AN: Hey, Mr. Wang here. Bet you didn't expect to see more of this story, did you? Well... I'm glad to say that it is good to be back. And my, oh my, lots of things have changed since I last published a chapter for this. Very interesting... I mean, hell, Meet the Medic, came out. That alone speaks volumes for how long I've been gone from here.
As another note, I will say that my writing style has very likely changed from what the other chapters have been... it has been a year and a half, after all... Still, I hope that doesn't change you from enjoying this story. I rushed to get this done, so I apologize if some things seem a bit choppy...
Catherine grinned as she was continually introduced and welcomed to the RED Base, informally dubbed as Fastlane. The somewhat eccentric crowd of people stationed within it were all taking a respectful tour with her around its facilities. While some people had many, many things to be desired, a lot of people at least seemed nice or trusting enough, which was good for the former SAS operative if she wanted to integrate herself in these mens' ranks. With the exception of an ethnically-confused drunk who would make the burgermeisters of Oktoberfest cringe, a smoking Frenchman that seemed awfully suspicious and sneaky, and of course, the seeming know-it-all, smelly, unkempt, wisecracking bushman, things seemed to be going along pretty well.
Thorns in her side that would no doubt prove annoying in their seemingly opposing mindset on her presence, but Catherine at least hoped she'd be able to get along with these people eventually. She and these men had to brave whatever the BLU Corporation would throw in their way. And if worst came to worst, and some people were to die in battle... who would miss a smoking Frenchman, a lanky Bushman, and a drunk black Scotsman? Poor buggers.
"Better them than me," she muttered to herself.
"What was dat, Miss?"
"Oh, nothing Kyle. Go ahead and keep progressing with our tour here..."
"Aight, you got it, Catherine... Solly, let's keep moving okay! Mush...! I mean, uh, march!"
"Sir, yes sir!" Soldier replied, as he saluted and marched off in a professionally tense stance. Catherine mused how either dense, or fiercely loyal the Yankee Soldier really was. With a sigh, Catherine kept her pace behind Kyle, more commonly referred to as 'Scout' by his allies. Musing to herself, Scout is very much so how Catherine would expect a teenage delinquent to act in the battlefield environment. But in a sense, he was sort of able to remind her of herself back a few years ago, when she herself felt so hot blooded, full of pep and energy.
Then again, in the short amount of time she knew him, Scout did appear to be highly narcissistic and egotistical. And perhaps that was enough to make even Yankees cringe. It made her wonder how this man became the 'leader' of this group, per-se. Catherine felt inclined to keep her distance.
The Engineer, Heavy, and Pyro all seemed to be discussing amongst themselves, as Soldier lead the British girl around the base in a professional manner, with Scout going off in a not-so-professional manner.
Heavy quietly kept his hands behind his back, trying to keep up a bit of a good posture in front of the woman out of respect. He took occasional glances at his friends, with the Texan paying close attention to many bits and pieces of information that his PDA could display to him, while Pyro seemed... well, like Pyro's usual self.
After seeing that Catherine and her tour-guides were starting to pick up their pace a bit around the base's facilities, the large Russian decided to break his silence out of their earshot.
"So... what do you make of Britain girl's place here in Team? I felt Team was good enough as is. But Administrator thinks different..."
The Engineer took his eyes off of his PDA and glanced up towards the towering man beside him, a hint of slight surprise only masked by the smoked goggles on his face.
"Well, that's mighty nice of you to say so, Heavy. Guess it shouldn't surprise me though, given that you always say we're the 'Credit to team' and whatnot..." Engineer began, as he tipped his hard hat to him. "As for Miss Catherine over there, well... maybe I don't really know what to expect with her. She's a nice enough gal, I'm sure. Camper over there unfortunately had to go in and rile her up quite a bit though. Some badder blood between them than an injun and a US cavalryman, I'll tell you what..."
The Heavy scratched his head at a couple of the unfamiliar words or terms that Engineer had just used.
"Uh... What is an injun? And who is this Camper person? I have not heard of him..." he pondered.
As Heavy tried to think, the Pyro interrupted with a couple taps on the Heavy's shoulder.
"Mhphrrs mer mphr, hephry," Pyro mentioned. To compensate for the lack of comprehensible speech, the Pyro decided to try and do some gestures, as if looking through scopes in a rifle. Thoughtfully, Pyro also tried to imitate some mannerisms, such as crouching down, while looking through the imaginary gun, ducking occasionally and glancing behind, as if for spies.
"Well, puttin' on quite a show there, Pyro... Well, the guy's right, Camper's just a little something I kinda like to call Sniper over there... as for an injun, well... look it up in one of them books you like to read. I sure as hell ain't too sure how to explain it properly, so I'm sure somethin' over there can help... might wanna check out that lounge too, there's a shelf with a couple books..."
Heavy was somewhat disappointed to not get both of his questions answered, though taking a read on it did seem like it would help. Heavy liked books. There were second on his list, right next to guns. Glancing over towards Pyro, who had stopped playing charades, the Russian also wondered what his flaming friend thought.
"What about Pyro? You seem quite upbeat since War Lady joined us."
The Pyro glanced up towards the large Russian and jovially mumbled a long stretch of words. While the words weren't comprehensible, and the muffled tone of voice and body language was able to tell a bit. Pyro obviously seemed somewhat happy or enthusiastic about Catherine's arrival, making several gestures as if shaking Catherine's hand and hugging her.
"Well, Pyro seems happy enough. But... well, maybe I ain't enthusiastic about needin' a mentor and such as the Administrator said... Hell, I got eleven PhD's, I'm done with teachers," Engineer laughed. "But Missy seems like a nice enough girl, so might be interestin' to see what she's got to teach us."
The trio nodded their heads in agreement. Unlike Sniper, and maybe some other classes, they at least seemed to take a tolerance towards Catherine's presence and purpose. Heavy sighed, as he picked up his pace and lead the group a bit further to catch up with Catherine, Scout, and Soldier.
"Da... War Lady might know some things. And perhaps I was too quick to think little girl does not belong on battlefield. I now remember times where ladies fight as partisans in big war against Germans."
Engineer let out a bemused chuckle as he looked back up towards the Russian bear.
"Hehe, well, ain't that something? Ya'll pretty philosophical today, Heavy. Kinda just went and thought you were a bit more stubborn like a mule if you don't mind me sayin'. No offense or nothin'."
Heavy glanced over at Engineer, a somewhat smug grin on the former's face. The latter felt inclined to try and adjust his goggles to even see if he just saw that expression correctly.
"I can be smart when I choose to be. Only Pyro understands. Da, tovarish?"
Pyro flashed over a thumbs up and gave Heavy a nice pat on the back, the gas mask head nodding in affirmation.
Despite his intuition with being able to understand a variety of machines and mechanics, Engineer's eleven PhD's couldn't have help him understand this odd friendship that the Heavy and Pyro shared. Still, it was alright in his book, and the two did seem quite like the oddballs of the team, a little more introverted than others. It seemed fitting, really.
"Well, I oughtta keep that in mind then... for now, let's just go and see what those lovebirds up ahead are up to..."
With Pyro and Heavy nodding, the three continued to pick up their pace, until they managed to spot Scout introducing Catherine to the entrance to a certain room.
"So, uh... if you'd like, then this'll be your sleepin' quarters, Miss Drake..."
Heavy, Pyro, and Engineer all silently thought it was weird and almost cute Scout was using manners, though knowing the Bostonian's true intentions made the notion disturbing.
Scout jovially opened the door, and introduced a room that was... a bit too familiar for the other classes to smile at.
RED Pennets here, batting equipment there, and posters and merchandise of the Boston Redsoxs everywhere else. Plus, a small fridge that no doubt held a large collection of energy drinks rested in the corner. A gun rack on the wall proudly displayed several short-barreled shotguns, the Scattergun being the center of it all.
Catherine walked in, genuinely taking a bit of piqued interest as she looked around, though it was obvious that this was no guest room. Still, she respectfully looked around the room and noted the decorations, equipment, and knick-knacks lying around.
She tried to give off a good-hearted, albeit forced smile.
"Well, no prize for guessing who's room this is, I suppose?"
Scout chuckled as he nervously walked inside his room alongside Catherine.
"Hehe, well... kinda tacky here and dere, but it's home, isn't it? I... guess you could sleep right there..."
He gestured off to a somewhat small bed near the center of the room. It didn't look like it would accommodate for more than one person, really. Catherine conversely looked somewhat surprised, while the group tailing them was distraught between acting surprised as well, feeling embarrassed that Scout was on their team, or just bemused stoicism.
"You mean you would offer up your room for me to sleep in, Kyle? Well, um... how very sweet of you... But in that case, where would you sleep?"
Scout raised his brows, and remained dead silent as he tried to ponder a response.
"That, uh... wasn't exactly my plan and all, but... well, if you don't mind just sleeping here all... alone and stuff, I guess I ain't gonna argue with dat. I'm an officer and a gentleman, afta all."
That response was enough to make Engineer, Heavy, and Pyro laugh at that statement, albeit a bit repressed. Soldier himself wasn't laughing, though he looked visibly caught off-guard with that statement himself, as if pondering the absurdity.
"I guess it looks like he does have a grip on some of that stuff we call 'sanity' after all... well don't that beat all?" Engineer quipped to himself. The others chuckled in agreement, thankfully away from Scout's earshot.
Catherine however, noticed the odd reactions that were being received from everyone else on the team, and started to think about alternatives. At first, actually sleeping in this room was a slim possibility, if at least just to be courteous. Now it seemed like she should avoid considering it altogether, if the reactions were anything to take into consideration.
"Um... well, thank you for the offer, though I'm afraid I'll have to decline. It's nice of you to be like that, though I don't need any sort of charity during my stay here. We'll all be spilling blood together, I am sure that we can eventually toss aside formalities, and I'll be one of you, right?"
Scout and Soldier both glanced at each other, their faces both riddled with a bit of a puzzled expression, though likely for their own different reasoning.
Taking an opportunity to try and save Catherine from the continuation of stupidity, Pyro decided to take the Brit by her arm and guide her down the hall. Soldier, Scout, and Catherine herself looked surprised by the Pyro's sudden action though did nothing to object to it.
"Sir, shall I those two ladies back here this instant?" Soldier asked, cracking his knuckles a bit.
"Nah, go ahead and just let her go with those dorks. I can't hog her all dah time, right? And she will be mine... Oh yes, she will be mine..."
Meanwhile, Catherine was being lead through a couple of hallways, twists and turns this way. It was almost enough for her to get just a bit lost. Still, she hadn't objected or argued a thing at all since being dragged around, so she decided to try and at least say something.
"Sir, can I help you? I... recall you are the Pyro of course, but... Oh, bloody hell, where are my manners? I don't think I caught your name..."
The girl looked at Pyro, resisting the urge to scratch her head in confusions. She decided to at least play along not to seem rude.
It really would've been helpful for Catherine if she could actually hear and comprehend what the Pyro was saying, though alas, that weird gas mask of his (or hers) was making words seem like mumbles. With the large Russian and amiable Texan following behind them, the SAS operative noticed that Pyro was pointing off in some direction down the hall, then making gestures with the hands, as if lying down on a pillow and bed.
"In case ya can't tell Missy, Pyro there's pointing you over in the direction of the barracks and sleepin' quarters. If you ain't sleeping in Scout's room over there, then that's where the rest of us without our own rooms hit the hay."
Pyro nodded, giving another thumbs up in appreciation for Engineer's translation. Finally making sense of Pyro's act, Catherine glanced over at the masked... person, and nodded her head thankfully.
As she was lead to a room full of bunks and cots, Catherine looked at the watch on her wrist.
"Oh my, well... looks like it is getting somewhat late... Is there supper time soon?"
Heavy glanced down at his own stomach, and at that moment, a distinctly audible rumbling could be heard. He chuckled, as patted his large belly, somewhat like a Russian Buddha. He gestured for Catherine to follow him, as he in turn lead the way this time.
"Da. Food is good. We will show you to dining room."
Smiling, Catherine and the others followed Heavy. The British girl felt pleased that she was able to at least be somewhat friends with these foreign members. Even the Yankee Engineer didn't seem so bad. Hell, she had refrained some saying that word out loud, during the whole tour. That had to count for something.
Hopefully the other members of the team could be as tolerant.
"Roight, roight, that ain't the best part, mates! So then she says, 'No, I do not eat crumpets, and tea is so... antwacky...' Ain't that a bunch?"
Sniper and the company of his friends at the dining hall all proceeded to laugh hysterically.
The Australian couldn't recall when he's ever had this much fun. His profession wasn't supposed to be fun, per-se, though the guys around him could sometimes be funny people.
And after he made some shrimp on the barbie, as well as Spy helping out with making some dishes from Spain that had funny names but tasted really good, Demoman came across the dinner and decided to make the party even better.
Sniper never would've guessed how much stress just a couple bottles of Australian Ale could relieve.
Shortly after though, Medic joined in on the festivities after Demoman goaded him in joining. That said, while he was still drunk too, Medic's own personal health status was far beyond that of the others at the moment, to say the least...
"Oooh, zhat was a good one, Bushman!" Spy proudly declared over a small glass of tequila. After taking a shot, he raised his hands, gesturing everyone to calm down. "Okay, okay, I have a tale to tell all you you... so, shut up, and listen!"
Everyone in their drunken state decided to keep down, and wait for Spy to tell his story.
"Okay, so I was with zhe BLU Scout's mother, and she wanted to do some roleplay, zhat saucy little minx... so I put on zhis brown hat, and get a whip... oh, it was so much fun!" he began. That alone seemed enough to make everyone continue to laugh in their drunkeness. "But zhen, BLU Scout walks in! So, with me in zhe hat and whip, I try to imitate zhis one American movie I once saw! So, I steal his mother's panties, and imagined Scout as a boulder chasing me, and I make my great escape! All it was missing was zhe music!"
Everyone started to laugh, while Demoman recalled said music, and started humming the theme to Raiders of the Lost Arc... Everyone else found the gesture so amusing, they all decided to hum the theme in an off-key chorus, with many people not even knowing the song at all, but pretending to.
"Oh, mon ami, you are good!" Spy declared, laughing and snorting as he took another tequila shot.
"Aye, you bet your arse I am! I'm teh life of this party, ain't I?" he said, taking a drink of Scrumpy. "Uh... huh... Hey! Who wants me to cook some haggis?"
"Oh, come on you dummkopf!" Medic proclaimed. "You know zhat all haggis tastes like ass anyvay!"
"Aye, but in the right hands, it can taste like mighty fine ass!" Demoman said, with pride.
"Ooh! Ooh! I know!" Spy interrupted, still laughing and snorting like an idiot. "Speaking of mighty fine asses, did you take a look at zhe girl who had just recently joined us? Where can I get sauce for zhat rump roast?"
Everyone started to laugh hysterically again, though that's when Sniper and Medic were able to see a select group of people walking into the dining room, immediately achieving sobriety to try and not embarass themselves yet further. Spy and Demoman however, still did not notice the people behind them...
"Oh, I'm sorry you wanker, what was that you just asked?"
The Spy continued laughing in the midst of his response.
"Haha, I asked, where can I get some sauce for zhat rump roast!" he declared proudly. He then paused for a moment to realize that the question didn't come from a really recognizeable voice. He looked over to his side, then the face that he saw sink into his head.
Catherine gave the rouge a brief lesson in pain, with the back of her hand.
Everyone at the dining table winced at the Frenchman's punishment, though they couldn't help but also find the ordeal rather humorous.
That's when Catherine started to glare at everyone else in the room. Sniper quickly noticed that Medic had now started to hid under the table, out of the British girl's sight.
"Crikey..." Sniper muttered, facepalming. Things didn't look too good.
While Engineer, Pyro, and Heavy all waited near the entrance to the dining room, Catherine patrolled the area, noting all the guilty parties that were involved in this.
"You people make me very bloody sick... I mean, look at you berks! You're all drunk off your rockers, aren't you? This just won't do one bit, not it won't..."
"Jus' cause teh lady who yells at us when we fight sent ye here, doesn't mean you can boss us around, either! We can do what we want with our free time! Isn't that right, boyos?"
If people hadn't been so intimidated, perhaps people would've been a bit more cooperative with Demoman. Alas, only Sniper seemed to be overly agreeing with him.
"He's roight! I mean, just cause you're our mentor or some thing like that, that doesn't mean you can boss us around, ya piker! You don't seem much better than 'ol Scout, don't ya?"
Under normal circumstances, Sniper would never had let those words out of his mouth. Even he had standards of being more polite than that. Though, it was amazing what large consumptions of alcohol could do to one, releasing their inhibitions and all.
Naturally, Catherine also slapped Sniper.
"Kyle's been a bit more of a professional about things than you, if I do say so myself..."
The bushman felt like out of anything else that Catherine said to him, that one probably had the least intent of malice... and it hit him harder than anything else she had said. Scout was hardly a professional...
Somewhat surprised, but satisfied after seeing Sniper visibly shaken by that statement, Catherine walked past him towards one of the counters near the kitchen. She took a large tray and filled it with enough of the food Sniper and Spy made that could feed herself, the Engineer, the Heavy, and the Pyro (if this guy even ate), and started to head off.
"I believe since this place has been adequately soiled, then I'm off to eat with some of the more upstanding individuals at the sleeping quarters..." she announced aloud. "Oh, and another thing: Please sober up the next morning, boys. I have a series of questions and interviews I need to sort out with everyone so I can get to know you better, before I can lead you all..."
Catherine handed her rather weighty tray over to the Heavy, as she glanced back at the group, more specifically, Sniper.
"And please, I would suggest you all cut down on your alcohol intake. It can make all of you look so... unprofessional."
With that, she and her friends left the area.
Sniper had absolutely no idea what to say. Instead, he felt the cheek upon which she had slapped him, before sighing. He took another drink from his bottle of Australian ale.
"Bloody hell, what'd we do to deserve this sheila's scorn, eh?" he pondered. Looking under the table cloth that overhung at the table, Sniper still found Medic hiding.
"Do you zhink she noticed me?" he asked.
"Oh, come on out of there, you wet-nurse..."
Yanking Medic by the collar of his lab coat, Sniper fished him out from under the table, silently disappointed.
"Vell, I wouldn't want her to zhink less of me, really... And you know me: Demoman just... goaded me into getting involved in zhis foolishness..."
Spy managed to finally stand up, adjusting his suit.
"Well gentlemen, zhat was... unfortunate. However, maybe she does have a point. Perhaps it was a bit... foolish to be letting ourselves go, especially zhis early on while her presence is here. What will zhe Administrator zhink? Besides... I only partook in zhis event, because Sniper was feeling a bit mopey."
"Mopey? What're you sayin', mate?" Sniper asked incredulously.
"Eh, you were on zhe precipice of suicide or going to drastic measures, if I say so myself. Zhis is supposed to be my job to drive you zhere, not Catherine. I do not take kindly on people stealing my very own duties..."
"Aw, how backstabbingly sweet, if I say so myself, you wanka."
Spy nodded his head, before glancing over at his watch.
"Well, zhis was certainly a good break from zhis drama going around. But it is getting late. And Catherine will indeed be looking for us in zhe morning for zhis interviewing session of hers. I zhink it might be very interesting, actually... so if you'll excuse me, I'll be retiring to my quarters."
Medic looked up and nodded his head, agreeing with Spy.
"Ja, I believe I should get going as well... zhis madness is a bit much to handle. Ve shall rest on it. I zhink you should as well, Sniper."
"Don't fret, boyo... if I'm the only one worried about this, I'd be a wee bit scared at that then," Demoman interrupted. "It'll be hell, but we'll get through this madness... Or my name ain't Winston Churchill!"
Everyone in the room took an aside glance at each other, before sighing.
"Sheila does seem like she's got a bit of an agenda... and I don't like it..." Sniper muttered.
Demoman and Spy nodded their heads. Feeling he stayed enough for this conversation and there was nothing for him, Medic decided to walk on ahead past everyone else.
"Indeed. If a woman is not under your heel, then she is connivingly plotting somezhing against you. I would be on my toes, zhe woman is a most dangerous weapon in mankind... femme fatale, no?"
Demo and Sniper raised their respective spirits in the air, taking a drink towards that notion.
"She won't be able to take our freedom, lads! Not by a longshot!"
With that note, Spy and Medic both left the area to go and pursue a good night's rest. Sniper and Demoman both stayed in their seats at the dining table, continuing to drink. Sniper felt like he himself might need it. And if the hangover was bad enough, maybe he wouldn't have to get out of bed just to play along with Catherine's job. On that note, the Aussie assassin waved up his hand to catch his rival's attention.
"Hey, Spy! You didn't happen to poison any of the food we just made, did ya? Namely the stuff Cathy just ran off with now?"
"I'm afraid not."