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No. 474
Figured now'd be as good a time as any to resurrect my dying thread. I made a horrendous amount of typos in the last, (including my title... ._.) and have a new snippet to post, anyway.
So er.
Hi.I'll post all the old junk, and then post the new in the next post so that it's easier to find for those that have already read everything. (character limits provided)
---

M1
--
A sigh passed pursed lips, one smooth, ungloved hand coming to prop itself against the soft cotton of his balaclava, as blue-gray eyes trained on the endless sea of browns and reds before him. He couldn't say he liked the desert. Granted, there wasn't much of the myriad of places he'd been, the past five years of his life, that he could say he liked. After a while, however, he had to admit with some mirth, everything blurred together--and no matter how new an experience, everything was colored with varying shades of similitude. He no longer felt alien—at least, no more than he always had. He was nothing like the other eight. So... loud, so boisterous, so out-going. So... hopelessly loyal to each other. His loyalties? Well, RED supplied his paycheck, and he disagreed with BLU's practices—but he couldn't say that he was blindly loyal to any side, or any person. He would defend his team, as it suited him to do so. He would defend human life. It was, after all, a bit more acceptable to slice through the vertebrae of an attacking soldier, and save a teammate's life, than it was to watch them die, and it wasn't particularly humane to watch some hapless innocent be torn asunder. Admitted, there were precious few of those, out here.

He didn't relish in the bloodshed. It came with the job, honestly, and all it meant, should he continue to stay so detached, (and it suited him to do so,) was a bit of work, when it came to cleaning his suit. The dull red of his attire did much to hide faded stains.. He could still remember each one, regardless..

A soft tch escaped him, as he lit one of his cigarettes, and put it to his lips, taking a deep drag. War was hell. There was no laughing about that. This team was doing well now—he knew he would be transferred soon, just the same. If they didn't request it, then he would. He had done so for the past five years, ever since he'd been assigned to working on a team, rather than his former, extensive 'solo' missions. He had been through much, and had been through several identities... This team seemed to mean well, but ah.. Perhaps transitive souls should remain ever drifting?

Marcel was what his current identification card read, and beside that information his years served, specialties (intelligence, code-breaking,) and 'class', which was, of course, spy. There was also his height, and weight, (his weight, he was certain, was no longer entirely accurate—as the war had become more stressful, he'd steadily been smoking more and more, and his suit wouldn't have fit at all if not for his belt.) "Marcel', in all honesty, wasn't accurate in itself. It wasn't his original name—nor was it even his second name. Over the years, that same card had read Pierre, Jacques, Seymour, and even at one time, Lisle. Just a part of the job. The 'job', at that, was one he'd been at for a very long time. True, he'd only been working with a team for five years now—six, in March—but he had been working for "RED" for far longer. It had been more than long enough to grow tired, and desensitized to the entire affair, to say the least. Even he couldn't part the multitude of layers of subterfuge the company placed around itself. RED, and BLU, in all honesty, were just covers—which was ironic, when one considered the dizzying number of companies already covering for their existence. Beyond the two, however, was something more, and he was not even sure that they were truly fighting on opposite sides. While it made no sense to him to kill men (and women, as they'd lost more than one scientist, or intelligence officer, out of field,) and place them against each other, were they one in the same, on the field, there WAS respawn. He remembered the first time Respawn had been used, actually... Had it been that long?

The spy took another drag of his cigarette, idly blowing a smoke ring out of the window he'd been leaning against, before he dropped it entirely, crushing the last ember out under the sole of one brogue. Well. Time to address the rest of the team. Loyal to each other, his teammates were still fickle things when it came to him--and if he didn't at least feign interest, there was always the possibility that they would believe him to be an enemy spy.

In-team fighting was always destructive, and a former officer prompting the behavior would be particularly unacceptable. RED wouldn't like that, and he couldn't have them angry with him. He gave the window one final glance, before pulling his gloves back on, and making sure that his balaclava was securely in place--not a bit of brown hair showing. No, indeed... He couldn't have that.



V1
--
I hate this place.

It's better'n prison, granted, but perhaps only marginally. I'm beginnin' to regret my decision. The pay ain't as good as I was told it'd be, and my sentence wasn't that severe—I'd have been out by now if I'd gone the other route.

I don't know anyone here. I've been here almost a year now—perhaps a bit more, it's hard to tell time in this place—and I've died more times than I can count. Yes, died. I've died with, and without team support, and I've died with, and most certainly without, anyone caring. Not that it matters. I suppose I'm expected to act as the perfect little model of what I'm supposed to be. God knows what they'll do to me, if I don't. My classification, perhaps, should “bounce back from anything,” this including everything from personal injury, to watching teammates die in horrendous ways—and even to emotional concerns.

I don't bounce back from everything. Injuries are one thing. Those heal. It still hurts when I'm told, (and treated like,) I'm just a 'stupid little kid'. Hell. Kid isn't even applicable. I'm twenty-one. This places me years younger than the rest of my team, of course—but I'm still more than old enough to not be a fucking child. I've been around. I know more than they think. Hell. I've seen people die long before coming here. The singular, remarkable difference? Here, they come back. Every time.

And I have to admit, there's something remarkably stress-relieving about cracking a metal bat over someone's skull until their brains come bustin' out; moreso than back home. The nice thing is that there's no guilt now. No one really dies—in a few seconds, they'll be right back where they were, likely looking for revenge. Not that I killed anyone back HOME, I mean. Sure, I roughed a few guys up, but I ain't a killer. I wasn't...at least. I guess I can't really say that, no more.

I don't like my teammates.

It ain't just their lip flappin' when they don't think I'm listenin', neither. I've tried their games. I can see it in their eyes whenever I say anythin'. The room goes silent, a'n conversation don't pick up again until I leave. Hell, I know. You'd think I'da learned sooner. Heh. Nah, I'd just talk more myself. Didn't feel right, with the silence.

Fuckin' hell.

...there is another guy, though. Always slippin' 'bout the base like it'd be the fuckin' death of him to be seen with us. He's probably convinced he's a good head above the rest, the way he pointedly avoids everything. Hell, I don't think I've even seen'm come down to eat ONCE. Although I'd assume he does at some points of the day—he's still alive at least. The point is, he's alone...too. They don't talk to him neither. Talk ABOUT him, certainly, behind his back. Juss like they do with me. Fucking assholes.

His name's Marcel. ...apparently. Went through his things the other night—don't think he noticed none. He didn't say nothin', if he did. He's prolly too busy with the papers he's always got coverin' his desk... Looked through those, too, but they didn't look too...interestin'. Just shit on munitions, and rations. Don't know what he's doing with THOSE.

….'side from killin' himself. Honestly, I don't blame'm for avoid'n the others, but I'm tired of being fuckin' ignored outside of field...and even then? It's just, 'SCOUT, get the intel'. Scout ain't my name. My God. Can't anyone remember a man's first freakin' NAME?

Heh. Well. We'll see. F'rall I know, the shit they say 'bout him is true. We'll see. I know he always takes a break for smokes 'fore the others are up and about. I'll just...get up a bit earlier....



M2.
--
Three days found him deep in the enemy base. One week found him running for his life, with what intel he could carry, firing desperately with his revolver, and cradling a briefcase to his chest with the other hand. Two weeks found him safely back within the confines of RED base, papers covering his desk, deep bags under his eyes from analyzing code for hours on end. It was another week before he had any real breakthroughs, and after that, Marcel spent a good amount of time cursing himself. It was always the simple things that one suffered for, he supposed. What he had spent ungodly amounts of energy and time on had been written in little more than a simple shift-code; vowels to one side, consonants to the other. Now, it was just a simple matter of replacing all of the e's with a's, and z's with b's, so to speak.

Of course, when it came to intelligence work, 'simple' generally meant mind-numbingly elemental work so extensive that it would leave you wishing for merciful death before you had to look at another key-shift written letter, or code-worded message in ancient Greek. Needless to say, by the end of the month, he'd nearly doubled his cigarette intake. He had, however, successfully cracked each and every document he'd brought back.

Of the documents in question, only a few were useful, but that was something anyone trained in intelligence came to expect, after their first year on the job. Of interest, however, were notations on a new device for area-control, as well as speculated improvements for various in-field weaponry. He'd see to it that said papers were handed off to RED's directors. The rest, regrettably, were trashed. Fascinating though it was to know how much BLU had spent on bullets, alcohol for lamps, and rations for their soldiers, it was altogether useless information, and the spy was beginning to wonder if BLU simply included such things (ENCODED, at that!) with their more important papers to infuriate him.

Perhaps the entire universe was specifically designed to infuriate him. This gave way to a bitter snort of laughter, another cigarette already making its way to his lips as he rose to his feet in a single, stiff motion, kicking his chair back with one leg. Already, he could see the first rays of light streaming into the small, cramped attic he'd been roomed in, (RED was only willing to spend enough to comfortably furnish eight, apparently,) and he knew that soon, the earliest to rise would be up and about. This, of course, meant that the halls of the RED base would soon be filled with shouting, complaints, and slammed doors. To one such as himself, (and that was, a rather exhausted, migraine-suffering individual kept awake only by the miraculous wonders of nicotine,) this realization was one of personal horror.

While he wanted little more than to curl into a ball amongst the itchy wool blankets they'd all been provided, and to get what little sleep he could, he knew that was no longer a possibility. His desk was given a scowl, as he simply pulled a fresh suit from the footlocker he'd been issued, struggling into the three-piece monstrosity with what little motor skills he still possessed. He'd been smoking all night long, but his mind was screaming at him for his morning nicotine break, nonetheless; more habit than mere addiction, this time. He gladly succumbed to said desires.

Besides, he had another reason this particular morning. If he was outside of the base, when their DEAR soldier awoke, then he wouldn't be inside to listen to the vocal male screeching at the top of his lungs for the remaining (exhausted) members of their team to rouse themselves. With any luck, (and the dear lady had been frowning on him lately—he felt that she owed him, by this point,) he'd be able to get some fresh air, grab whatever remained of breakfast, and head off to complete his assignments for the day with only minimal contact with the rest of the team. With a bit more fortune on his side, his migraine would have left him by that point, and everything would go smoothly.

Lady Luck had other plans. He wasn't even halfway out the door to their base's raised deck before he heard an all too familiar, all too energetic, all too EARLY voice. “Hey! Hey French fry!”

Their scout. That in itself brought a scowl upon his visage; his head was still pounding fiercely, and the last thing he wanted was to deal with a hyperactive Boston sky-rat. He chose not to answer, and simply slipped on to the covered portion of the deck, proceeding to seat himself, and light up. He was dismayed, but not surprised, when the all too chipper young man followed. “Shouldn't you be running.. laps, or something to zhat order?” His words were more a husky rasp than recognizable syllables, and he frowned, clearing his throat and licking his dry lips with his tongue, before replacing his cigarette. He refused to look directly at the younger male.

The annoyance standing before him didn't take the hint, or if he did, didn't care. Indeed, he merely flopped down nearby, leaning in. “Nah. S'too early f'that, n'besides, we dun have any coffee yet. Y'look like shit.” This last sentence was stated in a brisk, matter-of-fact chirp, and only succeeded in grating on the older man's frayed nerves further. He chose to ignore the comment, however, lips simply tightening around his cigarette, jaw clenched behind the all-obscuring veil of his balaclava.

“And I 'ave zee pleasure of your company because...?” It wasn't an attempt to be hostile. He felt, if he was honest with himself, uncomfortable around his teammates. While the young man was a particularly irritating specimen, (made all the more so by the omnipresent throbbing at the spy's temples,) on an ordinary day he wouldn't have been irritated—merely uneasy. He was, as his profession required, quite acquainted with watching, waiting, and plotting. He was an observer, a specter, unseen, but always watching. The inside of his head, and the thoughts there contained, formed a comfortable, welcoming place. He could pull any charade, for however long he needed, and when cast in a needed role, was an actor that could act any part. When stripped of this comfortable masque, however, even speaking to another human being outside of due formalities was...awkward. Business was one thing. Business was little more than a curt hello, and a stating of details, before matters were handled. Then ways were parted, and work continued.

“...'cause y'ain't allowed t'be by y'lonesome all the time!”

“And zees was decided whe--”

“Jus' now..” and with the other's fiendish grin, Marcel was plunged into the cruel hand Fortuna delt him. Not only would the young man not leave, he began to drone on and on, yapping out question after question, only to soon produce yet another. The spy couldn't have gotten a word in edgewise if he'd WANTED to. As the other male continued in this fashion, he found it hard to see the young scout as a human being, any longer. Indeed, with his constant clipped tones, and never ending racket, the spy began to see him, instead, as a yappy little dog. Hnm. If he squinted JUST right, with the blurred vision his migraine was giving everything, he could almost see ears and a tail.

The next hour was not fun for Marcel.

His migraine did, at least, mercifully leave him within the hour, once he'd fought down a particularly burnt piece of toast. He wasn't certain who had made breakfast that day—nor did he care to find out. He was more interested in getting back to work before another incident like what had happened on the deck occurred. That encounter had only strengthened his resolve to get what work he could done here, and then get a transfer out, IMMEDIATELY.



V2
--
....tried talking to him today. It didn't go well.

When I found'm, he looked like he'd had the shit beat outta 'im. God—he had rings around his eyes that would have made a raccoon jealous. ...and he wobbled a bit, when he walked. I had to wonder if he was even sleeping. Still, he could have been a bit nicer. I was only trying to say good morning.

...ok. So I probably shouldn't have pointed OUT his general appearance that morning—still. He di'n hafta just brush me off like that. I guess I can chalk that one off as him having a bad morning. I don't know. Hell, I don't even know what happened up there. It was like being back at school again—dammit. I got nervous, started talking about I don't even know what; just talking...without saying anything, really. I don't think he was really listening by this point, and if he wasn't... I don't blame him. I wouldn't have listened to me, either.

I guess it kinda shows the sad state of one's mind when the thought of talking to a relatively unknown teammate—perhaps a good fifteen years older than oneself—is met with elation. Dear God. Either I'm losing my mind, or I'm worse off than I thought. ...but the point is, even if... I did nothing other'n irritate the fuck out of him this morning, it was nice just... TALKING to another human being. Well... it was nice talking to another human being beyond the typical exchanges of war, I mean.

...and the saddest part was that it WAS the highlight of my day. After, I just went on as normal—namely running said laps, then keeping to myself in my room outside of mealtimes, until the next 'battle' was called. ...and I found myself thinking back on it. Dwelling on it. HE was alone too. Granted, I was certain that he saw me as a stupid little kid or something—but maybe, if I was careful, I'd have—well, not a friend—someone to talk to.

And hell, out here? That'd be enough for me.



M3
--
He wrote the request for transfer later that day, and it was sent out at the end of the week, when the supply truck came. Time passed as normal, and within four days time RED and BLU were again locked in an electrically charged battle for supremacy. Today's affair proved a lengthy, bloody duel almost certainly destined for stalemate. Neither team could fully penetrate the other's primary defenses, and even Marcel found it difficult to slip behind enemy lines. Time and again, he went for primary targets. Time and again, his knife slipped between connective tissues, and severed spinal columns. Time and again, his victims fell wordlessly to the ground, their only sound a heady gasp of breath as air was forced from their dying lungs by the impact. Time and again, they simply respawned.

After a while of this, the two teams pulled back, sending out only singular pairs at a time. Even Marcel found himself simply fending these off, and only journeyed back out when the small waves had seemingly stopped. That was when a single, loud shot cracked through the air. He was unable to prevent a sharp hiss of pain as a bullet grazed his shoulder, thankfully missing its intended mark. Another was fired shortly thereafter, the RED spy barely ducking in time, as he turned, and drew his own revolver, firing back. Hollow laughter was the only response he received, as his shot met empty air, and the familiar sound of cloak being deactivated came from behind.

He whirled around, and two clicks, one after another, echoed through the cavernous land between the two bases. His knife whisked out, but so did the other spy's. Metal struck metal, and while Marcel gave a frustrated hiss, his blue-clad mirror image merely sniggered, disappearing once more, and sidestepping the following blow.

He activated his own cloak, scanning the area around him in frustration, trying to predict.. trying to make his own movements unpredictable. Again the vshhk of uncloak sounded in unison, and revolvers were fired at the same time, as the two strafed one another, firing, and dodging. Doubtlessly, however, while most of their shots missed... the sound of their firefight was attracting the attention of both sides.

This in itself was discouraging. Marcel viewed this conflict as...irritating. It was a distraction, and nothing more. He relied on his enemies being predictable—and, as his rival was also trained in espionage, his movements were the exact opposite. He saw this as work, a job, and thus, something to be completed quickly, and efficiently. His enemy time and again gave a nasal, mocking laugh—to him, clearly, this was nothing more than a particularly deadly game. If anything, this only made Marcel's temper flare. He'd had more than one such 'duel' with the other spy, and in these instances, had come to utterly despise him.

He always felt inexplicably drained, after dealing with the BLU spy, and in an equally impossible to explain way, contact with the other Frenchman made him feel...filthy, almost diseased. Despite this, in another way entirely, his blue-swathed rival reminded him of...himself, perhaps fifteen years ago, and he sometimes wondered if that was what he hated about his foe. This had been a time when, entirely confident in his abilities, the thought of testing sharp blade, and steady arm against wave after wave of enemies had been exhilarating, exciting. This had been a time long before it became clear that this entire war—if either side had even made progress—was absolutely pointless. This had been before Marcel had come to see what he did as nothing more than a job to be done with utmost efficiency, and briefness. The fact that his enemy found this conflict anything short of a roadblock—and enjoyed their constant scuffles—disgusted the RED.

Marcel gave a shudder, as much from pain, as from blind fear, as another bullet struck home. A click was heard; the trigger of a very particular weapon being pulled, then the rush of hot air as gas hit a pilot light. The RED spy fumbled for his watch now, to cloak, to escape—his rival merely sidestepped with a mocking laugh, as the bright blue figure raced into view, bringing his particular brand of hell. The last thing he knew, as flames engulfed his suit, his balaclava, and began to tear hungrily at his flesh, was pain. With an agonizing scream, his body convulsed, then finally went still, as he gave his last breath.

The next thing Marcel knew, was the horrible lurch one always experienced with respawn. It felt like being dropped from a great height—your body stayed in one place, but all of your organs tried to lurch upward. His face contorted, as he momentarily leaned against the pink tile wall, eyes squeezing shut. God he hated respawn. GOD, he hated respawn. If respawn in itself wasn't unbearable, there was the added fact that generally, groups of two to three respawned at a time. He began to silently pray that he'd be lucky, and that he'd be the only one that had died.

“Hey, Polliwog! You too, eh?”

No such luck.

Inwardly, Marcel cringed. Outwardly, he gave his best attempt at remaining stoic. Clearly, this, too, failed, as the scout leaned in with his typical, shit-eating grin, already brandishing his bat, and ready to run back in to the fray. The spy hoped that he would do so, and would do so quickly. Again, no such luck. The scout decided that he needed to make one final comment, first.

“Y'don't look so good. Not useda respawn, eh? Heh, seeya Frenchie!” And, he rushed off, before Marcel even had time to light himself a new cigarette. Well, then.

He was a bit slower coming out of respawn, of course. He still felt a bit dizzy, but his stomach was no longer rebelling against his very existence, and he could at least see clearly, now. He lingered a bit longer on the short porch just out of the respawn door, shaking his head, as his gaze turned momentarily skyward. It was just the BLU spy's fault, he told himself firmly. What happened—what happened was not his doing. It was just an unfortunate circumstance. Bad luck. He hadn't slipped.

Today, he could already tell, was only going to continue along the downward spiral that first little incident had set for itself. The other team was going to be on high alert, now, and... they had a pyro watching for his existence. Always delightful.

This thought process was arrested by the sound of the respawn room's automatic door rolling up once more, their scout striding out yet again, with a slightly sheepish grin.

“...ahhh... sentry 'round th'cornah. Might wanna watch that...” And, with a single gesture to indicate direction, he was gone again.

Life was so transitive here... That he'd gotten used to, in itself. He took the scout's warning, however, slipping out a different way, so that he could get behind enemy lines, once more. THAT sentry, he could deal with later. He did have to wonder, however, why no one else had been alerted to the sentry's presence first... and why the scout hadn't been able to duck back around the corner to get away. Bah. Damned respawns. He never came out of them feeling quite right—physically, OR mentally, and he knew it would be a while before his thoughts were completely clear.

...this was going to be a long, LONG day.




M3b
--
Marcel had simply gone to sleep, after the day's match, and had finally gotten some well-needed rest. As always, his sleep was a fitful one—it seemed one always awoke more tired than they went to sleep, in this wretched place.

What awoke him this time was a rather peculiar noise. Actually, it was a series of noises. The first was a solid thunk, then a softer thud, and the scuffle of something lightly slapping flesh. This repeated several times, and finally brought him upright, and into a rather investigative state of mind. He preferred to remain detached from his teammates, yes, but he couldn't deny being of a rather curious sort. It was, perhaps, what made a spy a spy.

As he rose, and made sure he was presentable, should anyone catch sight of him, those same sounds repeated over and over, until finally one of the 'thuds' was a bit off in location. Now there was the sound of something bumping repeatedly, likely against the floor below, and then scuffled footsteps. After a while, the first sounds started up again.

It was, Marcel noted, very late. Certainly, he didn't expect anyone to be up at this hour, and so it was experience, not paranoia that drove him to slip his revolver inside the jacket of his suit before he went down the stairs. The sound had come from below, and behind his sleeping place—the scout's room, if he correctly remembered the architecture of the building and 'bunk' claims of his teammates. ...why would their scout be up so...late? ...or early. Perhaps early would be a better way of phrasing it. A glance at his watch told him that it was three AM—certainly not the most likely time of day for their apparently rigidly diurnal scout to be up and about.

One hand was already slipping into his suit, fingers snaking around his revolver as he slipped around the corner, back to the wall. An enemy in the base, perhaps? But why the scout's room...

What he found, was anything but an enemy. Their scout was standing a ways from the wall, simply bouncing a tennis ball repeatedly from the wall, to the floor, and catching it. He found himself simultaneously relieved, and disappointed.

Thunk, thud, scuffle, thud.

He fumbled, startled gaze turning toward the suited newcomer in his doorway. “...y—yeah? Di'n seeya there.” A smile was almost instantly plastered on his face, but Marcel couldn't help feeling it was forced. He shook his head, pausing a while before speaking. The scout wasn't...as energetic as he'd been, notably. Perhaps it was only because it was so late (early,) but he still found himself wondering if this was merely an enemy spy in disguise..

An awkward silence proceeded this, the scout bouncing the ball against the ground and catching it a moment, as Marcel finally decided to 'bless' the scout with a few words. “I was... merely curious. Zat ees not a usual sound to 'ear in zee middle of zee night.”

“Awh, damn, Man. Did I wake ya? Sorry 'bout that. Di'n think it'd be that loud..” The ball was simply caught, now, the scout rubbing at the back of his head with his other hand.

“Scout—“

“Vinnie.”

“Quoi?”

He only shook his head, tossing the tennis ball toward his bed, and moving to slip past him. “It's Vincent. S'always 'Scout' this, 'Scout' that. It's a fuckin' classification. Not my name. VINNIE.”

Startled by this outburst, Marcel simply stared, watching as the smaller male disappeared down the hallway.



V3
--
Y'know, I never really like the battles I get thrown into. ..and I'm starting to really fuckin' hate our demoman. What the fuck does he think I am? A temporary diversion? If I get thrown in front of one more god-damned MOTHERFUCKING SENTRY, I SWEAR TO GOD—

…..Marcel didn't take today too well, either. I watched him, the few times he popped out of respawn. Respawn really fucks with your body if you ain't useda it. I remember when I first started—I'd get all nauseous, and my head'd start poundin' for a while. Then I'd be thrown back into the fray, and I'd be so fuckin' dizzy, you know? It was a wonder I could hit anythin'. So eventually I'd just be in a mob of people, swingin' wildly with my bat and hopin' that the skull I just crushed was the enemy soldier's, not ours. Each respawn got easier, though. ...from the looks of things, he wasn't so useda it. I kinda feel sorry for him—he looked pretty damn green in the face, there.

What kinda worries me though, is what happened BEFORE today's skirmish. I was goin' through his shit again—and I know it ain't a good idea to fuck with the team spy's things—but he was..fillin' out a request for transfer. I didn't even know you could do that. ..but if he leaves, that's kinda my only hope at there being a civil human being within five miles. Our demo sure as hell ain't.

...and now I get to be stitched up by our fruitcake of a medic. Oh JOY.




M4
--
Denied.

Marcel stared at the slip of yellow paper in his hands in an almost stupor. He sat upon the miserable cot he called a bed, one elbow propped on the equally disappointing crate he called a bedside table, staring. Disbelief became anger, then sadness, then a mere blank, vacant expression, his face a wooden mask. When he regained the facial control for an expression beyond stillness, or sporadic twitching, it was one of distance, and loss.


Dear sir:

We regret to inform you that due to recent policy changes, we cannot fulfill your request for transfer. It is against policy for any member to be transferred more than three times in a five year period. We apologize for any inconvenience. If you feel that this message was in error, please reply with further explanation.

--The Director

...this would never have stood when he was one of their elite. When he was a solo officer. He grit his teeth as he slipped the letter back inside the envelope in his lap, tossing it aside, and not even caring when it slipped past the crate, and fell to the floor.

And he was trapped, then, with this miserable group of identically frustrating 'teammates'. It wasn't as if any of them had ever lifted a finger to help him. 'Spies worked alone'. Yes, this was normally true. In a team, however, he'd learned, as much as he hated it, that he could do nothing without his team's support. He'd also learned that he was more likely to die due to a teammate's action, than he was because of the enemy.

Inwardly, he wondered why he was still running. He'd been running like this, from team to team, since he'd first been assigned to working ON a team. Now he wasn't even allowed to run any longer. Even now, he could remember Ellen's words... his superior officer.

“It will be good for you. Besides, you'll get to interface with PEOPLE, Marcel. A person can't be alone ALL the time. Honestly, we can't expect you to shoulder your current responsibilities forever. This line of work is a debilitating one, and you know that. How many changes has it been now? Twelve? We retire most officers after five. The psyche is an important thing, even—no, ESPECIALLY to anyone working this line, and a person can't change their identity forever. You have no choice—but do take some time to think. I'll be here in the morning to help you collect your things.”

She'd been on her third such change when she'd confronted him. He...vaguely remembered her second change. Roselyn. He couldn't, however, remember the change before that. RED referred to them as 'changes', because that was quite simply what they WERE. When you received that little card, you didn't just change your name, you changed who you were. It didn't matter whether to the civilian world you were Roselyn the store clerk, or Jacques the painter. You were given a role that you had to mesh seamlessly into. You gave up your prior identity in totality, for this new life—each and every one a double-life, at that. Many 'changes' didn't involve civilian double-roles at all, merely forged birth certificates and passports so that, should you REQUIRE traveling through a civilian area, you could.

Regardless, you became your name. Marcel wasn't his original name, but for all intents and purposes... he was Marcel. It was who he was now assigned to being. The key difference, was that this was his final change. He had no more skins to slip into.

He had to think, after all this time, that Ellen had been wrong. How was this doing him good? He worked longer hours than before. Now, he didn't even have HER to talk to, even if he barely remembered her company, now. No. Now he simply sat on a ratty old wool blanket, thinking about what had happened, and wondering what he'd done wrong to get himself in this situation. It wasn't self-pity, so much as it was desperate searching, in hopes of finding the singular loophole that could reverse...all of this.
The team he'd been assigned to was a terrible irony, at that. Many of the other men on this team were betas—ones that had, like him, been with RED since the introduction of respawn. The key difference, was that unlike him, they had been soldiers, not officers, at the time. This meant that unlike him—he had simply been assigned NEW identities, periodically—they had been forced to give UP their identities. Essentially, they were nameless. It was a policy no longer favored, but even now, thanks to respawn.. you ran into the occasional mere 'Soldier” or “Scout”, and unofficially, many newer recruits were simply called by their class name.

Marcel wasn't quite sure which he would have preferred. Their soldier, he knew, was such a Soldier, and their sniper, he knew, was such a Sniper. The rest of the team he wasn't as certain about, and given his current disgust with his situation, nor did he care to find out.

They weren't below him. He didn't think that. He simply didn't belong here. He belonged in that other world—as an officer. As he'd been, before his final reassignment. He was intended to serve a different function from them, and in a different place. He was, simply put, a round peg being forcibly shoved through a square hole.

It was the scout's voice that broke his little reverie, before he even realized that he wasn't being called “Spy”, for once.

“Mahcel? ...th—the doc sent me up t'getcha. Examinations. He says you're up next for y'checkup.”

Quite short of his outburst only a week before, the small young man simply skittered away once more, leaving the door slightly ajar, and Marcel...stunned. ...how the hell had the scout known his name?

GOD DAMMIT, HIS CARD!



V4
--
Our medic is...

Ok, so maybe I'm a bit hard on'm. He ain't really THAT bad a guy, I guess. He don't talk about me behind my back like the others do—a'n he did do a pretty good job stitchin' me up. ...and he DID offer to numb everythin' up for the deeper ones, I just declined, because I don't particularly like the idea of him stickin' needles in me. Fuckin' hate needles. It's prolly gonna scar, but eh, I'll also prolly be healed up before the next battle, either way, and it ain't like I got a shortage of scars.

I don't, however, like being used to relay messages. I'm a scout, dammit, not a courier. Still, I dun have much else to do... and I guess he is kinda busy. Bah. Besides, I'd prolly just be holed up in my room otherwise, anyway. So, I've been spendin' th'day runnin' around the base, telling who where'n when, at the doc's command.

I didn't get any trouble, for once. No one said nothin' to me beyond a sideways glance, and a confirmation they'd heard, when I called'm in for checkups, so I was soon free to juss go on. The last on the list had been Marcel. I was tempted to poke at him a bit more, but... he looked like he was already in a bad mood, so I just moved on, like I had with the rest, a'n went back to my room. Eh, there'd be other opportunities.

The look on his face when I used his name was PRICELESS, though. It ain't exactly classified information, 'course... but I wonder how long it'll take'm to notice I took his card? I'll give it back, of course, but it was SURPRISINGLY easy to get it from him, too. Th'man doesn't notice NOTHIN' when he passes out over his desk like that...



M5
--
It didn't take long to walk to the medic's office. Marcel sighed, and put his cigarette out before entering, The last thing he needed, or wanted, was a lecture on how smoking was bad for his health, (as doctors were prone to do,) even if respawn meant he'd never have to worry about cancer, or ANYTHING of the sort. And he knocked.

“Herein!”

For the first time around any of his teammates, the balaclava was removed as well, the male holding it securely in his left hand, as he pushed open the door, and quietly slipped inside. Marcel said nothing—the medic, an older man with dull blonde hair, and murky blue eyes, glanced at him over his spectacles.

Then froze.

Marcel's gaze met his, and for a while, there was utter silence, as the door shut on its own behind them, the two simply...staring.

Surely...he was mistaken, the German thought to himself, gloved hand tightening on the clipboard as he pushed his glasses up with his other hand.

Marcel, exhausted, already well upset, but more than a little curious, held the other male's gaze. There was a certain familiarity to him, that he couldn't deny, but he had neither the patience nor the energy at that point to think further on it, and simply seated himself on the little paper-covered examination bed. It was the medic that spoke first.

“....Roger? “ Roger had been blonde—and his eyes brown—but the spy standing before him looked remarkably like him, down to the faint hint of a scar near his left temple, hidden mostly in his hairline.

“....I beg your pardon?” Yet, as he said this, something uncomfortable clenched inside him, manifesting as a visible twitch at one corner of his lips. He hadn't used THAT name in... how long had it been? Twenty years? Of course, that meant that the man before him.. ..Johann..

This was rather ironic. He'd been removed from officer status, and now, clearly, RED was simply trying to mock him with his new placement. A sigh, and quick glance around him. He didn't SEE any cameras in the room, but that didn't mean they weren't there. He hadn't served alongside Johann in...years. They'd been stationed together in the same bloc for a lengthy while, and he HAD worked alongside him on the Bielefeld project... He'd never been CLOSE to the man, but their relationship had been friendly. Why, however, would he be placed in a toon with another former officer? It made absolutely no sense, given RED's usual policies.

“Entschuldigung. I must have.. been mistaken... You reminded me of somevun. Nossink more.”

A tired smile and nod from Marcel, and the examination proceeded as usual. Blood pressure was taken, temperature, and pulse and respiration were measured. The medic—Deiter, Marcel ascertained, after a quick glance at some of his documents—found nothing worth looking over further, given the spy's medical records. There was a history of migraines, but that was common enough, given the surgery required with chip placement. Marcel was given a brief talking-to about his weight, but this was clearly dismissed by him. He really didn't give a damn if he was severely underweight.

Even so, things became increasingly awkward after, when Marcel was slipping back into his coat, and again caught the medic's gaze. It was him. That HAD to be Johann. Had to be...

Similarly, Deiter's gaze remained locked on the suited man before him, who was already rising, and heading for the door. No. He hadn't been mistaken. That was most certainly Roger.



M6
--
Marcel, even by his standards, had been rather reclusive for the rest of that day. Continually, his thoughts traveled back to Johann—Deiter, now, apparently—and continually, his thoughts traveled back to his former 'life' as a solo agent; as an officer. Particularly, for once in his life, he found himself dwelling on singular thoughts of ONE of the many faces he had worn, and he found himself, further, putting great effort into sorting his thoughts so that, for once, his identities, and the events each 'life' contained didn't simply blur together.

Roger.

He remembered how nervous he'd been, when the new identification card had arrived, along with a hefty stack of papers, and books he was expected to read, learn, and memorize. Each new identity had been...difficult to 'shift' into, but this one in particular he'd found bothersome.

French was, of course, his first language. Spanish was his second, German his third, and English? Merely his fourth tongue. It was thus understandable that he was uncomfortable with the idea of masquerading as Roger Brosnan, who RED had most rigidly decided, had to be British.

The only mild relief to his situation was that at the time, the bloc he'd been assigned to live in was located in Germany. So, thankfully, 'British' or not, he spent more time conversing in German, than in anything else.

This was, of course, where he met Johann.

In appearance, Johann had always been rather mousy. He was tall, but slim, and usually quiet, with light brown hair, and blue eyes hidden behind rectangular frames. In truth, he was quite bold when he needed to be, and used his appearance to his advantage. Marcel had NEVER seen another officer so capable of blending with crowds, as he.

They hadn't been fast friends, by any means, but they'd been friendly to one another from day one, and had often engaged in long conversations, and debates, outside of assignments... Their fields of knowledge didn't contain a LARGE overlap, (Johann was primarily focused on psychology and genetics, whereas Marcel had always been a linguist and mathematician, at heart...) but enough was present for the two to have a comfortable conversation without TOO many blank stares. If all else failed, the two both had an inherent tendency to simply dive into conspiracy theories; these, they'd learned, in their time with RED, held more truth than the general public realized.

Granted, they'd been rather involved in a conspiracy themselves, at the time. They'd never meant for their work in Bielefeld to become so...known. RED hadn't been happy about that, but thanks to their hasty cover up, the Bielefeld Conspiracy, or 'Bielefeldverschwörung' became so laughably unbelievable that no one gave it a second thought.

He'd always been good, with that sort of thing... cover ups were easy, provided one—

“Mahcel?”

He was once again jerked forcibly from his thoughts by, of all people, their scout. He sighed, straightening his posture, chin leaving his palm, as he glanced toward his door. At this point, there were hundreds of questions he wanted to ask; primarily, “how in God's name did you get my card, and why the hell won't you leave me ALONE?” He, however, only managed a quiet “...what?”

The small figure hesitated, then slipped into the room, surprisingly quiet, in his movements. “I brought'cha dinna....actually. Di'n seeya come down for breakfast or lunch, soooo I figured you were workin', y'know? Eh. Here.”

Marcel's brows creased, as the scout held out a small plate—likely swiped without any of the other seven knowing—with what appeared to be S.O.S. upon it. Delightful. Regardless, he took the plate, watching as the scout turned, and darted off once more. His desk was clear, so he started to set it down, only now noticing that, on the underside of the plate, barely visible past his own black glove, was a small orange identification card.

It of course, read Marcel Rousseau...

A visible tic started at one side of his lips, eyes narrowing as he looked up to see that the scout had already left, door shut just as quietly as it had been opened.
Marked for deletion (old)
>> No. 475
V5
--
Gave'm his card back, today. Understandably I did so a bit subtly—I figure he ain't gonna be happy about me takin' it in the first place, and while I don't necessarily think he'd react that way, the prospect of a fist to the face is never a fun one.

...'course, that was more how my BROTHERS solved things.

Eh, better safe than sorry.

No harm done though, I guess—I didn't hurt anything, now, did I? Just took his card to see what was written on it, a'n I gave it back good as new. Even brought dinner up for'm.

...alright, so it was the demo's dinner, originally. Serves him right for throwing me in front of ANOTHER sentry. He can GO hungry tonight. He fuckin' deserves it. I ain't racist or nothin'—I never have been, and I could care less if he was fuckin' chartreuse or somethin', but God DAMMIT, I HATE THAT MAN.

....right, right. Anyway, I prolly fubar'd half my attempts right there, but dammit, A chance is better than none, right? And his card, hell, carried on with it 'cause honestly, I'd already thought about it. Didn't matter whether I carried out or not; Thoughtcrime, eh? A'n time'll tell. Maybe he won't be angry, maybe he will. I can apologize later if it's fuckin' demanded of me. It's just, y'know, nice to have a NAME to call someone by, rather than just yelling 'Hey, SPY,” if I want his attention. Just me figurin', though—I fuckin' hate it when I just get called “Scout”.

From here, though? Hell if I know. I just know that HE ain't talkin' about me behind my back like the others, (although it's somewhat ironic that of all people to NOT be, the team's spy is the only one deemed innocent,) a'n nor is he going out of his way to make my life livin' hell, like some of them seem to be.

Good enough reason in my book.

Heading back to my room, now. Just gonna fuckin' read while everything blows over. I REALLY don't wanna be around when the Demo finds the little surprise I set up for'm in his room. And... it gives me time alone from the...the cameras.

Cameras. I noticed them earlier, for the first time, really. They're fuckin' everywhere. ...and I know damn well they ain't all for security feed. I actually took th'time to go through the footage we've got, (our engineer wasn't happy with me 'bout that...apparently he considers that to be HIS job,) and we don't have ANYTHIN' recorded for more than half the positions we got cameras setup.

So, then, what ARE they for? ...aside from watchin' us... I don't think the rooms'v got none, but I know there's one in the clinic. It's one of the tiny little ceiling mounted ones. They look like lights, at a glance. Newer edition, nice, really, but creepy as fuck. They useda use'm in the 'upscale' stores in some of the cities I lived in 'fore comin' here. Actually, I think that's how I got fuckin' caught, that last time. ...but you don't know they're there 'less you've seen'm before. Unless you know what to look for... Creepy. As. Fuck.



M7
--
In the week that passed, surprisingly, nothing really changed... Deiter perhaps showed a bit more attention to Marcel's medical needs in the midst of battle, and while it was nice to have burns tended to BEFORE respawn, Marcel carried on as usual. Cloak and dagger.

Out of field, again, there was little change. Both men were used to secrecy from their former professions, and so, while the occasional glance was awarded, whereas before they would have simply ignored one another, none of their teammates noticed much of a difference at all, if any.

At the end of the week, as he'd always done, Deiter left their base to help unpack their shipment from the supply truck. Marcel offered him an expression none of his teammates had ever seen him make—a faint little smile, and tip of his head in acknowledgment. Deiter returned this, albeit in haste—his own face pale, brows drawn. Granted, the medic always seemed worried about something, so Marcel let it pass, and headed back to the attic to finish his decoding work.

It was a bright, cold day, and for once much of the team was reluctant to leave the main base during their time of cease-fire with BLU. Vinnie made himself scarce, as well, even if he couldn't help but notice a few peculiarities. Usually, by this time, their good doctor would have been playing chess with their engineer—and typically, cold or not, there would be some form of noise as people bustled about the base. It was one in the afternoon before Marcel again left the attic, frowning when he realized that the clinic door was still firmly locked, and that Johann—Deiter, he corrected himself—had still not returned.

Within the hour, between pent-up nervous energy, and literally having nothing better to do, Marcel was finished with decoding for the day. He took to wandering the base, after this, something he'd avoided doing since being transferred to this team. Still, he had nothing else to do—all of his equipment was in perfect working condition, all of their recently captured intel had been successfully decoded, and none of his teammates had made the slightest attempt to be civil, aside from their medic, who wasn't there, and their scout, who he'd prefer to avoid.

Of course, this meant two things. First, he spent most of the next several hours pacing, and over-thinking, something he'd always been prone to. Second, all of this time was spent chain-smoking; a foolish decision, perhaps, given that nicotine was a stimulant. The irony was that the one time he would have relished a distraction from any of his teammates, he was entirely unbothered, and was left to his own devices.

After a while of this, he gave in to utter boredom, and began to twirl his balisong in his left hand, heading back down to the main floors as he did so. There was still no sign of Deiter, or—

Oh.

Oh....

It was dark, and RED's lighting had always been particularly inadequate, but Marcel was quick to pick out the singular metallic object that rested on the table they reserved for important ingoing and outgoing papers; recent orders, and news. Furthermore, his eyes trained on the fact that this object was glistening, slick—coated in a thick red that was only beginning to congeal, and solidify. It was a respawn chip.

Furthermore, it was a soldier's respawn chip, and beside the hideous, and deceptively small contraption lay a small stack of papers in a particular bluish off-white that was reserved only for death notices.

This, however, made no sense.

Curiosity drew him into the room, and he was going through the notice himself before he ever noticed that the room was filled with hushed whispers between teammates.

Respawn Failure.
Out of range.

Alarm rose in his own cotton-swathed expression as he read on. Remnants of explosives had been found—it was believed that a BLU demolitions expert had taken it upon himself to rig explosives to their loading bay. Basic chemistry Marcel understood—the chemicals at work made sense to him. Once things drew to complex detonation systems, and weight-based release...he was in well over his head, however. But... why Deiter? As a medic, he was a prime target, of course, but—

It wasn't unheard of, although there was generally an unspoken taboo at the very THOUGHT of killing another man outside of respawn. Certainly, it still happened. This toon's previous spy, for instance, had died outside of respawn, presumably in a civilian area, at that. Regardless, the entire situation had an uncomfortable feel to it—much akin to a film left behind by an inefficient cleaning product. YES. Film.. That was a good metaphor for it—the entire situation had a similar feel, like the filmy residue left. There were traces that made the death sit in the pit of his stomach, and claw anxiously at his other innards, beyond the sheer shock at the concept of final death itself. Something was amiss.

BLU had completely different loading times. This, Marcel knew from the numerous times he'd wound up trapped in the other base, only to slink off in the early morning hours, at his first chance. No one on the enemy toon would have known when theirs was. It was highly unlikely that their demolitions expert could have SNUCK over there, and setup a trap without anyone noticing.

....and yet...

Perhaps he was over-thinking things. People died in this line of work. He'd known that the day he'd first JOINED RED, at seventeen years of age, God knew how long ago. People died. If you couldn't accept this, then the easiest method of getting around it was simply not to get attached to anyone. Then, respawn had been developed.

...Respawn, which couldn't always be counted on to save you, as the death notification—which he would now have to file, document, after reviewing security footage to ensure everything was accurate, and send to the appropriate office, along with the chip, so that it could be wiped, cleaned, and readministered—clearly showed. That was the bitter irony of this line of work. Whether you considered them an acquaintance, or a dear friend, if you survived them, in the intelligence business, YOU inevitably, would file their death.

It didn't make things any better to know that a mere few months form now, a bright new recruit would be lined up for surgery, and Deiter's old chip would be implanted into the base of his brain, into the Occipital lobe, above the brain stem... just as they did with any other 'recovered' chip.

But, then, new recruits didn't exactly know the gory details behind HOW they obtained their grisly little 'gift'. They were brought under, quickly operated on, and given a month to heal, before a forced respawn to ensure everything was in working order. Then they were simply thrown into the field.

Sickening.

Yet, even as he thought to himself, pen had left pocket, and was whisking over the report, confirming it had been received, and reviewed. Even as his thoughts spun like gossamer spiderweb over how yet another young man's life might be ruined, he was filling out the needed forms to return the chip for cleaning, and erasure. ...and the papers were moved over to the appropriate bin, along with the chip, which he enclosed in a small anti-static bag, and stapled to the stack.

“...you don't even fuckin' care, do you?”

“...Hoh?” a startled jerk, as he nearly mis-marked the mailing form, gaze swiveling toward their scout—Vinnie, his mind supplied.

“A member of our fuckin' team, and you're juss writin' him off like he was no more than a statistic. No more than a number on paper.”

To RED, that was all he had been, once he lost officer status ...a number, albeit one to watch. His jaw tightened at the mere accusation, however, eyes narrowing. “...'ow would you know what I zink, or 'ow whezzer I care? I 'ave no time for zhis.”

The spy had turned to retreat back to his own 'room' in the attic, but the scout pursued. True, their medic hadn't really paid the young man much mind, but nor had he been hostile—which had apparently meant quite a bit in Vinnie's mind.

“Oh, so you're just gonna run the fuck away then? You know, I bet you'd fuckin' sell us all out, if you could.”

This came as he was climbing the ladder. He refused to respond with anything more than a low hiss, teeth grinding together. IDIOT. How could this—this NEWCOMER possibly know what he thought? How could he HONESTLY think for a SECOND that he didn't care? Johann had been a friend—not a CLOSE friend, but the mere fact that he was even CONSIDERED more than an acquaintance meant wonders, to any officer. But of course—no SCOUT could fathom that.

“You'll just run away, like you always do—close yourself off, pretend it didn't happen. That right, Frenchie? That what you plan on doin'?”

Silence.

“Well? Fuckin' answer me!”

Marcel was seething, by this point. Pain was quick to become anger in any man—moreso if that man is cornered unjustly. Everything had up until this point held a harsh surreal tone. It did little to numb the shock of Deiter's sudden death, but rather transferred it to an only slightly more palatable feeling of uncertain dread. The equally angry young man in front of him had seen to it, however, that all pain became little more than a quiet rage. “Enough...”

It was more a snarl than a word, but it drew the scout's attention. For a single, uncertain moment he simply stared back, uncertainly—perhaps shocked at his own words.

“You 'ave no right to even zink of telling me what I feel about anyzing, or anyone. Did you ever stop to zink zat per'aps you are not zee only one effected by every little thing zat 'appens around 'ere? Death 'appens in zis line of work. You know zis—respawn cannot be expected to account for everything. How do you think we got along BEFORE its existence? But of course; you are only a newcomer,” an angry scoff, even as he was fighting to get his emotions back under control.

Vinnie only glowered back at him, still seething, staring up at the taller man. Willing him to continue. Daring him to.

Marcel sucked in a shallow breath between clenched teeth, visibly composing himself—forcing himself to, in the very least, APPEAR relaxed. “I care more zhan you could 'ope to comprehend. But anger ees not going to bring 'im back, as you well know. You don't zink 'e knew zair was a chance of dying out 'ere, with or without zee chip? But zee war rages on, and we are going to need a new medic. None of us can allow for personal feelings to get in zee way of our jobs. Zee papers will be sent with zee next truck, which, I would like to 'ope will not be tampered with, as well.”

The air was tense, but the words, despite how much Marcel's voice had lowered, held finality. By now the fight had gone out of the younger male, and Vinnie simply stood there, unsurely, awkwardly, brows drawing, lips parting to utter words he could not find to speak.



V6
--
I knew something was wrong this morning with th'way he was actin'. I fuckin' KNEW it! Augh, why didn't I say something, DO something?

He's dead. The doc's really dead...

Just yesterday I was running errands for him, as I've taken to doing, lately. Two days ago he actually convinced me to eat with the rest of the team, instead of sneaking off with my portion, like I usually do. “Better for the psyche”, he'd said... Some shit about loneliness, self-imposed especially, being bad for ya.

I don't really know what to think.

I didn't really know him—I mean, KNOW him know him. He probably just saw me as being in the way most of the time, but I'd like to think I was viewed as at least...moderately helpful. He didn't chase me off like the others, though. Granted, he had little interest in listening to me prattle on, either, but he was at least...patient with me, I guess?

I wanna say I feel sad. That's what you're supposed to say, when someone dies. The truth, though? It's just... strange. I feel angry with myself, primarily. Like it's my fault, somehow. I don't feel sad, just hollow. Everything just feels surreal right now. It's like this didn't really happen—maybe that's what's wrong with me? Maybe that's why I can't miss him, even though I've been here a year now.

I only wish that were the truth.

The truth is I was only beginning TO care. I was only beginning to view him than more as 'just another person'. And also, I don't want to admit it, but this scares me. I've died so many times. I've gotten used to it now—that little chip in the back of my skull just brings me back, each time.

What if, like with Deiter, something goes wrong, next time?

What if next time, something goes wrong, and I don't come back? Or Marcel doesn't? Or our soldier, hell, even our demo? I hate the man, but I wouldn't wish DEATH on him...

It's terrifying... The papers said he was out of range, but how far does the range even extend? I don't understand the device—it's over my head, but... I know it doesn't reach the sleeping quarters, either. It'd be so easy for someone to just... just sneak in here, and... off one of us in our sleep.

Oh God...

Fear produces—produced—anger, I guess... I don't even know what I was saying. I just, all of this, and I get back in there, and he's just.. calmly fillin' out forms, like it didn't even matter one of us was gone. Like Deiter's death didn't matter. And it DID. Whether I barely knew him or not—he ain't just a statistic. He—he was...

And now they're gonna take the chip, and wipe it. Erasing him, is what they're doing, technically. The chip's dead, but the data's still on it—just, in order to repower it, they hafta erase it completely. Apparently.

It don't change what they're doin', none. They're erasing his existence. Makin' it like he never lived.

....and he just calmly signed the forms, and got everythin' ready to mail back, chip and all.

Like it didn't even matter...

Didn't even occur to me to ask why or what, just... 'you don't even care, do ya'... Dammit. Then everyone just goes silent. He tries to back out of it, to avoid an argument—heh, I guess I wouldn't have that. ...chased him all the way back to the rat hole of a room they gave'm, yelling all the way...

So stupid...

I went too far, and I know it. I've never seen'm like that before—he's always so fuckin' calm, so 'detached' from everythin' else. Seems I managed to finally hit a nerve.

So he is human, after all.

But he's right...

It ain't gonna bring Deiter back. The chip has to be wiped—and the war will just carry on. Eventually the same's prolly gonna happen to all of us.

And the war will carry on.


-------

Kay, so it took two posts. New shit coming next. :D
>> No. 476
M8
--
As days passed, the base slowly turned back to a state of normalcy. By the end of the week, although each man's thoughts were his own, no more was said about Deiter.

It was as if he'd never existed.

Midway through the next week, a new shipment arrived. Formerly, Deiter had always handled shipments. Inquisitive glances were passed about, none of the men moving to take the shipment until Marcel slipped into view, a small package in hand, for mailing. Seeing that no one else had bothered to tend to their shipment, he sighed, and turned a corridor to exit the base. Must he do everything himself?

At least this meant he hadn't missed the truck altogether, he mused, dull suit and dark hair soon disappearing into the gloom of the poorly lit hallway. Still, it was a rather minute detail to be thankful for, especially when measured against the vast array of things that had recently gone wrong—and the even longer list of things that had gone wrong in the past. There was, after all, always the chance that this truck, too, was tampered with, and that he was simply marching to his death, as it were.

He wasn't sure whether he found that an unfortunate, or mildly pleasant thought, at this point; this was, perhaps, a sign of how far his mind had gone at the moment, in particular without his usual morning stimulant. It was, apparently, Deiter that usually oversaw the morning production of coffee, as well.

There was a short concrete walkway from the base to the fence. Beyond this was a small gap before a gateway into another barricaded area, albeit of concrete walls, and far too industrial for his comfort. It accomplished its goals however—with its cold, professional appearance, anyone of the general public that happened to wander this far would simply believe they'd found a factory. In fact, streets did come out this far, if only to aid the illusion.

His shoes clicked sharply on the concrete underfoot, the spy pausing before the control switch for the heavy reinforced door barring entrance to the bay itself. It opened slowly, and noisily—an other thing he'd never been fond of, loud noises—at the press of a button.

The truck, which was of a deceptively innocent shade of white, was already locked into place. The driver, a short, stout man—Marcel decided that he was reminiscent of a beetle—had exited his vehicle by this point, and was standing beside the mechanical behemoth, looking rather impatient.

He also didn't seem to care that his truck was now parked amongst a series of blood and smoke stains. This, the spy found a bit unsettling, despite his best attempts to tell himself that this likely just meant that the driver had been delivering for RED for quite some time. Anyone got used to gore in this line of work, eventually.

“Ain't seen you 'ere, before...” a congested sniff.

Marcel immediately decided that he didn't like this man—at all. “I am—er—filling een.”

Another sniff, the shorter man's beady little eyes sizing him up momentarily, before he shrugged, and went to help unload the crates intended for RED. Notably there were other boxes, intended for civilian means—a nice cover... That, Marcel had to at least admire, despite his present disgust at the situation. Subterfuge was an art form, if done properly.

With the truck driver's help, however, there was soon a relatively unceremonious stack of crates just past the door, waiting to be sorted through, every item cataloged.

More work. Wonderful.

The driver took this as his cue to leave, and the vehicle was unlocked, truck disappearing from sight. Marcel sighed, and shut the overhead door once more, not sure whether he was relieved, or disappointed that nothing more had happened. Either way, the driver had taken his package, and the chip would now be on its way to HQ.

In a way this was equally saddening, and relieving. Deiter's memory existed only on that chip, now. In one way, they were erasing his existence. In another, the poor man was finally being laid to rest, and God knew Deiter'd been at this longer than HE had.

And it was easier to think of things that way, Marcel mused, one gloved hand brushing over the surface of the nearest crate, eyes training on the label adhered to the side. Most of these were rations crates... which of course, meant he'd have to carry them one step further. It would be best to catalog the remaining crates first, then. How on earth had Deiter always managed to get this done before any of the others were even AWAKE?

Fortunately the required clipboard, (with papers attached,) hung from the wall beside the door.

Small mercies...

If there were... three rows of three there, and another seven closer to the door, ten of which were reserved for rations, that meant only six that would require in-depth cataloging. Rations never really changed, aside from varying numbers of concentrated bars compared with dehydrated packets. That was to say—there was absolutely no real difference that anyone, himself included, cared about.

Once the clipboard had been retrieved, he set to prying open what few crates didn't have their contents explicitly noted on the label. This in itself was an irritating task, and was met not without a few hisses of frustration. It was not, in fact, until he'd managed to pry open the first crate that he noticed, lying in the corner, an old, and well-worn crowbar.

He cursed under his breath, snatching it up and making quick work of the remaining crates. At this point, Marcel had decided that he quite rigidly despised this building, the truck, its driver, and the shipping crates themselves.

Soon everything came down to sorting and counting. These were of course, menial tasks he'd never thought he'd find himself doing in his current employment—not that he thought that he was ABOVE them, but low cognition drudge work had never been something he greatly enjoyed. It was, however, despite the simplicity, mind-absorbing work, and one was quick to fall into an endless pattern, time ticking by without notice.

Pen was still scratching rhythmically over paper when he became vaguely aware of approaching footsteps. A slight scuff to the step, but an unhurried pace—footsteps were light, and faint—gum-soled shoes, perhaps... Marcel's gaze lifted as he wrote in the last number, already reaching to close up the first of the crates.

“You uh, need some help with that, Frenchie?”

His jaw tightened instinctively at the scout's appearance, but his gaze swiveled toward the younger male in acknowledgment. He didn't NEED help, of course, but it would be...welcome, he supposed, provided it wasn't used as an excuse for the young American to chatter on endlessly. Admitted, he wasn't particularly looking forward to even being in the other male's vicinity after his outburst over the initial...news of Deiter's death.

“Hey look, Man, I uh...” here, the slender young man paused where he was, perhaps only twelve feet from the kneeling Frenchman. One hand scratched the back of his head nervously, fingers tracing over the scar leftover from chip implantation. “I wanted to say I was sorry....'bout the other day, I mean. I wasn't thinkin', y'know? Juss... I know you had to handle th'forms n'all, but...”

Marcel sucked in a shallow breath, letting it hiss nearly soundlessly past his teeth... In a level voice, he spoke, as close as the scout would ever get to hearing 'apology accepted.' “Grab a crate zhen. I'll show you where to take zhem.”

The boy was, thankfully, quick, and silent to respond. One of the crates nearest him was lifted, pace shifting back and forth a moment as he waited for the other to lead. Lacking in his energy, (and with the realization that he'd been in that position for a good three hours, now,) Marcel was slower to rise, legs already in the process of falling asleep on him.

He stumbled a bit at first, leading the younger male on once his legs had sufficiently regained feeling. Assistance or not, their current 'assignment' would still take some time, and in his present, irritable state, Marcel was quite sure that the slightest complaint from any of their teammates would guarantee their breathing through a new hole in their neck, courtesy of his own balisong.

This repetition continued on in silence, however, (for which the spy was quite thankful,) Marcel merely leading him to their intended storage rooms, and back, as time ticked by. It wasn't until the last crate was slid into place that the scout chose to break the silence.

“Hey, look, I uh—I'm sorry... 'bout the other day. I was juss...”

“You were just...?” a singular brow raise, Marcel admittedly grateful for the sound of a human voice. On the other hand, he wished it belonged to anyone other than their scout, and he would have much rather listened, not participated.

A low cluck of his tongue against the roof of his mouth, the younger man frowning, clearly abandoning his original words altogether. “I wasn't thinkin'. I know you were juss doin' your job'n all... Someone had to do it, right? Lemme know if you need help with anythin' else, alright?” He was already walking away as he spoke, turning—and of all the childish things, waving.

Marcel only nodded slowly, going in the opposite direction. There was more work to be done. 'Someone had to do it,' he supposed.



V7
--
There are certain rules to life. Never fuck over a friend, don't rob from Mom-and-Pop stores, and most decidedly, NEVER fuck over family. There are other rules of course, those just bein' the mains I've always managed to keep. I'm pretty sure, however, that 'always help scrawny-ass Frenchmen struggling with boxes' still manages to wiggle into that list of rules somehow.

I juss felt really fuckin' bad for the other day, y'know? Flyin' off like that. Fuck, man. Here I am rattlin' on about hopin' to have someone to talk to, and I practically go for the man's throat over somethin' like that. I mean, it was important, don't get me wrong—but I wasn't thinkin' clearly.

Fuck. Just.. fuck.

So, I followed'm today, when I saw him wanderin' off. Well, not 'followed' so much as 'waited a bit and went the direction he had,' when he didn't come back for a few hours. I go to the loadin' area all the time anyway. It's outsida respawn, but once you climb up on the walls you can JUST see the city off'n the distance, and that's comfortin' I guess. So I knew my way. Found'm fightin' with the new shipment. Deiter always handled it before—di'n have the heart to tell Marcel -I- was the one that found'm...smeared everywhere.

I barely knew'm, true, but God, you find shit like that, and then it just gets fuckin' dismissed? It just ain't right.

….gettin' off-topic again. I'm bad about that, sorry. Guess I'm juss a bit jittery at the moment. Ain't had anythin' to eat all fuckin' day, since Marcel was takin' FOREVER with those crates, and I was startin' to get a bit shaky. So I guess it was two-fold. Y'know. Help'm get'm in faster, maybe get his good graces, and guarantee that I won't pass the fuck out from low blood sugar or somethin'.

Eh.....

He was... kinda civil? Maybe I did good, for once.
>> No. 912
I like this very much. You tend to overuse commas somewhat, but overall, this is well-written and fun to read.

Eagerly awaiting moar.
>> No. 1081
>>4

I'm working on that, a bit. I tweak as I go, normally, however I can't do that on the chan. I don't want to flood the lot of you with duplicate posts, because I changed one tiny thing.

I am working on the next part. I was at a standstill for a while, but I know where I want things to head next, now, and you should be seeing their medic's replacement soon.


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