't want anything too permanent, so they'd just tent up and go."
"Either that, or it was a campground," she smirked. "So this is where you go to hide."
"Hide, or think, or train, Ana. Different things, but it's a good place for all three." He gestured towards the house. "C'mon inside. It's comfortable - I've got a combination of solar and geothermal, and there's an uplink towards the top of the cliff. I figure we'll want to get to San Jose a week before Winston arrives, and until then, we should just lay low, and plan."
I don't like it, Ana thought. It is too steep, and the cliffs are too close. "A hidey-hole is also a trap, Jack. You know that."
"Nobody else in the world knows I know about this place, Ana. Not anymore. If there's any safe place in the Western hemisphere..." He opened the door, and threw his knapsack onto the couch against the far wall of the small living room. "...this is it."