Disclaimer: I own no franchise mentioned in this work. Halo belongs to 343, Overwatch belongs to Blizzard.

The Slipstream Jet that Tracer was lost in seems to be a Halo reference. Utilizes the 'Slipstream' to teleport objects across a great distance, time dilation effects, known to cause personnel to disappear. Coincidence, reference, or science?

I feel kind of 'myeh' on the quality of this chapter. I usually spend a bit more time world-building, but seeing as there's not much to build on in Overwatch at this point I can accept it. It's fairly fast paced.

Chief was surprised, which was quite the feat considering he had just returned from one of the strangest missions of his career. While the Ark and the enemies on it had presented a threat, the girl that had just appeared in the vehicle bay of the Dawn was no such thing. From the way she had stayed prone on the floor, she was either hurt or in pain. When Chief had approached she'd seemed confused and lost, not surprising considering where she was. It had been habit that brought his weapon to bear when she jerked upright, an action he somewhat regretted when she passed out.

The pedestal beside him lit up as Cortana appeared on top. She looked down at the figure on the floor with a frown before crossing her arms and glaring at the Chief. "Congratulations, you've successfully saved us all from a defenseless girl."

At her scolding the Spartan lowered his MA5C and relaxed his stance, though he kept his eyes on the contact. The girl was dressed in what looked to be pilot's gear from the twenty-first century, although she lacked the thick jacket that was usually standard with such uniforms. Instead her torso was covered by a thin undershirt, likely some form of fire-resistant compression material to stimulate blood flow.

After quickly searching her for weapons or identification and finding neither, Chief noticed her shiver once more and curl tightly into a fetal position. He placed his MA5 once more upon his back as he spoke, "How did she get here?"

Cortana paused for a second to process the available information before responding, "It appears that she is caught in some form of localized slipstream space. From how she appeared, I'm guessing a cascade failure of a slipspace drive resulted in a fluctuation in the slipstream. She was unlucky enough to get caught in it. The Ark portal probably intercepted the unstable bubble and contained it, dropping her here."

"Any previous reports that could match?" the Spartan asked from beside the prone figure. There had been no identification in the various pockets of her pants, although he had located a symbol at least. The small circular pseudo-peace sign adorned several pieces of clothing, though the Chief had never seen such a symbol before and thus was back at square one.

"Negative, at least none that I have on record. Of all the reports on personnel disappearing near slipspace drives before, none mention the reappearance or survival of any victims," the AI responded.

Chief nodded his acknowledgement as he knelt down and carefully, if slightly awkwardly, lifted the girl off the floor. He turned and made his way through the corridors of the Dawn to the barracks. While the bunks would be fairly uncomfortable for a civilian, they would be better than laying on the cold deck plating. As he carried her further into the ship and away from the cold air of the vehicle bay, the girl curled into his chest plate, likely due to the residual warmth from the explosions on the Halo.

He knew Cortana could tell he was unsure of the situation, and he also knew that her taunts were inevitable. Right on cue the AI's teasing voice came from his helmet's speakers, "Well, looks like the caveman has a heart of gold after all."

Dutifully ignoring the jibe, Chief responded, "Where's the Arbiter?"

"Currently in the Dawn's cockpit. I'll let him know we have an unexpected passenger." With that Cortana stopped speaking, letting the Chief make his way through the silent corridors, only the sound of his footsteps echoing around the empty ship. After reaching the barracks and laying the girl on of of the beds with a blanket draped over her form, he made his way up to the bridge of the frigate.

As he entered the Arbiter gave a nod to the Spartan before turning back to the command console. Chief sat down in the seat next to the Sangheili and started to run some basic diagnostics, nothing Cortana couldn't have done but something to keep him distracted. Eventually he reached the slipspace drive, the basic Shaw-Fujikawa drive that was standard in all UNSC vessels. Looking at the information presented, he noticed an irregularity warning from the field drivers. Before he could ask, the Arbiter spoke "I can't maintain the slipstream field with these shifts. We're going to have to drop out before it collapses. Is the human secured?"

"Affirmative," was the adequate, if slightly vague answer. The Arbiter nodded without looking, apparently too engrossed in whatever it was that he was doing. Cortana's avatar appeared on the bridge pedestal, lighting up the helm and the two warriors on it with a soft blue light.

The Arbiter was the first to address her, "Construct, is there anything you can do to stabilize our jump?" The AI crossed her arms and looked to the side, a posture that the Chief instantly recognized as nervousness.

"The Ark portal had collapsed. The only thing keeping us in the slipstream is the Dawn's slipspace drive," she responded. Her tone was clipped, as if she were distracted with something puzzling.

"We don't have exit coordinates," the Chief said, putting the pieces together almost immediately. The Arbiter twisted his head around to look at the AI as well, his time as a Covenant fleetmaster allowing him to know exactly what such a situation meant. Without an exit vector or coordinates, where and when they left the slipstream would be completely unpredictable.

Cortana hesitated for a moment before countering, "Not exactly." She disappeared and an image of the Forward Unto Dawn appeared in her place. The slipstream field surrounding the ship was shown, at least as best something with eleven dimensions could be shown in the standard context of three dimensional space. Along with the outside field, however, was a highlighted bubble of oscillating slipstream within the Dawn. Cortana continued, "Without the Ark or Earth portal to guide us and no exit vector specified, the drive would default to drop out at a random location. However, the drive locked onto a different signature, and at this point there's nothing we can do about it."

At that statement the Chief rose from beside the Arbiter and examined the model of the Dawn. It wasn't hard to conclude that the mysterious human girl was the new slipstream catalyst, but even so the Spartan wanted to confirm it. Cortana pulled up a window to the side of the model, showing the unconscious form underneath the blanket. Nothing untoward appeared wrong with her, aside from the fact that she was unconscious. Chief looked out the observation glass of the bridge as the Arbiter asked, "Do we know where this human guides us then?"

The image of the girl disappeared to allow Cortana to stand beside the image of the Dawn. She grimaced as she looked at the slipstream field and said, "That's the issue. I don't know where we'll exit, which, while mildly inconvenient, wouldn't be much of a problem in the long run. The real question is when we'll exit, and that is something that will be much more challenging to fix." A snap of her fingers and the field inside the barracks was enlarged. "The distortions in the field are the dimension of time as it exists in the slipstream. In the slipstream, time is represented as a physical manifestation, hence why plating and shielding needs to be rated to withstand those forces, among other reasons. Whoever this girl is, she entered the slipstream but whatever vehicle she was in wasn't made to withstand the forces of slipspace. It fell apart, stranding her within the stream and rending the field around her. She likely drifted around space and time, physically torn from the drive that brought her here. Not much is known about what exactly happens in such a situation, but there's no records of anyone surviving in the slipstream without a drive to direct and anchor them. When the Ark portal found the inconsistency, it stabilized it and synchronized her to the Dawn with some Forerunner technology yet unknown to us. Neither the UNSC or Covenant have that level of mastery over slipspace. However, with the Ark portal now collapsed, the Dawn's slipspace drive is maintaining her anchor on board. That brings us to the current problem in that the Dawn is keeping her anchored, but without coordinates it's following the slipspace vector that she's in. I don't know what the designers of whatever drive she was using did, but she somehow managed to disconnect from whatever slipspace coordinates she used to enter the stream. It's almost as if three dimensional coordinates were entered to travel in the eleven dimensions of slipspace, but first they were put through some form of alteration, a matrix or something like it. She's not where or when she's supposed to be."

"So, time travel?" asked the Chief.

Cortana pursed her lips, thinking on how to best explain what was happening. "Of a sort, but not controlled like it was with the Forerunner crystal from Reach. While not entirely accurate, the best explanation would be that she's from an alternate universe. Think of slipspace as a series of sheets. To go forward is to change your position relative to where you entered. Up and down would be to go forward or back in time, and to go sideways would be to break out of the standard four dimensions. Of course there is no absolute direction in space, but it's the best concept that UNSC theorists have."

"The Covenant does not know much more than those basics as well. Our drives may make a cleaner slip, but ultimately we do not have any better of a grasp on what slipspace actually is. According to what few records we have, even the Forerunners were limited in their knowledge of the slipstream. They could move forward or back in time to a limited degree, but doing so created slipstream debt," the Arbiter added.

"Are they a threat?" Chief asked. If a race as advanced as the Forerunners couldn't utilize the slipstream in the way these people had, then being prepared for hostilities became priority.

The AI shook her head and responded, "There's a negligible chance of any form of threat. Based on the gear it was likely some form of jet aircraft, at least judging by the flight pants and compression material. They were likely just beginning to experiment with slipspace technology, not knowing the dangers associated with it. Any slipstream-rated vessel would be far too large to need any form of pressurization gear. This girl was lost by accident, any drift she's experienced in the slipstream would be extremely difficult to replicate. The only reason the Dawn is able to do so is because the slipstream field around the girl has a specific set of entry coordinates. How those coordinates stay constant even after movement throughout the slipstream is something we don't know."

"What of the human? Will she live?" the Arbiter inquired.

"How she is alive after drifting in the slipstream is in and of itself absolutely amazing. I can hypothesize as to what will happen when we exit slipspace, but there's no way to know for sure. The most likely outcome would be that we drop out of slipspace and she loses her anchor, drifting into the slipstream once more. It is possible that the group that originally lost her has attempted to recover her but could not due to the slipstream drift she experienced. If that's the case then she may disappear from the ship as the Dawn exits slipspace and the slipstream field around her returns to its original position. If they, whoever that may be, have set up an anchor then she wouldn't drift, although she might fade in and out with the distortions in the slipspace field. I don't know, although I would be most amiable to finding out," Cortana explained. A lot of the information she was presenting was merely the application of theoretical concepts to the current situation. Such long monologues were not uncommon when her and the Chief had some downtime, as the Spartan was about as talkative as a mute brick when he didn't have questions or orders.

"Understood, your explanations have been of great help construct," the Arbiter said. He rose from the pilot's seat and addressed the Chief, "For now, I shall rest. The battle was long, but we are victorious." The Spartan nodded silently in return, not needing to make any other motion. With that the Sangheili made his way off the bridge and down to one of the officers cabins, close to the helm and with space to accommodate him.

"You should take that as a hint," Cortana teased. The Spartan looked towards her, ignoring the model of the Dawn as it disappeared and the AI sat down in the middle of the plinth.

They hadn't had any time to talk since he had recovered her from the ruins of High Charity, and from what the Chief had seen it was not a pleasant experience for her. He trusted her just as much as he did any other Spartan, a high bar to reach, but he knew she could be stubborn. The AI accused him of being obstinate but they both knew he wasn't the only one. Chief turned to make his way off the bridge, but before he exited he spoke softly, "Wake me, if you need me."

At Cortana's nod of understanding, he exited the helm and made his way to the mess hall to pick up several MRE's. Having sated the hunger of fighting almost nonstop during the battle for the Ark, he replaced his helmet, laid back, and let his eyes close.

A leap to the left, blink to the right and then straight up. Each movement was accompanied by a flurry of shots from her pistols, not necessarily hitting anything but providing a bit of suppressive fire. The Talon operatives she was harassing answered her with a hail of bullets, all missing as she performed her antics. A giggle made its way out, only serving to enrage the enemy even more. One of them broke from his cover and tried to engage her head on, his rifle firing wildly while he tried to close the distance.

Tracer laughed as she blinked behind him and put several shots into his side, the compressed energy pulse puncturing his uniform and entering his ribcage. With a pained grunt the black-clad figure fell to the ground, hands gripping his wounds. This prompted the remaining Talon soldiers to exit cover and lay down suppressing fire, attempt to hit Tracer as she flashed around the battlefield. Such a move exposed their flanks to the incessant barrage of Tracer's pulse pistols. Within seconds the team of six all lay dead, one from an energy pulse to the brain, another with multiple wounds across his chest, and three more blown apart from a pulse bomb.

With another giggle Tracer recalled back to the center of the carnage and struck a pose with her hands on her hips. She couldn't help but think that such an action would look nicer if her foot wasn't planted in the minced remains of one agent's ribcage. A grimace made its way to her face as she pulled her foot free and shook it, trying to get the burnt scraps of flesh off.

She uttered a soft, "Aw, rubbish," at seeing the stains on the white boots before dismissing it for later and turning back to the mission objective. Tracer's current purpose was fighting off a Talon operation that was targeting a group of omnics residing in King's Row. Apparently they wanted to detonate an EMP to ignite omnic-human conflict in the area, although Tracer still wasn't any closer to figuring out why they'd want to do such a thing.

For the moment she had only seen the normal black-clad soldiers that made up the main part of Talon's forces, although they had sent a full platoon for this mission. Their bodies were scattered along the road of King's Row, the last six being the ones Tracer had just eliminated. She hadn't seen any sign of Talon commanders, which was odd considering the amount of manpower the group had devoted to this end. Talon wasn't ignorant, they knew sending their men head on against an Overwatch agent alone would be suicide. The obvious thing to do would be to send Widowmaker to provide covering fire, but seeing as there was no sniper fire then the assassin couldn't be present.

Her thoughts were drawn to the fight with the Talon operative in this same place, along with her failure. She glanced at the towering statue of Tekhartha Mondatta that had been put up after his assassination, almost like a personal taunt at the Overwatch agent. Tracer narrowed her eyes as her thoughts went down that path. She continued to think on the events of that night as she casually fired several shots from her weapons into the electronics of the payload. As the circuits sparked and fused to render the EMP worthless, Tracer flopped down next to the payload cart and stored her pistols in their sheathes.

Looking down at her chronal harness, she vividly remembered seeing Widowmaker firing at it. The feeling of her heart racing as she blink out of the way of the bullet, the fear that it had been damaged and she'd be lost once again. Disappointment and guilt also marked that experience, for her failure to protect and because she wasn't strong enough to recall and take the bullet for the omnic leader. While muted at this point, the anger that had raced through her at the time was still present every time she encountered the Talon sniper.

What she held onto, however, was the question that had been annoying her since the incident. Widowmaker seemed to think it some kind of joke at the time, but the next time Tracer had her pinned it'd be the first thing she asked. The simple question of Why?

Tracer had seen Mondatta as a guiding figure, a possible way for her to attain peace within herself. Even if she could not find such within herself, the principle of allowing others to live in peace was a worthy goal in her mind. Never should the world have to face the horrors of conflict like what she had seen while lost in time. Life was too short to be wasted with such misery as war. Tracer had seen how fleeting life could be, and why anyone would want to shorten it even further was beyond her.

Shaking her head to clear it of the grotesque images that would always be with her, Tracer keyed into the Overwatch communication set to report, "King's Row is under control!"

"Excellent job, Lena. Get out of sight but stick around until the authorities arrive to clean up. Make sure to get some rest," Winston responded.

Tracer laughed and said, "You got it, luv! Maybe take your own advice and give the peanut butter rest too." Before Winston could grumble about the parting shot, the Overwatch agent cut the comm and got up from beside the disabled weapon. Lena gave a sloppy salute with two fingers at the bodies in front of her before leaping onto the payload and then blinking to the rooftops. Within a couple of minutes she had found a nice little perch to watch and make sure the authorities gained possession of the bomb.

What she did not expect to see, however, was the form of Widowmaker drop down from a nearby building. The Talon assassin made her way over to the EMP device while disregarding the bodies around her. Tracer couldn't see exactly what she did but it must not have worked for after a second the blue woman turned from the cart. She shot out her grapple and disappeared around the corner of one of the buildings as several emergency vehicles pulled up to the carnage.

With her work completed, Tracer shot off the roof and blink across the gap created by the street below. She continued to fly over the rooftops before eventually catching up to the Talon agent. Tracer was sure that if Winston knew what she was doing he'd suspend her from any missions for months. As she watched, Widowmaker stopped at the edge of the roof above a small, dark alley, looking down at something below. A second later there was a scream and a gunshot. Before Tracer could move any closer, Widow extended her rifle and fired, followed shortly by a muffled thump.

Lena quickly blinked to the side of Widow and saw the scene below. A child lay bleeding on the filthy street, a gunshot wound to his head. What the Talon agent had shot, however, was the assailant, who was laying on his back, a large exit wound evident on his chest. A quick glance to the side told Tracer that Widowmaker had yet to notice her presence, although Lena was less concerned with that and more focused on the expression on Widow's face. The assassin was looking down at the child on the ground with what could only be sadness. That expression turned into anger when her gaze fell to the assailant, who at this point was coughing up large globs of blood. Widow scowled at his suffering before turning around to continue her dash across the buildings of King's Row.

Only to freeze as she came face to face with a madly grinning Tracer. Widowmaker's eyes widened as she took a step back, but before she could do anything else Tracer blinked straight into her. The two of them tumbled across roof, eventually coming to a stop against a metal duct unit with Tracer straddling the surprised sharpshooter. Before Widowmaker could try to grapple her way out of the situation Lena pinned her hands against the metal behind her.

"What'cha lookin' at?" Tracer asked in a playful voice. If there was one thing Tracer could be sure of, it was that she was an absolute annoyance to the Talon sniper.

True to her predictions, Widowmaker hissed, "An annoyance," in response.

Tracer just laughed at the answer and pressed, "Why?"

Widowmaker glared at the happy girl and then looked to the side and said, "You would not understand, chérie. As always."

"Give it a shot, luv. You won't scare me!" Lena declared.

"Which is precisely why you cannot understand. You take everything as a joke, something to be played with. The absence of fear shows that you are but a foolish girl, unknowing of the cruelties of the world." Widowmaker's response came in a harsh tone, more of an accusation of innocence than anything else.

Lena narrowed her eyes and took on a pensive expression as she replied, "Or perhaps I do understand what brutality is inflicted on a daily basis, but I recognize that it could be much worse. The world will never be perfect, luv; but whereas you try to bring conflict to the world, I try to preserve the peace."

Their eyes met, Lena's with a soft edge and Widowmaker's wide once more in surprise. After a few seconds she found her voice, "You wish to know why I kill for Talon? So be it. Where Overwatch would seek to protect, Talon wishes to kill. So they made me, for what better way to kill than with someone who lives to do so? Men must die, this is fait accompli, as true as any bullet. C'est la vie, Comme il faut. Life, as it should be."

"So long as men die, liberty will never perish. That is the way of life,"Tracer said with a hard glint in her eyes. Memories flashed across her vision, unseen by Widowmaker. Slowly, Lena leaned down to bring her face mere inches from the blue woman's own, keeping their eyes locked the entire time. Tracer finished with a whisper, "What you have wrong, luv, is those who are dying." Before Widow could react, Tracer pecked her straight on the lips.

The Talon agents body stiffened, caught once more by surprise. She could nothing but stare directly into Tracer's eyes as the brit smiled widely and said, "Cheers, love," in a cheeky tone.

And then she was off, a trail of blue following her as she blinked out of sight. Within minutes, Tracer was back at her small apartment in one of London's boroughs. Entering the three room flat, she tried to stop smiling. The effort continued as she made herself a meal and washed off the gore on her outfit from her mission. It didn't work. By the time she was in the twin-sized bed, her grin was just as large as when she first got home. As Lena fell asleep, there was no doubt in her mind that her happiness wouldn't be gone by the morning either.

Far above the surface of the moon, well beyond the noticeable influence of the planet it orbited, a small speck of darkness appeared against the backdrop of stars. It was not seen, for it was as dark as any other area of the vast void that existed around it. It was not heard, for there was no one around to hear it.

So unnoticed did the point blossom into a massive circle, blotting out the stars behind it. From the unlit depths of this tear emerged a trio of thin metal points, a herald for the massive vessel that followed. Within seconds the true size was revealed as the ship emerged from the portal, engines flaring as it began to maneuver in real space. After a few minutes passed, the vessel gained its bearings and turned towards the planet.

At its back, the moon's marred surface. Before it, both the oldest and now newest planet in the databanks. The Forward Unto Dawn had returned to an Earth, albeit not the one they knew. For the moment, they would observe, watch, and learn. Unknown to the massive frigate, however, was that while their entry had not been noticed, their advance was observed.

Down on the surface of the Earth, buried beneath layers of rock and tunnels, Winston looked at the alert flashing on the screens. They had no images, no idea what it was. It had emerged from absolutely nowhere, appearing from nothing. Whatever it was. All Athena could deduce from what few orbital assets Overwatch had left was that it was large, and it was on a direct course to enter orbit. Typing quickly, the scientist pulled up a list for any available matches of the object.

The size was far larger than anything ever launched into space, either for the lunar colony or the various stations in orbit. No nation had to capability to build such a large object as most were embroiled in the Second Omnic Crisis, and a construction project on an object of that size would be a massive undertaking that would use valuable resources for a long shot hope. Even with the devastated network of Overwatch Winston would've heard something about it.

So he continued to watch and wonder as the object moved towards Earth. Suddenly, it slowed down, confirming that it was indeed some form of vessel and not just a hunk of metal. Winston tried once more to get any images, but it yielded nothing. The object came to a relative stop in geosynchronous orbit above Sydney, Australia.

Winston tried to think of what might be in Sydney that extraterrestrials might want. He came up with nothing, for as far as he knew the only notable feature of the area was the relatively dense population of the east coast while the Outback was now a desolate wasteland. His attention was drawn back as a small mass split off from the still unknown object. Athena instantly responded by beginning to plot its trajectory, which led straight to the city below.

Typing on the keyboard, he pulled up the list of Overwatch agents in the area, only to curse as none showed up on the continent. Sighing, he spoke, "Athena, alert the local authorities that they have inbound."

"Unable to comply. Dispatch is locked down with reports of Junkers in the industrial sector of the city," Athena responded. Winston growled and slammed a fist onto the desk in frustration and the situation. He stopped his fit as Athena continued, "Object is dropping below the medium Earth orbit line, visual acquired on object."

Winston moved the windows displaying information on the larger object off to the side to allow room for the image. "Show me," he requested. A still picture appeared on the screen, showing the back end of what looked to be a dropship that could take a tank round and keep going. The blue glow of the jets was noted, as was the weapon mounted on the nose of the exoatmospheric craft, but that wasn't what caused Winston to go still in shock. Instead, he stared directly at the slightly grainy but still very readable UNSC painted on the side of the craft, a feeling of betrayal permeating his heart as the craft entered the atmosphere.

Real difficult to tell I've never written romantic character scenes, eh? No? What a surprise!

If you spot any mistakes feel free to review or PM them and I'll fix them. Used the text editor to proof-read since I always seem to miss a couple miscellaneous mistakes in Gdocs (an 's' there, an 'ing' there), not a big fan of the interface.