I always worry about tearing it, you know? In the showbiz sense. Breaking credibility, within a context, even if that context is pretty incredible (in the sense of not credible) to begin with, like Overwatch. And I kind of feel like I'm dancing up to that line with that chapter, with Venom as a character.
If people make it through Terrifying in Flight, I think chapter seven ("Is It Good Enough For You, Still?") will clarify some things. Angela thought, in chapter six, "that's a lie," and she was correct. But I can't put that in front of chapter six, I can't say, "trust me here," because, well, y'can't do that, it doesn't make sense.
Questions of identity float around in Old Soldiers, and this is part of that arc, and and and and.
"Letting us take the first shot, then?" Gabriel Reyes asked Venom, eyeing the new intel sent along on sideband. "We got Sombra's location reports - thank you."
The Talon assassin nodded. "Yeh. I..." she frowned. "Gabe, luv, I'm gonna get this out there. I voted no. But I lost, so I'll go along."
"I appreciate that." Reyes gave Oxton a considering look. "You sure, though? The way you stormed out..."
The assassin nodded. "I've got my reasons, and I've made my promises - to Amélie - and I keep 'em." Just ask G/C Henderson, she thought, Oh wait, you can't, he's dead. The memory made her smile, just a little. Small but lasting comforts.
"Glad to hear it. Thank you," replied the tactical advisor. Promises to the Widowmaker? That'd do it. "We collectively - all of us at Overwatch, Tracer possibly excepted - want to bring him to justice, intact. Not just have him disappear again."
Lena "Venom" Oxton snorted, a little. "Might be right about Tracer. But for us - well, it's better than nothing."
Reyes breathed out. Good. "I'm putting together some plans, based upon your intel - and ours." He brought his right hand to his chin, thoughtfully. "I just wish we had a sniper. Closest we've got is Mei, and she's good with that ice pistol of hers, but it's not the same thing."
Venom thought about the problem, and a solution. Would Amélie be okay with it? Yes, she thought so. With the right conditions attached. Maybe even... proud. Let's float it. "You might. Have a sniper, I mean."
Gabriel tilted his head and stared into the screen. "...Amélie's suddenly willing to work with me?"
"No," Venom said. "But I am."
"Since when are you a sniper?"
Another snort. "C'mon, mate, how long have I been with the world's best sniper? Like I've told Winston - she teaches me her tricks."
"I can't see how you have the patience for it. How good are you?"
"I'm good, mate. Not Amélie good, but... good. Very good."
Gabe looked dubiously at her, through the screen. "How very good?"
Venom thought about it. "I keep a list of better snipers than me, right? Amélie's on top, of course; Zhanna Orlov's below her, Shimada Hanzo a few steps down, all that."
She's good enough to keep that list? he thought. But aloud, he kept it to, "Sure."
"Everyone on that list keeps a list like it. Amélie's still on top, but theirs has a question mark, down... maybe below number ten? But on the list."
"And that's you?"
Venom smiled. "Can't confirm that, luv. But."
"You willing to demonstrate that at the embassy?"
"Maybe. There's conditions." She looked thoughtful, glancing down to the side. "I have to check with Amélie. She might veto this."
Gabriel nodded. Talon secret tech, or something like it. Fair enough. "Let me know. It sure would be nice to have a sniper available."
"Honest, luv, it's me," came her voice through the door speaker. "Horizon Angle Delta Vector Seventeen Nine Seven Nine Banana Clown."
The gorilla opened the door, still wary, and Lena Oxton stepped inside out of the sunlight. In the office, she looked less blue around the edges, thanks to the warm lighting overhead, but the tint was still there, and her goggles had a fleet of extra red eyes, in mobile plates, along the sides and top. "I wanted to arrive dressed as Tracer, so's nobody'd notice, but..." She pressed buttons on her grapple, now equipped with familiar and frightening extras, and her suit changed to black and green. "Mockingbird reporting for sniper duty."
"Lena, what did you do?!"
She smiled in a broad way, most unlike her spider, and most like herself. It helped, a little. "Nothin' permanent. I swear. This is just what I look like when I'm a sniper."
Gabriel and Angela came up the stairs to the ambassador's office, and froze in their tracks at Winston and Lena. Angela shrieked a little, and Gabriel shuddered. "That... that is... deeply disturbing. Lena, are you still you?" asked the doctor.
Gold-tinted eyes - regular brown still visible underneath, if you looked closely - darted to Dr. Ziegler. "Guess I shoulda warned ya, huh? Yeh, it's still me in here." Her voice was the slightest bit slower and lower than usual, but clearly still hers.
"What have you done to yourself?!" Angela leaned forward, and Mockingbird stepped fluidly back, with an ah-ah-ah finger motion. "Sorry, doc, no scans. That's the rule if I'm gonna be here like this."
"I wasn't going to. Is it, is it..."
"Permanent? Nah. Nothin' to it, really. Some drugs, some other tricks."
That's a lie, thought the doctor. "Why?!"
"All the sniper traits. Night distance vision. Stability, in motion. Patience - well, for me, anyway. Stillness, too - I can stop my heart for three minutes in this mode and be just fine. But I keep my twitch reflex, and the energy I store up is barmy! I won't need to eat for four days. Which is good," she joked, "'cause don't ask me to read a menu in the dark right now."
Gabriel shook his head back and forth. "Your whole organisation is not right in the brain."
Mockingbird laughed, a very Tracer-like laugh, and that, too, helped. "When we're on the range, I'm gonna be even scarier. I'll ramp down my emotions s'more and turn the spider all the way up." She brought up her vizor's extensions, and her goggles' primary field went dark red.
Winston reached out to her, without words, and she took his hand. "Or maybe I won't." She reset the vizor to standard mode. "Didn't think you'd be this fruck out, big guy. It's okay, honest."
"You weren't here when Amélie killed Gérard, you don't..." He felt her hand. "You're cool to the touch," he said, quietly.
"Not that cool. Just enough to avoid bein' picked up on infrared. Won't fool the best models, but it helps."
"Please say you aren't turning into Amélie. I... I don't want you turning into Amélie."
Mockingbird snickered, saying, "Well, they do say married couples start to look alike," and activated the vizor again.
"Lena, no! Be serious! I don't want to lose you."
She smiled, waved the magnifiers away, and held her friend's hand against her face. "Aw, luv, no. I like who I am. This is fun, but not... as fun. It'll all go away later. But right now, you need a sniper." She lowered his hand, and patted his shoulder. "I can shed most of this in about an hour, if I really need to."
"That's all it takes?" asked the Swiss doctor.
"For me? Yeh, in an emergency. I can throw 'bout half of it off in under a minute, if I really gotta - but it hurts like the dickens."
Gabriel shook his head. Crazy people, Talon - all of 'em. "Where's your rifle?"
Mockingbird, it seemed, had Lena Oxton's famous half-grin, and she flashed it, and flipped her pistols. "Right here." She popped them together, they locked, and the barrel extended. From a pouch, she pulled out a surprisingly conventional-looking scope, which snapped right on top. "But: ground rules. One: no scans. Sorry, doc. Two: I'm not Tracer, I'm Mockingbird. Stick to it, I mean it. No "Lena," no "Tracer," not outside this office. Three: nobody, and I mean nobody, touches my tech but me. Anyone does, I walk away completely, and for good. No more Mockingbird, and" - she said this slowly, and clearly - "no. more. Tracer. either."
She waited a moment to make sure all that had sunk in. "These are the terms. Otherwise, I leave now, no harm done, and Tracer comes back tomorrow wondering if she missed anything. Agreed?"
"Le... Mockingbird, this cannot be good for you," said Angela. "I promise, just a circulatory..."
"No," the sniper said firmly. "None."
The doctor sighed. "You are not the only one here who experiments with her body in extreme ways. You are stressing it more than I think you know. I want to help."
"We do this before breakfast, luv. But, y'know, if you ever want to switch teams, you could do all the scans you..."
"I don't think so," the doctor interrupted. "But how am I going to know how to treat you in the field, if necessary?"
Mockingbird tipped her head, and smiled. "I'll give you this." She held up a small memory card. "Complete treatment protocols for anything that has to happen faster than a Talon extraction team can reach me. You can have it once everything's settled."
"I insist that I be allowed to practice these protocols. At least the physicality of them. In battle," she did not really have to say, "it matters."
"Ah, yeah! As long as your nanos aren't taking samples, that's fine."
"And may I please, at least, examine you later? When this is over? To be sure you've handled this well? Your own doctors may want that data."
Mockingbird thought about it. The compassion was genuine, she was pretty sure, but so was the desperate curiosity to know how all this worked. There would be things for her to find, later, but little she wouldn't've had a chance to see before, and she'd be looking in all the wrong places... good enough, she decided. "They'll already have it, but - deal."
"Thank you." The doctor looked a little bit relieved, if still more than a little concerned. "I accept."
"Winston? How 'bout it?"
"Gabriel, are you willing to work under these conditions?"
The former Blackwatch head nodded. "I've worked under way worse than this. I'm good. Uh, I... accept the terms?"
"Oh, right," said the assassin, "This has to be for the whole organisation." She switched to Tracer colours, and said, "On behalf of Overwatch, I, Lena "Tracer" Oxton, agree to the terms of Mockingbird's service," before switching back. "Sounds like a bloody software license, don't it? That just leaves you, Winston. And Mei, but she's not here yet."
"I don't like it," said the gorilla. "But... deal. No scans, no handling, no anything."
Mockingbird smiled. "Brilliant!" She tossed Angela the memory card. "Have fun with that. The rest of us - let's go shoot some wings off mosquitoes!"
"We've been over this," responded Gabriel, watching as she took the head off a second target on the way down, before even landing on her cliffside perch. "We want him alive." He took notes that started with 'Terrifying in flight.'
"And we want him dead," she retorted. "I want him dead. Don't get me wrong, Gabe, I'm here, I'm goin' along with your plan, but alive's not the sniper's job." From that upper perch, she hit three for four on moving ground targets. Two headshots, one ricochet shot that missed, a follow-up direct shot leaving a grazed neck. That last one would walk away, with medical aid. "Damn."
'Never really stops moving,' the new Overwatch tactics expert added to his notes. 'Highly mobile.' "We just want the tactical visor gone."
She spun around from her nest and ticked a faceplate off the sixth target dummy. "And that's a headshot."
"Tracer's not here, luv."
"Hiya!" She triggered reload, and launched herself to the second perch. He noted she wasn't jinking at all, no teleports, no rewinds, just running, moving with the grapple, and nothing else. Still all about movement, though.
Bang, target down. "No additional shots after the visor's gone." He could almost feel her dirty look from the ground. Bang, another ricochet shot, target missed.
She landed, swore, and took a second shot on the second target, moving within her section's perch point for a direct shot, taking the dummy down. "Not even to save another agent?" She ran a strafe pattern against moving dummies, bang, bang, bang. Four for three, including a domino shot. All perfect.
Jesus, she's good, Gabriel thought. Maybe not Amari good, those ricochet shots aren't working, but... Aloud, he said, "Except to save another agent."
"Short day for me, then." Another reload, and she launched herself into the air, diving to the final shooting perch. Gabriel surprised her with three airborne targets. Bang, down, bang, down, bang, bang, down. "Seems a shame if I have to get all gussied up." She landed and rolled to the third sighting point.
"A short day would be very, very good indeed."
Three fast targets, running along the ground, zagging, all with faceplates - the most human of them all. Three shots, three faceplates off, all targets down. "My way would be even shorter."
"Mockingbird. Please. I know what you are. Don't make it harder."
Lena Oxton breathed in, carefully. She wondered, occasionally, how long she could make this Talon-Overwatch joint arrangement last, and this was one of those times. It's for the best, she reminded herself. If, occasionally, a right pain in the arse. "Sorry, Gabe. I'm workin' so hard to remind everyone it's me in here, maybe I overdid it a bit. Is that it for the first round?"
"Yeah, that's the first set. What'd you think?"
"I liked the surprise skeet, that was fun! But I was sloppy. I can do better, if I drop the banter. And nothin' returned fire!"
"This is a target range, not a combat simulator, what'd you expect?"
"Might fix that."
"If we had the money. You're supposed to know that."
"Maybe Tracer's supposed to know that - I'm not."
Right, he thought. "Mockingbird, secure weapon, and return to start. We'll reset the range for another round."
I'd noticed in Annabots that I seemed to be getting some double-kills with single shots, and poking around, I'm under the impression that domino shots are actually a thing in-game.
I think I got one yesterday. Temple of Anubus, on offence, second point, I'm hanging out on my favourite perch, shooting onto the point, really kind of waiting for my team to get back out there as we'd captured part of the point but then got stomped.
I see some movement on the point, and I fire one shot in - Double kill.
I think maybe I got my first domino shot in quickplay.
A couple of days ago, I was talking offline about how I'm improving as a Widowmaker, but I'm not able to shift a game the way I can by showing up as Tracer or D.va? Today I did it.
Dorado, on attack, started as Tracer. They weren't ready for a Tracer at my grade, and we charged pretty well for the first 95% of the first leg, 'till they figured out I was the problem, then we still managed to nudge it to the first objective before we totally got shut down.
So I switched to D.va, and they weren't expecting a D.va of that grade either, but once again, figured out who to focus on, and we charged for 95% and then had to struggle for the last bit, and I brought it home nudge and boop at a time.
But that was it, right? They brought out a Bastion, and D.va's not a good counter to Bastion, and I think they must've swapped another hero, because they were seriously pushing us back to the third spawn point, and I'm thinking, "...I... I really feel like I need to bring out Widowmaker here. I really do."
And so I said fukkit, I did. And started knocking out the Bastion over and over and an eight-person kill-streak later, we're 95% of the way to the third and final point.
Which is, again, when they figure out where I went and started hardcore targeting me and we lost. Plus, indoors on the third stage of Dorado is a terrible, terrible place for Widowmaker, so what did you expect, really? But while we were outside, I was an unstoppable killing machine as Widowmaker, and for the third time, shifted a match from "hopeless" to "edge of victory."
I have no illusions about being able to do it regularly - yet - with Widowmaker. My aim is still super-spotty (tho' the time I'm putting in on Annabots is clearly helping across all heroes) and I don't know all the places to be and not be. But I have now done it, once.
For those of you keeping track at home, Mary Zimmerman is probably my favorite stage director. She created Metamorphoses, one of the most perfect theatrical experiences of my life, and I loved her White Snake, as well. I am really enamored by her talent for taking ancient, epic stories and making them personal for modern audiences. I have read her version of The Odyssey in the past and been completely mystified how it might be staged, so I was very excited to see this production.
We flew down from Seattle on Sunday afternoon and checked into the Ashland Springs Hotel, which is a lovely, classic hotel just a block from the festival theatres. After a pleasant walk through Lithia Park, complete with a wade in the stream there, we had dinner at Amuse, our favorite restaurant in town, where the standout this time was a dessert of cherries soaked in balsamic vinegar and served over vanilla ice cream and a brown sugar cracker for a marvelous combination of contrasting flavors and textures. Then we headed over to the Elizabethan Theatre, an outdoor amphitheatre built to echo Shakespeare's Globe.
( Detailed reflections on The Odyssey )
Overall I liked this show, rather than loving it. I think that if I ever decided to take on this story myself I would investigate other adaptations, or simply begin with the source text and carve my own show from it, rather than working from this script. I am very glad to have seen it, but would rank it below the three other shows I've seen her direct.
We went back to the hotel and watched the latest episode of Game of Thrones before bed. In the morning we had breakfast there and then I was able to squeeze in a massage across the street at Waterstone Spa. I always enjoy my experiences there, but this was definitely the best massage I've gotten there, and especially helped my thighs, which were still painfully tight from all the gardening on Friday.
When that was done, we piled quickly into the car and after a much-anticipated lunch at Jack-in-the-Box, hopped on our flight back to Seattle. Reunited with Alice, Steve, and Eric, we met Jason's best friend, Todd, for excellent sushi at Chiso in Fremont, and then I got to read Alice bedtime stories for the last time in a week before Jason took me back to Sea-Tac for my redeye to Boston. The flight was easy and quick--we made it in under four and a half hours, one of the fastest transcontinental flights I've ever flown--and I hadn't checked a bag, so I was able to walk out to a cab and be home just about the time we'd been scheduled to land. Jason and Alice are staying for another week, planning to go camping north of Boise over the weekend and catch the total eclipse before heading home.
It was strange to be doing all this travel and engaging in rituals of personal grief and delightful sensory experiences while violence in Charlottesville and its aftermath were taking over the news. I'm very glad to be home and able to engage more fully in the resistance to those awful events. Thanks to all those who kept me informed and in touch over the weekend.
Jason's dad, Steve, decided that the memorial event in Seattle would be a gathering in their garden this past Saturday, so we flew out on Wednesday night. We spent Thursday puttering around and Friday mostly working in the garden--one of Trish's gardening friends came over to get us started and point out what needed doing. I was rather amazed at myself for doing that much yard work, but it was oddly satisfying and felt like a real way of honoring Trish's memory.
On Saturday people packed into their beautiful garden. There were co-workers of Steve, people from the neighborhood, friends from the book club she founded more than thirty years ago and members of the chamber choir she had joined more than forty years ago, and about twenty members of her extended family--all her siblings, a couple of their kids, three of her first cousins, plus their assorted partners. Everyone expressed their shock at her sudden passing and told stories of her generosity in their lives. One of her friends brought the sheet music for Wild Mountain Thyme and Jason's brother, Eric, accompanied us on his violin as we sang "Will ye go, lassie, go" in the lovely Seattle afternoon in the shade of the trees Trish had planted.
It was a beautiful farewell to a life full of friends and family, music, literature, and love.
[All dialogue in «angle quotes» is translated from the Spanish]
«Whatcha doin', Spooky?»
Jack Morrison looked up upon hearing Leticia Delgado's question from where he sat with his notebook. Paper, pen, overstuffed chair - old school, like he was. «Updating the dossier.»
«On your old friends?» she asked, putting away her phone, and grabbing an orange off the counter separating the small kitchen from the small living room.
«They're not my old friends,» he growled. «But this attack by Amari, and this fake Overwatch news - maybe it'll help fit some more pieces together.»
Leticia nodded, peeling the orange. Morrison had been hauling that notebook around as long as she'd known him. He'd never let her look at it, and she'd never pushed too hard. But she'd been curious, and if he was going to open up a little, well, it beat sitting around, anxious and bored. «Why you so obsessed with this new Overwatch, anyway?»
He shook his head. «It's not Overwatch. The real Overwatch - my Overwatch - went down with me, when Talon moved against us.»
The street fighter cocked her head to her left. «I thought that was the UN.»
Morrison snorted. «Talon, UN - it's all the same thing, has been for a long time. Early 2068 - a few months before the Slipstream exploded - that's when I started to realise what was really happening, what was going wrong.»
«Talon,» she said, before biting into a wedge, «...controls the UN?»
«Talon proxies. Maybe mind controlled, like Lacroix, maybe conscious traitors, I don't know. But they're pulling the strings. I just have to find them all, cut them all down, show the world what they've done.»
«I know they're terrorists, but that's what they call us, too...» She swallowed the piece of orange.
«They really are, though. More than anyone knows. More than anyone understands. But I'm the one who's seen it.» He poked at his notebook. «I'm the one who's figured it out.»
«You got evidence?» She peeled threads off another piece of the orange. «I mean, if they're that kind of dangerous...»
«It's everywhere you look, once you start to see it. Start with Gérard Lacroix's murder - Talon eliminated him as soon as he got too close. You think he was their mole? Of course not. He just knew too much.»
The young Los Muertos gangster bit into another wedge. «I don't even know who that is.»
«You...? Yeah, I, guess you wouldn't. You'd've been, what, 12? 13?» He chuckled. «Gérard Lacroix was head of Overwatch's anti-Talon task force. Good man. Murdered in his sleep by his wife - or rather, by whatever thing Talon put in his wife's head after they took apart her brain.»
«Wait. I've heard part of this story... are you talking about la blue girl?»
«The killing corpse? The purple assassin? Yeah. The Widowmaker. Second-best sniper in the world. I was friends with the woman they killed to create her.» He flipped to the Amélie Lacroix section of his notebook, filled lately with his notes on her partner, the teleporting assassin known as Venom. «I'm not sure who they killed to create her girlfriend. I thought it had to be Lena Oxton, somehow back from oblivion, because...»
«Lena Oxton... the Widowmaker's girlfriend? Wait, you think the hero of Old London is the spider's sidekick? Really?» Laticia snorted. «Put this in your notebook, I heard about it from the old squad leader. Those two showed up at an arms show together a couple years ago, right? Got disrespected by a some anglo Texans, and killed like a dozen people just to make a point. They're not...»
«I know. The girlfriend part, that's what made me think it might've been Lena.» He tapped the page with the tip of his pen. «Still think it might be. Just can't figure out why they'd keep the lesbian angle. I didn't even think Amélie liked girls, not that there's anything left of her in that machine. But it has to be important, for some reason.»
Hoooo, she thought. This is kind of nuts. «I'm sorry about your friends, Jack. But this - it's a lot to take in.»
Jack looked up at Laticia, and nodded. He trusted her. He hadn't trusted anybody in a long time, and he didn't trust the trust, but it was still there. «It's a lot more to live through.»
She let out a little bit of a 'heh,' and replied, «This's why you don't talk about your past much, huh?»
He nodded, flipping through pages, adding small notes in tinier text. «One of the reasons.» He dotted a couple of lower-case Is and put the book down. «The part I can't get past - there is just no way that the real UN would ever have moved against us. Not like that. They'd never have shut me down, not us, we mattered too much. Not even with that bastard Gabriel turning on us, turning on me...» He'd run through the story too many times in his own head even to get angry anymore. «I don't know whether they brainwashed him or reconditioned his mind or whether he just got bought out, but he turned on us. All those lies at the hearings, all that slander, all those leaks...»
«I remember that part,» she said, finishing the last of the orange.
«Big news, even to the tween set?»
«We watched the hearings in school.»
The solder smirked. «Not surprised - schools are about control. But all that propaganda aside - we mattered too much. The real UN - an uncompromised UN - wouldn't've shut us down. Never.»
She tapped her fingers, one, two, three, four, on the table, working out bits in her mind, before sweeping the peels away. «So... if Talon took over the UN, then...»
He nodded again, this time, approvingly. She gets it, he thought. «Then they have control over a lot of the governments, too. Deep state agents, fingers in key parties, big and small.» He picked the book back up, made a few more notes, and closed it again. «But I'll get it all out there, sooner or later. Once I have it all figured out. Then everyone will know, and we can start to put the world back together.»
The soldier looked down at his empty mug, feeling all talked out. «Hey. You mind making some more of that coffee?»
Delgado looked quizzically at Jack Morrison. «My coffee?»
«Who else's? I can't make it the way you do.»
«You can't... you hate my coffee. You always dump it out, and by the way, you still owe me new beans.»
«I don't hate it, I...» and he remembered, oh, yes, he kind of did, didn't he? No, that's not right, he loved her coffee. Nobody else could get it quite right, particularly not that white-haired... he shook his head, no, that doesn't make sense. «I'm getting used to it. It's kind of growing on me.»
«Ha!» She grinned. «I'll teach you how to appreciate good food yet, gringo. If I do this, you can't pour it out! I have to make a whole pot, or it comes out too weak, like yours. Just, you know, not as bad as yours. Which is terrible.»
«Wouldn't dream of it,» he groused, and stood up. «While you make that, I'll go out, get some more beans. I do owe you.»
«It's been quiet long enough, yah, I think it's safe.»
He nodded his agreement. «You heard anything from Araceli?»
Laticia shook her head, checking her phone again. «No, not yet. I'm worried.»
«Afraid the Maras got her?»
«Worried they might've.»
«I hope not. She's no soldier, but she's... a pretty good kid.»
Delgado smiled, surprised. «Thanks, Spooky. That's the nicest thing you've ever said about her.»
Morrison looked through the edge of the blind from the gang house. Twilight, and all clear - at least, as far as he could tell. Amari doesn't double-dip, he thought. We should be fine, for now. «I'll be back in a few minutes,» he said, throwing his gun over his shoulder. «With dinner.»
«No hunting in city limits!»
«Not even for tacos?»
«Okay, maybe for tacos. You know the kinds I like?»
«'Course I do,» said the soldier, opening the door. «If I'm not back in 15 minutes - leave, and don't look back.»
«Don't have to tell me twice!»
I like the idea of a Raymond Chandler mystery story set in Agatha's world, although this P.I. -- excuse me, P.J. -- might turn out to be a slightly less conventional hero than Philip Marlowe was.
What Agatha and Van need is someone with experience in doing good and helping people, some sort of Adventurer. Someone who can be discrete, someone who is a Gentleman....
I'm not sure what's going on with my Widowmaker play right now. My scoped hit percentage is climbing. Not as quickly as I want, and I'm not where I want to be, but the delta is in the right direction. But I'm not feeling more effective, and I feel like I'm being killed more, not less. Like, the last game today, quickly, defence at Eichenwald. We won, I had 15 kills (7 point kills), my scope percentage was like 48% (not good, but better than where I started, and better than my cumulative average, which lags), I shut down a couple of ults (and failed to shut down a couple of others), and won a duel when they brought out an enemy Widowmaker to try to deal with me.
But I died 7 times and didn't medal in anything. They kept sending Winston and a second person back behind the lines to deal with me, and I can't win that fight, and fleeing - he was chasing me. And I don't know if it's because I'm a soft target (which I am, as Widowmaker) or whether it's because I'm improving enough that I'm getting noticed.
(I'm also getting routinely triple-teamed. In Hollywood, literally half their team was coming to wipe me, and specifically me, out. I don't know if that's because they were going all the way to the back of the line and then working forward, which is also probably true, or because I was getting annoying, which I hope was true. I was golding in everything until they started that shit, and it shut me down pretty hard.)
I'm also spending a lot of the time at the range, improving my twitch shots. I've been working the dodgy-robots part of the range a lot, from a variety of attack positions, and I'm starting to spend more time on the most twitch-focused perch I've found so far. I hope it'll help. I don't know. I have a tendency to overcompensate for direction changes of target, and this seems to emphasise the need for getting that right, so... hopefully.
A few months after I moved to Berkeley I threw myself a birthday party. One of my friends brought along another guy from MIT, who hadn't realized it was my birthday and apologized for not bringing a present. I said he was plenty of present for me and he promptly put a bow around his neck. As the party wound down we ended up in my bed. Before anything much had happened, he paused to explain that he was in the midst of founding a start-up and didn't have time for a relationship and didn't want to engage with me under false pretenses. I appreciated his forthrightness and we went merrily on with the evening's activities.
So there we are, amorously involved and chatting playfully, when he suddenly looks down at me and asks "Do you know a guy named Dave Policar?" I laughed--this is not what I expect to hear from my lovers--and asked why. He said that we tell stories the same way, and I laughed some more and explained that we often even tell the same stories, and that we were former housemates and very good friends. Dave, by the way, was very amused when I told him this, and gave permission for his name to be used in this story.
On Sunday morning he thanked me for a lovely evening, I thanked him for a marvelous birthday present, and he asked for my number. I gave it to him, but didn't actually expect to hear from him, so I was surprised and pleased when he called me on Tuesday afternoon. He said that he was stuck in traffic after a very good meeting and had thought of me as someone he'd like to share that good news with. We chatted for twenty minutes or so and then he asked if I was free on Friday night. I said "What about the start-up?" and he explained that he didn't have meetings or need to be out of town that night and thought we might see a movie.
That sounded good to me, so we met up on Friday night, saw a movie and spent the night in my bed again. He once again explained that while he really enjoyed spending time with me, with the start-up at a crucial phase he really didn't have time for a relationship and hoped our date wouldn't raise expectations on my part. I said that was fine, I was glad to see him, all was well, and when we said goodbye the next morning I didn't really expect to hear from him again.
On Tuesday afternoon, he called me to say that he was thinking of me. We chatted a bit and he asked if I were free on Friday evening. We went out to dinner, spent the night together, had the same conversation and a lovely time and he left in the morning with no plans to see each other again.
Lather. Rinse. Repeat. For six weeks running.
On the seventh Tuesday he called and said that he had just bought a JEEP, so rather than getting together on Friday night, he'd like to take it off-roading on Saturday and invited me to join him. I drove down to his place in Palo Alto--he was paying a couple of thousand a month to rent a garage with no bathroom behind a house on University Ave--and we went from there up into the mountains and then down along the coast. We walked hand in hand along the beach at sunset and he told me how much he wanted to someday be married and have children. It was horribly romantic.
As night drew on we went back to his place, ate some take-out and settled in to watch the version of Pride and Prejudice with Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth that his mom had just sent him. At midnight I asked if I should go. He said no and drew me closer to him on the couch. By 2am I couldn't keep my eyes open any longer and suggested that we should go to bed. He explained that he was happy to make up the couch for me, but that he had decided that we shouldn't have sex anymore, because he was afraid I was getting too attached. That woke me right up and after a few tense words I got in my car and drove forty-five minutes back to my home and figured that was the end of that.
On Tuesday afternoon he called me and asked if I were free on Friday. I explained that I was going to a party with my housemate and when he enthusiastically offered to come along I explained that would not be appropriate, as I didn't know my hosts and was, in fact, hoping to meet new people. He said "But Friday is my only free night this week! What am I supposed to do alone? You know we always spend time together on Fridays!" I pointed out that he was sounding very much like a man in a relationship with expectations and that while I would be happy to entertain future offers to spend time together on a case by case basis, he should not expect me to keep my time free for him.
He didn't contact me again. For five years. And then I got an email from him saying that he understood that I was back in Boston and married, and so was he, and inviting the two of us to get together with him and his wife for a movie followed by dinner at their apartment in Cambridge. I accepted and we met them and had a very fun conversation with him and his wife on the way to the movie. We all enjoyed the movie and on the way back I was chatting with his wife while he and Jason talked tech, when she asked exactly when he and I had met.
"Well," I said, "We started dating on my 27th birthday and that was in..."
"Dating who?" she asked, sharply. I explained that I was referring to her husband and she said "Wait, you two dated?!"
"Yeah," I said. "We dated casually for about six weeks. It didn't stick," I added, a bit obviously.
We continued to their lovely apartment, had a very nice dinner while she continued to watch me carefully and the conversation got more and more stilted until we took our leave without lingering over coffee.
And I have never heard from him again.
I really did not expect this to go here but here we are, I thought there was an Emily story in this series (yes there's a series of these, this makes three, that's a series) but I did not think it was this one.
Widowmaker brought herself in from the cold, one day, exchanging a list of Talon agents for sanctuary, and for a time, would not say why. The first person she opened up to was Lena Oxton, unexpectedly, at Gibraltar. Lena, for once, had no idea how to process what she was feeling, and took that to her wife, Emily Oxton, back home in London. This story takes place two years later.
This is not part of the On Overcoming the Fear of Spiders Overwatch AU. It is... apparently the third standalone story in a timeline much closer to current known canon as of July 2017, and follows "It's not easy to explain, said Lena Oxton."
"It's really not easy to explain," said Emily Oxton, her wings off and splayed across the cleaning table in front of her, soaking in their shallow reservoir of nanorepair fluid. "Or... you know what? Maybe it is."
Widowmaker glared at her redheaded lover. "I do not believe that is possible." Of the three of them, they had the most daily friction - but, really, also the most fire, and so, it balanced out.
"Yeh," said Lena to her wife, as they stood in her workroom at Gibraltar. "This is kind of a lot to take in."
"If you two gang up on me about this I'm going to put these right back on and head to the practice range."
"That," said the blue assassin, "would be a good idea, given some of the mistakes you made today. I'd recommend..."
"Wot." Tracer interjected. "No no no no no. The two of us are bad enough, we don't want her getting into the line of..."
Widowmaker eyed her spiky-haired lover. "Kestrel has made it very clear this is already happening, she should at least be trained. Perhaps Fareeha could..."
"No no no no NO!" Tracer insisted. "Do not encourage her!"
"I think I have final say in this," insisted the woman with the wings and body armour, body armour she was slowly removing, and putting into a different cleaning bath.
"Really," said Winston, walking in through the side hallway door. "I think I do. At least, within Overwatch."
Emily turned a little towards Lena's scientifically-minded friend, automatically smiled, but also nodded her acknowledgement of the situation. "Point taken. Hi, Winston."
"Emily," he said, a little more warmly than neutrally, but still measured. "Or, I understand, it's Kestrel, now?"
"In the air? It's Kestrel. Down on the ground, Emily's fine..."
"Em," broke in Lena, "What the bloody hell?! Isn't two of us doing incredibly stupid and dangerous things bad enough?"
Emily spun around on her wife. "No. It's not. That's the entire bleedin' point, Lena - it's not."
"Personally," said Widowmaker, "I found your first dive attack a convenient distraction."
"Thanks, love," Emily said, more than a little bit pleased.
"I think with proper training, you could..." began the sniper, before Tracer interrupted with a quick, "You are not helping!"
"I'd ask how you got Overwatch prefix codes," interjected Winston, trying to keep the situation on track, "but I think that's pretty obvious. However... how did you get your own prefix added to our systems? Athena shouldn't've let you do that."
"Remember when I told you that you really ought to use locking screensavers?" started Emily, when Tracer jumped back in with, "WHY? ARE? YOU? DOING? THIS?!"
Emily spun back 'round to her wife and shouted, "BECAUSE I'M SICK OF NEVER KNOWING IF YOU'RE ALIVE OR DEAD!"
She looked up to their taller lover. "Or you. Neither of you know what it's like. Neither of you can know what it's like."
"Em, I'm military, I know..." started Tracer.
"No. You don't." Kestrel stripped off the last of her armour, placing it into the second bath, and took a deep breath.
"Remember," she said, "when you first came home with news about Widowmaker? That long talk we had, over breakfast? What did I say?"
Tracer thought back to two years ago. She'd been so confused about her own feelings, for the first time ever, and Emily had teased it out of her, bit at a time, and it was all fine, and... "anything that gets one less set of sights on me?"
"Well, that worked out..."
"It worked out for exactly six months, until..." she grabbed the spider's hand. "...I fell in love with her, too." She looked up to the taller woman. "And let's get this out there: I'm not blaming you for any of this."
"I did not think you were," said the French sniper, with a bit of a smirk. "But much of this is new to me."
Emily - Kestrel - nodded, and looked back to Tracer. "And then suddenly I had two loves in battle. One sniper's sights removed for a few months, and then suddenly there are twice as many as before because there's two of you at risk."
"Yeah, but Em, we look out for each other, it's safer..."
"It's two of you and I'm still not there and I still don't know." She pulled the control ring off her head, and wiped it clean. "And now, I will."
"Ahem," said Winston.
Emily gave him a look so sharp it could've cracked stone. "I will."
Tracer didn't know what to say. She didn't know what she could say, not really, so she reached out her hand to Emily's, and tried anyway, saying, "I'm... I just don't know what I'd do if anything happened to you."
"Me either," said Emily, taking her wife's hand and squeezing it, briefly, "to either of you. Only I've been living with it since we got married. And I can't. Not anymore. And it's either stay, or go, and I'm not going anywhere. So..."
"So, then, we had better make sure nothing happens to any of us," said Widowmaker. "Kestrel, in particular," she added, most pointedly.
Still by the door, Winston wondered, as he was want to do with this collection of desperately wilful heroes, if he really had anything to say in the running of Overwatch after all. But - for an undertrained amateur - Kestrel's first outing had been surprisingly effective, particularly given the relative lack of co-ordination with the team as a whole, so... "So, uh, Kestrel, this suit... it's yours?"
Emily nodded. "Top to bottom. My design, a new variant on antigrav foil, I filed the patent forms a few months ago. It's still not efficient enough for cost-effective commercial use, but..."
"How long you been workin' on this, love?" asked Tracer, still in a bit of a daze, as the world shifted around her.
"A year and a half. Not seriously, not at first, but then you had that firefight in Milan, and..." She slumped a little. "I couldn't not work on it. It kept me together, you know?"
"And you couldn't tell me?" asked her teleporter.
"Or me?" asked her sniper.
"That..." she sighed, "At first, it wasn't serious, then it really, really was, and I thought if it was a fait accompli, it'd just happen, and we'd work the details out later." A wan smile. "Like we are. Right now."
"It's been that hard on you?" asked the kestrel's wife, softly.
"I never knew."
Emily just nodded. "I've told you."
"I never really got it."
"I forgive you."
...asked the Overwatch agent...
"...how'd it feel? Being out there, flying into combat?"
Emily hesitated, then beamed, eyes all at once bright with the memory. "Terrifying. And exhilarating. And wonderful. Actually being there, seeing you both in action, and being in action with you..." She shivered, and turned to the Widowmaker. "I finally get it now."
The former Talon assassin tilted her head, guessing at what she meant, but nodded, not saying a word, prompting her lover to say it, and she did.
"I've never felt more alive."
The spider grabbed her kestrel, pulled her close, and held her tight. "If that is how it makes you feel... you will be my air support until the end of time."
This wasn't how this particular ganging up was supposed to go, Tracer thought. "Uh," she said, "we were supposed to talk her out of this."
Kestrel laughed, softly, a couple of times, and Tracer recognised it, after a moment, as almost exactly the laugh which had been the Widowmaker's first real thought, those years ago, and while she wasn't the sort of person to recognise that in herself, she was entirely the sort of person to recognise it in other people, and she noted, not for the first time, how close "Amélie" and "Emily" were as names, and shook her head and did not let herself pursue that too far, because she was not, for all her faults, that kind of person, hyperawareness or no. So she simply said, "I... feel like I've heard that, before."
Emily put her forehead on Widowmaker's shoulder, then backtracked, "...wait. Was that a..."
Widowmaker nodded. "If we are to be peers, we should be peers."
Kestrel's gaze met the Widowmaker's, eyes widening. "I accept. Oh god, I accept."
"Wait, you... wait," as Tracer got it, "We're making it official? The three of us? Legal and everything?"
"Yes," said the Widowmaker and the Kestrel, together, then snorting at their own chorused response. "I did not know why I was not ready, until now," said the blue sniper. "And now, I know, and now, I am."
"Right!" said the teleporter, "uh, right! You're both mad, y'know that? But hooo, if this how it's gonna work? I'm on board!"
"I take it we should formally combine your quarters?" asked Winston, bemusedly. It wouldn't change anything on the actual ground, the three were already conjoined at the hips as far as he was concerned, with quarters adjacent and connected, ever since they Emily and Lena had fallen in with the former Talon assassin, and staying in the old apartment in London full-time had become far too great a security risk.
"Yeh," said Tracer, giving in. "Yeah. Yeah!"
"Well, I'm not going to stand in the way. And if it means a regular fourth for Christmas, I'm happy about that, too. Athena?" Winston asked the air, and the air responded, "Yes, Winston?"
"Please set up a complete - and I do mean complete - training regimen for a new flying field agent, Emily Oxton, call sign 'Kestrel.' You already have her prefix code in your roster" - he glared at Emily, saying that, and Tracer couldn't stop herself from snickering - "and the agent will provide you a comprehensive summary of her capabilities." He thought a moment, and added, "Also, set up a link with Pharah and Mercy, I'm going to want a consult whenever they're available." Turning to Emily, he continued, "If you're going to do this, you're going to do it right, and I will work you into the ground getting you trained up. So, are you sure? Are you ready?"
Emily gave Winston the broadest smile he'd ever seen, one arm around each of her lovers, and replied, "If Overwatch will have me?" She stood straight up and saluted. "Flying Agent Kestrel, reporting for duty. Sir."
Winston snorted, and returned the salute. "I'm not your CO, and we're not military. But I appreciate the thought."
Tracer shook her head, looking down at the ground, but smiling, and leaned against her wife. One of her wives, now. Or soon. "I'm gonna make you earn this, Em. Just so you know."
Widowmaker nodded her agreement. "I believe you said something about the practice range?"
Kestrel nodded determinedly, so flushed with relief - no more waiting alone, no more not knowing - that she could hardly think. But she knew how to work, and there is never a time like the present. "I did! Let's get this thing moving, already."
"Sounds like something I'd say," quipped the senior Agent Oxton to her cadet.
"Leave the wings," said the blue assassin, "and the armour. We are going to start at the beginning. Today," she hummed to herself, briefly, thinking the happiest of spidery thoughts, "today you start learning properly how to fight."
I finally upgraded my iPad mini to iOS 10. I knew the change would be painful, but it was time. Apparently I need to keep it there, because now it keeps telling me that some of my frequently used apps won't work with iOS 11 unless they're updated by the developer, and most of the affected apps seem entirely abandoned. Sigh.
I went to see Dark Tower on Saturday night with the usual suspects. Thankfully it wasn't too terrifying - the most horrific part of the evening was having to see the trailer for IT again. It was fun trying to spot references to other well known Stephen King stories, and I really liked Idris Elba's character. After the movie, we went to B&N, where I found a hilarious book by Tim Leong called Star Wars Super Graphic. It's like what Edward Tufte might create if he became the guy who keeps track of the extended (revised) canon of the Star Wars universe. Of course I had to buy it. Will enjoyed reading it as much as I did.
Did I mention that Will spent at least part of his summer binge-reading the XKCD archives? I discovered a few days ago that if I ask him about a specific XKCD comic, he can remember at least the approximate number. "My normal approach is useless here?" "That's in the 50's or 60's." "What about Little Bobby Tables?" "Exploits of a mom? That's early 300's." He's also been studying the extended oeuvre of TMBG lyrics, because clearly he wasn't nerdy enough already.