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No. 133
Every repost is a repost repost.

CAKE


It was a cake. Or at least, that's what it was rumoured to be.

The youngest of BLU base's three Pyros had been holed up in the kitchen for the better half of a week, forcing the rest of the team to go without proper meals (and for half of one day without drinks, until Medic eventually had Heavy break down the door and spent several hours comforting a sobbing, apron-wearing Pyro until he agreed to come out of the cupboard). The BLUs had almost reached the stage of forming a plan to flush out the determined chef with some sort of smoke bomb when eventually the (newly-fixed and still questionably wobbly) door was thrown open and he emerged, holding a baking tray aloft with a triumphant, muffled yell.

What sat in the centre of the table could technically be referred to as a cake, or a very nicely decorated slab of solid oil. Nobody had been present to witness what had actually been included in the mix for this beast, though Scout had snuck into the kitchen at one point in an attempt to acquire a sandwich and had woken up in medic's little in-base surgery hours later, apparently having passed out from fumes. Pyro had made an effort at least, icing what was presumably the BLU team logo onto the top (though it appeared there had been an accident with the icing and anyone asked would have replied that the cake clearly read "BUU").

"It's..." Medic was physically twitching from the strain of finding a polite, positive comment for this abomination. He'd pulled less unpleasant things out of the slimy innards of waterlogged corpses. His rubber gloves made an awkwardly loud squeak as he twisted his fingers together in front of his chest, tense but unable to turn and bolt from the hopeful-looking teammate in front of him. "Well, you've certainly put a lot of effort into it. Well done for zat."

"What exactly is in this thing?" Sniper piped up from beside the table, where he'd bravely dared to reach out and prod one of the creature's intimidating four corners with the tip of his finger. The sponge sprang back into place almost immediately with a frightening hiss.

"Mpph. Mffrm, mrrph mm," Pyro signalled wildly with his hands, delighted. Sniper winced when the two large hands came together in what looked like a strangling motion.

"There's, uh," think, man, think! "There's no almonds in it right? I have an allergy."

"Mmph!" Pyro gave him an enthusiastic thumbs-up and the Australian wilted.

"The lot of you are fucking cracked if you think I'm eating any of that thing!" was the inevitable outcry from Scout, almost immediately after which he felt the strong jarring pain of a flamethrower hitting the back of his head. It was impossible to tell through the thick masks, but it'd be an educated guess to say that the looks on the other two Pyros' faces weren't encouraging.

The room broke out into a full-scale argument then, no one voice quite loud enough to get their point across properly until Heavy finally appeared in the doorway and boomed that they were all going to IMMEDIATELY SIT DOWN AND EAT SOME DELICIOUS CAKE. Nobody was really in the mood to push the issue and they had thought ahead far enough to remove the rat poison from the kitchen prior to its takeover, so it was unlikely to be fatal...

Just incredibly unpleasant.

“I’m not going first.”

“Jeez, you gonna cry or what? It ain’t gonna bite’cher.”

“Don’t promise that,” Spy muttered sourly.

“Don’t think I’ve forgotten that shit you guys pulled at Easter! I’m never trustin’ any of you ever again.”

“It was a massive chocolate egg! We thought you’d break it open first, not bite into it like some sort of-“

“You filled it with fucking vinegar!”

“You are all such babies!”

“What if we all try some at ze same time?” Medic interrupted, in a brave attempt to be reasonable. “We’ll just have a small piece each, zen if it is fine zere’ll be plenty left for everyone later.” There was a general mutter of agreement that rippled around the table like a depressed mexian wave, thick with the remorse of having just verbally signed their own death warrants.

Heavy was the one finally brave enough to approach the thing with a knife; cutting it open was more difficult than anticipated, and a sawing-motion had to be used to break through the thick, leathery exterior. Inside the texture was more like warm wax – still difficult to cut, but sticky, and if you applied pressure you could probably mould it into all sorts of amusing shapes. The centre filling ran like lumpy milkshake, dark and mysterious and exposing it to the cold air resulted in a torrent of tiny crackling sounds like bubble wrap beneath a heavy step.

Several heads turned to look at the chef.

The pyro stared gleefully back at them all, hands clasped tightly together beneath his chin, and let out a blissful little sob. His team were so supportive.


SCARECROW


RED Team’s refrigerator was beginning to look suspiciously hollow again.

Scout was the first one there in the morning, dressed but disorganised, scratching the side of his head and yawning in a variety of loud and exaggerated ways while there was nobody awake to be annoyed by it. What did remain in the large white container looked lonely and sullen; gradually-wilting cartons of milk, unidentifiable vegetables lurking at the back. Scout went straight for the milk and idly knocked the door closed with his elbow as he left towards the top of the base.

For a while now the two bases of RED and BLU had been not technically at a truce, but more-or-less ignorant of eachothers existence. Both teams had been suffering a bit of a backlash from their last collision in the form of broken bones and concussions and since nobody likes to go to war on crutches the two teams were currently content to just sit on either sides of the bridge and growl at eachother. It was a little boring, but it did give Scout more time to steal paper from Engineer and use it to draw little pictures of how awesome he was.

Sniper’s usual spot on the battlements was deserted, implying that he was currently off doing hygienic morning activities. The rifle lay across the top of a large wooden crate, shining a little as it caught the cold morning light, and Scout was drawn to it like a moth. It was surprisingly difficult to lift, though that may have been due to the way he attempted to wrench the weapon up into the air as if it were a pistol.

When Sniper returned – not exactly fresh as a daisy but at least a little more clean-shaven – Scout was at the very end of the ledge, squinting determinedly through the sight on the rifle, tongue sticking out of the corner of his mouth in concentration. The older man felt his eyebrow twitch.

“What in ‘ell’s name d’you think you’re doin’?”

“Gah!” Scout jumped, fumbling clumsily with the gun until it slipped between his fingers, barely saved from a disastrous plummet to the ground by the Australian diving forward and snatching it just in time. The possibility of the lovingly protected rifle clattering onto the dust and dirt below echoed around in their heads like a gunshot, and the air became so thick with tension and barely-reigned fury that for a little while, neither of them even moved.

“You best have a bloody good reason why I shouldn’t shove this rifle up yer arse and fire it now.”

“When was the last time you looked at BLU base?” Scout replied a little excitedly, frantic to gloss over the little mishap. Sniper was too tired for confrontation and played along.

“Yesterday evenin’. Why, see summat interesting?”

Scout nodded stupidly a few times, cap bobbing a little. Sniper raised his eyebrows. Curious, he stepped over to his usual spot and lifted the rifle to take a look.

There was some sort of figure tied up between the two doors to the front of the BLU base, legs together and arms spread into a mockery of a cross. From the lumpy red suit and the mask that made the sagging head, it appeared to be made in the likeness of a Pyro. Weird...

“What’s up with that?” Scout hissed nervously over his shoulder. Sniper rolled his eyes.

“I dunno, do I? You go take a look at it. Don’t look like there’s anyone else around.”

Scout nodded and disappeared through the nearby door, picking up his empty carton of milk as he left; Sniper didn’t turn away from the sight across the bridge.

Now he was awake enough to notice, the entire situation was questionable. All of the entrances to the opposite fort that he could see – doors, windows, even cracks in the walls – had been boarded up overnight, though quite how the BLU team had done so without waking him up was a mystery. The scarecrow-like figure was secured tightly to the wall behind it with thick, frayed rope, though anything below its waist was blocked from view by the bridge’s roof.


PRESENT


It was with a degree of hesitation that Scout and Pyro approached the front of BLU base.

Scout had found Pyro sitting at the kitchen table as he passed by, and dragged him along to investigate. Medic and Heavy had been curious as to what they were investigating, but Scout decided that until he’d done some detective work he was going to keep it quiet. He didn’t exactly want some of the more excitable teammates running outside and blowing the thing up, anyway. At least not until he’d made sure it wasn’t an enormous piñata stuffed with delicious candy.

“Mpph fffrm,” Pyro stopped and shuffled hesitantly at the end of the bridge. Scout looked back at him, and then turned to the thing in front of them.

“Aw come on, it don’t look that much like you. It’s shorter. I wonder how they got a red suit?”

“Mmf mrrph.”

Scout tutted. “Fine, whatever, I’ll look myself. Keep your eye out for blues, okay?”

It was true that the thing was shorter than the average human, but it was tied up at an awkward height; Scout was at about eye-level with its stomach. Determined, he stepped forward and stretched out his arms, deciding he would try to tug it down-

Crumple. Squish.

He had stepped on a box. It was pretty small – a little like a shoebox – he immediately didn’t blame himself for not seeing it. It counted as a clue though, even if it was now flat and awkwardly-bent at the edges, so he picked it up and opened the muddy cardboard lid.

“Hey, there’s cake in here.”

“Mpphf?”

“Seriously, look!” He held it out, and finally giving in, Pyro waddled over to peer inside. Inside the little cardboard container was a squashed, sticky slice of cake with cheerful bright blue icing. “D’you think it’s poisonous?”

“Mmmph!” Pyro snatched the lid and box, forcing them together as if fearing the very sight of the cake would send Scout into an uncontrollable fit of hunger. Scout shrugged and grinned cheekily.

“Just asking! I guess the enemy wouldn’t just leave perfectly good cake lying around for us though huh?”

“Mm-hm.”

Setting the little box aside for now, the two of them approached the figure again. Each grabbing a side of the thing’s suit they made a determined effort to pull it to the ground, but the rope tied tight around its arms held remarkably well. Though as tiny flakes of red stuck to their hands and wrists, it was discovered that what they were looking at was not a red suit at all.

“They painted it red. That’s pretty creepy.” Scout was scratching at the thick layers of the stuff, brushing off the bits that stuck to him, as Pyro watched uncomfortably. “Wouldn’t that take ages to dry? Hey, there’s something under here, look-” Taking hold of a corner of material he had found, Scout pulled sharply.

The paint crackled as it was torn from the position where it had dried; little flakes were catapulted off and landed on the ground below them, revealing the dirty blue of a burnt suit, and what Scout had pulled loose from its front – a tattered apron.

From where he was watching on the battlements, Sniper felt his eyebrows rise. BLU team had never really seemed out-of-the-ordinary – no more so than the REDs themselves – this life-size figure guarding their door was an alarming change of attitude.

Idly he watched his teammates struggle a little longer, first making another attempt to drag the thing down from its place on the wall, and then unsuccessfully trying to form a human totem-pole to reach up and untie the ropes. Deciding that there were no blues around to be alerted by the noise, Sniper took careful aim on the ropes and fired.

Probably would’ve been polite to wait until Scout was out of the way first, he mused as the figure toppled over onto his swearing teammate.

“Asshole!” Scout scrabbled and flailed beneath the weight on top of him. Jesus, what did they stuff this with, concrete? Eventually Pyro took hold of the scarecrow’s side and rolled it over, allowing his scrawny friend to escape. The heavy figure sagged listlessly against the ground; if it could talk, Pyro thought it might sound very depressed.

Now it was easily-accessible, Scout began prodding and poking at the thing with all the curiosity of a child. He found stitches here and there, where the thing had been sewn together; areas where the paint rubbed away, the faint shapes of fingerprints still remaining in the gritty red powder; thick, congealed goo smeared between folds of material and wonky stitching, looking unpleasant and sticky. The more Scout noticed about it, the slower and more hesitantly he seemed to move until he was eventually kneeling still beside the thing, hands clasped together.

“Pyro... this is a body, ain’t it.” Technically it wasn’t really a question, but Pyro let out an affirmative little mumble anyway. Scout swallowed thickly.
Marked for deletion (old)
>> No. 134
BEDTIME


Everyone in RED base was on edge.

Scout and Pyro had upset the tranquil atmosphere that had settled over the team with their discovery that morning; the corpse of BLU’s youngest pyro, dressed up in an apron and red paint and strung up outside the enemy base like some freakish door-knocker. They’d also brought back a squashed little box containing what looked like an incredibly unhealthy sugary treat, which was now lying in wait within the refrigerator, probably looking as miserable and unappealing as the rest of their supplies.

The entire team had puzzled over the situation all day, but had completely drawn a blank. The pyro had been handed over to Medic, in case there was some hidden message that only a surgeon could decipher, but he’d reappeared in the evening looking defeated. All he knew was that the BLU had died from a large, torn stab wound in the back that had later been untidily cleaned and sewn closed. The Spies shrugged; don’t look at them, they hadn’t been over to BLU base in weeks.

Only one entrance to BLU’s home had been left open, as was discovered in the afternoon; the opening to their sewer. Even in daylight it looked foreboding, a dark cavern that echoed with the quiet little beeping sounds of sentries waiting in the darkness. Nobody volunteered to investigate.

It was getting quite late, the sort of time when there would usually be at least one team-member sleeping, if not nearly all of them. Instead, everyone but Sniper was gathered around the small kitchen table, deep in debate.

Sniper hadn’t felt quite so miserable in a long time, and that was a feat. He had been getting an evening coffee when he and one of the Spies had briefly paused for conversation, puzzling together over the situation at hand.

“It must be awfully trying on your patience, becoming so useless,” Spy had drawled insincerely. “It is a shame you can’t see the sewers from that little nest of yours up on the battlements. I’m sure the team will find a good use for you.”

Resisting the urge to punch the man’s poncey French lights out had been difficult, and his grip on the coffee mug had come close to leaving cracks in the dirty white porcelain. Spy was frustrated; he was their man on the inside, he should have been there to see what the BLUs were up to. The team had thoroughly chewed out both spies for their lack of knowledge on the matter and it was unsurprising they were starting to lash out.

The words stuck to Sniper though, and staring idly around his place at the top of the fort, he felt useless. If the BLUs were going to switch to offensive, they would almost certainly come through the sewer, and it was obvious that there was little to nothing he could do from up here.


BELL


Sniper fucking hated cats. They were nasty, scrawny, scratchy little bastards.

For the last few weeks there had been a cat hanging around BLU base; a skinny, runty greyish-black thing with bald patches and big yellow eyes too large for its thin face. The first time he had seen it across the bridge, Sniper had made an attempt to shoot it purely out of spite; it had surprised him and made him spill some coffee. Shockingly, just as he’d fired the cat had thought to dive aside, effectively dodging the bullet and scurrying away into the grass.

Every couple of days the faint jingling of a bell would signal the ugly little creature’s reappearance and Sniper would take another shot at it, every time failing and feeling his blood pressure creep ever-higher. He’d not even managed to so much as brush the hairs on its back. Thus, Sniper came to the conclusion that cats were satanic little bastards.

He hadn’t seen his feline nemesis for a few days now, come to think of it, and the day’s events had pushed it almost entirely from his mind. He probably wouldn’t have been thinking about it at all if it weren’t for the quiet little jingling he could hear coming from the inky black darkness at the bottom of the stairs in front of him.

None of RED team had been down to the sewers since one of Demoman’s explosions had broken the ceiling-lights and left the place a dark, enclosed space full of big wooden crates and broken bits of machinery. Some of the lights still technically worked, but they tended to flicker ominously on and off, and many of the bulbs had blown entirely. It wasn’t the cosiest place on-base.

But if there was one thing Sniper wasn’t going to do, it was sit around on his arse and be useless while the Spies giggled about him like schoolgirls. If BLUs were going to come through the sewer then he’d damn well be there to shoot them; which is how he found himself at the top of the creaky metal stairs to said sewer, staring into the shadows and listening to the taunting little jingle of a cat’s bell.

Idly, he tapped the light switch beside him. Lights flickered into life above his head and down the tunnel, fizzing and sparkling with the effort of use after such mistreatment. Somewhere he couldn’t see, a bulb loudly shattered.

There was a raised platform in the centre of the tunnel, where there was a bend; the place was stacked with wooden crates bearing the RED logo, put there for safekeeping and long-forgotten. Above Sniper’s head, a light flickered on and off.

The water sloshed loudly around his shins as he stepped off the bottom step, grit and filth stirred up from the bottom staining his trousers. It was entirely unpleasant and he made an effort to get to the platform as quickly as possible, taking big long steps and trying not to press down too hard on the unpleasantly squishy floor.

Jingle jingle...

The cat was perched comfortably on top of the nearest crate, a fuzzy greyish blur from where he was standing half-way through the first waterlogged tunnel. Deciding it’d be one less annoyance on his shoulders, Sniper shuffled over to the side and knelt precariously in the shallow liquid, squinting through the sight on the rifle.

It had its back to him; tail brushing sleepily from side to side as it contentedly licked a paw clean. The tiny red light from Sniper’s rifle brushed across mangy grey fur like a little glowing insect, crawling slowly over a bumpy, arched spine and coming to rest at the back of a slender feline head, beside an identical little blue spot.


SPIDER


Sniper couldn’t move. The little blue light beside his red one quivered a little, as if the person holding the rifle were shuffling about.

They had to have seen it, they both had. Did they know where he was? He couldn’t possibly know where they were. What if there was more than one of them? The rest of RED team wouldn’t hear him if he shouted from here; he’d have to get back up the stairs. But if he moved, they’d see the red light disappear and go after him, surely.

Close by, another bulb shattered with a loud spark, shards of glass tumbling into the water below. The loud sound breaking through the tension surprised the Australian and he jumped, finger accidentally squeezing the trigger; the cat dived neatly aside as a gunshot echoed through the tunnel.

He didn’t hear the quiet click of a light switch being pressed on the staircase behind him, but the tunnel plummeted once again into thick inky black; Sniper fought the urge to cower and instead bolted further into the tunnel, loud splashing footsteps bouncing back and forth off curved walls until he reached the little platform, clumsily diving for cover amongst dusty old crates.

For a while he sat still, back against the cold wood, trying to get his breathing under control. The darkness around him was almost smothering, and the amount of dust he was now sitting in was bordering on heavy-snowfall level of thickness. He felt fortunate that his team couldn’t see him now; he’d hate to give Spy the pleasure of seeing him clutching at his chest and panting like a complete pansy.

“Ch.” A voice tutted, sounding incredibly unimpressed, “Now look. We’ve lost eet again. I hope you are zatisfied with yourself.” The French accent immediately gave away that there was a spy in the room.

Something soft brushed against Sniper’s leg, and he immediately clamped his hand over his mouth to stop himself shouting in surprise. A tiny nose nudged against his calf, and a lithe feline body wove between his ankles before making itself comfortable perching by his side. Sniper resisted the urge to grab the little monster and throttle it to death.

“You know that if we don’t find that cat Doctor will be furious. I suppose you’d rather he paid you some attention, hm?”

A loud clattering noise rang through the tunnel; metal striking one of the solid stone walls. The spy chuckled darkly.

A bright beam of light shone over the ground to Sniper’s left, catching his attention as it roamed over the dusty floor and dented bits of metal, searching out the cat that was sharing his hiding place. He mentally backhanded himself for not thinking to bring a torch too; whoever was holding the light didn’t seem to be awfully dedicated to their search though, judging by the way the light jiggled here and there as if it were being thrown from hand to hand. There was a quiet, wet-sounding growl.

“I am looking. If you had just shot the little rodent we could be done by now.” Light footsteps moved out of the water and up the small steps to the platform, light growing brighter as it came closer. Sniper snatched the cat and held it still to his chest, not wanting it to bolt and give away their position; it didn’t struggle, just settled lazily against him.

A couple of crates were pushed, creaking and scraping against the stone floor. Footsteps wandered here and there, but by some miracle of idleness the spy never thought to check the particular spot where Sniper and the cat were cowering.

“It’s not here. Perhaps it went further into their base.” From the water behind them, there was the clatter of metal and a loud splash. The torchlight spun instantly to check what had happened, and the spy laughed again, louder and a little excitedly.

“You fell over? Awww. You shouldn’t have tried to come up the steps, you know they’re too zmall. Are you all in one piece?”

Insanely curious, Sniper chanced a peek around the edge of the crate.

The torch illuminated a figure crouched in the water at the junction of the two sewer tunnels, scrabbling to try to find better footing on the wet ground. The body looked a lot like Sniper himself, perhaps a little lankier (if that’s at all possible), and thinner around the waist. A long, flailing arm had the man doing a double take; at the elbows, the flesh ebbed away to scratched black metal, a long protrusion like the leg of a camera tripod, almost reaching the length of the man’s body. Three of them curved menacingly from each elbow like huge spider legs, scratching at the ground as long metal fingers, each ending in sharp-looking metal points.

The thing finally climbed to its feet, sagging against its six unnatural front legs as if the weak looking human ones behind them were unable to hold it. The face was a monstrosity from the eyes down; the rifle was buried deep in the right shoulder, and the face was melted onto it like meat stuck to a frying pan; angry red and sticky, bare gums and muscle wet with saliva and tiny sparkling grains of sugar, teeth and bone jutting from unnatural angles where they had been pushed aside to make way for the weapon. The gun’s sight had taken the place of the right eye, peeking out from beneath the tattered hat that still sat comfortably on top.

A string of thick, clear phlegm rolled down the barrel of the gun and onto one of the spindly black legs like a heavy raindrop and the thing growled, shredded lips contorting around metal and goo.

“I wasn’t making fun of you.” The spy’s calm reply snapped Sniper out of the trance he’d fallen into and he leaned back behind cover, realising he’d been staring. “Get back on the ceiling, we’re going home. We will have to tell the good Doctor that if he wants his cat he will have to storm the fort himself.”

The BLU sniper rumbled again; the RED chanced another look to watch as it dug the sharp ends of its – arms? Legs? – into the wall, dragging itself up and out of the torch’s circle of illumination. The spy snapped the torch closed and the two of them retreated back down the tunnel at a leisurely pace, leaving Sniper alone in the dark.
>> No. 135
CONCERN


“There was a monster in the sewer looking for a cat?”

“That’s what he said, yeah.” Scout nodded enthusiastically. “Mental, right?”

Sniper had burst into the team meeting the night before, soaked from the knees-down in filthy water and clutching a mangy cat, and boldly declared to everyone present that he had just witnessed a monster. He’d looked for all the world like a complete lunatic, but the suggestion that he let Medic give him a check-up was point-blank refused; in fact he seemed to take it quite personally.

It was early morning, and Scout had (after his usual stop at the fridge for milk) gone to Engineer’s small workshop to find entertainment. He sat on top of a deactivated sentry, watching as Engineer tinkered busily with some machine he couldn’t quite identify. The cat was on the desk, curled up on top of a crayon drawing of Scout punching a dinosaur.

“Sniper ain’t never acted crazy afore,” the older main pointed out fairly, not looking up. “And considerin’ the strange start we got off to yesterday it don’t sound that far-fetched.” Scout huffed and took another long gulp of milk.

“That’s different. Monsters are just stupid things outta movies.”

“Y’think Sniper was tryin’ to scare everyone?”

Engineer looked up at Scout with a neutral expression and the younger man shrugged, frowning. “I dunno, do I?”

There really was no reason that Scout could think of for Sniper to lie about such a thing, but agreeing with him would be saying 'Yes Sniper, I entirely believe that you saw a hideous monster under the base and what's more, I think we should call the authorities immediately!' The young man snorted and Engineer cast him an odd look.

Engineer had been giving Scout what was possibly a record amount of odd looks for the past day, in all honesty. The boy had been shaken after discovering BLU team's gift the previous morning and after catching him washing his hands for literally the eighth time (he'd insisted that his hands smelt like dead things and cake) Engineer took it upon himself to distract his young team-mate. Fortunately, distracting Scout really was as simple as putting him in a room with an array of deactivated machines and telling him he was allowed to poke them.

There was a light tap at the door, and both men (and the cat, strangely) looked up to see a red balaclava appear, with an unhappy-looking face beneath it. Spy removed the cigarette from his mouth and tutted a little, flicking tiny specks of ash onto the floorboards.

"Gentlemen."

"Spah."

"Yo Spy!"

The Frenchman made no move to enter any further than the doorframe; he obviously didn't intend to stay long. "Have either of you seen my younger comrade? I have not seen him since last night and he appears to have vanished into thin air."

Scout and Engineer cast each other blank looks, then regretfully replied that last night’s meeting had been the last time they had seen the younger spy. Spy rubbed a gloved hand against his chin and cursed quietly.

“He’s probably around base somewhere,” Scout hopped to his feet, dusting himself off. “Y’want help looking?” Spy looked genuinely disgusted at the idea, nose wrinkled and wincing as if Scout had just offered to lick his face.

“No... No thank you. I will continue to ask around.”

Spy disappeared as quietly as he entered, gingerly tugging the door closed behind him. Scout gave the sentry he had been sitting on a moody little kick.

“Asshole.”

“Spah’s just under a little stress,” Engineer soothed, ignoring Scout’s immature grumbling, “Ah’m sure he’d appreciate yer help really.”

“You’re right!” Scout grinned, clapping his hands together once, “if I was missing I wouldn’t want some dumbass tellin’ people not to look for me. I’m outta milk anyway.”


LITTLE BROTHER


Sniper had found something interesting.

He had been staring at a cobweb in the upper-left corner of the room, watching a little brown spider manoeuvre around it with a sort of idle fascination. It was weirdly graceful, the way it sauntered back and forth along impossibly thin strands of clear silk, sometimes stopping to rub two long front legs together.

Sniper turned his head a little to look at his own arms. The huge black hooks reflected the neon brightness of the ceiling lamp with uncomfortable intensity and he winced, losing his grip a little and having to reshuffle his position on the ceiling of the Intel room.

Ungraceful. Sniper felt ashamed of the way he lurched from side to side as if there were currents dragging him this way and that; spindly metal limbs were no substitute for grace. He’d be the first one to tell anyone that he was royally pissed off at his current situation if only any of the daft wankers could actually understand a word he was garbling through a mouthful of metal. Spitefully he snapped his head around to take aim at the spider he had been watching quite contentedly moments before, suddenly hating the little creature for its ability to operate so many legs at once with practiced ease.

He hadn’t actually fired the rifle since it became a part of his permanent bone structure. At first he’d not been sure how to – he had no hands anymore, and the actual trigger was buried somewhere amongst the skin and bone and muscle of his jaw – but prodding around with his tongue and tensing sore joints in his face had revealed that clenching down hard on the right side of his jaw would set off the gun.

He had tried once, but the feeling of broken teeth digging into raw wet muscle and the warm hot red liquid flowing from the self-inflicted injury had made him stop prematurely.

Before he had chance to focus properly on the insect the door to the room below opened with a rusty clatter, bright lamps casting a long dark shadow as the figure entered with quick steps. Curiosity overrode his temper-tantrum and Sniper glanced down.

What he could see was himself. More accurately, himself as he was before he became a jumble of big black liquorice sticks and jelly; lanky, with thin legs and bony arms with two hands and ten fingers. He seemed to be scrabbling around the desk for something, shuffling papers and cursing in French. How peculiar.

Sniper couldn’t remember ever having learned the French language. Spy knew French, but Spy didn’t look like him... It certainly was a mystery. For the life of him he couldn’t fathom why there might be a doppelganger of his former self wandering around the base looking at pieces of paper. Interested, he slowly extended the legs from his right arm and dragged himself a little closer across the gritty grey-white ceiling. The plaster crumbled a little and the stranger below twitched nervously, glancing about. He seemed nervous.

Sniper thought back to the little brown spider on its web, tiptoeing back and forth and waiting for prey. Did spiders ever get tangled in each other’s webs? He wondered if there was a lot of cannibalism between spiders; he never claimed to be an expert on insects or anything. He wished he could ask one of the other BLUs if they knew.

He crawled a little further across the ancient plaster surface, but lack of concentration as his mind wandered caused him to lose his grip and he slipped, long black limbs flailing as he dropped like a rock, landing heavily on the desk below with a great shuddering bang. The stranger jumped back with a shocked yell, back thumping roughly against the wall behind him as transfixed eyes watched the wriggling mass of metal and flesh on the table struggling like a beetle turned onto its back, hissing and growling.

Sniper eventually managed to drag himself onto his stomach, but over-excited from the fall he swung too far, the right side of his face smashing painfully against the table; the impact struck his jaw, driving bone into muscle and squeezing the rifle trigger tucked uncomfortably between muscle and grit. The gunshot was startlingly loud through Sniper’s confused head, coupled with dizziness and the coppery taste of blood in his mouth; he didn’t even hear the stranger cry out as the bullet blasted through their hip.

The pain of the bullet wound did startle the RED spy into action though; the commotion seemed to have alerted others as he could hear footsteps rapidly approaching, though from which direction he couldn’t tell. Quickly he dropped the sniper disguise and ripped off his tie, holding the material to the oozing wound in his side as he cloaked and retreated.


DOOR


BLU base was like a haunted house. Hobbling down a corridor, the younger RED spy took in the sight of what looked like deep, twisted claw marks shredding through the grey metal walls. Splashes of dark red were here and there, where something that had been bleeding heavily seemed to have struck a few walls before eventually hitting the ground and dragging itself around the corner, leaving an ominous trail across the dirty ground. The only light was a flickering blue ceiling lamp, lighting up every few seconds to give the intruder another view of his surroundings.

Somewhere nearby the sound of radio static crackled into life and through the noise something shrieked words that were too distorted and high-pitched to be understood.

Spy was panicking. The pain in his hip was incredible; he could feel hot warm blood between his fingers and soaking his tie and his legs wobbled beneath him, ceiling above looming and swaying in his confused eyes like a flag. Important words like ‘escape’ and ‘run’ fluttered about in the top of his brain, but they were swatted away by a vision with spindly black legs like an enormous metal tarantula.

“Spah!” something somewhere shouted, and it took a moment for Spy to realise the voice had come from outside of his head. He shook himself awake; he was leaning heavily against a wall, bullet wound leaving a dark smear on the cold vertical surface. There were three doors that he could see and he lurched for the nearest, pushing it open and stumbling awkwardly down the unlit staircase inside.

He missed a few steps and had to scrabble pathetically at the rickety metal railings, breathing heavily. The part of his brain that still believed this was all a bad dream idly wondered if he was having some sort of panic attack. Amazingly he reached the bottom without falling, but before he could stop to breathe the sound of heavy footsteps drumming against stairs rattled above his head and he literally dived through the door beside him, kicking it closed after and immediately snapping closed the numerous locks on the inside.

He collapsed on the ground beside the door, breathing out heavily, eyes closed and tension melting. The feeling of walking on an injured joint had changed from a spike of pain to almost total numbness, pins and needles prodding into torn skin. He felt sore and exhausted and far from comfortable, but as an array of different footsteps could be heard gathering around the other side of the locked door he almost felt safe.

There was mumbling and muttering; he touched his ear to the cold metal door but couldn’t distinguish the words or voices, just that some were deeper or louder than others. Eventually he was startled a little when three sharp bangs rattled the door on its hinges.

“Come out of there!” It was shouted loudly, by a voice that sounded not only surprisingly human, but remarkably sane; almost tetchy, like an adult telling a child it was time for bed. Spy remained sitting, saying nothing.

Whatever it was knocked three more times, the noise echoing. “I said out! Are you stupid? Open the door!” At this volume Spy could detect a German accent to the voice. If their sniper was a giant spider he didn’t really care to see what their medic looked like.

He was contemplating actually shouting something back when there was a sudden burst of pain in his calf; crying out, both eyes snapped open and he pulled his knees to his chest, pressing his back to the door, suddenly alert.

There was a little silver scalpel buried in his leg, the sort of blade a doctor would use for more delicate work. Whatever had put it there had been completely silent and Spy cast a paranoid glance over his surroundings.

Through the gloom he could tell he was in some sort of workshop, much like Engineer’s back at RED base. He could barely make out the edges of all sorts of objects, machinery, surfaces and cupboards. Somewhere in the small cluttered space something hit the ground with a soft thud and Spy jumped.

It was difficult but he wrenched the blade from his leg and struggled to his feet, bracing himself against the wall. He looked thoughtfully at the door but ruled it out; he hadn’t heard the other BLUs move away, though they seemed to have fallen suddenly very quiet.

A nervous search around the doorframe revealed a little light-switch dusty with misuse; Spy flicked it and there was an immediate flash of light, a sparkle and a shatter and the room plunged immediately into darkness once again. The bulb had blown. “Merde...”


BUTTERFLY KNIFE


Whatever was inside the room with him would have to die before he did.

It was cramped, dark and dusty; simply looking for it was useless in this situation. Feeling around felt like a bad strategy if the enemy had more scalpels. The space was almost hauntingly silent, but for Spy’s unsteady footsteps as he shuffled a little further into the dark, revolver held in one shivering hand. He considered using his lighter as a torch, but the flame would be too small to really help; it’d make him more of a target, he decided, and he wanted a hand free just in case.

It was something of a fortunate decision as when he stopped temporarily beside a large table in the centre of the room there was a thud and then the sudden collision of something heavy striking his legs from the side. Bony hands scrabbled at his waist and Spy yelled, flailing to turn around on the ground and take aim with the revolver, kicking his legs out at whatever had caught him. His free hand grabbed at one of the thing’s arms and he almost recoiled at the feeling of bare, wet bone against his palm; so thin he felt as if he could squeeze it and feel it crunch between his fingers.

He fired three times into the darkness beneath the table and the thing retreated, making no audible noise but for the soft scraping of it dragging itself against the stone floor. Spy was breathless and sprawled uncomfortably against what felt like the side of a dispenser; he scrambled to his feet as quickly as possible, though to his horror his movement was becoming almost sluggish.

It had felt like a skeleton clawing at him; weak but determined fingers wriggling everywhere, jittery and made from sharp edges and tense skinny joints. Patches of his suit where it had touched felt damp and Spy didn’t want to check exactly what liquid it was.

Somewhere in the far corner of the room, something giggled. Spy impulsively raised his revolver in a flash and fired in the direction of the sound, listening as the bullet shattered through glass.

Bleach. That was what he could smell; it wasn’t overpowering, but now he’d detected it the scent was obvious. There were other faint smells too, but they were indefinable beneath the stronger bleach and Spy coughed, attempting the muffle the sound with his glove. Whatever it was chuckled again and instead of firing Spy clambered onto a nearby desk, not wanting to stay on the ground in case the thing snatched at him again. Paranoid, he checked his pockets – his cigarettes were still there, but to his horror his knife had gone.

He hardly had time to consider the loss before strong thin fingers suddenly grasped the back of his suit at the shoulders, tugging with unnatural strength to slam the back of Spy’s skull against the hard wood of the desk; the blow left him woozy and distorted and vulnerable, so confused that he felt disappointed when a blade slashed his hand holding the revolver, leaving a hot stripe of pain across the wrist. He completely lost his grasp on the weapon and it tumbled away – he didn’t hear it hit the ground.

The face looming over his was young, sunken eyes wide and hideously bright against the dark circles around them, glassy orbs on a too-small face made of gleaming white bone and bleach-burned skin. It was smiling, but Spy realised it didn’t have a choice; the flesh around its mouth had been scraped away, leaving two wonky rows of little white teeth set in bleeding gums. The cap perched on top the BLU scout’s head was an almost hilarious contrast to the dead-looking face.

Spy felt the cold metal of his own knife forced into the soft flesh below his left ear, felt hot, sick-smelling breath against his forehead as his throat was split apart like scissors sliding through paper; but he did not hold onto himself long enough to hear his attacker quietly wish him a happy birthday, otherwise he might have corrected them that his birthday was three months ago.
>> No. 136
HUMAN NATURE


‘I wish he’d never kissed me. He ruined me for any men who might follow him. No one could live up to that kiss. Delmarr is right. Good-looking, sought-after men like John Talbot cause little thrills all over town, only to check their watch one day and decide to settle down, and when they do...’

“I don’t believe you’re scheduled for a checkup today, Scout.”

Scout shrieked, the trashy paperback tumbling from his hands and landing on the scuffed wooden floorboards with a soft ‘thwap’. He couldn’t have felt less stealthy if he’d tried.

“Doc! I uh...” the younger man spun to face the medic and sheepishly scratched the back of his head, ears blushing bright pink. “I was just comin’ to see if ya’ seen Spy anywhere. That older spy’s lookin’ for him and... yeah...”

He awkwardly trailed off into silence, shoulders tensed and eyes facing anywhere but the man in front of him. He heard Medic chuckle.

“Yes, he was here himself not long ago. He’s asked you to help him?”

“Naw.” Scout dug his hands into his pockets, slouching a little dejectedly. “Dumbass said he didn’t want my help. Fuckin’ jerk.”

Medic hummed thoughtfully as he leaned over, delicately lifting the dropped book between his thumb and fingertips. He idly dusted the back of the cover with his palm. “Well I’m sure the younger spy would be thrilled to know you’re keeping the spirit of teamwork alive, Scout.”

“You bein’ sarcastic Doc?”

“Not at all,” The taller man smiled cheerfully, tapping the brim of Scout’s hat with the book. “It is good to see your mood improve after yesterday. Please, don’t let me hold you up from your search.”

Scout left quickly, still a little uncomfortable. He’d seen one of Medic’s novels lying open when he arrived and curiosity had gotten the better of him; it had been doing that a lot lately, actually.

Scout rubbed his eyes with his wrist. Ever since he found that dead pyro his head was a mess... Sleeping the first night had been difficult; every time he’d switched out the light in his room the pyro had been right there, hanging limply on his bedroom wall, staring him down like some hideous scarecrow. He’d spent the entire night switching the light on and off, berating himself for being such a girl, and had suffered the next morning with black smudges around his eyes. He could tell Engineer had been trying to distract him when he found him trying to clean his hands – he’d honestly forgotten that he’d only just washed them. Eight times? Really?

He probably looked pathetic. Was that why Spy had turned him down when he offered to help? Was the whole RED base whispering when he wasn’t there? He thought back to Medic’s comment about his mood and clenched his fists, speeding up a little. That must be it. Nobody was giving Pyro trouble about it, but Pyro had that mask; nobody could tell how he felt about anything. Everyone could see how disturbed Scout had been and he hated them for looking.

They’d been at it during the team meeting; sideways glances and nudging each other’s shoulders, coughing politely and trying not to let him overhear them. All they wanted to talk about was that cake the BLUs had left them – what, cake was more interesting than a dead guy now? When the fuck did they decide that?

Spy had pointed out to him that while it was possible that the pyro had been killed for any number of reasons – being thought to be a spy, turning against team mates, or being in the way of a particularly violent team mate – the slice of cake left at their door was much less explainable and thus much more worth discussing. Scout had left not long after, trying not to throw a tantrum.

Jingle jingle.

The cat was standing a couple of feet away, near the doorway that led to the stairs to the sewer. It was staring at Scout, the end of its tail swaying slowly back and forth. Scout glared at it.

“What?”

The cat meowed once - a rough-sounding meow, as if it had a sore throat – and turned away, scurrying off toward the stairs. Scout started.

“Hey dumbass, don’t go down there...”

The cat was not listening. It disappeared from Scout’s view, only the sound of jingling gradually fading as it descended the metal steps. Scout uncomfortably scratched the back of his neck, wondering.

The sewers were unpleasant and dark, even in daylight. He didn’t want to be down there in his current state of mind, but he didn’t particularly want the cat to go down there alone either. What if it drowned or something? Cats couldn’t swim right?

That same image popped up in his mind again; the pyro staring down at him from the wall, head sagging forward, depressed and defeated. Sniper had said there were things in the sewer. Scout didn’t want to go down there, he really didn’t.


CAT’S CURIOSITY


Scout was excited to see Kitty. He hadn’t seen him in so long.

He had a new appreciation for the little furry beast as it wove around his wrist, purring and nuzzling his thin fingers. He scratched beneath the narrow furry chin with a pointed fingernail and marvelled at the creature’s contented expression, eyes squeezed closed and ears flipped back. The soaked, matted fur was a calming sensation beneath a scarred palm and Scout found his throat rumbling too, a growly little sound that felt unnatural and he started, clutching at his chest. Kitty jolted with surprise and stared up at him.

He could feel his heartbeat through the soft fabric of his shirt; quick and powerful drumming within his chest, banging and shouting as if it were trying to break out. He shivered at the image and pulled his hand away, flexing the unnaturally long and pointed fingers in front of him.

On the ground in front of him Kitty meowed and Scout smiled, pulling himself up from his crouched position. He moved a lot faster than before and he stumbled a little, shoes squeaking against the wet ground. He gracelessly righted himself and chuckled, ears perking to listen as the sound echoed off tunnel walls.

There was that piece of the back of his mind that writhed and screamed for him to remember what he was doing before, but being reunited with his pet had cheered him up immensely. He leaned down and stroked along the feline’s back, grinning at the feel of the little spine twisting under his palm.

“Yo, dumbass! You down here?”

Both heads turned toward the disturbance, eyes wide and ears pointed. A stranger in a red shirt stood at the end of the tunnel, calf-deep in dirty water and holding a torch fearfully ahead, as if the beam of light would ward away danger. Scout watched curiously as they shone the torch this way and that, checking the water. Strange; what were they looking for?

“Hey! Stupid cat, where did you go...” they growled and took a few steps closer. Scout blinked down at Kitty. A cat? Had Kitty found a new owner? He surely hadn’t hidden that long...

The light was moving closer, and that frustrated urge to flee in the back of Scout’s mind made a sudden, desperate cry for attention; don’t let him see you! He’s a RED! In one fluid movement Scout crouched and leapt upward, clawed fingers neatly grabbing onto one of the broken ceiling lamps. He felt the chain of his dog tags against his face, the two little rectangles of metal clinking lightly together beneath his head.

The stranger was almost below him now; another scout, thin and tall and RED, even through the gloom his brilliant eyes could pick up the way they shivered and glanced all about. They looked scared and Scout smirked, pressing his stomach closer to the lamp above him as he thought mischievous and playful thoughts, trying not to pay too much attention to the still strange sensation of a tail flicking about at the base of his spine.

“Fuckin’ dumbass cat,” the RED scout grumbled as they knelt down beside Kitty, a pale human hand stretching out to pet the little animal as Scout just had. He watched the hand interestedly for a moment, intrigued by blunt little fingernails that probably couldn’t even rip through paper.

It was when the strange RED was about to take the little cat in his arms that Scout leapt down from the ceiling light, thudding against the other boy’s back with a loud yowl. The torch rolled away across the wet ground and Scout pounced after it, long sharp fingers scrabbling at the little metal cylinder as the RED yelled; if the loud splash at Scout’s back was anything to go by he was about to make a retreat.

Determined to give a good show Scout spun around; crouched over the torch on the ground he flexed his unnatural fingers and grinned in the beam of light, wet fangs and big yellow eyes glistening as he opened his mouth inhumanly wide and yowled, delighting at the feel of the broken skin at the corners of his jaw tearing under the strain of stretching.

The RED scout retreated, yelling something Scout couldn’t understand through the loud splashing of thin legs bounding through water. Scout watched him go, doubled over on the ground with a fit of raspy, hissing laughter.


CHARMING PROFESSIONAL


Medic pulled his hand back, tutting as he idly turned it about in the light, inspecting the fresh coat of warm red blood and thick, clear saliva on his fingertips.

It had a strange, disgusting texture that felt like warm jelly and lumpy milk as he rubbed his thumb and fingers together; it was nasty and vile but oh so intriguing and it made him want to plunge his bare hands into a bowl of the stuff and feel it, run it over his wrists and arms and watch great globules of the stuff roll across his pale skin. Sniper’s growl dragged him back down to the present before his imagination could carry him too far away.

BLU team’s sniper was looming directly in front of him, head pointed slightly sideways so the barrel of the rifle would not be an obstacle between them. He had come to Medic’s little surgery with a mouth wound that appeared to be from him firing the rifle for the first time – reaching a gloveless hand inside the other man’s mouth to check the extent of the damage had made Medic worry slightly for the safety of his fingers, but he’d promised that there would be a treat afterward for good behaviour. Medic was half-perched on a rickety metal bar-stool that swayed unsteadily on its long, thin legs whenever he moved.

“Good news,” he smiled cheerfully, standing and moving around his patient to walk toward a dirty little sink on the far wall, “I shan’t have to do any surgery on you today, Sniper. The injury is just due to you not being used to firing the weapon embedded in your skull. I suggest you just get used to it and your body will adapt.” The tap handle squeaked as he turned it and murky water spluttered into the little metal basin. hHe rubbed his hands together beneath the pathetic little trickle, blood and spit and filth disappearing gradually down the drain. Back in the centre of the room, Sniper growled moodily.

“You were hoping I would just sew it back together as good as new?” Medic smirked over his shoulder, watching with his good eye as Sniper spat an uncomfortable-looking amount of blood and phlegm onto the already stained ground. “If I fixed it you would only break it again. It will be interesting to see if your body can still adapt this way.”

He dried his hands on a dirty cloth beside the sink and moved again, this time toward a stack of metal drawers in the corner. He gave Sniper’s shoulder a friendly little pat as he passed by, saying, “I am proud of you. A team has no use for a sniper who won’t fire a gun. You’ve earned a treat.”

The drawer he opened was the third from the top and inside was a fantastic array of coloured plastic wrapping with entertaining little characters printed onto the sides, large silver syringes rolling freely around amongst tiny paper bags and little tin boxes; a stash of sharp silver needles and all manner of delicious candy treats. Medic dug around inside for a minute (carefully avoiding the sharper objects) until eventually producing a little white paper bag about the size of his palm. The label read “LEMON SHERBET”.

Sniper watched intently as he retook his seat in front of his monstrosity of a teammate, delicately tugging open the little bag with faintly quivering fingers. It was half-filled with yellow sugary powder; the intention was probably to scoop it out using a spoon or lollipop. Medic was familiar with the situation and ripped carefully down the sides of the bag, making sure not to spill any of the delicious treasure inside.

He spread the paper open in his hand, letting the little pile of yellow sugar sit in the centre of his palm. It occurred to him that should he cough or sneeze in this situation there would be sherbet everywhere. Trying not to think about it, he held his hand out to Sniper.

Medic had once seen someone letting a pigeon eat breadcrumbs from around their ankles. He’d marvelled a little at how the bird appeared to be so stupid that it didn’t realise the man feeding it could easily have stamped down on it without a second thought. He wondered idly if the man that day felt a little as he did now as broken teeth and metal brushed carefully along his palm, his teammate’s half-shredded tongue licking up grains of sugar from between his fingers, leaving a trail of thick saliva that he’d have to wash away just like the last.

Sniper had no hands anymore; just those huge metal spider legs that Medic had requested Engineer create. The lemon sherbet kept him willing to follow Medic’s orders, but without giving him some sort of feeding bowl like an animal, there really wasn’t another obvious alternative way to administer the treat to him. Medic didn’t mind; he enjoyed the feeling of sick, oozing gums touching briefly against his fingers, and the long strings of spit that Sniper left behind – he’d turn his hand over and watch the clear fluid drip heavily to the ground with unhealthy fascination.

Not only that, but the current position gave Medic a perfect view of the side of the other man’s neck; warm tanned skin pulled tight over neck muscles that made him want to grab every syringe he owned and jam them straight in, to watch the blood drain from the healthy flesh until it gradually faded to dull grey, to press his thumb against the cold dead surface and admire the print left behind as if it were made of wax. Often the man would find himself zoning out and only returning to his senses long after Sniper had already left.

He had been pondering the possibility of adding scalpels to his little daydream when the sound of heavy footsteps descending the stairs to his surgery jolted him back to earth. Engineer was in the doorway, a scrawny figure draped across his arms. Medic’s eyebrows furrowed.

“Engineer. I see you managed to get back into your workshop then.”

The last Medic had seen of Engineer’s workshop was the door slamming closed behind the back of a RED spy. He’d attempted to convince them to give up, to at least get some use out of the intruder, but their little abomination of a scout had snatched the opportunity away.

Engineer shuffled uncomfortably and the scout in his arms hissed, one thin arm flailing weakly. “Scout’s been shot a couple times in the leg, Doc. I’d... I’d appreciate it if you healed him up.”

Medic let out a short, sharp bark of laughter, pulling his hand back as Sniper devoured the last trace of sherbet. “You are joking. That’s very amusing Engineer.”

“I’m serious Doc,” he sounded it too, carefully setting Scout down to lean against the wall – Scout was grinning in that same haunted way as he always did. “His legs don’t got any paddin’ anymore. He can’t even walk like this. It’d be nice of ya to at least bandage it up and give ‘im some painkill-“


DEAD THING


Engineer was forced to dodge aside as a bone saw sailed past his head, clattering loudly against the doorframe behind him before eventually hitting the ground. The small shivering Scout beside him watched it with wide eyes, giggling stupidly to himself.

Medic was an intimidating sight; the man was pale, with a thin face and black hair that had begun to grow a little too long, black strands like little rats’ tails plastered to his forehead. The one remaining eye was wide and angry, glaring directly at Engineer as he marched intently closer. Sniper watched from the background with what seemed like interest.

Medic loomed over the shorter engineer; this close, Engineer had a disturbingly detailed view of the squeaky cat-toy jammed into the man’s other eye socket, a sore mass of matted fake fur and blood and goo that would probably still squeak if he were to punch it. He didn’t feel inclined to try.

“You are wasting my time, Engineer,” the taller man hissed, ducking slightly to be eye-to-eye, “this is a very poor joke.”

“I ain’t joking,” he replied bravely, trying not to stare too hard at all the wrong places, “you’re our medic. You’re meant to heal team members!”

“Team members?” Medic practically roared, and in one sharp motion he lunged and grabbed the front of Scout’s ruined shirt, dragging the smaller figure between Engineer and himself. “This? This is not a team member. This is a waste of my time!” Furious, he threw the younger man roughly to the ground and pointed a bony finger toward him, still glaring at Engineer.

“This is a dead thing. Dead things should be studied, burned, or buried. Since you will not let me pull this one apart so it is at least of some use to the team, I suggest you do either of my other suggestions and leave me to heal those who will actually benefit from treatment!”

“How can he be dead if he’s still talkin’?” Engineer shouted back, red in the face; this argument had been a long time coming. Both Medic and Engineer turned their heads to stare at the bony figure sprawled on the ground – Scout grinned vacantly up at them. Medic raised the eyebrow that was over his still functioning eye.

“This is nonsense, Engineer. Even if the thing could talk, its track record from when it was still a functioning body is not a good one. My guess is that were the ability to talk gifted to it, it would only use it to tell ridiculous lies.”

“It’s your fault he’s like this!” Engineer yelled, snatching the front of Medic’s jacket in his hands. The sharp metal instruments in his fingertips shredded through the cloth as he gripped it and Medic stared, a little surprised at the outburst. Engineer was not usually one for violent confrontation.

“He was a liar, and a bad team player.” Medic said slowly, hands landing heavily on Engineer’s forearms and giving them an encouraging little squeeze. “He brought this on himself. You really mustn’t clutch at things that can’t be saved.”

Scout watched them interestedly from his place on the ground, not blinking once. Engineer bit his lip and squeezed his eyes closed behind the goggles, inhaling deeply through his nose as if struggling physically to process what Medic was saying. Medic gave his arms another squeeze.

“...Would some toffee help?”

“No, Doc.” Engineer sighed as he pulled his arms back, sharp metal fingers cutting through the now frayed material and thread on Medic’s chest when he untangled them. With a great degree of care he leaned down and slipped his hands beneath the still figure of Scout, lifting it up and tugging it protectively to his chest. Scout’s head rolled backwards against the man’s arm and he grinned up at Medic, wide eyes shining in the light.

“I cannot stop you keeping that thing,” Medic warned fairly, “but do not bring it down here and pretend it is my problem. I am not here to patch up your little dolls, Engineer.”

“That’s fair enough Doc.” Engineer’s voice was flat and defeated, gradually becoming quieter as he left the room. The last Medic saw before the door swung closed was Scout’s cap peeking out from behind the man’s shoulder.
>> No. 1366
This is quite interesting. I would like to see it continued.
>> No. 1385
Oh, you. Continue this please.
>> No. 1388
Thirding the request for continuation.
>> No. 1389
judging by the fact this person no longer updates they're y!gal account I don't think this will continue. Shame, too. :c


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