Revised on the 22nd of November 2017
AN: This has been a long time coming…
Hey guys, PoeticPillock here! I first just want to say thanks for all the support I've received from the last update regarding my Education-induced hiatus for the past month-and-a-half. The transition back to school hasn't been too difficult and I've had enough time to get my bearings and get back to writing this story. Things will still be slow, and I know a lot of stuff has happened for the Overwatch lore in the time I've been gone, but don't worry – I'm fully aware of them ;)
Hope you guys enjoy this chapter.
Guizhou Province, southwestern China
The jungle-forests of rural China chirped and hummed with wildlife. The cool air brushing against the thick, green hills of vegetation. There were sparse signs of civilization other than a few humble villages and towns. The province's cities too far away from the remote location to make any significant difference in scenery. Only the hilly mountains covered in green to be seen for miles on end. However, the silence was disturbed for a moment as an MV-261 Orca soared over the canopies. The fog behind it being spun into cyclonic patterns by the engines.
Onboard the aircraft, a team of Overwatch agents were prepping for a landing at one of the organization's old Watchpoints. However, it wasn't just an ordinary Overwatch base. Specifically, it was one of the old Ecopoints - installations constructed to observe the planet's climate and gather data. A result of the strange and lethal climate anomalies that were plaguing their planet. Since it wasn't an explicit military installation, it had been abandoned ever since Overwatch's disbandment years ago. At least, they hoped it would be.
Security-Chief Amari was doing a final diagnostic check on her Raptora armor, seeing every one of her armor's systems were fully optimized. After making sure her suit was combat-ready, she picked up her rocket launcher and began to inspect that also. As she did, she cast her eyes up to look around the cabin and at the other agents occupying it. Immediately, she sees Reinhardt and Torbjörn talking to each other with Brigitte next to them but attending to some equipment. Next, she spots another group of agents across from them, some of them armed and fitted in combat gear while the rest were in simple jumpsuits and engineering equipment. She knew every single one of them, some even long before the first Overwatch fell, which made their safety an even greater priority if she was going to lead them on this mission – Her first actual field mission as an Overwatch agent. Also, her first outing leading one. While it may have been an illegitimate one by the international community, its importance wasn't lost on her in the slightest.
Clattering tools made her look back to the cabin booth and see the last agent they brought along to for this mission since they needed someone who would be the most familiar with the Ecopoints than anyone else in their ranks. Fareeha got up and walked over to the booth, to where their resident Climatologist, Mei, sat. Looking over a big tank of blue liquid with her drone, Snowball.
"Is something wrong, Mei?" Captain Amari asked the occupied scientist.
"Oh, Captain Amari!" Dr. Zhou exclaimed, surprised. "No, n-nothing's wrong. I-I was just checking on my equipment before we reached the Ecopoint. I wouldn't want to get caught with my pants down if anything happens, right?"
"That would be wise. Are you nervous?"
Upon being asked that, Mei fidgeted a little in her seat before she looked at Snowball then back at her tank. A hose coming out of it and attached to a handheld device that looked like a nozzle but with a grip attached to its underside, along with an assortment of switches and protrusions. Each of them serving a well-defined and well-designed purpose. Not the first iteration, either.
"A little bit," the Climatologist admitted. "With everything that's been happening in the world recently, I'm afraid something might happen while we're there."
"Don't worry, that's why the rest of us are here," the Security-Chief assured. "That's why I'm here."
"Thanks, Fareeha. Gosh… It's been years since I've been to Ecopoint: Guizhou, though. Thing's probably changed since I've been gone. We might be a bit slow to extract what we need from there."
"Just worry about your job and let the other worry about theirs. We'll get through this."
Captain Amari gave Dr. Zhou another reassuring nod with a small but sincere smile before turning around and walking back to the central command desk in the ship. Once there, she called for everyone's attention and they gathered around her and the holographic displays of the table. With everyone present and accounted for, the Captain spoke.
"All right everyone, our objective for this mission is to infiltrate Ecopoint: Guizhou and retrieve two things from the base. First, Dr. Zhou will take over the base's computer systems and extract the climate data that is on there. It is vital that she gets this information for her research. Second, we will also retrieve all supplies that are still stored within the base; This includes equipment, rations, ammunition, and so on. I'm sure I don't have to state the importance of this, as well."
There was a collective nod among the agents in response. Everyone seemed to understand the mission, so all that was left was to go through with it.
"Any questions?" their Captain asked, making sure before they proceeded.
One person did raise their hand, but it didn't get very high into the air and was a metallic claw.
"Yes, Torbjörn?" Fareeha asked.
"Well, this isn't a question, more of a statement," the Engineer explained. "It's been an hour since our scout to Guizhou activated the beacon, giving us the all-clear signal. However, we haven't received a single radio transmission since."
"Yup. Haven't responded to any of my transmissions."
Hearing this, the Security-Chief's eyes looked down at the command table and her face twitched with thought. Before they even got their boots on the ground, there was already something to be concerned about. It could be a false alarm, it could be that something happened to their scout, or could be the worst had happened, but she did not want to jump to conclusions. However, she had a feeling it wasn't what it seemed.
"Let's just find our beacon first, and then our man," she ordered, grabbing her falcon-shaped helmet and rocket launcher before stomping to the cabin door.
As they got within a kilometer of the Ecopoint, the Orca significantly decreased in speed as the door opened and Captain Amari jumped out in her Raptora armor before the thrusters on her back activated. The jets spitting blue flame as she propelled in front of the dropship and got to the airspace above the Ecopoint first. Looking down, her helmet's heads-up-display scanned the ground beneath her, looking down at the interior perimeter of the former-Overwatch base, a wall separating it from the rest of the forest. There were buildings and offices spread throughout the facility, with some crates and outdoor equipment strewn in between them. Most of the structures were quaint, not big enough to serve any other purpose than what the Ecopoint intended. In the middle of it all was a white landing pad that the dropship will eventually use, but she kept flying over the ground and scanned for any signs of activity. Her helmet providing eagle-eyed vision. After a few more fly-bys, she radios in the others.
"Everything seems clear," she said, her flight slowing to a gentle glide over the perimeter. "Security team, you're up."
"Roger that, Captain," responded the voice of Mirembe, looking out of the dropship's door and down at the landing pad. She then looked down at her weapon to prime it and fastened the straps of a pack on her back that had a set of small rocket-like boosters at the bottom. The agent then looked back to the rest of the squad of the security team, seeing they all had their jetpacks ready as well. "Let's go."
Not another second was wasted as she jumped out of the dropship and fell towards the facility grounds. The dropship kept flying across the base, but the rest of her team kept jumping out one after the other. Covering as much ground of the facility like a squad of paratroopers. As they got close to the ground, the boosters on their packs activated and lessened the speed and force of their falls until they landed unto the base unharmed. Instantly, they held their rifles up and scanned the area immediately surrounding them for any hostile signs of movement. After being spent, the packs popped off their backs of their own accord, releasing weight from their bodies. It was quiet except for the jet propulsions of their Captain and the Orca, waiting for the all-clear signal to land.
"Team, report," they all heard their Captain in their ears.
"I'm clear over here, Captain," Mirembe responded, overlooking an open ground from a building she landed on.
"Clear over here!"
The team waited for the rest to call-in, until they only had one last squad member left to call-in. They were taking somewhat longer to respond, the others starting to wonder what was happening on their end.
"Hoosic, respond!" Captain Amari ordered, setting her eyes on the far end of the base from her.
"I'm picking up something on the motion tracker, ma'am," the agent called, speaking at a hushed volume.
"In the building I landed in front of. South of the landing pad."
"I see. Mirembe, you're the closest one. Double-time it and back up Hoosic."
"Yes, ma'am," the agent said without hesitation as she hopped off the building she was on and went over to her squadmate, taking less than half-a-minute to get there.
She finds him taking cover behind a stack of crates and is facing a door to a sizable building. Coming up behind him, they exchange glances before nodding in acknowledgment and quietly march over to the large door. They go on either side of the mechanical door, Hoosic taking cover by the control panel and Mirembe across from him. He looks down, once again seeing the one blip on his motion tracker, but noticed it was getting closer to where they were, beeping more frequently as it did. It wouldn't be long until the blip reached their position, so, Hoosic looked over at Mirembe and gave her a simple bow of his head towards the door and the control panel. She instantly understood and reaffirmed her grip on her weapon. With only a few more seconds of silence between them, her squadmate slapped the control panel and the door came wide open, Mirembe taking only a split-second to raise her rifle towards the doorway. But as soon as she peeped through the sight, she restrained herself and lowered her rifle. In the doorway was Nathan Brin, who was happily munching away at what appeared to be a foam cup of steaming noodles, not even noticing the woman with the rifle until he peered up from his soup.
"Oh, Mirembe," was what tall man first said as he slurped up a noodle into his mouth. "Wasn't expecting to see you here."
The two agents both took a sigh of relief and slight disappointment before Mirembe radioed Amari.
"Captain, it's Mirembe. False-alarm, it's just our scout. We found him, he's alive and well. Over."
"Copy that. I'll signal the ship. Amari, out."
She released her finger from her ear and looked back up at Nathan, who kept slurping at the cup of noodles.
"Where were you?" she asked. "What were you doing in there?"
"Getting lunch," he gave a straight answer, sipping on some beef-flavored broth. "You guys were taking too long."
"We were trying to reach you through the radio."
"Shit, really?" Nathan asked, surprised, as he reached down and looked at his helmet, hanging from a latch on his belt. "I didn't hear anything on my end. Dammit, I thought I fixed it before I got sent here. And I guess that means you didn't receive my updates, either?"
After asking that, Brin raised an eyebrow before gesturing them to follow as he walked off and towards the other side of the base. Reaching that end of the Ecopoint, the tall man had led them to a site of open ground surrounded by crates and containers. In the middle, there was a sheet of tarp covering something, but they saw something leaking onto the ground. It was dark red and smelled like iron.
"There were fellow trespassers here before I came," the Courier explained, bending down and picking up a corner of the tarp to look underneath to double-check. "Talon – Took care of them before they could alert anyone else. Been quiet ever since."
Seeing this, Mirembe went over to his side and crouched down, peering under the tarp for herself. She saw what the Courier had done to the dozen or so Talon agents piled on top of each other and immediately looked away. A bit shaken by the sight. However, she couldn't deny this was good news for the rest of the team.
"Well, this makes our job easier, then," Mirembe said, getting up from the pile. "Good job, Brin."
Nathan looked at her when she said that as he finished his lunch, before throwing the cup onto the pile. "So, now what?"
"Now, our current objective is to reallocate the resources and supplies stationed here, so we can bring them back to Gibraltar."
"So… We're raiding?"
"That's one way of putting it."
"Pfft," the tall Waster sneered with a slightly amused expression. "You could have just said that. I could've picked this place clean before you guys got here."
Their scout walked off, away from the pile of corpses and towards the inside of the Ecopoint. Mirembe sported an unamused expression as she rolled her eyes while Hoosic walks up beside her and watches the tall man go.
"What is that guy's deal?" Hoosic questions, more confused than anything. "I don't think I've ever seen a merc like him."
"Don't like him?" Mirembe asks, addressing her squadmate.
"What?! No, I didn't say that! I actually think he's kind of… Interesting."
"What do you mean by that?"
"I've never heard of any random mercenary who can just keep up with the rest of Overwatch. And I don't mean ordinary grunts like us. I heard he went on some of the dangerous missions with Tracer, Reinhardt, Genji, and the other top 'watchdogs'. Y'know he was the one who brought that Bastion Unit to Gibraltar?"
"I know, I was leading the security team that detained that thing when it arrived."
"Crazy, right? Do you know anything about him?"
Mirembe went silent as soon as he asked that since she honestly knew very little about the strange, tall, scarred man, despite having plenty of interactions with him before. More than most, relatively speaking.
"No, not really," she merely stated, looking back at the pile of corpses under the tarp. "I'm just glad he's on our side."
"Heh, no kidding," the other agent agrees, a bit too ecstatically. "Winston must be paying top dollar for him."
Suddenly, the sky above them thundered as grey clouds began to form. It didn't take long for them to feel small droplets of rainfall onto them. Then, the rain slowly started increasing in size and severity, forcing them to find cover soon and rejoin the rest of their squad. Leaving the pile of corpses to be soaked in the rain.
About an hour into the operation, a couple of the technicians were working in the supply warehouse for Ecopoint: Guizhou, responsible for moving the crates of supplies to the dropship for transport. Many of the crates were heavy, so two of the technicians slowly carried one big crate to a floating flatbed cart, struggling and huffing as they did so. Eventually, they slammed the large box of stuff onto the cart and almost collapsed onto it from exhaustion. As they hunched over each other, panting, they then heard a series of loud stomps of metal and Reinhardt, in his shining Crusader armor, passed them as he carried two very large crates between his large arms. They weren't sure if the armor was even needed for the large man to carry that load.
"Afternoon!" the German greeted as he stomped past, the two continuing to watch him until he got out of sight.
"Show off," one of them muttered as he got up and patted his jumpsuit.
The other technicians burst into a short fit of laughter, but that disappeared as she looked up and saw something behind her friend. She gestured for him to look and they both saw at the other end of the warehouse from them was the tall, bearded man who chewed them out a few days ago at Gibraltar to know where DVa was. Instantly, the male technician growled as he turned away and went back to work.
"Asshole…" he grumbled under his breath, looking at the cart to see it was full. "What the fuck is he doing here?"
"I don't know, Daniel," the other technician responded, keeping an eye on the other side. "I just hope he let us do our jobs."
She watched as the man was chatting with another technician who was in the warehouse with them, Brigitte. However, she became surprised to see how casually the two were talking with each other. Unlike what they experienced, first hand, Brigitte didn't seem to mind speaking with the scarred, coated figure who towered over her. In retrospect, Brigitte not being bothered by someone's height or physical appearance made sense, seeing who she was the mechanic for. Still, the technician almost couldn't believe her eyes when she saw Reinhardt's steward start laughing in the middle of their conversation as if that man had just told a joke to her. It was more confusing than anything.
"Wait, do they know each other?" she asked, hushed and close to her colleague.
"Who? Them?" Daniel asked in return, looking over at Brigitte and Nathan. "Probably, if they're talking to each other like that. Surprised Brigitte would know a guy like that, considering how nice she is…"
"Where did he come from, anyway?"
"What do you mean, Sara?"
"I mean… I've heard things about him. He wasn't with the original Overwatch."
"Yeah, I've heard that, too. What else?"
Before continuing, Sara hung silent as she peered over and watched as Brigitte and Nathan then walked out of the room with supplies, the latter pushing the full cart while the former carried some boxes. As soon as they were out of sight and earshot, she looked around to see they were alone in the building. Then, she inched closer to her friend before speaking.
"Everybody thinks he's just a merc or someone that Winston recruited early in the 'Recall'," Sara first explained in hushed tones. "Other than that, no one really knows where he came from, but he's apparently undertaken some pretty tough missions with the other agents with some success. You know Dr. Ziegler's new assistant? The Iraqi girl with the cute glasses? Apparently, he was a part of the team that saved her on a mission in Oasis. He also apparently helped snatch that big red bomb from Britain."
Sara peered up again to make sure they were still alone, only the slight shutter of a window as it continued to rain outside.
"However…" she began, her tone now not entirely hushed. "There are rumors that there's some sort of trade going on between him and Winston."
"Trade? Trading what?" Daniel asked.
"People are saying that they sometimes see him walking to Winston's carrying some strange gadget and a pile of paper. There are talks about going into his room and seeing what he has with him. To see what has Winston of all people so interested."
"…Have you thought about going?"
"Hell no! Were you not there when he interrogated us?! Last thing I want to do is piss him off."
"Yeah… That sounds like a good idea. He's an asshole, but there's probably a reason he has all those scars."
"Yup. We should probably stop talking about it and get to work in case they come back."
With that bit of juicy gossip out of the way, the two finally went back to work finding and carrying supplies to their cart before they haul it off. Daniel, after searching through the scaffolds and finding not really anything worth of value to them, decided to go deeper into the warehouse and found himself in a different part of the building. The interior being dim, he pulled out a small flashlight and guided himself to a stack of crates against the wall on the far end of the building. He looked at the larger crate in front and read the labeling to see it was what they needed but was too large for him to carry by himself. He then looked to see if there was a latch or lock to open the crate and carry the contents inside individually, but he found no such luck. However, he felt a sudden gust of wind and the room get a couple of degrees colder. He turned around with the flashlight, seeing if someone had opened a window or door behind him but it looked like he was still alone. The technician then felt something brushing up against the back of his shoulder and looked to see a black gaseous substance washing over him. Turning around, he saw the dark cloud was flowing off the crate and above him. He pivoted his head upward, the flashlight following his vision, and couldn't even scream before a set of dark hands seized him by the neck and effortlessly hoisted him up. The excruciating pain of metal claws ripping his throat out being the last thought in his mind as he let go of the flashlight and let it clatter to the floor.
Brigitte and Nathan carted their batch of supplies from the warehouse into the rain, but the mechanic's face lit up with realization as she stopped and reached into one of the boxes on the cart before pulling out a square device in her hand.
"I almost forgot," she said, then handing over that device to Nathan. "Could you give that to Mei, please? She was looking for something like this. You pushed the cart last time, so I'll take over and get it to the ship."
"Um, sure," he uncertainly accepted, grabbing the square object.
"Thanks. She's in the main building, working on something. Make sure not to get it wet."
Lifting a raincoat hood over her head, Brigitte ran off towards the helipad at a fervent pace to get out of the rain as quickly as possible. Nathan spotted the building she was talking about close-by, and put the device under his coat before going out into the rain, too. It was a short run, reaching the central research building of the Ecopoint in a matter of seconds. The door automatically slid open for him and he walked inside, seeing the room he went into was a large and spacious area – rows of tables with instruments and equipment meant for research. At first, he couldn't find anyone else within the room, but as he walked further in, he came across a window that led to another spacious room and found Dr. Zhou was in there at a large central computer. She was examining a holographic diagram of things Brin couldn't make heads or tails of. It was enough to keep the Climatologist enamored as she didn't notice the door opening and closing as he walked in. When she did finally look to her left she got startled at the sight of the large man in black armor. However, she calmed down when she realized who it was.
"Oh, Mr. Brin!" she exclaimed, clearly surprised and holding a hand to her chest. "You scared me!"
"Erh-sorry," Nathan apologized as he took off his wet helmet. "I'm here to hand something off to you. Brigitte said you needed it."
After explaining, he produced the square device, nice and dry. Mei's face immediately lit up as she saw it.
"Thanks!" she expressed as she took it into her hands.
She went back and inserted the square disk into a slot on the central computer. After doing so, the projection from the computer lit up with additional holograms highlighting data that Nathan would guess coincided with the rest of the display he saw earlier. Upon closer inspection, he saw the main display was a three-dimensional layout of the landscape surrounding the Ecopoint since he recognized some of the physical landmarks on his hike into the base beforehand. Feeling his wanderer brain twitching a little as his eyes darted from hilltop to hilltop.
"What is this?" he asks aloud.
"This? Oh, this is just all the climate data the instruments in Ecopoint: Guizhou has collected over the years," Mei explained, working the computer she did so. "Precipitation levels, wind patterns, temperature fluctuations, etcetera."
"So, just the weather?"
"Oh, no, so much more than that, Nathan. Don't you pay attention to the news?"
The Waster's eye immediately darted to her and back, realizing he was probably asking the wrong questions to the wrong person.
"Umm… Not recently," he responds, trying to save face. "Been preoccupied with a lot of things. What's been happening?"
"Well, Earth's climate situation has been getting worse and worse," the Climatologist explains, her tone noticeably becoming a bit more dejected. "Even with all the data we've gathered, it has become very hard to pinpoint a source of these changes or the anomalies."
"Sudden changes in seasons, peculiar weather patterns, and these huge and disastrous storms that have been wreaking havoc lately. I'm sure you've probably experience events in California lately, no?"
Hearing that question, Nathan immediately thought back to the few times he's been to the Californian coast and seeing the Pacific Ocean in its vast and limitless scope. While there were times the waves were just cool and placid, he couldn't forget the one or two storms that would sometimes occur during the rainy seasons. A little rain and wind wouldn't be too bad if they weren't contaminated with radiation and covered everything in a green haze.
"Some," the Waster admitted, the true answer unbeknownst to her. "Any theories as to why it's like this?"
"A few," Dr. Zhou replied. "Many like to blame the climate change on our growing technological world, but even that has proven to be an insufficient answer from all the data we've gathered. Even then, the effects are definitely something we have to focus on soon."
Saying that Mei took a deep, upset sigh as she kept looking at all the holographic data the Ecopoint's data.
"Sorry if I'm talking your ear off, Nathan," she apologized sincerely. "This can be pretty boring for most people."
"No, no, it's fine," he took exception to that. "I… Just never really had a chance to talk about something like this. Besides, it's oddly refreshing talking about a subject that doesn't involve shooting someone in the face."
Mei did react somewhat to how casually Nathan said that last sentence, but she hid her surprise in good faith.
"You know, I always climbed the mountains around here when I was younger," Mei said, looking at the holographic projections. "I love hiking. Always went outdoors every opportunity I had. I've always wanted to do the same every time I visited California, but I've never had the chance. Do you have any suggestions the next time I do?"
The New Californian looked at the Chinese woman, trying to think of a proper response to give her. One that wasn't too different.
"Sierra Nevada, Klamath, and Modoc aren't too bad," he lists off, kindly but regrettably bullshitting her, knowing there are probably significant differences between the ones he knew and the ones in this world. "But, I'm more of a fan of the desert."
"You hike in the Mojave? I've never been there."
"It's a wild place. Best to be prepared before setting foot there."
Suddenly, Nathan smile faded away as he felt something pulling on him and he looked over his shoulder to notice part of his coat was floating mid-air as if someone was underneath it. He turned around to face the lump, but it just followed and stayed behind him. He turned around again, the lump moving with him. Then, he kept spinning and spinning and spinning, trying to catch the floating lump like a dog trying to catch its own tail. Mei couldn't help herself as she just giggled at what she saw. Finally, he had enough when he just grabbed his coat to reveal the floating blue drone whose eyes then widen in fear as it scrambled away from Nathan and flew behind Mei. The floating robot peeking from his friend's shoulder before hiding behind her again. That entire scene couldn't help but remind the Courier of another floating robot he met before.
"Your friend needs to learn some manners," he observed, straightening out his coat.
"I'm sorry about that," Mei apologized to him with an amused smile, before turning to her floating companion. "Snowball, say you're sorry to him."
Snowball looked at its friend with an unamused expression before floating up and having its visor blink the words "I'm sorry" in quick succession. Nathan wasn't convinced, but it was better than a couple of whirrs and beeps.
Then, without warning, a shrill scream faintly echoed outside of the building and made everyone in the room seize up in surprise. Snowball's eyes became wide with fright and hid behind Mei, again, as Nathan looked out of the window in the room. The holodesk before them flashed with the blinking red words security breach and showed a map of the Ecopoint, one red dot beeping where the warehouse was. Without hesitation, the Courier grabbed his helmet and fixed it upon his head.
"Stay here," he told Mei, before going out of the room and eventually running into the rain.
The rain pelted his metal head and mud sloshed around his boots as he ran towards the scream. It was very faint and could easily have been drowned out by the thundering rain, but he knew better than to discount it. It only took seconds for him to reach the warehouse in a sprint before anyone else, and once inside he held the barrel of his rifle up as he slowly went further in. Eventually, he reached the darkest part of the warehouse, remembering two of the technicians working close to here. Scouring through the structure, he did end up finding the two Overwatch workers at the far end of an aisle from him. As he laid his eyes on them, the Courier immediately could tell that there was something wrong. Both were on the floor, hunched over each other, and motionless. He couldn't see their faces, but he could see a dark liquid pooling beneath them. His eyes darted all around the room, refusing to get closer as he knew their bodies were set up as a trap. However, he heard a series of footsteps approaching from behind and saw Brigitte run in, bearing an expression of great distress.
"What happened?!" she questioned, scrambling inside. "Where's Daniel and Sar-"
The mechanic stopped herself mid-sentence as soon as she saw her friends' bodies at the other side of the room. She immediately tried to run over to them, but Nathan stuck out his arm in front of her.
"No, no, no, no! Don't do that!" he exclaimed.
However, the two became silent as they heard a rushing, violent wind and looked to see a spinning cloud of dark gas on the floor meters from them. Seconds later, a black hooded figure rising from the ground and with a bone-white mask in a permanent, deathly scowl stared at them as his gravely and raspy laugh emitted from the mask. The white of his mask stained with some crimson.
"Brigitte…" the Courier growled under his helmet, his grip tightening on his weapons. "Run."
The Courier and the Reaper immediately opened fire on each other as Brigitte ran, narrowly missing oncoming fire. The inside of the warehouse began to thunder louder than the storm outside. Their weapons lighting up the interior with every shot, the Courier's carbine rapidly emitting flashes of light while the Reaper's dual shotguns quaked the air with their blasts. The one with the carbine dove to a crate to take cover from the swarms of buckshot flying towards him. His cover proved inadequate as sheets of the metal were chipped away by the burning munitions. The Reaper kept firing at the crate as he walked closer, reducing it to scrap and almost revealing his target's body to him until the Courier got up and kicked the large crate towards. Reaper sidestepped the large crate, his ghostly form clouding his movements in the air behind him, but he then felt himself get driven to the ground as his adversary tackled him. Pinning him to the ground, the Courier brought the muzzle of his carbine to the skull mask but missed by a fraction of a second as the Reaper dissipated into smoke and let the round crack the concrete. Not giving him time to reorient himself, a pair of hands with bloody metal talons formed upon his helmet and violently threw him into a metal crate. Feeling his entire body rock, he looked up to see the barrel of a shotgun being lifted to his skull. He ducked and slammed the body of his Pip-Boy into the weapon, nearly getting hit by the blast and feeling the heat of it crawl up his neck. The Courier then delivers a punch to the Reaper's face and sends him reeling back. The taller man tries to send another punch, but his arm is stopped rock-solid by a set of talons. They then twist, and Nathan feels his wrist painfully contort from the Reaper's superhuman strength before being kicked down to the floor.
Nathan looks up to address this threat, but his eyes widen in shock as his vision becomes distorted in the low light, and above him sees the silhouette of a creature with bright glowing bug-eyes, raising a set of large, dagger-like claws high above its head and getting ready to strike. Memories of the Divide flooding his mind in that moment, the sounds of the creatures deafening his ears. Hearing them scream and gurgle as they carved through concrete. That's what the Courier saw for a moment until lightning lit up the room again and the creature morphed back into the visage of the Reaper before he brought down metal talons and scraped the side of Nathan's helmet, damaging the metal and leaving a line of scratches alongside the dome. The man grimaced under his helmet as he kicked ghost away and rolled back, simultaneously unholstering his sidearm as he got up and began unloading his magazine towards the figure – backing away as he did so. The pistol rounds hit their mark but mildly annoyed the Wraith at best as they appeared to dissolve within his own cloud. However, he soon noticed something roll to his feet and barely had time to brace himself before the grenade exploded and enveloped the Reaper in its blast. After the explosion, Nathan stood there with his carbine and a fresh magazine as he waited for the smoke to clear.
He didn't even have the luxury to wait as a storm of glowing red bolts of light burst forth from the smoke and the entire room was enshrouded in a hailstorm of gunfire. Nathan dove to the ground, trying to avoid the swarm of fire and astonished by the rate at which it was being produced. Through the storm, the attack began to weaken the structural integrity of the scaffoldings and it wasn't long until they were hit in the right spot and began to collapse to the ground. Nathan looked up to see the falling crates but was too slow to do anything as tons of supplies fell over him, burying the Waster in a pile of metal and debris. It was only after this did the Reaper stop firing and threw his dual shotguns to the ground.
He looked at the pile with his mask's perpetual scowl and examined the huge mess he made. The huge pile that crushed the Courier. The Talon mercenary realized there was gunfire occurring outside of the warehouse, telling him that the other Overwatch agents were being assaulted by the rest of his men. He looked back at the pile, before deciding to move. However, he noticed something jumped up from a crack in the pile and noticed it roll to his feet. It was another grenade, but it glowed green.
As a ring of super-heated green energy washed over him, the Reaper let out a howl that echoed throughout the warehouse. As the burning green goo made even his deathly form feel pain. The force and the intensity of the blast were unlike anything he felt before, and the ghostly figure was washed away like a cloud in the wind. Leaving a pair of shotguns on the plasma-charred ground.
The warehouse was quiet for several long moments after he dissipated, the pile of rubble sat still and undisturbed. Then, muffled noises came from beneath the surface and there was slight movement from the crates and debris as something shook underneath it. This went on for a few moments until an arm rocketed up from the pile and cracked the surface open. A bloody and bruised Courier crawled out of the hole he made until he rolled down to the ground floor, scattering more supplies. Lying on his stomach he took off his helmet and gasped for air. Reaching to his belt, he pulled out one Stimpak and brought it up to his neck, injecting the syringe's contents into him with a hermetic hiss. He laid on the floor, afterward, breathing heavily as he felt the medicine work on him, but the pain surged throughout his entire body. Despite his pain, he realized there was more gunfire happening outside. The sound of automatic rifle fire from both Overwatch and Talon agents, the distinct noise of Pharah's rocket launcher booming through the storm air, and more noise he couldn't care to pick apart.
Taking one more gulp of air, he groaned in pain as he got to his feet and grabbed his helmet. He felt the claw marks Reaper had given it as he fixed it upon his head. He pulled up his carbine but saw that it took damage from the collapse, its scope now busted. The Courier ripped it off and threw it onto the ground before running out and back to the rain.
He stumbled to the exit, leaning against the side of the doorway as he looked out into the raining grounds of the Ecopoint to see it had erupted into a small war zone. What looked like a battalion of Talon ground soldiers that had snuck in from the forest and burst through the walls to ambush the Overwatch team. Two structures in the base were receiving fire from nearly all directions: the landing pad and the central research building. The landing pad and the dropship were being pelted by smalls arms fire but Reinhardt's shield and what appeared to be a collection of automated turrets were on the defensive. Nathan could see Torbjörn fervently hammering away at his creations amidst the attack. RPG's rocketed into the air and towards the ship, but they either detonated against Reinhardt's shield, disabled by some defense systems the engineer had set up, or flew into the air. However, despite having much more ample cover, he saw the research building was not faring that much better as it was being showered with as many bullets as it was raindrops. There were a few muzzles flashes coming from the building's windows, firing back at the Talon troops, but they were too few to put up much of a counter-attack.
Hearing gunfire close to his right, he turns his head to see a couple of Talon soldiers taking cover by some nearby crates and firing at the research building. Without hesitation, the Courier went into a full sprint and charges towards them. They were too preoccupied with shooting to notice the large man in black armor running towards them, as the one closest to him turned at the last second before being forced to the ground with a hand around his throat in a vise. The second soldier spun around but was instantly put down from a quick burst of All-American before he could do anything to save his friend. Tightening his grip on his hostage's throat, the Courier lifted him up with ease as he held him in front of his body and faced the battle, holding his carbine next to the silver head. Feeling hands claw at his arm in a futile attempt at freedom.
Carrying the Talon soldier like a makeshift shield, he ran towards the research building and began firing at the attackers. He knew he couldn't hit anything the way he was shooting, but it provided enough of a distraction as the running Courier began receiving fire his way, taking some of the heat off from the others. His meat-shield obviously didn't appreciate it as he began screaming and flailing as his own comrade's bullets punctured his black uniform. The Courier ignored his cries of pain and the splatters of his blood as he kept running, dumping an entire magazine towards the enemy.
At the front of the research building, Mirembe, Hoosic, and a few other agents took cover by the front windows and fired back at the assaulting Talon agents, their rifle sights fixed upon glowing red slits in the distance. Mirembe took cover as she swapped out a fresh mag for her weapon, but looked back to see Mei taking cover underneath a table and holding Snowball close to her. In the Chinese Climatologists other hand, however, she tightly held onto the same device she had with her in the dropship before landing. Her face not stricken with fear. Mirembe began hearing approaching gunfire. She peered up to see a black uniform and glowing red eyes running towards them and raised her rifle to shoot them down, but her eyes widen in surprise as she sees the glowing red eyes belonged to a Talon corpse being used by Nathan Brin as a shield.
"What the fuck?!" she heard Hoosic next to her says aloud.
As brutal as it looked, it worked in the man's favor as he reached the front of the research building unharmed and took cover by the thick trunk of a satellite spire. Unceremoniously throwing the bloodied and used-up corpse to the wet ground. Then, in between his shooting, she saw the man in black armor wave to them.
Mirembe instantly got to her feet and ordered the rest of her team to get ready to move. She went over to Mei and grabbed her by the arm. Under the covering fire of the Courier, the rest of the Overwatch team ran out into the rain and made a break to the dropship. Nathan watched as they ran past him to the landing pad, before going back and firing at his targets. The rainstorm and the lack of a scope made shooting somewhat more difficult to pick and see his targets, but the distance wasn't too challenging for his weapon and he found taking them down doable. Already whittling down their numbers by a significant margin, a rain of brass casings trickling from his weapon. He stopped firing as he watched a rocket come down and blow up at the foot of their enemies, looking up to see Pharah fly-by and send down more rockets to provide covering fire. Some of the Talon operatives began to focus fire on her and he could see the trailing of their bullets as they tried to hit her. Nathan took this as his cue to displace and join up with the rest of the team running towards the dropship, throwing a grenade to the other side before doing so.
The seasoned Waster caught up with the rest of the group, seeing Mirembe was at taking point. They fired as they moved, getting closer to the ship and to salvation. Rounds whizzed and flew around them, the rainstorm pelting them and making their uniforms sopping wet – but they were close now. Nathan saw Mirembe turn around and hold an arm high into the sky.
"Come on!" the Overwatch agent yelled over the storm, enough for everyone to hear. "We're almost there! Just keep goin-"
Mirembe didn't get to finish her sentence as a chunk of her face suddenly exploded and everyone behind her stopped in their tracks out of complete shock, Nathan included.
"NOOO!" they heard Hoosic let out a blood-curdling thunderous scream, watching her lifeless body flop to the ground.
Then – as if being the harbinger of death, and miraculously surviving the plasma – the black cowl of the Reaper came out from behind a crate and displayed in the grasp of his clawed hands his two "scythes", one of them freshly smoking from the muzzle. However, he looked different; The black of his robe was stained with the radiating plasma, part of his outfit was torn and scarred with glowing green. His eyes glowed too, but with a vengeful tint of blood red that could be seen in the dreary light of the storm. Part of the mask was broken, but nobody could tell what was underneath.
Hoosic, in a fit of rage and anguish, lifted his rifle sight to the skulled man but couldn't even get his finger on the trigger as Reaper swiftly brought one shotgun up and blasted the man into the chest, sending him reeling to the ground. He was still alive, but barely, his chest smoldering with energy and already starting to cough up blood. Everyone else stood in the rain, too shocked to do anything as Mirembe's blood started mixing with the ground. The Courier was the quickest to react, feeling the whole world around him slow to a crawl as he leveled the barrel of his carbine to the assassin draped in black. The Reaper did the same, almost meeting him in the draw, but couldn't get a shot out as a sudden flood of blue surged into him and was suddenly encased in a solid block of ice from nowhere. More shocked, everyone looked back to Mei holding the nozzle of her Endothermic Blaster to the Reaper, her hand visibly trembling. More gunfire from the rest of the Talon soldiers shook them out of their shock, but Mei fired a trail of the freezing liquid towards the ground and erected walls of solid ice around them. Forming a little perimeter and everyone watching as the smalls arms fire harmlessly bounced off the ice.
They heard the rocketing of jet engines as Pharah landed in front of them. The Captain looked to Mirembe's body before looking down at Hoosic writhing on the ground. Suddenly, the sound of ice cracking behind her made them look and saw the Wraith wasn't going to stay confined in his cold prison, punching out of the ice, and clawing his way out. The bone white mask looked at them, seeing the bright red glow in the dark of his eyes glow even brighter. Fareeha calmly lifted her left arm towards the ghostly man, brandishing the red tip of a tiny missile on her wrist, baring the white of her teeth in a snarl.
She let the ordinance fly free, detonating against the ice and resulting in a large concussive blast that destroyed the wall of ice and threw the wraith tumbling across the base, letting out a gravely, low roar that dissipated in the storm. Wasting no more time, Fareeha bent down and picked up Hoosic into her arms.
"Get to the dropship, now!" was all she ordered, before jetting off towards the landing pad.
"Come on, everybody," Mei exclaimed, already taking point with her blaster.
As she ran and created frozen barriers between them and the attackers on their flanks, Nathan was about to follow but stopped after only a few steps. Feeling the cold rain soaking through his duster, he looked down at the corpse of Mirembe at his feet, immediately focusing on her mangled head. He didn't know much about her other than her last name. They didn't have the warmest of interactions, but seeing her missing a chunk of her face from a shotgun blast reminded the Courier too much of the things he's witnessed. The cruelest acts living beings can commit to one another. Shit that would make anyone's stomach churn. He hated that looking upon her face was reminding him of that, in a place far away from there. Putting their fellows in front of the muzzle of a shotgun and squeezing the trigger. He bent down and dragged a finger over her remaining eye, closing it.
"Nathan!" he heard Reinhardt call out to him over the storm and gunfire. "What are you doing?! We must leave, now!"
The Courier picked the soldier's body up into his arms, ignoring the splats of her blood across his armor as he began running to the landing pad with her. He wouldn't be content with just taking her dog tags. His boots sloshed in a mixture of blood and mud as he made it to the landing and eventually reached the Orca, climbing on board. Reinhardt was the last one to climb in as he had his shield up and kept absorbing small arms fire as the ship began to ascend and fly away from the Ecopoint. Narrowly dodging a few loose RPGs.
"Incoming!" Reinhardt called out before he swung his hammer underhand and sent a column of fire through the air. The flame intercepting a warhead meant for them and detonating in mid-air.
The Crusader stepped away from the door as a blue Raptora suit flew along the ship before veering inside to then skidding to the floor, the armor glistening from the rain. Finally, the ship closed the ramp door and stopped the sound of rushing wind from invading the inside of the cabin. The Ecopoint steadily becoming farther away from them.
The cabin reigned with silence, only the slight humming of the ship and turbulence of the storm making enough noise to be noticeable. Nathan walked to the ship's central computer and laid Mirembe's wet, bloody corpse on top of it. He then took off his soaking wet duster and covered the upper half of her body, concealing her mangled head. Noticing his duster had a few new tears in it. With that done, he walked to his left and towards a stack of crates that were piled on top of the cabin's mini-basketball court. Suddenly, he kicked a crate across the floor and the sound echoed throughout the ship.
"Fuck!" he screamed out in rage, then grabbing at his helmet and throwing that across the ship. "What the fuck was that?!"
"An ambush…" Fareeha Amari simply answered, leaning against the central computer, and hovering over Mirembe's corpse. "A goddamn ambush."
Silence rang in the cabin again, but there was a sudden shriek of crying and everyone looked to the booth seats and saw one of the security personnel bursting out into tears. Instantly, people close to him tried to comfort the man, one of them being Mei, wrapping her arms around him. Reinhardt looked at Fareeha, the two exchanging silent glances before the old German sighed and walked over to the booth to join everyone else. The Egyptian looked back at Torbjörn, who secluded himself to his own corner of the cabin. Then, she heard fading footsteps and looked behind to see the Courier walking up the steps to the back of the Orca.
"Nathan," Fareeha tried to call to him. "You-"
"Does Mirembe have a next of kin?" Nathan interrupted her with a question.
"Does she have a next of kin?"
"…She used to."
Brin turned around to face her.
"A husband… But he passed away a couple of years ago from cancer," Amari solemnly recounted, not wanting this to be the last thing they speak of about Mirembe.
Nathan just stared at her, his gaze unchanging as it seemed to be stuck rock solid in a perpetual scowl. However, he shook his head as he turned around, climbing up the stairs and taking out his Vault 13 flask from his back pocket.
"Then what the fuck did she die for?"
"She died for the rest of us."
Nathan stopped but didn't dare himself to turn around and look at the Captain. To look back at the corpse on the table.
"She died for a cause she had no obligation to join and sacrifice herself for. She died for something she was a part of before I even joined, and long after it fell apart. She knew the consequences and the reality, and she still re-joined. You may not see it that way, and I wish she was still alive, but I know she didn't go down without a fight or without helping us. She fulfilled her duty to the fullest."
Nathan stood there, staring down at the number "13" on his canteen, remembering what that number meant to him. What it meant to his people back home, the champion who bore that number on his back. He continued walking up as he began to unscrew the cap.