Red vs. Blue Season 18

Chapter 1: The Invitation

From the walls of a small apartment, the city was sound asleep. It was the time for night owls at an approximate 2:00 AM. She however was not one of those owls, yet her mind afforded her no sleep. She sat in front of a small camera attached to a computer and adjusted her orange hair. Her green eyes that scanned the illuminating program that shone a bright light in the dark corners of the room were surrounded by the stressed veins ready to pop open. Her body was slouching with tiredness, equipped to drop asleep without a moment's notice. But no matter how much she tried to let go of the worries that plagued her, the voice in her head would still remain.

You should have done better to save him. Madison wasn't beyond saving and it was your fault that he died! You didn't act fast enough!

Guilt was always staring her down. She had grown afraid to look over her own shoulder for the past would be there waiting, his face was there begging for answers. Why didn't she try hard enough?

She had tried many different things to induce sleep. She tried a healthier diet and a more intense workout. Fatigue as she thought may help resolve the sleep issues. She worked harder at a newly founded construction site. She sweated harder. She even went as far as to indulge in the more alcoholic beverages. But nothing worked. Soon she felt she may have to request prescribed sleeping medication. The thought of asking for such medicine scared her. She had never needed such things before, at least not in this situation. The thought of becoming reliant on such drugs scared her even more.

She straightened out her clothes and ignored the worried expressions Church, her companion AI gave to her. She reached forward and switched on the camera. The computer interface began loading the connection to her much needed faucet. The bar went round and round, and with every second passed was another anxious heartbeat accounted for. How many days has it been since I last talked to them?

The screen suddenly cleared to the familiar helmets of her family. Washington got everyone gathered together in blue base, much to the chagrin of Sarge. Caboose showed clear excitement jumping up and down from the back. "Hey Carolina!"

An innocent smile plastered across her face. They were safe, and seemed healthy. That was enough to bring her some happiness amidst her guilt infested mind. "It's good to see you Caboose."

"How have you been holding up?" the man in the blue and yellow armor asked. She wearily shook her head, an answer substantive enough for them to understand her current state. Tucker stepped forward and asked. "Why not just come back here then?"

"That is beginning to sound like a good idea with every passing day," Carolina smirked as Church agreed with Tucker's suggestion. "But I can't. I am under contract from the UNSC to complete a certain number of missions, remember?"

She rested her forehead in her hands and sighed heavily. "But that will be the day to remember when it comes, should it ever come."

"You can't give up like that Carolina," Wash implored as he did his best to cheer her up. Carolina appreciated their efforts, but knew her own health better than anyone else. This was not a matter to be fixed so easily. "Could you say the same thing if you were plagued with nightmares like I am every night?"

The whole room went silent. The silence was growingly becoming awkward. Wash seemingly hesitated for a moment. "W- What do you see?"

"The face of that child whose mother died on top of him, and the face of Madison who I failed to save."

"Hold up now," Wash held up a firm hand. "You know what happened with them wasn't your fault. Madison was set on committing that act of terror. The child's situation could not be helped either. You didn't know how the debris would fly."

"And yet I still feel their stares hanging over my head, constantly judging me."

"Sis," Church called out from the holographic display unit. "He is right. It's not easy to move on or come to terms with this but if you accept that it wasn't your fault, you will be able to move on that much faster."

"If anyone is to blame here, it would be those terrorist fucks," Grif stated with much animosity in his voice. Suddenly the deranged Captain Muffins walked in. "Does anyone know where I can get a good cup of tea around here?"

"I'm on the case Muffins!" Donut ecstatically answered as he left to prepare a fresh batch. Muffins stared at the rest of the group and the screen. His face brightened at the woman on the monitor. "Oh hai Carolina, how's it going?"

The once serious atmosphere quickly began to die down, leaving nothing but an empty shell. Carolina's face quickly turned to disgust, but she did her best to hide it. "Terrible."

"Oh come on very hot and attractive, but scary freelancer lady," Muffins did a macho walk towards the monitor. "It can't be all that bad. Papa Muffins is here for you with a ready ear to lend."

Carolina glared at Church who was busy holding back his laughter. She let out a disgusted sigh and in a comically broken voice said. "T- Thanks…I think."

"Good, wunderbar, fantastic!" he raised his hands ordered for Buttmunch to come close. "Fetch me a cinnamon bun in light of this victory!"

She felt her headache from earlier return. "I think I will sign off for now."

"Sure, just be sure to take care of yourself," Wash understandably noted. "Church, look after her for us."

"You got it," Church waved his hand from afar and prompted Carolina to cut the connection. She rubbed her eye and looked out a nearby window. The bright neon lights were brimming with energy every night. But just like her mind, her world had become somewhat dim as well. She stretched her arms and went to try and sleep for the night.

The next day, her eyes were red and there were visible eye bags. To anyone paying attention, it was clear as day that she had skipped out on her sleep. One of her co-workers approached her patting her on the shoulder. "Not enough sleep again?"

"I'm fine," she reassured. "It won't affect my work."

"That's not what I'm worried about," he answered pointing to her shaking hands as she held a beam over her left shoulder. "Finish your current task and then go home Carolina. We can't afford to keep a walking safety hazard on site."

That's just great. She put the beam down and wiped her forehead clean. From time to time it still felt like she could see Madison standing at the base of the new space center building they were working on. His death was still very fresh in her mind. One of her other co-workers came to help setup the beam. The two began to secure it in place when she was again interrupted, this time by the site supervisor. "Carolina, there is a man here wanting to speak with you. Go ahead. I will take care of things here."

"Thanks," she wondered who would visit her on site. Slowly and steadily, she walked towards the exit of the construction site and noticed a plump man dressed professionally. His face was covered by a large hat. His hands covered in gloves to protect them from the recently cold and snowy weather. He held out a small envelop. "You are Carolina Church I presume?"

"Yes, I am," she approached warily. "Who are you?"

"I have a message for y-"

"You didn't answer my question."

The man went silent, contemplating the correct response for a moment. "Call me Ben. I'm here to deliver a message on behalf of someone you have come into contact with two times previously. He does not wish to disclose his identity through me. Just that he wanted me to give this to you."

She reached out and took the light envelop. She opened it up to see a note inside. When she looked up, the man was already gone. Cryptic messengers with cryptic messages, great. She finished her work for the day and prepared to leave. Inside the locker room she took a peek in the envelop, and the message it carried. The contents both surprised and distressed her. It was a short message telling her to come to a local church. But it was the sender that left her speechless. It was from the assassin she had encountered twice before on her missions according to what the message claimed. Are you finally going to give me some answers?

She took out her jacket, gloves and handbag and left for the supervisor's office. It seems that I will be taking the day off tomorrow.

A/N: As I mentioned before, this will be more or less written in my traditional format for Red vs. Blue fanfictions. That means the pacing will be faster after the initial setups unlike "Red vs. Blue Season 17" which was a mix of slice of life/Drama/Action, but mostly slice of life. While there will be a fair bit of drama in this trilogy as a whole, "Season 18" and "Season 19" will have more action as well.

I hope that was an enjoyable start as well as quite a good pickup point after the things Carolina went through in "Season 17".

Thank you for taking the time to read, I appreciate it!

Constructive feedback is appreciated as well! :)

~ Monty