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No. 17
Reposting all of Respawn of the dead, chapter by chapter, hopefully with some edits.

Hope this will stave you little monkeys off until I put out part 15.

______________________________________________________________

“Mission begins in 30 seconds.”

“ALL RIGHT, LADIES. We’ve been training for this all week. Those BLU bastards don’t stand a snowball’s chance in Hell. If we all stick to the plan, their intel will be ours before the sons of bitches will even know what hit ‘em!” Soldier puffed out his chest and beat it with his fist. “LET’S BEAT THE CRAP OUT OF ‘EM!”

Much hooting and crowing filled the resupply room as the RED team psyched themselves up for the week’s round. There had not been much activity coming from BLU base over the past week, and during Spy’s last visit to the base, he had gotten wind that BLU was working on something big. Whatever intel they had, it was assumed to be vital; something that could turn this war around for RED. The RED team had always been the underdog in this war, being inched out by the BLUs in most of their clashes. But this time would be different. This could be the victory that would put RED on top.

The Resupply room’s gate opened, and the mercenaries of RED charged out, bellowing battle cries and heading for their planned positions; Sniper headed for his roost, Engineer rushed towards the intel room to build his first set of sentries, Spy cloaked and headed for the sewers followed by Pyro, and the others rushing out of the barn to confront the hoard of BLUs that would, no doubt, be roaring to meet them.

It was Scout who stopped first, before he even reached the bridge, skidding to a halt. Heavy ended up colliding into him from behind, sending Scout forward, his arms pinwheeling to find his balance. Medic, Soldier, Demoman and Soldier all slowed down and stared.

No one was there. Not a soul.

Scout looked around nervously. “’The hell’s goin’ on?” He asked. “Where the hell are the BLUs?”

Sniper peered through the scope of his rifle, using it like a pair of binoculars to scan the windows of the opposing fort. Normally he would have at least caught sight of the BLU Sniper or Engineer or Demoman by now, but he saw nothing. “I can’t see a bloody soul!” He shouted to his teammates below.

“Is zis a trap?” Medic wondered out loud, taking a few cautious steps back behind Heavy.

“Obviously,” Soldier huffed. “They’re trying to lull us into a false sense of security. Make us think that they’ve given up! Well, I, for one, am not falling for it!” He strode forward and held an open palm to his mouth, shouting. “GIVE IT UP, YOU SCUM-SUCKING LOWLIVES! WE’RE NOT FALLING FOR IT!”

Soldier’s voice echoed and faded, only increasing the feeling of awkwardness that had settled over the battlefield. Pyro waded out from the RED side’s sewer, poking his head out. Spy, too, decloaked and peered out, curious. For a while, nobody moved, unsure what to make of the situation. They hadn’t trained for this particular scenario.

“Has BLU team surrendered?” Heavy asked Medic. The doctor merely shrugged.

“Well, men,” Soldier snorted, “we still have a mission to complete, whether or not those maggots over at BLU team want to participate or not!”

“Ah dunnoe, lad,” Demoman said darkly, “ah got a bad feelin’ aboot this.”

Engineer made his way through the barn door, toolbox under his arm, looking confused. “Hey now, what’s goin’ on up here? Why aren’t we fightin’?”

“BLU team’s gone AWOL,” Sniper shouted dryly.

“No wait, look at that!” Scout shouted, pointing forward.

The entire RED teams attention was now focused on a single, BLU Scout, who was bolting from the entrance of his base, wild-eyed, ragged and bloodied, screaming inarticulate syllables and waving his arms at the opposing team frantically. Soldier wasted no time rushing forward and knocking the RED Scout aside, hoisting up his rocket launcher, aiming, and firing all before the panicked BLU could even manage to turn around. The rocket collided, spraying tiny bits of meat, bone and gristle in every direction, and leaving a smoldering crater where the BLU once stood.

“Vhy did you do zat?” Medic crowed angrily, throwing his hands in the air in frustration.

“Because he’s a BLU, numbnuts,” Soldier scoffed. “Not like the little bastard won’t respawn.”

“He looked like he vas trying to tell us somezing!”

“Well, he certainly wasn’t doing a very good job of it. All I heard was him screaming his goddamned head off,” Soldier chuckled. “But if you want, you can talk to the little meaty bits of what’s left of him.”

Medic puffed up his own chest and stared down at Soldier, glaring daggers through his glasses. “Dummkopf! Doesn’t any of zis strike you as schtrange? Only vone BLU in sight, and looking as if he has been zhrough hell, und you are not ze least bit supsicious? Is your skull as zick as your helmet?” Medic emphasized this point by jabbing a finger repeatedly into Soldier’s helmet in the area of his forehead.

Soldier’s hand shot up and caught Medic by the wrist. He threw the doctor’s hand down and snarled. “The thickness of my skull is classified information, private. You’re not suggesting that we just abandon the mission because you got a /bad feeling/ about it, are you?”

“Of course not,” Medic scoffed, offended at Soldier’s accusation. “Ve should procede viz caution. If zis is a trap, zen we do not vant to be rushing into it vizout some forezhought.”

“But what if they’re trying to just psyche us out?” Scout quipped. “Then they’ll be expecting us to expect them, and they might, I don’t know, try to ambush us or something while our nerves are wracked.”

“Scout, you are ovahzinking zis,” Medic said.

“YOU overtink zis.” Heavy responded. “Doktor is smart, but too smart for own good. Ve go in, get intel, go out. Keep things simple.”

“Heavy, mein liebe, zat is vhy you do not make zese sort of decisions.” Medic replied, gently rubbing Heavy on the shoulder, only to have Heavy grunt angrily, retreating his shoulder and crossing his arms indignantly.

“I am not stupid, Doktor,” Heavy said, pouting.

“I did not say zat!”

“You vere thinking it!”

“I zhought no such thing!”

“Ach. Not this shite again,” Demo sighed, leaning against the wall of the RED base and taking a long swig of his scrumpy.

“You alvays boss me!” Heavy bellowed over Medic, looking down at him. “Alvays! Boss, boss, boss! You never let me come up vit plan!”

“Heavy, please stop. Zis is embarrassing,” Medic said, massaging the top of the bridge of his nose. “And you didn’t even have a plan to begin viz.”

“I hate to interrupt you two lovebirds,” Sniper shouted, “but our Scout appears to be makin’ a run for the BLU base.”

By the time the rest of the Team had taken note of this, the Scout has already disappeared inside; slipping past as a red and black blur behind the BLU forts walls.

“’Atta boy, Scout!” Soldier shouted. “Show some goddamned initiative!”

The inside of BLU base was eerily quiet, and a sickening, rancid smell lingered in the air. Scout audibly choked in disgust, trying to hold in his breath and keep his lunch down. He moved in, light on his feet, turning a corner and finding himself lose his footing after stepping in something wet and slippery. He looked down.

It was blood.

Looking up into the room, he noticed that the floor and walls seemed to be covered in a generous layer of crimson, with smears and handprints all over. Scout was quite used to the sight of blood by now, but seeing it in the BLUs base, with no one else around, knowing that there hadn’t been a battle there for a week, was unnerving, to say the least, especially since it was still wet.

Scout cocked his scattergun, trying not to let his knees knock. He wanted to turn around and run, but he couldn’t allow himself to. His need to preserve his reputation for being a hardass overrode his instinct for self-preservation, and he cautiously made his way forward, trying to get closer to the intel room and stepping around the bloody mess all over the floor. He had almost made it to the wooden stairs that would lead back outside before he found himself face-to-face with the BLU Pyro.

The young RED jumped back, shrieking in surprise and firing straight into the Pyro’s gut. The BLU fell back down the stairs, reeling, and letting out an odd gurgle. It was only after shooting the BLU Pyro that Scout noticed that his enemy was without his favorite flamethrower; completely unarmed, in fact. He laughed nervously. “How’dya like a belly fulla buckshot, chucklenuts?” He shouted, not sounding as confident as he wanted to. The place was giving him the creeps, and he jumped over the body, determined to speed things along.

Scout’s vision streaked into a dizzying whirl of colors as a rigid grip on his ankle sent him face-first into the wooden stairs, busting his nose and lip open on the splintered wood. He turned back, blood streaming from his nostrils and his mouth, to see the BLU Pyro holding onto his ankle, reeling him in like a freshly caught bass. Scout used his free leg to kick the fire starter in the head, but to no avail. Scattergun at point-blank range should have killed him, Scout thought uselessly. How the hell was he still alive?

The BLU Pyro then did something that Scout had never seen a Pyro do, ever. With one hand still firmly around Scout’s ankle, the Pyro reached his other gloved hand to remove his gasmask. Scout stopped his frantic pawing for his scattergun for just a second to look at what was underneath there.

Oh Jesus, that face.

Most of the skin appeared to be ripped off, somehow, and freshly so, with ribbons of sinew hanging off, still wet and glistening and moist, the nose and lips completely missing. The eyes were glazed over and glassy, like some dead thing, not really focusing on Scout as all. Gnashing, red-stained teeth were bared and glistening, and were zeroing in on the captive limb in its grip. Scout snapped out of his paralysis and lunged backwards, grabbing the scattergun and whipping forward, firing the weapon straight into the face (or lack of a face) or the monstrosity before him.

The things head exploded, bits of brain and skull splattering like a scarlet firework, spraying Scout in its vital fluids. It was just then that Heavy, Medic, and Soldier came into view.

“SCOUT!” Medic shouted. “Ah you hurt at all? Ach! You ah bleeding!”

“’m fine.” Scout said shakily, wiping the blood from his face. “I’m okay… nothing broken.” He tried to stand up, quaking visibly, and unsuccessfully attempting to shake off the hand of the now quite-dead Pyro.

“Saw you take that crazy bastards head right off!” Soldier said, sounding far too enthused for Scout’s comfort. “Excellent work, private. Remind me to give you a medal.”

“Yeah… yeah, thanks…” Scout mumbled, now trying to pry the dead Pyros fingers from off of his ankle.

Heavy set down Sasha against the frame of the door and made his way over to Scout, picking him up from under his armpits like some overgrown puppy. The Pyros hand still held tight onto Scout’s leg. Heavy grunted, kicking the corpse aside before setting the smaller man back onto his feet. “Tiny man should be more careful. Ve are team. Ve stay together.”

“Heavy, you vanted to rush in as vell.” Medic said, looking rather cross and fussing over Scout and his injuries. “Really, Scout, you should zink more carefully before you decide to go und get yourself killed.” He stepped back and started to fire up his Medigun onto Scout.

“Yes, but ve rush in together! As team!”

“Und get ambushed by BLUs togezah? Vhat use vould zat be?” He turned to Heavy, his attention totally turned away from Scout by now, since the boy’s injuries were minor.

Soldier snorted, looking around the open area, although how he could see with that helmet covering his eyes was anyone’s guess. Scout approached him, not sure whether or not he could talk to Heavy or Medic, since they were bickering again.

“That BLU Pyro, man. He… it wasn’t human.”

“None of those BLU bastards are, Private. Heartless sons a’ bitches.”

“No, I mean, that Pyro was… something else. Like, a monster.” Scout clarified. “I think he might have wanted to eat me, man.”

Soldier whirled around, his helmet seeming to hover in the air for a moment, and falling back down on his skull. Scout could see Soldier’s bugged-out eyes for a split second, and it really didn’t help his already shattered nerves. “Don’t be ridiculous. You wouldn’t make for a good meal at all. Now, if you were going to eat somebody, you’d eat somebody with more meat on their bones. Like Heavy.”

Heavy and Medic stopped arguing for a moment to stare at Soldier uncomfortably.

“Well, it’s true,” Soldier huffed. “If I was going to cannibalize anybody on this team, Heavy would be my first choice.”

“Vhy vould you even talk about zat?” Medic gaped, looking horrified and disgusted.

“Scout brought it up, telling me some stupid story about how that Pyro tried to eat him. I think the boy might’ve hit his face too hard against the stairs. It builds character, all right, but it kills the brain cells.”

“I do not vant to be eaten by tiny man.” Heavy mumbled.

“Eat you?” Medic looked at Scout. “Ah you sure about zis, Scout?”

“Swear on a stack of fuckin’ Bibles.” Scout assured him. “Fucker was gonna take a bite out of my leg like Heavy takes a bite out of a ham sandwich. And he looked like his face got shoved into a lawnmower.”

Medic suddenly looked worried, glancing back to the spot where the BLU Pyros body was. It was gone now, meaning that the enemy Pyro would respawn soon. “I do not zink sticking around here vould be prudent…”

“Vhy is Medic being baby?” Heavy huffed.

“Your /girlfriend/ is right.” Soldier added. “What are you so afraid of? A bitey Pyro? HA! I dealt with far worse than that when I fought in Poland!”

Heavy laughed heartily, and then stopped, an expression of confusion on his face. “Vait, when did you get girlfriend, Doktor?”

“He means you, Heavy.” Medic answered. “Und I am being serious. Ve do not know vhat has happened here, but I zink zhere might have been some sort of disease outbreak. Ve should probably MEIN GOTT VHAT IS-!” He pointed up to the stairs leading to the BLU intelligence room, causing his teammates to turn around.

Standing in the doorway was the BLU Soldier. The BLU was covered in dark red blood and missing his left arm. He held onto a leg with most of the flesh on it stripped off, and judging from the shoe and the ribbons of white sock, it had been the BLU Scout. The enemy Soldier stared at them blankly for a moment, then looked at the leg in his grasp, then back at the REDs that were all staring at him. He dropped the leg in his grasp, and shambled forward, groaning and snarling.

RED Soldier decided that the best course of action would be to greet their new visitor with the broad side of his trusty shovel. The blow to the BLU Soldier’s head was enough to knock him onto the ground, and Soldier took the opportunity to drive the shovel blade straight into the BLUs stomach. The BLU’s angry snarls and gurgling only increased, however, even as Soldier hacked away and was starting to sever his spine.

“Just shoot him in the head, man!” Scout shouted.

“And let him have a quick, painless death? I don’t think so, maggot!” Soldier continued to drive his shovel in the BLUs stomach, splashing blood and bits of intestine everywhere. The BLU Soldier, however, only seemed to be getting livelier and angrier, pawing the air trying to grab a hold of his tormentor.

“No, I mean, that Pyro, man. I shot him in the guts and he was still alive. You’re not gonna kill him unless you shoot him in the head.” Scout lifted his scattergun and aimed it at the BLU Soldiers head, only to have Medics hand bat it away. Heavy stood by, cautiously, now holding Sasha. Medic turned back to look at Heavy for a moment, and Heavy nodded, spurring the doctor to move forward.

The German doctor leaned over the flailing, squirming BLU, forgetting his own earlier apprehension and now overcome with fascination, not even paying attention to Soldier’s continuing assault. And as Soldier managed to crack through the spine of the BLU on the ground and split his torso in half, the BLU still tried to claw at both Medic and Soldier. “Zat should have killed him,” Medic said. “Und yet, he is alive still. Vhat is going on here?”

“He’s one resilient son of a bitch, I’ll give him that,” Soldier huffed. He looked up. “More of ‘em, Doc.”

From the same doorway emerged the BLU Heavy, Medic, and Demoman, making their way quickly to the REDs. They, too, looked very much like the BLU Soldier had; blood stained uniforms and red smeared over their mouths, teeth gnashing and eyes glassy and clouded over, moving with haste, but their movements being erratic and jerky. Soldier lifted his shovel to take on the lot of them, only to have Medic pull him back by his collar towards the way they had came, causing the Heavy and Scout to follow. Soldier was yelling vehemently, ordering Medic to release his grip, while Heavy and Scout fired upon the BLUs, trying to drive them back.

Back at the RED base, Sniper saw his teammates, and noticed right away that something had gone terribly wrong, especially after looking at Medic’s horrified expression through the scope. By now, the others that had gathered around the front of RED base looked up, seeing the frantic doctor dragging Soldier back, followed by an equally panicked Heavy and Scout. What they were running from had not yet emerged, but the team were instinctively at full attention, assuming the worst.

“RETREAT!” Medic shouted. “PUT ZE WHOLE BASE ON LOCKDOWN! GET INSIDE! MACH SCHNELL! RAUS, RAUS!”

Instantly, there was a scramble to get inside, everyone moving about frantically before Engineer made his way to a hidden panel on one of the walls, activating the rarely-used emergency lockdown system by pressing a series of buttons. Metal doors came quickly crashing down on all possible entrances, including the sewer tunnel and windows, with an ominous metal CLUNK. The entire team was now all in the same area, just inside the barn.

“Doc, what happened out there?” Engineer asked.

Medic finally let go of Soldier and slumped over, trying to catch his breath, having lost his usual composure. “I believe zere has been some sort of disease outbreak in BLU base” he said breathlessly. “Somezing like rabies, almost. Only… only vorse.”

“I could have taken them out.” Soldier said indignantly.

“Nein,” Medic said, straightening up. “You chopped zeir Soldier up with your shovel, ja? Und you noticed how he vas still schtruggling? Does zat not raise any alarm bells for you at all? Zey ate zeir own Scout, even!”

“Ate them?” Sniper asked. “So, what, you’re saying that this disease makes them want to eat people? What the bloody hell went on over there? I couldn’t even see them before Truckie locked us down.”

“I think…” Scout started, rubbing his arm uncomfortably, “I think they were zombies.”

There was a long, awkward pause as the rest of the team exchanged uneasy glances.

Demoman took a swig from his bottle of scrumpy and broke the silence. “Aye, that soun’s like the livin’ dead, all righ’.”

“Zombies,” said Spy. “Zat is ze most ridiculous thing I ‘ave ever heard. I think, per’aps, Scout should not be reading zose childish little comic books zat I know ‘e is so fond of.”

“Well, what else would you call them? They tried to eat us and wouldn’t die unless you shot them in the head! That sounds like a zombie to me!” Scout huffed.

“Let us not be so hasty, Scout,” Medic said. “Zere must be a logical explanation for zis behavior.”

Heavy opened a small slot on the main door, which provided a thin little window to the outside. He peered out, and saw that most of the BLU team members were now outside their base, groaning and making their way to the door. “Doktor, the zombies are comink thees vay!”

“Heavy, do not encourage Scout! Und close zat right away!” Medic smacked the back of Heavy’s head and pulled him away.

Just then, Sniper had maneuvered his way to the door and was peering out of the peephole. “Bloody hell! They /do/ look like zombies. Look, they’re walking around all gimpy and moaning and whatnot.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Like Doc said, there’s no such thing as zombies.” Engineer scooted up next to Sniper. “Let me see,” Sniper moved aside, letting Engineer peer out. “Well, I’ll be darned.”

“Told ya,” Scout said, arms crossed, as now Pyro, Spy and Demoman were making their way to the door to catch a glimpse of what used to be the BLU team.

“Aye, those’re zombies, all righ’,” Demo said, now sharing the peep slot with Engineer. “Ah would guess they’re proll’y not the voodoo type a’ zombies, though. Chemically induced ones, the kine’ that spread by bitin’ ye an’ try to eat ye alive.”

Pyro tugged at Engineer’s sleeve, signaling he wanted to get a look. He peered out, looking at the BLUs from the smoked glass lenses of his mask, before the BLU Medic sprung into his vision and tried to pry his gloved, bloodied fingers inside. Pyro jumped back, startled, and struggled to close the peep hole while mashing the BLUs fingers with the tiny door before finally latching it closed.

Soldier, who had been visibly sulking at his lost opportunity to bash in some zombie skulls, spoke up, “So, what now, Doc? We just sit in here, holing ourselves up like a bunch of cowards and wait until HQ comes to our rescue.”

“Ve should know exactly vhat ve ah dealing viz before ve go in,” Medic answered slowly, choosing his words carefully. “Zey still have ze ability to respawn. In ordah to eliminate zem completely, ve need to make sure zey cannot respawn.”

“Fine, then. I’ll be in the War Room. I expect the rest of you maggots to meet me down there. No way in hell I’m going to allow myself to be cooped up in here while a bunch of BLUs are running around free.” And with that, Soldier turned and marched off, headed downstairs.

Slowly, the other members of the RED team filtered after Soldier. Scout ran down after him, having rediscovered his nerve. Heavy wrapped his large, bear-like arm around the waist of the visibly distraught Medic as they followed the Scout. Pyro was still shuddering as Demoman tried to give him a reassuring pat on the back and guide him after the others, and Spy, having lost interest, slinked off. Only Engineer and Sniper were left standing up there.

“You think what Demo and Scout said was right? That they’re zombies?” Sniper asked, looking at Engineer, who was deep in thought.

“I don’t think they’re zombies. Zombies don’t exist.” Engineer removed his helmet for a second, wiping the sweat from his brow before placing it back on his head. “It’s probably some kind of disease, like Doc said. Corpses don’t just reanimate like that, outside a’ respawnin’.”

There was a sudden pounding at the steel door, and muffled groaning and screeching could be heard from the other side, causing the two men to jump.

“If you say so, mate,” Sniper said, turning to go follow the others. “But personally, I don’t think it matters /what/ they are. They’re still bloody creepy.” And he walked off.

Engineer slumped against the wall. “Zombies,” he murmured. There were still noises coming from the other side of the steel door, and while he knew he would be safe, Engineer still found it very unsettling. He then jogged after Sniper, asking him to wait up. Sniper obliged, and they made their way down to the War Room.
Marked for deletion (old)
>> No. 19
“THAT WAS JUST ABOUT THE SORRIEST DISPLAY OF DEFENSE I HAVE SEEN IN MY ENTIRE LIFE.”

Soldier paced back and forth, glaring at each of his teammates from underneath his helmet. They were all seated around a long, worn table in Soldier’s room, and the room was barely big enough to accommodate all of them. There was just enough room for Soldier to pace back and forth a few feet, while most of the other members of his team were seated at the table. Pyro was sitting, fingers laced and hands in his lap, on Soldier’s bed, and Scout leaned against one of the map-covered walls. This was the War Room, and they were at war with a threat none of them had ever dreamt of facing.

“Retreating! We retreated, with our tails between our legs! Why not just raise the white flag right then, huh? Surrender, like the goddamned French or something!”

“Oh, just shut your mouth, you pompous windbag,” Spy hissed, clenching his cigarette between his teeth.

“Oh, I’m sorry, Spy. What’s the matter? Did I strike a nerve?” Soldier leaned over the table between Demoman and Sniper to grin wickedly at the Frenchman. “Don’t pretend it’s not true, sneaking around in the shadows with your cloaking and your disguises. You’re a goddamned pussy willow.”

“I ‘ave no need to justify myself to a madman.” Spy took a long drag on his cigarette and blew smoke in Soldier’s face. “So fuck off.”

“Soldier, zis bickering is useless,” Medic interjected. He was sitting next to Heavy, who seemed to be deep in thought. “If you cannot offer any solutions to our current crisis, zen you ah better off not speaking at all. You ah /not/ ze one in charge here.”

Soldier was taken aback at Medic's last statement, but tried not to show it. “Solutions? Oh, I got a solution for you, /Medic/. Blow the bastards to kingdom come!”

“Only to have zem respawn und come back for more! Vhat good vould zat do?” Soldier was silent for a moment, taking this into consideration. Medic was satisfied by this, leaning forward in his seat and scanning the faces of his teammates. “Fortunately for you, I have ze beginnings of a plan.”

“Spill it then,” Soldier sneered, “I don’t recall anybody put /you/ in charge, either, /Mother/.”

“You watch what you say about Doktor,” Heavy rumbled, glowering at Soldier.

“Danke, Heavy.” Medic scooted his chair back until it hit the wall, then stood up, leaning over the table. “Ve must drive ze BLU team back into zeir resupply room und trap zem zere. Engineer, ve vill need you to build your sentries right outside of it. Many sentries. Ve cannot allow any of zem to escape.”

“Sure thing, Doc,” Engineer said with a nod.

“Spy, you vill need to recover ze intel. Zhough, I zink visiting ze BLU Medic’s infirmary vill be more important. Any information you can find on ze infection, notes, papervork, anyzing. Make sure to get in und out quickly.”

“But of course,” Spy smirked.

“Pyro, Demoman, ze both of you vill have ze most important task of all. Once ze BLUs are all trapped in ze resupply room, und ve have ransacked anyzing we can use from zeir quarters, ze two of you vill be in charge of completely destroying ze BLU base.”

A mischievous glimmer flashed in Demomans remaining eye, and Pyro clasped his hands together and made a gleeful, muffled noise, bouncing up and down excitedly.

“Medic, boyo,” Demoman said, a large, white grin plastered on his face, “ye’ve made me th’ happiest man in th’ world. Ah won’t let ye down.”

“Thrrsshh sshh thrrr bssshh drrr evvrrr.” Pyro mumbled.

“Heavy, Soldier, you two make sure ze BLUs ah all killed vonce Engineer has finished setting up his sentries. I vill be following Heavy, but I vill be keeping an eye out if I am needed. And before zat, guard ze Engineer. Be prepared to fire into ze resupply room if any of zem get killed before Engineer is set up.” Medic looked at Soldier smugly. “Does zis satisfy you, Herr Soldier?”

“As long as I get to kill as many of those BLU bastards as possible, I’ll be just fine,” Soldier replied, arms crossed over his broad chest.

“Sniper, you vill be on ze roof. You must make sure none of ze infected BLUs make it out of ze area. Ze disease must be contained; ve cannot allow any of zem to escape.”

“You got nothin’ to worry about, mate,” Sniper leaned back in his chair, rocking it backwards a bit and tipping the brim of his hat up. “Ought to be a piece a’ cake.”

Scout straightened up against the wall, looking around the room. “Hey, uh, what about me? What am I doin’?”

“Ah, Scout, you have ze most important job of all.”

“Yeah? Well, c’mon Doc, what is it?” Scout was visibly getting excited by the thought of playing such a crucial role in this mission.

A sadistic grin crept across Medic’s face slowly, and Scout could feel his stomach plummet. “You, Scout, vill be ze bait.”

“… Bait?” Scout’s voice cracked.

“Ja. You ah ze distraction. You vill be ze first to go in, and you vill be ze one to make sure zat ze BLUs do not go munching on Spy or Engineer while zey ah vorking. Since you can run fastah und jump highah zen ze rest of ze team, I zink you should have little trouble keeping ahead of ze BLUs. Just try not to get bitten.”

The young man’s face was visibly drained of color, but he tried desperately not to let this show. “Uh, yeah, I think… I think I can handle that. No sweat.”

“Vhat is matter, Scout?” Heavy asked with a chuckle. “You don’t look so good. You are not /scared/ are you?”

“Hell, no!” Scout puffed out his chest. “You think I’m scared? Fuck that. I got it covered. No sweat.”

“I should hope so, Scout.” Medic said ominously. “Ze safety of ze entire team depends on you. So, try not to... vhat is zat phrase you like so much? Ah, yes. Try not to fuck up.” At this, Scout squirmed a bit, and leaned back against the wall. Medic sat back down in his chair and pulled it back in again. “Does anyvone have any objections?”

“No objections, Medic,” Demoman said. “But it’s gonnae take me a wee bit ta build that bomb for ye. There’s a lot a’ calculatin’ ta go intae this, th’ size of it, th’ detonation… an’ Ah’m gonnae hafta work with Pyro a bit on this, I think, if ye’re wantin’ a big, firey explosion.”

“How much time you you zink you vill need?”

“’Dunnae, lad. Could be a while. There’s an /art/, to this. Ye cannae rush it.”

“Hours?”

“If yer lucky.”

“So, what’ll we do until then?” Scout piped up.

“Start ze preparations. Vhen Demoman und Pyro are fully prepared, ve strike. Sound good?” The rest of the team murmured in agreement.

“Meeting adjourned. Dismissed!” Soldier barked, trying to maintain some kind of authority over the RED team. As his teammates tried to squirm out of the over-crowded room, Soldier shot a warning glare at Medic. Medic merely responded with a smirk, and wrapped his arm around the large back of Heavy. Scout was the last to actually make it out, being furthest from the door, and Soldier could hear Medic calling the young man to go to the Infirmary; his injuries from earlier would have to be looked over. Soldier closed the door after them and sat down at the head of the table, hanging his head and sighing. “Goddamned Nazi fairy son of a bitch.” He mumbled to himself. “I’m still in charge, dammit.”

He let his head hit the surface of the table, his helmet making an audible “clunk.” “When the hell did that bastard get to be in charge?”

______________________________________________________________


“Ow, ow, ow! Son of a bitch, that hurts!”

“If you vould stay still, it vouldn’t hurt as much!”

“Yeah, like I’m supposed to stay still while you’re waving all that shit around in my face. Ouch!” Scout flinched as a splinter was removed his upper lip. Medic examined the splinter held between his tweezers, sighed, and placed it in a metal tray being held by Heavy.

“Stop being baby, Scout,” Heavy said. “Is not even that painful.”

“Yeah, I’m sure Medic is a lot gentler with you. Yeowch!” Another splinter was removed from the rim of his nostril, causing a trickle of blood to come out. Medic placed the splinter in the tray with the others, and dabbed as Scouts nose with a cotton ball moist with rubbing alcohol.

Heavy chuckled, “You vould tink that, but Doktor prefers to be rougher vit me. I can take it.”

Scout visibly grimaced, “Ugh, TMI, big guy. Didn’t need to know that.”

“You brought it up.”

“I didn’t mean /that/, geez. Fuckin’ queer-ass homo gays. OUCH!” This time, Medic was pinching the end of Scout’s nose in his tweezers and twisting him around so the two could be face-to-face.

“Perhaps, Herr Scout, you should be more polite to ze man who is currently doing ze zankless job of making sure your face does not become an infected puddle of pus. Hm?” He let go of Scout’s nose and looked over his busted lip. “I zink you may require some stitches if your lip is to be healing properly.”

“Would it kill ya to use some anesthetic this time, Doc?”

“Maybe. I do not know. Perhaps you would rather swell up zen be treated by a ‘queer-ass homo gay.’” Medic got up and turned his back to Scout, headed for the cabinet.

“’m sorry.”

“Vhat vas zat, Scout?” Medic turned around, opening one of the cabinet doors while doing so.

“I’m sorry, Medic,” Scout apologized, making no effort to cover up his reluctance to do so. “You’re cool and all, y’know, despite being kind of creepy and all gay with Heavy and stuff.”

“Oh?” Medic was removing an armful of supplies from the cabinet when he turned around, looking touched.

“Yeah… and, you came up with a good plan there.” Scout smiled nervously as Medic lined up his instruments on a small, metallic push-cart. “You, uh, come up with that on the fly, or what?”

“Vell, I had some idea of vhat I vanted to do vhile ve vere on our vay down to ze… eh, ‘Var Room.’” Medic was holding a hypodermic needle, which he inserted into a bottle and pulled out the plunger slowly. “But ja, zere vere some zings zat just popped into mein head.”

“That… that’s pretty impressive, man. I didn’t think you were the strategic type and shit. Y’know, bein’ a man of science an-OW!” Medic had quickly grabbed a hold of Scout’s face and jabbed the needle into his lower lip.

“Zere. Zat should start vorking in a few minutes.” Medic removed the tip of the needle placed it in the tray held by Heavy. He then picked up an empty syringe, tapped the needle, and took Scout’s arm in his free hand.

“Hey, what’s this for, you doping me up again, Doc?” Scout was flinching from Medic’s grasp.

“Nein,” the doctor said, inserting the needle into Scout’s arm. “Blood sample. Ve need to make sure you have not been contaminated.” He pulled the plunger out slowly, drawing a generous amount of blood.

“Why would I be infected, though? I didn’t get bitten, you know zombies only spread through…”

“Zere ah no such zing as zombies!” Medic chided, squeezing Scout’s arm until Scout started to whine. “I vill not hear you talk of such silliness any more.” He loosened his grip on Scouts arm, laying the syringe down on his cart, separate from his other tools. “Anyvay, you did blow up zat Pyro’s head at a close range, ja?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Und ze blood, did any of it get in your big, fat mouth? Or in your vounds?”

“Well, maybe, I don’t know, man, I wasn’t really payin’ attention…”

“Of course you vouldn’t.” Medic picked up a suture needle and shot Scout a glare. “Ze blood of zat Pyro vould be contaminated. Ze infection could very vell spread by ingesting any bodily fluids of an infected person… like ze blood.”

Scout’s face paled. “Oh, shit. You think I’m gonna turn into a zomb-uh, I mean, one of those things?”

“Hopefully not. Ve shall zee vhat ze test results say. But, perhaps, you are right, und ze infection only does shpread zhrough ze biting.” He leaned in closer to Scout. “For your sake, I should hope so.” He then put his thumb on Scout’s lip, and squeezed. “Can you feel zat?”

“Yeah.”

“A few more minutes, zen,” Medic said, leaning back again and turning to fuss over his tools. “Alzhough, I zink zat you vill know when it kicks in. You vill probably start drooling un vill have trouble shpeaking.”

Heavy, who had been sitting in a chair patiently by the operation table Scout was seated on, let out a low chuckle,“Medicine cannot start vorking soon enough for me.”

______________________________________________________________


Sniper had climbed on the roof many times before, though most of the previous times had been during many a sleepless night, under a thousand glittering stars spilled across a velvety blue canvas of a sky. Being on the roof was something he preferred to avoid during the daytime, when the sun would be high in the sky and beat down mercilessly on the black tiled roof. But he felt a sort of obligation to Medic. He had to admit, he had absolutely no idea what the hell to do when he got a glimpse of the BLU team as zombies, or whatever the hell they were, aside from just shooting at them. But Medic? Blimey, the German bastard managed to come up with a plan right on the spot. Crazy poof or not, the man was a bloody genius.

He climbed up a ladder up inside the barn, up to a panel on the ceiling that was held closed with a rusty, metal hook and hoop. He pressed his thumb against the hook and nudged it aside, then pressed the panel up, causing the even more rusted hinged on the panel to creak in protest, and climbed into the attic of the barn.

The attic was dark, save for some sunlight spilling through a few scattered cracks, and smelled like wet hay and bat shit. The bats were light sleepers, and upon Sniper’s arrival they scattered and flew out the hole in the wood paneling on the side of the barn, squeaking in panic the entire way. Sniper knew, however, that they’d be back. Little buggers always managed to come back here.

There was just enough light in the attic for Sniper to find the panel that led to the roof, and the rickety, creaky wooden ladder that led up to it. Normally, he’d have to have a flashlight when he made his way up here, but then again, he rarely came up here when the sun was up. The rungs on the ladder were rough and splintered in places, and Sniper felt like they would snap if he put too much of his weight on any one rung. He felt around the side of the roof’s hatch for a long, metal rod before pushing the hatch open, letting the harsh sunlight flood the normally dark and dank attic. Sniper used the metal rod to prop the hatch open, wedging it firmly in place. It was much harder to get the hatch open from the outside; Sniper had figured this out the hard way after one night where he had one too many beers. Pyro had found him there the next morning, passed out and sprawling in the rising sunlight. Christ, that was embarrassing.

He peered out and looked out onto BLUs base, squinting in the harsh light. Normally, he would have expected to see the BLU Sniper from his roost, maybe aiming his rifle at some lizard in the desert to pass away the tedium. Sniper wondered if his BLU counterpart was one of those… things. He probably was, the poor bastard. He didn’t particularly like the BLU Sniper, but becoming a shambling, reanimated corpse was a bad thing to happen to anybody, really.

With the sun beating down on the roof as it was, his camping was pretty much restricted to only being halfway outside and standing on one of the ladder rungs. He was still able to get a good view of BLU base, though. It would probably be a while before Demo would be finished working on that bomb, and Sniper figured he might as well be trying to do something useful while they waited. So, he would be here, watching the BLU base for... something. Escaping BLUs, maybe? Although, all the BLUs he had seen today seemed far more concerned about trying to find a way into RED base than making a run for it. He could still here some of them shuffling around on the ground, letting out the occasional moan.

He propped up his rifle and scanned BLU base, looking for any kind of movement. Nothing. The only movement seemed to be happening out of his sight, in front of the front steel panel protecting the RED base. Which was fine, really. Sniper preferred to be alone, and being up here, looking for any BLUs to shoot was as good enough of an excuse as any for some isolation. He looked through the scope and slowly moved his sights over the building. It appeared to be totally abandoned. He frowned. If only he could be in his usual roost, but no, the windows were blocked with steel. Would it have killed Engineer to leave them open? Not like the BLU Soldier or Demoman was going to rocketjump their way in, being as they didn’t seem very interested in using their weapons anymore. And from what Medic said, the BLU Scout was out of commission; apparently the BLUs ate him.

They had /eaten/ their Scout. Sniper’s mind lingered on that thought longer than was comfortable. He tried to suppress a shudder, but couldn’t. Scout was probably right, despite what Medic or Engineer said. They weren’t human anymore, and whatever anybody else wanted to call them wouldn’t matter, because they were still pretty much zombies.

Out of the corner of his scope, Sniper thought for a moment that he had seen a wisp of blue smoke. Sniper whipped his scope back over the spot he had just passed over. Had it been a trick of his mind? The heat had a way of making you see things that weren’t actually there. Or…

Shit.

Sniper found himself firing blindly, hoping to God he would hit the cloaked BLU Spy. Medic had mentioned the threat of the infection spreading. Nightmarish visions of a zombie apocalypse started to dart through his mind, armies of the living dead devouring entire cities and laying waste to all of civilization, all because Sniper fucked up and missed that fucking BLU Spy. He tore his eye away from the scope and searched frantically for any sign of movement, but there was none.

Maybe it had been a mirage. Maybe he was panicking over nothing. And even if he wasn’t, the BLU Spy was cloaked. He was pretty sure that zombies weren’t smart enough to use cloaking devices, which meant that the BLU Spy was still human.

“You’d better not have been bitten, you stupid wanker,” Sniper muttered under his breath. He stared at BLU base a bit longer, waiting for some acknowledgment that Spy somehow heard him. Of course, there was none. He put his eye back to the scope, hoping for the best; or at least, that Medic wouldn’t find out.

______________________________________________________________


Engineer sat at his desk in his workshop, going over the schematic for the sentry gun for what was probably the third time. Odds were, he could very well be safe just using one sentry in front of BLUs resupply room, but dang it, he was feeling paranoid. Maybe two, just to be safe. Three might be pushing it.

“’Ello, Engineer.”

“GAH!” Engineer jumped in his chair and whirled around to see Spy leaning over him with a satisfied smirk on his face. “Dang it, Spy, don’t do that!”

Spy grinned. “Did I frighten you, laborer? Désolé.” He leaned over Engineer and grabbed his blueprints. “What is zis you are working on, hmm?”

“Give those back, Spah!” Engineer stood up and tried to reach for his blueprints, but Spy, being taller, merely held them up high above his head and examined them, while holding the short Texan down with a firm hand pressed down on his hardhat.

After a brief examination, Spy decided that the blueprints weren’t of any real interest to him, and tossed them back onto Engineer’s desk. “How boring,” he sighed. “Why do you concern yourself wiz such boring zings?”

“Sentries aren’t ‘boring’,” Engineer huffed, arms akimbo. “They’re going to play a very important part in this mission, and keep you from getting bitten by those BLUs.”

Spy laughed. “Oh, I do not zink I would get bitten, even if I went in alone. Zey are slow and stupid, I’m sure I could avoid zem easily.”

“Yeah, you keep on thinkin’ that.” Engineer sat back down on his desk and went back to concentrating on his blueprints. Spy leaned over his shoulder again, getting uncomfortably close and puffing smoke in his face. “Boy, don’t you have anything better to do?”

“I’m bored,” Spy said with an overly dramatic sigh. “And I needed someone to bozzer.”

“Go bug Sniper, then.”

“’E iz on ze roof, frying ‘is brains in ze sun. I zink ‘e would throw me to ze BLUs if I went up zere.”

“I’m plenty tempted to do that myself,” Engineer mumbled to himself.

“What was zat, Engie?” Spy propped his elbow onto Engineer’s hardhat.

Engineer knew Spy was trying purposely to get on his nerves. He hated Spy. The Frenchman would almost always come down to his workshop when Engineer was working on something important, always to just touch things that shouldn’t be touched or break something or just generally make a nuisance of himself. He had to admit he didn’t know why Spy felt the need to do this, but he just assumed that all Spies loved to torture Engineers and generally make asses of themselves. Occasionally Spy would bother Sniper as well, but Sniper was far less patient with Spy than Engineer, and that was saying something. It took all of Engineer’s willpower just to keep himself from strangling Spy, and Spy knew this.

“Nothin’, forget it,” Engineer responded, shaking off Spy’s elbow from his head. “Just go find something else to do. I’m in no mood for yer tomfoolery.”

“You are never in ze mood for any ‘tomfoolery.’” Spy shot back. “You’re no fun.” He crossed his arms and pouted.

“Never claimed to be,” Engineer rolled his eyes.

There was a sudden, urgent rapping at the door of the workshop. Before Engineer could even lift himself from his seat, Spy answered the door, letting in a very excited Pyro.

“HSSSHH DRRRN! HSSH FNNSSSHHDD! CRRM KWWKRRRUH!” Pyro was almost dancing with sheer giddiness as he rushed over to Engineer and started to shake him by the shoulders.

“Pyro, I cannot understand a single word you zay,” Spy said, looking at Pyro as if he were some sort of very large and very hairy insect.

“Dang it, Spah, he means he an’ Demo are finished that bomb. Why else would he be here and actin’ happier than a kitten in a catnip patch. Whoa!” Engineer allowed himself to be dragged away by the over-eager fire starter, heading out the door and past the bemused Frenchman.

Spy turned and watched Pyro and Engineer rush down the halls of the base, Pyro shouting unintelligibly for the rest of the team as Engineer struggled to keep his hardhat firmly on top of his head. Spy strolled behind them casually, taking a drag on his cigarette, and watching the base spring to life. Spy had been on many missions with this team, but this one was unique. Special. /Exciting/. This one was one that their very lives depended on, and the very thought of it thrilled Spy. Of course, he couldn’t let this show. He was, after all, a Spy. But oh, this would be /fun/.

So very, very fun.
>> No. 20
The BLUs that had gathered in front of RED base were no longer pawing uselessly at the steel door. They had given this up in favor of shuffling aimlessly around the front of their enemy base, letting out agonized groans. There were four of them out there: Heavy, Medic, Demoman, and Pyro. They didn’t really pay much attention to each other, just moving as if they had no idea what to do with themselves until some sort of living creature crossed their path. They had paid some small notice to the cloud of bats that had rushed out of RED base’s attic, but none of them flew low enough to be caught. And even if they had, none of the BLUs would have been fast enough to catch one.

When the steel doors started to grind open, the BLUs responded by turning their heads and staring in a stupid, brainless sort of awe. No one was visible to them by the time the main steel door was all the way open. All four of them, however, could smell their prey. They lurched forward, only to hear a loud “THUMP!” from behind them.

“’EY, MAGGOT-BAIT! UP HERE!”

Again, the BLUs turned around to see RED Scout, standing on top of the bridge between the two bases, waving his bat around and jumping from side to side. “Lookit dis right here, fast food! Yours if you can catch me, ya bunch a' Frankensteins!” Flecks of blood and spittle flew out of his mouth as he spoke, and there was a dull throb of pain on the inside of his lower lip. Stupid Medic should’ve at least given him something for the pain, but no, Medic said it would slow him down. He had also said the adrenaline rush would probably make him forget about the pain, anyway.

Well, his adrenaline was already pumping as soon as the BLUs started to crowd underneath Scout, trying to reach him with outstretched, bloodstained arms, grunting in frustration. Scout laughed at them, dancing around in his usual cocksure manner. “Aw, c’mon, is that the best you can do? Honestly? C’mon, you decomposing dickweeds! I ain’t got all day!”

The BLU Heavy, looking as though he had some sort of dull epiphany, grabbed a hold of one of the support beams for the bridge’s roof, and started to yank on it viciously, shaking the bridge enough for Scout to momentarily lose his balance. Scout caught himself, and decided that now would be a good time to lure them further away from the base. He ran over the roof of the bridge, towards BLU base, and jumped down with an odd, catlike grace. The BLUs looked over at him, faces painted over with vapid shock. “C’mon and get it, nice and juicy Scout here! You know you wanna piece a’ dis!” Scout shouted mockingly, shaking his ass at them.

The BLUs gave chase, moving much faster now after the loud, annoying meaty thing that was tormenting them so. Scout lead them back through their own base, spewing insults and rooster crows at them. Soon enough, they had disappeared from view.

“NOW!” Medic shouted.

Out of the front of the RED base rushed Heavy, followed by Medic, Engineer, Soldier, Demoman and Pyro. They barreled across the bridge and straight into the BLU base; Heavy, Medic, Soldier and Engineer stopping in front of the first resupply room, and Demoman and Pyro zipping ahead. Engineer dropped his toolbox and quickly started assembling the first sentry.

“SENTRY GOIN’ UP!” Engineer announced.

“DEMO, PYRO, KEEP AVAY FROM ZE SCOUT! UND GOOD LUCK!” Medic shouted after Pyro and Demoman. Demoman turned and gave a mock salute in response, not even breaking his pace, as they headed down the same wooden stairs Scout had mashed his face against earlier, and made their way deeper into the BLU base.

______________________________________________________________


Meanwhile, Spy had swum across the moat between the two bases, getting another perfectly good suit soaking wet. He resented the fact that in a lot of their plans, Spy would wind up in the sewers. By this point, the BLUs had come to expect it, although now having their intel stolen was the least of their concerns. He slunk forward, trying to make as little noise as possible, but being knee deep in water made this difficult.

He made his way around the corner of the sewer tunnel, peering to see if there were any BLUs. The tunnel looked clear enough, although there were some ominous-looking blood stains smeared across the wall. Spy pulled out his pistol and continued to gingerly step forward.

______________________________________________________________


Engineer had finished his first sentry, set up square in front of the first Resupply room when Scout’s cries of panic began to edge closer and closer. When Scout made himself visible, he was running back towards the bridge again, with the four BLUs on his tail from earlier. Heavy turned Sasha onto the bloodthirsty BLUs and let forth a barrage of rapid gun fire, laughing manically. Soldier launched a rocket at the group of them for good measure, and they were all reduced to bloody mounds of flying flesh and bone.

At this point, Engineer realized that the small Level One sentry simply would not be enough to hold back the BLUs, and decided to search for more metal. He looked around, trying to keep his wits about him, and peered around a corner. There were some ammo pickups nearby he could use; he motioned for Heavy to stick by him as he went to fetch them. Engineer rushed back, ammo box under his arm, going back to the tiny, Level One sentry only to see the Resupply room door open again as the respawned BLUs tried to escape. Soldier fired another rocket into the cluster of them, and Heavy once again turned his minigun onto the BLUs. The ones that weren’t blown up were ripped to shreds by Sasha. Engineer hit the Sentry with his wrench as it upgraded to a Level Two. All of this was happening so fast he barely had time to process Medic shouting at him.

“Herr Engineer! Move! Los Weiter!” Medic waved at Engineer urgently, motioning him to follow.

“But the Sentries…”

“No time! Mach schnell!”

Engineer quickly picked up his tool kit and headed downstairs, towards the inner Resupply room.

______________________________________________________________


Downstairs, Spy had made his way into the Intel room, only to find Demoman and Pyro in there, fiddling with a large but crude-looking bomb.

“What are you doing ‘ere?” Spy asked breathlessly.

“Settin’ up th’ bomb, lad, what d’yae think we were doan’?” Demoman answered, looking at Spy as if he were some sort of gibbering lunatic. “Why, what’re you doan’ here?”

“Ze intelligence. Remember?”

“Oh, aye! Ah nearly f’rgot,” Demoman nodded to the desk where the briefcase sat, undisturbed. “S’all yours, mate.”

“Merci.” Spy sprinted over towards the desk, casting a casual glance over at Demoman and Pyro, who were both sitting on the floor over the device. Demoman muttered something to Pyro, who then got up off the floor and rushed off somewhere. Spy strapped the briefcase to his back, not even bothering to acknowledge the explosives expert further, and headed back into the base, towards the infirmary.

Spy found himself running past Engineer and his entourage, as they were no doubt headed for the second Resupply room. Heavy nearly knocked the Frenchman over, swinging around that enormous gun of his around like some sort of giant metal phallus while Medic was shouting commands and generally being loud, so /loud/. Soldier was hunched over, trailing behind, grunting and mumbling to himself. Spy straightened up and headed to the Infirmary.

The door was slightly ajar, and the infirmary was dark. Spy slipped his hand in and found the light switch, flipping it and watching the florescent lights flicker to life. He poked his head inside. The cabinets were emptied, their contents strewn across the floors and many of their doors hanging off of their hinges. The Medic’s desk was placed close by the door at an angle, suggesting that it had been blocking the door at one point, but was pushed back violently. Paperwork littered the ground, some of it had landed in congealing blood puddles, and the examination table was flipped over on its side, its sheets more red than white. The infirmary smelled like rotting meat and death, and Spy found himself holding his breath as he stooped down and sorted through the papers on the floor.

There wasn’t really anything of interest among the papers, mostly papers detailing routine check-ups or minor surgeries on various members of the BLU team. Spy decided to rummage through the actual desk, flipping through files, not sure exactly what he was looking for, but he figured he would know when he saw it. He stopped at a file labeled “LAZARUS.”

He held up the file, examining it for a moment before placing it on the desk. He removed the briefcase off of his back, snapped it open and placed the file inside. He was about to close it when he looked up and noticed a home movie camera on the ground. Not far from it was a slightly cracked tape recorder. Spy rounded the desk and looked over the equipment. He bent down, carefully removing the film reel from the camera. He reached over for the tape recorder when he heard a clatter coming from the sick bay.

He wasn’t alone.

Spy grasped the tape recorder, staring straight at the sick bay door. He backed up slowly, and stood behind the desk, shoving in his finds. He looked down to shut the case, and looked back up to see BLU Engineer standing in the doorway staring at him. His overalls were covered in dark blots of blood that were almost black, dried blood stained his face, and he had a rather large, festering wound on his neck.

“Merde,” Spy hissed.

The Engineer shambled forward, tongue flexing and dribbling with pink saliva, reaching for Spy. Spy clutched the briefcase in his arm and whipped around to run only to see the BLU Sniper standing in front of the tiny medical refrigerator, chewing on a blood transfusion bag. The Sniper, just now noticing the flailing, noisy meat thing in front of him, dropped the bag on the ground with a wet slap, and lurched forward, snarling and clawing at the air like a starving beast. Spy, caught between the two of them, fumbled for his wristwatch and cloaked.

The two BLUs stared at the spot where Spy had just been a few seconds earlier, grunting in confusion. They shuffled around, heads swaying around, searching for the Spy as he tried to leave as quietly as possible, gently pushing the infirmary door open just wide enough for him to slide through before breaking into a run. The sound of footsteps caught the attention of his pursuers, who were now on his trail.

“Aidez-moi! Help! Someone shoot zese blasted zings!” Spy shouted, headed for the BLU Resupply room. Surely, Medic and the others were still there. He rounded the corner, overjoyed to see Medic there, although he was disappointed to see that Medic was alone… and dragging what appeared to be a wriggling body bag.

Medic looked up and turned his head towards the source of the noise. “Herr Spy? Is zat you? Show yourself! I could use a hand here.”

Spy had completely forgotten to decloak. He switched it off and ran to hide behind Medic. “Spy, vhat ah you doing?” Medic asked, his tone tinged with annoyance. Spy merely pointed in front of them, to the BLU Sniper and Engineer. “Ah. So, zat is vhat you vere schreaming about.”

The Sentry in front of the Resupply room beeped and whirred, twirling around to open fire on the BLUs. The bullets ripped through their guts, shredding their torsos open and sending them both staggering back, blood belching out in half-hearted spurts and dribbles. BLU Snipers intestines spilled out and unraveled and Engineer started to spew blood out of his mouth. The doubled over from a loss of balance and each received a volley of bullets in their brains, which soon decorated the nearby walls.

“Wundervoll!” Medic exclaimed victoriously, pumping his fist in the air. He turned to Spy, twisting the bag around so that the opposite end was in front of the Frenchman. “Now zat /zey/ ah out of ze vay, vill you please help me viz zis specimen here?”

“Specimen?” Spy asked, his voice betraying his dread.

“Ja,” Medic replied. “If ve ah to bettah understand ze nature of zis outbreak, it makes sense to have a specimen to shtudy, does it not?”

“Do ze ozzers know?”

“Vell…” Medic shrugged and tried to avert his eyes from those of the Spy, rotating his wrist and trying to think of way to put this gently. “Zey, ah, zey don’t know quite /yet/.”

There was more moaning and thrashing from the body bag, causing Spy to jump back and emit a girlish shriek. Medic burst out into a loud, mirthful laugh.

“Zat is not funny!” Spy shouted. “I do not zink ze ozzers will appreciate you bringing back one of zose… zose /zings/.”

Medic stopped laughing and cleared his throat, straightening his posture. “Spy, please. I am a man of science. Zis is purely for research. I know vhat I am doing.” The thing in the bag let out a furious growl and writhed with more intensity, and Medic kicked it several times before it stopped moving again. “Now, vould you please grab an end of zis und help me get this zhrough ze sewers?”

Spy rolled his eyes and sighed. “Very well zen.” He picked up his end only to find the bag was much lighter than he had expected; Medic probably could have carried it by himself, lazy bastard. “Which one of zem is zis?”

“Ze Scout.”

“But didn’t you say zat ze BLUs ate ze Scout?”

“Vell, zey didn’t eat him all ze vay. He only has vone arm left, but his torso is mostly intact. As long as you do not get close enough for him to bite you, you vill have nozzink to vorry about!”

“Zanks,” Spy said flatly, “zat certainly makes me feel better.”

“Yes, vell, ve have chatted enough. To ze sewers!” Medic said with a triumphant flair, and the two of them side-stepped in the direction of the sewer tunnel.

______________________________________________________________


With the Sentries hammering away at the BLUs in their resupply rooms, the RED team was free to roam the BLU base as they pleased. Engineer made sure to go back and forth between his Sentries, while Soldier, Heavy and Scout were pretty much carrying out anything that wasn’t nailed to the floor. Pyro emerged from RED base, carrying two tanks of kerosene and waited patiently outside of the BLU base.

Pyro sat down on the ground and twiddled his thumbs. Heavy and Soldier ran out, carrying armfuls of food and ammo, and Scout followed behind, slowed down trying to carry a television set. “Yrrr nuuhh hrrrpp wrrff daahh?” Pyro asked.

“What?” Scout asked, stopping to turn to Pyro.

Pyro gestured to the television set that Scout was holding. “Durr hee vee. Yrr nuuhh hrrrp?”

“Oh. The TV. Nah, man, I got it,” Scout grunted as he shifted the weight of the television and scuttled off.

The fire starter looked up to the roof at Sniper. Sniper didn’t seem to be moving much, still leaning out of the hatch on the roof and staring through his scope. Pyro knew that being up on the roof in the sun like that could do things to a man’s brain, and tried to get Snipers attention by jumping up and waving his arms. No response. Pyro padded the ground for a pebble, and upon finding one, stood up and chucked it at the roof. The pebble bounced off, startling the assassin, who tore himself away from his scope and looked down. Pyro waved his hand up at Sniper, motioning him to come down from there. Sniper stared at Pyro for a moment, then simply shook his head and turned back to his scope.

Something was wrong with Sniper. Pyro knew his teammates fairly well, and while Sniper was fond of staring at his scope for hours from his roost, he wouldn’t want to be out in the sun up on the roof longer than he needed to be. That, and there was something subtle in Snipers movements that suggested that something was bothering him. Pyro didn’t have much time to think about it, as he noticed Medic and Spy coming out from RED base, Spy looking very pissed off and Medic looking quite chipper. Pyro cocked his head curiously, not unlike a dog, as he wondered why they had come out from the RED base, and what had upset Spy.

“Ah, Herr Pyro! How ah zings moving along?” Medic greeted Pyro with a very wide grin that usually meant Medic was up to something.

“Drrmrrmmnn usshh shttuuhh wttnnggh frrr yrrr gsshh trrr fnnssshh nngh thurrr bssh.” Pyro murmured.

“Vell, I cannot understand vhat you just said, but from your tone, I take it zings ah going shmoothly!” Medic said, patting Pyro affectionately on the head. Pyro merely sighed.

Demoman emerged from the BLU base, ushering out a flustered Engineer. As the Texan skittered out, clutching his toolbox, Demoman took an overly dramatic swig from his scrumpy bottle and let out a satisfied sigh. “A’right, Pyro, s’all yers. Git t’ work.”

Pyro jumped up excitedly, grabbing the two kerosene tanks and galloping inside BLU base. He hastily unscrewed the cap off of the first tank, and splashed it on the floor generously, making his way backwards towards the heart of the base while still clutching the second tank. Demoman had explained that the bomb alone might not be enough to destroy the building completely, since it was too dangerous to build a bomb big enough to take out all of the BLU base without damaging RED’s. The explosion, starting from the intel room, would help take out enough of the foundation, and destroy a good chunk of the building, but in order to destroy it completely, fire would be needed. Pyro was a bit disappointed he couldn’t drop the match to start it; Demo would be the one triggering the explosion via remote, when the time was right.

As far as the fire spreading out of control, Pyro had set enough fires here to know how the wind behaved in this area. Usually at night this time of the year, there would be a cooler, gentle breeze coming up from the north, which was the direction RED base was facing. With luck, the wind would blow the fire back away from REDs side, maybe even sparing the rickety wooden bridge.

Pyro had made his way just in front of the BLU intel room when his first tank ran out. He tossed it aside, squatting down to unscrew the second tanks cap. He could hear Engineers second sentry still firing at the other Resupply room, and frustrated groans of the enemy BLUs. Pyro wasn’t entirely sure what to make of what happened to the BLUs. Medic was convinced it was some kind of disease, Scout and Demoman seemed convinced that they were zombies (Demoman referred to them as such during their initial planning on the bomb, and Pyro didn’t bother to correct him), and Soldier, well, Soldier didn’t really seem to care /what/ they were, only that they were BLUs and needed to be defeated. As he started to splash more kerosene around the intel room, Pyro mused on the matter further. They were being paid to defeat the BLUs, not completely destroy them. What would happen to them after this? Would they get to go home? Would they be penalized for their actions? Would BLU simply rebuild and send in more recruits and just go about business as usual? Surely, RED would understand that this was a matter of life and death, that taking out the BLUs was necessary to their survival. Right?

Right?

Pyro stopped for a moment, looking out of the intel room window and at the BLU map in the communications room. It looked just like theirs in RED base, only with a different hue. Funny, really. Actually, a lot of things about BLU and RED were pretty much identical, aside from the obvious difference in color.

No, wait. No time to start letting his thoughts wander. He had a job to do, and this place needed to go up in flames fast. They couldn’t afford to let any of these diseased cannibal lepers or zombies or whatever they were escape. More kerosene was splashed around, and he made his way back up, now just leaving a trail of it until the tank ran dry. Hopefully, it would be enough, although Pyro wished he had more tanks to use. But time was of the essence, and those sentries were going to run out of ammo eventually.

Pyro jogged outside, running across the bridge and joining the others just inside of the RED base. Medic was doing a head count to make sure that everyone was present.

“Let’s see,” Medic said, pointing at each member of the team as he called them off. “Heavy, Soldier, Scout, Engineer, Pyro, Demoman, Spy… vhere is Sniper?”

“Still on the roof,” Scout said. “Should I go get 'im?”

“Ach, I should have known. Alvays ze lone volf, zat vone,” Medic sighed. “Nein, Scout, if he vishes to shtay up zere, zen leave him. Demo?”

Medic didn’t need to say anything further. Demoman strode out, standing in the open air, savoring the moment. He sucked on the end of his index finger for a moment, then held it up in the air. The wind was already starting to pick up slightly, headed south. The explosions expert grinned, and opened up on of his side pouches just above his hip, removing the detonator for what would no doubt be one of his finest works. Not his magnum opus, sadly; it was simply too much of a rush job. But, considering the circumstances, it would still be one of his crowning achievements. Demoman held out the detonator, and pressed the button with a clean, swift motion of his thumb.

The blast ripped through the intel room, igniting the kerosene and taking out the ceiling above it, causing the above rooms to collapse and crumble inwards into the spreading flames. The kerosene trails ignited instantly, roaring to life and engulfing the interior of the BLU base. The upper resupply room had already been destroyed, the trapped BLUs falling down into the hungry blaze as they screeched in agony and confusion and their rotting flesh sizzled and melted. The second resupply room was still guarded by a faithful sentry, which exploded when shortly after the fire surged towards it. The bits of hot shrapnel flew into the respawn room and into the bodies of the BLU Sniper and Engineer. Moments later, more walls crumbled inwards, crushing the second resupply room under tons of flaming debris.

The RED team was cheering and whooping victoriously. Demoman laughed maniacally, throwing his head back and doing an impromptu jig. Soldier waved his shovel around over his head, screeching and hollering incoherently. Scout started sounding off with a rooster crow, and smacked Engineer on the back, who was laughing heartily. Heavy picked Medic up off the ground and swung him around before planting a kiss on his cheek and letting out a hearty bellow, and Medic just sighed and hugged the bear of a man back. Pyro was pumping his fist in the air as he ran out, dropping to his knees and laughing as he basked in the glory of the yellow and orange tongues of flame licking at the BLU base. Sniper, who was still on the roof, started cheering and yelling insults at the BLUs, feeling a wave of relief wash over him. Only Spy seemed to look over all of this with a sense of cool detachment, merely looking on as took a drag from his cigarette and blew out little smoke rings.

The BLU base would continue to burn on as the sun started to set, and the members of the RED team treated it as though it were a giant bonfire. Bottles of Blue Streak were cracked open, Engineer brought out his guitar, and everyone got properly drunk and danced into the night. Sniper came down from the roof shortly after the he heard his teammates talking about getting drunk and was spending most of the night knocking back beers and trading stories with Soldier and Demoman. Scout was bugging Engineer to play some Bob Dylan on his guitar, despite Engineers repeated refusals, and Spy was simply watching the two of them with passing interest. Medic was snuggling up against Heavy and the two of them seemed to talk less and fawn over each other more with each swig of beer. The only one not getting drunk was Pyro, who after a while simply sat on the ground and watched the BLU base burn, as a child might watch a television set.

No other victory against the BLUs could ever beat the high that RED got from this. Today, they had done something that none of them would have even considered doing; at least, not seriously. They had killed the BLUs for good. Tomorrow, they would deal with their hangovers and the consequences of such drastic measures. But that was tomorrow. Tonight was theirs. They were the victors, the champions, the kings of their domain. They were invincible, and no one could tear them down.

______________________________________________________________


BLU Spy was dying. He didn’t want to admit it, though. In his mind, there was still a glimmer of hope; if he could reach civilization, he could be saved. He wanted nothing more than to be in a nice, warm bed, in between clean sheets and with his head on a nice, firm pillow. Not out here, in the desert, clutching an infected wound on his arm and dying of thirst. My God, he was thirsty.

It had been the Engineer that had bit him, and it figured. Everyone else had turned into a monster after they were bitten, and Spy knew that he, too, would turn, but he would never admit it. His mind was deluded from fever. He wouldn’t turn. He was better than the others. He could fight it. He fought it this long, hadn’t he?

He and Scout were the only ones to survive, until that idiot RED Soldier had blown up Scout with that blasted rocket launcher. Scout would respawn, and no doubt find himself among those /things/, and they would tear the poor boy apart. Better him than I, Spy had thought darkly. The REDs had foolishly tried to come into the base, only to come face to face with the monsters. Fortunately, this provided an opportunity for Spy to escape. There were periods of time, though, where he would black out, finding himself somewhere he didn’t remember being a minute ago. When he snuck out to escape, he knew the RED Sniper had seen him. He heard the missed shots. And yet, he still made it out, cutting out a hole in the chain-link, barbed-wired fence. The fence was supposed to keep civilians out, despite there not being any of them for about six miles, but it seemed to function more like a cage. Spy didn’t even remember how he cut a hole in the fence; he didn’t think he had the tools necessary. He had blacked out again, and when he came to, there was a hole, and he crawled through. Now, he was free.

But this freedom did him no good. He was delirious, seeing things, feverish and parched. He mumbled incoherently and hugged himself, not even sure what he was saying. He wanted to go home, speak his native tongue, maybe see the family he had abandoned so long ago in favor of a life of espionage. But home and his family were a million miles away. He wanted to cry. So hot, so thirsty, so tired, and in so much pain… Spy wanted his mother.

Eventually, it all became too much. He fell to his knees, shivering and crying, tears and snot running down his face, and he flopped onto the ground. He curled into a fetal position, murmuring in French before his body started to jerk and seize and the pain burned white hot throughout his entire body. His eyes shot open wide, and suddenly he could see his home, in a small village, his mother calling his name with open arms, and the sun was so bright and everything was yellow and green and warm…

And then he was home.
>> No. 24
When Sniper woke up, he was on his bed in the roost, fully clothed and lying on top of his sheets. The sun was up, and it probably had been up for several hours. The rays were harsh on Snipers eyes, and he pawed for his aviators. They had been folded neatly on nightstand, and Sniper almost knocked over a jar of piss trying to retrieve them. Medic once told the assassin that his habit of collecting his own urine and keeping it lying around was probably a sign of obsessive compulsion. Maybe it was. The doctor had tried to dispose of his jars once, and Sniper found himself going into a fit of rage over it; when he was challenged as to why he could ever possibly want to keep a bunch of mason jars filled with piss around in his room, the only response he could think of was “Ya never know when ya might need it.” Sniper realized that, in retrospect, that it was a pretty stupid answer.

He put his aviators on, swung his legs over the edge of the bed, and grabbed his rarely used alarm clock. It was half-past ten, which wasn’t really bad, considering the amount of alcohol that was poured down his throat last night, but most everybody would be up by now and there’d probably be nothing left as far as breakfast was concerned. He set the alarm clock down, stretched out his back with a satisfying crack, and got up to look out the window.

The charred remains of BLU base jutted out of the ground, black against the sky like thick inky brush strokes against a canvas of yellow-brown and blue. Sniper didn’t remember witnessing when the flames died out, but there still seemed to be smoke hovering over the rubble. He could see Pyro looking around the wreckage, strolling casually like a normal person would stroll through a park on a nice spring day. Sniper smirked at the thought. Pyro was a weird little bugger, all right, but he was nice enough, and he usually looked out for everybody more than anybody else really noticed.

But even with his sunglasses, being out in the sun too long was hurting his head. At least it was relatively quiet. Sniper turned on his heel and walked downstairs, headed for the kitchen. He needed coffee. He could deal without food for now. The wooden stairs creaked underneath his boots with each step as he walked down. Goddamned rickety steps, he thought. Just about everything wooden in RED base seemed to be splintery or old or creaky or on the verge of snapping. Shame they had to burn down BLU base to the ground. Their base had a nice set up.

After a brief trek, Sniper finally made his way to the kitchen, and opened the door to see Scout, sitting on one of the counters with a sandwich in one hand and an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man in the other. Scout looked up at Sniper upon his arrival, jumped and tried to hide the comic book. “Jesus, man, don’t sneak up on me like that!”

“S’not my fault you’re a jumpy little bastard,” Sniper grumbled. “Whatcha readin’?”

“Nothin’,” Scout said, holding the book behind his back.

“S’a funny book, innit it? With superheroes?” Sniper walked past Scout to the coffee brewer, reaching for a can of grounds and a filter. “We all know ya read ‘em, s’not even worth the effort to hide it.”

Scout cringed a bit, and bashfully produced the comic book from behind his back. “It’s Spider-Man. Promise you’re not gonna tell Spy? He’s always raggin’ on me about reading this stuff.”

Sniper smiled. “Naw, mate, I won’t tell ‘im.” He scooped several spoonfuls of ground decaf into the filter, then placed it in the brewer and switched it on. “Not familiar with Spider-Man. Had an uncle in th’ States that used t’ send me issues of Batman ‘n Superman when I was younger. He anythin’ like them?”

“Nah, man, Spider-Man’s different,” Scout said, becoming excited at the chance to actually talk about comic books with someone who actually wanted to listen. “Spider-Man was this nerdy kid named Peter Parker, and when he was in high school, he got bit by a radioactive spider and got spider powers. He can climb up walls and he’s got this spider sense that lets him know when he’s in danger and he’s also super-strong and stuff. And he made these web-shooters, so he can swing around New York City like Tarzan in the jungle. But when he first got his powers, he used them to try and make money as a TV star, and then his Uncle Ben got killed. Spider-Man was an orphan, see, and he was raised by his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. And when his Uncle Ben got killed by this burglar that Spider-Man could have stopped, but he didn’t, he learns that with great power comes great responsibility, so he goes and fights crime and stuff.”

“Fascinatin’.” Sniper couldn’t help but admire Scout’s enthusiasm about the subject. “He sounds a little bit like Batman.”

“Yeah, but Batman’s a billionaire, and he doesn’t have any powers. Spider-Man’s just a kid trying to get through college now, and he doesn’t have a Spider-Mobile or anything like that. It’s like, he’s trying to fight bad guys like the Green Goblin or Dr. Octopus or the Sandman, but he’s also trying to get good grades and deal with dating and having a job.” Scout caught himself, and looked embarrassed. “Uh, am I talkin’ your ear off too much?”

“Well, I’m a little hungover, but you’re not screamin’ in my ear, and all things considered, I’m in a pretty good mood.” Sniper leaned back on the counter and gave Scout a reassuring look. “So, go ahead.”

Scout let out a nervous laugh. “Heh, thanks.” He swung his legs a bit and looked down. “You think that’s the last we’ll see of those zom-uh, things?”

“They’re pretty much zombies. ‘A rose by any other name would still smell as sweet,’ an’ all that.” Sniper noticed Scout was giving him a quizzical look. “It’s Shakespeare, mate. I’m tryin’ t’ say that no matter what ya call ‘em, they’re still pretty much zombies, no matter what Medic or anybody else says.”

“Oh,” Scout chuckled. “’Cause I was gonna say, the last thing I’d compare a zombie to would be a rose, man.”

Sniper laughed. The coffee was slowly percolating, and already the smell was permeating through the small kitchen. He took a deep whiff. “So,” Sniper turned back to Scout, “where’s ev’rybody else?”

“Pyro’s outside, lookin’ around what’s left of the BLU base. Not sure what he’s lookin’ for. I think Demoman is still out there, too, he said he wanted to make sure that the zombies were gonna stay dead.” Scout took a bite out of the sandwich he had almost completely forgotten he was holding, and chewed it a bit before speaking again. “Soldier’s holed up in the War Room, don’t know what he’s up to. Engineer is tryin’ to get in touch with HQ and figure out what we’re gonna do from here. Heavy an’ Medic, well, they’re in the Infirmary, not sure I /wanna/ know what they’re doin’. An’ Spy, I don’t even know where he is most of the time. Maybe buggin’ Engineer.” He took another bite of his sandwich, this time not even bothering to chew all the way before speaking again. “Tha’sh it, I fink.”

“ACHTUNG! RED TEAM!” Medic’s voice rang out in the hallway before the German doctor suddenly appeared in the kitchen doorway, with a very large, unsettling smile spread across his face. “Ah! Scout! Sniper! Come quickly, I have somezing to show everyvone in ze infirmary! Mach schnell!” The good doctor jogged off, continuing to yell for the rest of the RED team.

“Ho man,” Scout hopped off the counter. “I gotta see this.”

“Anything that gets Medic looking that cheery is nothing I want to be a part of,” Sniper groaned. “I don’t think we’re gonna to have much of a choice, though.” Scout didn’t seem to hear him, as he was already running downstairs. Sniper noticed the coffee had stopped brewing, and poured a cup in his “#1 SNIPER” mug before resigning himself to whatever horrors Medic no doubt had in store.

______________________________________________________________


“You’d better have a damn good reason for pulling me down here, you crazy Kraut bastard,” Soldier was standing at attention, although his arms were crossed and he was giving Medic a Look. “Shovel and I were discussing something some very urgent, very classified information.”

“Yeah, Doc, what’s goin’ on?” Scout asked, restlessly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. All the members of RED team were gathered in the main room of the infirmary, with the exception of Heavy. The absence of the Russian did not go unnoticed, though no one in the room felt the need to say anything. No doubt Heavy would be playing some part in this presentation.

Medic cleared his throat and puffed out his chest. “First, I vould like to zank you all for coming, Danke schön, everyvone.”

“Well, bein’ as it was you callin’ us down, I didn’t think we’d have much of a choice anyway,” Sniper interjected, before taking a sip of his coffee. There was some muted laughter before Medic spoke up again.

“As I vas saying before I vas so rudely interrupted by Sniper,” Medic glared at the assassin over his glasses, “Ze outbreak zat occurred at ze BLU base recently seems to be some new disease zat has not previously been recorded. As a man of science, I felt zat ze opportunity to better study ze nature of zis disease should not be allowed to slip by.” Medic started to pace as he walked, his gait turning into a rooster-like strut. “So, I zink to myself, ‘Medic, how vill you go about shtudying such a disease?’ And zen I answer, ‘Vhy, you must go und get a specimen suffering from ze disease!’ Of course! But a subject is needed zat vill be easy to vork viz.” The dawning look of horror on the faces of his teammates made the doctor chuckle.

“Oh, ye dinnit’ go an…” Demoman’s voice trailed off when Medic held up his hand to cut the explosions expert off.

The doctor continued, “Obviously, ze more intact victims vould be out of ze question. Somevone more immobile is needed. Somevone who it will be easy to make sure you do not get bitten by zem. Fortunately, zere vas vone such victim. Heavy?”

“Da, Doktor?” Heavy said, from behind the doors of the sickbay.

“Please bring out ze specimen!”

The door opened as Heavy backed out, and groaning and rasping could be heard as he pulled out a stretcher with a writhing, pallid figure strapped to it. Medic beamed with joy as Heavy wheeled out the BLU Scout, restrained with taut leather straps and thrashing wildly. Even if the BLU Scout hadn’t been strapped down, he wouldn’t have gotten very far; his legs seemed to have been ripped from their sockets like a man would rip out a drumstick from a turkey, leaving bloody stumps that were already starting to rot. His right arm, too, had been torn off, and his intestines were shredded and flopping about outside of his stomach wall. His eyes were cloudy and glazed over, and there was dried blood around his mouth and on his shirt. Medic leaned over this hideous, monstrous reanimated corpse and looked down upon him with an almost affectionate look in his eyes, much to the unease of his fellow REDs.

“Holy mother of God,” Engineer’s voice trembled as he looked down at what used to be the BLU Scout. “Doc, why would you even…”

“For science, of course!” Medic cut the Texan off. “My zheory is zat zis is a virus, gentlemen, und is contagious. It is spread from person to person from ze biting. So far, ze tests on vhezzah or not it can be spread by say, ingesting blood of ze infected have been inconclusive. Our own Scout tested negative for ze virus, despite ze fact zat he may have had contact viz ze infected blood orally or zhrough his own vounds.”

“Well, ah… thanks, Doc. That’s… reassuring.” Scout was too busy feeling a cold knot twisting in his stomach from the malaise caused by his BLU counterpart, who now seemed to be looking at him with those dead, glassy eyes. “I think I’m gonna blow chunks.”

Medic chuckled, “Ah, it is a shame that you cannot share ze same enzusiam for zis venture as I do, Scout. But zat has come to be expected, I zink.”

“You’re bloody daft bringin’ one a’ those zombies in ‘ere, Medic,” Demoman said ominously.

“ZIS IS NOT A ZOMBIE!” Medic slammed his fist down in anger, only to have it land in the guts of the BLU Scout. This caused the monster to hiss in what might have been pain, and Medic coolly removed his gloved hand from the mess of organs, and wiped it on the gurney’s sheet. He cleared his throat, “Resurrection after brain ze brain dies is impossible. Ze brain is severely damaged in ze subject, but it is not dead. Interestingly, ze virus seems to function in a vay zat is unprecedented in any disease I know of, since ze subject can shtill be alive even if ze internal organs are severely damaged. Blood loss, hemorrhaging, even decay of ze flesh seem to be irrelevant. If ze brain is alive, zen ze subject lives on. My alternate zheory is zat it may be ze work of a parasite-”

“Ach, cut th’ crap, ye bastard. Ah know a zombie when ah see one, an’ ah’m lookin’ at one strapped t’ a gurney flailin’ aboot like a fish outta water,” Demoman sneered at the BLU Scout. “S’bad trouble, bringin’ in one a’ th’ livin’ dead intae here like that, Medic.”

“As long as no vone tries to do anything shtupid like releasing him or letting him get close enough to bite you, zere vill be no trouble,” Medic was speaking deliberately, trying to sound calm and composed, but the fact that so many of his teammates insisted on calling his specimen a zombie was grating on him. “Besides, zis is coming from a man who claims zat ze Loch Ness Monstah is responsible for his parents death and zat he vas abducted by aliens… how many times vas it again, Demoman?”

“Three times!” Demoman shouted angrily. “An’ that slimy reptilian beastie’ll pay fer what he put me through! Ah don’ care if ye b’lieve me or noe, that’s go’ nothin’ t’ do wi’ this righ’ ‘ere!” He pointed at the BLU Scout for emphasis.

“Demo’s right, mate,” Sniper piped up. “I mean, you didn’t even bother tellin’ any of us this before. And I can’t say I feel terribly comfortable livin’ in the same space as a zombie.”

“Please, shtop using zat vord.” There was the faintest hint of pleading in Medic’s voice. Heavy gave Sniper a threatening glance and growled a bit.

“Well, that’s pretty much what it is, innit?” The Australian lowered his aviators and peered at Medic over them, ignoring Heavy. “It’s a bloody walkin’ corpse that tries to eat yer flesh off and you turn inta one when ya get bit by it. You’re pretty much just arguing over semantics at this point.”

“Hey now,” Engineer interrupted, “fightin’ like this isn’t gonna do anything. I can see why he did it, I mean, I can’t imagine anybody bein’ too keen on takin’ in a… thing like that.”

“A zombie,” said Demoman.

“Let’s… let’s just not call it that,” Engineer said, sounding as if he were about to walk barefoot on a floor covered in eggshells. “It doesn’t matter what it is. Medic’s gonna study it. Heck, maybe we could even get some kinda vaccine for it, or find a way to reverse it. We don’t know where this came from or how it got started or anything. We got a responsibility to find out as much about this as we can, and, gosh darn it, the Doc here is probably the right man for the job.” Engineer turned towards Medic and tried to give him a reassuring smile. “Right, Doc?”

“Danke, Herr Engineer,” Medic sighed. “So glad zat anuzzah scientist can appreciate vhat I am trying to do here.”

“Can I say somethin’ here?” Scout piped up.

“Vhat is it, Scout?” Medic was becoming a little annoyed at this point.

“I think Demoman and Sniper are right about this zombie. Like, in every monster movie I saw as a kid, the scientist tries to capture the monster and study it, y’know, for science or somethin’, and then the monster gets loose and kills a whole bunch of people and then the scientists are all like ‘Why did we tamper in God’s domain?’ or something like that. And it’s up to the hero to blow it up or shoot it or something.”

Medic just stared at Scout with a raised eyebrow. “You ah serious.” This was less a question than it was an accurate statement.

“Uh… yeah?”

Spy had been standing against the wall the entire meeting, and he suddenly went into a fit of barely stifled laughter. He was doubling over, wiping tears from his eyes before he caught his breath again. “And what do you zink ‘e is going to do, Scout? Drag ‘imself across ze floor and gnaw on your feet? Look out for ze stumpy little monster, Scout! ‘E is coming for your feet! Not like you can outrun him or anyzing!” And he started to laugh again.

Heavy started to chuckle as well. “Heh heh, ‘stumpy.’. Is funny word.” He looked down at the BLU Scout and looked him in the eyes. “You hear, Stumpy? Don’t go eating Scout.” The BLU Scout merely gnashed his teeth and rasped at Heavy.

At this point, Medic had given up, covering his face with the palm of his hand and sighing. His intellect was wasted on this team. Well, Engineer was probably on his level, but their two disciplines were very different, and Engineer didn’t really seem to understand Medic’s methods very well. And Heavy… ah, his Heavy did not have much patience for scientific study, although he would help with the doctor’s experiments and listen patiently as the doctor talked enthusiastically about medical procedures, the Russian would eventually change the subject to fighting or Communism, or just bypass that completely and start kissing Medic on the neck and undoing his tie. The rest of them? Demoman didn’t seem to care much for science beyond basic chemistry and the pseudo-science of cryptozoology, Sniper could barely even grasp the concept of basic hygiene, Scout seemed to have learned everything he knew about science from movies and comic books, Spy simply didn’t care, Soldier had no patience for anything not directly related to the immediate destruction of his perceived enemies, and Pyro… well, he seemed to care about setting things on fire and watching Star Trek and not much else. “I do not even know vhy I bozzer viz you dummkopfs. Almost none of you can appreciate vhat I am doing. Any of it. Just leave.”

The other members of RED team exchanged confused glances before heading out of the infirmary, while Heavy wheeled the BLU Scout back into the sickbay without even being told. Medic could swear he heard Soldier grumble something about the BLUs and the doctor being a maggot. Sniper was one of the last to leave, prompting the doctor to remember something. “Ah! Sniper! Don’t leave just yet. Zere vas somezing I wanted to talk to you about.”

The assassin jolted in his step at first, then slowly turned around to face Medic. “Make it quick, mate, I, ah, got business to attend to.”

“You didn’t happen to see anyzing odd vhen you were up on ze roof yesterday, did you, Herr Sniper?” Medic’s tone was parental, almost sweet in a very disturbing sort of way.

Sniper shook his head and went to take a sip of coffee. “Not particularly. Why d’you ask?”

“Ze BLU Spy vas missing.”

Sniper almost choked on his coffee. Medic’s expression didn’t change, his eyes half-lidded and his expression otherwise somber. Again, Sniper was shaking his head, this time more to be able to breathe comfortably. “How d’you even know that?” He sputtered.

“I vent zhrough ze entire base killing ze BLUs und made sure zat zay vere all disposed of. Und I saw every single vone of zem except ze Spy.” Medic’s eyes narrowed. “You didn’t happen to /see/ him, did you, Herr Sniper?”

“No, mate. Didn’t see him. Must’a been cloaked.” Sniper looked down at his feet and scratched the back of his head with his free hand, “’M’sorry.”

“Zat’s all I vanted to know.” Medic nodded towards the door, “You may leave.”

Again Sniper cautiously turned to leave the infirmary, casting the occasional wary glance back at the German doctor before closing the door. The doctor listened as the sound of footsteps in the hall began to fade away. Heavy, who had been listening in from just inside the sickbay, reemerged and gently closed the door behind him.

“He vas lying to you, Doktor,” the Russian stated flatly.

“Ja, I know, meine Liebling. Sniper is not very good at deception. Only hiding.” Medic walked to his desk, not feeling nearly as energetic as he had at the start of the meeting. “I zink he is trying to shield his pride. He knows I saw zhrough him. I could see it all ovah is face.” He flopped down in his chair, folded his arms on the desktop and rested his head with a sigh.

Heavy stroked the doctor’s hair with his giant hand, trying to soothe him. “BLU Spy could not last out in desert. Doktor vorries over nothing. Relax.”

“I hope you ah right, Heavy.” Medic breathed, purring a bit as Heavy started to scratch the back of his neck, along his hairline. “Mmmm. Sometimes I feel like I have ze most zankless job on zis team.”

“Don’t say that.” Heavy pulled up the chair that sat beside the desk, and sat down. The chair gave a little creak under his weight. “Team is nothing vithout Doktor. You came up vit plan to kill BLUs. You heal us. Team needs you.”

“Und yet, I shtill feel like I am just playing nursemaid to a bunch of shcreaming, fighting Problemkinder.” He turned his head as Heavy continued to scratch his neck. “If it vere not for you, Heavy, I vould have smozzahed all of zese idiots in zeir sleep already.”

“Doktor does not mean that. You’re just grumpy.” Heavy planted a quick peck onto Medic’s forehead. “You care about team. All of team. And team cares about you. They just do not show it. Trust me.”

Medic hummed pleasantly under Heavy’s hand. Such big, strong hands he had, and yet they were capable of being so gentle. “Mmmm, meine Kuschelbär… you ah so good to me.”

“I try, Doktor. You deserve best.”

A long, agonized groan erupted from the sick bay. Medic jumped a little bit at this, having almost completely forgotten about the BLU Scout. Heavy smirked, “Do not vorry, Doktor. I vill protect you from Stumpy. Am strong enough to beat Stumpy to death vit last arm.”

The doctor smiled. “Mein hero.” He kissed Heavy on the cheek, then adjusted himself in his chair to sit up straighter, and opened one of the drawers in the desk to take out a blue briefcase and lay it on the desktop. He popped the locks open and the briefcase sprang open, revealing a slightly cracked tape recorder and a film reel, as well as several papers and a manilla folder.

“BLU intelligence?” Asked Heavy.

“Ja, as vell as some zings Spy recovered from ze BLU infirmary. I have not had ze time to look ovah zem yet.” Medic removed the tape recorder and film from the briefcase, and picked up the folder labeled “LAZARUS.” “I zink zey vill yield some vital information as to vhat exactly ve ah dealing viz. Especially zis.” He handed Heavy the folder. “Do you recognize ze title at all?”

Heavy held the folder in his hands and his brow furrowed. “Lazarus. Is Bible story? Dead man coming back to life?” He shrugged. "Heard... vhat is vord? Missionary? Heard missionary vonce. He mentioned zat man. Silly story. He got sent to gulag. Never thought about it since."

“Vell... basicaly, yes. Ze reference is to ze miracle Jesus performed on a man named Lazarus, bringing a dead man back from his grave.” Medic rubbed his chin. “Seems like ze BLU Medic vas very ambitious to be vorking on playing God.”

“Vhy bother? We can respawn. Is vaste of time,” Heavy snorted. “Besides, do not know much about Bible anyvay. Church is drug of people.”

“Ze quote is ‘Religion is ze opiate of ze masses.’ Marx said zat,” Medic gently corrected the Russian. “And I suppose ve vill not find out until ve go zhrough all of zis. Ve ah going to have a very busy afternoon, I should zink.”

“Vas hoping ve could spend afternoon doing /other/ things, Doktor.” Heavy stroked Medics thigh, leering at him.

“Ach! It’s alvays about sex viz you, isn’t it? Zis is important! Zat can vait!” Medic handed Heavy the film reel. “Ze film projector. It’s somevhere around ze base. Go find it.” Heavy sulked at this, accepting the tape recorder half-heartedly, and Medic rolled his eyes. “Vhen ve ah done going ovah all of zis, maybe zen ve have fun. Sound good?”

Heavy beamed. “Doktor alvays knows best medicine.”

______________________________________________________________


The vultures swooped in lazy circles over their find in the noontime sun, making sure that there were no others trying to stake a claim on the carrion baking on the dusty ground. There were two of the birds, and despite the fact that there was enough meat to feed them both, they squawked at each other, trying to drive the other off. The first finally flapped down onto the ground, ripping through blue, pinstriped cloth with its powerful beak to get to the meat beneath it. The other vulture swooped down and screeched at the first, spreading its shimmering black wings in order to make itself appear larger. The first retaliated with the same tactic, and they started to lash at each other with open beaks.

They were too distracted by this battle to react to their meal suddenly lunging at the first bird and grabbing the raptor by the throat in its teeth. The other bird shrieked and flew off, leaving the first to have its neck quickly snapped and the bare flesh devoured hastily.

BLU Spy ripped through the bird with his bare hands and his teeth alone, getting mouthfuls of black feathers soaked in blood as he crunched through hollow bone and chewy gristle. He needed meat; fresh, raw, squirming meat with thick hot blood and squishy organs. He did not remember who he was, where he was from, or even /what/ he was. The only thoughts he had were to eat meat, and how good the meat he was eating tasted. It was like heaven, or at least the closest thing the BLU Spy could imagine. As he ate, he grunted and smacked his lips, and yet he was still so starving, still needing more. In what felt like mere minutes, Spy had torn the bird to shreds, trying to lick any scraps of tissue off of the bones. There was nothing left besides feathers and bones. Spy felt empty still. There was nothing, now, he wasn’t eating, and it felt so good to eat meat.

He needed more.

He slowly tried to get up, feeling wobbly and off balance. His bones ached so much, they were so stiff and uncooperative, and his body didn’t move the way he wanted it to. He staggered forward in the direction he was facing when he collapsed. A thought flickered in his head, briefly, of something yellow and green and warm; something good. And it had to be in the direction he was facing when he woke up. Maybe that meant there would be more meat that way. His legs jerked and quaked as he got used to the sensation of walking, and he started to realize that not eating hurt him. Finding food became more and more important, and he slowly gained more control over his motor skills with each step forward. A guttural noise came out of his throat, as if to call out to the meat to come to him.

The surviving vulture happened to soar over the blue dead thing that wasn’t really dead, and noticed the remains of his rival. There wasn’t even anything left to eat, that greedy blue dead thing. It smelled like it was dead, looked like it was dead, and it was dead until it got up and started to move. Although the vulture was still hungry, and though the dead thing smelled so ripe and ready to eat, it knew it couldn’t get any closer. The raptor rode a breeze and ascended into the sky, heading in the opposite direction of the blue dead thing, towards the north.

Anywhere that blue dead thing was headed was a place to be avoided.
>> No. 50
“This is RED Engineer, Announcer, do you read me?”

There was nothing but silence from the other end of the radio. Engineer had been trying to contact the Announcer on and off for the past few hours. She was their go-between to the RED HQ, and was largely in charge of scheduling the missions and the arrival of the supply trains. And yet, nobody had ever seen her face; only heard her voice booming over the loud speakers, and she had been strangely silent since the beginning of the mission yesterday.

“Dang it, woman, would it kill ya t’ answer?” Engineer grumbled to himself. He set down the transceiver and sighed.

“’Aving some trouble there, laborer?”

“GAH!” Engineer jolted and whirled around to see Spy behind him. “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, you startled me. Why can’t you stop sneaking up on me like that and knock like a civilized human being?”

“Because zat wouldn’t be any fun.” Spy leaned on his helmet and picked up the transceiver. “You are going about zis ze wrong way. Let me try.”

“Good luck.” Engineer scoffed. “She hasn’t answered me once. I’m startin’ to get a mite worried.”

Spy ignored the Texans warning, and pressed the call button. “’Allo, Madame Announcer? Zis is ze Spy. ‘Ow are you today, my good lady?”

For a few moments, there was only silence. “I told you she hasn’t been answering,” said Engineer.

“Well, good afternoon, Spy,” The Announcers voice purred from the radio. “How have you been?”

“I cannot complain too much. I’m sure you already know ze situation wiz ze BLU team.” Spy cast a snarky glance at Engineer.

“How did you even…” Engineer was cut off by the Announcer before he could even finish.

“Yes, I am well aware. I certainly appreciate the enthusiasm. Unfortunately, this throws a bit of a wrench into our gears, if you’ll pardon the expression.”

The Frenchman laughed. “I understand, Madame. Engineer and I, we were simply curious as to ‘ow we are to proceed from ‘ere. What are your orders?”

“RED team is to hold their position at the base until ordered otherwise,” the Announcer said curtly. “That is all. Announcer, out.”

“Zank you, Madame. RED Spy, out.” Spy placed the transceiver back into its cradle and shrugged at Engineer. “You ‘eard ze lady. We are to stay put. Zat is all.”

“Why’d she respond when you called her?” Engineer asked, raising an eyebrow. “I’ve been trying on an’ off since I got up this mornin’.”

“Per’aps, laborer, it is because she simply does not like ze uncouth, uncultured working man.” Spy snickered. “Eleven PhDs and no charisma. Such a pity.”

Engineer stood up from his chair and glared at Spy. “Hey now, that’s just uncalled for. Why can’t you just-” Spy cloaked before Engineer could finish, leaving the Texan standing there with his jaw hanging open. He shook his head and sat back down at his desk. “Goddamn good-fer-nothin’ Spah,” he muttered, before turning to his blueprints.

______________________________________________________________


Soldier was pacing around the War Room again. He had more room to roam, since he had stuffed the table and chairs in the closet; the chairs were stacked on top of each other, and the table was too long to fit, so it jutted outward, making it hard for anyone to open the door to come in since they would inevitably bump into the table. This suited Soldier just fine, since he didn’t want to be disturbed.

“Nobody left to fight, Shovel,” he grunted. “We blew them all up. Don’t get me wrong, I loved every second of it! It was glorious, Shovel, glorious! Goddamn, we’re never going to have another victory like that again!” He stopped pacing for a second. “We’re never going to have another victory like that again. And that’s /exactly/ the problem.”

He turned to his Shovel, which was leaning against the metal railing that made up his bedpost. Shovel said nothing to this, but listened patiently. He always did. If only he could expect his teammates to be as loyal and as obedient as Shovel.

“I mean, what do we do now? With no one left to fight, we’re gonna get soft. We get soft, we’ve failed. Failed, Shovel! Failure is not an option in this war. And if there’s anything I’ve learned from fighting in wars, it’s that there’s /always/ somebody to fight. Enemies all around us! Everywhere!”

/You’re right, Soldier. They are./ said Shovel.

Soldier did a double-take. Shovel had spoken to him before, but it had been a long time. Medic said something about possible schizophrenia, and tried to make him take pills for it. Soldier didn’t trust the doctor, especially with any sort of drug that was supposed to alter his mind. He was pretty sure, however, that these pills were being ground up into his meals for a while. Only recently did he start switching his plates slyly with the other members of his team, making sure to never do it twice in a row to the same person. He regretted having to do it, but it was a necessary precaution. Having his mind controlled was something Soldier preferred to avoid. Besides, hippies took mind-altering drugs all the time, and he sure as hell didn’t want to end up running around naked in a field with a crown of daisies in long, unwashed hair, tripping on acid and listening to Jimi Hendrix. Soldier shuddered at the thought.

/Something wrong, Soldier?/ Shovel asked innocently.

“No, I just… I just haven’t heard you talk in so long.” Soldier’s tone was uncharacteristically subdued. “I was starting to think that Medic was right about that whole ‘mental illness’ thing.”

/You shouldn’t listen to Medic, you know. He’s not trustworthy. He’s trying to wrest your power from you./

“You think I don’t know that?” Soldier grunted. He sat down on the bed next to Shovel, and grabbed him by the handle in a firm, but not harsh, manner. “Dammit, Shovel, it’s like nobody listens to me anymore. They all think I’m some kind of gibbering lunatic. You know the other day I heard Scout making jokes about me to Engineer? And Engineer was laughing his goddamned head off!” He shook his head. “Nearly pissed their pants when they saw me. But I didn’t even feel up to pummeling the two bastards into hamburger meat.” He hung his head. “God, Shovel, I’m losing it.”

/He’s probably counting on that. Why do you think he keeps slipping you those drugs?/ Shovel chuckled. /He wants to take over the team, Soldier. Take away the American values that this team is built upon and start a Fourth Reich./

“You’re just paranoid,” Soldier said. “The Team knows better than to let a goddamned fascist take over. A /queer/ fascist, at that. A queer fascist sleeping with a /communist/. Good God, how much more un-American can you get, Shovel? You see, this is why we need Nixon in the White House. He wouldn’t put up with this crap.”

/I’m not paranoid. I’m merely being cautious./ Shovel’s voice was oddly soothing. /Yesterday. You saw it. He laid out that plan and everybody did as he told them without question, even you./

“It was a good plan, though,” Soldier admitted sheepishly. Only Shovel ever heard him like this, sounding vulnerable and uncertain. “And it certainly worked, that’s for damn sure.”

/That’s not the point. This isn’t about whether or not his plan worked. It’s about him being in charge. He’s not in charge, yet, though. Is he?/

“No,” Soldier puffed out his chest a bit. “The Team wasn’t too keen on him bringing a BLU in here as a prisoner. They talked back to him, made fun of him. They’re not gonna bend over backwards for him, yet, but nobody put their foot down and told him to kill the BLU. Hell, Engineer even stood up for the guy.”

/A fellow American standing up for a queer fascist./ Shovel remarked dryly. /Then again, Engineer just wants everybody to get along, doesn’t he?/

“Yeah… just like a goddamned hippie,” Soldier sighed. “Jesus, there’s no hope for any of them, is there?”

/There’s hope for them, yet./ Shovel’s voice went back to that soothing, honey-coated tone that was so effective on Soldier. /You just need to turn everybody else away from Medic./

“And how exactly am I supposed to do that? They think I’m crazy. For Christ’s sake, they listen to Medic more than they’d ever listen to me.”

/Psychological warfare, Soldier. Just plant some seeds of doubt into their heads./ Good God, Shovel’s voice was so hypnotic. /They need to be reminded of what he is. But you’d have to do it subtly. I know you’re not very good at that sort of thing, but I can help. You just do as I tell you, and that bastard and his communist toadie will be begging you for mercy and licking at your feet./

Soldier considered this for a moment. No, subtle was something that he couldn’t really do. That was a Spy thing, and Soldier was not really fond of Spy or his methods. But Hell, this was war. And in war, sometimes you had to do sneaky, underhanded things in order to win. The prospect of trying a new kind of warfare was also kind of exciting, and Soldier relished a challenge. A very large, toothy grin spread across his face, “All right, Shovel. You got my attention. Tell me what to do.”

/Excellent. I know I can count on you./ Soldier held Shovel close, and chuckled as Shovel whispered words into his ear, words that no one else would even be able to hear.

______________________________________________________________


There was a rather sizable hole in the barbed wire fence, and dark crimson splotches stained the dusty soil around it. A pair of wire cutters lay nearby, and the missing chunk of the fence had been tossed aside. Even an idiot could have figured out that one of the BLUs had escaped, and apparently Medic had figured it out without even coming out here. Demoman knew this, because he eavesdropped on the conversation Medic had with Sniper. When the assassin was released, Demoman quickly staggered out of sight, so as not to arouse his suspicion, and from there decided to see if he could find any clues.

The hole in the fence was facing south, behind the remains of the BLU base, and Sniper would not have been able to see the BLU Spy’s actual escape. And yet, the nervous tone in Sniper’s voice suggested that he had seen /something/.

Demoman stooped down and peered through the hole. The wind had long blown over any tracks that the BLU Spy left, and aside from a tiny shred of blue, pinstriped cloth caught on one of the barbs, there were no further signs of the enemy Spy. Judging from the bloodstains, the BLU had obviously been wounded, probably bitten, which meant that there was a zombie out in the desert somewhere, and that it would be seeking out any food that it could find, possibly even biting any wild animals that came across its path. It would be a while before the zombie would reach any people, assuming that it would be heading in the same direction, but it would be hard to tell.

Demoman’s head jerked up when he heard the sound of boots scuffing across the ground. He quickly turned to see a rather sheepish looking Sniper. Though their eyes met and they both instantly knew what was going through the other’s mind, Sniper still felt the need to say /something/.

“So… ya found out, huh?” Sniper croaked meekly.

“I heard ye talkin’ t’ Medic,” Demoman replied. “Ye did see th’ BLU Spy, dinnit’ ye?”

“Only fer a split second, mate,” Sniper looked down at his boots. “Just saw that blue smoke. Couldn’t find ‘im. It all happened too fast…”

The explosions expert jerked his head to the side, “C’mere. ‘Ave a lookit this.”

Sniper nodded, walked up next to Demoman and squatting down, resting his forearms on his thighs. Right away he noticed the bloodstains. “Oh, fuck no…”

“Unless you’re sure ye dinnit’ hit ‘im, I’d say we have a zombie on th’ loose out inna desert.” Demoman looked up, his eye meeting both of Snipers. “Which means tha’ there’s a good chance it’ll start t’ spread.”

“Shit,” Sniper’s face was visibly paling. “Fuck. Fuckin' shit. Bloody fuckin' hell…”

“Donnae be so ‘ard on yerself, lad,” Demoman said, putting his hand on Sniper’s shoulder. “S’not yer fault.”

“The bloody fuck it’s not my fault! I fucking missed ‘im! Shit.” Sniper hung his head in shame. “I’m a bloody professional. The one time I’m needed the most, and I screwed the bloody pooch.”

“Well, it’s no’ like ye can do anythin’ abou’ tha’ now,” Demoman said. “We’re jus’ gonnae hafta prepare fer th’ worst.”

The assassin sighed, “What d’you suggest we do then?”

“Warn th’ others. We cannae be keepin’ this a secret. Also, this fence is gonnae need to be repaired, an’ we’ll be needin’ t’ keep watch fer any more a’ them.” Demoman stood up and stared out over the horizon, almost as if he were looking for the BLU Spy. “I forgot t’ thank ye.”

“Eh?” Sniper looked up at Demoman before pushing himself up.

“Medic’s meetin’. Ye backed me up there. Th’ other’s think I’m a bit daft. Don’t believe me aboot the alien abductions ‘r Nessie. Don’ always take me seriously, ‘cause o’ that.”

“Quite frankly, I still don’t believe ya either, mate,” Sniper said with a shrug. “Doesn’t mean that ya didn’t have a point in there. Unfortunately, with Truckie on ‘is side, I don’t think either of us are gonna be listened to.”

“Aye, Engie… th’ sole voice a’ reason,” Demoman sighed. “I’d feel a lot better if it weren’t Medic doin’ th’ experiments on ole’ Stumpy.”

“Oh, fer Christ’s sake, yer not callin’ that thing ‘Stumpy’ too, are ya?”

“Fits though, donnit?” Demoman said, smiling a little in spite of himself. “I jes’ hope Medic don’ feck up an’ get us all eaten. I’d ne'er f’rgive ‘im.”

The corner of Sniper’s mouth started to twitch into a nervous little smile, but stopped. “You… y’don’t think that this is gonna turn into some sort of zombie apocalypse, do ya?”

“Wi’ luck, no. But it ne’ar ‘hurts t’ be prepared. Now, c’mon. We got work t’ do.” And the black Scotsman gestured for his companion to join him, as they headed back towards the RED base.

______________________________________________________________


The film reel whirred and the picture started to flicker to life upon the white projection screen. The BLU Medic appeared, close-up and in grainy black-and-white, adjusting the camera before stepping back to clear his throat, “Zis is a personal record of ze experiments I have been conducting ovah ze past few months.” He explained, the sound crackling and popping in and out. “For a long time, viz the technology of ze respawn available to us, I have pondered ze true nature of death. If ze respawn can allow for a person to not only be brought back from ze dead, but also completely recover from zeir injuries, zen vhy is zis technology kept secret from ze rest of ze vorld? Vhy does BLU keep ze vorkings of such technology a secret? Und can zis effect be replicated?”

“BLU Medic looks a lot like you, Doktor,” Heavy observed. “Never noticed that before.”

“Shhh, quiet.” Medic was leaning forward in his chair, his elbows resting on in his thighs and his index fingers steepled in front of his lips. The images on the screen were reflected in his glasses in the dark little room, and what little light there was highlighted the doctor’s features. Heavy decided to stop ogling his Medic and turn his attention to the one on the screen in front of him.

“Learning ze secret of ze respawn proved to be a fruitless endeavor. BLU und RED both keep zis information closely guarded. I decided to set forth, using mein own training, to essentially do somezing zat mankind has longed to do since its birz… to cure death.”

The BLU Medic walked up to the camera again, shifting its view to the left. When he stepped out of the way, a small cage was visible, resting on a desk and holding a very twitchy jackrabbit. The BLU Medic reappeared onscreen, holding a medical tray with two syringes and two small bottles on it.

“Cute bunny,” Heavy chuckled, only to be shushed again by Medic.

“As you can see, ze subject is a wild rabbit I trapped earlier zis morning. He is in good physical condition, and unharmed, though a bit shpooked.” The BLU Medic snickered as the rabbit paced around his cage, its tiny chest heaving in and out rapidly while it desperately tried to find a way out. The BLU Medic picked up a syringe and one of the bottles, and held the bottle up to the camera. “Zis is a bottle of pentobarbital, commonly used in veterinary euzanasia. Ze subject vill die a quick, painless death within about 30 seconds of administering it to ze subject.” He then plunged the needle through the top of the bottle, and pulled the plunger out as the syringe filled with liquid.

“Poor bunny rabbit,” Heavy sighed. Medic didn’t even bother to silence him this time, as he leaned further forward with keen interest.

The rabbit backed itself into a corner as the BLU Medic leaned over his cage and opened the top hatch. The doctor reached his gloved hand inside, grabbing the animal by the scruff of its neck lifting it out. The rabbit ceased all movement aside from its twitching nose and heaving chest. The BLU smirked as he pressed the rabbit down against the table, slowly and methodically sticking the needle in the animal as it thrashed uselessly against his gloved hand. The plunger on the syringe was pushed down, releasing the barbiturate into the rabbits system, as its struggles gradually slowed. The BLU pulled his needle away, and the rabbit lay on the table, breathing becoming more labored, twitches stopping all together, before it closed its eyes and let out an odd squeak. Satisfied, BLU Medic lifted the animal up again by the scruff of its neck, and shook its body about in the air. The rabbit was dead, its body limp and lifeless. BLU Medic nodded, and set the animal’s body back on the table.

“And now, ze subject is quite dead. Zis is vhere we administer ze second injection.” The BLU picked up the second syringe off the tray, and held up the second, unmarked bottle. “Zis is a sample of ze viral culture I have been vorking on. So far, I have had quite a bit of success viz restoring dead animal cells viz it, as vell as a few various invertebrates. Zis vill be my first try vis a vertebrate.” He then inserted the needle into the second bottle, pulling the plunger with a subtle smile on his lips. After the syringe was filled to his liking, he pulled out the needle from the bottle and stuck it into the corpse of the rabbit, just under the base of its skull. He pushed the plunger down, now outright grinning in a very disconcerting manner.

“Ze virus should start vorking shortly,” BLU Medic said, not even bothering to mask his excitement. For a few seconds, the rabbit laid perfectly still, limp and dead as before. Then, a few small twitches in its ears, a jerk in its hind leg, violent spasms all over, as the BLU Medic started to giggle maniacally. The rabbit, still shaking, tried to lift itself up, slipping as its limbs snapped and flailed, looking more like the Medic had injected him with cocaine than some sort of life-giving elixir.

Heavy felt queasy watching the little rabbit jerk around like that. There was something sickening and unnatural about it, and even though he didn’t want to say anything to Medic about this, the doctor seemed to pick up on it, giving Heavy’s knee a reassuring squeeze.

“SUCCESS!” The BLU Medic cried out joyously. “I have done it! I have defeated death! Ha!” He picked up the rabbit, which by now was looking a bit more balanced and less like it was having an epileptic seizure, and held it in front of his face. “You, mein little Kaninchen, have done a great service to ze scientific community.” The rabbit responded with an odd, threatening gurgle, a sound that normally would not be expected to come out of a rabbit, before lunging at the BLU and sinking its teeth into the tip of his nose.

The BLU Medic let out a panicked shriek, before yanking the animal off of his face and shoving it back into the cage while cursing in German. He brought his glove up to his face and noticed the blood streaming down, and tried to calmly address the camera again, “It seems zat ze virus has some… unexpected side effects; namely, increased aggression in ze subject und seizure-like convulsions. I shall investigate ze mattah furzer…” He reached a shaky hand up to his temple before walking up to the camera and switching it off.

“I have seen enough, Doktor,” Heavy said flatly before standing up. “This film… is making me feel sick.”

“Very well zen, Heavy,” Medic said, switching off the camera in consideration for his companion. “Zere is more film on ze reel, if you vant to watch more latah…”

“Nyet, Doktor,” Heavy replied, switching on the lights. “You can watch alone. Get bad feeling watching this…”

Medic got up from his chair, walked over to his friend and rested his hand on Heavy’s shoulder. “Vhat is wrong, meine Liebe? Zis is unlike you. I have seen you blow men to tiny bits viz Sasha und you start feeling queasy over a shaky rabbit?”

The larger man suddenly wrapped his arms around the doctor, hugging closely and tightly, shuddering while he let out a sigh. “Promise me you vill not get bitten, Doktor.”

“Heavy,” Medic seemed to be surprised by this sudden display of affection. “Ah you sure you’re feeling all right?”

“Promise,” Heavy repeated, firmer this time.

“I promise, mein Liebling,” Medic replied, resting his head on Heavy’s broad shoulder, surrendering to the sensation of being surrounded by his lover’s strength and warmth. “I have you to protect me, aftah all.”

“Da,” Heavy said, feeling a little better. Medic was a smart man, and not anywhere near as foolhardy as the BLU Medic was, and although Heavy was not entirely comfortable with keeping Stumpy around, he trusted his Medic. “Just be careful. More careful vhen I am not here.”

“Of course.” Medic kissed Heavy quickly on his lips. “Now, I’m afraid I’m going to be busy going ovah zat folder BLU Medic had left behind. I’m afraid I vill need to be left alone.”

“Anyting I can do to help, Doktor?” Heavy asked.

“Not now. You just make sure none of ze other dummkopfs have gotten zemselves killed or anyzing,” Medic patted the Russian affectionately on his broad chest.

“Okay. See you then,” Heavy scratched the back of Medic’s neck before leaving the doctor to his work. He knew better than to interfere with something this important. He stepped out of the Infirmary and saw Pyro making his way down the hall towards him. “Oh. Hello, Pyro. What is the matter?”

“Huuhh wrrnnuuhh tuurr suuhh Sturrrmmphuur.” Pyro mumbled.

“Doktor is busy right now, little Pyro,” Heavy said, trying to sound like he had actually understood what Pyro had told him. “Vhy, are you hurt?”

Pyro shook his head, “Nurrrhurrmuun. Hurrll crrmm buuhh lurrhurr.” And Pyro turned to leave.

“Hey! Vait!” Heavy grasped Pyro’s shoulder, stopping the much smaller man. “You, ah, are you doing anyting, right now?”

The fire starter cocked his head to the side quizzically, “Whuuhh yuurr murrnn?”

“I am bored,” Heavy said. “Need something to take mind off of some tings. You play chess?”

“Hurr lurrhurr.” Pyro responded with a nod.

Heavy laughed and patted Pyro on the back hard enough to send the masked man pinwheeling forward. “Good! I need practice. Am not as good as Medic. Come on. Is better than sitting around doing nothing.”

“Furrnn buhh murrr,” Pyro said with a shrug, as the two of them walked together to the rec room.
>> No. 55
Stumpy stared up at the ceiling of the sickbay, his milky blue eyes unblinking as he moaned quietly to himself. He was starving, and there were noisy, meaty things all around him, taunting him cruelly by just being out of his reach. He could hear one of them, flipping thought papers, humming to itself and singing softly in words that Stumpy could not understand. That one had been the one that found him, that stuffed him in that bag and dragged him here, only to have him strapped down and stared at by other noisy, meaty things. He could smell the blood coursing through their veins, hear their hearts beating and lungs rising and collapsing and their stomachs churning. Oh, how Stumpy wished he could be feasting on those taut, stringy muscles and squishy organs. But no, here he was, strapped down and unable to move, listening to the noisy, meaty thing in the white coat singing to itself in German. Stumpy let out an agonized, raspy moan.

“Ruhe!” The meaty thing in the white coat shouted at him from the other room. Stumpy had no idea what this meant, but the way it was said made him stop his moaning. The meaty things could be scary, sometimes, and Stumpy had seen what they had done to the others.

The zombified Scout stayed quiet for a few more minutes, but the sounds coming from the meaty thing in the other room drove him mad, and he started to groan again. He could hear something slamming down against a table, and then swift footsteps, boots clicking across the floor louder and louder as the meaty thing got closer. Stumpy started to drool like Pavlov’s dog, squirming under his restraints with excitement as Medic opened the door.

“Vhat do you vant, hmmm?” The doctor leaned over the BLU Scout, arms behind his back. “You vant to bite me, ja? Eat me und spread zat horrible little virus zat BLU Medic concocted? Is zat it?” Stumpy gnashed his teeth and tried to pull his head up high enough to bite Medic, though his efforts were fruitless. The doctor merely continued to observe his subject, as Stumpy eventually figured out that he simply could not reach his tormentor, and stopped, but not without making more guttural grunts and snarls.

Medic laughed. “Fascinating. So single-minded, you ah, little Scout. Hold on just a moment, I shall be right back. Do not go anyvhere, now!” He turned and left, chuckling to himself over his own joke, as Stumpy struggled weakly against his bonds.

Stumpy didn’t remember much of what it was like not being like this. Staring at the ceiling, with an empty stomach that was already poking out of the huge gash on his abdomen, he could see images flash briefly in his rotting, decaying mind. Running, double-jumping, carrying things from one place to another, hitting things with a… what was that word? Bonk? Hitting things with a bonk and making throat noises like meaty things made. But these memories were fading, like old black and white photographs left in the rain, muddied and splotchy and hard to make out, and all he wanted now was meat.

He wasn’t sure how long it had been when the sound of footsteps and humming could be heard again, but it had felt like hours. Stumpy again started to thrash excitedly against the straps again, and Medic came through the door holding something wet and red and delicious.

It was /meat/!

The doctor looked down upon Stumpy with a smirk as the Scout salivated and panted hungrily, snapping his jaws. “Vell, vell, vell, somevone has an appetite, don’t zey?” Medic cooed, dangling a strip of raw bacon above his subjects head before dropping it down his gullet. Stumpy chomped down eagerly, making wet smacking noises as he chewed with all the table manners of a ravenous wolf. “Interesting zat ze virus vould make its victims have an insatiable hunger for ze flesh, isn’t it? Certainly a very effective mezod of shpreading ze disease.” He dropped another strip of bacon into Stumpy’s mouth, careful not to get his fingers close enough for the Scout to bite. “I may have to request for ze supply train to bring more food for you, ja?”

If Stumpy could talk, he probably would have agreed with this. Although this meat wasn’t as good as the living, breathing meaty things he wanted to sink his teeth into, it was still better than the horrible ache of starvation. As long as Medic was feeding him, he felt no inclination to bite the doctor’s fingers, as delicious as they looked. The last of the strips of bacon was dropped into his maw, and the doctor straightened up to observe his subject for a moment. Stumpy swallowed the last of his meal, and licked his sticky, blood-stained lips. For a few brief, fleeting moments, he seemed to be content, almost docile. He looked up at Medic and groaned pathetically, opening his mouth wide like a baby bird expecting a worm.

“Ach! You greedy little monstah! Zat is all you get for now. Ze ozzahs vill not be pleased to know zat zeir breakfast vent to feeding you.” Medic shook his head. “Perhaps, if you ah quiet, I may get somezing else for you latah zis evening. Sound good?” The subject merely made a sound that suggested confusion and disappointment. “So glad you undahstand,” the doctor said, and then left the sickbay to return to his work.

Stumpy felt like he was starving all over again. The fact that there were bits of partially-digested meat seeping out of his stomach wall may have had something to do with this. Oh, curse that white-coated meaty thing that sang in German and didn’t feed him meat all the time! How could he leave him like this, staring up at the ceiling, starving, and being forced to listen to him singing to himself yet /again/?

He wondered what Medic tasted like before starting to groan again softly.

______________________________________________________________


Scout was hooking up the brand new television he had jacked from the BLU base, and he made no effort to mask his excitement, though Pyro and Heavy seemed largely indifferent to this. The two of them were playing chess in the corner.

“I can’t believe it. BLU team had a color TV all this time, and we didn’t even know!” Scout was saying this more to himself than his teammates, although he was hoping that talking loud enough would at least get their attention. “Hey Pyro, I bet you’ll like watchin’ that Star Trek show in color, right?”

Pyro looked up from the chess board. “Hrrss prrhhurr currr, hiir grrsshh.” Pyro said with a shrug.

“Check,” Heavy said quietly.

“Aw, c’mon, Mumbles, this is a big deal!” Scout switched on the set’s dial and was greeted with a commercial for laundry detergent, garbled with static. “Jesus, fuckin’ reception out here is terrible.”

“Doktor says too much television rots brain,” Heavy warned Scout, as Pyro contemplated his next move. “Ve only really vatch news.”

“Yeah, real surprise coming from Medic over there,” Scout said, rolling his eyes as he fiddled with the rabbit ears. “Man, do you really do /everything/ that guy says, or what?”

“Not everyting,” Heavy said, feeling a little defensive about what Scout was implying.

“Yeah, right,” Scout managed to put the antennae on the television in just the right position to get eliminate the snow on screen. “Everybody knows you’re Medic’s bitch, it’s not even worth the effort to hide it.”

Heavy turned around, “I am Medic’s /vhat/?”

“His bitch, dude,” Scout flipped to the second channel, only to see another commercial for cigarettes. “You’ll pretty much do anything he says no matter what it is, and he can order you around to do whatever and you won’t care because you’re… y’know, queer for him.”

“Is not true,” Heavy huffed. “I think tiny man should keep his mouth closed before he says anything stupid.”

“Fine, dude, just makin’ an observation, Jesus,” Scout shrugged and rolled his eyes. “Fuck, nothing’s on, just a bunch ‘a commercials.”

“Yrrr mrrff.” Pyro mumbled.

“Vhat? Oh,” Heavy turned back to the board, only to find Pyro had captured one of his pawns. The Russian stared at the board, brow furrowed in deep thought, as his eyes scanned the board for his next move.

Scout managed to finally land on an episode of Hogan’s Heroes. For a brief few minutes, there was quiet in the room, with only the sound of chess pieces scuffing and clacking on a board, the drone of the television, and the occasional chuckle from Scout. It was a rare moment in RED base, for this sort of peace to take hold for any period of time. So when Demoman and Sniper came in the rec room together in the middle of a heated debate, it almost seemed like they were late for their cue.

“I mean, fer Christ’s sake, it’s my bloody profession. I can tell you for sure that the shot that killed JFK certainly didn’t come from no bloody ‘grassy knoll’.”

“Oh, aye? So sure abou’ that, are ye? Ye ever been t’ Houston, then?”

“/Dallas/, Demo. He was assassinated in /Dallas/. Honestly, how the hell are you supposed to have any sort of integrity in this argument if ya can’t even get the name of the bloody city right?”

“Same difference. I’m drunk. Wot’s yer excuse?”

“Well, ya’d hafta be pissed out of yer mind in order to believe that bollocks.”

“Ye know wot I think? It was prolly Nixon who had th’ whole thing set up.”

“Oh, fer fuck’s sake-”

“Man’s like a slimy, belly-crawlin’ bilge rat. Can’t trust ‘im as far as ye can throw ‘im. Had t’ git ole’ Jack ou’ of th’ way t’ prove a point ‘fore he could run fer President.”

“’Ey, d’ya mind? I’m watchin’ TV, here!” Scout barked, sprawled out on the couch like a doll that had been tossed there haphazardly.

“Never thought I vould be glad to hear Scout talking,” Heavy grumbled.

Sniper merely grunted in response, before rounding the sofa and flopping down on the end. Demoman peered over, noting that with Sniper taking up only the very end, Scout pretty much occupied the rest of the couch, leaving no room for him to sit.

“Oi, Scoot,” Demoman prodded the younger man in the head. “When’s Batman come on again?”

“They canceled it a couple a’ months ago, dude,” Scout said flatly. “I thought I already told you.”

“Wot? Ach, th’ nerve a’ ‘em! Why’d they go an’ do that?”

“They got rid a’ Robin, dude, show was going downhill anyway. Never understood why you liked it so much. The comics’re better.”

“Th’ comics donnae have Eartha Kitt as Catwoman.”

“Psssh, whatever,” Scout said, rolling his eyes.

“Don’ ‘wha’ever’ that lassie, Scoot. Any woman with a voice like that an’ had th’ nerve t’ tell Lady Bird Johnson t’ ‘er face wot she thought o’ th’ war in Vietnam s’a right goddess.”

“She does have a sexy voice,” Sniper chimed in, only really half paying attention to the conversation.

“Exactly! Thank ye, Sniper,” Demoman seemed to gloat in this tiny victory over Scout.

“Nowhere near as hot as Jeannie,” Scout said.

“Pheh! That genie? Like I need a’ woman wi’ no spine who’ll jest do wha’ever ye say. S’a fun in that? S’borin’!”

“Dude, I’m just talking about, hot to look at, not like her fuckin’ personality or shit like that.” Scout turned to Sniper, “What about you, man?”

“What about what?” Sniper had tuned out.

“I don’t know, who d’you think is really hot? You got the hots for anybody in particular, or what?”

“What, y’mean someone famous?”

“Yeah, man. C’mon, Demo an’ I already told.”

Sniper cleared his throat, looking a little embarrassed, “Well, I, uh… ya promise not to laugh at me or anythin’?”

“Jes’ spit it out, ye bastard,” Demoman said impatiently.

“Fine.” Sniper looked down at his boot and mumbled, “Grace Slick. From Jefferson Airplane.”

“That hippie chick?” Scout looked at Sniper incredulously.

“You said you wouldn’t laugh or anything!” said Sniper defensively.

“I’m not laughin’, I’m just… that’s kinda weird, man,” Scout said.

“Ach! Leave th’ man be. Personally, I fin’ yer taste in women t’ be borin’,” Demoman huffed.

“Screw you, man,” Scout shifted on the couch, peering over at Pyro and Heavy. “’ey, Pyro! What about you, man? You got the hots for anybody?”

Pyro looked up from the chess board a moment, then rested his chin in his palm and looked up at the ceiling in thought, humming. “Nusshhlll Nurrkkhrrlls.” He finally answered.

“Who?” Scout raised an eyebrow.

“Urrhhrruuuhh frrmm Sturrr Trrkk.”

“I think he said somethin’ about Star Trek, mate,” Sniper said with a shrug.

“Clrrsshh nnuuff,” Pyro said with a shrug.

“Vas so nice and quiet earlier,” Heavy sighed, watching as Pyro captured another pawn of his helplessly.

“Yeah, you’re not really interested in /girls/, are ya?” Scout said snarkily.

“Ah, lay off o’ him, lad,” Demoman turned to Heavy. “Pay no mind t’ th’ wee brat. Yer prolly blessed bein’ able t’ have Medic aroun’, really.”

Heavy smiled a little, “Is okay. Thank you, Demoman.” He picked up his Rook cautiously, before placing it down at Pyro’s mercy. “I used to be married, long time ago.”

“Whoa, seriously?” Scout was now sitting up straight, peering back towards the Russian with piqued interest. “Like, to a girl?”

“Of course, to a girl!” Heavy snapped. “Do not be stupid.”

Scout recoiled a bit. He bit his lip nervously. “So, what happened?”

“She left,” Heavy grunted. “Do not really feel like talking about it. Long time ago. But I have Doktor now. Is all that matters.”

“Oh,” Scout slumped back down in his seat, more than a little disappointed.

“Chrrrkmrrrt,” Pyro announced happily.

“Bah! I thought you said you were not good at this game,” Heavy threw up his arms in frustration.

“Hrrmm burrturr thurrrn yrrr, apprrnnttrruuh,” Pyro said with a devious tone.

“You vant to play again, maybe?” asked Heavy.

“Nurrhh ffnnks. Hrr guuhhuhh grr sturr drrnnrrr.” Pyro scooted his chair back and waddled off to the door. He turned back to Heavy and waved, “Srrr yuuhh.”

“See you,” Heavy said, waving back dejectedly. He turned back to the board, arranging the pieces back in their starting positions. Heavy had only quite recently picked up chess, mostly because it was Medic that taught him how to play. Medic was seemingly unbeatable at the game, with only Spy coming close to winning over him. Medic had once challenged Engineer, but the Texan bashfully admitted that he had never played before, and that he was much more of a checkers man. Heavy remembered how the doctor seemed to take offense to this. “A man of such great intellect und he spends his time playing /checkers/!” Medic had said with disgust. A smile tugged at Heavy’s lips as he remembered this.

“’Allo, Monsieur Meat-Shield.”

The Russian didn’t even flinch. It was obvious that Spy was trying to startle him by sneaking up on him, but Heavy was not as skittish as his other teammates. “Vhat do you vant, Spy?”

“Oh, nozzing much,” Spy leaned over the larger man’s shoulder. “Fancy a game of chess, /comrade/?”

“Vas just leaving,” Heavy replied, not even bothering to mask his dislike of the Frenchman as he sat up from his chair. “Going to check in on Doktor.”

“Just as well, I suppose,” Spy smirked. “Never much of a challenge, really, playing against you.”

Heavy merely snorted in contempt, shuffling out of the room as Spy watched him with a smug expression on his face.

“Hey, Spy,” Scout chirped. “We were talkin’ about girls earlier. You got the hots for anybody famous or anything?”

Spy laughed, “Oh, little man, how childish of you to ask such a zing. I do not ‘ave any crushes on any ladies. Ze ladies, zey all have crushes on me.”

“Oh, Jesus,” Scout rolled his eyes. “Gimme a break, already.”

______________________________________________________________


Dinner that evening was quieter than most in RED Base. Pyro, as usual, took his plate back to his room, since eating with the others would mean exposing his face. Everyone else dug into their meal of steak and mashed potatoes with gravy, a meal that would not have been possible for them to have were it not for the last-minute raiding of BLU’s pantry and freezer the previous day; otherwise, they’d probably be stuck with another stew of whatever Pyro could find.

Medic could feel the occasional sideways glance cast in his direction. His teammates still seemed wary about his latest specimen. He noticed how most of them ate with all the grace and poise of a pack of hyenas tearing into a gazelle carcass, and couldn’t help but think of the parallel between them and the BLU Scout strapped to a gurney down in the sick bay. Quite frankly, it was making him lose his appetite.

Demoman had thoroughly cleaned his plate, before standing up to clear his throat. His teammates stopped what they were doing and looked up at him. Sniper was the only one who didn’t seem to pay the Scotsman any mind.

“Lads, ‘m sorry t’ bring this up now, while we’re eatin’, but pretty much all o’ us are in th’ same place, an’ it seems to me t’ be as good a time as any to come ou’ an’ say this.” He paused dramatically while the others exchanged quizzical glances. “One o’ th’ BLUs escaped ou’ innea desert yesterday.”

“WHAT?” Scout screeched. “Are you shittin’ me, man? When were you plannin’ on tellin’ us?”

“Well, I wasn’t sure iff’n Medic was goin’ t’ tell ye right away.”

“I vas going to wait for a more convenient time,” Medic said, poking at his meal and not even bothering to look up. “I did not vant to cause any unnecessary panic.”

“Wait, whoa, how do you guys even know about this?” It was obvious from Scout’s tone that any attempts not to spread panic had failed miserably.

“There was a hole cut innea fence near th’ BLU base. T’was a bit o’ blue cloth caught on there. Th’ BLU Spy was th’ one who got away.”

The silence that fell over the table was thick and tense. RED Team was all too familiar with just how devious the BLU Spy was. The enemy Spy must have backstabbed everyone on RED team at least a dozen times, even their own Spy. And while the BLUs in general had been difficult for RED to deal with, their Spy was easily the most frustrating and unpredictable of all of them. He was the BLUs’ wildcard, and to hear that out of all the BLU team members, /he/ was the one to get away, well… it figured.

“So, what’re we supposed t’ do, Demo?” Engineer asked sheepishly.

“Fence is gonnae hafta be fixed. I’m sure you could take care o’ that, Engie. But besides that, we’ll hafta prepare for th’ worst. Sniper ‘n’ I are holdin’ a meetin’ on ‘ow t’ best deal wi’ th’ zombies back in me quarters-”

Demoman was cut off by Medic’s balled-up fist slamming down viciously onto the table, visibly jarring everyone else in the room. Medic slowly retracted his hand back to feebly picking at his dinner, the rest of the meal was eaten in silence. The only interruption seemed to be from Engineer, who complained about feeling woozy after he had finished, which elicited a snicker from Soldier and a narrow-eyed glance from Medic. One by one the members of Red got up and left the table, some of them remembering to at least put their dishes in the sink inside the kitchen, until only Heavy and Medic were left sitting at the table. Heavy had long finished his meal, but he sat patiently beside the doctor.

“Are you feeling well, Doktor?” Heavy asked.

“I’ll be fine, Heavy. I just have many things on my mind,” Medic sighed. “You go.”

Heavy stood up and collected the dishes that had been left behind, the clinking of silverware being the only sound in the room. He cast a glance back to Medic. “Doktor?”

“Ja, meine Liebe?”

“I’ll be vaiting for you in Infirmary.”

Medic smiled in spite of himself, “Danke, Heavy.”

The Russian smiled at Medic reassuringly, and retreated into the kitchen to start on the dishes. The Doctor merely stared at his plate, the thought of feeding his leftovers to his test subject flickering into his mind. He forced himself, however, to choke down a few more mouthfuls. Not that the food tasted bad; it was good, though it had gotten a bit cold. He simply felt as if his stomach wouldn’t be able to keep it down. After a few more unsatisfying bites, Medic got up and snuck off back to the infirmary, plate in hand, hoping that Stumpy would be grateful for another meal.

______________________________________________________________


The BLU Spy had eaten about a half a dozen lizards, two jackrabbits, another vulture and had bitten one particularly unlucky coyote, but he was still starving, despite his stomach being nearly full to bursting. The hunger he felt was one less driven by his stomach than by his brain. The sun had set and the desert was alive with more potential meals, though most of them seemed to wise up to the shambling dead thing that would lunge at anything that got too close. BLU Spy had been headed in the same direction, having walked since early that morning.

Eventually, he came across a lonely highway, devoid of any cars or lights to illuminate it. In the back of his mind, Spy vaguely made the connection that following this road would take him to more meat. He shuffled forward, his stomach bulging through his jacket uncomfortably and his eyes glittering with bloodlust. By the time he was actually standing on the asphalt, he noticed a pair of shining twin lights, and the hum of a running engine. He tilted his head in curiosity, standing and staring blankly as they grew bigger and brighter, and the sound of a blaring truck horn rang in his ears. Spy grunted angrily, moving closer and snarling at the thing challenging him. The truck screeched to a halt a few feet shy of the Spy, the headlights by now so bright and close they were blinding. The driver leaned out the driver’s seat window. “THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU, BOY? ARE YOU ON DRUGS?” The man shouted angrily.

It was just then that Spy realized that this loud, bright thing was being controlled by meat. He followed the sound of the screaming, already starting to drool and lick his sticky, bloodstained lips.

“Oh, what, you want a ride? Look, you crazy junkie son of a bitch, I don’t give rides to people like you. You can wait for some other unlucky bastard to give you a lift.” The man scoffed, his plump, fleshy arm dangling from the open window. And that was all Spy needed.

The driver certainly didn’t expect this man in a blue ski mask and three-piece suit to leap up and sink his teeth deep into his arm and start climbing up it like a rope. Whatever drugs this man was on made him surprisingly strong. The driver tried to beat away at his assailant with his fists while screaming in sheer panic. He tried to roll up the window in vain, only to have his attacker shove himself into the cab and sink his teeth into the driver’s jugular.

The truck started to roll forward as the driver released his foot from the break. Spy was dully aware of this, pulling the gurgling, meaty thing out through the window while taking more bites out of his neck. He pulled his prize out before dropping it unceremoniously onto the sidewalk, listening to bone crunch as it met the asphalt. Spy then hopped down and tore back into his meal, as the truck slowly started to lurch forward, its engine still humming and its lights still piercing through the darkness. BLU Spy didn’t pay it much mind, though. He got all that he wanted from the truck. And as his stomach ruptured from being so full of meat that his body was physically unable to digest anymore, all Spy could think of was how much better human meat tasted than lizards or rabbits or vultures, and how he was going to go about getting even more.
>> No. 56
Sniper had never really been in Demoman’s room, or any of his other teammates’ rooms, for that matter. He was standing just outside the door, his knuckles hovering over it before rapping quietly.

“S’open, mate, let yerself in,” Demoman answered.

As he opened the door the first thing he noticed was the large Scottish flag draped on the wall, curving downwards under its own weight and spilling its bottom edge over stacks of magazines and paperbacks on Demoman’s desk. Tabloid clippings about UFOs, ghost-sightings, and monsters were tacked up all over the wall, broken up by the occasional pin-up. Empty bottles had accumulated in one corner of the room, and were guarding an overflowing trashcan filled to the brim with balled-up sheets of paper. Demoman himself had somehow gotten a hold of the chalkboard Soldier was fond of using during planning sessions, and was setting up a small number of wooden crates on the floor. “Good t’ see ya, laddie! Hopefully some o’ th’ others’ll be on their way inna moment.”

“I hope so,” Sniper closed the door behind him with a muted click. “I’d feel right bloody stupid if I was the only one t’ show up for this.”

“Aye. But I got a good feelin’ about this,” Demoman seemed to be almost… chipper, like the prospect of holding any sort of meeting where he could make plans excited him. At least /he/ was in a good mood, Sniper thought. If he had managed to shoot the BLU Spy, they wouldn’t be in this mess. “Ye feelin’ all righ’ there, Sniper?”

“’M fine, mate, don’t worry about it.” Sniper sat down on one of the boxes on the floor, visibly slumping as he rested his elbows right above his knees.

Demoman walked over to the Sniper and patted him on the back, though to Sniper is felt more like a swat, and he nearly fell off his crate. “Lissen, mate. Ye did th’ best ye could. Donnae beat yerself up o’er it, t’won’t do ye any good.”

“Thanks, Demo,” Sniper straightened himself up a bit, trying to recover from the friendly blow dealt by the Scotsman in a manner as graceful as possible. He tried to crack a smile, but it faltered on his lips. His pride as a professional would never fully recover from this. Maybe getting completely shitfaced like Demo was at any given time would not be such a terrible idea.

There was another knock at the door, this one to the tune of “Shave and a Haircut.” Demoman whirled around eagerly, practically galloping to the door, gripping the knob and pulling it back, to see Scout and Spy standing in the frame.

“Hey, man. You still holdin’ your meeting?” Scout asked, standing on one foot as the other was rubbed against his calf.

“O’ course! C’mon in, ‘ave a seat,” Demoman ushered the two of them in. Spy was making sure to keep a healthy distance between him and the Scotsman. Scout eagerly plopped himself down on one of the wooden crates, and Spy just slunk off into a corner and propped himself against the wall, taking out a fresh cigarette and lighting it nonchalantly.

“Well,” Demoman started, “We should prolly wait for anyone else t’ show up before-”

“Zey are not coming,” Spy said flatly, cigarette dangling from his lip as he slipped his lighter back into his pocket. “Engineer ‘as passed out in ‘is room, Soldier is off somewhere talking to ‘imself, Heavy and Medic are in ze infirmary, and Star Trek is on tonight, so Pyro obviously will not be making an appearance. Zis /is/ everyone.”

“What’re you doin’ here anyway?” Sniper asked Spy incredulously. “I thought you dinnit’ care about this sort of thing.”

Spy took a long drag on his cigarette before blowing smoke through his nostrils. “I was bored, and I needed some entertainment.”

“Ah,” Demoman’s vigor was already starting to drain from him. “An’ wot abou’ you, Scoot?”

“I wanna bash some fuckin’ zombie heads in man!” Scout puffed out his chest. “You just tell me what I gotta do, I’ll fuckin’ do it.”

As quickly as it had faded, Demoman’s excitement returned back to him, as he laughed heartily. “Tha’s th’ spirit, laddie! Glad t’ have ye here wi’ us!”

“So, if you do not mind me asking, what exactly is your plan for ze inevitable zombie uprising?” Spy asked in a sardonic tone, blowing smoke rings into the air. “Ze orders from ze Announcer were not to leave RED Base.”

“Then we’re jes’ gonnae hafta make sure tha’ if there is a zombie uprisin’, we survive.” Demoman definitely knew that Spy was making fun of him, but he chose to ignore it, turning to the chalk board and scrawling quickly jotting bullet points on its surface. “We’re gonnae need t’ be able to survive, fortified, wi’ th’ possibility o’ no trains comin’ in. Convince HQ t’ send us a surplus o’ supplies. We’ll need t’ increase defenses, make sure they cannae find a way in, kill ‘em off while conserving as much ammo as possible.”

“You are serious about all of zis, aren’t you?” Spy observed.

“Are ye bloody daft? O’ course I’m serious!” Demoman stared at Spy as if he had just grown a second pair of arms. “Why, ye think this is all a big joke?”

“If I recall correctly, only one of ze BLUs escaped,” Spy said coolly. “One. In a desert. Not in a populated area or anyzing. If ze heat doesn’t get ‘im, ze starvation will.”

“Th’ only way ye can kill a zombie is removin’ th’ head or destroyin’ th’ brain,” Demoman said firmly, shaking a stick of chalk at his teammate. “Unless somebody out innae desert is gonnae lop th’ bastards head off, he’ll be out there indefinitely, bitin’ anythin’ he can come across.”

“Zat would be assuming that BLU Spy /is/ a zombie. I do not know about you, my inebriated friend, but I do not believe in such foolishness. Zey are like bloodthirsty lepers, nozzing more.”

“Oh, fer Christ’s sake, I know a zombie when I see one! Hell, ye got closer t’ ‘em than I did, yer in feckin’ denial.”

Spy had only just noticed Scout’s head whipping back and forth between Demoman and himself, making the young man look like a dog watching a tennis match. The Frenchman could help but smirk. “I am merely being rational here, unlike you. Given zat you ‘ave a track record for being prone to believing in… shall we say, /sensational/ zheories about ze world around you.” Spy yanked a tabloid clipping off the wall, scanning it with a smarmy expression, “Proof zat Marilyn Monroe was killed by ze CIA? Oh, my…”

“’Ey!” Sniper finally interjected. “Look, like I said before, regardless of whatever other crazy conspiracy theories that Demo takes stock in, it don’t mean he doesn’t have a point about /this/.”

“Sniper, as always, you wear your intentions on your sleeve,” Spy gritted his cigarette between his teeth and grinned a toothy, Cheshire Cat grin.

“Wot’s that supposed t’ mean?” Sniper asked, his confidence visibly slipping.

“You missed ze BLU Spy, didn’t you?” Spy took some mild pleasure in the assassin wincing at this statement. “You saw ‘im, and you shot at ‘im, but you missed. Because of zis, you overcompensate by joining forces against an invasion that will not ‘appen with a delusional, drunken Cyclops and a young man with the mental capacity of a boy ten years his junior.” Now Scout’s face was turning bright scarlet, Demoman was glowering, and Spy could not have been more pleased. “You man-children ‘ave fun playing cowboys an’ zombies out in ze desert, waiting for ze invasion zat will never come.”

Nobody said anything for a while. Sniper merely slumped in his seat, removing his hat and running his hand through his hair, trying to look as nonchalant as possible and failing miserably. Demoman merely stood, arms crossed, letting out a low growl as he gave Spy the Evil Eye. Scout, however, couldn’t take much more of this verbal abuse, “You know what, Spy? Fuck you. Is that seriously the only reason you came here? To make fun of us?”

“Mostly,” Spy confessed with a snicker. “But someone has to warn you idiots zat you are just wasting your time fretting over one sickly Spy.”

“One’s all it takes,” Demoman said ominously. “An’ when th’ hoardes o’ th’ livin’ dead are gnawin’ at yer bones and rippin’ through yer flesh, jes’ don’ say I dinnit’ warn ye.”

Scout gulped in a loud, cartoonish manner. Sniper, too, had to suppress a shudder; he hated it when Demoman would get all creepy like that, the way his voice would get all deep and husky and that accent only made it worse. Even Spy seemed to be a little uncomfortable now.

Down the hall, strains of Beethoven started to filter through the walls. The record player in Medic’s infirmary had been started up, and Spy took this as his cue to leave. “Good luck with your endeavors, Gentlemen, as fruitless as they may prove to be. I bid you farewell.” To avoid having to deal with any further backtalk, Spy cloaked slipped out of the room, disappearing in a red fog.

“What a fuckin’ asshole,” Scout sneered. “Fuckin’ frog son of a bitch. We’ll show him!”

“Donnae worry yerself abou’ it, Scoot,” Demoman sighed. “Tha’s jes’ how Spy is.”

“An’ yer just gonna take that shit from him?” Scout stood up from his crate. “You could deck that Frenchfry easy! C’mon, the guy’s a fuckin’ pansy!”

“An’ what would tha’ prove, exactly?” Demoman asked. “Wouldn’t prove anythin’. Let ‘im laugh at us. He’ll stop laughin’ when he’s proved wrong, tha’s fer bloody sure.”

“What if he’s right, mate?” Sniper asked, staring at the floor between his boots. “What if we are just worryin’ about nothin’?”

“Well, then, that’s jes’ it. We’ll ‘ave nothin’ t’ worry aboot. Ne’er ‘urts t’ be prepared, lad. Fer now, we’ll jes’ try an’ fix th’ fence an’ keep an eye out fer anythin’ weird.”

“Right,” Scout looked pensive for once, before scuffing his feet on the floor and kicking aside one of the crates on the floor. “Uh, hey, look, I’m gonna split. I don’t wanna stick around much longer after Medic puts a record on…”

“S’alright, Scoot, ye go on. Sniper, ye should prolly get goin’ too,” Demoman turned back to the chalkboard, picked up an eraser and rubbed it over the board with a fluid sweep of his arm. “Pickin’ the room closest t’ th’ infirmary seemed like a good idea at the time…” he grumbled, mostly to himself.

“Well, see ya around, Demo,” Scout waved before walking out the room, starting to whistle “Get Off My Cloud” as he went.

Sniper grunted, pushing himself up off his crate. “You gonna be okay, Demo?” he asked.

“I’ll live,” Demoman said. “I’ve had t’ try an’ sleep through Medic screamin’ like a goddamn banshee before, I can do it again.”

“Not… that’s not what I meant, mate,” Sniper cleared his throat.

“Ach, Spy’s fulla it. Like I’m gonnae take any stock in what ‘e says,” Demoman already seemed to be bouncing back to the more buoyant mood he was in earlier. “’Least you an’ Scoot lissen t’ me, right?”

“We do when ya make sense.” Sniper started to head towards the door, then stopped and pivoted around, “Oi, Demo. Ya ever been up on the roof?”

“No’ really,” Demoman answered with a shrug. “Why?”

“I figured maybe it wouldn’t be a bad idea just t’ sit on th’ roof, knock back a few beers, get outta earshot of those two. I got a portable radio, too. Ya up for it?”

Demoman beamed. “Be glad to. As long as ye got booze aroun’, ye donnae hafta ask twice.”

______________________________________________________________


It was dark in the sick bay now. Stumpy could not see very well in the dark. Actually, he had the feeling that his vision had deteriorated somehow, but he was too hungry to ponder why that was. The Meaty Thing in the White Coat had given him had given him some meat, but it wasn’t as good as the raw bacon he had earlier. This meat was cooked, and while it was certainly edible, it was not very satisfying. The doctor had turned off the light, perhaps in an effort to see if his patient would go to sleep. But Stumpy didn’t sleep. He just listened to the noises that the meat made.

The Meaty Thing in the White Coat and the Big Scary Meaty Thing were talking to each other. Stumpy couldn’t hear what they were talking about, nor would he be able to understand most of it anyway. They started to talk less and less and the noises they made sounded more understandable. Guttural grunts and moans, wet smacking noises, unfortunately broken up by the occasional words or laughter. Stumpy wondered if they were eating each other. It certainly sounded like they were. He couldn’t help but feel jealous, since they didn’t seem to be saving anything for him.

There was a record crackle, and music started playing. The BLU Scout wasn’t sure why, but he felt soothed by it, his hunger subsiding a bit. He actually managed to close his eyes for the first time in almost two days. And then the noises started again.

The sounds the meaty things were making were louder, as the Meaty Thing in the White Coat was groaning and grunting in a way that sounded like he was one of /them/. But then he would start gasping out words again, and the illusion was shattered. A smarter creature might have caught onto this, but every time the doctor started to moan, Stumpy thought that he had turned. And after a few minutes of listening, the BLU Scout decided to answer him by grunting back at him.

The Doctor’s voice, however, got higher and louder, surprising Stumpy. Now he was making ragged panting and gasping noises, and occasionally letting out a high-pitched whines. Stumpy wasn’t sure how to respond to these noises, they were entirely new. He decided to let out another rattling cry from his throat, louder this time, so that he could be heard. The doctor let out a string of foreign words that were loud and breathy, and now the Big Scary Meaty Thing was making the familiar-sounding grunting noises. The BLU Scout kept calling out back to him.

As the chorus swelled on the record player and the doctor grew louder and more delirious, screaming now. Stumpy couldn’t stand much more of this, letting out a throaty, angry bellow.

The sounds subsided for a bit, the creaking of bedsprings halting. The Meaty Thing in the White Coat’s breathing started to calm a bit, “Ach, ze subject… Heavy…”

“SHUT UP, LITTLE SCOUT, OR I BREAK YOUR SPINE!” Heavy roared.

Stumpy recoiled a bit. He couldn’t understand the threat, but he still had some very basic instinct of self-preservation, and remained silent. He was still so hungry, so very hungry, but the meaty things were ignoring him, making strange noises and getting mad at him for answering them back. Meaty Thing in the White Coat and Big Scary Meaty Thing went back to making those noises again once they seemed satisfied with Stumpy’s silence. If he remembered how, the BLU Scout might have cried. He didn’t want to be in the dark, hungry and ignored. He felt something strange inside him, something that wasn’t hunger, some feeling he used to feel long ago but he couldn’t remember the word for it. What was that word, the word that meant that he wanted somebody in that room with him? Even if it was just Medic looking over him coolly with a clipboard in hand, taking notes, not letting Stumpy bite him or anything; that would be better than this. Then he remembered the word he was looking for with a dull epiphany.

He was /lonely/.

______________________________________________________________


The stars were spilled across the inky blue canvas of the night sky like a jar of glitter, with the moon fully pregnant and threatening to outshine them. The sound of Sniper’s radio playing tinny strains of “Who Are You” intermingled with the occasional howl of a lonely coyote or a hoot of an owl. Soldier didn’t really soak up the atmosphere of the desert at night. He and Shovel were on a mission. One of the BLUs escaped, and nobody seemed to care much beyond the fact that he might spread that disease. Their misplaced priorities were no doubt caused by their scheming Medic. He had told this to Shovel, who listened patiently to him, although oddly indifferent to his theory.

/Going to investigate the fence, are we?/ asked Shovel.

“If I could, Shovel, I would hunt down that BLU sonuvabitch and utterly /destroy/ him. Make his corpse so unrecognizable they’d have to identify him by his dental records.” He snorted, “Unfortunately, I doubt I’d be able to catch up with him at this point. That, and if I left, the others might suspect something. Or they might say I was trying to make a run for it. I got a reputation to maintain, Shovel, I can’t let any of them think that for a second.”

/So, what’s your plan?/

Soldier wrung Shovel’s handle uncomfortably, “I, uh… I don’t actually have one yet. I’m working on it.”

Shovel laughed. /You really think the BLU Spy is your main concern right now?/

“Look, Shovel, I know you want me to stay focused on Medic, but goddammit, I was sent out here and paid to fight BLUs. And I’ll feel a hell of a lot better if I can do something, /anything/, about this BLU Spy.” He continued walking along the fence that separated 2fort from the rest of the desert, his eyes scanning the naked train tracks. He tilted his helmet up to get a better view. “Nearest outpost is about six miles. Doubt BLU Spy made it that far, but there’s also a highway that’s a bit closer. He might’ve been able to have hitchhiked father away, and that’s assuming he’s not dead or he’s wound up like that BLU Scout.”

/If that’s the case, then he’d either be officially dead or AWOL, making him no longer our concern anyway. Pursuing this is useless./

“Don’t wanna be inside the base anyway. I can /hear/ Medic and Heavy from my room.” His grip on Shovel’s handle tightened, “It’s disgusting.”

/You’re preaching to the choir here, Soldier./ Shovel said with a chuckle. /Although, your teammates don’t seem to care about that much, do they?/

“I’m pretty sure they just gave up. People can get used to anything, Shovel, and that’s a terrible way to live. Spy might be queer, too. Maybe just half-queer. Hell, I think that bastard would stick his dick into anything on two legs.”

/Well, he is French./

Soldier snorted, trying to suppress his laughter. He was within earshot of Sniper and Demoman, who were on the roof, talking and listening to that goddamned hippie music Sniper was so fond of. He didn’t want them eavesdropping on his conversation with Shovel. Soldier didn’t completely trust them. He wanted to, since they were a team and all, but quite frankly, neither Sniper nor Demo would be fully deserving of Soldier’s respect, and it all really boiled down to the fact that neither of them were /American/, and because of that, they’d never be able to fully understand him. Maybe if they became citizens, became assimilated, then they’d understand.

/What’s on your mind, Soldier?/

“Quiet, Shovel, they’ll hear you,” Soldier hissed, trying to skulk past their view.

“OI! SOLLY!”

He winced as Sniper called down to him, turning his head up to the Australian waved down to him. He hated that nickname. Sniper probably knew that, but called him by it anyway.

“What’re ye up to, lad?” Demo shouted down, pointing at him with the rim of his bottle.

“That’s classified information, Private!” Soldier barked back. “Mind your own business.”

“Ah, c’mon, Solly, don’t be such a /square/,” Sniper put a lot of emphasis on this last word, knowing full well that Soldier could be set off by anything he perceived as “hippie-beatnik talk.” “C’mon up an’ have a beer. Y’could always stand t’ unwind a bit.”

Sniper’s offer was… tempting. Most of the other team members didn’t really choose to socialize with Soldier, with the sole exception being Scout, who liked to chat up everyone. Really, Sniper and Demo weren’t bad people, just… /misguided/. Going up for a few beers couldn’t hurt.

/You don’t have time to waste, Soldier./ Shovel reminded him gravely. /We’ve got work to do./

“Sorry, men, but I’ve got other obligations.” Soldier straightened up and puffed his chest out, giving a sharp salute, “I’ll see you maggots later.” And he marched away, leaning Shovel against his shoulder like a rifle as he moved like wind-up tin soldier.

/We can’t afford to get distracted./ Shovel said. /Let’s go check out the damage done to our defenses./

“Right,” Solider said with a nod. His knees were locked as he swung one foot in front of the other, eyes focused straight ahead from underneath his helmet as he made his way across the bridge and towards the BLU base. This morning they had still been smoldering. Now they were thoroughly burnt out, the occasional beam collapsing under the weight of some bird or from a gust of wind. A scorpion skittered across Soldier’s path from one of the gaps in the fence, moving at a brisk pace. Almost instinctively, Soldier swung Shovel downward and used the spade to split the creature in half. He watched as each of its halves wriggled around uselessly for a few seconds before curling up and dying.

/That was nice…/ Shovel’s voice adopted a purring, sultry tone.

“Heh, yeah,” Soldier lifted up his weapon, putting Shovel back so that he was leaning against his shoulder and cradling the butt of Shovel’s handle in his palm, now walking along the fence on the BLU side. Soon he arrived at his destination, noting the large hole clipped out of the fence, the piece of it that had been cut out, the wire cutters that were still lying out, and the bloodstains that had been baked into the soil. Soldier bent down over the wire cutters, picking them up and studying them before slipping them into one of the pouches dangling from his belt. He then made his way to the chunk of fence lying in the dirt, and stood over it while tapping Shovel against his shoulder.

/Well, what’re you waiting for?/ Shovel asked impatiently. /Take it./

“Why?” Soldier looked at Shovel quizzical look. “What in the great blue hell a I gonna use a chunk of fence for?”

/Just do it. I have an idea./ Shovel said mischievously.

Soldier looked over the chunk of barbed wire fence, trying to figure out a way to grip it without cutting his hands open. Eventually, he saw a way he could hook his fingers into the gaps in the metal wires, and picked it up gingerly. It dangled from his hand, as he held Shovel with the other.

/Now, run back to base. Make sure nobody sees you./

“This a part of your plan, Shovel?” Soldier asked.

/But of course. Now, let’s go./

His gait was now up to a jog, as Soldier carried off his cargo. Without even thinking, he jumped off the ledge of the moat and into the water, treading back into RED base via the sewer. He was dimly aware of Sniper and Demoman’s conversation stopping for a moment, before it started back up again. Soldier crawled into the sewer tunnel, not even noticing that the jagged metal had cut into his hands and blood spots started to mushroom out into the water. He rounded the tunnel’s corner, and made his way upstairs, making a beeline for the War Room.

/Very good. The others all seem to be preoccupied./ Shovel noted.

“Seems like it.” Soldier noted. He had already made his way past The Infirmary, and was almost all the way past the rec room when he heard a familiar, muffled voice.

“Hurrr, Surrllhurr.”

Soldier froze, and slowly turned his head to see that Pyro was watching television, not even fully paying attention to him. He decided to respond, so as not to arouse any unnecessary suspicion. “Pyro,” Soldier blurted, “I see you’re, ah, busy.”

“Nuhh rrlllrrly,” Pyro said with a shrug. Still hasn’t turned around, Soldier thought. Good. “Strr Trrk sss rrvver. Prrlly grrnng trr buuurrd srrnn.”

“Excellent! Yes, you get some rest. Too many of these maggots seem to be fond of sleeping in. Not productive at all.” Good Christ, he was not sounding like himself at all. Shovel could tell, and Pyro could probably tell, even if he made no indication of it. Goddamn, what /was/ Pyro, anyway? How could you possibly trust someone who always wore a mask all the goddamned time? Was he an American? Or was he something else… another communist in disguise, maybe? Chinese? Cuban? Or maybe he was something else entirely, some sort of inhuman /thing/. Possibly several midgets in a suit? A robot being controlled by a dog? This warranted further investigation. “Well, good night, Pyro,” he said, trying to regain the usual authority in his voice before bolting off before Pyro could even turn around.

Pyro had noticed the tone of Soldier’s voice. Something seemed to be wrong. He sounded uncharacteristically nervous, like he was hiding something. Pyro, however, assumed it was something mundane or silly. He had, after all, caught Solder talking to his Shovel again. Hadn’t Medic given him pills for that? Or had Soldier stopped taking them? He resolved to let Medic know about this, if he didn’t know already.

Pyro got up from off of the couch and switched the new color TV off. Scout was right. Being able to watch color TV again was pretty cool. When he poked his head out into the hallway, Pyro was surprised to notice the red droplets that had spattered on the floor. Small as they were, Pyro could tell that it was blood. The fire starter hummed to himself curiously. Yes, this definitely warranted a meeting with Medic. Soldier acting odder than usual could not possibly mean anything good.
>> No. 70
When Engineer woke up, the first thing he heard was the clatter of metal falling and bumping against other metal. He jerked upwards out of his bed, glancing around quickly to see Medic rummaging through a crate of spare parts, humming to himself softly. Engineer reached for his goggles before he realized that he had fallen asleep with them on his face. He was, in fact, fully dressed, aside from his helmet, which had rolled onto the floor.

“Doc, what’re you doin’ in my room?” Engineer asked sleepily.

“Ah, good morning, Herr Engineer!” Medic answered cheerily. “About time you voke up. It seems Soldier has taken to avoiding his medications by switching his meals viz his teammates. I apologize for zat. I’m going to have to find a new vay to make sure he doesn’t start listening to inanimate objects again.”

“Ya didn’t answer mah question, Doc,” Engineer checked the clock he had built that rested beside his bed. Good Lord, it was almost eleven o’clock.

“I’m sorry, Herr Engineer, I did not vant to disturb you,” Medic said apologetically. “I vas actually hoping you could spare some chains.”

“Chain, huh?” Engineer stretched his arms over his head and yawned, still feeling groggy. He slid off of his bed, scratching his back as he made his way over to the doctor. “I’m pretty sure I have some lyin’ around.” He pulled out a smaller wooden box from off of a steel shelf, sorting through it with his gloved hand before pulling out a length of chain, “This good?”

Medic took the chain into his hands, examining it and tightening the slack with a satisfying jangle. As he craned his neck, Engineer noticed a dark, purple bruise that had blossomed on the base of Medic’s neck. The doctor looked up to meet Engineer’s gaze, and covered up the spot with a gloved hand and a nervous laugh, “Zis, ah, vill suffice. Danke, Engineer.”

“What exactly are ya needin’ the chain for, anyway, if ya don’t mind me askin’?”

“Ze specimen I have acquired. I’m going to try keeping him on a leash,” Medic twisted some of the chain around his fingers. “I zink zat domestication of ze subject is entirely plausible.”

“Domestication?” Engineer blinked and adjusted his goggles. “Doc, he’s… well, was… a person. Yer talkin’ about ‘im like he’s a dog.”

“Even dogs seem to have a higher mental capacity zen ze victims of zis disease. Zeir only desire is to eat, so as to shpread ze disase in ozzers. It is fascinating, really. If you ah interested, I have been going zhrough BLU Medic’s files and film reels on his development of ze disease, und I have been eager to show zem to somevone viz an appreciation for science…”

“No thanks, Doc,” Engineer shook his head. “I, uh, never really got into the whole ‘mad science’ thing… no offense,” Medic’s features sagged with disappointment, and the Texan tried to think of a way to save the conversation. “You tried asking Heavy? Heck, I’m sure he’d be glad to help ya out.”

The doctor sighed, pacing over towards Engineer’s desk, before sitting down in his chair. “He does not seem to be comfortable vatching zem viz me. Yesterday he got all… ach, /emotional/ on me. It is unlike him, Engineer. Somezing about ze footage seemed to genuinely disturb him.”

Engineer felt a little awkward. Talking to Medic about his… relationship with Heavy always felt odd. He didn’t want to judge the poor man. God only knew that being out here cut off from civilization with only a few other men for company could /do/ things to you. He was raised to believe that romantic relationships were always between a man and a woman, and anything else was just unnatural and perverted. But Heavy and Medic were genuinely, truly in love with each other, and it certainly didn’t seem to hurt anybody, so Engineer simply shrugged it off. He just wished that Medic wouldn’t come to /him/ any time the two of them hit a rough patch. Maybe it was because Engineer was seemingly the only married man among them, and therefore would have some kind of qualification on how to deal with those types of troubles. Or maybe it was because Medic felt like Engineer was the only person he could relate to on an intellectual level. Whatever the reason, Engineer simply dreaded these talks, but never had the heart to turn Medic away. Jesus, what did /he/ know about homosexual relationships anyway? He had enough trouble with his own heterosexual marriage.

“Did you ask him why?” Engineer asked with a shrug.

“Nein, he just kept making me promise not to get bitten. Und last night, he vas very… vhat is ze vord? ‘Clingy?’” Medic nodded, assuring himself that his word choice was correct. “Ja, ‘clingy.’ I vanted to check on ze specimen at vone point during ze night, und he kept pulling me back.”

The Texan rested his chin on the heel of his palm in thought, “Y’know, he’s probably just worried about the risk you’re taking, bringin’ that thing in. Doesn’t want you to end up like BLU Medic. He just cares about ya, Doc.”

“He does not have to be so irrational about it,” Medic huffed. “I am a full grown man. I can take care of myself. I do not need him treating me like I am some precious little porcelain doll or somezing. Am I not ze vone who covahs for /him/ in battle? Really.”

Engineer chuckled, “At least ya got somebody lookin’ out for ya. Better’n nobody at all, I guess.”

“True…” Medic sighed. “I only vish he vere not so rash.”

The conversation had reached a stalemate. Engineer stretched out a crick in his neck, “You need help with that, uh, specimen, Doc? I could probably fashion a leash outta that chain, if ya want.”

Medic’s eyes lit up, “Vould you? Zat vould be most helpful! Danke, Herr Engineer!” He eagerly handed Engineer the length of chain, his mood having done a complete 180. “I shall be vaiting for you in ze infirmary.” Medic got up from the creaky wooden chair and strutted triumphantly towards the door. “You ah a credit to ze team!”

As the door to Engineer’s workshop clicked behind the doctor, Engineer immediately set to work finding the tools needed for this project. It was almost insultingly simple, really, but somehow he doubted that anybody else in the RED base could be trusted with a soldering iron. Soon after this was finished, he thought to himself, he’d probably drop by the kitchen for whatever scraps would be left over from breakfast, then go to see Medic. Without any BLUs to fight, hopefully things could become a bit more relaxed at the base. Engineer would be able to work on his never-ending quest to perfect his sentry guns, perhaps even create the very first level four sentry. The future was looking pretty good, all things considering, and new opportunities abounded.

It was time to get to work.

______________________________________________________________


The door to the infirmary creaked open, and Pyro peeked his head in, looking from side to side. He was not sure how much longer it would be unoccupied, but his curiosity was overwhelming him. He waddled first over to Medic’s desk, removing a folded piece of paper from underneath his arm and placing it delicately on top of a stack of papers. He clung to the other cargo he had brought, and made his way to the sickbay, cautiously pushing the door open and peering inside.

There it was, the zombie that Medic had dragged in, restrained on a gurney with almost half the straps being unused due to the fact that it simply did not have enough limbs to accommodate them. It jerked up its head, and started to grunt and pant and drool excitedly, causing Pyro to jerk backwards a bit in alarm. After regaining his composure a bit, Pyro crept over towards the gurney, and leaned over the specimen before him.

The phrase “uncanny valley” certainly sprung to mind, as Pyro couldn’t help but think of Frankenstein’s monster, and how the doctor in the book looked down upon his creation, some horrible imitation of a human being, in abject horror. Its eyes were clouded over with milky white cataracts, its tongue lolled out of its mouth like some sort of bloated red worm, its skin was white and papery from lost blood and was already turning grey from decay, and the smell… it assaulted Pyro’s nostrils even through his mask. God only knew how Medic could stand it… but then again, this thing had the face that only a Medic could love.

The monster on the gurney looked up at Pyro with its dead, bleached eyes, snapping its jaws and moaning. Pyro shoved his axe into the crook of his armpit and pulled out the paper bag he had under his arm, opening it and rustling through loudly before pulling out a lump of ground-up beef.

By now, the horror was bucking and writhing against its restraints, eyes widened as it moaned in anticipation. Pyro hesitated, at first, not sure if this experiment of his was a good idea. It probably wasn’t, but that was why he had brought the axe. He then took several steps back, making sure that the things eyes were locked on him, before setting down the meat on the floor. He then crept back over the gurney, leaning over the specimen before him. It didn’t seem to have much interest in the fire starter, however, as it was still straining against the straps and staring intently at the lump of meat on the floor. Pyro tightened his grip around his axe, taking a few deep breaths before his hands whipped out over the belt buckles on the gurney, undoing all of them before he leapt backwards and crouched, his axe in both hands ready to swing.

The zombie seemed surprised by his sudden freedom, wriggling off of the gurney and falling onto the floor, his guts spilling out with a wet slap. This hardly deterred it however, as it dragged itself across the floor, smacking its palm on the cool, smooth linoleum and pulling its body forward as its ropey intestines spewed outward, vomiting blood and bile and God knew what else. Eventually, it found its prize, grabbing the meat with its only hand and greedily shoving it into its mouth.

Pyro watched this with his head tilted, slowly advancing upon the thing with his axe still firmly in his grip, careful not to step on any of its organs. The monstrosity before him didn’t even seem to notice his presence, still happily wolfing down the meal before him. Pyro cautiously reached out his hand towards it, his gloved fingers slowly unfurling as he got closer to the living corpse. There was an electric tension in the inch between Pyro’s index finger and the back of the monsters shoulder, but it was cut off completely when the door to the infirmary creaked open, and Medic could be heard humming an upbeat tune to himself. Pyro panicked, looking around frantically for a place to hide, before finally deciding on underneath one of the beds in the room. In retrospect, it was probably not the best hiding spot, but with his limited options, it had to do.

He curled up underneath the bed, watching as the zombie picked up his head and started to cry out excitedly as Medic’s footsteps came closer. “Ja, ja, I’m right here, you horrible little monstah, just vait a mome-MEIN GOTT!” Pyro winced; he could see Medic jump as he had opened the sickbay door.

Medic, however, was quick to react to the advancing zombie, stomping down on the creature between his shoulder blades and holding it down firmly against the floor. The monster just wriggled around uselessly before Medic pressed its head against the floor, keeping it from moving. “Zis is not funny! Who did zis? Soldier? Show yourself!”

Pyro scooted further back under the bed, but he had made enough noise that Medic’s head swiveled around in his direction, his look of righteous indignation quickly replaced by one of puzzlement. “Pyro? Vhat ah you doing here? Is zis your doing?” Pyro nodded meekly, crawling out from his hiding spot with metaphorical tail between his legs.

“I am surprised at you, Pyro,” Medic said. “Vhat is ze meaning of zis? You could have gotten us killed, you know.”

Knowing that words would not suffice for an answer, Pyro again reached for the paper bag still tucked under his arm, rustling through it and grabbing out another chunk of beef. He stood over the zombie and kneeled down, holding out the meat like a child would hold out bread crumbs to a duck. Medic’s specimen eagerly took a bite out of it, missing Pyro’s fingers, and Pyro nervously patted it on the head as if it were a dog.

The doctor found himself chuckling over this absurd and yet almost touching display, “Vhat, ah you trying to trying to tame him, Pyro? Is zat it?”

“Mrrr lrrkk trryuurrnngg trr crrnncuuurr mrrr urrnn fuurrr,” Pyro muttered, trying to suppress a shudder.

“Vell, next time, do not be so shtupid as to try and let him loose all by yourself,” Medic grunted as he tried to keep a hold of his subject. “He cannot move very fast, but I prefer to have him restrained in some vay. Vould you mind helping me get him back on ze table?”

“Hrrrkurrr,” Pyro nodded as Medic stood up, removing his foot from the zombies back, while at the same time yanking it back and hooking his arm around its neck, while Pyro grabbed it by the hips. Together they lifted it back onto the gurney, while Medic held its head down and quickly fastened the straps over it. Its intestines were hanging out, strewn on the floor like stray sausage links. Medic simply bent down to pick them up, gathering the ropes in his arms as Pyro tried to keep his breakfast down.

“I really should have zese removed,” Medic said, more to himself than to Pyro. “Perhaps it could curb his hunger a bit. Ze subject does not seem to be affected by any physical damage outside of trauma to ze brain, anyvay.”

Taking this as his cue to leave, Pyro already started back up to the infirmary door. He was not keen on the prospect of seeing Medic rip out that thing’s organs. “Surr yrr luuhurr, Mrrdrrk,” he mumbled, before turning to leave and scuttling out of the door.

He wasn’t sure what to think. He went in, terrified of the thing on the table, intent on trying to see if it was possible to tame it. Now that he came out, there was a nauseating feeling of disgust and pity in the pit of his stomach. It was a monster; that much was obvious. It was a horrible, hideous abomination of God and Science, not even fully aware of what it was or who it used to be. But the worst part, the absolute worst part of it all was the empathy that Pyro felt for it.

After all, how could a monster pass judgment on another monster?

______________________________________________________________


Scout was bored. Nothing was on TV, he had read his comic books several times over, and nobody seemed interested in just hanging out. He had been up in Sniper’s roost for a while, but the Aussie wasn’t feeling talkative; he simply stared out beyond BLU base through his binoculars, listening to the radio and constantly shushing Scout when a good song came on, which seemed to be pretty much every other song. Scout had suggested perhaps trying to tune into a ball game, but this was met by a venomous glare. There were times when Scout could successfully initiate a lively conversation with Sniper, or at least get him to listen to a story about one of his many brothers growing up in Boston or something along those lines, but this was not one of those times, so he left to find some other company.

He ran into Medic at least once in the hallway, but Medic said he was busy, and Scout was never completely comfortable around the good doctor to just hang out with him. Pyro, too, had been seen in the halls, but Pyro seemed to acting skittish and weird. Engineer was in his workshop, and merely shouted through the door that he was working on something for Medic. Demoman was in his room, nursing his usual morning hangover, and simply told Scout to keep an eye out for anything weird, and report back to him if, and only if, there was anything odd going on. Heavy was in the Rec room, playing chess against himself in some odd attempt at practice, and Spy was nowhere to be seen. This left Soldier as his last option for any company.

To be honest, Scout was never really sure what to think of Soldier. He didn’t get along with most of the others on RED team, whose attitudes ranged from Engineer and Pyro’s quiet tolerance of him, to Sniper and Demoman’s good-natured (albeit constant) ribbing, to Spy’s belittling, snide remarks, to Medic’s absolute exasperation with him and finally to Heavy’s barely concealed contempt for the man. But nobody really seemed to be friends with him. Scout was probably the closest, really, since he was the only one who bothered to talk to him and listen to his stories. He kind of reminded Scout of one of his uncles, all loud and boasting and maybe a little crazy but fun to hang out with on occasion. Scout thought this as he walked briskly to the War Room, whistling “The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down” with his hands shoved in his pockets. He stopped, however, when he could hear Soldier’s voice from inside the War Room.

“What? No, he’d notice if his tools went missing. Trust me on that, he’s not the type to just ignore that sort of thing.” There was a pause. “Ask him? Are you out of your goddamned mind? He’d know something was up. No, we’re going to just have to make do with our current resources. Besides, it’s hard to tell where he’s standing in all of this anyway. Best to wait until we can be sure.”

Scout’s first thought was wondering who the hell Soldier was talking to, but it didn’t take him long to figure it out. It was Shovel. Soldier was talking to Shovel again. Well, he had always been talking to Shovel, really, but now Shovel seemed to be “talking back” again. Medic was not going to be happy about this.

Soldier was not a very social person. When he first started talking to Shovel, Scout assumed that he had pretty much just made himself an imaginary friend, like a few kids he used to know growing up. With hardly anybody to talk to, Soldier seemed to just make up somebody to keep him company. At first, it didn’t seem too strange: Heavy had actually named his minigun and was known to talk to it on occasion and Engineer would sometimes coo affectionately over the sentries that made it out of battle when he thought no one could hear him. But over time, it became glaringly obvious that Soldier’s relationship with Shovel was different, in that Soldier started talking to Shovel pretty much exclusively, and would hold long conversations with it in his room. Medic had his suspicions about Soldier suffering from some form of dementia, but it was hard to prove, since it was entirely possible it was some sort of convoluted scheme to get everyone off his back. That was, until Soldier actually attacked the BLU base in the middle of the night, stark naked, armed only with Shovel and Sniper’s stolen kukri between his teeth. He had managed to take out about three or four of the BLUs before getting killed and respawning, screaming primal war cries and waking up everyone in RED base, and when confronted, he explained that this master plan was all Shovel’s idea. Medic confined him in the sickbay for a week, keeping him heavily sedated until he could manage to get HQ to spring for some meds that would hopefully stabilize him. Soldier never forgave Medic for it, and took every opportunity possible to harass him for any reason he could think of. He did seem to get better for a while, though, actually making conversation with the rest of his team, but lately he seemed to be regressing. And there was no surer sign of this than to hear him talking with Shovel again.

There was a weird flutter in Scout’s chest as he leaned in to better hear. He felt like this was a private conversation, like he shouldn’t be listening, but he reminded himself that Soldier was talking to an inanimate object, not a person. He lifted up his hand to knock on the door, rapping with an unusual amount of restraint for a Scout.

“Who’s there? State your name and rank, Private!” Soldier barked, causing Scout to jump back.

“Chill, man, it’s me, Scout.”

There was a long pause. Scout wasn’t sure if he was listening to Shovel or not. “Are you alone?”

“Yeah, it’s just me.”

Another pause followed. “Right. Enter!”

Scout reached down for the knob and turned it, opening it to find Soldier standing and facing the back wall, Shovel at his side, looking up at the various maps he had pinned up there. He turned around, giving Scout a wide, yet unsettling, smile. “Good to see you, Private! Come on in, have a seat!” he motioned towards one of the chairs up against the wall.

Seeing Soldier look that cheery was… weird, to say the least. Scout decided just doing as he said and trying not to cause any mood swings would be the wisest course of action, sitting down in one of the chairs. “So, uh,” good God, what was he going to talk to him about? “What’s goin’ on, man?”

“Something big, Private. Something /very/ big. The enemy is all around us, and we cannot let our guard down. I feel like you’re the only one who could possibly understand this. Besides Shovel, of course.”

“Of course…” Scout said. “Is this about the zombies? Because Demoman had that meeting in his room last night, an’ he an’ Sniper an‘ me are all gonna try and prepare for the worst…”

“You honestly think that they’re the big problem here?” Soldier threw back his head and laughed. “I like ya, Scout, you’re a good kid, but you’re naïve as hell.”

“Huh?” Scout’s confusion was painted all over his face.

“They’re the least of our problems,” Soldier put a hand on Scout’s shoulder. “I’m more worried about what’s going on inside the team, Scout. I feel like we’re losing sight of our values. Haven’t you noticed it at all?”

“What do you mean?” Scout was wary. Soldier never talked like this, implying things or dancing around the point of what he was trying to say. Quite frankly, it was freaking him out.

“Take Sniper, for example,” Soldier said with a shrug. “He’s a loner. Not much of a team player, that one. How are we supposed to function as a unit when he’s up in his roost by himself, listening to that goddamned hippie music? Something’s not right with that man. I mean, hell, he keeps his piss in a bunch of goddamned jars. What’s he saving it for, anyway?”

“I dunno, he’s not that bad a guy, once you get to know him.” Scout shrugged. “Medic says he might have some sort of obsessive… thing. I don’t remember the term. Somethin’ medical.”

Soldier tensed visibly, “Oooh, don’t get me started on Medic.”

“You’re still mad at him about those meds he gave ya, huh?” Scout asked, trying to sound sympathetic.

The fingers around Shovel’s handle tightened. Soldier looked down at the floor, breathing in deeply. “Scout, do you know who Wernher Von Braun is?”

Scout’s eye’s lit up, “Aw, man! ‘That Was The Week That Was’! I know that song! He’s like… in NASA?”

“Close enough. He’s trying to get us to beat the Ruskies to the moon. You know… he used to be a Nazi, right?”

“Well, yeah, that was in the song, right? ‘Call him a Nazi, he won’t even frown/ ‘Ha! Nazi Schmazi!’ says Wernher Von Braun’,” Scout sang.

“You got a good memory, Private,” Solider grinned. “Singing voice could use work, though. But I’m trying to make a point. I don’t trust that Von Braun fella one bit. Anybody who’s aligned themselves with Hitler is somebody who’s aligned themselves against me.”

Realization slowly dawned on Scout’s face, “Well, I mean… Medic’s never, y’know, come out an’ /said/ he’s a Nazi.”

“Of course he wouldn’t. Safer to remain… apolitical, as it were,” Soldier tapped the butt of Shovel against the ground. “But there’s no doubt in my mind that he was a Nazi mad scientist. I mean, Jesus, he just oozes it out of his goddamned pores. But nobody says anything. Not a goddamned thing. We all just turn our heads away because he’s on /our/ side, right?”

“Well, he is,” Scout said. “I mean, we’re all mostly in this for the money.”

“Maybe you are. I’ve got my own reasons,” Soldier snorted. “Point is, how much trust can you put in a guy who used to do experiments on human beings? Who knows what kind of twisted, inhuman things he used to do to people? Probably innocent people, too. Civilians. Maybe captured soldiers. Captured /American/ soldiers, Scout. Hell, without any BLUs to fight, how long’s it gonna be before he gets bored and tries /experimenting/ on people again?”

“You really think he would?” Scout’s stomach sank. Medic never really liked talking about The War, but the way he always seemed to get so giddy stitching up the members of RED team, causing them pain. Stumpy wasn’t helping much either, since Medic seemed to be /way/ too excited to capture that zombified bastard and show him off to everyone else like some kind of fucked-up science fair project. Would Medic go so far as to try and turn one of the REDs into a zombie? He could barely suppress a shudder.

“I would not doubt it for a second. You said it yourself. Most of us are in this for the money. You think Medic really has that much loyalty to honest, patriotic Americans like us? I don’t even want to think about how he really feels about Demoman, the poor negro bastard.”

“Holy shit,” Scout hugged his own stomach, horrifying mental images of Medic leaning over a strapped-down Demoman, grinning maniacally as he carved away at the explosive experts’ flesh with a scalpel. “Should I tell Demo, or-”

“You are not going to tell a goddamned soul,” Soldier snapped. “This is top secret. We don’t know where everyone’s loyalties lie. Hell, I would’ve told Engineer about this, but I don’t think he’d understand. But you do, Scout. You’re the only other ally I got in this war.”

Scout nodded sheepishly, “Yes, sir.”

Soldier laughed, and patted Scout on the back heartily, “I like you, Scout. You’re a good kid. We’ll just keep this between us, and you keep an eye on Medic for me, make sure he doesn’t do anything… suspicious. Got it?”

“Got it,” Scout said, trying to sound more assertive. “You can count on me, Soldier.”

“Good. Best to get a head start on that. You’re dismissed,” Soldier did an about-face and looked back up at the wall covered in maps, focusing his attention on a very large, detailed map of Germany.

For a while, Scout felt too stunned to move. Eventually, he lifted himself up from the chair, and crept out of Soldier’s room, throwing back an occasional glance at the older man. Soldier didn’t even seem to notice. Scout opened the door to the hallway, and softly closed it behind him, trying to gather himself before he walked away, whistling to himself again. He could hear Soldier laughing to himself, and quickly picked up his pace, jogging down the hallway until he was out of earshot of that creepy, ominous laughter.
>> No. 185
“I fear zis may be my last entry. Ze bite from ze rabbit, it has become infected. Ze pain, ze delusions, ah becoming vorse. I have become feverish und have been experiencing bursts of terrible, terrible pain in my every nerve… I can feel myself dying.”

The BLU Medic on the projection screen was sitting at his desk, cradling his own head in his arms and his face contorting in a pained grimace. “I had done it. I had brought ze dead back to life. But I ended up turning it into somezing… somezing entirely different. I have created an abomination.”

He winced, gritting his teeth and screwing his eyes shut as his let out an anguished hiss, “God help me… ze viral culture has spread to me und is killing me. I had no way of knowing how ze brain vould be affected. I have only really succeeded in creating a terrible, painful disease.” The beads of sweat on his brow were visible even on film. “Und I have become ze first victim.”

RED Medic watched with intense interest, sitting on a metal folding chair alone in a separate room in the infirmary as the projector purred next to him quietly.

“I destroyed ze specimen… ze disease must not shpread… my last vish, is to have my body destroyed, completely und utterly… contamination cannot be risked. I… I am so sorry.” The BLU Medic started to weep into his arm, “Mein gott… I nevah vanted zis… not like zis… not like…” He suddenly screamed in pain, starting to shake and flail about as his eyes became wide and his pupils the size of pinpricks, foaming at the mouth and reaching towards the camera desperately before his body seized. He collapsed on the table, fingers shaking a little while longer before his eyes glazed over and the life visibly drained out of him.

There was a knock at the main door to the infirmary, and Medic found himself nearly jumping out of his seat. “Who is zere?” he asked, whipping his head around.

“’S me, Doc. I got that leash ya wanted.” It was Engineer.

Medic switched the projector off and got up, leaving the dark little room and walking briskly into the infirmary, opening the door to let Engineer inside. Engineer stood in the doorway, holding up the chain with a thick, leather collar attached, smiling a bit as he handed it over. “If ya want, I could try an’ make some sorta muzzle for ‘im, so’s he doesn’t bite anybody…”

The good doctor smiled. “Zat is an excellent idea, Herr Engineer. Come in, come in…” he ushered the Texan inside, leading him to the sickbay. “You vill not believe what Pyro tried to do earlier. He tried to set ze specimen loose und see if he could make friends with him by feeding him.”

“Oh, sweet mother a’ mercy. Is he okay?”

“Ja, not bitten or anyzing. Ze specimen crawled to ze meat Pyro gave him, und not to Pyro. It’s funny, Pyro even managed to get him to eat out of his hand. I nearly had a heart attack vhen I saw it. Neverzahless, it does support my zheory about taming zem, perhaps even getting zem to recall zeir lives before infection…”

He opened the sickbay door, revealing a still-squirming Stumpy, now with his torso wrapped with layers of gauze. He started to groan again excitedly as Medic leaned over him. The doctor patted him on the head affectionately, and motioned Engineer to come closer, who did so hesitantly. “I removed his intestines und stomach, because zey vere hanging outside of his body. He isn’t even slightly deterred by zis. In fact, he still seems to be hungry, despite having so many of his innards taken out. It is incredible, really.”

“Yeah… incredible,” Engineer didn’t mask his lack of enthusiasm very well. “You sure you don’t wanna wait for me to try makin’ that muzzle for ya before you go an’ start, uh, draggin’ that thing around th’ base? I’d say ‘walkin’ but seein’ as he doesn’t have any legs or anythin’…”

Medic laughed, “Vell, he has figured out how to drag himself around across ze floor. Perhaps if he had some sort of little cart or a vagon or somezing… hmm…” He held down Stumpy’s head and wrapped the leather collar around his neck. “I am zinking zat ve could try hooking ze chain up somevhere in ze room. Allowing him to move about a bit more freely could help viz mein research…” His eyes wandered around until they landed on a corner in the ceiling.

“Personally, Doc, I’m fine with him bein’ strapped down like that. I don’t really need that thing wanderin’ around th’ base.” Engineer’s eyes locked with those of Stumpy. The BLU Scout tilted his head and grunted. “Really, he’s a livin’ biohazard.”

“True, but if he can be tamed, zis could open up a lot of possibilities for ze practical usage of ze victims. Cheap, menial labor comes to mind.” He walked towards a corner of the sickbay, lifting a leg to stand up on one of the beds so as to hook up the other end of the leash, which also had a leather strap, to an odd pipe sticking out of the ceiling. He looped the straps and chain around, yanked on it a few times to make sure it was secure, and then stepped off the bed. “Zhough, I hope it does not come to zat. I only hope zat ze BLU Spy has not claimed any victims.”

“Figures it would hafta be the BLU Spy to escape,” Engineer sighed and shook his head. “Hated that BLU Spy. I can’t even count how many sentries a’ mine he destroyed. Sneaky little…” his voice trailed off as Medic made his way back to the gurney, motioning for Engineer to back away. Medic took a deep, sharp breath before quickly undoing the straps and jumping back.

Stumpy once again flopped off of the gurney, sending it rolling backwards as he hit the floor stomach-first. He tried to pull himself forward with his only arm towards Medic and Engineer, only to choke himself on the end of the leash at the chain pulled taut. He fell to his stomach again, and still tried to reach his arm for the two men before him, grunting and straining uselessly as his fingers unfurled, hoping he could get close enough to grab either of them.

“I don’t think I’m every really gonna get used to ‘em, Doc,” Engineer said, rubbing the back of his neck. “Personally, if it were up to me, I’d just put ‘im out of his misery. Seems to me t’ be far more humane then lettin’ ‘im live like /that/.”

“Humane?” Medic looked at Engineer with a raised eyebrow. “Ve are essentially hired killers, Herr Engineer. Our very profession is /inhumane/. Besides, killing him vould be counterproductive to mein research. And zere is much to learn about ze exact nature of zis disease.” Engineer looked at him uneasily, and the doctor sighed. “I vas afraid you might not see eye-to-eye viz me on zis, Engineer. No vone does, I do not even zink Heavy is entirely comfortable viz zis, zhough he has been trying to hide it...”

Engineer’s sudden guilt was written all over his face, “Lissen, Doc, don’t be like that, I can see what yer tryin’ t’ do, I just… I’m just tryin’ to be cautious, I guess. I don’t wanna come off soundin’ /paranoid/ or nothin’…”

“I vould not blame you for being paranoid,” Medic said darkly. “Especially given zat it vas BLU Medic’s lack of discretion zat led to ze outbreak in ze BLU base to begin viz.” He looked over to Stumpy, who had stopped moving and was simply staring up at the two of them from his position on the floor. “Zis vas an experiment of his. He vanted to replicate ze effects of ze respawn outside of battle.”

“Y’know… come to think of it, I’m not even entirely sure how the respawn system works,” Engineer stroked his chin. “HQ ain’t very eager t’ hand over any info on it, and I’ve got so little t’ work with as far as tryin’ to go about lookin’ into it mahself. Shame, really, since I’m intensely curious.”

“As am I,” Medic said, not taking his eyes off of the BLU Scout on the floor.

“Doktor? You here, Doktor?” Heavy’s voice could be heard from the main room of the infirmary, as the door creaked open.

“Ja, I am here. Come on in, Heavy,” Medic called.

Heavy opened to door to the infirmary, looking surprised to see Engineer in the room, and doubly so to see Stumpy on a leash trying to wriggle towards him, “Doktor, vhy is Stumpy on leash like dog?”

“For research purposes, meine Liebe. I vas discussing zis viz Engineer, who vas kind enough to construct a leash for him.” Engineer gave Heavy a bashful little wave at Medics mention of him. “Just don’t get close enough for him to reach you, und you vill be fine.”

The Russian let out a hearty laugh. “I am not scared of being bitten by leetle Scout. I vill protect Doktor from Stumpy! You see!” Stumpy snarled at him, to which Heavy responded my imitating the noises the BLU Scout made. This caused Stumpy to become louder and angrier in his cries, and Heavy retaliated in turn, bellowing like a moose.

“Heavy, stop teasing ze subject!” Medic chided.

“Vhat, I am just talking to him. Make sure he leaves Doktor alone,” Heavy jabbed a finger at the BLU Scout. “He knows. I make sure he knows, or I crush him.”

“Mein hero,” Medic rolled his eyes.

“Oh!” Heavy lifted his hand, holding a folded piece of paper. “This vas on desk. Is for you.” He handed it to Medic.

Sure enough, the sheet of paper had “MEDIC” written on the outside of it in a child-like scrawl. Medic opened it up and scanned over the note, then decided to read it aloud, “Dear Medic, Soldier is acting veird. He sneaks around base und it is creepy. I think he is planning somezing. Keep watch on him. Love, Pyro.”

“Wait, ‘love, Pyro’?” Engineer gave Medic an odd look. Heavy, too, gave Medic a confused glance.

“I assure you, Herr Engineer, zat zere is nozing between Pyro und I. Eizzah he has a strange sense of humor or he is not familiar with how to properly write a letter.” He folded the note back up and tucked it inside of his coat. “It seems zat Soldier may be… up to somezing.”

“Like what? He’s always actin’ strange, really. I always figured it had somethin’ to do with th’ constant head trauma he gives himself, whackin’ himself in the head with that shovel…”

“Zat is only ze tiniest tip of ze iceberg zat is ze problems viz Soldier’s mental state,” Medic said with a sigh. “Danke, Heavy.”

“You’re velcome, Doktor,” the Russian beamed a little at the acknowledgment.

“’Ey, lissen, Doc,” Engineer piped up, “I’m gonna go start on that muzzle for ya’, leave you two, y’know, /alone/.”

Medic shot Engineer a confused look, while Heavy merely let a rumbling, low laugh rise up from his chest, “Vhat is /zat/ supposed to mean? Please, Engineer, I am not some sort of sex-crazed maniac. I have /vork/ to do. Give me a bit more credit here.” Medic crossed his arms over his chest in mock indignation, before a sly smile betrayed him.

“Sorry, Doc, y’know I don’t mean nothin’ by it.” Engineer made his way over towards the sickbay door, opening it. “C’mon, let’s get outta this room, that thing stinks to high heaven and that thing gives me th’ willies.”

“Zat is undahstandable. Come, Heavy.” Medic followed the Texan out while Heavy followed. As they filtered into the main room of the infirmary, Scout’s voice floated into earshot from the hall.

“‘Ze rockets go up, who cares vhere zey come down/ zat’s not my department,’ says Wehrner Von Braun…” Scout sang to himself.

“Hello, Scout,” Medic said flatly, glaring at the young man with arms akimbo.

Scout yelped in surprise and whirled around to see Medic, Heavy and Engineer all staring at him. “Uh… hi, Engie, Heavy.... /Medic/. Uh… how’s it goin’?”

“Fine, zank you. How is your lip healing?” The doctor’s expression didn’t change.

“S’doin’ okay. Y’know… no problems.” Scout shifted his weight from foot to foot uneasily.

“Good, good,” Medic nodded. “Vhat vas zat you vere singing?”

“Nothin’,” Scout answered hastily. “Listen, uh, I got, uh, stuff to do, I think Demoman wanted me to report back to him, y’know, about zom-… I mean, about those things…”

“I see,” the German’s eyes narrowed as Scout continued to flounder in front of him.

“Yeah, so, I better go. Yeah. See ya!” Scout didn’t even wait for anyone to say anything before he bolted.

“Was that Tom Lehrer he was singin’?” Engineer asked this more to himself than to Heavy or Medic.

“Ach, I do not know. Ze ozzah day, he vas reluctantly flattering me und telling me how vonderful mein plan vas, now he avoids me like I’m some sort of leper.” Medic shook his head, “Such a shtrange boy.”

“If he picks on you again, Doktor, I vill beat him into pulp,” Heavy said, rubbing Medic’s shoulder.

“Well, if he gives ya any more trouble, Doc, instead a’ havin’ Heavy beat th’ tar outta him, I could try talkin’ to th’ boy,” Engineer suggested with a shrug and a smile.

“You alvays seem to be solving problems, don’t you, Engineer?” Medic chuckled. “Do not vorry about it. I have much more important mattahs to attend to. You can go about your business, Herr Engineer.”

“Sure thing, Doc,” Engineer said, walking out the door. He stopped for a moment, hovering in the doorframe before turning around. “Just, ah… Doc?”

“Ja, Engineer?”

“You’re… ah…” Engineer found himself almost blushing. “You’re a good guy, Doc. A mite strange, but you look out fer us. Don’t let Scout get t’ ya, okay.”

“Zank you, Engineer,” Medic smiled at him; not the usual creepy, sadistic smile that was seen more often on his face, but an actual warm, touching smile. “I appreciate zat. I only vish ze ozzahs could say ze same.”

Engineer looked as though he were about to say something else, but didn’t, instead just shuffling awkwardly before giving Medic a soft “See ya, Doc” and slipping out. Medic stood still, save his head turning slowly to follow the sound of Engineers boots pad down the hallway.

“Doktor,” Heavy finally spoke up after a brief silence.

“Ja, mein Liebling?”

“Who is Wehrner Von Braun, anyvay?”

“He is a rocket scientist, Heavy,” Medic said, patting Heavy on the chest and leaning into him. “Do not vorry about it. Now, come help me. Ve have vork to do.” He straightened up, snapping out of his affectionate mood, and picked up the tape recorder that had been lying on his desk.

______________________________________________________________


Engineer whistled to himself going down the hall with a spring in his step. He moseyed up to the door to his workshop, grabbing the handle, but stopped, becoming visibly jarred.

There was someone in there. He could hear them talking.

He tilted his hardhat to the side and pressed his ear against the door. Soft laughter bubbled from the intruders throat, and then some muted conversation. Engineer couldn’t catch what they were saying, but that soft, suave voice and that European accent gave the intruder away.

“Spah,” Engineer hissed. He could feel his good mood melting away like ice cream in the hot Texan sun. Spy went silent, before mumbling and clicking something into place. Engineer huffed and opened the door, standing in the doorway and crouching a bit, arms spread out at his sides and legs forming an arch, making him look like a cowboy in a Western film. “Come out, Spah, I know yer in here.”

A red plume of smoke appeared in front of Engineer, and Spy materialized, cigarette held in his cocky grin as he adjusted his tie, “Ah, you have found me. I must admit, I did not expect you back so soon. Per’aps, wiz ze BLUs gone, I have let my guard down quite a bit.”

“Cut the crap, Spah. What in the Sam Hill do you think yer doin’ here?” Engineer asked, hands on his hips.

“Official business,” Spy answered curtly. “I’m afraid zis on a ‘need-to-know’ basis, and you, Laborer, do not /need/ to know. Désolé.”

“You were talkin’ to somebody,” Engineer said flatly. “An’ I’m gonna venture a guess an’ say that you were usin’ the radio, since I’m pretty sure that y’ don’t talk to yerself, unlike some other folks ‘round here.”

“Such deductive reasoning skills, Monsieur Engineer!” Spy gasped mockingly. “I’m sure Sherlock Holmes would be envious.” He took a drag from his cigarette, and blew a few smoke rings into Engineer’s face. “Yes, I was. But, as I said, it is official business, and you don’t need to know about it.”

Engineer coughed as he waved the smoke from his face and his eyes started to water, “Next time ya wanna use th’ radio, y’ could ask like a-”

“…Like a civilized human being,” Spy finished for him. “Ah, Laborer, you are so predictable. No wonder BLU Spy was able to have his way wiz you so easily.”

“I am /not/ that predictable.”

“I knew you would say zat.”

“That’s not funny, Spah,” Engineer was now red in the face and almost entirely out of patience. “Now, why don’t you just git? I got work t’ do.” He jerked his head towards the door, motioning to it without his hands.

“Very well. I shall take my leave,” Spy bowed dramatically, with a sly smile on his face. “Per’aps I should follow your advice and go bozzer Sniper for a change. ‘E seems to have gotten it into ‘is ‘ead zat he and Demoman are our only hope in ze face of ze inevitable zombie uprising.” He laughed, and patted Engineer on his helmet. “Au revoir, my hard-hatted compatriot!” And with that, Spy vanished in another puff of red smoke.

“Goddamned, good-fer-nothin’ sneaky sonuva…” Engineer grumbled as he made his way to his desk and sat down, the wooden chair giving a faint little groan. He reached for a drawer on the side, opening up his own private stash of Blue Streak. The drawer itself had been rigged to serve the purpose of a refrigerator, and had been constructed by Engineer on a particularly slow day in RED Base a few months ago. He pulled out a bottle and placed it on his desk, before reaching for a Swiss army knife he had lying around. He folded out the bottle opener and popped off the cap of his beer with a satisfying hiss, before taking a swig that would probably put Demoman to shame.

Engineer leaned back in his chair and stared at the ceiling, nursing his beer and letting his mind go blank for a few fleeting seconds. He leaned forward again and looked to the radio before picking up the transceiver and pressing the call button, “This is RED Engineer, Announcer, do you read me?”

He waited. There was nothing but silence from the other end. Engineer snorted and leaned back in his chair again before taking another gulp of beer.

______________________________________________________________


An armadillo skittered across the cooling desert ground as the sun started to set. It wandered along the chain-link fence, its snout hovering just above the ground. Eventually, it came across a hole, and waddled forward, nose twitching as it noticed an odd little red circle moving in towards it on the ground. Suddenly, there was a loud bang, and the dirt exploded upwards, causing the creature to panic and curl itself into a ball.

Sniper viewed the animal through his scope as it eventually unfurled and scuttled off. It was probably a bad idea to be wasting ammo just scaring the native fauna, but he had been bored all day, and yet he felt compelled to stay up in his roost, keeping a close eye on the desert. Scout had come up that morning, but he hadn’t stuck around very long. Spy, too, had tried his luck with bothering him, but backed down when Sniper threatened to throw one of his piss jars at him. Other than that, he had been up there all day since breakfast, alone, with only the drone of the radio to keep him company.

There was a tentative knock at the door.

“Door’s open,” Sniper shouted, not even turning his head. “Though, if that’s you, Spy, you can piss right off.”

The door opened and heavy bootsteps could be head coming up the stairs, “’Lo, Sniper. ‘Ow ye fairin’ lad?”

The assassin turned around and smiled at Demoman, “Could be better, mate. Thank Christ it’s you an’ not Spy or Scout.”

“Ach, donnae be so ‘ard on Scoot. ‘E’s a good lad, jes’ loud an’ mouthy. Spy, though...” He set down a plate of mashed potatoes, gravy and chicken beside Sniper. “Brought ye dinner. Hadn’t seen ye ‘round all day, figgered ye must be starvin’.”

“Thanks, mate.” Sniper accepted the plate and eagerly dug in. “Ya know,” he said, mouth half full, “I coulnn’t ‘elp bu’ notish th’ fensh s’ shtill go’ a ‘ole innit.”

“There’s a reason fer that.” Demoman said grimly, “The fence piece tha’ got cut out s’missin’.”

Sniper stopped eating for a second, then chewed what was in his mouth slowly before swallowing. “Missing?”

“Aye. Gone. No’ there. I checked this mornin’. I think Soldier made off wi’ it.”

“What the bloody hell would Soldier want with a chunk a’ fence?” Sniper asked.

“Dunnae. But ye remember last night, when we were on th’ roof, an’ he was sneakin’ aroun’ like some kind a’ fox innae hen house? I think ‘e took it.”

The Australian hesitated before shoving another forkful of chicken in his mouth, barely chewing it and swallowing. “Are ya sure?”

“It fits, donnit?” Demoman asked with more than a hint of vexation. “I dunnae why ‘e even does ‘alf th’ things ‘e does, but tha’ don’ stop ‘im from doin’ ‘em. All those John Wayne movies ‘ave done rotted ‘is mind.”

“So, how do we proceed from here, then? Board th’ hole up with a bit of wood?” Sniper asked before shoveling some mashed potatoes into his mouth.

“We may ‘ave t’ ‘ave an intervention, ‘a sorts. ’Course, Medic tried tha’ before, an’ a whole lot a’ bloody good tha’ did ‘im.”

“Oh, trust me, mate, I remember quite well,” Sniper rolled his eyes. “Piker bit down on my kukri so hard it still has little scratches from his teeth.”

Demoman burst into laughter. “Oh, aye, tha’ was a sight to behold, wa’innit?” he shook his head and wiped his eyes on his sleeve. “Good times, mate. Good times.”

Sniper snickered, “Yeah, I guess in retrospect, it is kinda funny.” He looked up at Demoman. “Ya brought anythin’ t’ drink at all, mate?”

“Only scrumpy. Ye wan’ some?” Demoman offered the bottle to his teammate, swishing it around a little bit while Sniper eyed it cautiously. “Oh, c’mon, t’won’t bite ye.”

“Eh, what the hell,” Sniper conceded, grabbing the bottle by the neck and pressing it to his lips, before throwing his head back and pouring it down his throat. It burned on its way down, causing the assassin to nearly choke. His eyes watered as he gasped for breath, “Jesus, mate, why not go an’ pour kerosene down yer gullet?”

“Don’ think I ‘aven’t considered it, boyo,” Demoman said with a chuckle. “Ye’ll get used t’ it, soon enough.”

Sniper sniffed deeply, and tried to regain his composure. “So, about that intervention… what’re ya thinkin’ we do? Askin’ Medic t’ talk t’ Solly’s not gonna do us a lick a’ good.”

“Wha’ aboot Scoot?” Demoman suggested.

“Yer not seriously suggestin’ that,” Sniper raised an incredulous eyebrow. “Scout? I’d sooner send a used car salesman in t’ make negotiations with the Soviets.”

“Solly lissens to ‘im, a lil’ bit,” Demoman said. “Le’s face it, Scoot’s th’ only one I ever seen really /talkin’/ wi’ Soldier. I mean, I tried talkin’ to ‘im, but there’s only so much a’ Soldier ye can take before yer head starts spinnin’. We’ll talk wi’ Scoot, make sure ‘e knows what we wanna say, then send ‘im on his way. In th’ meantime, we keep watch on th’ roof again.”

“More like get shitfaced and listen to th’ radio on th’ roof again,” Sniper said with a smirk. “But yeah. Sounds good, mate. Where is the little runt, anyway?”

“Aroun’. Prolly in ‘is room, maybe runnin’ aroun’ base. We’ll catch up wi’ him later,” Demoman took a swig from his bottle. “We go’ all night, really.”

The two men conversed more, their voices and occasional laughter floating out over the scorched desert earth. The armadillo that had run away before pressed his luck going into the hole in the fence again. He kept a watchful eye out for that ominous red dot. Seeing none, he scuttled forward, odd armored body propelled forward on stubby little legs, waddling in the direction of the RED base as the moon rose higher in the sky and stars started to peek out from the atmosphere.
>> No. 190
“Door’s open, Maggot.”

Soldier could hear Scout cautiously opening the War Room door, and closing it behind with the weight of his slender frame. Soldier turned from his position standing on top of a chair and writing something on the maps that covered his wall, and grinned. “Oh, it’s you! Good to see you again, Private. What’s the good word?”

“Actually, Sniper an’ Demo sent me here,” Scout admitted sheepishly, rubbing his arm. “They said you took part of the fence and now it can’t be repaired. They wanted me to try and get it back from you.”

Soldier snorted. He glanced at Shovel, awaiting instructions.

/He can’t have it./ Shovel said. /We can’t tell him our plans, yet. Stall./

“I need it,” Soldier said curtly.

“Why?” Scout put his hands on his hips and started to tap his foot. “I mean, c’mon, man, /we/ need it so’s there aren’t any zombies coming in through that hole. We just had a coyote going though the trash earlier tonight. Fence is there for a reason.”

Soldier hopped down from his chair, gripped Shovel by the handle, and confronted Scout, getting dangerously close to overstepping his personal boundaries. “Listen, Private. I need you to trust me. Can you do that?”

“I’d trust you a lot more if you told me what you’re gonna do, man.” Scout backed away from the older man a bit, nearly tripping over his own feet as he did so.

“Can’t. Not yet. Classified. When the time’s right, I will, but I need clearance for that.”

“Clearance from who?” Scout asked, brow furrowed.

Soldier cleared his throat and wrung his hand around Shovel’s shaft. “That’s also classified,” he said. If Shovel had eyes, Soldier thought, they’d be boring right into him now. “This is a delicate mission here, Scout. I can’t go around blabbing away about any unnecessary details.”

“Oh, so /that’s/ it,” Scout crossed his arms over his chest. “You don’t trust me. That’s it, isn’t it?”

“I never said that,” Solider’s grip on Shovel tightened and he gritted his teeth.

“You were thinkin’ it,” Scout spat. “Think I’m just a big blabbermouth, huh? Can’t keep anything a secret, is that it?”

/Well, he can’t./ Shovel grumbled. /But we can’t let him think that, now can we?/

“Scout…” Soldier put a firm hand on Scout’s shoulder, and tilted his helmet up just enough so that he could look the young man in the eye. “Of course I don’t think that. Why the hell would I have you keeping an eye on Medic for me if I thought you were just gonna squeal to him?”

Scout’s gaze turned to the floor as he started to paw the floor with his foot. “Well, yeah, I mean… I guess… but why can’t I at least know what you’re doin’ with the fence, man? Sniper and Demo are gonna want some kinda answer…”

“Sniper and Demo are too concerned with problems in the short run,” Soldier asserted. “Neither of ‘em can possibly grasp the scope of what I’m working on. Besides,” he wrapped his arm around Scout’s shoulder, bringing the boy in close, “I’m not sure if they’re entirely trustworthy.”

“Whaddya mean?” Scout shifted uncomfortably under Soldier’s unyielding embrace.

“Quite frankly, they don’t have any motivation to act with America’s best interests in mind,” he nudged Scout’s chest with Shovel’s blade. “They’re foreigners, Scout. They simply don’t have the same values as you and I. I suppose it’s not their fault, but it’s true and we have to recognize that.”

“So… should I stop hanging out with them, or what?” Scout had given up trying to squirm out from under Soldier’s arm. He was either more comfortable with this or more afraid, and either way, this suited Soldier just fine.

“No… no need to shun them. In fact, I’m going to need you to keep a close eye on them for me. Report anything you learn. As for the fence, well…” Soldier chuckled. “You’re going to have to lie to them.”

“Aw shit, man, you know I’m a lousy liar,” Scout bit his lip for a moment, then stopped, remembering the stitches still on the inside of his mouth. “Do I really gotta do this?”

“Oh, don’t worry. You won’t be telling them anything /too/ unbelievable.” He finally let go of Scout, turning his gaze back to the wall. “Just tell them that Soldier did something like, say, tear the fence up to little bits and was screaming about communists or something,” Soldier was parroting the words Shovel was whispering to him. Shovel’s voice was so soothing, so smooth and rich like warm butter. “I’m sure they’ll buy that, don’t you think?”

“Yeah… I guess.” Scout straightened his posture a bit now that he was free of Soldier. “You’re the boss.”

The grin that spread across Soldier’s face at the sound of those last three words was wide and toothy. “Good to hear, Private. Good to hear. By the way…” Soldier tilted his helmet up again, showing his cool blue eyes. “Any updates on Medic?”

“Not much, man. Engie was in the infirmary earlier today. He made a leash for that zombie Medic’s been keepin’ in there. I think he went back to his workshop and made a muzzle for it too.” Scout shuddered, “Fuckin’ thing creeps me out, man. I used to go head to head with BLU Scout all the time, and seein’ him like that… gives me goosebumps, man.”

“Engineer…” Soldier rubbed his chin while he pondered this. “Poor, misguided Engineer. Can’t say I’m terribly surprised. That sorry bastard. If we can put Medic in his place quickly, maybe we can save him…” He tapped his lip with his index finger while absentmindedly fondling Shovel’s shaft.

“How d’you plan on doing that?” Scout asked, now intensely curious.

“Simple enough, really. Just gotta emasculate the kraut bastard. Well, moreso than he already has been, that is. I know for a /fact/ that the Nazi sonuvabitch plays catcher more than pitcher,” Soldier snickered at Scout’s obvious look of disgust. “You’ll find out what I have in mind, soon enough.”

“What, you still don’t trust me?” Scout crossed his arms over his chest.

“Actually,” Soldier flashed the younger man a crocodile smile, “it’s a /surprise/.” Shovel gave out a wicked little giggle.

“Whatever, man,” Scout turned to leave. “Just take care a’ yourself.”

“Oh, you don’t have to worry about me.” Soldier pulled his helmet back over his eyes. “I’ve got everything perfectly under control.”

Scout merely nodded, turning back to the door and slipping out like a little snake sliding through blades of grass. The door clicked shut and Soldier turned back to the wall, rubbing his thumb against Shovel’s handle.

/You handled that fairly well, Soldier./ Shovel purred.

“Heh, thank you,” Soldier found himself blushing despite himself. Getting that kind of approval from Shovel made him… happy, almost. It felt good to please Shovel, and hear that gentle, androgynous voice grant Soldier his approval. He ran a finger down Shovel’s shaft without even thinking about it. “You’re the only one that understands me, Shovel. You… you know that, right?”

/I know, Soldier, I know./ Shovel’s voice was barely above a whisper. /You’ve told me this many times, and I never get tired of hearing it./

Soldier held Shovel in front of him and started to caress the blade, rubbing the edge with his thumb. Shovel offered little resistance to this, sighing as Soldier grazed the back of his blade with his fingertips, until he fingered a dent in the back that caused Shovel to gasp, jolting Soldier out of his hypnosis and making him drop Shovel. He caught his companion quickly before it could touch the ground, and he found himself sweating and his hands shaking.

“I… I’m sorry, Shovel, I don’t know what came over me.” He avoided looking directly into Shovel’s blade and tugged at his collar. “That… that’s never happened before.”

/It’s all right, Soldier./ Shovel cooed. /You don’t have to do anything you’re uncomfortable with./

Good God, Shovel knew exactly what he was doing, didn’t he? Soldier thought. What a terrifying and yet oddly exciting thought. Soldier cleared his throat. “You know how I feel about fraternization, Shovel. Let’s just say that didn’t happen.”

/Whatever you say, Soldier./ Shovel didn’t sound aggressive or bitter, simply… disappointed.

Soldier found himself panicking a little. “No, no, Shovel, I didn’t mean it like that…it’s just… this is kind of awkward for me. That’s all.”

/How so?/ Shovel asked, voice rising with a sort of child-like curiosity.

“Well… aren’t you a… a /man/, Shovel?” Jesus, why would he say something so stupid? Soldier silently cursed himself for asking.

/Don’t be silly, Soldier. I’m a shovel. You are the man./

“I mean, you’re… it’s not like you’re a /girl/ shovel.” Soldier’s palms were slick with sweat and he caught himself stroking Shovel’s shaft again.

/I'm not a girl shovel, but I’m not a boy shovel, either. I’m just a shovel./ Shovel hummed a little bit as Soldier twisted his handle. /Whether I’m a male or female, it all depends on what you want./

“How about we just drop the subject, okay?” Soldier blurted out.

There was a long, stony silence from Shovel. Soldier sighed, flopping down onto his bed, Shovel still in his grasp. “I’m sorry,” he muttered. He held Shovel close, cradling him like a doll. “This is all just… very overwhelming.”

/I understand./ Shovel said, in a doting, motherly voice. /Let’s just go to bed. We have to get up early tomorrow./

“Right.” Soldier got up from his bed, leaving Shovel lying on top of the sheets, and stripped down to his undershirt and boxers, keeping his helmet on. He felt naked without it, like his head simply didn’t feel right without it resting on top of his skull. The over-head light and the desk lamp were both switched off, and he crawled on top of the starchy, itchy sheets and lay down next to Shovel, tilting his helmet so it was resting on top of his face as he lay on his back. He lightly clutched Shovel in his hand, one of his legs sliding off the edge of the bed, and slowly found himself drifting asleep.

______________________________________________________________


There was a sudden, heavy pounding on the War Room door, causing Soldier to bolt upright from his bed and send his helmet flying forward. He gripped Shovel defensively before groping around for his helmet. “Who’s there? State your name and rank, Private!”

“Doktor vants to see you. Now.” There was no mistaking that rumbling voice and that Russian accent. It was Heavy.

“Go to Hell, you communist thug,” Soldier slapped his helmet on top of his head. “You won’t take me alive.”

“You do not have choice,” Heavy growled. “I vill drag you to Doktor if I must, Tiny Man.”

“You try it, you bastard! C’mon!” He banged Shovel against his helmet to better get his blood pumping. “You couldn’t capture me if you had a list of step-by-step instructions, Maggot!”

The door exploded open with the sheer force of Heavy’s shoulder, and Soldier hopped to his feet, Shovel in hand, to intercept him. The Russian lunged forward, grabbing the hand Soldier was wielding Shovel with and nearly crushing the bones in the process, then using his other arm to wrap around Soldier and hoist him over his shoulder. Heavy yanked Shovel from Soldier’s grip, and carried the kicking, screaming man out of the door and down the hallway.

“PUT ME DOWN, YOU COCK-SUCKING, MISERABLE SONUVABITCH! THAT IS AN ORDER!” Soldier roared, pounding his fists uselessly against Heavy’s broad back. “I’LL BITE YOU IF I HAVE TO, YOU FAIRY BASTARD!”

“You bite me, and I crush your skull,” Heavy snorted.

“HA! You wouldn’t dare! You don’t have the guts!” Soldier snarled, trying to turn around enough to see Heavy’s face, but it was impossible at his current angle.

“Trust me,” Heavy grunted, rolling his eyes, “Medic is only one stopping me.”

“ACH, WOULD YE SHUT YER PIEHOLES, AH’M TRYIN’ T’ SLEEP!” shouted Demoman from his room as Heavy lumbered past. They were up to Demo’s room now, and the infirmary was only feet away. Soldier braced himself as Heavy opened the door and sauntered inside, lifting Soldier from his shoulder and plopping the smaller man down in the chair in front of Medic’s desk.

Medic was sitting at his desk, wearing a bathrobe and sipping a cup of coffee coolly. It had to be very early, considering Medic wasn’t even dressed yet. The German tapped a pen against a notepad on his desk with his right hand, holding the coffee cup with his left and shot Soldier a smirk. “Ah, Good morning, Herr Soldier,” he said. “Sleep vell?”

“What do you want, you kraut bastard?” Soldier was in no mood for small talk.

“Ah, alvays cutting to ze chase. Zat is ze Soldier ve all know.” Medic took another sip from his mug. “Soldier, I have called you here because you have been causing some concern among ze members of ze team. Zey tell me you have been behaving strangely. Naturally, zeir concern is my concern. So I called you in here.”

“‘Called me’? You had your /girlfriend/ here burst into my room and /carry/ me out!” Soldier motioned towards Heavy with his thumb. The Russian was currently looming over him, still gripping Shovel in his large, meaty hand.

“Vell, I did not zink you vould come /villingly/, so certain measures had to be taken,” Medic replied with a shrug. “Especially since ze reason I called you in here vas for a psychiatric evaluation.”

“And since when are you a licensed psychiatrist?” Soldier crossed his arms over his chest. “Hell, I’m pretty sure you’re not even a real medical doctor.”

Medic leaned forward over his desk and scribbled down a few notes on his notepad, “Patient is belligerent and overly defensive. Often lashes out at others. Had to be forcibly brought in for examination…”

“To Hell with you!” Soldier snapped. “I don’t have to put up with this bullshit! I’m leaving!” He suddenly felt a large, firm hand on his shoulder, forcing him back down in his seat.

“Little man should stay vhere he is,” Heavy said threateningly, squeezing Soldier’s shoulder hard enough to grind the bones together.

“Do not make zis difficult, Soldier. I only vish to talk viz you.” Medic pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “Quite frankly, ve ah all very concerned about your mental health. You have been sneaking around ze base, generally acting shifty, and you have also been switching meals viz ze ozzers to avoid taking your medication.”

“I don’t trust your ‘medication.’ It’s a mind altering drug you’re trying to shove down my gullet, and only crazies and hippies take ‘em!” Soldier harrumphed.

“Soldier,” Medic put down his pen, propped his elbows on top of his desk and laced his fingers together. “You’ve been talking to Shovel again, haven’t you?”

Soldier did his best to keep a straight face. He felt antsy, especially with Heavy holding Shovel like that. He turned to Shovel, expecting some sort of answer. But Shovel only let out a soft little chuckle. God damn it, what was Shovel up to?

“Of course not,” Soldier finally answered. “Normal people don’t talk to shovels. Or sentries. Or guns.”

“Vhat are you saying?” Heavy once again tightened his grip on Soldier.

“Heavy’s anthropomorphization of Sasha or Engineer doting on his sentries is hardly as vorrying as you taking advice from a gardening tool,” Medic replied flatly.

“DON’T YOU DARE INSULT SHOVEL LIKE THAT!” Soldier jumped out of his chair, only to be pulled back down onto it by Heavy.

Medic merely looked over Soldier with half-lidded eyes and jotted down more notes on his pad in front of him. “Mmm-hmmmm…” he hummed, before lifting up his mug and taking another sip.

“What’re you writing now?” Soldier tried to lean forward and peer over Medic’s desk, but Heavy stopped him again.

“Zis is going into your file, Soldier. Zat is all.” Medic jabbed a period onto the notepad before reaching for a manila folder sitting off to the side. He flipped through and pulled out a pile of cardstock sheets. “Ah you familiar viz ze Rorschach ink blot tests?”

“Raw shark what?”

“I zhought not. It’s a very simple test, really. I show you an abstract image, und you look at it und tell me ze first zing zat you see in it.” Medic flipped the cards over so they were facing Soldier. “Now, tell me, vhat does zis look like to you?”

Soldier leaned forward and squinted, “A dog with its head split in half.”

The doctor raised an eyebrow.

“Vait, I see it too,” Heavy said, tilting his head.

“Let’s try ze next card,” Medic sighed, flipping to a different ink blot.

“JFK’s exploded head,” Soldier snorted.

“Und zis vone?” The doctor flipped to another card.

“Jap soldier that stepped on a land mine.”

“I am noticing a trend here,” Medic said, peering over his glasses as Soldier. “Alzhough, given your profession, I should not be too surprised. Perhaps we should move onto vord association…”

“Or maybe we should just move right to the diagnosis.” Soldier tensed under Heavy’s grip. “I know already you’re gonna say I’m crazy, that I’m not fit to be fighting! You want me out of the way because I’m the only one who seems to care that you’re a goddamned Nazi!” Medic flinched the tiniest bit, but it didn’t escape Soldier’s notice. “What’s the matter? I strike a nerve there, /Doc/?”

“My previous political associations are not vhat is under scrutiny here,” Medic said in a very slow, deliberate manner. He was angry, Soldier thought, he always talked like that when he was about to go off. All he needed was just a little more pushing. “A lot of us in Germany vere pressured into joining the party during ze Var…”

“‘Pressured,’ you say?” Soldier laughed. “Oh, I highly doubt that you were pressured at all, you goddamned fascist faggot. I bet you got off on those sleek uniforms, didn’t you? Bet you got off even /more/ on carving up a bunch of Jews for your little science projects, you sick sonuvabitch...”

“YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH!” Medic slammed his fist on the table, spilling a small amount of coffee on his papers. “Vhat vould you even know about ze Var? You didn’t even fight in it, you /Dummkopf/!”

“You vant me to pummel Leetle Man, Doktor?” Heavy now was gripping both of Soldier’s shoulders, gradually increasing the pressure he put on them.

Soldier laughed. “You know, I still can’t get over the fact that you’d go queer for a /communist/, Doc. Or do you /like/ to be completely and totally dominated by the same guys who handed your own ass to you in the War?” He was wearing an unsettling, Cheshire grin as Medic was red in the face and shaking with rage. “Oooh, I think I /definitely/ struck a nerve.”

“I’LL KILL HIM, DOKTOR!” Heavy roared as he lifted Soldier off of his seat, and flipped the smaller man around so they were face-to-face. “YOU SAY THE VORD, I KILL HIM UNTIL HE IS DEAD.”

“Nein, Heavy, zat vill not be necessary…” Medic was still shaking, but sounding the slightest bit calmer. “He vas provoking /me/ to fight him, not you. Unfortunately, fighting is ze only vay to get zhrough to him. I have been issued a challenge, und mein honor is at stake.” Medic took off his glasses with a shaky hand, and sighed. “I accept your challenge, Soldier. Name your time und place.”

“Hot damn, Doc, maybe you’re not so bad at this psychiatry thing after all,” Soldier said with a smirk. “Outside. In front of the bridge. High noon. I want everyone to see this go down. We use our fists only, like /real/ men… that is, if you /are/ a real man.” He flashed Medic another grin.

“Doktor is more of man than you vill ever be,” Heavy growled, still holding Soldier up well off the ground.

“And I’m sure you of all people would know,” Soldier jeered.

“Put him down, Heavy. Let him go on his vay. I must prepare.” Medic got up from his desk, picking up his coffee mug. “Und don’t you even zink about ambushing him beforehand. Zis is between Soldier und I.”

Heavy grunted, roughly dropping Soldier back onto the ground. Soldier landed deftly on his feet, and reached for his precious, discarded Shovel before making a hasty exit, laughing all the way.

______________________________________________________________


News of the fight between Soldier and Medic spread quickly, since Soldier wisely (or perhaps, unwisely) decided that the first person he should inform of this challenge was Scout. The young man had taken it upon himself to wake up everyone that was still asleep to inform them of this, and had several objects thrown at him in the process. Of course, no one was able to get back to sleep. Scout was too excited to care, acting as giddy as a child on Christmas morning, bouncing around the base excitedly, “SOLDIER AN’ MEDIC ARE GETTIN’ IN A FIGHT!”

“Shut up, shut up, SHUT UP!” Spy had snapped at him. “We already know, now go boil your fat, stupid head!”

Medic and Soldier avoided each other completely before their fight. Soldier holed himself up in the War Room, doing push-ups and jumping jacks obsessively, and barked at anyone who dared disturb him. Medic, on the other hand, was being coached by Heavy, who repeatedly tried to talk him out of it; Medic repeatedly refused. Sniper, Demoman, Scout and Spy all seemed busy discussing the outcome, placing bets and trying to work out the odds; Soldier was favored 3:1. Engineer refused to take part in any of it, distancing himself from the entire affair, and Pyro seemed content to be a silent spectator.

When noon finally rolled around, the sun was being blotted out by dark, rolling clouds. The sky was a dull grey and the desert yearned for its thirst to be quenched. The sky rumbled and growled like an unruly beast as Soldier waited in front of the bridge. Sniper, Demoman, Spy, Scout and Pyro were already there, waiting just inside the front entrance of RED base.

“Where’s Medic?” Scout asked. “It’s noon already, don’t tell me he’s backin’ down.”

“He won’t. He’s too proud for that,” Sniper said, leaning against the door frame. “He’s probably gonna show up late to increase the dramatic tension or something along those lines, the bloody poofter.”

Soldier stood at full attention, arms crossed, with Shovel propped up against one of the support beams of the covered bridge. He was completely and totally focused on the entrance of RED base, looking past the peanut gallery and waiting for that flash of Medic’s white coat to flutter into his vision.

Sure enough, Medic appeared with Heavy in tow, his expression grim and his gait methodical. He strode past his teammates without so much as a cursory glance, staring straight ahead at Soldier. He stopped abruptly a few yards short of Soldier, and stared him down a moment. Soldier snickered a bit, almost expecting a tumbleweed to roll by.

“Are you sure you vant to do this, Doktor?” Heavy asked, resting his hand on Medic’s shoulder.

“Ja, meine Kuschelbär. I have to do zis.” He rested his hand over Heavy’s before brushing it off, and took a few steps closer to Soldier before stopping. “You brought your shovel.”

“Shovel’s just watching,” Soldier said. “He didn’t want to miss this.” He cracked his knuckles, then pounded his fist into his palm. “Let’s do this, maggot.”

“Viz pleasure.” Medic stretched his arms out in front of him and cracked his own knuckle bones, then stretched his neck from side to side.

The rest of RED Team leaned forward in anticipation and Medic and Soldier started to circle each other, sizing each other up. It was Soldier that made the first move, letting out a primal scream as he lunged forward, swinging his fist at Medic. The doctor swiftly sidestepped away from the attack, and managed to land a punch to Soldiers jaw. Soldier reeled backwards, stumbling to a stop and wiping his lip, only to see a streak of red on his fingertips.

“FIRST BLOOD!” Scout screeched. “Doc got first blood!”

“Ha!” Sniper laughed, and turned to Demoman, “That’s five bucks up front ya owe me, mate.”

“Fight’s not over yet, laddie,” Demoman grumbled.

Medic stood over Soldier for a moment, looking rather pleased with himself, before he swung another fist aiming for just underneath Soldier’s ribs. Soldier, however, blocked the blow with his palm, then grabbed Medic by the arm and twisted it behind his back. Medic let out a pained gasp, as Soldier chortled and twisted it further. The doctor used his free arm to reach behind Soldier’s head and pulled his helmet over his eyes, before twirling back around again to land another blow to the American’s face. Soldier recovered much more quickly this time around, and managed to land a fist straight into Medic’s gut. The doctor was kneeling over himself when Soldier kneed him in the face, busting his lip open and sending Medic tottering backwards.

At this point, the spectators were now cheering and hollering and yelling commands to the combatants before them. The sky illuminated for a moment in a brilliant flash of lightening far off over the horizon, and then rumbled threateningly. As Medic and Soldier continued to exchange blows the heavens opened their floodgates and the rain started to come down a few meager drops at a time. Soldier screamed as he swung his fist into Medic’s face, coming up straight between his eyes and smashing his glasses against his face, cracking the lenses and twisting the frames. Medic found himself clutching his bleeding face as Soldier threw himself against the doctor, tackling him to the ground and pinning him as he battered his opponent’s face. The rain came down harder, causing the seeping blood to run and mingle with the soil that was quickly turning to mud. Heavy bellowed something out to the doctor, but Medic couldn’t hear him over the clapping thunder, as he tried to claw back at Soldier’s face desperately in an attempt to get the man off of his chest.

Soldier however, never felt better. He was punching Medic’s face over and over, shattering his glasses and making his face look like hamburger meat. This was for America, this was for the Team, this was for the values that Medic was trying to strangle. But most importantly, it was for Shovel, and Shovel was watching with approval.

Suddenly, he felt someone yanking him off of the doctor. He whirled around, expecting it to be Heavy, raising his fist to meet the Russian, only to have it collide into a familiar yellow glove.

“That’s more than enough, Soldier,” Engineer drawled, not bothering to mask his exasperation. “Stop this nonsense right now.”

“But…” Soldier couldn’t finish. Engineer just gave him a very paternal, disappointed look, and bent over to help Medic to his feet. Solder just stood there, panting as blood dribbled down his face, as Engineer draped Medic’s arm around his shoulder.

“I can’t believe you two. We’re supposed to be a team an’ here you are having a stupid fist fight for no goddamn reason. ‘Specially you, Doc. This ain’t like you at all.

“It vas… a matter of pride…” Medic sputtered, blood and mud and rainwater streaking down his bruised and battered face.

The Texan frowned as he turned to the others, “An’ th’ rest a’ you, none a’ you bothered to stop this. Hell, the only reason I didn’t stop this sooner was so’s you knuckleheads could get your kicks. I hope you’re all happy.” And with that, he walked Medic back inside the base, handing him off to Heavy. The Russian lifted Medic into his arms like a doll and carried him down, and the others, crestfallen as they were, followed them. Engineer watched them go before casting a final glance back to Soldier, who simply stood there, looking dazed.

The rain came down harder. The shower probably wouldn’t last much longer; desert rains never did. Soldier looked up at the sky, letting the droplets splash onto his face.

/Well, that didn’t go as planned./ Shovel huffed.

Soldier didn’t respond, at first. He simply stood there, letting himself be drenched. After a few moments, he finally turned to Shovel, “You wanna know the worst part, Shovel?”

/What’s that, Soldier?/

“Beating that maggot’s face in…” Soldier shook his head, spraying a few odd drops of rain, “gave me a goddamned erection.”
>> No. 191
Heavy lumbered into the infirmary, cradling the bruised and battered Medic in his arms, and made a sharp turn into the tiny room he and Medic shared. He gently laid the doctor down onto their bed, taking a moment to survey his injuries. His eyes were swollen and purple, and there were deep cuts between them from his shattered glasses. His lower lip and cheeks were also dark with bruises. Heavy began to remove the doctor’s mud-splattered clothing.

“… Should have done zat before you put me down, meine Liebe…” Medic croaked.

“Sorry,” Heavy said, removing Medic’s boots and placing them on the floor by the foot of the bed. “I told you Tiny Man vould hurt you, Doktor.”

“Ja… you did…” Medic closed his eyes. “I zhought maybe… I could beat him… I undahestimated his sheer brutality…”

The Russian just grunted, lifting Medic’s arm to remove his glove. He brought the doctor’s hand up to plant a quick kiss on it. Medic smiled weakly, and brushed Heavy’s face with his fingers. “You sure you do not vant me to punch Soldier for you?” Heavy asked, unbuckling Medic’s belt and sliding it off.

“Nein… zat vill not be necessary…” Medic sighed, as Heavy moved on to unbuttoning his coat. The doctor squirmed a bit, trying to help Heavy get it off. “Hopefully, ve can just move on.” The coat came off, sliding out from underneath Medic’s body, and Heavy worked on unbuttoning the doctor’s shirt.

“Do not tink it vill be so simple,” Heavy said, looking down at Medic’s now bare chest, which was now dotted in bruises, like so many ugly, violet flowers had blossomed there. He grazed his doctor’s skin with his fingertips, and Medic winced a bit.

“Cracked rib,” Medic gasped. “I do not even remember him giving it to me. Funny, zat.”

“You need ice, Doktor?” Heavy asked, running a hand over Medic’s hair.

“Please…” Medic rolled his head under Heavy’s caress. “Also, a bowl of hot vater, a rag… und some antiseptic und cotton balls.” Heavy straightened up, before Medic grabbed for his shirt. “Und some pain killers.”

“Da, Doktor,” Heavy nodded, and walked to the door.

“Oh!” Medic sat up a little bit, calling out to Heavy as he turned around. “Und a glass of vater… und anuzzah pair of glasses. I have a spare pair in my desk...”

“You relax, Doktor,” Heavy said with a small smile on his lips. “I vill take care of you. Lie back down.”

Medic flopped back down onto the pillow, and closed his eyes. Sheets were going to need changing, he thought. There was mud all over them, and while they were not particularly nice sheets, it was still a shame to get them all dirtied up like he had. Soldier had properly humiliated him out there, and if it weren’t for Engineer, his injuries would probably be much worse. He could hear Heavy rustling around in the cabinets, and Stumpy in the sickbay, making a few odd grunts and rattling his chain leash. He took a deep, shuddering breath, and let it out through his mouth. It hurt a little bit when his chest rose and fell, and his stomach still hadn’t recovered from that last savage punch Soldier had dealt him.

Why had he even agreed to such a stupid duel? Soldier was simply pressing his buttons, and he knew it. Worst of all, Soldier /knew/ that he knew it, and they decided to go ahead with it anyway. It had felt good to land a few odd blows onto that god-forsaken pompous windbag of a man, but it all went downhill when he let his guard down for just a second and found his glasses shattered against the bridge of his nose, and then tackled to the ground, gasping for breath in between blows to the face. Medic thought back to it, wincing a little bit, and vaguely recalled the feeling of something pressing against his already bruised chest… and shuddered when it struck him exactly /what/ it was. Medic made a mental note to contact HQ regarding Soldier’s immediate transfer.

Heavy nudged the door back open, his arms full of everything that Medic had requested. He placed each of them, one-by one, on the nightstand, then pulled up a chair that had been in the corner of the room and set it beside the bed. He then lifted up the washcloth Medic had requested, soaked in the bowl of hot water, then wrung it out, and started to wipe the blood and mud off of Medic’s face.

“I don’t like watching you fight, Doktor,” Heavy said after a few moments silence. “I alvays get so vorried.”

“Zat alvays seems to be vhy ve stick togezzah on ze battlefield, doesn’t it?” Medic hummed. The warm, wet cloth felt so soothing on his face.

“Ve make good team,” Heavy said. Most of the mud and the blood had been wiped off at this point. Medic looked slightly better now, albeit still bruised and swollen. “You want medicine?”

“Danke, mein Kuschelbär,” Medic sat up a bit, as Heavy handed him two very large pills and a glass of water. He popped the pills into his mouth, and downed the glass quickly before he laid back down again.

“Doktor?” Heavy piped up, holding a cotton ball against the opening of a bottle of antiseptic and flipped it over, soaking it.

“Yes, Heavy?”

“… You tink… vit no BLUs to fight… RED vill send us home?” Heavy started to dab the cuts between Medic’s eyes with the cotton ball.

Medic screwed his eyes shut tight as the stinging liquid made contact with the gashes just above the bridge of his nose. “I don’t know, mein Liebling. Vhy, vhat ah you getting at?”

“I don’t vant to go back to Russia vitout you.” Heavy moved onto dabbing Medic’s split lip. “Vould you come vit me?”

“I don’t vant to live in Russia. Too cold. Und I cannot go back to Germany… perhaps, somevhere varmer?”

“”Vhere are you thinking, Doktor?”

“I don’t know…” Medic sucked in another deep breath. “Maybe somevhere in ze Mediterranean… maybe Greece… or Venice. I’ve alvays vanted to go to Venice.”

“You speak Italian, Doktor?”

“I could learn…” The medication was starting to kick in, and already Medic was beginning to feel drowsy as the pain gradually started to melt away. “Spy knows Italian, doesn’t he?”

“He does, I tink.” Heavy started to stroke Medic’s hair again. “I do not like him, though.”

“I know, Heavy, I know… zis team… I zink ze team is starting to fall apart…”

“Don’t say that.” Heavy lifted Medic’s chin with a gentle finger, and looked into the doctor’s eyes, black as they were. “Is rough right now, vit no BLUs to fight. Ve get past this. You see. And maybe, they send us home, and ve can be together.”

“In Venice…?” Medic asked, his voice getting softer. He was already practically on the verge of falling asleep.

“Sure, vhy not?” the Russian chuckled. “Vhatever makes Doktor happy.”

“I love you, Heavy…” Medic sighed.

“I love you too, Doktor.” Heavy leaned forward and kissed his doctor on the forehead. “Now, go to sleep. You need rest.”

“Ja… I do…” Medic let his head fall against the pillow, and his mind started to become fuzzy and detached. “Don’t… forget, feed Stumpy. Don’t forget zat…”

“I won’t, Doktor.”

“Good…” Medic finally relaxed, letting the painkillers do their work. As sleep finally overtook him he could Heavy closing the door, although he sounded like he was a million miles away, across the other side of the universe.

______________________________________________________________


RED base was unusually quiet throughout the rest of the day. Soldier was expected to have spent the whole day boasting and strutting around the base like a proud cock among hens, but instead he simply holed himself up in his room, not wishing to be disturbed. Sniper sheepishly retreated back up to his roost, listening to the radio more loudly than usual as he stared back out over the desert with his rifle propped on the windowsill. Demoman and Scout sat in front of the television in the Rec Room, while Pyro broke out a deck of cards and started playing solitaire while sitting on the floor. Scout would occasionally try and strike up a conversation, but Demoman would give him curt, one-word answers and take another swig from his bottle of scrumpy. Medic spent the entire day in bed, and Heavy spent most of the day at his side, only really leaving to attend to Stumpy. Engineer locked himself in his workshop, nursing a beer as he tinkered incessantly with his sentries and teleporters. Spy knew what everyone in the base was doing, of course, since he had checked in on all of them, whether they were aware of it or not. He simply stalked the hallways, poking into rooms, sometimes cloaked and sometimes fully visible, occasionally pressing his ear against doorways and generally sticking his nose into other people’s business, as per usual.

Unlike previous nights, most of the team didn’t eat dinner downstairs at the table. Instead, they took their meals to their rooms, leaving only Engineer and Scout at the table. They ate in silence for a while, before Engineer finally spoke up.

“I just don’t get it, Scout,” Engineer sighed.

“Don’t get /what/?” Scout has pretty much cleaned his plate at this point, and was eager to leave.

“I dunno. This whole situation. The BLUs bein’ blown up and that disease Medic found and then that fight earlier today… I don’t know, Scout, it’s all so strange.” Engineer was prodding the contents of his plate with his fork. “Ain’t no real reason for us to stay here and the Announcer tells us our orders are to guard the base. On top a’ that, she refuses to even talk to me! She’s only been talkin’ t’ Spah, s’far as I can tell.”

“Maybe she doesn’t like you,” Scout said with a dismissive shrug.

“No… no, there’s more to it than that. He’s all secretive when he uses th’ radio… well, I mean, he’s always secretive, but even more so than usual. Dang it…” Engineer sighed, leaning on his elbow, his palm propping up his face. “An’ I was in such a good mood yesterday, an’ then this fight happens…”

Scout had finished his meal but wasn’t moving. He looked as though he wanted to say something, but was hesitating. “Why’d you go an’ break it up, anyway?” Scout finally managed to blurt out.

Engineer stared at the young man as though he had just asked him why he didn’t enjoy drop-kicking puppies. “Well, none a’ you were. I couldn’t just sit there an’ let Soldier punch the livin’ daylights outta Medic like that! He would’ve, too. An’ you were all cheerin’ him on…”

“Well, I mean…” Scout was visibly sulking, “Medic’s… he’s… y’know…”

“He’s what?” Engineer narrowed his eyes and leaned forward. He rapped his knuckles against the table top, awaiting Scout’s answer. Scout merely recoiled and bit a part of his lip that didn’t have stitches on the inside. “Is this because he’s… y’know… with Heavy?” Even Engineer didn’t even feel entirely comfortable being blunt about their relationship, and he felt silly realizing this.

“That, an’ he’s a Nazi, dude. Seriously!” Scout threw up his arms dramatically. “I mean, do you even /know/ what he did during the war?”

“Do you?” Engineer raised an eyebrow.

“Well, I mean, no, but… nobody does! That’s just it! I don’t even think Heavy knows.” Scout leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms. “I think he did experiments on people, man. Really, really fucked up shit. Like sewing identical twins together and trying to dye people’s eyes blue.”

“Uh-huh.” Engineer now crossed his own arms. “And what proof d’you have t’ back up these accusations, boy?”

Scout didn’t answer; he just looked abashed and slumped his shoulders. “I don’t have any but… I mean… Jesus, dude. What if he did? Would you just shrug that off?”

Engineer stared at the contents of his plate. He drummed his fingers against the side of his face, and then looked back up at Scout. “I believe,” he started slowly, “that people can change, Scout. They change all the time, for better or for worse, an’ I see no reason why we shouldn’t give ‘im the benefit of th’ doubt.”

“But-”

“No ‘buts,’ Scout. We’re a team here, and if we turn on each other, then, well, we’re useless. An’ I’m tellin’ ya, Medic’s not a bad person. He’s strange an’ kinda creepy sometimes, but he’s not bad. An’ I won’t hear anymore of you tryin’ to justify demonizing him. We clear?”

“Yeah… we’re clear,” Scout mumbled, hanging his head like a naughty child.

“My, my, laborer, you managed to make Scout quiet. Quite the feat,” Spy seemingly materialized out of nowhere, leaning over the Texan and doing his best to be obnoxious.

“How much did you hear?” Engineer asked, sounding annoyed.

“Pretty much all of it.” Spy took a drag on his cigarette, and blew a few lazy smoke rings into the air. “So quick to put your trust in ze good doctor, are you, Engineer?”

“And why not? He’s always looked out for us.” Engineer scooted his chair back and turned to face Spy. “Why, don’t tell me yer with Scout here.”

“Oh please, don’t insult me.” Spy flicked the cigarette butt to the floor, and stamped it out with his shoe. “I simply zink it’s foolish to trust anyone. Teammates included.” He smirked, taking out his disguise kit and flipping it open, pulling out another cigarette. “But zen again, zat is part of my job description. Trust no one.”

“Well, maybe you should learn to start trustin’ people,” Engineer huffed. “Then maybe I would just let you use the radio instead a’ you havin’ to sneak in when I’m not there.”

Spy laughed. “Ah, but how can I be sure that you wouldn’t eavesdrop? The information I’m exchanging is extremely classified.”

“Guess you’ll just have to trust me,” Engineer said coolly.

“Touché.” Spy put a fresh cigarette to his lips and lit it. “Alzhough, I highly doubt it. Adieu, Laborer, mon petit…” And with that, Spy performed an overly-dramatic bow and turned to leave with a peacock-like strut.

“Heh… didn’t cloak this time. That’s a rarity. Anyway, like I was sayin’, Scout-” Engineer turned back to see that the young man was already gone. He sighed. “Dag nabbit, between the two a’ them…” He never finished his thought, and instead finished his meal in a glum silence.

______________________________________________________________


The sun was just peeking up from over the horizon, painting the sky with a brilliant palette of orange and pink, when the rifle shot rang out. “BONZAH!” Sniper shouted out victoriously, loud enough for the entire base to here. The assassin then darted from out of his roost in the battlements, and downstairs to alert his teammates. “I GOT ONE!” He shouted, running through the halls and acting more like Scout than his usual self. “I bloody got one a’ the cunts! Ev’rybody, come look!”

“Ye got one a’ wot, lad?” Demoman poked his head out of his room, only half-dressed, clutching his head and looking very cross.

“A zombie, mate! Right outside th’ fence! Corker of a shot! Must’a got ‘im smack dab in the center a’ ‘is forehead! C’mon, then!” Sniper waved frantically, gesturing for the explosives expert to join him.

“Oh shit, man, seriously? Whoa!” Scout bolted from his own room to follow Sniper and Demoman excitedly, as the other members of RED team slowly stirred into action, with perhaps the sole exception of Pyro, who merely threw a bunch of muffled obscenities in Sniper’s direction.

Sniper hadn’t slept all night, and it showed. There were dark circles under his eyes and he was running on fumes, and yet somehow, he still managed to have enough energy to rouse the rest of his team over this shot. He sprinted out the front entrance of RED base, across the wooden bridge and past the blackened remains of BLU base, and up to the fence separating the battleground from the rest of the desert. He dropped to his hands and knees and crawled through the hole in the fence, then got back up to stand over his prize.

It was a white male, although its skin had already turned into a greenish-gray, and it was dressed in a blood-caked flannel shirt, white t-shirt, blue jeans and obnoxious looking cowboy boots. Its stomach had been ripped open, and there were numerous teeth marks around the neck of the corpse. There was also a small bullet hole smack-dab in the middle of its forehead, like some sort of gory bindi, and there were brains and bone fragments and bits of mucus leaking out of the back of its skull. Sniper looked over it with a grin.

“Whoa.” Scout had just emerged through the hole in the fence, and stood next to Sniper. “Nice shot, man.”

“Beauty of a shot!” Sniper said, his weariness starting to show through. “And past th’ fence, too! Almost didn’t think I’d actually hit ‘im.”

Demoman had now crawled through the hole in the fence, and motioned Sniper and Scout aside. He crouched down over the corpse with a narrowed eye, and shook his head. “Aye, t’was a gud shot a’right. But this jes’ proves me right. BLU Spy got a’ least one o’er victim. Tha’s bad news.”

Sniper’s features fell, and suddenly he looked as though he were ten years older. “Oh,” he said dejectedly, turning his eyes to the ground and staring at the dust that had gathered on his boots. “Hadn’t thought a’ that…”

“Of course you hadn’t. You always did have a bad case of tunnel vision,” Spy jeered from the other side of the fence, still clad in silk pajamas but with his balaclava still covering his face. “Snipers almost always do. Zat is why it’s always so easy to stab you in ze back.”

“Oh, piss off, Spy,” Sniper groaned. “Didn’t get a wink a’ sleep last night, Christ…”

“Oh, you poor thing!” Spy said with mock pity. “Come back inside so I can tuck you in and read you a bedtime story.” Sniper merely growled in response, and turned his gaze back to the festering cadaver.

“Good night, Irene.” Engineer had just jogged onto the scene, still clad in pajama bottoms and not much else. “Sniper, you sure that thing was /walkin’/ when you shot it?”

“Yeah… lumberin’ over all slow-like, like bloody Boris Karloff as Frankenstein.” Sniper held out his arms straight in front of him and did a brief imitation of Frankenstein’s monster. “Not movin’ very fast, but it was far away an’ just past th’ fence…”

“Get out of vay, make room for Doktor!” Heavy was ushering Medic forward. Heavy was dressed, for the most part, but Medic was in his bathrobe, his face looking much less swollen than the previous day. The doctor grumbled as he had to crawl underneath the fence, scuffing his bare palms and knees. He stood up, dusted himself off, adjusted his glasses and waved away Demoman, Sniper and Scout. He kneeled down over the corpse, eyes scanning over it, occasionally turning the body’s head or lifting its arm. Finally, he gingerly pushed the corpse over on its side, and plucked the wallet from its back jean pocket.

“Hey, man, that’s not cool, lootin’ the body like that,” Scout piped up.

“Don’t be shtupid,” Medic snapped, flipping it open and pulling out what he was looking for: the victim’s driver’s license.

“DOKTOR!”

“Vhat is it, Heavy?” Medic whirled around, only to see the Russian stuck in the hole in the fence, wedged in place and looking like Winnie the Pooh in the entrance to Rabbit’s house.

“I am stuck in tiny hole, Doktor,” Heavy whined, while Spy started to laugh hysterically behind him. “SHUT UP, SPY. WHEN I GET LOSE, I KILL YOU DEAD!”

“Ach, Heavy, vhy must you do these things?” Medic got up, and slipped the wallet into the pocket of his robe. “Engineer, Spy, vould you be so kind as to pull Heavy back in?”

“Yeah, sure, Doc.” Engineer grabbed a hold of Heavy’s ankle, and glared at Spy until he grabbed the other. Without even being told, Sniper and Demo approached Heavy from the front, and after a few acknowledging nods, Engineer and Spy started to pull on the bear of a man, and Sniper and Demo pushed against his shoulders.

“OW OW OW! Vhy is fence hurting?” Heavy roared, as the barbs from the fence dug into his sides, ripping his shirt. “I vill tear it right off the ground!”

“Please don’t, Heavy, ve need ze fence,” Medic sighed. “Now, stop being a baby und try to help zem get you out of zis.”

“Am not being baby. Sharp pointy things are cutting me,” Heavy grumbled.

“Maybe if you did not stuff your fat, stupid face wiz sandwiches all ze time, you might be zin enough to slip zhrough,” Spy sneered, still yanking on Heavy’s leg.

“I’M NOT FAT!” Heavy barked. “I have big bones and muscles.”

“Oh, yes…” Spy rolled his eyes, “and a big, fat vodka gut.”

Spy and Engineer would not expecting the sudden, forceful shove that Demoman gave to Heavy, jarring the Russian backwards and causing Engineer and Spy to stumble. Heavy sat up, and ran a finger over one of the cuts on his side, noting the blood on his fingertips. “Doktor!” he bellowed. “Fence cut me!”

“Next time, don’t try und squeeze yourself into places you cannot fit then, ja?” Medic’s voice wasn’t as sharp as it usually was; he still wasn’t fully himself yet. He crawled back under the fence after his Heavy and inspected his injuries. “Ach. A few of zese ah fairly deep. Really, Heavy…”

“Sorry, Doktor,” Heavy mumbled.

Medic clicked his tongue and shook his head, before turning his attention back to Sniper, Demoman and Scout. “If you vould kindly bring in ze body to ze infirmary for me, I vould appreciate it. I’d like to do an autopsy.”

“Ew, no way am I touching that thing, man. It stinks almost as bad as that… thing you got down there.”

“Stumpy,” Demoman said.

“Yeah, Stumpy. He reeks. Anyway, I’m not touchin’ it.”

“Yer a bloody wuss, Scout,” Sniper grumbled, already grabbing the corpse by the ankles and dragging it towards the fence. He then crawled underneath and gripped the body’s ankles again before starting to drag it off. Demoman followed Sniper back to the other side and lifted the cadaver up by the wrists. The two of them carried it back to the base, dripping bits of brain and tissue onto the ground. The corpse’s arm managed to pop out of its socket, causing Demo to lose his grip.

“ACH, SHOWER A’ CUNTS AN’ FECKIN’ ‘ELL!” he spat, dropping the arm. “Ruddy thing’s fallin’ apar’ like it were made a’ wet tissues.”

“Hold it under the armpit, then,” Sniper grunted.

“You had bettah not just leave zat arm lying on ze ground. Pick zat back up!” Medic snapped. Demoman obliged, albeit begrudgingly, and tossed the limb over the corpse’s chest, where it dangled limply.

The procession going back to the RED Base was an odd one. Sniper and Demo led the way, carrying the dead zombie back inside, followed closely by Medic and Heavy. Spy followed suit, stepping briskly, and Engineer trudged behind him. Scout brought up the rear, purposely trying to stay as far away from the stinking corpse as possible. Each of them walked past Soldier, who was standing in the doorway of the RED base clutching Shovel, silently watching them file in. Heavy made sure to cast a venomous glare at the American as he passed, and wrapped his arm around Medic, pulling him in close. Soldier merely chuckled. Once Scout made it inside and disappeared, Soldier relaxed his position, and marched towards the BLU base.

He and Shovel had some investigating to do.
>> No. 192
Stumpy hated his new mask. It covered his mouth and it made it so that he couldn’t eat meat. Clawing at it with his only hand had proven useless, as the mask stayed firmly in place and only the Meaty Thing in the White Coat could seem to take it off. He dragged himself across the floor and tugged at the white coat, grunting at the doctor, but the doctor was busy. He had another one of… whatever Stumpy was. Stumpy wasn’t entirely sure /what/ he was, although he knew he was not a Meaty Thing, and what the doctor had wasn’t a Meaty Thing either. It was like Stumpy, only it wasn’t moving.

“Ach, go avay, you little monstah, I am vorking,” the Meaty Thing in the White Coat said, batting him away with a glove covered in delicious looking blood. Stumpy tried to lick it off through the holes in his mask, but to little avail. He groaned again, louder this time, and went back to clawing at the doctor’s coat.

“Vhat do you vant? More food? You do not even have a stomach anymore, you shtupid little Scout!” Medic glared down at Stumpy, arms akimbo, staining his coat with red. Stumpy merely groaned and opened his mouth wide, pressing his tongue against the holes in his mask. Medic’s eyes drifted back to the corpse on the table, then back to Stumpy. “I vonder…”

Stumpy watched as Medic grabbed a handful of shredded organs and held them out in front of him. The doctor then undid the strap on the back of Stumpy’s mask, yanking the mask away and grabbing a hold of his leash, making sure he had a good grip on the monster before he let him eat from his hand.

Only, Stumpy’s reaction to the meat presented to him was entirely unexpected. He sniffed it, and then gave a tentative lick before recoiling and moaning in what sounded like disgust. Medic straightened up, still holding Stumpy away from him at a comfortable distance, and shook the innards off of his glove and back into the torso cavity of the cadaver lying on the operating table. “Very interesting…” he muttered to himself, keeping Stumpy in check without even looking at him.

“Mrruuhh…” Stumpy drooled, lolling his tongue out and looking up at the doctor pathetically. “Murreeeee, Murrdd…”

Medic shot Stumpy a curious look. He adjusted his glasses and locked eyes with the BLU Scout. “Vhat did you say?”

“Mrreeeeee!” Stumpy moaned. “Murrrdduk!”

The gears in Medic’s head were kick-starting into motion, and a mischievous smile grew over his face. “Einen Moment, mein little monster, I have an idea.” Medic then briskly took his leave, exiting the sickbay and leaving Stumpy alone and on the floor, starving as always.

The doctor dashed down the hallway, grinning maniacally as he came across his destination. He opened to door to Scout’s room without so much as a knock, startling the young man, who had been reclining on his bed. “Hey, man, what gives?” Scout shouted, looking up from a year-old issue of MAD magazine.

“I need your bat,” Medic huffed, walking right past him and grabbing the dented aluminum baseball bat, then turned on his heel and ran back out into the hall.

“Oi! The hell you think you’re doin’, man?” Scout hopped up and took after the doctor. “GIMMIE THAT BACK, YOU CRAZY QUEER-MO! COME BACK HERE!”

Scout’s insults fell on deaf ears. Medic raced back to the infirmary, bat in hand, looking half-crazed as he burst into the sickbay, holding the bat aloft triumphantly.

The BLU Scout looked up at it, a glimmer of recognition in his milky eyes. Medic bowed over him, balancing the bat over his palms and presenting it to the monster. “You know vhat zis is, ja?”

Stumpy merely stared, eyes wide with a child-like awe. He reached up, grabbing a hold of the bat by its grip, and slowly pulled it towards himself, looking over it. Medic crouched down and observed, smiling like a proud father watching a child take its first steps. He was too absorbed in studying his subject to even notice when Scout appeared in the doorframe.

“Aw, geez, Doc, you gave my bat to fuckin’ Stumpy? Gimmie that back-” He was silenced by a swift motion of Medic’s arm.

“Zis,” Medic said to Stumpy, pointing at the bat. “Vhat is zis? Tell me.”

“Buhhhh…” Stumpy bellowed, lifting the bat up slowly. It rose into the air, just above Medic’s head, when it came down lightly, bumping harmlessly against the crown of the doctor’s head. “Bonk.”

Medic started to laugh. It was the kind of laugh that seemed to suit Medic best, that sort of evil, clichéd Mad Scientist type laugh that started low and soft and gradually became louder and creepier, until he was standing upright, laughing up at the ceiling with his hands outstretched. Scout retreated a bit behind the doorframe.

“Holy shit…” Scout said softly… “It talks.”

“YES!” Medic said, his face beaming like a light bulb, despite the still-visible bruises that dotted his features. “Do you realize vhat zis is? Zis is a huge breakzhrough! I did not even zink zis vould be possible, let alone happening zis fast!” He grabbed Scout by the shoulders, and ignored the visible wince the young man made when he did so. “Ze victims can recall zeir lives before infection!”

“Yeah, big whoop,” Scout sneered, having regained his usual, cocky attitude. “So it can talk. Don’t make it smart or nothin’.” He tried to squirm out of Medic’s grip, but to little avail.

“Maybe he’s not /intelligent/, per se, but he is expressing interest in somezing besides eating. He’s even had zat muzzle off for ze past few minutes, und look! He’s perfectly content to leave us alone!” Medic gestured towards Stumpy, who was trying to lift himself up off of the floor by using the bat to prop himself up. He kept slipping, however, and would fall back down on his stomach.

“That’s disgusting,” Scout said with a grimace.

“Ach! You have no appreciation for scientific endeavors! Vhy ah you even in here, anyvay?” Medic let go of Scout and crossed his arms.

“You took my friggin’ bat, man! Aw, Jesus, now he’s fuckin’ droolin’ on it!” Scout motioned towards Stumpy, who was now running his tongue over the bat, licking up an old bloodstain.

“Oh, come now, it’s not like you’ll be using it anytime soon. We’ve no vone to fight anyvay. Shtop vhining.” He waved at Scout dismissively. “Now, unless you vant to wrestle your bat avay from a bitey, contagious plague victim, I suggest you take your leave… zhough, I vould appreciate if you could send Heavy in.”

Scout left, but not before making a particularly rude gesture to Medic’s turned back. Medic could hear him shouting in the hallway (“HEY, FATASS, DOC WANTS YA IN THE INFIRMARY!”), and just shook his head and looked down at Stumpy dotingly. The BLU Scout was now looking up at Medic pathetically, his numerous attempts at trying to sit up on his own proving fruitless. The doctor picked up Stumpy’s mask from the floor, and fastened it back onto his face. “Sorry, Stumpy, but I zink it is best for you to be muzzled.” Stumpy grunted in protest, but Medic merely patted him on the head and sat him upright.

Stumpy looked up at the doctor, leaning against him and tugging on his bloodstained coat. “Mrreeeuhhh,” Stumpy groaned, drooling through the mask over his face. He lifted his bat again, and tapped it weakly against Medic’s chest. “Bonk.”

______________________________________________________________


The entire mess had started when some lost driver reported an abandoned, stationary big rig lingering on the highway. Its engine was still running, the keys were in the ignition, and yet, there was no driver anywhere in sight. The driver’s side window was rolled down, and inside the cab there were crimson splatters of blood. A red streak ran down the outside of the door on driver’s side, and there was a large puddle of blood right underneath, scarlet fingers branching out onto the asphalt.

Sherriff Eustace Brown lit up his cigar, and chewed and puffed on it thoughtfully. State troopers would normally take care of this sort of thing, but the truck was found just inside his county lines. His deputy, Clyde Barksdale, was currently investigating the cab, wearing a pair of white gloves.

“Jesus, fucker was bleedin’ like a stuck pig, Sheriff,” Clyde said with a whistle. “Musta’ been a stabbin’, probably. Guy musta’ tried to pick up some hitchhiker, an’ they were probably whacked out on acid or somethin’.”

“Sounds probable,” the sheriff said with a shrug. “Any clues on the identities of the victim or the suspect?”

“Well, I found this,” the deputy held up a cigarette case with a gloved hand. He opened it up. “Looks like it’s got a buncha’ cigarettes and… paper masks?” He removed one of the masks, which appeared to simply be a flimsy piece of paper with a face painted on it, and a bit of string tied around the back. “The hell is this?”

“Stop messin’ with it, it’s evidence,” the sheriff drawled. “Now, put it one a’ them Ziploc bags, we can dust fer prints down at th’ station.”

“I’m jes’ curious, is all” The deputy sighed. “I mean, what is this? Some sort a’ disguise? I can’t imagine it bein’ very effective, I mean, what, you just slip it on an’-” As he slipped the mask on, the younger man was engulfed in a plume of blue smoke, and suddenly was replaced by a stocky black man with an eyepatch, wearing a strange, red outfit with a black vest, and several odd canisters strapped to his chest. Clyde looked down at himself in disbelief. “… the hell?”

The sheriff stared at his partner, slack-jawed. “Sweet Jesus,” he muttered. “You turned into a nigger.”

“That’s ‘person of color,’ sir,” Clyde huffed. “You should be more sensitive. And what in the blue hell is up with this get-up?”

“Gimme that cigarette case,” Eustace snapped, snatching it from the hands of a very confused deputy and holding his cigar in his gritted teeth. He picked out a mask at random, and eyed is curiously.

“What happened to messing with evidence?” The deputy jeered, still wearing that negro disguise. Quite frankly, it was making the sheriff uncomfortable.

“Don’t get smart with me, kid,” the sheriff warned, and slipped on the mask. There was another blue puff of smoke, and then suddenly he was a short, portly man wearing what appeared to be a red asbestos suit and a gas mask. He held up his gloved hands for inspection.

“Whoa.” Clyde turned his gaze to the truck’s rearview mirror, examining himself and touching his face. “You know what’s weird? I can still feel my face under this. Y’know, my /real/ face. It’s like it’s a mirage or somethin’.” He turned back to the sheriff, taking off his mask with another puff of smoke. “This is some pretty advanced technology right here.”

“An’ I doubt that it belonged to just some ordinary Joe-Shmoe trucker.” The sheriff removed his mask, put it back in the cigarette case, and then fished for another one. “Which means that the suspect was probably the one who had access to this technology.”

“But why would they leave somethin’ like that behind?” the deputy asked.

“Probably what you said earlier. They were whacked out on acid.” The sheriff put on another mask, this time transforming him into a thin, almost gaunt man in a red three-piece suit, wearing a balaclava and smoking a cigarette. “The hell are these disguises even supposed to be?” he asked himself, looking at his reflection on the surface of the cab.

“You think this may have somethin’ to do with that military base that’s supposed to be out here?” Clyde slid out from the truck’s cab and landed on his feet with a grunt. “I heard they’re testin’ experimental weapons or somethin’ out there…”

“Don’t be silly, boy, those are just rumors,” the sheriff huffed, trying to look imposing. The deputy found it odd hearing the sheriff’s voice coming from a body that didn’t fit it at all. “We should probably drive this thing back to the impound lot. Don’t think it would tow pretty easy. I’m gonna assign you to th’ job.”

“Aw, hell, yer gonna make me sit in a bunch a’ dried blood?” the deputy grimaced. “Jesus, do I gotta?”

“Truck ain’t gonna drive itself back, Deputy,” the sheriff said, grinning beneath his mask.

As the deputy grumbled to himself and drove the truck back into town, the sheriff removed his mask and put it back in the cigarette case. He sauntered back to his patrol car, only to notice the radio calling him. “Dammit, Eustace, I know you’re there, pick up the damn thing.”

“Sorry, got distracted,” Eustace said, getting into the patrol car and tossing the cigarette case in the passenger’s seat. “Would it kill you to sound a little bit more professional?”

“You don’t pay me enough for that,” the female voice responded. Hiring Wendy, a female officer, felt like a huge mistake, even if all she did was pretty much handle the phones and the radio. “Anyway, Miss Walsh called, you know, the lady with the ranch? Anyway, she said that there’s some strange man attacking her cattle.”

“Attacking her cattle?” the sheriff puffed on his cigar a bit more. “How so?”

“She said he was /biting/ them. Weird, right? She said he looked like he was high or something. You’d better get over there.”

“Right. I’m on my way. Sheriff Brown, out.” He shoved the transceiver back in it cradle, and revved up the car, driving towards the ranch.

______________________________________________________________


“Oh, thank God you came!” Miss Walsh was standing on her front porch, cradling a shotgun under her arm. “There’s a crazy man trying to take bites outta my cows. I shot at him a bit, but then he got right in among 'em, and I can’t aim for him, you know how my eyes are. Well, I thought this was a bit outta my league, so I called you.”

“Think nothin’ of it, ma’am,” the sheriff said, stomping on the cigar stub. “Now, if you’ll show me where he is…”

The middle-aged woman nodded, and led the sheriff out to the pasture. There stood a group of nervous-looking cattle, and out beyond them was a man in a three-piece suit, covering in blood and wearing a blue balaclava and gloves, digging in eagerly into the corpse of a cow. The sheriff blinked in disbelief.

“Took that thing down himself,” Miss Walsh said with a shudder. “I could get a clear shot at him now, actually…”

“I’ll handle this,” the sheriff said, creeping up to the gate and swinging it open. The cows, skittish as they were, scattered as he came. The man in the field looked up, snarled, and then turned back to the beef carcass before him. “Hands up where I can see ‘em!” Eustace shouted, drawing his gun and training it on the suspect. “You’re under arrest.”

The man turned to him slowly, and it was then Eustace noticed how glassy and dead his eyes were. The sheriff had seen enough corpses in his day to know what a dead man’s eyes looked like, and he was staring into them right now. The man in blue stood up, body jerking and twisting in a way that simply was not human, and his tongue lolled out of his mouth as he started to reach forward, staggering and groaning as he tottered towards the sheriff.

“Come any closer, and I’ll shoot!” the sheriff bellowed. But his orders were ignored, as the man in the three-piece suit with the bloated stomach shambled closer, faster now, hissing at him. Eustace then turned his gun down and blew out his attacker’s kneecap.

The suspect fell forward, leg twisting in at an unnatural angle, and fell onto that bloated stomach, which burst open in an explosion of blood, organs and wet, black feathers. This didn’t seem to much deter the man, however, as he still managed to lift his head and claw and groan towards the sheriff, dragging himself across the ground. Miss Walsh screamed, and dove inside.

Eustace’s body then started to shift into autopilot, and the rational part of his brain started to crackle to life. This had to be some druggie. He would be dead soon. Best to call an ambulance and have them pick up the corpse. In a daze, he went to his patrol car and called Wendy. He grabbed a pair of handcuffs and wandered back to the man who was supposed to be dying. He cuffed the strange man, all while in an odd, trance-like state, and suffered a nasty bite on his forearm for his trouble. By the time the paramedic’s came, the suspect was still writhing around and snarling and groaning in a frenzy, and managed to bite one of them, taking a good chunk of flesh out of his arm. It was decided the best course of action for the sheriff would be to follow them to the hospital, and also get that bite treated. Eustace was happy to oblige, and drove back to his district, back to Beatty, Nevada.

______________________________________________________________


“Sheriff Brown?”

The Sheriff looked up from month-old copy of TIME he had been flipping through, and met with the gaze of the doctor. “Yeah?”

“I wanted to talk to you about that suspect you brought in,” Doctor Meyer said, looking over his clipboard nervously. “If we can talk somewhere more… private…”

Eustace raised an eyebrow. “Sure…” He got up from his chair, tossed the magazine aside, and followed the doctor into one of the examining rooms. The doctor locked the door behind them. “What’s wrong with him, Doc?”

“Well… by all accounts, the man you brought in should be dead.”

The sheriff looked at him incredulously. “You mean the whole stomach exploding like that?”

The doctor shook his head. “It’s more than that. The man has no pulse. His organs are no longer functioning, and it appears his stomach had already exploded due to being overstuffed before you even got to him. There’s some minimal brain activity, but it appears he has absolutely no recollection of… well, anything. All he seems to care about it trying to take a bite out of anyone who gets close enough to him. Quite frankly, I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire medical career.”

“Jesus Christ…” The sheriff took off his hat and ran a hand through his thinning hair. “This can’t be happening…”

“I’ve made some calls,” Dr. Meyer said, fingering his clipboard nervously. “I called some colleagues of mine, this is… well, this is a medical precedent. We’re actually doing x-rays on his skull right now, looking to see if there’s, I don’t know, some sort of invasive parasite controlling the central nervous system. This is big, Sheriff. Very big.”

“Yeah… very big…” Eustace began to feel hot, and mopped his brow with a handkerchief pulled from his back pocket. “Listen, I’m gonna head back to th’ station. I’ll call ya if anything comes up.”

“Very well,” the doctor said. “Are you sure you’re feeling all right? You got a nasty bite there…”

“Your guys stitched me up pretty good. I’ll be fine,” and with that, he stuffed the handkerchief back into his pocket, slapped his hat back on and left.

______________________________________________________________


“Dammit, I told you nimrods to stop playing with those masks!”

The man who used to be Officer Clancy, but now had the appearance of a tall, lanky man dressed in red with suntanned skin, aviator shades, sideburns and a wide-brim hat, sulked at this reprimanding, “Aw, shoot, we’re just havin’ a little fun, Sheriff.”

“Yeah,” Wendy piped up from her seat at the phones. “Besides, he looks so handsome like that. Better ‘n’ usual.”

“Aw, geez, way to put a guy down.” He removed the mask in a puff of blue smoke, returning to the short and somewhat portly man he usually was. “Maybe I should just keep this thing on all the time.”

“Hey! Hey, look at me!” A tall, straight-laced looking man with glasses appeared, wearing what that looked like a cross between a medical lab coat and a German military uniform goose-stepped in. “Anybody else get a weird Colonel Klink vibe from this one, or is it just me?”

“Officer Fox, you take that goddamned thing off.” Eustace was feeling hot and cranky. “Could somebody turn the goddamned fan on? It’s hotter n’ hell in here.”

“Geez, AC’s on, Sheriff, you know how summer is out in the middle of the desert.” Officer Fox reluctantly took his disguise, revealing his boyishly handsome face. “You sure you’re doin’ okay after that acid freak or whatever it was bit ya?”

“Wasn’t an acid freak…” the Sheriff said, now fanning himself with a manilla folder. “Was somethin’ else entirely…”

The sheriff didn’t finish his sentence. He collapsed over his desk, becoming more feverish by the second.

______________________________________________________________


It was early in the morning when Sheriff Eustace Brown, fevered and delusional, suddenly died of mysterious causes. A connection was made when one of the hospital paramedics died of serious causes an hour later.

About few hours later, the sheriff was no longer dead.

His body had still been within the hospital walls. The doctor performing the autopsy was killed viciously, and partially eaten. He then escaped, and had bitten and killed about a dozen more patients. Panic started to spread when hospital patients escaped into the town. Dr. Meyer frantically tried to call somebody for help, preferably the National Guard, but he was attacked and mauled by a group of bloodthirsty living corpses.

The town was in a panic. Despite many townsfolk being armed, the outbreak continued to spread, and during the panic it was hard for anyone to tell how. Eventually, several large jeeps, tanks, and helicopters swarmed in, all bearing a logo for some private organization for the Builder’s League United. They didn’t seem too worried about rescuing any survivors; on the contrary, survivors were mowed down under a hail of gunfire.

When they reached to police station, they had shot Officer Wendy Parker in the back. Officers Fox and Clancy, too, were swiftly executed, and Clyde Barksdale, who had only a few hours ago found himself the new Sheriff, panicked and hid in a broom closet. The door was kicked down, and he found himself stared down by barrels of some ridiculously large weaponry before his torso was liquefied by gun fire.

One of the executioners searched the corpse, and recovered the cigarette case in the sheriff’s breast pocket, which was now painted with a generous coat of red. He flipped it open and saw the paper masks fall out; they had been hastily stuffed back in a number of times.

The road was soon blocked off, and news of what went down in Beatty seemed to vary widely. But none of the rumors seemed to touch upon the truth.

And this was just the way BLU preferred it to be.

______________________________________________________________


Sniper couldn’t explain why, but he had a feeling deep in his gut that something was terribly wrong.

That zombie that he had shot was a bad omen. That he knew. But he felt like something really horrible was going to happen, soon. Demoman had felt it, too, probably sooner than Sniper did. Hell, he probably felt it as soon as they had walked out to fight BLU team and they simply weren’t there.

He stared out over the desert through his binoculars, this time with the radio off. He felt as though he could hear things off in the distance. Screams. Gunfire. Those horrible bloody zombies. It was probably his over-active imagination, fearing the worst.

“Herr Sniper! Herr Sniper, come down quickly!” It was Medic. The hell did he want now?

“Not now, mate, I’m busy,” Sniper shot back.

“You ah not! You’re just sitting up zere, frying your brains und not using a proper toilet, like alvays,” Medic retorted, climbing up into the assassin’s roost. “Anyvay, I made some amazing progress viz ze subject I procured. Ze live vone, zat BLU Scout.”

“Stumpy?” Sniper barely turned to the doctor.

“Er, ja. Stumpy. Anyvay, I have been trying to have him re-learn speech. So fah, he’s only really been able to properly pronounce vone vord, but given enough time, I zink he may be able to recite all of our classes viz proper annunciation! Is zat not exciting?”

Sniper swiveled around in his seat and merely stared at the doctor with a mix of disbelief and annoyance. He could see Medic’s excitement melt away, shoulders slumping and face falling. “You’re serious,” Sniper said flatly, pulling down his aviators and peeking at Medic over them.

“Of course I am serious!” Medic huffed. “Zis may not seem important to you, but I zink zat knowing zat ze victims can be controlled and tamed is vital information to have! Vhy doesn’t anyvone appreciate vhat I am trying to do here? Not you, not Engineer, not even mein Heavy, /no vone/!” He threw up his arms in frustration. “Fine zen! I don’t need zis! Ach! Fick dich!” and with that, the doctor stormed off.

The assassin merely turned back to his window, and kept a watchful eye on the desert. Medic was in an unusually bitchy mood, but the man had just had the snot beaten out of him the previous day, so it could be excused. Sniper paid him no mind, and decided that maybe he should switch the radio back on again.
>> No. 194
The supply train was late. Today was the day it was supposed to come, bringing with it ammunition, food, medical supplies, mail, and whatever odd items that had been specifically ordered by the members of the RED team. All nine of them had gathered at the tracks where the train usually unloaded. It was supposed to have arrived at noon.

“It’s friggin’ 12:05 already!” Scout whined. He had yanked Sniper’s left arm closer to him to check the time, since the younger man had no watch on him. Sniper pulled his arm back with a sneer. “C’mon, they’re usually here at twelve on the dot!”

“Engineer, did HQ say anyzing about running behind schedule at all?” Medic asked, turning to the Texan standing next to him.

“Well, gee, I wouldn’t know, since the only person HQ ever wants to speak to anymore is Spah,” Engineer said with uncharacteristic venom in his tone. He shot a rather nasty glare towards Spy, who had just lit a fresh cigarette.

“Zey did not tell me anyzing of ze sort, Laborer,” Spy said nonchalantly. “I assume zat zere has simply been a delay.

They all waited a few minutes in silence. Scout continually peered over at Sniper’s watch, and Sniper consistently retreated away from him. Spy had already gone through his first cigarette, and started on another. Demoman sat down on the ground and started taking a few swigs from his bottle. Engineer crossed his arms and began to drum his fingers and whistle. Medic, too, had his arms crossed but was standing up straight and almost motionless. Heavy stood next to him, shuffling nervously. Pyro walked over next to Demoman and sat down with a sigh. Soldier stood at attention, holding onto Shovel. He let out a low chuckle.

“What’re you laughin’ about?” Sniper asked with a sneer.

“Just thought of something really /funny/, is all,” Soldier answered.

“Time check?” Medic asked.

“Ten past twelve,” Spy said, looking at his watch. “I’m going inside.” Spy tugged at his tie and cast one last glace at the tracks before walking off. Scout looked around impatiently and ended up following Spy.

It wasn’t long before the other members of the team started to drift off. Sniper hawked a wad of phlegm onto the tracks before ambling back towards the base, and Demo eventually got up and following him, though he tottered a bit as he did so. Engineer didn’t stick around much longer either and departed, muttering something about trying to contact HQ again. This left Medic, Heavy, Soldier and Pyro still waiting. Medic still stood up straight, head turned in the direction the train should have come from. Heavy sighed, feeling an obligation towards his doctor to stay by his side, and found his gaze wandering as his mind drifted to daydreams. Pyro had pulled out a box of matches, and was content to light them, one by one, and watch them slowly burn. Soldier, however, seemed to be content to try and make Medic as uncomfortable as possible; casting lingering glances, grinning at him, and occasionally laughing, breaking up the long, awkward silence. Heavy’s menacing glares did little to deter the American.

“Doktor, come. Let’s go back inside. Train is not coming.” Heavy rested a large hand on the doctor’s shoulder.

“Should be arriving any minute, Heavy,” Medic said softly. “If no vone is here to greet zem, zey go past us. You know how zey ah.”

“Do not be silly. Ve have been out here for twenty minutes, at least. Let’s go.” Heavy gave Medic’s shoulder a gentle squeeze.

“Gather ‘round while I sing you of Wernher Von Braun/ A man whose allegiance/ Is ruled by expedience…” Soldier started to sing to himself, twirling Shovel around a bit as he did so. Medic’s eye twitched a bit, and he let out a sharp, shuddering breath through flared nostrils.

“You’re upsetting Doktor,” Heavy rumbled, glowering at Soldier.

“Awwww, did I hurt the little woman’s feelings?” Soldier cooed with mock sympathy.

“I zink you’re right, mein Heavy. Ve /should/ go back inside.” Medic scowled at Soldier as he turned to Pyro. “Ah you coming inside as vell, Pyro?”

Pyro looked up from his match for a moment and shook his head. “Hrrll wurrhh hurrrr.”

“Ah you sure?” Medic asked.

“Hrrll burr frrn,” Pyro mumbled with a nod.

“Not all of us need to be babysat by you, /Doc/,” Soldier sneered. “Just mind your own goddamned business for once.”

“I don’t recall saying anyzing to you, Solider,” Medic snapped. “Shpeaking of minding your own business and vhatnot…”

“Sure thing, Von Braun,” Soldier jeered.

Medic and Heavy took their leave, Heavy trying to soothe the doctor by wrapping his arm around him and telling him to pay no attention to Soldier; he wasn’t right in the head, after all. Soldier watched them leave, and when he was sure they were out of earshot, he strolled over to Pyro, leaning over him with Shovel held behind his back.

“Hello, Pyro,” Soldier said, with a hint of menace in his voice. “We need to talk.”

“Hrrbrrt wwrrrt?” Pyro asked, looking up nervously through smoked glass lenses.

“I found this while I was patrolling the building last night.” Soldier produced a folded sheet of paper from one of the pouches on his belt, and handed it to Pyro, his expression grave.

The fire starter took it from Soldier’s fingers and unfolded it. He didn’t even have to read it to recognize that it was the note he had written to Medic a few days earlier. Pyro kept staring at the paper, too afraid to look back up and make eye contact with Soldier.

“I’m creeping you out, eh?” Soldier pulled his face closer to Pyro’s mask, trying to get a good look past the smoky glass lenses that served as Pyro’s portholes to the world. “I’m somehow scarier than Medic is? You decide to run and hide behind /his/ coat tails, point at me and tattle like a goddamned little girl, is that it?”

Pyro cringed and shook his head in an exaggerated, cartoonish fashion, making pathetic little whimpers as he did so. Soldier frightened him even when he was being genuinely friendly, as loud and as animated as he was, and seeing him angry was absolutely terrifying.

“Hrryy wwrrr ooo urrnn Mrrddkk’sh uffisshh?” Pyro asked, trying to shift some blame off of himself.

“Why was I down there? Because /somebody/ has gotta keep an eye on that lunatic, and that somebody is /me/!” He lunged forward, causing Pyro to jump, and his face was mere inches away from Pyro’s mask. “And who should I find sneaking around there last night but /you/, in the sickbay, with that prisoner.”

“Strrrmpuhh?” Pyro asked.

“Yeah… /Stumpy/…” Soldier spat out the name as if it were poison on his tongue. “What exactly were you doing down there, huh?”

“Frreedun hurrm,” Pyro said with a timid little shrug.

“I’m sorry, ‘feeding him’? That sounds like fraternization with the enemy, private!” Soldier whipped Shovel out, so that the spade rested right underneath Pyro’s chin. “You’ve got five seconds to tell me whose side you’re really on before I rip that mask off your face.”

Pyro started to panic. “RRRD!” he cried. “URRM URN RRRD TURRM! DRRN TRRRK URRFF MUUHH MRRSSK!” He covered his face with his arms in a feeble attempt to ward Soldier off.

Soldier, however, was stronger, and was able to easily overtake the smaller man, pinning him to the ground. Pyro let out an animalistic shriek, pressing his hands down over his mask desperately, as Soldier tried to grab the neckline of the mask and peel it up. Something jostled free into the light from under Pyro’s collar, and Soldier stopped and stared.

Oh no, Pyro thought, absolutely horrified. He found it. The fire starter hastily tucked it back under his uniform, but Soldier had seen it, and had gotten a good, long look at it. It was one of the only things Pyro had of his identity, and Soldier had /seen it/. Pyro guarded his face and his identity, preferring to keep everything about him a mystery; everything he could remember, at least. And now Soldier, of all people, had a hint of who he was. The worst part was the slow realization that dawned on Soldier’s face, which quickly turned into a wide, toothy grin.

“I understand now,” Soldier said slowly, sitting up. “Guess I had you wrong, after all. Why, you gotta hate Medic more than I do.”

“Whhry wurrrd uhh hrrrt Mrrddkk?” Pyro asked, his head tilted.

“Don’t play dumb, Pyro,” Soldier huffed. “We’re in the same boat, you and I. Well, maybe not the same boat. Similar boats, certainly, in the same lake; the lake of hating Medic.” He tightened his grip around Shovel.

“Burrt uhh durrnn hrrt-”

“Like hell, you don’t. If you’re trying to sabotage Medic’s operation, I’m the last person you should be lying to about that. We’re allies, now.” He got up off of Pyro and offered him his hand. Pyro cautiously gave it to the American, and found himself lifted up off the ground. Soldier wasn’t listening to him, and while Pyro was not entirely sure what that thing meant, other than that it was his, and it meant /something/, Soldier obviously read into it in away that made it think he was on his side. Best not to upset Soldier by arguing with him, Pyro thought. Soldier was scary.

“That makes four of us now, Pyro,” Soldier said, wrapping his arm around Pyro’s shoulder. “You, me, Scout ‘n’ Shovel. Although, I have to say, I can’t entirely trust Scout. Boy’s a goddamned chatterbox and he’s dumber than a sack of wet hammers. He wouldn’t understand Shovel, either.”

“Shrrvuurrl?” Pyro asked.

“Yeah. He… she… /they/ are the real mastermind behind all this. Tactical genius, Shovel is. And I’m the only one that can hear ‘em. They don’t like to talk too loud, y’see.” Soldier looked to the Shovel in his hand with a rare affection. “Only one in this whole goddamned shithole that actually understands me.”

Pyro nodded politely. Pyro was no shining pillar of mental stability, but even he thought that this was… disconcerting, to say the least. Medic might have been sadistic, but he has that odd nurturing side that served as a stark contrast to it, and he never really seemed to take much anger out on Pyro. Soldier, however, was much harder to predict.

“Listen, Pyro. You ever need a hand putting that crazy Nazi sonuvabitch in his place, you just stop by the War Room and say so. You can be my double agent; get him all comfortable and warm up to ya before /ruin/ that maggot.”

“Drrburrll errgurrnt? Lrrrk uhh Sprryy?” Pyro asked.

“Yeah. Like a Spy,” Soldier said. “Only, better’n our Spy. He’s a goddamned smug little frog. I should probably give him a few good blows to the face too. Can’t trust that fucker as far as you could throw him.”

Again, Pyro nodded, finding himself almost dragged along as Soldier led him into the base and talked about how nobody on RED team was worthy of his trust, listing off his reasons for thinking so. Pyro decided not to argue the point, but felt a little pity for Soldier; he couldn’t trust anyone.

Then again, Pyro couldn’t fully trust anyone either. Maybe he shouldn’t be so quick to judge.

______________________________________________________________


There was a sharp knocking at the door of Engineer’s workshop. “Door’s open,” he said, slipping his beer bottle back into his hidden desk fridge.

The door opened, and Medic marched in, followed by Heavy. “Hello, Herr Engineer! Any luck viz contacting HQ at all?”

“None,” Engineer sighed. “All I get back is dead air. If you wanna talk to ‘em you’d hafta get a hold a’ Spah.”

“I do not zink zat vill be necessary,” Medic said assertively. “May I try?”

“Knock yerself out, pardner.” Engineer scooted his chair back and stood up, gesturing to the radio.

“Danke schön,” Medic said with a light bow, and leaned over the desk, supporting himself with the palm of his hand and grabbed the radio transceiver with the other. “Zis is RED Medic, calling ze Announzah, do you read me?” He waited a few seconds, then looked back at Engineer, who merely shrugged. “Zis is RED Medic. Come in, Announzah!”

Heavy’s gaze started to wander, and he turned to peer over the many shelves of odd gadgets, parts and tools that seemed to zig zag over the workshop. Engineer leaned back in his chair, giving it a little wooden squeak. Medic muttered something under his breath in German, before trying it again. “Frau Announzah, zis is RED Medic. Ze supply train has not arrived yet today. I am concerned. Please respond.”

There was still nothing; only dead air. Medic was becoming visibly frustrated.

“Having some problems zere, Docteur?”

Medic whipped around to see Spy behind him, smirking in his usual cocksure manner. Engineer nearly toppled backwards in his chair, muttering “Jesus!” as he managed to catch himself. Heavy, however, didn’t seem very interested in Spy’s appearance, and went back to studying an old teleporter.

“Spy! You stahtled me.” Medic clutched his chest. “But, ja. Ze Announzah is not answering. I vish to speak to her.”

Spy waved Medic away, and leaned over the desk, propping himself up with his elbows, and took a hold of the transceiver. “Bonjour, Madame. It is your RED Spy. How are you zis afternoon?”

There was a long silence. Spy still remained cool, however, and took a drag from his ever-present cigarette. “Do not be so coy, Madame. I know you are zere,” he said playfully. Engineer rolled his eyes. There was still no response.

“What’s th’ matter, Spy?” Engineer asked. “Have a little fight with th’ Madame?” He was answered with a look of absolute rage painted over the Frenchman’s face.

“Get out,” Spy hissed.

“I beg yer pardon? This is /my/ workshop here, ya can’t just-”

“I said ‘get out’! Leave! All of you!” Spy barked viciously, pointing to the door with an outstretched and tensed arm. Both Medic and Engineer scurried out, and Heavy sighed and followed them out with an air of indifference. The door was slammed shut and locked behind them.

“Vell, now vhat?” Medic asked in exasperation.

“We’re just gonna hafta wait,” Engineer sighed, looking none too happy. “I can’t even do any work, Spah’s in there with all my tools…”

“Something bad has happened,” Heavy rumbled. “Train is not coming. Announcer is not talking to Spy. Monster almost came through fence yesterday. I do not like it.”

“We’ll get zis straightened out, Heavy,” Medic said, patting Heavy on the shoulder, trying to soothe him. “You vait und see.”

“If you say so, Doktor,” Heavy said with a sigh.

______________________________________________________________


The Recreation Room was unusually crowded. The television was on, blaring the CBS Evening News and filling the room with the sound of Walter Cronkite’s voice. Heavy and Medic were on the couch, Medic leaning against Heavy’s shoulder but otherwise totally focused on the broadcast; the same could not be said for Heavy, who seemed preoccupied with playing with Medic’s hair curl. Engineer, Demoman and Sniper were down there as well, pulling chairs from the table usually reserved for card games or chess matches and circling them around the television. Pyro was watching as well, from his spot sitting on the floor. Scout was the only one there who seemed uninterested in the television, sitting at the table, reading an old issue of Batman.

“Jesus, isn’t there a game on or somethin’?” Scout whined.

“Quiet,” Sniper snapped. “This is important. If there’s gonna be a zombie uprisin’, you can bet Cronkite would be th’ one to break it.”

“Not zombies,” Medic sighed.

The room fell quiet again. There was no news about zombies; only the escalating war in Vietnam, some Presidential election coverage, news of university campus protests and riots. The program had ended, although the feeling of unease still remained. It was then Spy finally entered the room, looked disheveled and lacking his usual air of confidence. Everyone in the room turned to him, waiting for the words that they all expected to hear.

“Ze Announcer… she has stopped responding,” Spy stammered, his cigarette dangling from his lips as he stared at the wall past them.

“I thought you were the only one a’ us that could get through to her!” Scout said, standing up from his seat.

“I was…” Spy said. “But she is must not be there. Something has happened…”

“Why /were/ you the only one she’d been talkin’ to lately, Spah?” Engineer asked accusingly. “Ever since we took down BLU base she’s been refusing t’ listen t’ me every single time I’ve called. I want an explanation.”

“Zat is none of you business,” Spy responded, becoming a little more animated.

“Zis is /everyvone’s/ business now, Spy,” Medic snapped, standing up from his spot on the couch and whirling around from his spot on the couch. “If ve cannot reach ze Announcer, ve cannot contact HQ. Und wiz ze supply train not arriving, und no vay to contact anyvone about it... I zink it would be prudent for you to tell us vhat exactly is going on.”

“I have not been given clearance to tell you.” Spy said. “Suffice to say, my contact wiz ze Announcer has nozzing to do wiz our current predicament, gentlemen. Zis is somezing else entirely.”

“And how in the Sam Hill are we supposed t’ trust you on that, Spah?” Engineer asked. “Hell, you shouldn’t even have t’ be hidin’ this stuff from us. If they’re leavin’ us t’ die out here, I hardly see why keepin’ their secrets would still be a priority.”

“Let us not jump to conclusions, Engineer,” Medic said. “I zink your emotions are getting ze best of you here. But yes, Spy, I zink you should indulge us. It is only fair.”

Spy didn’t respond. He seemed to seriously be considering it, but with Spy, nobody could be entirely sure.

“Come on, Spy,” Heavy said, arm hanging off the back of the couch as he turned to the Frenchman. “Ve are team.”

“Yes… a team.”

Soldier was now in the doorframe behind Spy, his arms crossed and Shovel dangling from one of his hands. “Funny you should say that, Heavy… being that you’re working for the one trying to tear the team apart.”

“Vhat is zis nonsense you keep talking about?” Medic asked. “I have been doing nozzing of ze sort. Zat seems to be vhat /you/ ah doing.”

“Shifting the blame on me, eh? Obviously, I didn’t beat enough sense into that thick skull of yours.” He uncrossed his arms and pushed Spy aside with Shovel’s blade, not even taking his eyes off of Medic. “Think you can make everybody believe that as you’re on /our side/, that you’re harmless. Well, /I/ know better. An’ so does Scout ‘n’ Pyro.”

“Pyro?” Medic looked down at Pyro, who was cringing and covering his lenses with his gloved hands. “You ah in on zis?”

“Nurrrr! Urrh swwrrr! Durrn lrsshhn turr hurrm!” Pyro cried, shaking his head.

“Sorry to blow your cover, Pyro, but I don’t think you should have to hide anymore,” Soldier said, walking towards Medic. “Besides, Medic should pay for what he’s done… and what he’s planning to do…”

Suddenly, Soldier found himself blocked by Engineer, who looked up at him through his goggles, his expression stern. “That’s enough, Soldier. What Heavy said is right. We are a team, fer better or worse.”

Soldier was taken aback. “You’re just as treacherous as Medic is, aren’t you?”

“Ain’t treachery if you’re tryin’ t’ keep yer team from killing each other,” Engineer said. “Only person here I see acting mutinous is you.”

“I’m not alone here!” Soldier barked. “Right, Scout?”

Scout jolted. “Uh, yeah. I mean… uh…” He could feel the eyes of the entire team boring into him, and his voice trailed off.

“Ye donnae actualleh b’lieve th’ crap Soldier is spoutin’, do ye, lad?” Demoman asked, raising an eyebrow.

“He said he was gonna run experiments on us, man!” Scout blurted.

“Oh, fer Christ’s sake, Scout, you’re a bleedin’ idiot, you know that?” Sniper pulled his aviators down the bridge of his nose. “Everybody knows Solly’s out of his bloody gourd.

“You shut up, you smelly, hippie sonuvabitch!” Soldier waved Shovel at the Aussie threateningly. “Least I don’t go around collecting my piss in a bunch of mason jars, you filthy /convict/.”

“Better ‘n’ takin’ advice from a dinkum Shovel,” Sniper spat back.

Pyro panicked at this point, scurrying behind Medic and hiding behind him, hiding behind his coattails like a small child. Medic tried to offer the chemsuited man a reassuring smile, but Pyro still appeared to be trembling.

“Pyro, you traitor!” Soldier yelled. “You’re supposed to be on /my/ side!” He tried to charge towards Pyro, but Engineer blocked him once again.

“Soldier, you ah ill,” Medic said, patting Pyro on the head in an attempt to comfort him. “You do not even grasp how sick you ah. You ah probably suffering from dementia…”

“I am NOT letting you shove any more of those pills down my throat, you goddamned Nazi!” Soldier was now being physically restrained by Engineer.

“If you won’t be taking your medication, Soldier, zen I’m afraid I’m going to have to file a request for your immediate discharge,” Medic said coolly.

Soldier froze. Engineer slowly released his grip, and took a few steps back.

“You bastard,” Soldier said softly. “You wouldn’t…”

“Vhy vouldn’t I? Obviously, your condition has gotten so bad zat you ah turning on your teammates, zerefore impeding your ability to perform even your more basic duties. I’m sorry, Soldier. Zis is for your own good.”

There was an ominous silence that permeated throughout the entire room. Soldier started to shake with rage, his face turning bright red and his jaw clenched tight. Finally, he just let out a shrill, primal scream, and was soon held back by Engineer and Heavy before he could get to Medic and bash his face in with Shovel. “YOU SOLD ME OUT!” he screeched. “ALL OF YOU! TRAITORS! YOU’RE ALL NAZIS BY PROXY NOW!”

“Take him to his room,” Medic said wearily. “Make sure he doesn’t leave. I don’t vant him hurting anyvone.”

“Vit pleasure,” Heavy said, lifting Soldier clear off the ground, making sure to hold his arms at his sides with his own large, beefy appendage. Engineer stepped out of the Russian’s way with a nod.

“I’LL KILL YOU, MEDIC! YOU ARE A DEAD MAN, YOU HEAR ME? DEAD!” Soldier continued to scream as Heavy carried him out of the room and down the hall.

Engineer looked around the room. “Aw, dagnabbit. Spah snuck out.”

Medic sighed, massaging the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. “Let him go, for now. I’m going to bed.” He looked at Scout. “Ve shall discuss zis situation viz Soldier tomorrow.”

“Yeah… sure…” Scout said nervously, looking down at his feet.

The remaining members of RED Team filtered out of the rec room. The general air of malaise still lingered over each of them like cigarette smoke as they each retreated back to their own corners of the base. A few miles away, in the desert, something was shuffling towards them, with narrow-minded determination; something with an insatiable hunger and several gaping maws that ached for flesh, eating away at the landscape.
>> No. 196
Well, Soldier thought, this was a fine how-do-you-do. Medic wanted him discharged, he was humiliated in front of his team, and Heavy had carried him back to his room and threw him in, hitting his helmeted head against one of the walls. When Soldier finally managed to come back to his senses, he opened the door only to see the back of a supply locker blocking the exit. And those things were goddamned heavy. The Russian may have actually had to call for help to move that thing in place.

To make matters worse, he could hear strains of “Ode to Joy” filtering down the hallway.

“Goddammit,” Soldier growled. He started to pace, occasionally looking over towards Shovel, who was lying down on the bed. “Whole team turned against me… the whole goddamned team… I thought I could reach them, Shovel. Especially Pyro… but it all backfired.”

Shovel was silent. Soldier imagined that he was probably taking this all under consideration.

“What if they’re right, Shovel?” Soldier asked, having a rare epiphany. “What if… what if Medic /isn’t/ the enemy? I mean, I don’t like him, and I certainly don’t trust him… but, maybe…” Soldier paused. This was all very difficult to articulate. “Maybe… I don’t know. Maybe I’m just /wrong/.”

/Don’t be stupid./ Shovel snapped. /You’re losing your focus, Soldier. You’re falling into his trap. We can’t allow that to happen. We’re the only ones left that know the truth./

Soldier averted his eyes from Shovel, looking down at his feet and tilting his helmet further over his eyes. “I… I’m sorry, Shovel. I don’t know what I was thinking. I shouldn’t have doubted you. Not even for a second.”

/Very good… good boy./ Shovel purred. /Now, strip./

Soldier jolted in surprise at the request… no, demand. It was a firm, deliberate demand, and Soldier was not one to upset his Shovel. He obeyed, silently removing his clothing, until he was down to his undershirt, boxers, and helmet.

/Naked./ Shovel said flatly.

“Shovel…” Soldier asked, peering at him from under his helmet. “Are you trying to seduce me?”

/I need your absolute trust and obedience, Soldier./ Shovel said. /Take it all off. Except for the helmet./

“Yes, sir.” Soldier said, straightening up a little before peeling off his undershirt. He had hooked his thumbs around the elastic of his boxers when Medic let out a particularly loud moan, which could still be heard from Soldier’s room, even over the music and through their doors and the steel supply cabinet.

/Come to me, Soldier./ Shovel whispered. /We’ll drown them out./

That voice, that lusty, velvety soft voice of Shovel’s was enough to set Soldier off. He dove onto the bed and started to ravish his favorite weapon, squirming and writhing in throes of ecstasy.

Goddammit, he was going to show those sissy-boy maggots how a real man fucks.

______________________________________________________________


Sniper found himself lying on a bed, and Marilyn Monroe was alive and well and pinning him down, so he either figured that he had gone back in time somehow or there was some sort of witchcraft involved. Either way, it didn’t matter, since her hands were exploring his bare chest and she was cooing “Happy birthday to you” to him, her lips grazing over the skin of his neck as his hands slid down her hips…

“Sniper! Wake up lad!”

“Bwuh?” Sniper looked down and suddenly Marilyn had been replaced with Demoman. “Oh, crikey, no!”

“I SAID, MOVE YER BONES!”

Sniper jolted from his chair, waking violently and startling Demoman. He started to remember what had happened before he fell asleep; he had invited Demo up for a few beers, and they stayed in the roost this time, as opposed to on the roof. “Jesus, mate, why’d you go an’ do that?” he panted. “I was havin’ such a wonderful dream. Marilyn Monroe was singin’ me ‘Happy Birthday’ an’ was gonna blow out my candle.”

“Thi’ is serious, Sniper,” Demoman said darkly. “They’re here.”

“Who’s here?” asked Sniper.

“Th’ livin’ dead,” Demoman responded. “Look ou’ yer window.”

Sniper grabbed his binoculars and peered out the window. Just past the fence there was a living sea of shuffling human corpses, packed tightly together, all moving in once single direction like a herd of cattle. Their cries were low and rumbling, and their faces were illuminated by the moonlight, gaping maws and rolling tongues and glassy, dead eyes shining in the night. Sniper lowered his binoculars and stared with his jaw hanging open.

“How did they even…” Sniper’s voice trailed off.

“I dunnoae! They weren’t ou’ there a few hours ago! Mother a’ Christ, there must be a couple thousand o’ ‘em, at least!” Demoman turned to Sniper. “I dunnoae if we ‘ave enough ammo to hold ‘em all off.”

The assassin stood up from his chair, clutching his rifle and peering through the scope. “See if I can’t pick off a few of ‘em. Go wake everyone up.”

“Ye donnoe need t’ tell me twice,” Demoman replied, turning to run back down to the dorms.

“Knew it. Bloody knew it,” Sniper muttered under his breath, setting his aim on a zombie that was a few paces faster than the others. He fired, and the back of its head exploded into bits of blood and bone and brain. It collapsed, only to be trampled by the others behind it. “Piece a’ piss,” Sniper hissed, taking aim and firing at another, and another, and another.

It was going to be a long night.

______________________________________________________________


“GET UP! ALL A’ YE! THEY’RE HERE! I TOL’ YE THEY’D COME!”

Medic shot up from out of bed. Demoman was in the halls, shouting like a man possessed. He fumbled for his glasses, and put them on his face, and could feel the bed shifting underneath him as Heavy got up.

“Vhat is going on, Doktor?” Heavy asked, still half-asleep.

“Get dressed. Somezing is happening,” Medic said curtly, standing up and walking briskly to his closet. He opened it, grabbing a uniform off of one of hangers and quickly getting dressed. “Vould you kindly fetch me a fresh pair of unterpants, meine Liebe?”

“Da.” Heavy got up and moved with a slowness that was absolutely painful to watch. Medic had already gotten his shirt and tie on by the time Heavy stood up and rounded their bed. Medic lost his patience and just grabbed the pair that had been thrown on the floor earlier than night, and slipped them on.

“Ach, could you possibly move any slowah?” Medic snapped. “Just go get dressed, und hurry!”

By the time Heavy lumbered to his trunk, Medic was fully dressed, medipack and all, and looking rather annoyed. Medic ended up stomping over, popping open the trunk and throwing Heavy’s clothes at him.

“WHAT’S TAKIN’ YE SO LONG, MEDIC, THERE’S BLOODY ZOMBIES CRAWLIN’ ALL O’ER TH’ PLACE!” Demoman shouted, pounding at the infirmary door.

“Zombies?” Heavy asked, sounding slightly more awake.

“HOW MANY TIMES HAVE I TOLD YOU, DO NOT USE ZAT VORD!” Medic shouted back, opening their bedroom door. He shot a glare back at Heavy. “Don’t just stand zere, looking like a dummkopf! Unless you vant to fight zem naked, you’d better hurry! Raus, raus!” Medic darted into the infirmary, picking up his weapons and leaving.

When he got out into the hall, he could see the other members of RED team running about. Engineer was carrying his toolbox and headed upstairs, followed closely by Pyro, who was clutching his flamethrower. Scout was half dressed, hopping around and trying to work his legs through his pants while balancing his bat under his arm. Demoman was attempting to push the supply locker in front of Soldier’s room out of the way, only to have Soldier scream at him from the other side, insisting that he not be disturbed, banging on the locker with Shovel. Medic went over to the locker and tried to help Demoman.

“Christ a’mighty, this thing weighs a ton!” Demoman grunted.

“I said leave us alone, you goddamned inebriate!” Soldier shouted. “You’re all a bunch of treacherous, backstabbing, scum-sucking low-lives! You can all get slaughtered out there, for all I care!”

“Soldier, ve need your assistance!” Medic shouted, he and Demoman managing to push the supply locker over a few inches.

“You’re the /last/ person I want to hear from,” Soldier spat. “You can burn in hell, you filthy, fascist sodomite!”

Medic stopped pushing on the barricade. “Vell, /fine/, zen. You shtay in zere and abandon your team. I have more important zings to do zen to sit around und listen to you shpew insults at me. Come, Demoman. We have to defend ze base.”

“But we’re gonnae need all th’ help we can get!” Demoman protested.

“If Soldier does not vish to be a part of zis team anymore, zen he vill no longer be a member of RED team. Let’s go.”

Demoman sighed and shook his head, and the two of them rushed outside, Medic whipping out his medigun and starting to charge it on the explosives expert. The hallway was quiet and empty for a few moments, before Heavy trudged out holding Sasha. He went down the hall, and stopped momentarily in front of Soldier’s room, contemplating whether or not he should release the American from his prison. In the end, he decided against it, and picked up his pace, jogging to the battlefield.

______________________________________________________________


Engineer had been the first one out, followed closely by Pyro. Right away he had noticed the hole still in the front fence, and set up a sentry. “Geez, why didn’t anybody fix this gosh darned thing?” he asked.

Pyro smacked himself in the forehead. “YRR WURR SHHPRRSSHHD TURR FSSKKH UURRT!” he yelled angrily.

“Oh. Right.” It had taken a while to process what Pyro had said. “Sorry, Pyro, I just… never mind. Ain’t gonna do us any good now.” The sentry’s barrel flipped forward with a whirr, and started to fire into the crowd. As it fired at seemingly random zombies, Engineer whacked it with his wrench, upgrading it.

The walking corpses towards the front startled to crumple, toppling backwards onto each other. Engineer brought his wrench back down on the sentry for a final upgrade before picking up his toolbox and building another.

Pyro watched the sentry’s firing patterns. They were odd; the sentry would fire at some zombies, but not others. The fire starter equipped his shotgun and fired at the zombies that the sentry missed. After doing this for a few minutes, it finally dawned on Pyro why the sentry was only shooting certain zombies.

The sentry wouldn’t shoot a zombie unless it was wearing blue.

“ERRGRRNNUUR! THHUUR SRRNTRREE USSH URRNLLUR SHUURRTINNG THURR ZURRMBEES URN BLURR!” It occurred to Pyro that a sentence this long might be a little hard for Engineer to understand.

It didn’t take long, however, for Engineer to catch on. “Doggonnit, I shoulda figured that…” he said to himself, barely heard over the rocket blasts and rapid gunfire. He huddled over his sentry, giving it the occasional whack with his wrench and trying to correct this problem.

“HEADS UP, COMIN’ THROUGH!” Scout leaped forward, stopping just short of the fence and firing through the holes, managing to take down a few of the monsters. It was hard, however, trying to aim for them through the barrier. Occasionally bits of shrapnel would ricochet back, startling Pyro, who had his shotgun out, or Engineer, still working frantically to get the sentries to fire at zombie indiscriminately.

A few grenades were fired over, as Demoman arrived, looking far more excited than he had any right to be. He switched often between the grenade launcher and the sticky bombs, relishing each explosion of flesh and blood and limb, laughing manically. Medic showed up shortly after, training his Medigun on Demoman to keep his adrenaline pumping. Heavy soon arrived, minigun blazing, much more awake now and excited by the first battle in almost a week. Medic aimed his healing beam upon the mighty Russian, who in turn kept his minigun aimed towards that damnable hole in the fence.

Engineer finally managed to get one of the sentries to simply fire forward without prejudice and let out a laugh that was both nervous and somehow relieved. He stopped to wipe his brow with the back of his arm and catch his breath. When he felt a tapping on his back, he instantly whipped around, wrench in hand, and turned to see Spy.

“Dang it, Spah, what the heck are you doin’?” Engineer said in an exasperated tone.

“Nozzing. And zat is exactly ze problem,” Spy shrugged. “What am I supposed to do, exactly? I’m a master of stealth and deception, fighting off a colony of crazed lepers has never been a part of my job description.” He blew smoke. “Medic is not very useful, eizzer. I mean, what good is healing us if it cannot reverse the effects of ze disease? We are out of our element, here.”

“Spah, I do /not/ have the time or the patience to be yakkin’ away like this,” Engineer snapped. “Maybe you can find a way to actually be helpful instead of just hanging back an’ wastin’ time.”

“And do what, exactly?” Spy asked. “Backstab people who are seemingly impervious to any injury lesser than a headshot? Oh, yes! That /is/ quite useful!”

“Just git!” Engineer waved his wrench at Spy threateningly, prompting the Frenchman to scuttle off.

After about ten minutes of this, there was already a thick carpet of immobile corpses covering the ground in front of the fence. This seemed to slow down the advancing zombies, who stumbled and tripped over their fallen brethren into the line of fire, but their pace was still steady, and ammo was already starting to run low.

“NEED MORE BULLETS, DOKTOR!” Heavy shouted to Medic behind him.

“Vhat, you vant me to go fetch some for you? Do I look like a retrievah, Heavy?” Medic quipped.

“Doktor can’t do much good with just Medigun!” Heavy shouted back. “Leetle needles are not much good, either. Go bring everyvone more bullets.”

Medic nodded. Heavy was right, after all. He looked over to Spy, who had gotten as close to the fence as he could, firing his pistol at the monsters through the fence, looking rather awkward. “Spy!” Medic shouted over the gunfire.

Spy whipped around and saw Medic beckoning to him wildly. He ran over towards the doctor, who was already headed back in the direction of their own base.

Medic finally made his way in, and headed straight for the nearest Supply Room, lifting a box of ammo with a grunt, and then turned around jogging past Spy. “Grab as much as you can, Herr Spy!” Medic shouted at him. The Frenchman nodded, and went to fetch more ammo.

Time started to stretch out as this continued. As many bullets were being fired or as many bombs were launched, the zombie hoard still managed to inch forward, slowly but steadily. For each one taken down, it seemed that ten sprang up to replace them. Ammo boxes would be snatched up for bullets and grenades before Engineer could try to use them for more sentries, and even then with each sentry built, it took a while to modify it on the spot from their usual protocol of shooting anyone wearing the color blue. The unfortunate side effect of this, however, was that they were prone to short-circuiting. Everyone was, understandably, getting very frustrated.

“We really could use Soldier out ‘ere, Medic!” Demoman shouted to the doctor, who had just dropped off another box of ammunition.

“Tell zat to him!” Medic shot back. “I had to run all ze way to his room to get zis. Total silence from in zere. He’s not interested.”

“Will ye stop actin’ like a ruddy stubborn schoolboy an’ jest drag ‘im out!” Demoman spat. “I donnae care if the two a’ ye fight like alley cats; we need all th’ firepower we can git, so stop whinin’ an’ go git ‘im!”

Medic turned back to the inhuman wave, which had now crashed against the fence. Many of the members of RED were backing away, and were scrambling to protect the hole, that godforsaken hole the BLU Spy had carved out.

“What’re ye waitin’ for, ye daft cunt!” Demoman bellowed. “Get th’ bloody Soldier!”

The doctor hesitated no further. He charged back across the bridge and towards the base, running downstairs and into the living quarters. Though he hated Soldier, and was disgusted by his mutinous actions and the pure venom he spewed Medic, the good doctor realized that Soldier /needed/ to be out there. He was a member of RED team, whether he wanted to be or not.

He scooted to a halt when he turned the corner and saw the supply cabinet that had been in front of Soldier’s room was now toppled over, ammunition and first aid kits strewn across the floor. The cabinet itself didn’t touch the floor, but instead fell forward until the top edge caught onto the wall, and its doors swung open. The door to Soldier’s room had been violently broken off its hinges, and was now leaning on top of the cabinet. The most unsettling aspect of this was that Soldier was seemingly nowhere in sight.

Panic was starting to grip Medic’s mind, despite his best attempts to stave it off. Hopefully, Soldier would reveal himself, his mind changed, and would now in the effort against the infected. Nothing to worry about. Medic sighed, and turned around only to have something broad and spiky and swift hit him in the side and sent him sprawling to the ground, knocking his glasses off his face. He was stunned for a moment, the wind was knocked out of him and his bruised ribs were now cracked again. He gasped for breath, pawing for his glasses. He finally managed to locate a fuzzy shape that looked like his spectacles, and reached out only to see something broad and equally fuzzy come down upon them with a sickening crunch of glass.

And then the blurred boots came into view, and a familiar voice let out a chilling laugh.

“Hello, doctor.”

“Soldier…” Medic wheezed, “Vhat do you zink you ah doing?”

“Seizing an opportunity,” Soldier said with a low, sinister chuckle. “I heard you taking supplies out of the cabinet blocking the door. You came back a couple a’ times. Made it lighter. Made it easier for me to move. I knew you’d have to come back one more time. And here you are. Fancy that.” He was holding Shovel, but something about Shovel’s blade was different. Medic could feel blood seeping onto his coat, and the realization dawned on him before Soldier even had to explain. “Like Shovel’s new look here? Well, you probably can’t see it too good… you’re as blind as a bat without your specs, huh, Doc? It was his idea, really, the barbed wire. And you, you lucky bastard, are gonna be the one we test his new accessory out on. Quite an honor, eh, Doc?”

“Soldier, please,” Medic pleaded, coughing up a bit of bloodied phlegm as he clutched his injured side. “Stop zis. Ve need your help… stopping ze infected… zhere’s too many of zem.”

“It’s too late to come crawling to me with your apologies, you filthy, Nazi cur!” Soldier growled. “This has been a long time coming, maggot, and you’re not going to weasel your way out of this one.” He grabbed Medic by the hair and pulled him so they were face to face. “Start running.” He dropped Medic’s face back to the floor. “It’ll make things more /fun/.”

Medic wobbled as he brought himself to his feet still wheezing and clutching his side from the blow, as he looked up to Soldier. Solider slammed Shovel against his head and screamed, and the doctor found himself scrambling away in the opposite direction, which was unfortunately towards the fallen cabinet. He climbed over it, and he could hear Soldier laughing as he struggled. The doctor felt a strong, firm hand get a grip around his ankle, and he whipped out his bonesaw swinging it at the crazed American. He swung wildly and blindly, but managed to at least nick his attacker, causing him to let go. Medic tumbled over to the other side, rolled over, picked himself up and started to run. He needed to get to the others. Out in the open. It was eight against one, really, as long as Medic could get to his teammates, he’d be home free. If he only had his glasses and wasn’t suffering from some freshly cracked ribs.

“OH, MEDIC!” Soldier cried out in a sing song voice. “C’mon, Medic, we don’t wanna hurt you! I promise, you won’t feel a thing WHEN I BASH YOUR FUCKING BRAINS IN!”

The doctor turned a corner and saw a door. He opened it and rushed inside, locking the door behind him. There were no lights on in the tiny room he was in, but he could tell he had wandered into the rarely-used broom closet. The medipack on his back was slowly working to heal his injuries, but it wasn’t fast enough. He could hear Soldier’s footsteps and loud, abrasive taunts getting louder and closer. He sucked in his breath and remained perfectly still.

Meanwhile, Soldier had followed the doctor’s trail down the hall and came to a fork. He noticed that his quarry was nowhere in sight. “C’mon out, Medic…” Soldier shouted. “Don’t hide from us, Medic. We just want to have a frank, open exchange of ideas… you know, a diplomatic solution!” He looked down at the floor and saw a trail of tiny, red droplets, leading a distinct trail to the broom closet. He grinned. “Yes… with a treaty and everything.” He crept towards the door, slowly and deliberately, and hovered just outside it. “And we can write the whole thing in your GODDAMNED FILTHY BLOOD!”

He drove Shovel hard onto the doorknob with enough force to send it flying off in a spray of splinters, allowing him to kick the door in. Medic, however, had prepared for him, and swung his bonesaw towards the American with an unintelligible screech. Soldier managed to duck out of the way, and landed another blow to Medic’s stomach with the broad side of Shovel. As the German doctor instinctively bent over in pain, Soldier brought shovel up and smacked Medic on the underside of his chin, cutting up the soft flesh and sending him toppling backwards onto an unopened box of cleaning supplies. Soldier planted his boot firmly on top of Medic’s chest, and held Shovel’s barbed blade to his throat.

“Solider… ve ah wasting time…” Medic panted. “Even if you killed me, ve still have respawn… zis is useless…”

Soldier flinched a bit. “Huh. Yeah, you’re right. I forgot about that.” Soldier withdrew Shovel for a second, and stepped off of Medic’s chest. “I guess that makes killing you pretty useless, doesn’t it?”

“Ja… zank God…” Medic wheezed, trying to get up. “Now ve can go und kill ze infected-”

Medic’s head whipped around with a nauseating cracking sound, and his scalp was cut open and gushing hot, red blood. Soldier laughed, as he grabbed the barely cognizant doctor by the collar and shook him. “Yep, killing you /is/ pretty useless,” Soldier said with a grin. “So, I guess I’m gonna hafta just /torture/ you until you go insane then! Ha! I like that better. Shovel, you’re a goddamned genius!”

“Please… Soldier… don’t…” Medic’s head started to feel as fuzzy as his vision was, and he could feel hot tears starting to well up in his eyes. He wanted to throw up and pass out and he prayed desperately that he could just be held in Heavy’s arms. “Vasting time… ze ozzahs…”

“‘Wasting time,’ nothin’. You’re /begging/ me to stop.” Soldier leaned in close to the doctor’s face. “I thought you could take pain better than this, Doc. Or was that all just a ruse?” He laughed; it was a deep, menacing sound, devoid of any kind of mirth. “You’re /nothing/ without your big, strong /Heavy/ to hide behind, aren’t ya? You’re a sniveling, cowardly /maggot/, and I’m gonna enjoy /every goddamned second/ of making you scream.” He reached into one of the pouches hanging off of his belt and pulled out a pair of wire cutters, holding them up in front of Medic’s face close enough for the doctor to see. He then lifted up Medic hand, holding onto it firmly and splaying out the doctor's fingers, holding the open wire cutters up around the tip of his index finger. “Where’s your precious communist thug now, Doc?”

“Right here.”

Soldier tried to turn around, but was lifted up into the air and slammed against the hallway wall at a ferocious velocity, and before he had a chance to process what was happening, a flurry of blows assaulted his face.

“NEVER,” A punch, “EVER,” another punch, “HURT,” a third punch, “DOKTOR,” a fourth, “AGAIN!” and then there were too many for Soldier to keep track of.

“That’s enough, mate.” Sniper said, helping Medic to his feet. “I think Solly’s had enough.”

“NO!” Heavy roared. “YOU SAW! YOU SAW VHAT HE VAS GOING TO DO TO DOKTOR!”

Sniper nodded. “I saw. He ain’t right in th’ head, though, Heavy. But we still need ‘im.”

Heavy turned to Soldier, who he was still holding against the wall, his massive hand enveloping the American’s neck. Soldier spat a wad of blood and a tooth at his captor indignantly. Heavy snarled and tossed Soldier away like a rag doll, and watched him skid across the floor.

“Danke schön…” Medic said softly, keeping a firm hand on Sniper’s shoulder to maintain his balance. “You saved me…”

“I heard Soldier doin’ th’ ‘screamin’ eagles’ thing and got suspicious,” Sniper said. “Heavy apparently just got a bad feelin’ an’ left everybody. We met up on our way down, an’ followed the trail a’ destruction.”

“Soldier cost us…” Heavy rumbled, scooping Medic into his arms and cradling him. “Engineer put up more sentries to make up for us. But is not enough.” He glared hatefully at Soldier, who was trying to lift himself off of the floor. “Ve work harder now to make up for /you/.”

“Should have gotten Spy to go for him instead,” Medic said with a weak laugh. “Put me down, Heavy. I’ll be fine.”

“Your head is still bleeding, Doktor,” Heavy said, sounding more like a protective mother than his usual self. “Besides, I do not trust Soldier.”

“We’d better get goin’,” Sniper reminded them. “Everybody’s waitin’ on us.”

Heavy grunted in agreement, and carried Medic down the hall, heading for the stairs, before Medic softly reminded him he needed yet another pair of glasses, and then took a detour to the infirmary. Sniper picked up the shovel wrapped in barbed wire with a sneer, and kicked Soldier in his shoulder. “Git up, you bleedin’ piker.”

“Go to hell, you fucking hippie,” Soldier spat.

Sniper delivered a harder blow to Soldier’s ribs, eliciting a pained groan. “I’m not a bloody hippie,” Sniper growled. “I’m a dinkum /profressional/.”

______________________________________________________________


When the entourage of Heavy, Medic, Solder and Sniper managed to get on the ground level of base, they arrived just in time to see their fellow teammates dash inside, with Engineer activating the emergency shutdown procedure, bringing down the metal barricades.

“Vhat is happening?” Heavy asked.

“You freakin’ left us vulnerable out there, fatass!” Scout snapped. “We had ta retreat since they started gettin’ in past the hole! Thanks a fuckin’ lot!”

“YOU SHUT UP!” Heavy barked, clutching Medic to his chest. “Soldier vas going to chop Doktor to little /pieces/!”

“Oh, bloody ‘ell,” Demoman said weakly, awash with guilt, “I knew I shoulda’ sent Spy t’ git ‘im…”

“Nice to know zat you zink so highly of me, Demoman,” Spy said bitterly.

“Look, we don’t have /time/ t’ be arguin’ like this,” Engineer shouted over everyone. “Lissen. We’re goin’ up on th’ roof. They won’t be able to get us from up there, an’ we can mow ‘em down easy. Long as we keep hammerin’ on ‘em hard, we got a chance a’ getting’ outta here. But we all gotta work /together/. No fightin’ between anybody, no blame games for anythin’, none a’ that. We are a team, workin’ together to stay /alive/. Now let’s move out.”

No one felt any need to argue with Engineer as they followed him upstairs, heading for the roof.

______________________________________________________________


This is all I have for now. Part 15 is coming along /very/ slowly, so it's hard to give an estimated time when it will be up.
>> No. 495
Bumping for zombie goodness.
>> No. 497
Part 15 is coming along /very/ slowly

Fuuuuuuuuck *HEADSLAM* great now my desk is broken, THANKS A LOT CAT. (>_<)
>> No. 498
Holy shit why did I wait till now to read this? The characterization is fucking amazing.
>> No. 499
That was amazing. Should be Valve's TF2 feature length movie.
>> No. 500
>>16

I managed to churn out a whole page yesterday, and I've been working on it on and off all day today.

... It's now on... page three.

>>18

NUH-UH SHUT UP.
>> No. 501
>>19

I would see this over and over again nonstop if it were a full length TF2 movie.

It's overflowing with pure amazing.
>> No. 503
>>20

I second this. Although I'd be kind of sad to see them take out the MedicxHeavy goodness.
>> No. 504
You managed to make me bite my fingernails clean off in anxiety with the Soldier going crazy on Medic scene. Seriously, I've never been this into a story before.
>> No. 520
>>22

You should read more books, LOL.
>> No. 522
I legit had to get up and walk away for a minute when Pyro was feeding Stumpy I was so nervous! Eagerly awaiting the next part!
>> No. 523
Really great story mate, very fresh in my opinion hehe
>> No. 524
HOLY SHIT
HOOOOOLY SHIIIIT
HO-LY SHIIIIIIIT
WHAT KIND OF BODY WOULD A MOOSE HEAD WANT?
I am comPLETELY floored by this work of art. I was watching a movie inside my head! This is amazing! I laughed, snorted, got stressed and had an ulcer while I was reading this. I approve and am waiting for the next installment.
>> No. 527
Just reread this and it's still as awesome as I remembered. Your characterisation is <i>perfect</i> and the action sequences genuinely make me nervous.

(Also, this is the only story in which I legitimately feel bad for a zombie. What's going to happen to Stumpy? Poor little guy.)
>> No. 587
The long awaited Part 15 is now here! This chapter is much, much longer than all the previous chapters, which is part of the reason why it took so long. Enjoy.

______________________________________________________________


The hatch to the roof popped open, and Sniper was the first to crawl out into the moonlight. He propped the door open, and carefully stepped out into the night air. The roof was slanted, and Sniper was a bit apprehensive about having so much weight on the roof, especially with Heavy. Engineer poked out his head next, and pulled himself out with a grunt.

“Yer sure that this is th’ only roof we can get on top of?” Engineer asked.

“Yeah, I’m sure,” Sniper said, offering Engineer a hand to stand up. “Demo an’ I hang out up here all th’ time. I don’t know if any other part of the roof that can be reached, really.”

“Well, Sniper, I can say fer sure that alla’ us are /not/ gonna be supported. Heavy’d prolly fall right through even without Sasha.”

“Well, what would you suggest we do, then?” Sniper asked. “Blow a hole through the wall?”

As if on cue, the roof shook and Sniper and Engineer found themselves clinging onto tiles desperately, trying not to fall off, as a rocket exploded outwards and into the crowd of zombies, sending them exploding upwards in a rain of entrails and blood.

“YOU IDIOT!” Medic shouted. “Sniper und Engineer ah up zere! You could have killed zem! Vhy did ve even let you up here in ze first place?/”

“Shut up,” Soldier grumbled, looking up to see Engineer and Sniper climbing down from the ladder, looking irritated. “See? They’re /fine/.”

“Jesus Christ, Soldier, were ya tryin’ t’ git us killed?” Engineer bellowed, his hands shaking a bit. “You could’a warned us, at least.”

Soldier merely snorted, and turned back to the freshly made hole in the wall and started to fire down on the wave of zombies, looking completely stoic as he did so. Scout quickly joined him, aiming for the monsters directly below them with his scattergun, and was soon accompanied by Demoman, who joined in with grenades and sticky bombs. Engineer built another sentry overlooking the front of the base, grumbling to himself all the while. Pyro hacked away at the wall more with his axe, to make room for Heavy and his minigun. Sniper had retreated back to the roof, standing on the ladder with his upper body poking out of the hatch as he continued to pick off the monsters swarming them. Spy nudged his way through the crowd, and fired down upon them with is revolver, and Medic resigned himself to retrieving more ammo.

It was hard to tell how much time had passed. It hardly mattered, since no one seemed to be focused on anything other than killing off as many of the monsters as possible. The corpses piled on top of each other, bits of the zombies flew into the air upon contact with rockets and grenades. There was a mindless repetition to their actions; shooting in absent-minded patterns with little forethought. Nothing mattered but gunfire and explosions, racking up as many kills as possible. The only words that seemed to be uttered were cries for more bullets, though even those words ceased to be shouted over the din of fire. An animalistic desperation had engulfed them all, with only one collective thought among the nine of them: kill them all. Keep killing them until they are all dead.

This constant, relentless firing was starting to take a toll on the psyches of the RED team’s members. Medic, exhausted and battered as he was, came up with another box of ammunition, and let it slam onto the creaky floorboard. “Zis… is ze last of ze ammunition,” he said breathlessly, slouching over and panting.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, are you sure about that?” Scout asked. “You sure there ain’t anymore down there? We should have a ton after we got stuff from the BLU base!”

“Ve vent zhrough all of it in just vone night trying to kill zis hoarde!” Medic said curtly. “Zis is ze last of it! Zere is nozzing left!”

“Jesus Christ, there’s gotta be almost three hunnerd of th’ bastards left,” Sniper said grimly, climbing down from his perch on the ladder. “I don’t think we have enough t’ take the rest of ‘em out.”

“How long do you zink we could survive if we simply stayed in lock-down?” Spy asked.

“Viz our food supply as it currently stands?” Medic massaged the bridge of his nose with his fingertips wearily. “A few weeks, at best. We’d last much longer, had ze train actually come.”

“Well, that’s just fuckin’ great!” Scout spat. “HQ ain’t getting’ in touch with us, we’re stranded out in th’ middle a’ fuckin’ nowhere, surrounded by zombies, and we ain’t got enough firepower to kill ‘em off! We’re fuckin’ dead in th’ water out here!”

“Easy, Scout,” Engineer countered calmly. “Let’s just think about this rationally and just explore all our options…”

“What fuckin’ options?” Scout screeched. “Stay trapped in here and eventually starve t’ death, throw ourselves to the zombies or blow our brains out before they get to us? Oh, yeah, those are some /great/ options!”

“Zere is always escape,” Spy said coolly.

“And how the hell are ya plannin’ t’ do that, you crazy frog?” Scout was sounding more and more hysterical. “We’re friggin’ surrounded! And where would be able to go, anyway?”

“Quiet, boy, I’m zinking,” Spy growled before taking a long drag on his cigarette.

Soldier peered out over the zombie hoard. It was the BLU Medic that had apparently made these monsters. This only served as further proof that Medics could not be trusted. He sneered down at them, lip curling upwards like an angry dog baring its fangs. He could hear Shovel, who had been tossed aside in the corner so carelessly by Sniper when they had come up, calling for him.

“This isn’t lookin’ all too well, lads,” Demoman said dejectedly. “I’d rather go down fightin’ than sit ‘ere rottin’ away in this /prison/.”

“Demoman is right,” Heavy affirmed. “Is coward vay to die, sitting in base, vaiting.”

“Don’t be stupid,” Spy said. “There’s /always/ a way out. Sniper, you still have your van around ze back, oui?”

“Yeah, it’s there,” Sniper said flatly. “No gas innit, though.”

“Merde,” Spy hissed. He took another long drag from his cigarette. "Why don't you have any gas in zere, anyway?

"Well, I wasn't bloody well gonna be goin' anywhere, now was I?" Sniper quipped.

“Obviously, a sacrifice will have to be made.”

Everyone else in the attic turned to look at Soldier, who was standing in the corner, clutching his battered and beloved Shovel, which was still stained red from his assault on Medic hours earlier. “/Someone/ is going to have to be thrown to those things so that the rest of us can escape. Lead them all off in one direction while we go the other. If we’re going to survive, that’s the only way.”

Spy raised a curious eyebrow. “Zat could work,” he said somberly. “But who would volunteer themselves for zat?”

“Who said anything about volunteers?” Soldier said with a twisted grin on his face, as his eyeballs peeked out from under his helmet and he gaze fell upon Medic.

Heavy stepped in front of Soldier’s field of vision, glowering at Soldier. “That is enough, Soldier. Give me Shovel.”

Soldier was startled by this request, and clung to his Shovel possessively. “Back off, maggot. Don’t you touch him.”

“Shovel is evil. Is traitor. You are fool for listening to him,” Heavy said sternly, looming over the much smaller man, and extending a large, expectant hand towards him. “Give him to me.”

“Never!” Soldier barked. “I’d sooner die like a dog than hand him over to /you/.”

“If that is vhat you vant….” Heavy lunged forward and grabbed the hand Soldier currently had wrapped around Shovel, grinding the bones together painfully. He then twisted Soldier’s arm, while the American tried to hold on desperately to his Shovel. His grip loosened just enough, however, that Heavy was able to wrench it from his hand, and punch Soldier in the jaw, sending the smaller man backwards. Heavy gripped Shovel in both hands, and made his way to the hole in the wall, overlooking the remaining zombies.

“What do you think you’re doing?” Soldier pulled himself to his feet, his voice betraying the panic he felt.

“Vhat ve should have done long time ago,” Heavy growled. He held Shovel up, his enormous hands gripping opposite ends of the tool, and swiftly, mercilessly, brought Shovel’s shaft over his bent knee, causing it to splinter and break with a loud, unsettling crack, like the breaking of a man’s spine.

It was at this point that Soldier dashed forward, screaming incoherent syllables at Heavy, only to watch the mighty Russian turn around and toss the two halves of Shovel down to the mob of zombies. Soldier finally reached the hole and collapsed onto his stomach, his fingers hanging over the edge as he peered down just in time to watch Shovel fall into the crowd. The zombies, for the most part, ignored the fallen object, aside from a few who turned their heads and regarded it curiously, only to immediately lose interest and go back to clawing at the unrelenting metal door. Soldier merely stared for a few moments, mouth agape in absolute horror. “You… you killed him.”

“Yes,” said Heavy grimly. “I did.”

Soldier turned around, his eyes nearly bulging from their sockets and beads of sweat starting to roll down his face. “You… you goddamned /murderer/!”

“I did vhat I had to. To protect team,” Heavy said calmly, his expression remaining stern and unperturbed. “It vas Shovel who told you to hurt Doktor. Shovel vas telling you to hurt Doktor again. He is evil.”

“Heavy, please,” Medic pleaded, “Don’t encourage his delusions like zis…”

“YOU KILLED SHOVEL! YOU MURDERING, COLD-BLOODED SON OF A BITCH!” Soldier screeched, and charged towards Heavy, pounding away at his massive chest with tightly-balled fists, before finally collapsing to a heap and doing some so un-Soldier like, it left everyone staring at him in an awkward, stunned silence.

Soldier started to cry.

He was on his hands and knees, helmet titled downwards, shaking uncontrollably and choking out reluctant sobs, as tears started to sting his eyes, and began to beat his clenched, white-knuckled fists onto the floorboards at Heavy’s feet. The other members of RED team exchanged uncomfortable glances. Only Heavy seemed to be completely unaffected by this display.

“Stop crying,” Heavy said coldly. “You are being baby.”

“I am not crying!” Soldier protested. “I… I just have water coming out of my eyes, you /murderer/!”

“Shovel had to die. He vas demon.”

Soldier’s head shot up, his face contorting into pure, red-faced rage. “What the hell would you even know about /demons/, you godless, Commie sonuvabitch? WHAT WOULD YOU KNOW?” His hands lashed out to grab a hold of Heavy’s vest, and pulled himself up so he’s be closer to the larger man’s face.

“Missionary came to our village once, long time ago,” Heavy said. “Tried to convert us to worshipping Jesus Christ. I did not like him. He vas loud, proud, stupid man, from America, and vas convinced he vas on mission from God. But he vould talk about devils and demons and hellfire. He said demons vere like evil spirits, and they vere everywhere, and could possess people who vere weak-willed. I vas much younger then, and it stayed vit me.”

Soldier didn’t really respond; he merely stared at the Russian. He had never heard the man say so much at a time before. Perhaps it was shock finally registering inside him, or perhaps it was genuine curiosity, but whatever it was, Soldier remained silent and waited for Heavy to continue.

“But it makes sense now. Shovel vas demon. He vanted to you do terrible, terrible things. He made it sound good to you, made it sound like he cared about you, but he did not. He used you like tool, and possessed you because you were weak-willed. Didn’t he?”

“I…” Soldier stammered, looking away from Heavy. He felt strangely powerless for the first time in God knew how long. He had been humiliated, /castrated/, beaten into submission by this one act, and here he stood, /crying/ for God’s sake. /Nobody/ made him cry. He wasn’t sure whether he wanted to murder the man in front of him or just curl into a submissive ball, what with Shovel, his rock, his pillar of strength and his closest and only real ally, being executed so quickly and unceremoniously.

No, he thought. He couldn’t let Heavy win. There /had/ to be some way to get back at him; prove that he was better, prove that Shovel /wasn’t/ a demon. He tried to regain his composure, try and revert to a stoic, cold-blooded son of a bitch that was not to be fucked with. What would John Wayne do in a situation like this?

A slow, mechanical rumbling was heard off in the distance, becoming gradually louder and closer. Instinctively, everyone in the room, with the sole exception of Soldier, gathered to peer outside through the hole in the wall, and watched as the supply train cut its way through the desert, chugging along briskly as it pulled in to the usual drop-off area.

“I donnea b’leive it…” Demoman said softly, shaking his head in disbelief.

“Well, it’s about bloody time,” Sniper growled.

Spy raised a curious eyebrow, and took one last drag, flicking his cigarette butt into the zombie mob, “Zat’s somewhat convenient.”

“So, how we gonna get down there?” Scout asked impatiently.

“It’s as Soldier said, before he had a total emotional breakdown in front of us…” Spy said, removing his cigarette case from inside of his jacket and flipping it open, delicately removing a fresh cigarette, “the monsters need a distraction zat would allow ze rest of us to escape wizzout zeir notice, and zey only see to be focused on one zing.”

“Food,” Medic answered glumly. “Ach, if only ze virus did not shpread in such a vay…”

“So… what are we gonna do?” Scout asked, looking around at the members of RED team while he waited for an answer.

There was a long, uncomfortable silence. Most of the members of RED team were sizing each other up with sideways glances. Engineer, too, found himself wondering who would be best suited for the task, before shaking himself out of it. “Look here, let’s not go around tryin’ t’ throw each other out t’ the wolves. I’m sure if we think about this, we can find a way t’ save ev’rybody-”

“I’ll do it.”

Soldier didn’t even look at the rest of the members of RED. His back was turned to them, facing the opposite direction of the hole in the wall. He straightened up a bit, turning his head to the side. “It’s like Heavy and Demo said. Better to go down fighting. That’s how I’ve always wanted to go out, and that’s how I want to be remembered. Not crying like some sort of spineless little girl over Shovel. He… he wouldn’t appreciate that.”

“Soldier…” Medic spoke up softly, trying to approach the American as gently as possible, “ah you sure you vant to do zat?”

“I don’t need any sympathy from you,” Soldier said flatly, turning to face Medic. “I don’t like you, Medic, and you don’t like me, and yet you still haven’t tried to kill me after everything. And, well… I’d like to know why.”

“You vant to know vhy?” Medic asked. “Respawn, you Dummkopf! Trying to kill you vould be shtupid.”

“That’s not why, and you know it,” Soldier snapped.

“Oh, you zink I /care/ about you? Zat I feel responsible for you, zat I feel ze need to make sure you don’t hurt yourself of get yourself killed, like I’m ze mozzah of zis team und I’m not just doing my job?” Medic crossed his arms and huffed in exasperation. “Is /zat/ vhat you zink?”

“Yeah,” said Soldier, “yeah, I think that /is/ the case.” Medic stared at him, his irritation melting from his face and betraying an expression that was both surprised and oddly touched. Soldier cleared his throat. “You… you do your job. You do it well. You /care/. And I didn’t think you did. Shovel told me you didn’t, but now that he’s dead… my head’s clear. Shovel… Shovel wasn’t always right.”

“Shovel vas just a shovel,” Medic said, trying not to show his amazement that Soldier was actually talking like a civilized human being. “Ze voice you heard vas from your own head, a symptom of your psychosis…”

“I’m not even gonna bother correcting you anymore,” Soldier interrupted gruffly. “I’m gonna do this so I can save the whole goddamned team and prove that I’m a better person than you, Doc, because it’s the only way I’m gonna restore my honor.”

“Zat’s incredibly brave of you, Soldier.” Medic said admiringly, ignoring the shot that Soldier had taken at his character.

“Eh, I don’t need your praise, either,” Soldier said dismissively. “Now, get out of here before I change my mind.” He peered at Medic from under his helmet, his expression still hard, but the hatred in his eyes was gone. Their eyes met, as if to make a silent truce between them, even with all the animosity still between them. It didn’t matter anymore. There were bigger things to be dealt with.

“Oh, shit,” Scout said. “If, we’re, uh, gonna be leaving here forever, there’s some stuff I need…”

“You are /not/ taking your entire collection of comic books wiz you, are you, Scout?” Spy asked.

“Uh… no?” Scout didn’t sound entirely sure of his answer.

“If we’re going to take anyzing viz us, it should only be vhat you can carry vizout being slowed down,” Medic said. “Besides… I have somezing I need to do before ve leave.”

“Sounds good,” Engineer said with a nod. He turned to Soldier. “You, ah, you sure you wanna go ahead with this?”

“Positive,” Soldier said. “You go ahead with your preparations, and radio me when you’re ready to go. I’ll just wait up here.”

The other members of RED team were already leaving the attic, but Engineer found himself lingering, feeling the need to say something, /anything/, to his comrade. “Soldier?”

“What is it?” Soldier asked curtly, turning to face the Texan.

“Thank you,” Engineer said. “It… it was an honor fighting with you.”

“No need to thank me,” Soldier said. “Just get out of here.”

Engineer left, but not before turning back to get another glance at his teammate. Soldier was standing in front of the hole in the wall, looking down, hands behind his back as one of his hands held the opposite wrist. He went down the attics hatch to join the others, feelings of regret already stirring up within his chest.

“‘It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done’,” Soldier sighed, looking down at the throng of the undead that looked up at him, like so many sharks swarming in the sea, awaiting the inevitable feeding frenzy. He chuckled. Not every day that he could quote Dickens like that, really, but it felt appropriate. He looked over past the horizon, and locked his eyes on the moon, and started to sing. “You too may be a big hero/Once you’ve learned to count backwards to zero/‘In German oder English I know how to count down/Und I’m learning Chinese,’ says Wernher Von Braun.”

______________________________________________________________


Stumpy had a vague idea that /something/ was going on outside. He could hear the shooting and the sound of a bunch of things that were like him, and it made him anxious. He wriggled around uselessly, wondering where the Meaty Thing in the White Coat was, and how come he wasn’t being fed yet. He writhed on the floor, trying to get out of the room, but would find himself being held back by the leash going taut. At least he had his bonk, though. He held it close to him, and licked the familiar bloodstain.

When the door to the infirmary finally opened, and the Meaty Thing in the White Coat came in, Stumpy immediately started groaning and drooling in excitement. He was going to get meat, and have the terrible, evil mask on his face taken off. But the Meaty Thing in the White Coat didn’t smile at him like he usually did, singing to himself in those strange German words like he had before. He was holding something strange in his hands, something long and metallic and decidedly not delicious looking. The doctor’s expression was grim, mouth pulled tight shut as he looked down at Stumpy.

“Mrruughhh…” Stumpy gurgled, looking up at the Meaty Thing in the White Coat as he lifted up the metal tube thing, “Mrrrdiickk.”

“Please, Stumpy, you ah only making zis more difficult for me,” Medic said, trying to aim the shotgun that felt so terribly heavy in his hands at the test subject’s head. He wasn’t sure why it felt so terribly, terribly wrong to do this to what was essentially a living corpse, but it did. He had killed people before, many of them, without the slightest hesitation, but somehow, killing this abomination, this /monster/, just seemed downright wrong.

The creature before him tilted its head in confusion, looking up at Medic from his position on the floor, lying on his stomach and clutching Scout’s bat. “Bwwuuuhh… Bonk?”

Medic looked down at the pitiful creature and sighed. He tucked Heavy’s shotgun under his arm, and picked up Stumpy by his shoulder, sitting him upright. He stepped back, and lifted his weapon up, aiming the barrel for the head. Ammo was so precious now, it wouldn’t do to try and waste it by missing. He let out a long shuddering sigh. “I am sorry, Stumpy,” he said.

Stumpy was still confused. He wasn’t sure what those words meant, exactly, but “sorry” sounded familiar. It meant… something feeling bad. And the Meaty Thing in the White Coat looked… what was that word? Sad? Like how he felt when he didn’t get meat. He didn’t have much time to ponder this, however, before there was a loud noise and then…

The doctor opened his eyes. He had closed them almost instinctively when he had pulled the trigger. He looked down at the corpse, its head in several gooey, red pieces all over the sickbay, with a generous layer of blood coating the walls and floor. He lowered his gun and hung his head. This was for the best, he told himself. It was cruel to let the thing live as an empty shell of a human being. It occurred to Medic that this was the first time he felt this way about any of his endeavors, and that frightened him. He walked over to the nearest bed, and took the blanket in his hand. He walked over the corpse, holding the blanket by two corners, and placed it over the remains of the BLU Scout, and picked up the bloodied baseball bat. The doctor then solemnly turned and left the infirmary.

He opened the door to see Heavy and Spy talking in a far corner of the infirmary, talking secretively. They were surprised by the arrival of the doctor, and Heavy turned to Medic, his expression somber. “Is he dead?” he asked.

“Ja… ze deed is done,” Medic sighed, handing Heavy his weapon, the barrel still hot. “Am I… interrupting somezing?”

“I was just leaving,” Spy said dismissively. “I’ll see you gentlemen downstairs.” With that, he took his leave, slipping out through the infirmary door and gliding down the hallway.

“Vhat vas zat about?” Medic asked as Heavy took back his shotgun.

“Is nothing,” Heavy said, his expression still looking grim. “I brought your violin. I tink, maybe, you should bring it vit you.” He handed Medic his slightly-dusty violin case, holding it delicately by the handle.

“Danke, Heavy,” Medic said with a smile, taking it gently from Heavy’s grasp. He looked up at The Russian, trying to offer him a reassuring smile, only to notice Heavy seemed to avert his gaze and look rather gloomy. Medic lifted a gloved hand and brought to the side of his face, turning the larger man’s head so that they were face to face. “Vhat is wrong, meine Liebe?” He asked with concern.

“I said, is nothing,” Heavy reiterated glumly. “Do not vorry about it. Ve vill be gone from here, soon.”

“Ja… ve vill,” Medic said, nuzzling Heavy’s chest. “Ve vill.”

“Doktor?”

“Yes, meine Kuschelbär?”

“I love you, Doktor.”

“I love you too, mein Liebling,” Medic said, and craned his neck up to kiss the larger man on the lips. “Now, come. Ve have to go now.” He took Heavy by the hand and led the larger man out into the hall.

______________________________________________________________


Eight men were now gathered in the sewers. Spy had noticed that Medic was carrying his violin, Engineer had his guitar strapped to his back and Sniper was cradling his radio in his arm. The Frenchman hummed to himself, and looked over the others, who didn’t seem to have any visible cargo, aside from Scout’s noticeably bulging knapsack on his back and his baseball bat in his grip covered in a fresh coat of blood, and Demoman’s multiple flasks hanging from his waist.

“Y’don’t expect us t’ swim, do ya, Spy?” Sniper asked. “Radio’s not waterproof, mate.”

“Au contraire, mon ami,” Spy said with a grin. “I figured out a quieter, dryer way to get us across ze moat while Soldier plays cowboys and zombies.” He produces a small, yellow package from inside of his suit jacket. He then pulled a string on the package and tossed it to the sewer water, where it inflated into a large, yellow raft, and landed on the water with a gentle splash.

“Where’d the hell you get that?” Scout asked.

“A good spy is always prepared for anyzing,” Spy said matter-of-factly.

“But we’re out inna middle of the desert,” Scout replied. "What are you, a fucking Boy Scout or something?"

“/Anyzing/,” Spy repeated, casting a glare at Scout, who was becoming far too inquisitive for his own tastes. He turned to the rest of his teammates. “This raft should be able to hold all of us, even ze fat man. Now, all aboard. Time is of ze essence.”

Heavy held the raft in place while the members of RED team all climbs into the raft, one at a time. Spy was the second to last on, and when he seated himself on the raft, Heavy climbed in, and the raft sank considerably, but not enough to let any water inside.

“So, do we have a paddle or what?” Scout asked.

“I’m not /zat/ well prepared,” Spy snapped. “We’re going to have to paddle wiz our hands. Unless you have any objections…”

“I guess not,” Scout grumbled. “You want me to call Soldier or what?”

“If you please,” Spy said, puffing at his cigarette.

Scout fiddled with his headset, tuning it to Soldier’s frequency. “Hey, Soldier. You there man?”

Up in the attic, Soldier noticed the crackling voice coming through on his radio, which was resting on his hip. He picked it up, and pressed the transceiver. “Soldier here. Learn to use your radio properly, Private. Over.”

“Sorry, man, Jesus,” said Scout. “Well, uh, we’re in a raft down in the sewers. We’re gonna go across and come up around through BLU base, since Pyro says there’s a tunnel through the rubble we can use. Just… just keep the zombies away from the moat and on RED side, okay?” There was a pause. “Over.”

“Affirmative, over,” Soldier said, mounting his rocket launcher over his shoulder.

“Uh, hey, Soldier?”

“What is it, Private? Over.”

“Thanks, man. You’re… you’re a credit to the team.”

“Oh Jesus, do /not/ get all sentimental and mushy on me, Private. That is an order! I absolutely will /not/ stand for that, do you hear me? Over.”

“All right, man, I get it, I get it.” Scout’s voice seemed to indicate he was knowingly disobeying Soldier’s commands. “Godspeed, Soldier. Engie… Engie said that. Uh, over.”

“Just get the hell out of here already, over and out,” Soldier growled. He looked down at the crowd of zombies below him, aimed his weapon, and jumped down. He fired downwards, the blast propelling him up into the air and taking out clusters of the monsters below him. He then tried to propel himself off to the side, leading the hoard away from the bridge as they followed him, even gathered directly underneath him, although it would mean certain destruction. When he fired his fourth rocket, he quickly switched to his shotgun, and started firing wildly at the creatures, before landing deftly on his feet. He continued to fire at them, blowing away any that got to close before he started to back himself towards the fence behind RED Base. It was clear that the zombies were all gunning for him, but just in case, he decided to grab their attention even more.

“YOU CALL YOURSELVES ZOMBIES? WHY, I’VE SEEN OLD LADIES DEVOUR PEOPLE WHOLE BETTER THAN YOU!” It seemed to be working well, as the undead bastards were all solely focused on him, shambling forward with steadfast determination. Soldier looked over to the right to see more zombies coming around from the other side of RED base, cutting off any chance for escape. Not that he was going to turn back now, anyway, he thought. He kept firing at them and whirling around to shoot whichever of them got closest, all while still hurling insults at them. “C’MON, YOU MAGGOT-INFESTED… MAGGOTS THINK YOU CAN HANDLE ME? I’LL SHOW YOU HOW A REAL MAN FIGHTS!”

He soon ran out of ammo, finding the zombies surrounding him cornering him tightly. Without even thinking, he flipped his shotgun around, holding tight onto the still-hot barrel, and started to swing it around like a club, bashing in more than a few heads as he continued to scream at them with total confidence as his palm burned and sizzled against the shotgun metal. “COME GET ME, YOU UNDEAD SCUM! I’LL TAKE ALL OF YOU DOWN WITH ME! I WILL PERSONALLY SEE THE LOT OF YOU /IN HELL/!” It was right then that a child zombie leapt upon Soldier, dangling from his arm, and took a bite from his forearm.

Soldier let out an unintelligible screech, and bashed the monster over the head until it split like an overripe cantaloupe. Unfortunately, the other zombies took this a signal to all tackle Soldier, who simply took to beating them off his own body as even more sets of teeth were sinking into his flesh. His adrenaline could only keep him going for so long, and he was dimly aware that he was becoming more and more parallel to the ground, as he noticed a zombie that successfully managed to gnaw his leg off. Soldier lashed out and grabbed it in desperation, and was now beating away at the monsters with his own severed limb, as their probing fingers managed to rip a hole in his abdomen, and he could see his intestines being pulled out and eaten straight from his stomach.

Slowly, the pain was becoming more and more dulled, and Soldier found himself vomiting up obscene amounts of blood, and his fists didn’t seem to be connecting to the zombies like he wanted them to. The sounds of rasping and moaning and gnashing teeth he was hearing were now drowned out by white noise, like static in his head, a high pitched ringing in his ears, and suddenly the moon looked so bright and welcoming. He’d never noticed how many craters were on the moon before this moment, just how many stars you could see out here. Why, there were thousands of them. So bright and beautiful… he barely noticed when the teeth that were chewing away at his neck managed to sever his windpipe and his head was rudely yanked off his shoulders, and the zombies continued their starved feeding frenzy.

______________________________________________________________


The raft was now inside the sewers of the BLU base, and Spy was the first one off, followed quickly by Pyro. Spy pulled a very small flashlight from inside his jacket and shone it around the room. It was dark and dank and still smelled like burnt wood. Pyro got his axe and hopped onto a pile of concrete rubble and burnt wood with the quickness of a rabbit. He quickly waved to urge the others along. They disembarked cautiously, feeling understandably uncomfortable being in a building that had collapsed in on itself.

“Ye sure ye know what yer doin’ Pyro?” Demoman asked, as he set his foot on the bridge of debris.

“Errf crrsshhh eerr urrm,” Pyro responded, giving the Scotsman a thumbs-up. He waddled forward, as Spy followed closely behind with his flashlight.

Pyro had returned to the ruins of BLU base often since its destruction, exploring it and mapping it out. He managed to effectively communicate this fact to Spy, when Spy was devising an escape route. Out of boredom, he managed to find that the entrance to the stairs to the sewers was easily uncovered just by moving a few beams and bits of rubble. Miraculously, the sewers were not completely flooded with debris, and there was a rough little tunnel through fallen beams and concrete that could be navigated. He hacked his way through, making sure there was enough room for everyone to navigate without too much trouble and without bringing down a rain of rubble. Silently, the eight men made their way through the dark, wet tunnel, the occasional sound of Sniper or Heavy bumping their heads against the odd pipe could be heard. But Pyro pushed forward, climbing up the stairs between the rubble until he finally arrived at his destination. He pushed up at wooden beams that had covered the entrance to his secret tunnel and emerged aboveground, poking his head out and looking like an odd little mole. He pulled himself up, and turned around to lift up Spy. Spy got up and dusted himself off, turning his attention to his next goal as the rest of the members of RED team were lifted out. Heavy was the last to come out, needing Pyro, Demoman, Engineer and Medic to help lift him up.

“So, now what, French fry?” Scout asked, hands on his hips as he tapped his foot impatiently.

“Gentlemen,” Spy motioned to the hole in the fence, which was currently surrounded by a large amount of dead bodies, “zere is our way out.”

Without any hesitation, Scout dashed forward and started to drag corpses out of the way with a sudden amount of urgency. Pyro, Sniper, Demoman, Medic and Engineer all ran over to help, tossing the cadavers about. They were only obstacles, the one last hurdle that needed to be cleared before they could finally reach the train, which was still idling on the tracks, looking more and more inviting by the second. Spy checked his watch and clicked his tongue.

Finally, there was a clear path to slip through under the fence, and Scout was the first to crawl underneath. Pyro followed, wriggling in the dirt on his stomach, and was followed by Engineer, who also got down low and crawled through on his elbows. Sniper slid under and pulled Demoman through swiftly. Spy grumbled to himself, lamenting the fact that he would be getting his suit dusty, and slid underneath, followed closely by Medic, who looked upon the train and wiped his brow with the back of his hand, breathing a sigh of relief as his teammates were already making a mad dash to the train.

“Ve made it…” he said breathlessly. “Mein Gott, Heavy, ve made it!”

“Doktor!”

“Yes, mein Heav-” He turned and suddenly realized that there was a glaring flaw in Spy’s plan. “Oh, nein. Nein, nein, nein, nein, nein…” He dropped his violin case on the ground unceremoniously.

Heavy was lodged tightly between the fence and the ground, trying to pull himself forward with a few futile grunts, pawing at the ground to try and get a good grip on the dirt to free himself. He looked up at Medic pathetically, looking so utterly helpless that he hardly seemed to be Medic’s Heavy. “I am stuck, Doktor.” He announced in defeat.

“Nein! Ve helped you out of zis vonce, ve can do it again!” Medic reassured him as he ran to his Heavy, and gripped the man’s large hands in his own gloved ones and started to pull desperately. “ACHTUNG! TEAM! I AM IN NEED OF ASSISTANCE, HERE! RAUS, RAUS!”

Engineer was the first to jerk his head around, and skidded to a halt. “Oh, sweet Jesus, no…” he muttered, and ran back the way he came. “C’MON!” He shouted, and Sniper, Demoman, Pyro and Scout all followed suite. Spy merely stopped and watched.

Engineer batted Medic off to the right, so that each of them clutched one of Heavy’s hands. Sniper and Demo arrived moments later, each grabbing a wrist, and Scout and Pyro, grabbed the Russian man’s trunk-like arms.

“All right, on three, we all pull, got it?” Engineer shouted. The rest of them nodded in agreement. “Okay. One, two, three… PULL!”

All at once, the members of RED team pulled on the colossus of a man, grunting and straining and losing their footing in the dirt. Heavy barely moved an inch, and the barbs in the fence were only digging deeper into his sides, causing him to roar in pain.

“Friggin’ fatass!” Scout shouted, losing his grip on Heavy’s sweaty arm. “Jesus, why’d you have to be so friggin’ fat?”

Spy strolled over, disinterested in the Tug-O-War match that his teammates were engaging in against the fence, glanced at his watch again, and then back at the train.

“Ze train could be leaving at any minute, now,” Spy said loudly over the grunts of exertion.

“Ve ah not leaving vizout Heavy!” Medic cried out.

“Doktor,” Heavy said in a very quiet, resigned voice, “Spy is right. I am not moving.”

Medic’s jaw dropped in horror, and the other members of RED team recognized his tone and half-heartedly let go of the man. The doctor’s head jerked around, eyes darting from teammate to teammate, as he realized with mounting horror was exactly was happening. “Nein, Heavy, you cannot give up! I vill get you out of zis, I promise!” He gripped Heavy’s hands again, and started to pull frantically, with a mad desperation.

“Doktor, stop this. Is useless,” Heavy said. “You go. Train could be leaving soon.”

“NEIN!” Medic screeched, looking into Heavy’s eyes as tears started to well up in his own, “I vill not leave you here to die, meine Liebe! I refuse!”

“Stop being baby, Doktor,” Heavy said sternly.

“I am not being a baby,” Medic said, lacing his fingers with Heavy’s. “I… I vill not leave you. I cannot… vill not…”

“Don’t be stupid,” Heavy said. “Team needs you.”

Medic turned around and glanced at his team. Scout was looking down at the dirt, trying to avoid eye-contact with the doctor. Engineer was wringing his hands nervously, and Sniper had removed his hat and was placing it solemnly over his chest, bowing his head and sighing. Demoman looked apologetically at Medic, and took a very long swig from his bottle of scrumpy. Pyro waddled over and picked up the violin case, and then lifted his hand to put it on Medic’s shoulder, but stopped, slowly lowering the hand, and stepping back again sheepishly. Spy just looked on nonchalantly, and took another drag from his cigarette before glancing at his watch for a third time.

The doctor turned back to Heavy, biting his lip to try and keep it from quivering. “I can’t live vizout you anymore. You said… you said you vould come viz me, ve vould to Venice togezzah…”

“I am sorry,” Heavy rumbled. He let go of Medic’s hand and brushed Medic’s cheek with his fingertips, before cupping the doctor’s face with his palm and bringing him closer. The foreheads were touching, and Medic found that he could no longer hold back his tears, as he started to sob openly and tears streamed from his eyes and along side of his nose. Heavy lifted the doctor’s chin, and he brought their lips together in a long, solemn kiss.

“Ich liebe dich, mein Kuschelbär,” Medic murmured after they broke their kiss. “But… I never found out your real name.”

Heavy pulled the doctor close, and whispered his name into his lover’s ear. He let go of Medic’s shoulder, letting the information sink it.

“Such a beautiful name…” Medic said, fresh tears welling up in his eyes.

“You must go now. I will make sure zombies do not catch you,” Heavy said. He turned his head to Sniper and Engineer who happened to be the closest to the doctor. “You two. Make sure nothing happens to Doktor. Drag him onto train, if you must.”

“Sure thing, mate,” Sniper said grimly, walking briskly over to Medic.

“Vait!” Medic protested, reaching out towards Heavy before Sniper and Engineer each took a hold of the doctor’s arms. “Not yet! Ve cannot leave him yet! Don’t you undahstand? Zey vill kill him! Heavy!” He tried in vain to reach out to the Russian man, only to find himself being dragged further and further away from Heavy, the only man he had ever truly loved. His teammates were now all leaving his Heavy, racing to the train with the utmost urgency. Medic’s eyes darted to the RED side of 2fort, and he saw the zombies migrating towards BLU side, all intensely focused on the fat man stuck in the fence, waiting for them like a wounded water buffalo before a pack of ravenous hyenas. Medic suddenly started to scream.

Spy slid open the door to one of the boxcars and climbed inside. It was almost completely barren aside from a few wooden crates, but Spy didn’t seem to really notice this, and if he had, he didn’t care. Scout doubled jumped onto the car, and turned around to hoist Pyro up. Demoman climbed up by himself, and awaited Engineer, Sniper and Medic. Medic, by this point, was hysterical, and was pulled roughly onto the train by Demoman and Scout, while Sniper climbed aboard.

“I’m gonna head up to th’ head caboose, see if I can get this thing started up,” Engineer said. “Y’all make sure Medic doesn’t do anything crazy.”

“Little late for that, mate,” Sniper replied, trying to keep a firm grip on the doctor.

“Do ye even know how t’ drive a train, laddie?” Demoman asked.

“Boy, I got 11 PhDs. I’m sure I can figure it out.” With that, Engineer took his leave, and vanished out of sight.

Medic wrestled himself away from Sniper’s grasp with a primal shriek, only to be grabbed again by everyone else in the boxcar, peeking out only to see the zombies closing in on his Heavy, who was simply lying there, looking longingly at the train. He was pulled back inside the train just after he saw the mob swarm over his lover, and he let out a long, terrible wail before the train slowly started to rumble to life.

“I HATE ALL OF YOU!” Medic spat, pinned to the floor of the boxcar by six pairs of arms. “YOU COULD HAVE SAVED HIM! I VOULD HAVE KILLED ALL OF YOU IF IT VOULD HAVE SAVED HIM! GET OFF OF ME! SCHWEINHUNDS! DUMMKOPFS! YOU’VE KILLED HIM! YOU… YOU…” He couldn’t even finish before he started blubbering and bawling, and six pairs of hands released their grip on him so that he could curl into a ball and weep.

The train picked up speed, chugging down the dusty desert tracks and leaving 2Fort behind, heading south. No one was quite sure exactly where the train was going, but it was generally accepted that wherever its destination was, it was better than being here.
>> No. 588
Oh. /Oh./

I started crying when I realised what was going to happen to Stumpy and it only got worse from there. This just became one of my favourite fanfics in any fandom ever.
>> No. 590
>>29
Exactly the same, Still i wonder, what was around Pyro's neck!?

Also it stated that scout was dragging medic towards the box cart while he already jumped into it, just thought you should know.
>> No. 591
Why Stumpy?! WHY?!
>> No. 592
>>30
Yeah, I'm really intrigued about who/what Pyro is!

I bawwwed at Solly's breakdown part, but at least he got to redeem himself in the end. Solly's always been my fave throughout Respawn.
>> No. 593
NO
NO
OH GOD, NO

I don't want to spoil it for people reading the comments
but oh god
I had my hand to my mouth the entire time I was reading this, and near the end... oh god, I'm going to cry

Why are you so amazing?
>> No. 594
>>30

Don't rage at me if its a spoiler, but I think it might have been a Star of David.
>> No. 595
THAT IS IT! NO ONE ELSE CAN DIE!

Seriously, that shit is not cool.
>> No. 596
OH GOD

OH GOD

D:
>> No. 598
Why must there be some MedicXHeavy added to this fanfic? I was disappointed when I had to read that paragraph of medic kissing heavy. Not cool, man
>> No. 599
>>34
That's my thought too, or a chai.

>>37
Shut up.

I love the characterizations in this. And the plot. And the OC. And the grammar. And everything.
>> No. 603
Ughh TF2 fanfiction does not have the right to get me this emotional, you are awesome. This is awesome. Awesome.

javascript:quote(38,%20'post599');
Excuse my ignorance, but what is a chai in the context of not tea? Haha...
>> No. 605
>>37

Dude, it has been there throughout the entire fic.

I don't know, I am such a sucker for Heavy/Medic stuff. Hey, at least I wasn't pairing everyone up with each other, right?

>>30

I did? Shit. It was supposed to be Engie and Sniper, not Scout.
>> No. 608
CRIT FIC TO THE HEART
>> No. 609
>>37
There's been hints of sex earlier lol

Also it makes more sense than all of the other couplings
>> No. 610
>>34
Thats what I've always figured(since about 10 seconds after i read about it, just after i thought it was gonna be a swastika), but still, thats just a guess and I want to KNOW.
>> No. 611
>>43

You'll find out when it's time.
>> No. 612
D:

O noes! That is all that comes to mind without posting spoilers.

I can't wait to see where they end up.
>> No. 617
Oh jeez.
OH JEEZ.
Cat, let me have your babies.
>> No. 619
stumpy... ;_;
>> No. 620
>>47

woops forgot to namefag.
>> No. 622
Okay second comment, I'm sorry but
I SPENT ALL DAY THINKING ABOUT THIS.

I just kept imagining the scene where Heavy's watching Medic go and I seriously just want to bawww so hard. And Stumpy,...
>> No. 623
>>46

Sure, you can keep them. I hate babies.

>>49

I'M SORRY.
>> No. 624
MOAR
>> No. 626
>>39
Heh. The tea's more delicious, but I meant this:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chai_(symbol)
>> No. 634
I cant take anymore. I'm so sad inside. Poor Medic.
>> No. 635
GOD DAAAAAMN

Great writing. Fucking... yeah.
>> No. 637
>>54

Coming from you, that means a lot, man.

You're one of my favorite writers on this chan.
>> No. 638
I cried.
Awesome work, man. Awesome fucking work.
>> No. 639
>>55

Really? :D Because you're one of MY favorite writers. Thanks, man. :3

And I speak the truth- Your writing is awesome. The ability to provoke an emotional response from one's readers is a skill you have down /pat/.
>> No. 640
>>57

Oh geez, oh geez.

Thanks so much this is awesome you don't even know.
>> No. 641
>>58

Please, when will you finish the 16th part? I MUST KNOW
>> No. 642
>>59

As of this posting, it's on page three.

Also, goddamn I wish you could edit these posts, I noticed a shit ton of typos and stuff I could change in the last chapter.
>> No. 643
>>58

ILU man :3
>> No. 659
When will the next part be finished?
>> No. 660
>>62

It's coming along. On page five right now. Part 16 will probably be shorter than the last one.
>> No. 662
>>63

If anticipation were made out of lemons, we'd sure be drinking a lot of lemonade right now.
>> No. 675
>>64

You sure that's lemonade?
>> No. 676
>>65

My god...so that wasn't lemonade.
>> No. 678
>>65

Some guy from New Zealand was selling it, so I assumed...
OH SHI-
>> No. 679
>>65

...MON DIEUUUUUUUUUUUU!
>> No. 682
>>65

WE HAVE ALL BEEN SHOWN WHO IS BOSS
>> No. 685
I have... no words to describe how much I love this fanfic and how much it has affected me. I've spent the past few days reading it slowly, relishing every paragraph, spending the time not reading it thinking about it... and now... UGH. I feel like crying. It's so GOOD and so sad. Just... oh God... Medic... I can't even... It's so like Heavy to do, but WHYYYY?! But then I love Medic angst but why like thiiiis? I got a stomach ache from anxiety. I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP I feel like bawling but at the same time I need more. So much more.
I hope the next part is almost done. <3 You are a God of literature.
>> No. 686
Don't know what that "I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP" is doing there. I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP;
>> No. 687
Oh now I see a connection. What a strange insert for an X and D face.
>> No. 688
>>70
>>71

I gigglesnorted.

Also, you flatter me. I am no literature god. James Joyce, I ain't. I just write fan fiction. With zombies.

Also, next part's coming along fairly well, hopefully it should be done soon.
>> No. 690
>>73

You will be loved for your epic story
>> No. 691
>>73

Maybe not James Joyce, but you're a hell of a lot more exciting and entertaining.
>> No. 692
>>75

But I'm not James Joyce ;__;
>> No. 693
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
>> No. 694
This fic.. FFFFFFFFFFFFF friggin amazing and oh GOD that ending! WHY YOU DO THIS CAT!? WHY YOU MAKE ME CRY FOREVER!?

But no, srsly, never stop and justfffffff oh geez I need a tissue ;_;
>> No. 695
>>78 just reminded me what I was going to ask ya. Are you going to start anything new once you're done with Respawn, Cat? (PERHAPS INVOLVING /DRACULA/?)
>> No. 696
>>79

I don't have any plans on any new stories, no.

Also I'm going back to college in July, so I might not have the time.
>> No. 698
>>80
Well, may you be struck with inspiration in the future?
I'm always willing to help.

I'm starting college in the Fall after having taken a year off.
Hoo boy.
>> No. 700
>>81

Maybe. It's rare that I get bitten by inspiration hard enough that I churn something like this out consistently. Especially if it's fan fiction.

When I finish up, we'll see what happens.
>> No. 701
I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
>> No. 718
I hate you for killing off those characters and I'm taking back that fanart! >:C


Best best chapter yet oh god I knew it'd have to come to this but still...
>> No. 720
Part 16 is up! Not as much happening as the last one, but it's kind of a transitional chapter.

______________________________________________________________


Sniper was sitting Indian-style on the floor of the boxcar, the only person left awake. Medic eventually calmed down a bit and fell asleep on the floor in the fetal position. Demoman started drinking until he eventually passed out, already more than halfway through the spare bottles and flasks he had brought with him. Scout fell asleep in a corner, sitting with his legs bent up in front of him and his arms out straight, balanced on his knees as he dozed. Pyro had been a bit jittery, though it was understandable, after everything that had happened, but he eventually fell asleep, clutching his flamethrower tightly like a child would a teddy bear. Spy, too, had fallen asleep, lying down on the floor and twitching occasionally as he slumbered. Scout’s knapsack had been lying in the middle of the floor, and Sniper found himself rooting through it, finding that it was filled to the brim with comic books and baseball cards, as well as photos of what Sniper guessed to be his brothers and his mother. He similarly “borrowed” Spy’s flashlight, and was now finding himself reading an issue of The Amazing Spider-Man.

There was a noise outside of the boxcar, an awkward thump followed by rattling, which caused the assassin to jerk his head up and shine his flashlight toward the still-open boxcar door. A hand wrapped around the edge of the frame, and Sniper leapt to his feet, whipping out his kukri from its sleeve on his back. “Who’s there?” he shouted.

A familiar, hard-hatted head poked into view. “S’alright, Sniper, s’just me,” Engineer said. “Mind helpin’ a feller out?”

“Oh.” Sniper sheathed his weapon again, and walked over to the door, offering a hand to Engineer. The Texan gripped his hand, and was pulled inside with a grunt. “Scared me there for a second, mate,” Sniper said. “Aren’t you supposed t’ be drivin’ th’ train?”

“Darndest thing… it’s completely automated,” Engineer replied. “An’, well, I kinda didn’t wanna be up there by myself, so I came back here.”

“Th’ train’s movin’, mate. Ya coulda fallen off.”

“Wasn’t that hard,” Engineer said modestly. “All th’ cars are connected so’s you can walk between ‘em safely until ya git t’ th’ boxcars. Though, I am mighty glad ya left th’ door open.”

“No problem, mate. Make’s it easier to read with the door open. ‘Sides, I wanna see where we’re going.” Sniper returned to Scout’s backpack and Spy’s flashlight, sitting back down and picking up the comic book right where he left off.

“Aw, Geez, you read those things too?” Engineer asked.

“Not much else to do, an’ I can’t sleep,” Sniper justified. “Scout’s right. This Spider-Man bloke’s not like Batman at all. I don’t recall Batman being half this whiny.”

“I only used t’ read Donald Duck comics when I was younger,” Engineer admitted. “Never really go inta super heroes. Ma dinnit’ like ‘em. Said they were too violent.”

“Well, th’ violence was what made ‘em excitin’!” Sniper said. “Y’know, I guess I was kinda lucky. I got t’ read comics and pulp stories before they started puttin’ rules on ‘em. The Joker used t’ bloody /kill/ people in Batman comics, nowadays he’s just some lunatic clown who wants t’ play stupid pranks on Batman. S’pretty lame, right?”

Engineer rubbed the back of his head with his gloved hand, “I honestly wouldn’t know, Sniper. Sorry.”

There was an awkward silence between the two of them for a while. Sniper found his gaze wandering over to Medic, who was sleeping fitfully on the floor, murmuring things in barely-audible German.

“You think Doc’s gonna pull through okay?” Sniper asked idly.

“Hard t’ say,” Engineer sighed. “He got th’ snot beaten out of him by Soldier an’ then had t’ see his… best friend be left t’ die… it’d be hard on anybody. I think… I think it’s safe t’ say he’s prolly had one a’ th’ worst days of his life.”

Sniper nodded. “Yeah… Heavy… I think Heavy knew he was gonna get stuck like that. But he just…” Sniper bit his lip for a moment, “… accepted it.”

“He had to,” Engineer said. “I gotta admit, th’ thought didn’t even cross my mind. All I thought was that there was that hole, an’ it was out way out, an’ I just needed to get th’ heck outta dodge… no wonder Heavy looked so glum when we were leavin’…”

“Solly’s dead, too,” Sniper said. “S’weird, really, thinkin’ about it. How many times we died out there and just came back, like nothin’ happened, and now Heavy and Solly are /really/ dead. Not comin’ back in th’ Resupply room, nothin’.” He sighed, taking off his hat and running a hand through his slicked-back hair. “Guess bein’ a zombie kinda negates bein’ able to not die out there.”

“Seems like it,” Engineer said. His gaze turned to the desert landscape outside, noting that the sky was becoming lighter and lighter. The sun would be rising soon, and dawn would be gracing the horizon with rosy fingertips. “You really aughta get some rest, Sniper. Even if ya can’t sleep, lyin’ down fer a bit would do ya some good.”

“On this floor? Like I don’t have enough trouble with my back.” Sniper ultimately decided to follow the Texan’s advice, slipping Scout’s comics into his bag and grimacing a bit at an old Tales from the Crypt issue featuring a zombie rising up from a Louisiana swamp. “You gonna get some shut-eye yourself, mate?”

“Yeah, I reckon I will,” Engineer replied. “In a few minutes, I guess.”

“Right. ‘Night, then.” Sniper removed his aviators and lay down on his back and stared at the ceiling. Eventually, sleep overtook him, and he started to snore softly.

______________________________________________________________


Medic was on a train. Not the train he had fallen asleep on, but a passenger train in a city somewhere. He was dressed in civilian clothes, a long overcoat and leather gloves, and he was holding a briefcase, which was propped upright on his lap. He drummed his fingers nervously along the top rim of the case, and noticed that all of the other passengers appeared to be ghosts. To make things even more uncomfortable, they were all staring at him.

The doctor tugged at his collar nervously, wondering if the train would ever reach his stop. His gaze landed on a very large, very familiar figure, sitting in the corner, shaved head down and body slumped over with an ominous black puddle growing at its feet.

“Heavy…” Medic whispered, getting up from his seat. The ghosts on the train followed him with their black, eye-less sockets, as he slowly walked from the center of the train to his Heavy, who was totally motionless. He stopped just short of the Russian giant, hesitating for a moment before reaching out to touch his shoulder. “Heavy?”

Heavy lifted his head and turned to Medic, his eyes milky white and his jaw slightly agape and blood around his mouth. His skin was suddenly grayed with decay, and his veins were purple and showing through his skin. Medic let out a horrified screech, jumping backwards and clutching his briefcase to his chest, and Heavy started to speak. “Vhy, Doktor? Vhy did you let me die?”

“I nevah meant to… I didn’t vant to… mein Gott…” Medic stammered, backing away slowly. The eyes of the ghosts were all locked on him, staring him down accusingly, and suddenly their faces looked strangely familiar, but the doctor couldn’t place them. Heavy got up from his seat, head lolling back and arms dangling limply at his sides, and started walking towards Medic, blood dribbling out of his mouth and down his neck and chest. At this point the doctor turned around and clamored for the doors of the train. Unsurprisingly, they were tightly shut, as the train continued to speed down the tracks. He then grasped for the call cord, trying desperately to get the conductor’s attention to stop the train. This, too, proved to be useless. Heavy was taking his time advancing on the doctor, and Medic found himself running out of options. He threw his briefcase on the ground and bent down to pop it open, only to find that it was full of blood. The doctor jerked his head back up, to see that Heavy was standing over him, arms outstretched, and was backed up by all the ghosts on the train. Medic backed himself against the doors, scooting across the floor, and held his hands in front of his face as he screamed…

He shot up from the floor of the boxcar with a gasp, face covered in cold sweat. He looked around, catching his breath and saw his teammates were, for the most part, still asleep. Sniper stirred at Medic’s cry, but he flipped his head from one side to the other and continued his snoring. Medic then pawed at the floor for his glasses, only to realize he had fallen asleep with them on his face; they were askew and were grimy and stained from his tears last night.

Last night.

He didn’t want to remember last night, but now that he was awake and dwelling on the nightmare he had, it was impossible to forget.

The sound of a guitar being strummed caught his attention. He removed his glasses and wiped them clean using one of his coattails, then placed them back on his face and stared at Engineer, who was the only one awake, sitting on the edge of the boxcar with his legs dangling out, guitar in his lap, playing and singing to himself.

“I hear the train a comin'/ It's rollin' 'round the bend, /And I ain't seen the sunshine, /Since, I don't know when, /I'm stuck in Folsom Prison, /And time keeps draggin' on, /But that train keeps a-rollin',/ On down to San Antone,” Engineer’s singing voice was deep and rumbling and tinged with a very solemn, weighty sort of sadness, and though Medic had heard Engineer sing before, now it sounded… different, somehow. Depressed, almost. Not that he cared for Engineer’s taste in music and that low-brow, American sort of rock music that so many of his teammates seemed to be fond of, but he couldn’t help but to be moved. Medic found himself crawling closer to Engineer, moving like a frightened puppy approaching a human for the first time. The Texan seemed to notice this, turning his head and smiling a bit, as he continued to play.

“When I was just a baby,/ My Mama told me, ‘Son,/ Always be a good boy,/ Don't ever play with guns,’/ But I shot a man in Reno,/ Just to watch him die,/ When I hear that whistle blowin',/ I hang my head and cry,” he trailed off, no longer singing but still playing the melody as he turned his head to Medic. “‘Mornin’, Doc. How you farin’?”

“Not vell, I am afraid,” Medic sighed, hugging his knees. “I had a terrible nightmare last night.”

“So I heard,” Engineer said. “You wanna talk about it?”

“Nein… danke, Engineer.” Medic’s gaze turned to the steadily rising sun over the desert plateaus and bright orange rocks. “Vhat song is zat?”

“‘Folsom Prison Blues’ by Johnny Cash. The Man in Black himself,” Engineer answered. “You like it?”

“It’s… interesting,” Medic replied delicately.

Engineer chuckled, still playing without missing a beat. “Yeah, I know you’re not much fer anythin’ not Beethoven or Wagner and whatnot. ‘Least this is better ‘n those Rollin’ Stones fellas that Sniper an’ Scout seem so fond of.”

“To be honest, Herr Engineer, I do not notice much of a difference,” Medic confessed. He gazed off to the quickly moving desert landscape, kissed by the rays of the brilliant yellow orb that tinged the sky pink and orange.

The steady strumming on Engineer’s guitar stopped, and the Texan put his gloved hand on Medic’s shoulder. “Listen, Doc. We’re here for ya. You ever need anybody t’ talk to or anythin’… well, ya got us. We’re yer friends.” He gave the doctor a reassuring smile.

Medic turned his gaze to Engineer, and Engineer’s smile faltered. His expression was melancholy, and there was a bleakness in his stare that Engineer had rarely encountered before that moment. “Danke, Engineer. But I do not zink zhere is much you can do to help me.” He bowed his head, and massaged the bridge of his nose with his fingertips, and fell silent.

“You know what I like to do, when I feel miserable, like th’ whole world’s gone against me?” Engineer said, leaning on his guitar. “I play something sad. I play until I feel like I’ve released all that sadness and pent-up anger and I’ve made something beautiful out of it.” He shrugged. “It doesn’t cheer me up completely, but there’s a catharsis in it, you know? Sometimes that helps.”

The doctor seemed to ponder this for a moment before standing up and walking to his violin case. He crouched down to open it, delicately lifting the instrument and its bow out of the velvet-lined case. He tweaked the knobs on its neck, plucking strings to tune it properly, and then, taking a bar of rosin out of a pocket on the underside of the lid, rosined the bow. He stood up again, and walked back over towards the open boxcar door, standing towards the edge of it, and adjusted the instrument under his chin. His eyes wandered over to Engineer, who had watched him the entire time, and Engineer simply gave him an approving nod. Medic played a few raw, warming-up notes before he started to actually play.

The song was slow and somber, but its notes stretched out to reflect a beautiful kind of agony. Medic closed his eyes as his fingers danced across the neck, drawing the bow in and out, milking each note as the song started to pick up its pace and intensity. He played faster and faster, and yet the tone remained generally the same; still heartbroken and in pained, until the whine of the violin sounded like the anguished cries of the dying. Engineer realized he didn’t recognize the piece, and it sounded very different from the usually far-more restrained classical compositions that Medic was so fond of. He played like a man possessed, his face remaining completely solemn as he played, as his fingers moved like lightening across the neck and his bow weaved back and forth furiously, the crescendo quickly mounting more and more before it reached its mournful climax. Medic then began to play slowly again, easing the song down, dragging it back down into the doldrums, sounding like a funeral march, and ending on a ghostly, haunting wail.

“That was… beautiful,” Engineer said in awe after the last note had long dissolved into the air.

“Danke, Herr Engineer,” Medic said, looking slightly embarrassed as he lowered his instrument. “You… you vere right. Zat felt… zat felt cleansing, somehow.”

“I ain’t ever heard that song before,” Engineer confessed. “Who’s it by?”

“Me,” Medic said. “I wrote zat.”

“You did?” Engineer shook his head. “You never told me you were a composer, Doc.”

“I nevah felt ze need to tell anyone,” Medic replied. “Besides, I haven’t written anyzing since I vas a teenager. It’s very sloppy, unpolished…”

“I think it works that way,” Engineer said with a shrug. “It’s very… raw and emotional. Not really like you most of the time, I guess, but… it works.”

“He’s right, mate. S’bloody beautiful.”

Engineer and Medic turned around to see all of their teammates were awake and sitting together in the middle of the boxcar, still looking dirty and disheveled and not completely awake. Sniper continued, “Wot d’you call it?”

“‘For Johan,’” Medic replied bashfully. “When I vas a boy, I had a crush on a classmate of mine, but I could nevah tell him how I felt. So I wrote zat, to try and release some of zose pent-up emotions.” The side of his mouth started to twitch into a joyless smile. “My mozzah, she said I vas a prodigy. She vanted me to be a musician, play in an orchestra; she alvays told me I had talent. My fazzah said that was ridiculous, und vanted me to become a doctor, like him. You can guess who von zat argument…”

“Ye brought a tear to me eye, laddie,” Demoman remarked, wiping at his remaining eye with his sleeve. “Ye should consider goan’ back t’ playin’, maybeh. When all a’ this is o’er.”

Medic suddenly looked glum, and looked down at the floor. “Perhaps…” he said quietly. “If we make it to safety…”

“Yeah, man, we don’t even know where we’re headed,” Scout piped up. “Engie was supposed to be drivin’ it.”

“It’s automated,” Engineer replied with a shrug. “An’ I haven’t been able t’ gather much information on our destination aside from th’ fact that this train seems to be southbound. I don’t think we really got a choice but to stay on, see where we end up an’ hope for th’ best.”

“Urrr fffiiinnkk wuurrr muurrrt heeff suurrrm trrrbeell thuurrr,” Pyro mumbled, and pointed outside.

His teammates all turned their gaze to the early morning desert landscape. There were several human figures dotting the landscape, lumbering across the dry vegetation, and when they heard the train rumbling along, their heads jerked up and they started running clumsily towards the source of the noise. Scout let out a startled squawk, and Engineer rushed towards the boxcar door, trying to pull it closed. None of the monsters were close enough to get into the car, but no one was about to take any chances. Engineer was quickly joined by Sniper and Demo, who helped him pull the door closed with a satisfying slam.

The only light entering the boxcar now was the slivers of sunlight that peeked through the cracks in the door. They all sat in silence for a while, before Spy finally spoke up.

“Sniper, do you still have zat portable radio with you?” Spy’s face was softly illuminated by the glower orange embers of his cigarette, his features so dim they were hard to make out.

“Oh, yeah, I still got it, mate.” Sniper fumbled around in the dark for his radio before he managed to find it, switching it on and fooling with the dial before he got a clear signal.

“-cases popping up by the hundreds, mostly in isolated towns. There has yet to be any signs of the infection spreading to any major cities, but more than 50 areas have been quarantined, and many more are expected to be shut off. Authorities currently don’t have any information as to the origins of the virus, but citizens are advised to stay in their homes and remain cautious and alert. Victims of the virus will first complain of dizziness, nausea, and hallucinations, before going into a catatonic state resembling death.”

“Bollocks,” Demoman said. “It /is/ death, ye daft bastard.”

“The second stage happens after the victim awakes from their catatonic state, and becomes physically violent, often attempting to bite those who have not been infected. They can be identified, at this stage, by their eyes, which survivors have described as pale and colorless, and their movements, which have been described as jerky, slow, and moving like sleepwalkers.”

“Oh, I’ll tell ye wot they bloody move like. They move like bloody zombies!” Demoman yelled at the radio announcer in anger, swinging his bottle of scrumpy around and nearly beaning Sniper with it.

“Oh, would you just shut up already, you gibbering drunkard,” Spy snapped.

“President Johnson has called on the National Guard to move in and contain any wandering victims. There is no known cure for the virus, as scientists have determined that the damage done to the central nervous system is irreversible. Remember, the virus is spread through the bites of an infected individual, and should you become infected, isolate yourself from your neighbors and loved ones immediately.”

“This is all stuff we already know, mate,” Sniper grumbled. “You know, aside from th’ National Guard thing. ‘Least th’ President’s takin’ /some/ initiative.”

“Spy is right,” Medic said softly. “Leave it on. Ve may here somezing important.”

“-loved one is bitten by an infected individual, remember: once the infection has reached the second stage, the individual is beyond a cure, and is no longer a conscious being, and will need to be isolated from other survivors, though it is considered safer to exterminate the infected individual.”

“… Not /completely/ vizzout hope,” Medic mumbled. “Zere vas Stumpy…”

“Yeah, the BLU Scout,” Scout said, leaning forward. “What happened to that ugly sack a’ rotten flesh, anyway?”

“He’s dead,” Spy said bluntly. “I was zere when it happened.”

“Wait, whoa, you mean, like, really dead? Because he was already decomposin’ an’-”

“I shot him in ze head viz Heavy’s shotgun,” Medic said flatly.

The boxcar became uncomfortably silent, aside from the drone of the radio listing the name of quarantined towns. Pyro let out a pained little whimper, and quiet little sobs could be heard through his gasmask filter as he brought his gloved hands in front of his lenses. Demoman put a comforting hand on Pyro’s shoulder, trying to comfort the fire starter. Medic pulled his legs in and hugged his knees, and started to shake.

“I thought you liked th’ little bugger, Doc,” Sniper said quietly.

“Ja… I did. He vas fascinating… und I zink, I got attached. I started treating him like a pet. Engineer, you vere right. It vas cruel to let him live,” Medic buried his face in his hands. “I didn’t vant to leave him down zere, starving forever, all alone… but I could not bring him viz us…” He started to shake uncontrollably.

“It’s okay, Doc,” Engineer said in a gentle, hushed tone, “we understand. It had ta been real hard on ya, puttin’ him down…”

“Purrr Sturrmpeehh,” Pyro wheezed, and started to hiccup.

“Do not cry for ze brainless little leper, Pyro,” Spy said nonchalantly. “He only wanted to eat you, anyway.”

“Nurrr Stuurrmpeeh,” Pyro replied, shaking his head. “Hrree wurrssh durrfrruunt.”

“I highly doubt zat,” Spy said dismissively.

Another long, awkward silence crept over the surviving members of RED team, the radio's volume having been turned down by Sniper. This silence, however, was broken by a low, gurgling growl. Scout covered his stomach with his hands, and looked embarrassed. “Haven’t eaten anything since dinner last night,” he explained.

“There anythin’ in those crates in th’ corner?” Sniper asked.

“Oh, man, there better be,” Scout got up and ran to the crates, only to find them tightly nailed shut. He tried to dig his fingers between the boards and yank them free but found them too secure to pry loose. “A little help ovah here?”

Sniper stood up, strolling casually over to the younger man, and pulled his kukri out from its sheath on his back. He wedged the blade between the boards on the crate, and pressed down on the handle with a grunt, managing to pop one of the boards free. Scout eagerly plunged his hand inside, pulling out several cans and gathering them in his arms. Sniper also reached a hand in, pulled out a can and tried to hold it up to the light, lowering his aviators to try and read the label. “Spam. Well, that’s just lovely,” he said dryly.

“Well, it’s food, ain’t it?” Scout asked, rooting through the crate to see if there was anything else inside.

“Zat is debatable,” Spy said, sneering in disgust.

“Ooh, I think I found some beef jerky. Sweet.” Scout pulled out a tightly sealed bag, and tossed it over his shoulder to Demoman. “Here, catch.” The bag ended up hitting the Scotsman in the side of the face, provoking a string of murmured curses from Demoman.

The spam ended up going untouched. The seven men in the boxcar ate their breakfast of smoked beef jerky in near silence. Pyro retreated to a corner facing away from everyone else, while the others sat in the center, and mulled over their breakfast.

It was a few minutes before anybody spoke up again. As usual, it was Scout who broke the silence. “So… where do you think we’re goin’?”

“I told ya before, boy, I don’t have a clue,” Engineer said, sounding more than a little annoyed.

“Well, yeah, I know ya said ya don’t /know/. I asked where do you /think/ we’re goin’?” Scout emphasized.

Engineer leaned back and sighed, “My guess? Prolly a warehouse a’ some kind, somewhere you could make pick-ups an’ deliveries. Maybe somewhere close to civilization, if we’re lucky.”

“I hope so,” Scout said, his attention drifting off back to the boxcar door. “Hey, you think it’s safe to open the door again?”

“Just peek out.” Sniper said. “I don’t think they can jump on th’ train, but th’ last thing we need is them followin’ us.”

“‘Kay,” Scout stood up and pulled open the door just a little bit, and squinted in the sunlight, peering outside.

What he saw was hard to describe. It was a herd of cows, only instead of lazily grazing on grass like cows normally would, they seemed to be in a panic. They appeared to be stampeding, but occasionally a cow would tackle another to the ground, grabbing a hold of the beast in jaws normally only used for eating grass and chewing cud, and attracting a group of other similarly behaving cows. The noises they made were unlike anything Scout had heard before, panicked bellowing and wailing, as more and more cows started to cannibalize each other.

Scout quickly slammed the door shut and found himself pressing his body against it, as if to keep the creatures from coming in.

“What in th’ bloody ‘ell did ye see out there, laddie?” Demoman asked.

“The cows, man…” Scout said breathlessly, shaking his head. “Fuckin' zombie cows.”

The train continued along the tracks, ignored by the bloodthirsty bovines, headed for its unknown destination.
>> No. 721
BAWWWWWWW

Poor Stumpy, Soldier and Heavy too. I was on the verge of tears when I was reading this. My friend, this is the best chapter you've written ;_;
>> No. 722
Whoops, that's what I get for taking forever to type a short comment.
>> No. 723
I was going to get all sappy over the sad here but-

Zombie cows.
>> No. 724
More, MORE, MORE!!
>> No. 725
The zombie cows made me laugh, but oh god, medic...
>> No. 726
>>89

I had to, man.

I had this image of them in my head I wanted to use since the very beginning, and I couldn't /not/ use them.
>> No. 727
Goddamn fuck yes I loved this. Eagerly waiting for part 16, whenever you find time to work on it.

I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
>> No. 728
>>93

Part 16 is up. I posted it.

Go read it.
>> No. 729
Oh shit, in the time it took me to reread all of these you posted part 16. Amazing.
>> No. 730
Ok, I loved part 16 just as much but there was one thing that was a painfully huge problem to me due to my rereading of the entire thing.

Not comin’ back in th’ Resupply room, nothin’.” He sighed, taking off his hat and running a hand through his slicked-back hair. “Guess bein’ a zombie kinda negates bein’ able to not die out there.”
But when BLU was zombified, RED had to blow up their base to stop them BECAUSE OF respawn. So that means Soldier and Heavy must have also respawned in RED base unless they blew that up too and I somehow missed it.
>> No. 731
http://img221.imageshack.us/img221/2862/ohshiiiiii.jpg
>> No. 732
>>96

I was kind of fuzzy on that.

What I meant was, if they die from zombie infection, or get bitten by zombies or eaten, death that results from that is permanent in the sense that in order to become zombies in the first place, they need to die. If they do respawn, they'd respawn as zombies.

... Or I might come up with a way to handwave this later.
>> No. 733
>>97

PFFFFFFT, OH JEEZ.
>> No. 734
>>99
here's some real fanart for you <3

http://www.tf2chan.net/fanart/src/124539454493.jpg
>> No. 735
>>100

HOW COMES YOU DRAW SO PURTY?

I love you forever now.
>> No. 736
HOW COMES YOU WRITE SO PURTY

But seriously, you deserve it. Your writing makes me all emotional inside, a problem which can only be healed by crappily drawn fanart.
>> No. 737
>>102

I DON'T THINK IT'S DRAWN CRAPPILY. It's better than my stuff.
>> No. 738
>>98
Ok, cool. I've just kinda been so completely indoctrinated by Owl's fleshed-out idea of respawn, that I forgot that other people could have their own ideas. My bad ._.

((Also, holy shit ecks dee filters to I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP? BUT THEN I CAN'T TALK ABOUT MY BITCHIN' NEW SCION CAR :C))

(((p.s. I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP)))
>> No. 739
>>103

But dude.
You can write AND you can draw

Oh and: I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
>> No. 741
HO MAN, JOHNNY CASH!! I LOVE YOU FOREVER CAT!!

And Damnit MEDIC! I wanna hug him! ;_; Just anything to make him feel better. Just. Dude.
>> No. 742
>"Medic was on a train. Not the train he had fallen asleep on, but a passenger train in a city somewhere. He was dressed in civilian clothes,"
I seriously expected one of them to say "Didn't see you get on board" after this part.
Also, awesome chapter, not as entertaining as the earlier ones, but a nice chapter none the less.
>> No. 744
>>104

It's cool, I wasn't 100% clear on it. I've also purposely left exactly how respawn works in this story very vague. It makes it easier to work with.

>>105

Yeah, but I'm nowhere near as good as most of the drawfags around here.
>> No. 772
>>97

Haha, this reminds me so much of the vampire cows in The Little Vampire. Except more terrifying and vicious instead of funny and flying and pooing on things. ._.

In all honesty, I love this fic but goddamnit it's too sad. D: I CAN'T TAKE THIS.
>> No. 775
>>109

Ha ha, I remember seeing TV spots for that movie. I remember thinking that it didn't look any kind of good.
>> No. 788
I just spent the entire afternoon reading this and I'm already starved for more. Cat, you're a fucking god among ants. Bravi.
>> No. 789
Have I mentioned before what a great job you're doing on this fic? Because I'm greatly enjoying it.
Also, you're never on AIM anymore :(
>> No. 790
>>112

I'm on Skype all the time, though.
>> No. 793
>>110
We got it for my brother for his birthday (which is two days before Halloween, lucky bastard) and it's absolutely adorable. If you still like kids movies, I recommend it.
>> No. 795
Oh Jesus, Cat. You did it again. MEDIC, OH GOD. I love it. I need moooore Medic-centric writing/Medic angst. The violin solo was incredibly written and I loved how all the teammates were in awe of it. :'D

And then ahhhh Pyro crying over Stumpy and Medic shaking over the memory of killing him.... Wonderful. And then Engie is just so sweet and supportive. <3

AND ZOMBIE COWS YES.

Keep on writing-- I hang onto every word.
>> No. 811
Great story, I hope you write the next part a quickly as possible.
>> No. 812
>>116

I'm up in New York for about a week, so I'm going to be taking a short break from writing.

Once I get back home, I'll probably get back to working on Part 17.
>> No. 817
Have a nice trip! 8D
>> No. 819
>>118

Heh, I'm already there.

My stay is going to be longer than I had originally planned it though.
>> No. 821
>>119

:C WWHHHHHYYYYY
>> No. 824
Come baaaack to usssss. <3
>> No. 827
I still love this story

I AM A FAGGOT HUMP MY RUMP
>> No. 828
oh my god oh my god oh my god

This is...

akdj;flkjs;ldkjf.

I would take the time to write you a proper review, but no words are coming.

;;
>> No. 922
>>121

Do not despair!

I am headed back home today, so I should arrive back home in Baltimore later tonight, so that I may finally continue work on Part 17.
>> No. 929
>>124
YES.
>> No. 933
Ok, I'll admit I didn't read this for the longest time because I can never get into these sorts of fics, but DAMN.

I thoroughly enjoyed this and am eagerly awaiting the next chapter.
>> No. 934
>>124

Hell yeah
>> No. 946
>>126

By "these sort of fics," you mean overly long stories or zombie fan fic or what? I AM CURIOUS.

I got about a page done today, which is good. Still going to be a while before it's finished.

Also, I don't know if everybody saw these, but Scattershot did these awesome comics of some scenes from part 16: http://www.tf2chan.net/fanart/src/124639488165.jpg and http://www.tf2chan.net/fanart/src/124639844994.jpg
>> No. 947
>>128
Holy shit
>> No. 950
Jesus Christ I love this.
>> No. 952
>>128

Maybe after you're finished with this story, you can try having a comic of it.
>> No. 978
Part 17! Sorry it took so long!

______________________________________________________________


“‘Ey. ‘Ey, Sniper.”

Sniper grumbled to himself. He was in a sour mood, and he certainly wasn’t alone in that respect. He was sitting with a bunch of men alone in the dark, living off of beef jerky and spam and feeling kind of sick from it. He was bored out of his mind and the radio was playing nothing but emergency broadcast instructions on every available station. To make things worse, Pyro was starting to act downright neurotic, wheezing louder than usual, muttering to himself, and Medic wasn’t acting much better; the doctor seemed to switch between giving the ten-thousand yard stare at the walls or fits of quiet sobbing in the corner. Demoman polished off the rest of his supply of alcohol, and eventually passed out.

And now Scout was poking him in the side of his head, no doubt about to ask the same question he had asked over and over again over the past few hours.

“Wot d’you want?” Sniper asked flatly.

“How many hours we been on this train, man?” Scout asked.

The assassin held up his watch, trying to position it to it was hit with the rays of sunlight. “‘Bout 12 hours.”

“Jesus!” Scout threw up his hands and started to pace the boxcar again. He hadn’t been able to sit still for a while, and there wasn’t really any way to release all of his pent-up energy. “I’m fuckin’ bored, man!”

“Boy, you’re just gonna hafta be patient. We’re all a little stir-crazy right now,” Engineer said calmly, though his impatience with Scout was beginning to show through in his tone. “Just try an’ settle down a bit, actin’ up ain’t gonna make th’ train go any faster.”

“But you could!” Scout said. “You’re the dude with all the PhDs an’ shit. You could make the train go faster if you wanted!”

Engineer crossed his arms. “You know, somethin’ tells me that even if I gave you a list of all th’ reasons that’d be a bad idea, you’d still insist on me tryin’ that.”

“What, is it too complicated for ya?” Scout was challenging him now, his expression smug. “Figures. You couldn’t even get around to fixin’ the fence…”

“Zat hole provided us wiz our escape,” Spy said. His head by now was surrounded by a smoky haze, as he had been chain-smoking for almost the entire trip. “Ozzerwise, we would have simply been trapped in 2fort wiz no way to get out.”

“Yeah, well, tell that to Heavy!” Scout snapped. This statement prompted Medic to burst into tears from his corner of the boxcar.

“Dammit, Scout, look what you did!” Engineer stood up to get eye level with Scout, straightening his back to full height, which was still a few inches shorter than the younger man. “You think blamin’ people is gonna change anything?”

“Well, /somebody’s/ gotta take the blame,” Scout said with his arms akimbo.

“Ya wanna blame someone, ya spastic lil’ bastard?” Sniper snarled. He turned his head away and looked at the floor. “Ya can blame me. I missed th’ shot.”

“What shot?” Scout asked impatiently.

“BLU Spy,” Sniper muttered. “When he was escapin’, I saw ‘im cloak, just outta the corner of my eye. I tried t’ shoot ‘im an’ missed. An’ he was bit.” He looked up and stared Scout down. “Then he must a’ turned out in th’ desert, an’ started spreadin’ th’ infection. If I hit ‘im, this wouldn’t a’ happened.”

Scout stood there, totally silent, averting his gaze from all of his teammates and staring at the floor.

“If you want to get technical wiz your blame game, it was BLU Medic zat created ze infection,” Spy said casually. “It seems zat zere was more zan enough incompetence to go around.” He put out his cigarette butt on the floor, singeing it and causing the ember to let out one last ribbon of smoke. “But ze laborer is right. Placing blame on each ozzer is useless. We’re dysfunctional enough as is.”

Scout sat down and pouted. He brought his knees in close to his body and rested his crossed arms on them, and snorted. Engineer too sat down slowly, and sighed. He swung his guitar around and placed it on his lap, and started to pluck at it idly. Demoman let out a loud snore and twitched before rolling over.

“Hrrrt trruunssh,” Pyro mumbled from his corner. “Weerrn geerrt urrrf.”

“Easy, Pyro, we probably won’t be goin’ too much longer.” Engineer swiveled around a bit to flash the fire starter a reassuring smile. “C’mon. Sit with us. You’ll feel better, I promise. I’ll play ya somethin’.”

“Reeng urrf Furryurr?” Pyro asked, lifting his head and looking almost like a turtle nervously poking its head out of its shell.

“Sure thing, buddy,” Engineer started plucking out the melody as Pyro crawled over. He had scarcely begun to play when he stopped, and stayed completely still.

“What’s the hold up, hard hat?” Scout asked.

“You can’t feel that?” Engineer slung his guitar back over his back. “Th’ train’s slowin’ down.”

“Well, it’s about freakin’ time!” Scout was about to stand up, but Engineer put a firm hand on his shoulder and kept him down.

“Wait ‘til th’ train stops, boy. Don’t wanna get tossed around and look even more foolish than you’ve made yersef out t’ be.”

“Fine, Jesus.” Scout crossed his arms and started to impatiently drum his fingers on his arm.

The train began to slow down, the mechanical chugging slowing to an agonizing lurch before braking and throwing everyone on board forward. The wheels caught with a short metallic screech. It let out one last hiss, and fell silent.

Demoman snorted and shot up off of the ground, looking from side to side sleepily. “Wot’s goan’ on, then? We stopped yet?”

“Looks like it,” Engineer said as he stood up, walking up to the boxcar door. He opened it slightly, peering outside, and then opened it wider before poking his head out. He opened the door wide and hopped out onto the platform, landing on his feet with a grunt. “All clear so far,” he said, “but stay alert. C’mon.”

One by one, the men disembarked the train, looking around the loading platform only to notice the place was completely devoid of any life. Large boxes and crates sat covered in tarps, forklifts sat abandoned with keys still locked in the ignition. There were lunchboxes that sat on crates, still latched shut and undisturbed. The members of RED team walked in a single file: Engineer, Scout, Sniper, Medic, Demoman, Pyro, and Spy bringing up the rear. Engineer removed his pistol from the holster on his hip, prompting his companions to brandish their own melee weapons.

“Where is everybody?” Scout asked, keeping a tight grip on his bat.

“Don’t know, but I don’t like the looks a’ this,” Engineer said. “Stick close together.”

There was a warehouse nearby, filled with stacked crates, its giant door wide open. Next to it was a large corporate building, visible from the back. There was a metal door visible from Engineer’s position, and he motioned for the others to follow him to it. The door was shut, and Engineer pressed his bare hand against the cool steel door, and pushed. Not surprisingly, it was locked fast.

“Dang it,” Engineer muttered. “I thought that’d be the case.”

“Locked, is it?” Sniper asked.

“Naturally,” Engineer replied. “Looks like we’ll have t’ find another way in…”

“Stand aside, lads.” Demoman grabbed his sticky bomb launcher, which prompted everyone to back away with haste; everyone, however, aside from Spy, who walked up to Demoman and rested his hand on the barrel, pushing it downwards.

“Don’t bozzer wasting your ammo,” he said. “Zere is a front entrance we should be able to use.”

“How d’ye know that?” Demoman scoffed, jerked his weapon away from Spy, and looking over him with a critical eye.

“Because I’ve been here before, you drunken fool,” Spy sneered. He turned his head upwards and looked at the building. “Zis is RED headquarters. Ze front entrance has a lobby wiz glass doors. If zey are locked, we can simply smash ze glass.”

“I nevah been t’ headquarters before,” Scout remarked. “Did anybody else come here?”

“Not their main headquarters, no,” Engineer said wistfully.

“I hadn’t either,” Sniper added. “Th’ whole process, they just kinda whisked me from one place to another, an’ not once did I ever end up here.”

“Zat doesn’t surprise me,” Spy said nonchalantly. “Now, follow me. I’ll get us inside.”

Spy now replaced Engineer as the leader of the group, walking with a very deliberate stride, broadcasting just how familiar he was with the layout to his fellow survivors. They followed him regardless, although it was obvious that seeds of suspicion and doubt had been planted among them. They walked around the plain, grey building and found themselves blocked by a chain-link fence, its gate held shut by a chain kept in place with an ancient, rusty padlock. Spy took the padlock in his gloved hand, and reached into the inside of his jacket with the other, producing a small, thin metal rod, which he inserted into the keyhole. After about a minute of fiddling with it and muttering curses in French under his breath, the padlock surrendered with a satisfying click, popping open and dangling uselessly in defeat. Spy yanked the chain free, tossing it haphazardly onto the ground, and pushed the gate open, motioning for the others behind him to follow.

As they rounded the building, their surroundings shifted from the cold, gray desolation of the loading platform, to an equally desolate but undisturbed series of more corporate buildings, surrounded by a lush, green lawn. Sprinklers were going off, sputtering and clicking, providing the only real noise in the area aside from the footsteps of the surviving RED team members. Spy led them to the sidewalk, taking care not to get his suit wet from the sprinklers; a futile action, though, considering his suit was dusty and fringed from their escape the previous night. They finally managed to turn one of the building’s corners, and found themselves at the front entrance.

The building itself had no obvious sign from the outside that it was the RED corporate headquarters. It was a very plain, boring but thoroughly modern structure, but its lack of any sign of life gave it a very eerie aura, and it seemed to loom threateningly over the party. Spy strode forward with total and utter confidence, straightening the tie around his neck as he did so, and approached the glass doors only to have them effortlessly slide out of the way.

“Huh,” Engineer muttered. “That’s odd.”

“What is odd, Laborer?” Spy asked, stopping just inside the door to address the Texan.

“Nothin’,” Engineer sighed, shaking his head. “Let’s just go in.”

“Very well,” Spy said with a shrug, and continued to saunter into the lobby.

While the outside of the building had no indications that it belonged to RED, the inside was another matter entirely. The logo loomed over the front receptionist desk, and a banner dangled just underneath it, with both the RED and BLU logos on either end, and the words “CONGRATULATIONS ON THE MERGER!” were emblazoned on it in bold, black letters. Red and blue balloons dotted the ceiling, open bottles of champagne and a cake with several slices missing that had long gone stale rested on the reception desk, and confetti littered the ground. The members of RED team stared with their mouths agape and eyes wide.

“I bloody knew it,” Demoman snarled, finally breaking the silence.

“Oh, did you, now?” Spy asked, raising a curious eyebrow and blowing twin streams of smoke through his nostrils.

“‘Course I did!” Demoman spat, tottering a bit as he turned to face Spy. “I thought they’d a’ donnit sooner, though. Think aboot it. Same weapons an’ technology, same uniforms, even same kinda’ people in each class… I mean, wot’s th’ chance a’ havin’ /two/ black Scottish cyclopes on opposin’ teams, an’ they’re both demomen?” He grabbed an empty bottle from his hip and shook it at the Frenchman as he stumbled closer. “Donnae tell me ye ‘aven’t thought aboot it at all, eh, Spy?”

Spy looked over Demoman with narrowed eyes and a sneer. “You’re drunk, as usual, and you’re a raving, paranoid lunatic.”

“Tha’s got nothin’ t’ do wi’ this,” Demoman replied. “Ye know what’s goin’ on here, don’t ye?”

“Even if I did, I wouldn’t be allowed to tell you anyway,” Spy answered curtly. “Now, let’s just focus on trying to find out what’s going on here. Shall we?”

“Fine,” Demoman said warily. “But you stay in front. I donnae trust ye.”

“This is a bad time t’ be tryin’ t’ pick fights, Demo,” Engineer said firmly. “We all gotta stick together, here. Now, I don’t like Spy any more than you do, but we gotta trust ‘im. He’s been in here before, we haven’t, an’ I don’t think we got much of a choice.”

“Merci, Engineer,” Spy said with a very toothy, almost shark-like grin. “So glad to see someone here has some sense in zeir head.” He removed his cigarette from his mouth and blew a stream of smoke, looking over the entire lobby. “Well, gentlemen, obviously we can venture a few guesses as to what happened here. Zere was a merger between RED and BLU. We simply were not informed of zis, for whatever reason. Perhaps zey didn’t want us to know. During the festivities, somezing happened. Everyone had to leave, quickly, and no one had any time to lock down ze building, leaving everyzing just as it was when they left. But we do not know /what/ happened, exactly.”

“Yeah, amazing powahs of observation there, French fry,” Scout said dismissively. “Anything else ya wanna point out that we could a’ seen with our own two eyes?”

“Zink about it, you blithering, small-minded man-child,” Spy prowled closer to Scout, getting uncomfortably close to the younger man’s face, and flipped open his balisong just short of his ear. “What kind of event would have led to such a sudden, speedy evacuation? Somezing involving zose monsters, per’aps?”

“We dinnit see any of ‘em outside, though,” Scout sputtered, shifting awkwardly away from Spy’s blade. “Maybe they nevah came here?”

“Maybe,” Spy said, withdrawing his blade and flipping it closed, “but one can never be too sure, can zey?”

“So, what then? You want us to go around here, searchin’ for clues like we’re th’ bloody Hardy Boys, then?” Sniper quipped.

“Zat might not be a bad idea,” Spy said with a shrug. “Find out what, exactly, is going on here. Zis is much bigger zan we previously zhought. We should split up into groups, search ze building, see what kind of information we can find…”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, back up a minute,” Scout interrupted, “we can’t split up. Everybody knows as soon as you get a group of people in some abandoned building to split up, the monsters starts takin’ ‘em out one by one. Don’t you watch movies at all?”

“I am a fan of cinema, yes, but I’m not particularly fond of ze garbage you choose to rot your brain wiz,” Spy retorted. “Besides, we split into /groups/. We’re not going anywhere alone. Engineer, Sniper, you two head to ze west wing of ze building. Scout, you and Demoman can take ze east wing. Medic, Pyro and I will head upstairs to ze higher levels. Engineer, you still have a radio on you?”

“Yeah, I do,” Engineer replied, pulling out a handheld radio from one of the pouches on his belt. “Y’all don’t hesitate t’ call if ya run inta any trouble.”

“But of course,” Spy replied. “I have mine on me as well. Medic, Pyro, come. We’ll be taking ze stairs.”

“Ah you sure zat zis is wise, Spy?” Medic piped up weakly.

“Trust me, Docteur,” Spy said, offering Medic at cat-like smile and an arm around the doctor’s shoulder, “you are in good hands.” Medic flinched under Spy’s touch, and backed away a step. Spy snorted with an air of indifference. “Let’s go. We ‘ave a lot of ground to cover.” With that, he slinked towards a door conveniently labeled “STAIRS,” and held it open for Medic and Pyro. “After you.”

Pyro waddled ahead of the Medic with little hesitation, while the doctor was visibly stalling, moving like a deer about to venture across a lonely road at night. He finally managed to uproot his feet that had been so thoroughly planted to the ground and plod forward, casting wary glances at Spy as he did so. He turned to look at the other members of his team, to find that Demoman and Scout had already vanished from sight, and he just caught Sniper following Engineer down a corner. He sighed, and followed Spy up the stairwell.

______________________________________________________________


“So, what’re we lookin’ for, anyway?” Scout asked, sitting on an office desk, kicking his legs absentmindedly as Demoman pulled open a filing cabinet and flipped through manilla folders with his index and middle fingers.

“We’ll know when we find it,” Demoman said calmly. “Why don’t ye make yerself useful an’ ‘elp me out, would ye?”

“Man, I don’t even know what ta look for,” Scout huffed. “You’re the conspiracy nut, I’ll leave that up ta you.”

“Th’ ‘conspiracy nut’ ‘ere was th’ one who turned out t’ be right aboot th’ zombies, an’ if I remember correctly, you an’ Sniper were th’ only ones tha’ b’lieved me,” Demoman snapped.

“Look, just because you’re right about something /once/, don’t mean you’re gonna be right about everything after that,” Scout said defensively. “An’, well, you’ve been wrong about a /lot/ of shit.”

“Like wot, then?” Demoman challenged. “Like ye could even name any examples...”

“Dude, you told me Pyro was a chick that one time,” Scout said, crossing his arms.

“I said he /might/ a’ been a woman, Scoot. I ne’er actually said that ‘e /was/ one.”

“You fuckin’ liar, you totally told me he was a chick. An’ you turned out ta be /wrong/, on top a’ that.”

“Not my fault ye decided t’ go an’ find out fer yerself,” Demoman said with a chuckle.

“Yeah, yeah, I barely got outta there with my life. You’re an asshole, you know that?”

“Shush, lad,” Demoman pulled out a thick folder, simply labeled “BLU” and held it up to the light, a satisfied grin slowly spreading over his dark features. “I think I may ‘ave found somethin’.”

______________________________________________________________


One of the fluorescent lights above Medic was flickering. A black fly buzzed against the light, its tiny body tapping against the plastic casing. Somewhere an air conditioner was humming. The hallway they had been walking down was long and empty, flanked by wooden office doors with names and titles stenciled onto the fogged glass windows. The doctor found it a bit odd that Spy didn’t really bother even poking his head inside any of the offices; he seemed dead set on his destination, and was stringing the doctor and Pyro along for the ride.

“Vhere ah you taking us, Spy?” Medic asked cautiously.

“You’ll see, Docteur, as long as you are patient,” Spy said in a very parental tone without even turning around to face him.

Medic glowered at Spy, clearly resenting the manner in which he was being addressed. Pyro, who had fallen a few paces behind the German, patted him reassuringly on the shoulder, eliciting a sigh from the doctor. The two of them continued to trudge forward, trailing behind Spy, who strutted down the twisting, winding hallways like a peacock. Finally, they had arrived at a much larger, metal door on a wide wall, centered perfectly and working to highlight the utter lack of any other doors near it. There was a numbered keypad beside the door, and Spy regarded it for a moment before fishing through the inside of his jacket for a small glass vial. He popped off the cap, poured a small amount of the dust into the palm of his hand, and blew it onto the keypad. The dust only stuck to one of the buttons: the “1.”

“Oh, you have got to be kidding me,” Spy muttered to himself.

“Wrrsh wrrunng?” Pyro asked, cocking his head inquisitively.

“It would appear zat zey decided to program zis door wiz ze stupidest combination ever,” Spy said, pressing the button four times with his index finger until the red light over the keypad went out and the green one beside it lit up, giving a friendly little beep as it did so. Spy grabbed the cool metal handle and yanked it downwards, opening the door slowly as he stepped inside.

It was a laboratory, immaculately clean in all its white and chrome glory. A giant computer took up about a quarter of the room, covered a mind-bogging amount of buttons, dials and switches, and a screen sat squarely in the center of it, only about as large as the average television. There were microscopes and test-tubes on racks, seemingly untouched, and a gurney with pristine white sheets sat in the middle of the room. In fact, it looked as though the room had never actually been touched by human hands, such was its tidiness. Naturally, Pyro, with his grubby, charcoal blackened gloves, started to poke around and touch everything in sight, turning over instruments with intense curiosity.

“Pyro, please, put zat down,” Medic hissed. “You could break somezing.”

Pyro sighed and placed the microscope in his hands delicately back onto the counter. He continued to explore the lab, however, making a conscious effort not to try and touch anything by wringing his hands impatiently and murmuring to himself.

Medic looked over the computer in the room, his gloved fingers lightly grazing over a keyboard, looking for a way to turn the behemoth machine on. There had been one in the bowels of RED base, but it was rarely used, and the only one who had any idea of how to use it was Engineer. But this machine was far more sophisticated; it was smaller, less intimidating, and looked simpler to figure out. He spotted a button simply labeled “POWER” and pressed it, watching as the computer started to hum and whirr and the screen flickered to life. Seemingly random numbers and letters popped up and filled the screen, scrolling down at an alarming speed. The screen then suddenly went blank, and then flashed a simple prompt: “Password?”

“Spy?” Medic called out. “Spy, vhere ah you? Do you know how ze password to zis zing? Spy?” He turned around, looking for the Frenchman, only to notice that he seemed to have vanished. Pyro was in a corner of the lab, staring at a door on the far end of the room. “Pyro, have you seen Spy?”

The fire starter turned around, and gave a cursory glance around the lab, and then shrugged. Medic started wringing his hands, trying not to panic. Spy was prone to vanishing into thin air all the time, surely there was nothing /wrong/. And yet, the doctor’s stomach got that horrible, plummeting feeling, and he found himself walking quickly to the exit. He gripped the handle and jerked down, only to find it wouldn’t budge, and all his desperate jiggling did him no good.

“SPY!” Medic cried out, banging on the metal door with a closed fist. “SPY! AH YOU OUT ZERE? LET ME OUT OF HERE! SPY!”

Spy was on the other side of the door, stamping out a cigarette underneath his shoe, and casting a casual glance at the Electro-Sapper he had placed over the keypad. He could hear Medic’s flustered shouting and banging quite well, and sighed. “I’m sorry, Docteur, but zis is business. I’m just following orders.”

“Whose orders?” Medic barked. “Vhat is going on, Spy?”

“I’d tell you, but I have ozzer appointments to make,” Spy said with a smirk. “Do not worry too much, zhough. If you’re not dead by ze time I come back, I’ll do you ze favor of killing you personally.”

“Vhat?” Medic stepped back from the door, reeling in shock.

“Look on ze bright side!” Spy said mockingly. “Pretty soon, you’ll be wiz your darling Heavy again.”

Medic started to tremble and his face blanched. He barely had time to collect his thoughts when Pyro started to scream. He jerked his head up to see that Pyro had opened the other door, and was now trying to close it, as grimy, pallid fingers tried to hook onto the frame and force it open. Familiar sounding moans of frustration and hunger could be heard from the other side, and Medic raced over to help Pyro keep it closed.

As Spy walked away from the laboratory door and pulled out another fresh cigarette and his lighter, he could hear Medic letting out a high-pitched shriek. Spy held the cigarette up to his lips, flipped open his lighter, and made his way back to the stairwell.

______________________________________________________________


“Somethin’ ain’t right.”

“Well, of course not. S’ th’ whole problem, innit?”

“No, I mean, I just got a bad feelin’ alluva sudden,” Engineer said, closing the drawer he had been rummaging through. “I think we should try reachin’ th’ others on th’ radio. We never even planned where we’d meet up again…”

“I don’t think we’re in any real danger,” Sniper said with a shrug. “Place is deserted. Hell, we might be able t’ hold out here for a while until this mess blows over.”

“Still,” Engineer said, “I don’t like it.”

“Phone on th’ desk right behind ya, mate,” Sniper said. The room they were in was large, and seemed to consist mostly of desks lined up in two rows, cluttered with typewriters, folders, but most of them oddly missing telephones, despite the many phone line jacks that seemed to line the walls.

Engineer wasted no time in fumbling for the old rotary telephone, picking up the receiver and immediately dialing for the operator. “It’s ringing!” he announced triumphantly. He turned away from the assassin, playing with the cord nervously as it continued to ring. “C’mon… c’mon… pick up already, pick up…”

“Uh, Truckie?”

“Not right now, Sniper, I think we're gonna get patched through.”

“We got a bit of a problem, mate.”

“I told ya, Sniper, not-” Engineer whirled around, and dropped the receiver on the ground in shock.

Sniper was being held at knife-point, a butterfly knife resting just above his jugular. Spy was holding the Australian in place, his body obscured by that of his prisoner, and the hand that wasn’t holding his knife was coming out from under Sniper’s arm, holding his pistol and aiming it at Engineer. Sniper’s Adam’s apple was bobbing up and down furiously as his head was tilted back, and Spy simply regarded his predicament with a look of total satisfaction.

“Hello, Engineer,” Spy said in a very casual tone, flashing the Texan a sickening smile, “I’d like to speak wiz you, if you 'ave a moment.”
>> No. 979
AND THE SHIT HAS HIT THE FAN
>> No. 980
OH NO! FUCK!

Dammit I want to buy the rights to this and make a movie.
>> No. 981
oh god
>> No. 982
Holy Hell the plot has just gotten 10 times more interesting.
>> No. 983
NICE CLIFFHANGER, I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE!

Just, omg Cat. I'm at a loss for words!
>> No. 984
OH MY GOD, that was such a fantastic cliffhanger. WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN NEXT?!
>> No. 985
FUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUCK
>> No. 986
FFFFFFFFF-

oh god I'm so happy it updated and so stressed that it's a cliffhanger WHUT.
>> No. 987
This cliffhanger has me dangling by my fingertips! More please!
>> No. 988
Dammit, dammit, dammit! Why can't we all just get along, guys!

ARrrrrrgh I love this story but it hurts me so much! You are so awesome, Cat.
>> No. 989
MOTHERFUCKING SPY
>> No. 990
This is great.

>arms akimbo
YOU are great.
>> No. 991
SHIT JUST GOT REAL

I am seriously loving every chapter of this. I never want it to end.
>> No. 992
My whole face hit the floor when I read this. You are amazing and spy is a bastard.
>> No. 993
“Next time, don’t try und squeeze yourself into places you cannot fit then, ja?"Oh god, I was rereading, and now I see some awful foreshadowing.
But:
More please!
>> No. 994
>>147

"Awful" as in the events that it foreshadows are tragic, or awful as in I can't foreshadow worth a damn?
>> No. 996
Well, fuck.

I didn't see that coming. I really hope you're working on the next part because it's too cruel to leave us with THAT for any extended amont of time.
>> No. 997
That conniving French bastard D= LEAVE MOODIC ALOOOONE! LEAVE HIM ALONE! Seriously though, this gets more awesome by the minute, and I bow down to your powers of plot.
>> No. 998
Oh man, it gets better and better
>> No. 999
I love you

so so much

I can't even

<3
>> No. 1000
>>148
Awful as in the events that it foreshadows are tragic, and your writing techniques are superior.
Forgive me my poor diction.

(can stumpy come back some how to save medic I would be so happy)
>> No. 1001
>>153

His head kind of a sploded.

He's not coming back.
>> No. 1002
>>154

Purrr Sturrmpeehh...
>> No. 1008
Ahhhh jeeeez cliffhanger fffffffffff

Cat Bountry? You can have my internet babies right about now.
>> No. 1009
I would buy a ticket if this was a movie.
>> No. 1016
Oh hai!

I have just spent a good three or more hours pouring over this fic, amazed at the plot and your writing skills. I wish I could be good, helpful reader by giving you some constructive criticism but ye gods there is none needed!

I love you for the characterisation of all of the team, but I love you most for ensuring that RED Spy is a magnificent bastard in the truest sense of the term (and for making Engie awesome in his own right); that said, Soldier's schizophrenia made me giggle for no apparent reason... Which is weird. But yes, characterization is perfect.

That's enough mindless fangirling from me - I need to re-read the last chapter so I can try and speculate why Spy is being...well...himself. I owe you whatever you desire for this fic, be it internets, children or something else. More soon please so I can revel in Spy's magnificent bastardry again, as well as almost certainly having my heart broken for the nth time (love you forever for the story, hate you forever for killing Heavy).

Yours, another insane fan(girl) of your writings
>> No. 1017
>>158

Oh, wow, I have self-proclaimed fangirls now.
>> No. 1022
>>159

Oh! Oh! I wanna be a fangirl! =D
>> No. 1044
Part 18 os here! GO GO GO GO!

______________________________________________________________


Engineer stood totally still, frozen in place. In his shock, it took a while for his brain to thoroughly process what was going on. Spy, one of his teammates, was holding Sniper hostage. Surely, he wasn’t really the BLU Spy all along… was he?

No, BLU Spy was dead. Or undead. This was definitely the RED Spy, and he had turned traitor. Without even thinking, Engineer reached for his pistol from its holster.

“Put ze gun down, Laborer. You make any sudden moves, and I’ll shoot you and slit Sniper’s zhroat.” Spy’s voice was cool and confident, just as it always was.

“Don’t worry about me, mate,” Sniper rasped, his eyes darting from the Spy’s hand in the corner of his vision to Engineer. “Just shoot th’ wanker.”

“I… I can’t,” Engineer stammered.

“I knew you couldn’t,” Spy said. “Now, put ze gun down on ze floor. Slowly.”

The Texan nodded, and slowly crouched down and gingerly placed his weapon on the floor in front of Spy. He occasionally looked back up at Spy, who just looked down at him, now completely straight-faced, while Sniper tried his best not to squirm too much. Engineer started to slowly get back up before Spy interrupted him.

“Your wrench, too,” he said.

Reluctantly, Engineer removed his wrench from his belt and placed is delicately beside his gun. He stood up, scowling at Spy from behind his dark goggles, before he finally spoke. “Why are you doin’ this?”

“I have orders to kill all of you,” Spy said. “To be honest, I really wasn’t even supposed to let you get zis far, but having you all split up certainly makes my job easier.”

“Then go ahead an’ kill me, then,” Engineer said, trying his best to sound defiant and courageous, but his voice wavered just enough to betray his fear.

Spy let out a low, menacing chuckle. “Oh… not quite yet, Engineer.”

“Why th’ heck not, then?” Engineer spat, becoming frustrated.

“Because,” Spy said, “I wish to give you a choice. Hear me out.”

“Do I get any choices, then?” Sniper asked.

“No, you don’t. Now, shut up. I would suggest you use zis time to savor your last moments instead of wasting your breath.”

“Whaddya want, Spah?” Engineer asked. Spy seemed to enjoy dragging this out, that bastard.

“I wish to offer you an opportunity, my dear Laborer,” Spy said, his tone gaining a very business-like air. “You don’t /have/ to die here, wiz ze ozzers. You could escape from here, alive, per’aps, even see your wife again… and your daughter.”

“How’d you even know I /have/ a daughter?” Engineer asked angrily.

“I wouldn’t be a very good spy if I didn’t, now would I?” Spy retorted.

“I didn’t know ya had any kids, ma-GAH!” Sniper was cut off by Spy nicking the side of his neck with his blade, just enough to break the skin.

“What did I tell you about speaking, Sniper?” Spy chided. He turned his attention back to Engineer. “But, yes, Laborer, I knew… ah, but she is still such a tiny little zing, isn’t she? It would be such a shame if she never really got to know ‘er fazzer, wouldn’t it?”

Engineer didn’t answer. He was taking long, shuddering breaths through flared nostrils, trying his best not to lunge forward and strangle Spy. But that would probably get him and Sniper killed. No, it was better to try and buy them some time. Maybe the others would come by… maybe…

“‘Ave I struck a nerve?” Spy asked with false concern. “I’m merely trying to help you. I figured ze only family man on zis team should at least have a chance of getting out of ‘ere wiz ‘is life.”

“That’s a load a’ crap,” Engineer said with a snort. “You don’t give a damn about my family at all. What’s th’ real reason you’re doing this?”

“Astute as ever, aren’t you?” Spy said sarcastically, grinning like the Cheshire Cat. It was giving Engineer the chills. “But not astute enough, I suppose. I offer you a chance to live, and you start questioning my motives. You don’t even know what I want you to do yet.” There was nothing but silence from Engineer, who was giving Spy the evil eye from behind his goggles. “It’s simple enough, really. Help me kill ze ozzers. I hide you from ze Announcer, fake your death, and I’ll make sure you leave here safely. As long as you never speak of any of zis again, and you remain in my debt, you’ll survive and be no worse for the wear.”

“Why would ya choose me, though?” Engineer asked cautiously. Despite the fact that he was looking down the barrel of Spy’s pistol, he was still curious. “Why not… somebody else?”

“You never picked up on it, did you, Engineer?” Spy said. “No… you were always too absorbed in your own work to get the hints. Oh, I suppose you cannot be blamed too much… I came on more like a schoolboy, really. I zink per’aps zat was too subtle for you…”

Realization slowly dawned on Engineer’s features. No, he thought. It couldn’t possibly be… /that/. “You… you don’t… no... I thought… I thought you /hated/ me.”

“To be fair, I /did/, at first… it was just fun to tease you. You get so frustrated wiz me, and I found it quite… /endearing/, to say ze least. I found myself warming up to you quite a bit… alzhough, I never had ze opportunity to tell you. It would have been a sign of weakness, to go confessing my deepest desires to /you/, of all people. You must understand, really, how difficult it has been for me…”

“You bloody poofter,” Sniper muttered.

Spy disciplined Sniper’s insolence by giving him a long cut on the underside of his chin, causing Sniper to wince. “Do not be so crass, Sniper. I don’t want to kill you /just/ yet.”

“Look, Spah, I never… I mean, I’m a married man… I got no interest in, y’know, men…” Engineer felt himself desperately wishing he wasn’t saying this. This was no time to be discussing such things, especially with the compromising position Sniper was in.

“Of course not. You Americans and your backwards views… denying yourselves ze pleasures of bozh of ze sexes… I cannot say zat I am ze least bit surprised.” His voice then became lower and huskier, and he seemed to be breathing hotly into Sniper’s ear. “I could change your mind, if you let me, Laborer. Just once, I would like to have you. Just as I had wanted Sniper when I first came to RED base, I now find myself wanting you.” Sniper was now biting his lip, trying his best not to say anything, although the look of horror on his face was speaking volumes. “What can I say? I suppose I really do prefer ze midget cowboy over ze filthy jar man after all…”

“Th’ others’ll be here soon,” Engineer blurted out, trying desperately to change the subject to anything but /that/.

“And what makes you say zat, hmmm?” Spy asked. “Did you call zem over?”

Engineer hesitated. He wanted to say yes, but he couldn’t seem to do it. He cursed himself silently under his breath.

“Bluffing, of course,” Spy shook his head. “You never were a very good liar. Besides, Medic and Pyro have already been… disposed of.”

“Why, you cold-blooded, sonuva-” Engineer had stepped forward, and Spy tensed up, making sure that Engineer was well aware of the pistol aimed at him. The Texan took a few steps back until he had backed into the desk behind him. “How could you?”

“Easily enough. I just locked ze two of zem in a room, wiz ze monsters. Zey’ll be overwhelmed wizzout too much trouble, I’m sure. And if zey /do/ manage to survive ze onslaught, we can finish zem off. Lucky for me, zat RED took it upon zemselves to round up a few of zem for experimental purposes, hmmm?”

“There ain’t no way in hell I’m helpin’ you!” Engineer spat. “You’re a murderer an’ a traitor an’ a coward an’ I should a’ never tried t’ defend you!”

A sigh escaped from Spy’s lips. “I had a feeling you would say zat, Engineer. You are breaking my heart. A shame, really; I zink we would make an excellent team. I was hoping zat maybe we could use Sniper before I killed him as well… he’d have a harder time fighting off two men at ze same time.” By now, Sniper was trying desperately to squirm from Spy’s grasp, but Spy managed to keep him still by pushing his head even further back, and resting the edge of his knife on Sniper’s throat.

By this point, Engineer was feeling physically ill. “You’re evil… pure, goddamned evil.”

“I’m just doing my job, Engineer. Is it so ‘orrible to want to get a few extra perks out of it?” He nuzzled Sniper’s neck in a way that should have been affectionate, but it came off as simply creepy. “Not everyone is going to volunteer to get zemselves killed like Soldier and Heavy did. Hmmm… Heavy was so /easy/ to convince to sacrifice himself for ze team… so obedient, zat one. I can sort of see why Medic fancied him so much, aside from him being morbidly obese and a stupid idiot.”

“You talked enough yet?” Engineer snapped. “If yer fixin’ t’ kill me, then go ahead. I ain’t joinin’ you an’ I sure as hell ain’t gonna help you rape Sniper or kill our teammates.”

“Your loss, Engineer,” Spy said, aiming his pistol for Engineer’s heart. “We really could have been somezing.”

“HEY, CHUCKLEHEAD!”

Spy barely had time to turn around before the aluminum baseball bat collided with the side of his head with a “BONK!” His body jerked to the side violently, his knife barely missing Sniper’s throat in the process. He barely kept his balance, and twisted around, still trying to keep his grip on Sniper while whirling his pistol towards Scout. The blow to his head, however, slowed his reflexes down considerably, and he was barely standing as it was. The bat came down again on his hand, knocking the gun from his grasp, and Sniper took the opportunity to duck as Scout swung his bat again, catching Spy in the jaw. Spy caught himself from falling on a nearby desk, spitting blood from his mouth, before the bat came down again between his shoulder blades. “Not so fuckin’ chatty now, are ya, asshole?” Scout said with a sneer, about to bring his bat down again before Sniper pushed him out of the way.

“Outta the way, runt, ‘e’s mine,” Sniper growled, grabbing Spy by his suit jacket and twisting him around to punch him in the nose. “Ya creepy, bloody rapist, I’ll kill ya! I’LL FUCKIN’ KILL YA!” He landed in a few more punches before Engineer pulled him off of the Spy. Spy tried to pull himself up to a standing position, his arms wobbling and snapping weakly. He stopped moving however, when he heard glass shatter and found that his head was being held back and a broken bottle was now against his throat.

“Where’d ye leave Medic an’ Pyro?” Demoman barked.

“Zat question is irrelevant,” Spy replied groggily, spitting out wad of blood and phlegm from his mouth. “Zey’re dead by now, surely.”

“ANSWER TH’ BLOODY QUESTION, YE CUNT!” Demoman roared, tightening his grip on the top of Spy’s mask, getting a clump of hair with it.

“Second floor. Ze laboratory. I put a sapper on ze lock, and zey were in zere wiz a group of ze monsters. I assure you, you won’t find zem in zere alive,” he said with a snicker, showing his bloodied teeth.

Demoman picked up Spy by the throat, and tossed him across the room, causing Spy to crash into a desk, sending the typewriter, lamp, and stacks of papers on top of it flying off. Engineer immediately ran over to the Spy, flipping him over onto his back and grabbing a hold of both of Spy’s wrists. He held them together behind Spy’s back as he grabbed the yellow extension cord that dangled from his belt and used it to bind the Frenchman’s wrists behind him.

“Now, you listen here,” Engineer said in a very low, dangerous voice. “You’re gonna lead us to that lab right now. I’ve got plenty a mind to kill you right now, for what you’ve done, but I’m not gonna. But mark my words, boy; when I figure out what I’m gonna do to you, yer gonna wish you were dead. Are we clear?”

“Ah, you’re so cute when you’re angry, you know zat, Laborer?” Spy said, smiling through his pain and head trauma.

“Shut up,” Engineer grabbed Spy by the back of his coat and yanked him to his feet, and grabbed his pistol from its holster and held it against the small of Spy’s back. He turned to Demoman and Scout, who were watching with keen interest. “Thanks, fellas. We’d prolly be dead right now if it weren’t fer you.”

“No problem, hard hat,” Scout said dismissively. “I always wanted to beat that back-stabbin’ snail-eater’s head in, anyway.”

“We donnae have much time!” Demoman interjected. “Move yer bones!” Demoman raced out down the hall, prompting the others to follow with haste.

______________________________________________________________


When Medic had first rushed to close the door with Pyro, he quickly realized they weren’t going to be able to keep this struggle. The weight of the zombie’s bodies pressing against the door was simply too much, and a whole hand managed to snake its way through, grabbing Medic by the wrist. He shrieked, and clamored desperately for his bonesaw. He finally got a hold of it and managed to saw through the arm, cutting through bone and rotting flesh, dribbling darkened blood onto the floor.

“Pyro!” Medic shouted. Ve cannot hold zem back much longer! Use your flamezhrowah! Back away from ze door!”

“Rrrght!” Pyro murmured with a nod, and both he and Medic backed away from the door as it flew open. The fire starter stepped in front of Medic, pulling his beloved flamethrower from off of his back. He then unleashed a torrent of orange and yellow flame, driving the undead crowd back. The smell of burning clothing and flesh started to fill the room as the zombies moaned in surprise and confusion, spinning around in circles trying to go back the way they came. The ones that had been closest to Pyro were engulfed in fire, unable to make any sounds at all, and merely collapsed onto the floor in a flaming heap. Medic let out a triumphant laugh, and Pyro quickly joined in, and the two of them moved closer to the door, driving the walking dead back into the room they come from. Once they were all inside, Pyro stopped shooting his flames out long enough for Medic to close the door again.

“Quickly, Pyro! Ve need a barricade!” Medic was pressing almost all of his weight against the door, and predictably enough, the zombies started to pound on the door again. Pyro immediately went and grabbed the only mobile thing in the room, the gurney and pushed it against the door. “Zat’s too light!” Medic shouted. “Do we have anyzing else?”

Pyro jerked his head around, looking over the flaming corpses on the floor, over to the counters that were firmly attached to the wall, and then to the massive computer on the opposite end of the room. He pointed to it. “Whurr urrbuurrt theerrt?”

“I don’t zink you could push zat, Pyro,” Medic said breathlessly. “Ve’re doomed.”

Pyro’s head tilted down, and he waddled quickly over to the door. He pressed the button on the handle that put in the lock with his thumb. He stepped back from the door, and sat down on the floor by one of the smoldering bodies, placing his flamethrower down next to him. Medic then slowly backed away from the door and noticed that it was locked.

“Zey could still get in, Pyro,” Medic said cautiously. “Ve need to find a vay out of here und varn ze ozzahs about Spy.”

“Urrkeey,” Pyro said with a nod, not noticing the burnt corpse next to him picking up its head and lunging at him. Medic let out terrible screech, but Pyro couldn’t move fast enough. A pair of teeth found their way shredding through the material of the chemsuit and into Pyro’s right forearm. Pyro let out a muffled scream as Medic dashed over, bonesaw out, and hacked away desperately at the monster’s neck. It relinquished its grip, but the doctor didn’t stop until he was holding the creatures head to the ground and sawing through its throat until its head rolled off its shoulders. Pyro was hyperventilating and had already reached for his axe while Medic was busy with the zombie that had attacked him. In an act of wild desperation, he held his axe high above his head in his left hand and drove it down just above the bite.

The anguished scream that Pyro let out caused Medic to jerk his head up and shriek in panic. Pyro had managed to get two hacks in before Medic stopped him mid-swing, grabbing the fire starter’s wrists. “Pyro, please! Stop zis!”

“URRT’LL SPURRD!” Pyro cried, his voice starting to become choked by tears. “URR DUURRN WAAAN TURR BURRCURRM UR ZURRMBEE! PLLSSH HURREH!”

Medic bit his lip nervously, inspecting the wound. “You could go into shock, Pyro,” he said. “I could end up killing you.”

“Urr durrn curr,” Pyro sobbed. “Pllssh.”

The doctor nodded and started to tear the cloth of Pyro’s chemsuit so that the wound was completely exposed, as well as Pyro’s reddened, burn-scarred skin. He desperately wished he had any of his anesthetic with him, but time was of the essence, and he wasn’t sure how long it would take the virus to reach his bloodstream. It probably already had. He lifted his bonesaw before he realized that he couldn’t possibly use it on Pyro; it was covered in contaminated blood. “I’m going to have to use your axe, Pyro,” he said grimly. Pyro nodded, and handed his axe to Medic. The doctor took a deep breath, holding the axe in both hands and bringing it down on the wound that Pyro had created himself.

The work was arduous, and felt as though it was going much more slowly than it actually was. Pyro would cry out in agony with every blow, and Medic tried his damndest to get it over with quickly. There had been a time when he would have enjoyed inflicting this kind of pain and torture on another human being, but now it was just heartwrenching. The members of RED team were the only friends he had left, really, and he seemed to be losing them so quickly. He had to keep himself from completely breaking down, though. Pyro’s life depended on it.

Finally, the axe had cleaved its way through bone and flesh, and Medic pulled out his Medigun, aiming it at Pyro. A cool, red beam snaked its way out with a distinctive hum, and washed over the fire starter, relieving him of the incredible pain he had endured. Pyro’s breathing started to slow down a bit, and he gradually became calmer. Medic had never tried to use the device on a wound this severe, and a part of him was curious as to how the wound would heal. The blood oozing from the stump started to congeal and scab over, and Medic breathed a sigh of relief. Pyro was still shaking, no doubt in shock. Medic reached his hand up to Pyro’s mask, only to have it batted away defensively by the fire starter.

“Please, Pyro,” Medic said, trying to sound reassuring, “you vill be able to breeze easiah.”

“Nurrr urrr,” Pyro mumbled, shaking his head. “Urrr nurrd mrry murrshk.”

There was more furious pounding on the door. Medic clenched his jaw and tried to help Pyro to his feet, leading him away from the other bodies on the floor, closer to the exit. Pyro was still shivering. Medic, without even thinking, wrapped his arms around the smaller man, rocking him and trying to shush his whimpers as Pyro gripped at Medic’s coat tightly with his remaining hand. It was clear that Pyro was in no shape to fight off the zombies if they managed to get back inside. Hopefully, they wouldn’t. But even if they didn’t, Spy would probably kill them instead. It wasn’t hard to imagine that he hadn’t already murdered the others. He was a sneaky, vicious bastard, and he was good at his job.

“Doc? Doc, you in there?”

Medic jerked his head upwards. He never thought he would be so glad to hear Scout’s voice. “Scout!” He shouted. “Is zat you? You’re not Spy, ah you?”

“Trust us, Doc, he ain’t no Spah.” It was Engineer. “We’re gonna get you outta here, just you hold tight. You okay in there?”

The doctor hesitated. “Pyro… he’s been injured.”

On the other side of the door, the mood among the other members of RED team became sullen, with the sole exception of Spy, who laughed.

“You know zat means ‘e’s been bitten, of course,” Spy said in a very matter-of-fact tone.

“Shut up,” Sniper snarled.

“Hold on, Doc,” Engineer whacked at the Electro-Sapper with his wrench, knocking it off the wall in a shower of sparks. Unfortunately, when he went to pull down the handle to open the door, it didn’t budge. Demoman pushed Engineer aside, pulling out his sticky-bomb launcher, and fired his remaining bombs along the hinges.

“Ye’d better stan’ clear o’ th’ door, lads, ‘lest ye want t’ git blasted!” Demoman shouted.

Back inside, Medic grabbed Pyro by his wrist, pulling him back against the computer. The door exploded inwards, and fell to the floor in a cloud of dust and smoke, landing with in a deafening clatter. Demoman stepped in, and staggered as he did so upon entering. There were three smoldering bodies on the floor and a rather large puddle of blood that was smeared to the entrance and then back to the computer, where Medic was holding a rather skittish looking Pyro, who was burying his head in the crook between the doctor’s neck and shoulder.

“Pyro, lad,” Demoman asked, toning down his rather dramatic entrance in favor of a more quiet approach. “Are ye all right?”

Pyro shook his head while letting out a high-pitched whine, clinging to the doctor even more tightly. Medic stroked the top of his mask, his expression somber. “I’m afraid zat Pyro… may have contracted ze virus.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, whaddya mean, ‘may have’?” Scout asked as he hopped over the door.

“He vas bitten,” Medic said grimly. “I had to amputate ze bitten arm. Alzhough… I’m afraid I may only be delaying ze inevitable.” Pyro let out another whine, and Medic rubbed the fire starter’s back. “Ve can only hope for ze best und hope zat vill be enough.”

Demoman didn’t have the heart to say anything. He walked over to Pyro and put a hand on his shoulder. “C’mon, lad,” he said. “Let’s git outta here.” Pyro responded with a shaky little nod, and let go of the doctor, revealing his stump.

No one said anything until Pyro had been escorted out of the room by Demoman and Medic. Engineer handed Spy off to Sniper and approached Pyro, trying his best to give him a friendly smile.

“Hey there, buddy,” he said, putting a hand on Pyro’s shoulder. “How you fairin’?”

“Urrfull,” Pyro mumbled. “Urr thrrnk urrm gurrn turr duur.”

“Nonsense,” Engineer said, “We’re not gonna let anything happen to ya. Don’t you worry.”

“Prrumissh?” Pyro asked, looking up at Engineer with a hopeful tone in his voice.

“I promise,” Engineer said assuredly.

“Oh, come now, Engineer, zat’s just cruel,” Spy said. “Giving ze poor man false hope like zat. Shame on you.”

“You just keep your mouth shut, Spah!” Engineer shouted back. “I’ve heard enough talkin’ out of you.”

“I knew I should have killed Demoman and Scout first,” Spy muttered.

“I heard that, ya rat bastard.” Sniper was holding Spy prisoner with his kukri, and lifted it in front of Spy’s face. “Wot were ya even plannin’ on doin’ once we were all dead, anyway? Yer as stuck ‘ere as th’ rest of us.”

Spy sniffed, turning his face away from the massive blade. “I suppose I might as well tell you now zat you have me captured. I was supposed to meet wiz ze Announcer.”

“Ze Announzah? Here?” Medic asked, sounding understandably puzzled. “Vhat is she doing here?”

“She stayed behind in order to make sure zat zere vas someone here to meet me once I had completed my mission. She said she wanted to be here to greet me personally. But given zat it seems to have been a failure, for ze most part, she’ll probably kill me before you do.”

“Yeah, we’ll see about that,” Engineer said, crossing his arms. “Now, where is she?”

“Top floor. In ze Monitor Room,” Spy said. “Ze elevators should be working; it would be quicker to use zem.”

“Top floor, huh?” Engineer repeated. He looked around at his teammates, who looked worse for the wear. Exhausted and dirty as they were, they all seemed to wear a look of anger and determination on their faces. The Announcer had wanted them all killed. They had all made it so far, survived this long, and they would not be going down without a fight.

“Well, then,” Engineer said, uncrossing his arms and pulling his pistol back out from its holster. “I think we owe her a visit then, don’t we, boys?”
>> No. 1045
hfgkjdfhgskdjhgdjkfg the spy is lying and this is going to end terribly i know it ._.
>> No. 1046
I've never hated Spy so much in my life, oh my god.

Gotta say that the conversation he had with Sniper and Engie made me laugh hard though. Thanks for the quick updating!
>> No. 1047
OMFG, PLEASE DON'T LET THE PYRO DIE!
>> No. 1048
Why pyro whyyyhyyhyyyyyyyy
>> No. 1049
Wow, I think I just shat a brick. Cat please become an author.
>> No. 1050
also goddammit if the pyro dies i will come to your house
>> No. 1051
>>163

THIS

Also, I felt so bad for poor Pyro... =( You are a damned good writer to stir such emotions.
>> No. 1052
>>163

Yeah, this chapter wrote itself so quick, I kind of surprised myself.

>>166

You mean outside of being a fanfic author? Well, maybe.

>>167

You promise?

>>168

Aw, shucks. STOP FLATTERING ME.
>> No. 1053
Bawwww, poor Pyro! Don't turn into a zombie! But that aside holy crap they're off to see the Announcer! I shiver in antici........pation.
>> No. 1054
Gdamnit Cat Bountry stop making me sad D:
>> No. 1056
I literally fistpumped at badass Scout. But poor Pyro ;_;
>> No. 1057
I have a question. Exactly what was cut off pyro? His entire arm? Or like just at the wrist? Right or left?
>> No. 1058
>>173

Right arm, just above the elbow.
>> No. 1059
oh god pyro ;_;
>> No. 1061
I bet Pyro is gonna die but I hope he doesn't.

50/50 on the Announcer either being up there or it being a different trap of some kind.

RED and BLU have apparently turned their backs on their own mercenaries. But why? Dun Dun Dnnnnn!!
>> No. 1062
Oh my god.
/oh my god./

I just got around to reading this today and....

Oh man. This is undeniably the best fic I have ever read. Everything... everything about this is deliciously perfect. The personality, you're writing style, the fucking way you can build up suspense and invoke emotions upon the reader as if it were really fucking happening.

I... just.... I need more. It leaves me with the pressing excitement and butterfly-gut feeling of a child counting the very minutes until Christmas morning.

I am more then convinced you are some sort of writing god, blessing us with your warm light. And I bow to you.
>> No. 1064
I've never laughed at serious situations before but DAMN Girl you're good. My thoughts are like "I only read these kind of things in NOVELS this is a dream come true!"

I can't say anything that hasn't been already said, but I hope you know how much of an artistic gift you are to everyone that reads your writing. Thank you!
>> No. 1066
Big Damn Heroes > Magnificent Bastard (in the short term, anyway). Who knew?

NOOO! Don't die Pyro!! I should've seen it coming, but oh god, that just isn't fair...

I'm getting very nervous for the group (though the thought of a bloodied, possibly traumatised flirtatious Spy makes me grin), especially as my head is saying that this will not end well - not sure if that means the next chapter or the fic as a whole. Or both.

Anyway, yay for quick response, and what everyone else has said too.
>> No. 1069
>>179

LOL, TV Tropes.

It's also a bit of Just Between You and Me as well, isn't it? Oh, Spy...
>> No. 1072
IT'S A TRAP!

Err, anyway, this is sorta reminding me of Saw for some reason. And I'm seeing a pattern here... homosex - leads to death. I'm very anxious for the next chapter. (read: terrified of someone's tramatic death)
>> No. 1074
Fucking incredible cat, you just keep improving with every chapter you post. Seems like we're getting close to the end now, let's hope you can give it an amazing sendoff.
>> No. 1077
I want to read it, but there's a glitch that won't let me get past the first post.

FFFFFFF

Will keep trying, though.
>> No. 1078
I keep seeing people posting and I keep thing it's you with the next part and get really excited then I see that it's not and get really sad.
;_;.
>> No. 1079
I keep seeing people posting and I keep thinking it's you with the next part and get really excited then I see that it's not and get really sad.
;_;.
>> No. 1080
>>185

Same here, cancel. I just can't wait for the next part.
>> No. 1082
>>186

Seconded on both accounts
>> No. 1091
>>180

I spent a small eternity on that website, and I still visit when I have nothing else to do! Not sure whether I should've admitted that, to be honest...

Yep, Spy certainly played that trope with Engie (had to check the site to learn what that trope was - weirdly enough, the quote at the top of the page starts with 'Gentlemen!').

...And now I'm wondering what other tropes can be applied to this fic, and whether or not it'd be geeky/wrong-headed to find out while I wait for the next chapter. Oh dear...!
>> No. 1093
>>188

Knock yourself out.

Also, this thread is getting close to autosaging, but the fic is probably only going to be about two more chapters at the most, and I'm still not sure if that will include the epilogue or not. Also, I am considering once this fic is finished reposting it again with /more/ edits anyway.

Start a new thread once this sages? Y/N
>> No. 1094
>>189

Sure why not. I'm still dizzy from all the drama and intensity of this story.

I always associated fanfics with animu addicts. But this... I don't even need to say it.
>> No. 1095
>>189

I'm going to cry so hard when this fic ends. Will you work on another epic!fic after you're done with this one? (Sorry if this has already been asked!)

Oh and
Y.
>> No. 1096
>>189
Very Y.
>> No. 1097
>>189

That'll be a resounding Y.
>> No. 1099
Oh man, I finally got around to all of reading this (and in one sitting too!) and I am simply in awe. I don't even know where to start. I laughed, I cried, and I want more! This is absolutely brillant!
>> No. 1104
>>190

Heh, I used to write animu fan fiction. Way back in the day. NO ONE WILL EVER READ THEM AGAIN, BECAUSE THEY ARE TERRIBLE.

>>191

I don't have any plans, no. Especially since I'm going back to art school next week, so yeah.

>>194

One sitting? Wow.
>> No. 1135
I hope I'm not the only one who was slightly expecting a bit of "Play with me and I'll let your teammates go" with spy and engie
D'awwwww
>> No. 1140
>>196

Well, it's more like a "play with me and I'll let /you/ go, but your teammates are pretty much fucked, sorry."

Also, Part 19 is finished, but I don't know where my beta is. It turned out longer than I thought it would, and the new thread for it will probably be the last two chapters plus epilogue.

So yeah, that should be up later tonight, hopefully.
>> No. 1141
>>197

I love you
>> No. 1144
>>197

FUCK YEAR
>> No. 1145
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. I should wait when it's up before commenting, but I just can't wait.
>> No. 1677
This is arguably the coolest TF2 related thing that has ever happened except TF2.
>> No. 1678
>>201

A little late to the party, bro.
>> No. 1680
Whoa, I thought this would have autosaged.
>> No. 1681
>>203

Now it's one post closer!
>> No. 1711
you did that on purpose, didn't you?
>> No. 2129
GODDAMNIT i cant wait...
>> No. 2316
my god...why it took me so long to finally sit and read this I'll never know. Cat Bountry...i think i love you. my god, this is epic. i laughed, cried, and especially cheered out loud when scout's bat connected with spy's face
i can't wait to go the the next installment and start reading
lovely
>> No. 3048
Huh... I don't know why Id din't start reading this before! It's really, really good. Lots of plot and twist and awesomeness. -off to read the second thread now-
>> No. 3306
Jesus fucking Christ, this is great.

I'm still sobbing over Heavy, though. ;_;


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