Chapter 8

I can't believe I'm almost finished! Enjoy.

Spy sinks down to the bottom of the sewers, and stares through the bars. It's probably not a good idea to linger by the opening, but he can't draw away just yet, even though there is no purpose in staying.

There's nothing he can do. The shutters will be in place soon, and then he'll have no place to go but straight onto the Medic's surgery table. He should probably go back to the pipe, and try to block off the entrance to stay hidden, but the idea is already rejected when he thinks of it. There is nothing waiting for him there, and he may just as well stay outside, where he can see sunlight.

He should be planning for escape, or sabotaging the machine, but he doesn't move from his spot. He'll do it later... Whenever that 'later' may be.

Spy rolls himself onto his stomach almost languidly, and lets his head rest on the ground, staring at the specks of sand and dirt rolling past him in the flow of the river. He curls one of his tentacles around his arm in an attempt to comfort himself and carefully runs his hands over the small cuts his children had left in his arms when he tried to send them away.

Above the water, he can hear Engineer approaching the bars, whistling an upbeat little song as he begins his work. Spy's mind wanders, and he listens to the man work. It feels like that 'life-flashes-before-eyes' experience right before the world goes dark, but then in slow motion and with a chipper whistle accompanying it.

The water around Spy stops flowing when the Engineer forces the shutter further before the opening, and the view of the river is taken from his vision. The walls tremble as thick steel bolts force the shutter to the wall.

Spy rolls himself onto his side and turns to face the other and now only opening to the river. The whistle disappears behind the wall, and Spy forces himself up so he can go home. For probably the first time, the word "home" doesn't conjure images of a tidy and cozy small house in the suburbs of a small french town, but rather a dark wet place, hidden away from the world in complete safety.

He swims into the pipe, and lets himself drift to the bottom in the far back. He swears he can still hear the chirps of his children, crying for food and biting him in their strange way of showing affection.

Something brushes against his cheek as doesn't conjure imageshe lies down, and Spy's insides clench in panic at the unexpected touch, and he swats the thing away with the back of his hand. A high pitched cry of pain cuts through the water, and Spy immediately freezes. It's a sound he knows all too well, and his face is torn between smile and horror. It sounds like one of the babies.

A moment later he's frantically searching through the entire pipe, the tips of his tentacles curling nervously as they roam the ground in search for the lost child. He finds it near the entrance, dazedly rolling around in the water. Gently he picks it up and strokes it over its head with a trembling hand. Strange-looking olive coloured bruises cover its skin, and Spy immediately recognizes it as the child he almost crushed a few days earlier. He doesn't know how to comfort the scared child, so he does what he imagines mothers do, letting it cry and holding it against him as lovingly as he can manage.

Its cries slow to a sniffle, and after a few minutes, it takes a very tentative nip at Spy's skin in the show of affection Spy has come to love. He brings the child up to his face and gives it a nuzzle, coaxing a hesitant giggle out of the child.

He leans his back against the pipe's inside, and plays a bit with the small creature, watching it crawl up over his arm.

The moment stretches into minutes, and all is fine. He doesn't want to think of his problems, at least not in these perfect moments, but the more time he spends with the child, the more apparent the problems force themselves upon him. The river is closed off, and now the child is here to die with him! He pulls the creature even closer to him and it squirms in worry, clearly remembering last time where he'd been held a little too tightly.

It's already too late to let it escape in the same way as it's brethren. If he is going to get this child to safety, it'll have to be over land, or over the immense wall pulled up around the battlegrounds. The baby clambers up over his stomach and paws at his face, and Spy puts it back down by his tentacles, watching it climb up and tumble back down when it can't find leverage to hang on.

Medic wouldn't get his hands on this one. Even if he had to chop himself to bits to be able to get the child to the river, he'd do it gladly! He has nothing to lose, and everything to win. Spy closes his eyes and takes in a deep breath, willing his hesitance aside.

Delay of execution is all he can do now, and it vaguely reminds him of the work he did as a Spy. Sentries would always be built no matter how many he sapped, and the enemy Heavy would always be mowing down his team, even if he dominated the hunk of fat for the entire day. The longer he delays his capture, the more likely it will be for the Administrator to cut in and send the Medic on his way to a battle! He'll still be stuck in this indestructible hunk of war ground, but maybe he'll be able to find a way out before they starve.

The rest of his thoughts get lost as an sudden unpleasant low hum buzzes through the water. It's like a humongous drum rumbling without stop, as if rolling down a hill with stones inside, and it's maddening. For a moment Spy thinks that another being of the mystical world has shown up, like the HHH or Monoculus, until he realizes where the sound originates from. They started the draining machine!

His stomach coils and the tips of his tentacles curl. He starts for the BLU base, but a frightened chirp stops him in his tracks. The child had fallen off him when he had gotten up, and is hurriedly crawling over to him with wide yellow eyes. He should leave it behind in the pipe, collect it after his 'mission', but he can't bring himself to part with the creature so soon after finding it again. He curls one of his tentacles around the baby, and departs from the pipe for what may as well be the last time.

The sound of the machine is everywhere, and even the walls seem to hum along with the low tune of the machine, but it's not hard to figure out where they are draining the sewers. He knows how the Engineer works when placing his structures, and he knows there are only two efficient places to drain water through a tube while effectively protecting it. The maintenance shaft exits on the BLU and RED sides. He goes to the BLU base first, betting on finding the draining machine there.

He is right, partly. From the BLU maintenance tunnel hangs an enormous tube in the water, draining water from the sewers at a far faster pace than he'd expected. He can feel the water streaming past him, rushing towards the dark tube and pulling at him to come along. Several sentries and their Engineer are holding guard on the ledge above it. From where Spy hides he can barely spot the Engineer, as hidden as he is behind one of his blueprints. The sentries are placed perfectly around the maintenance tunnel, set in such a way to cover the other, and the last one in the chain being protected by the Engineer himself. Sneaking past it would be a no-go if he wanted to live, and the same went for crawling over dry sand!

A string of unidentified grime is sucked into the dark rubbery depths of the tube like a rope of lint succumbing to a vacuum cleaner, and Spy takes special note not to meet the same fate. Getting stuck in machinery wouldn't help one bit right now...

Unless that machine dumps the water outside the base!

Spy chews on his lip. It's a far-fetched plan, but considering the strangeness of the RED and BLU war, it's not impossible. Disabling the machine is top priority, but now he has a little expansion on that plan; entering the machine on the chance that freedom lies at the end.

Getting into the base shouldn't be too much trouble, the hatch being big enough for him to squeeze through even with the humongous tube hanging out, and once the machine is disabled getting into the machine wouldn't pose a problem. It's the sentries. They would riddle him with bullets if he'd even show an inch of skin within their range!

No cloaking devices, no sappers, no teammates to back him up, no knife, and an Engineer covering every single one of his six sentries with a shotgun. Spy frowns at the odds, and tries to spy a weakness in the formation of the sentries, hoping for enough cover to sneak by, or for a way to drag the machines into the water.

A hunk of trash slowly drags a line in the sand next to Spy, and he curls a few tentacles around it. He'd hidden behind a dispenser before, who said a piece of trash wouldn't work? He quickly skims the sewer floors for any usable objects, and comes up with a few flat pieces of plating, undoubtedly from a destroyed dispenser.

It's almost too small for him even if he curls himself into a small ball, and swimming behind it is completely out of the question. He'll have to drag himself over the sandy floor with the Dispenser-plate as cover. There are a few dents and remaining tubes inside of the metal, and Spy awkwardly curls his tentacles around the protrusions.

He moves slowly over the sewer floor, and every off-beat beep the sentries causes him to freeze and press himself behind his cover. The water being sucked out through the tube pulls stronger at his measly shield the closer he gets, and about halfway to the shafts it flies out of his grip, clunking against the tube opening and whirling to the bottom uselessly.

Spy immediately swims for the safety of the maintenance shafts, almost getting sucked into the draining machine in the process, but his effort is unneeded. The sentries stay idle above the water, acknowledging him as a friendly target with a monotone beep.

The engineer had forgotten to remove his signature from the list of friendly targets! It was just like him too, to forget such small things when preoccupied with something else.

Spy immediately squeezes himself through the small gap between the wall and the tube, and wrestles his way through. It's even nastier then it was before, the goop all pushed up inside the shafts due to the large tube, and the remaining baby gasps weirdly. Spy would have held it underwater, but he can hardly call the carpet of revolting filth 'water', so he keeps the child as far away from it as he can. At the end of the tunnel he looks more like a mud monster than he resembles anything human-like, everything but his back and the child smeared in muck.

The opening is completely unsecured besides a sentry beeping away by the door, but after a few quick waves with a tentacle, Spy finds it to be a friendly machine as well. With significant effort, Spy wrestles himself up and clambers out of the shaft, splattering mud and dirt all over the room. The tube runs further over the floor, coiling sharply around the door frame and into the halls.

He crawls along the tube as fast as he can, which is far slower than he'd like, slithering over the smooth floors with the elegance of an eel in a layer of grease. Even when he hooks his nails into the outside of the tube to drag himself along he doesn't gain too much speed. He has never felt more gawky and out of practice in his entire life, and the effort is telling on him.

He tells himself not to worry. All he has to do is disable the machine, avoid the two mercenaries on his tail, and then clamber through the tube. It doesn't sound easy when he says it to himself, not even when he puts up his most convincing voice and says it out loud.

He continues to follow the tube, slipping through empty hallways that had one point been filled with crazy anti-commie posters made by the Soldier, and unicorn drawings from the Pyro. It's strangely unsettling to find the hallways so bare, and Spy keeps his gaze locked to either the tube or the child held in his tentacle. The buzzing is soon joined by a low mechanical hum through the empty corridors, and he knows the machine is close by. A few rooms ahead, just past the-

"Ach, hold still vill you? It will be a very short trip, mein schatzen..."

Spy stops dead in his tracks and flattens himself behind the tube when the German accent floats over the machine's noise. A few rooms ahead, just past the med-bay, and it's most common habitant; the Medic. Sure Spy had expected the man to be somewhere within the building, but it doesn't make the encounter any less startling.

He continues to move slowly past the doors, hidden behind the immense tube, and tries to hear any indication of the Medic coming closer through the noise of the machine. The child in his tentacle whines nervously, and Spy hastily smothers the sound with a tentacle, gaining a frightened bite in response. He listens anxiously, already making a plan of attack for when the Medic comes to investigate, but he hears nothing besides the machine, and the Medic does not show himself.

He starts moving again, seeing the tube curl into the last room at the end of the hallway.

Spy slowly inches along the tube, his eyes flicking between the path ahead and the open doors to the medbay, where the Medic can barely be heard moving things around. The spawn squirms in his hands, still trying to utter its disagreement through the Spy's muffling tentacle, and Spy has the hardest time keeping the child silent while attempting to move forward.

He is barely past the door when a painfully familiar sound makes him stop dead in his tracks. The pitiful cry of a baby. Every muscle in his body seems to freeze at the alarming sound, and he shoots a withering look at the child in his hold finding it staring back at him with wide eyes, still effectively muffled.

"Ach, don't be so dramatic kindern! It is just a little trip, nothing to be scared of." The crying stops for a moment, only to continue at an even higher pitch a few moments later, and other small voices join in the cacophony. Spy immediately turns back, almost falling on his face when clambering over the tube, and dares a peek inside the medbay.

The Medic is standing in front of a small aquarium, dumping its content into a nearby sink, and right beside him, on a wet towel, lie five tentacled babies. Their tentacles curled tightly around them, their pale skin is covered in tiny bruises and wounds, and similar to the child he took with him to this place, their breath is raspy and shallow out of the water.

Spy draws back from the doors, and sets down the spawn a good distance from the door before sneaking back to the med-bay. His chances do not look bright, unarmed against a fully equipped mercenary... Well, he survived similar situations with only the element of surprise with him, so maybe it will do the trick this time as well. He scans the room quickly, hoping to find something that could serve as a knife, but he finds the bay almost completely bare, save for a pile of cardboard boxes and some beds.

No choice but to go in and do the best he can. The noise of the machine overpowers the ticking of Spy's nails on the plain tiles, and the Medic continues to shove a heap of instruments into a box with his back turned to the door.

He comes closer and closer, until he can smell the stock washing powder stuck in the white coat, and then he leaps forward with as much force as he can muster, hitting the Medic in the knees and sending them both tumbling to the floor. The Medic's cry of surprise is lost in the cacophony of the machine and the box of instruments clattering to the floor. He presses Medic down to the floor with all of his weight, taking advantage of the man's awkward position, and wraps his hands around the Medic's neck, slamming his face into the corner of the bureau and wrapping his tentacles around the man to restrain him.

The doctor's struggles become weaker and weaker the longer Spy holds him down, until he is dead. Spy pulls his hands and tentacles loose from the corpse and rolls it over, flexing his pained fingers. It had been far easier than he'd expected.

He grabs the children off the table and tries not to be distracted by the weak purrs and nuzzles directed at him as he continues with his mission. After making sure he has them all, he speeds out of the medbay, making a beeline for the last room in the hall.

The machine standing in the middle of the room is gross and clunky, obviously designed in a short amount of time and without any eye for decoration whatsoever. The control panel is non-existent, instead a jumbled mess of wires buttons and chips hang from a large open hole in the machine, a few loose ends almost hanging into the thin layer of water covering the floor. The machine itself is bolted against the wall, and this close to the machine, Spy can finally place the rumbling noise that shakes the base. Water, rushing from a height and splashing down on the ground.

He hurries over to the control 'panel', and pulls the heap of wires and chips towards him. It's of simple construction with limited options that barely go beyond 'machine off' and 'machine on'. After a small examination of the wire connections, he gives a good pull at the wires, and with a sputtering sound the machine falls silent. The rushing of water slowly drains to a halt and the pumps stop working. The sudden lack of noise makes him feel deaf, but he tries to pay it no mind. The Medic must have respawned by now, and with the machine's noise disabled, getting to the opening of the tube undetected will be a little bit harder.

He pulls out a good bunch of wires to ensure the machine wouldn't activate before his escape, and then returns to the hallways.

His hands are surprisingly steady as he continues to drag himself along the thick tube, and he speaks soothing words to the exhausted children accompanying him. Doors and windows pass him, and he gets closer and closer to the maintenance shaft. He can hear the guard-sentry beeping, and almost hidden beneath the sound a pair of heavy boots coupled with harsh sounding foreign curses approaches through the hallway.

He doesn't allow himself to turn around and look when he hears the sound of syringes hitting the floor, and scrambles into the maintenance room. He almost throws himself down the shaft, scraping a good part of his skin and almost dropping a few of the children in the process. He wades through the sludge, and tries to ignore the sounds of the Medic attempting to follow him into the maintenance shaft. He is almost thankful for his tentacles now, their strength and bend-ability far superior in the wet enclosed shafts.

He reaches the end of the shaft and lets himself fall in the waters below. He wrings himself into the dark tube as quickly as he can, hoping fervently for the Engineer not to have seen him. He curls all available tentacles around the children and holds them onto his back awkwardly as he drags himself along over his stomach. The tube itself is humid, tiny and dark, and after only a few breaths it feels as if there isn't enough oxygen to stay alive.

When he had followed the tube in the hallways of the BLU base, it had seemed long. Now it seemed endless. Only by the sudden ascend of the tube can he tell that he is passing through the maintenance shaft. The children continue to cry, and even though Spy worried over being discovered, there isn't much he can do to calm them besides softly patting them on their heads. The rubber of the tube muffles the sound of their crying, and it makes for the illusion that he is not moving forward at all, but stuck in the same 2 meters of rubber and doomed to crawl through it over and over.

It seems hours later when the tube finally ends, leading him through a half-open door and under the pump that could squash him like a fly. The doors on the other side are half-closed, and light spills inside through a small crack.

Spy doesn't waste a second, and rushes towards the exit with the power of a lunatic. He barely fits through the stubborn door, and takes a tumble down, almost breaking an arm at the landing. The river is running along the wall, great loads of water escaping to all the sides for lack of a proper bedding. The ground is tough beneath a small layer of mud, and Spy pulls his way along the wall, keeping the children well above the muddy water.

The river is calmer than it was before the engineer installed the shutters, and loads of dust and dirt lift on the stream. He will have to crawl along some more, until the river gets deeper, and so he does. He still fears the men back at the base, remembering a time where the BLU Sniper had explained the finer details of sniping to the entire team (against their will), but no blue dots follow him as he moves his way along through the river further and further away from the base.