Jack Morrison shook his head, tried to clear it up. Mornings were hard - a lot harder than they used to be, and he didn't know why. He just knew he didn't like it. He'd always been a morning person, even back in the Army.
He did a quick set of forty pushups, quietly, twenty each arm, try to get the ol' blood moving, and it helped. He still felt out of joint, but these days, he always felt a little out of joint. Had ever since the bombing, back in '70. But everybody would feel a little out of joint after that. He didn't even remember how he got out of the complex, but he got out alive - and that's what mattered.
«Morning,» he growled to the small Los Muertos stakeout team in the front room of the small apartment. Araceli waved and Leticia nodded, her combat helmet tipping in his direction as he started some coffee.
«I just made that pot you threw out, gringo», Leticia grunted back at him. «Why you always wasting my good coffee?»
Morrison snorted. «Because I make actual coffee, the kind you drink, not eat.»
«You make tinted water.» She shook her head, but with a little smile. «Americans.»
«Yeah, yeah,» he groused, amicably.
Araceli patted Leticia's shoulder. «Now that the white ghost is awake, I'm taking my turn.»
Leticia nodded. «Get some rest.»
The steamer finished its work, and Morrison drew a cup of the brew. Not bad. Leticia wasn't wrong about it being good coffee. «I'll buy you some more beans later, make up for it. Anything new on our friends outside?»
«Nah, it's all nice and quiet.»
Morrison settled in for the first half of his stakeout shift. He didn't really like working with Los Muertos, but with his history, well, he took what he could get. And Leticia - she had chops. He could respect that. Araceli's just another street rat, no discipline, but Leticia - he could turn her into a proper soldier, if he had time.
«Oh, hey,» she said, «Get out your padd, there's been another show with your old band.»
«What?» growled the former strike commander.
«Something in Vietnam? Maybe in China, I forget. There's pictures this time.»
Morrison almost snarled. «Goddamned Lena Oxton and her so-called Overwatch, what the hell does she think she's doing, pretending to run my organisation...» He found a video taken live on the scene, saving a freighter and crew from a large pirate gang operating around the edges of the south China sea, one armed with a strange new weapon that froze everything it touched. They just want that freeze ray back, they don't give a damn about those sailors...
He watched the video, as the self-proclaimed Overwatch jumped in, with good power, if not in the best of order. Oxton wasn't there, he noted, and the resulting mess lived down to the worst of everything he expected out of a band of wannabe heroes with no god damned sense of discipline. Overwhelming power saved it from being a fiasco, but the sloppiness enraged the soldier, in his mind disgracing the name of Overwatch and everything I built...
«Huh?» said Leticia, startled, looking to her right. «Hey, spooky, where'd you go?»
«I'm right here,» he said from her left, where he just barely stopped himself from punching a hole into the wall.
«Fuck, you can be creepy quiet sometimes, you know that?»
«Part of the training.» He sat back down where he should've been, and shook his head. Discipline, soldier, he thought to himself. One mission at a time.
Leticia sulked at the building down the street. How long can it take to prep a shipment of stolen processors, anyway? Hurry the fuck up and move out so we can steal them back from you, she thought. «We've been here three days! I wish these idiots would get going.»
«Me, too» said Jack Morrison, settling down for another day of hurrying up to wait. «Me, too.»
The sniper round flashed by Jack Morrison's ear, nipping flesh, as he ran zig-zag through the warehouse district. God damn that woman, he thought as blood ran down the side of his face, and he spun around, launching a grenade towards the perch he knew she had to have. His reward was another round by his other ear - but it wasn't a good shot. He'd knocked her down, and that confirmed it.
The shipment had been real. The security had been expected. The sniper waiting for them, though - that had been a surprise.
Sprinting to the left and down an alley, the old soldier charged forward and found Leticia, in a zig-zag run from the other direction. «Spooky?!» she shouted, surprised. «You're still alive!? I thought they got you back in the...»
«No time,» he grunted, wiping the blood from his face with a rag from his pocket. «Join up with me. Where's Ara?»
The street fighter looked confused. «I thought she went with you.»
«Didn't see her.»
«Huh... She must've headed north,» Leticia decided. «Taking the long way home. For us, there's a sewer access two blocks ahead my way, if we can make it.»
Morrison spun around. I really could make her a soldier, he thought, and said, «I shook the sniper out of her nest, we have a window. Let's go.»
They ran, dodging between gates and down tiny side paths. Morrison thought he heard a ricochet, but he couldn't be sure, not completely, not until they could see the access down the end of a narrow walkway, when he looked back just in time to see the glint off a scope. «Get down!» he shouted, and dove behind a skip.
Leticia dove beside him, rolling, aikido-like, to his side, as a bullet ricocheted, grazing her arm. «Jesus! Who the hell is shooting at us? The Maras don't have anybody this good!»
«I'm not sure, but I've got a pretty solid guess. How long will it take to get that door open?» Another round, bounced by the shooter off a wall, whizzed behind them. Given a smoother surface to bounce off of, it would've hit.
«No time at all, I broke the lock when we first got here.»
«Smart. I've made her, and she wants me, you're just collateral damage. I'll lay down suppressing fire, you go for the door. Get it open, get inside, then aim where I was aiming, and I'll dive for it.»
The Los Muertos fighter nodded, and bolted, as Jack sent a flurry of bullets towards the sniper. In a single long, jagged sprint, she reached the access door and threw it open, diving inside, then spun around from the shelter and threw a full clip towards the same spot Jack had sprayed with bullets. A moment later, he was beside her, slamming the door shut as a bullet made a large, angry dent directly in front of her eyes.
«Keep your head down,» he said, smirking, «or lose it.»
«Hooooooooooo...» Leticia breathed out, slowly. «How?»
«There's only one sniper in the world that good,» said the soldier. He bolted the door from the inside and broke the mechanism, wedging it in place, as Leticia motioned down one of the access tunnels.
«If she follows us down here, I have a lot of surprises ready. Keep your hand on the left wall, it's important.»
Morrison shook his head, no. «She wouldn't risk a tunnel. Night vision's not so good since I took one of her eyes.»
«Wait, you know her?» Leticia asked, as she led the way through the foul air.
«We're old friends,» came the soldier's voice from the darkening gloom.
«Some friend,» replied the fighter in the darkness, «trying to kill you.»
A snort from the soldier. «She's been trying to kill me for six years. At this point, I think it's her way of flirting with me.»
«You are messed up, Spooky, you know that?»
«You have no idea.»
The MS-13 grunt poked at the body with her rifle. Los Muertos, she thought, from the arm tattoos. I wonder who? She rolled the corpse over, careful to avoid the blood.
"¡No mames!" she exclaimed. A section of the body - the left side of the head and neck, and part of the shoulder - was simply gone, cut cleanly away, as if sliced neatly off a wax sculpture of a woman.
One of the other guards - Samuel - came over to check the corpse. "¿Qué pedo?"
«Hey, Sam,» asked the grunt. «What kind of gun does this?»