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No. 5300
Well, I was working on my newest TF2-related picture, and this popped into my head. Although I don’t believe I have an ounce of the skill that any of you have at writing, I needed to kind of get this out of my head. So here it is. A lot of what’s written in here is simply my view on things, and some theories of mine that I would find interesting. I hope you enjoy it.

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It had been on a windy September (or maybe it was July, for all I knew) day that I had sat down to have a simple beer with the team’s Engineer. Drinking with him was far from an unusual occurrence for anyone, I’m sure. I had seen, on numerous occasions, a troubled teammate walk into the other man’s workshop, and come out with the shorter, stouter man in tow, and two BLU Streak beers in hand, ready to talk about what was bugging them this time. Engie could never say no to a friend in need.

The man was wise far beyond his years, and always had an opinion that seemed better than the one you had in your head at the time. And it usually (or rather, always) was. He said it was because, when in the moment, one never realizes that what they’re doing is probably not the brightest, or even the most morally correct, thing to do at the time. According to him, not stopping to think about what one is doing can lead to rash decisions and, worse, terrible consequences.

“Sounds like you have some demons of your own, Engie.” I told him, taking a swig from the beer bottle he had pushed into my rough, calloused hands. The grim smile he gave me was terribly similar to that of a kid who had known you had hit his puppy when driving down the street, and had too much respect for you to tell you to stop trying to sugarcoat the situation.

“If I didn’t, I wouldn’t be here.” he told me, shaking his head as he looked past the two opposing bases, to a place that was far better than this one. I couldn’t see it. But I just didn’t have enough years under my belt, I suppose, despite being rather close to his age. He looked back at me. “I don’t think any one of us would. We were chosen because we have skeletons, and demons, and other nasty things hidden in our closets and under our beds.”

At the time, I hadn’t been entirely sure what he had meant, but I had definitely known, even during that time, that it said volumes about everyone in the base.

We didn’t always live in the compound together. There were times when we would get breaks off, and go home to see our families. But those times seemed rather few and far between, and it seemed that, for the most part, most of us stayed at the compound anyway. Not many of us had families. Those that did were the lucky ones, or the ones that could afford to go fly out to see them. And it seemed the Industry was pretty intent on waning us of these little family vacations as much as possible as the years went by, until we finally worked together all year long. Alas, I digress.

During the time the team did live together, I couldn’t help but start to see what Engie was talking about. Certain forlorn glances every now and then from certain teammates spoke quite a bit about their pasts. That, mixed with how they talked about certain subjects, and various things I saw over the years, gave me a pretty good idea about their situation, most of the time.

One time, for instance, I had come to the Infirmary for a very normal, routine check-up. It had been just after our usual daily dose of fighting with the other base, and everyone was relatively uninjured, for the most part. Medic, however, had taken a nasty (accidental) slash to the arm by our very own Demoman (Whoever thought it was a good idea to give a sword to a one-eyed, drunken, battle-crazed Scot with very little peripheral vision and almost no depth perception needed to be taken out back and shot), and had gone to his room (which doubled as the Infirmary) to heal up. I hadn’t known he was still in the middle of his own healing, and had walked in to him wrapping bandages around his arm, with his torso uncovered so his clothes wouldn’t get in the way. Although he thought he had moved behind a medical curtain quick enough, it hadn’t been fast enough to avoid me catching a glimpse of a swastika tattooed very plainly on his arm (a definite sign of the Nazi’s) and yet, a nasty, very much self-inflicted Star of David carved into his chest. Judging by the looks of it, it was obviously re-carved daily for the sake of something other than sorrow for those he had killed. It was certainly a Scarlet Letter if I ever did see one.

For the sake of his dignity, I had avoided speaking a word of this to the other teammates, and had quietly taken him aside later, telling him he could talk to me at any time, should he need to. The two of us were much closer after that.

A few years earlier, when I first enlisted as a part of the group, I never would have acted so kind after seeing such a thing. I would have been quite brash regarding it, and the whole base would have known all about Medic’s little secret within a few minutes. This was the same thing Engineer had told me, about in-the-moment decisions. His opinion was that, during these times, we all needed our own little Guardian Angel-type, who would stand by us, screen the events with an unbiased nature, and tell us what was really going on. Because, the Engineer claimed, what we see is usually completely different than what is actually going on.

Although everyone in the base was guilty of certain crimes against humanity, despite our pasts, and where we’d come from, we had all changed at least a little when we took the time to forge bonds with each other. That was exactly what had happened with the Engineer and me, and it had changed me in numerous ways.

He ended up changing a lot of us over the years, really. Not intentionally, of course. But by being around such a great man and by having someone that would listen and yet, wouldn’t try to judge us, we were all reshaped in ways we would have never thought possible otherwise.

Unfortunately, it seemed that no one ever took the time to give him the same shoulder to cry on that he gave us. No one really thought about it at the time, although, if we had cared a lick about his feelings at the time, we would have. We all took him quite for granted, really; everyone thought Engie could do no wrong, and that he was put on this Earth for the sake of steering us onto the right road.

However, like he said, none of us would have been there if we didn’t have our own issues. And he was very much put into the base, too, just like the rest of us.

On another occasion, I asked him what he meant when he had talked about that. He gave me that same smile again: that mournful, forlorn smile that, at the time, had seemed like a normal one, and had, yet, held so much pain and sorrow. I only saw the latter aspect of it far too late.

As usual, he was very open about talking to me about my questions. “If we were all right in the head, do you think we would all be here, so willing to kill the other team, just because a faceless woman over a microphone said they were our enemies? They’re people, just like us, and it seems a lot of us have forgotten that. We’ve been highly desensitized.”

Despite the fact that it should have been quite obvious, I hadn’t ever thought of that before. No one had been told why we were here to fight. We just kind of…Were. And yet, we had all jumped into battle, not thinking about what it was we were doing.

I now knew why Engie didn’t kill people himself. He set-up a robot to do it. Because even though the other side was “our enemies”, they were still people, with the same kind of mindset we had. And he very obviously wasn’t comfortable doing the job himself.

This should have led me to question why he was here in the first place, if he hated killing. But, like I said, I took him for granted, and I never thought of comforting him when he needed me. Everyone paid a nasty price for that, later.

It was during the last few years of our servitude to the Industries (I refer to it as such because it was only later, after the war that everyone on both teams realized that we were all employed by the same people, all for the sake of shits and giggles), that everyone kind of realized where their priorities should have lied for all these years.

It was a normal news day; once a month, a stack of the months’ newspapers would be delivered, and we would be caught up on everything happening in the outside world. By this point, our family vacations had been cut down to a week during Christmas and a week for summer. No one left the compound, anyway. We were all far closer to each other than we were to anyone in the outside world.

On this day, there was a newspaper, dated a week earlier, that talked about some huge controversy. Apparently, a big-name science group that had gone off of the map a few years back had developed some highly intelligent AI. No one had ever heard anything about this weird AI, or had been told of its development, or what it was even for. Apparently, though the science lab had been completely abandoned a year or so after the creation of the robot (supposedly due to some deadly neurotoxin leak), and no one had been there in years.

Despite this, however, the AI had still been functioning. The thing had been developed by some huge, genius inventor that had gone missing after the neurotoxin leak. Thanks to the AI’s very real, constantly growing mind, it was the most advanced thing to ever be created in the history of machines. It was practically its own person.

Not much was said about the incident in the newspaper, probably for the sake of some sort of cover up. There had been a slaughtering in this supposedly abandoned science lab. It had been brought to the attention of civilians after a huge explosion near it, and, after finding the remains of that same AI and a young woman’s body, the place had been thoroughly searched.

Since the neurotoxin leak, for the sake of what seemed to be experimentation on an odd gun, which had been destroyed in the explosion, something around four-hundred people had been slaughtered in the base, based on the amount of skeletons that were found.

It was unknown why it had happened or who had done it, since the place was deserted, except, of course for the now deceased girl and the AI.

After seeing this newspaper, most of us in the group brushed it off as a cruel, mindless slaughter. However, upon reading it, Engie, looking quite pale and horrified, complained about feeling quite sick, and retired to his room for the night.

I was the one who found him in the morning, on the floor of his bedroom, with a gun and that very newspaper in hand.

-----------------------------------------------------------

I tell this story now, because, as a man who has done many wrongs and lived through my own pain and mistakes, I feel it is now time for me to make amends for my largest wrong-doing: the neglecting of the man who, despite giving guidance at the drop of a hat, was really the one who needed it most.

Since his body had been flown off to Texas for his burial, so that he could at least have his final resting place at the home he always talked about with stars in his eyes, I headed there, years after his death, to finally say my peace to a man I owed a lot to.

I did not, however, in my wildest dreams expect to see everyone else, sitting around his grave when I arrived there, each of them having the exact same feelings that had driven me there.

Although I hadn’t seen any of them in years, I sat down quietly beside everyone. There would be time for reunions later. After all, this was his time, not mine.

Everyone smiled softly at me, as if they had been expecting me all along. Medic even sat at my side, and pulled out nine bottles of BLU Streak, the man’s favorite beer, and we had a toast, to him.
Every person took a swig of their own bottle, and said something to the man. Every little nickname he had ever been given was said in that sitting. Memories were spoken of, and tears were shed, as, one by one, everyone drank their bottle and said something.

As I drank my bottle, being the last person to pay their respects to the man, I poured the ninth beer over his grave, and looked softly at where I knew the man was buried six feet under. Everyone followed my gaze, and in my heart, I knew we all thought the same thing at that time, although I was the one to utter it.

“Engie, in the next life, we’ll give us our shoulders for you to cry on. Let us be your Guardian Angels.”


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I purposefully left the character talking through these events ambiguous, for you to interpret for yourself. I know who I view through this, but y’know, you probably see someone different. Remember, these are simply my theories jumbled around. Hope you enjoyed it. Or at least didn’t completely hate it.
Marked for deletion (old)
>> No. 5301
... You should write more.

Because I enjoyed this and would love to see more like it.
>> No. 5303
Crying like a fountain here.
>> No. 5305
>>5301

Thank you very much, Cat Bountry. It's an honor to hear that one of the great's of TF2chan that I admire so much likes one of my works.

>>5303

Then my job has been done. I can now die happy.


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