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Basketful

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She was careless again.

Day in and day out, Satya had spent countless hours writing and scrapping blueprints on new designs and testing out prototypes to submit to the higher ups. She spent most of her time in the workshop, sometimes going a day or so without sleep. On the occasions that she did return to her quarters, she was far too exhausted to think about anything else she had to do, most specifically keeping her living area tidy.

She surveyed the room, sighing at the ever growing pile of clothes in need of a washing. Over the past several weeks, she had been mindlessly tossing her clothes onto a chair or her bed, never bothering to go to Vishkar’s communal laundry room. She didn't think much of the poor habit until today when she noticed that she was running out of options for clean clothes. She refused to slip back into something she had already worn, especially since some of these had been worn for two or three days straight. The idea of the body odor and sweat the clothes probably had was enough to get her to write laundry down as a high priority on her to do list.

Pushing everything into a basket, she figured she could take a shower and then head to the laundry room in the next thirty minutes or so. It was still relatively early in the morning, so she doubted anyone else would be down there. She shed the outfit she had on, dropping it in with the others, before going into her bathroom to clean herself up. The feeling of warm water against her skin and soap washing away the mundane filth always improved her mood.

Feeling refreshed, she wrapped herself up in a fluffy, blue towel and stepped back into her room. She checked the closet and huffed when she saw it was pretty bare, only shoes laid out neatly in a row. She could have sworn she had at least one dress left, but looking back at her laundry basket proved otherwise.

No matter, she told herself, there’s always the dresser.

Unfortunately, the dresser had also been picked over. Every drawer she had was relatively empty with the exception of a few pairs of underwear or socks. She was really starting to regret her decision to keep most of her belongings in the Vishkar headquarters back in India, and she had yet to tweak her teleporter to carry a person over that far of a distance. When she opened the bottom drawer, she leaned her head on the dresser and groaned. She had nearly forgotten why she typically kept this one closed at all times. With nothing else in it, there was a single T-shirt with the words Synaesthesia Auditiva in bold across it. In the middle of the shirt, a highly recognizable frog with yellow headphones smiled passive aggressively at her.

She pulled out the shirt out and held it up. It was big enough to wear as a dress, but there was no way she could wear this to walk anywhere on Vishkar’s floors. She couldn't remember the exact date, only that it was at least a couple of months ago, but at one point, the annoying street urchin and his rag tag misfits had made the idea of darting around in roller skates and launching the shirts with T-shirt cannons on the outside of the building. At the time, she had been standing near the entrance, highly displeased, but the second he locked eyes with her, he grinned and yelled “Heads up, Vishkar!” as he shot one at her. Instinctively, she had caught it but failed to discard it after the fiasco was over. In fact, the moment she realized it was still in her hands when she went to her room, she had immediately shoved it in the dresser to deal with it on a later day. Of course, the day never came because it was here in her hands again months later.

Warily, she glanced at the door as if someone would burst into the room and arrest her for treason for having something that supported the enemy. If there really wasn't any other choice, she’d have to go to a launderette in town instead to avoid any possible peering eyes. Dropping the towel, she reluctantly tugged the shirt over her head and pulled her arms though the sleeves. As she thought, it was oversized and came down to her mid thigh. It would have to do for now.

Satya decided the best route would be using a teleporter to connect to the outdoor hub. At least she could sneak out and find a local place to wash her clothes then head back before anyone knew she left. Even if they did check the log for who had departed, her record and status would keep her from being questioned. Easily crafting a teleporter out of pure light, she grabbed a bag and her basket before poking her head out to scout. Luckily, there was no employees around and the guards weren't at their posts yet. As quickly as she could, she swiftly walked through and headed down the street.

From what she recalled, there was a humble launderette near the center of town. Departing from the Vishkar building, it’d take at least a ten minute walk, if that. As she made her way down, she thinned her lips and held her breath anytime she saw a citizen. The people here hated Vishkar despite their promises of giving them a better life; however, she started to realize that no one gave her a passing glance, even with her basket full of clothes. She looked down at her shirt and thought that maybe dressing so casually prevented anyone from recognizing her. Knowing this, she relaxed a little and eventually made it to her destination.

Opening the door, she was glad to see that no one was in at this time. Relieved, she went to the table in the middle, started separating her clothes, putting them in different washing machines to cut the amount of time she was there. Despite the emptiness in the store, the gentle hum of the machines was satisfying to her ears, but the sound of her growling stomach interrupted. Breakfast wouldn't be served for two more hours back at Vishkar, so she settled for the dinky vending machine here to give her something to hold her over. Most of the selection was typical section you'd see anywhere with the occasional snacks she had never seen. Playing it safe, she bought a bag of plain chips and crouched down to pull it out of the bottom. She felt someone looking her way, but since she was by the door, she figured it was just another customer. She wasn't exactly prepared to see Lucio outside the glass when she turned her head.

Clearly, both parties were extremely shocked to see one another here of all places, but his gaze went down to her shirt. Immediately, she put a hand to her chest but it was too late, he had already seen what she was wearing. A wide smirk tugged at his lips, and she wanted to scream. To her dismay, he opened the laundromat’s door, waving off to a group of friends who were waiting for him several paces away. “I’ll catch up with you guys later!”

Feeling the hairs on the back of her neck prickle her skin, she could only hold grip onto her chips as if that would save her. This was the closest she had ever been to him, far too much for comfort. She wasn’t sure what to even say or how to react. Here, she was vulnerable without proper equipment or time to prepare.

“You kept the shirt.”


The statement was simple, showing no signs of animosity nor joy. Either way, she felt incredibly flustered at being caught wearing it. She squeezed the bag until it popped, startling her. “I… simply had nothing else to wear! I forgot that it was in my possession, and it certainly was not my intention to keep it!”

“Yeah, but you still kept it.” He crouched down to her level and grinned, taking one of her chips for himself. “You know, you’re not that intimidating when you’re dressed down. You look just like anyone else; I almost didn't recognize you.”

She felt her cheeks get warm. This was humiliating, and he was just dragging on the torture by being here. “Do you not have anything better to do?” she muttered, “Won’t your friends be upset you are speaking to me?”

“Huh…” Lucio looked up with his hand on his chin, thinking for a moment. “Nah they’ll probably get a kick out of hearing about this. What are you even doing here? Don’t tell me you actually walked all the way here just so no one at Vishkar saw you in this.” He laughed at the idea of it, but when he saw that she remained quiet and avoided his gaze, he starting wheezing trying to catch his breath.

“If you are done mocking me, you can leave.”

He wiped his eyes with a smile. “Aw c’mon, don’t be like that. We’re on neutral ground, aren’t we? Besides, it’s not like you can report me to anyone looking like that,” he said, pointing to the shirt. He didn’t look at all concerned about this meeting whatsoever.


“I… suppose….” Satya hated to admit it, but he was right. Even if she wanted to alert anyone of his whereabouts, she’d have to explain the reason why she was wearing his shirt in the first place. She’d rather avoid any situation like that entirely.

“A temporary truce it is,” Lucio firmly said, holding out a hand for her to shake. He didn't look too bothered when she scrutinized it before slipping her slender hand in his. Her hand was smooth as if she moisturized religiously while his was a little rough from calluses. He had a feeling she was one of those clean freaks, one of the reasons he had been surprised to see her in this rundown old place.

“Fine.” She got to her feet, trying to ignore the growing rumbling of her stomach. She quickly started eating some of her chips, hoping he wouldn't say anything about it, and went back to check on her load of laundry. She still had time to kill before she could start drying them.

He looked at the vending machine and then back at her. “Did you not eat breakfast yet? Can’t tell me that’s all you’re gonna eat, or do you Vishkar folk eat light?” He asked, still standing by the door.

“If you must know, we are not served until 9am. I am currently off schedule being up and out so early,” she said, idly watching the timer. She’d still have a good amount of time here while the clothes washed, but she didn't want to leave them unattended.

“9? Isn’t that kinda late for a morning meal? All right, be right back then! Don’t go anywhere,” he said over his shoulder and running out.

She wasn’t exactly sure what his intentions were, but his friendly, carefree attitude, while kind of annoying at seven in the morning, wasn't exactly unpleasant. It was a stark difference to how he was addressed back at work. There, he was only mentioned in whispers, treated like a boogeyman who terrorized and destroyed any progress they made. When she first heard about him, she expected a cold blooded manic, larger than life. She remembered the time she actually spotted him in one of his weekly raids, she was shocked that he was a lot shorter than her. He looked soft and kind compared to every previous thought she had of him. After that, she ended up seeing him more often with his various escapades. Just how was it that he came to be a leader of his so called revolution?

Moments later, he came back with a brown paper bag and from the smell of it, he had visited a local bakery. Her mouth watered, but she kept her composure. “Wasn’t so sure what you wanted, but everything’s good there anyways, promise.” He handed it to her, filled with a couple of freshly made Pão francês. From his pocket, he pulled out a bottle of orange juice and set it down on the counter for her. “And don't worry, it’s on the house.”

“Why are you being so hospitable to me? Not that I am ungrateful, but a truce hardly means you are required to feed me.” She said, though she readily accepted it from him anyways. The bag of chips was nothing in comparison to feeling of warm, buttery bread in the morning.

He shrugged, “Just how I was raised. Everybody eats, y’know? Even if you’re Vishkar.”

“My name is Satya.” She wasn’t sure why she told him her real name, but she hardly wanted to be called Vishkar for the rest of this conversation.

“Satya? Hm… Satya, Satya…” Lucio said her name aloud, listening to the way it sounded on his tongue before pulling himself up to sit on one of the washers. He put his hands on his knees and sighed. “Well, Satya, I wanna tell you this. It’s my dream to be a DJ. Wanna make it big and let the whole world hear my words and music, and not only that, but I want to give back to my people. Make sure no one goes hungry and everyone’s happy. I’ve been working really hard to put music together, so one day it’ll all become a reality. Nothing final yet, but I know for sure what I’m naming the album when it’s ready to drop. The same name on your shirt if you were wondering.”

It threw her off to hear him bring this up so suddenly, but she wanted to see where he was going with this. Even though they should be sworn enemies, she was intrigued by his desire for making things better for his home. Against her better judgement, she didn't try to argue that Vishkar was trying doing the same. “You wanted to tell me this?”

“To be honest, you’re one of the people I’ve been wanting to talk to for a long time. Out of everyone in Vishkar, you’re the only one that makes eye contact with me. Maybe I’m making something out of nothing, but it always felt like you actually considered me as a, I dunno, person instead of a faceless enemy slapped on propaganda posters if that makes sense. It just made me realize that one of the biggest parts of my dream is for someone like you to really listen to what I have to say and be inspired to have a change of heart.”

“Is this your way of saying you hope I abandon Vishkar’s ideals to favor yours? I hope you know I would never.”

“You say that now, but one day, I’ll have you wearing that shirt on your own accord. Maybe not any time soon, but you can bet I’m gonna keep striving to better myself for that day,” he confidently said as he hopped down from the washing machine and headed for the door. “Truce is over when I leave, but if you ever ditch that company, come find me. I’ll take you out for lunch sometime, Satya.”


 

 

She had made a mistake.

Amongst the sea of people screaming and chanting, she felt overwhelmed and had to activate her soundproof headset just to tolerate her surrounding. Even then, the warmth of so many bodies together in one room, dancing and bumping into each other, made her want to leave. On more than one occasion, she asked herself, why was she even here? Why couldn't she just go back and forget some silly thing from the past?

It had been a year since the fall of Vishkar. The people of Rio refused to be oppressed by the regulations that the company had placed on them, and with their brave leader Lucio Correia dos Santos, they were able to drive them out of the country. Soon after, files about their unethical practices were mysteriously leaked by an employee not named in the news articles, and the company was shut down for good. Several Vishkar members were displaced and fled to find new jobs or returned home, some were arrested for their involvements.

As for Satya, she never took up the moniker or the uniform for Symmetra again after that day. Instead, she had chosen to remain in Rio. She spent her days supporting local charities, and taking up volunteer work, doing whatever she could to help. However, she hadn’t seen Lucio since he rose up to defeat Vishkar once and for all. He had gone on to become the very thing of his dreams: The DJ who protected his home and inspired the world.

His world tour was ending tonight, and for old times sake, he was holding it here in Brazil. People came for miles and all four corners of the globe just to see him, the venue jam packed with thousands still outside its walls. There were giant screens everywhere and cameras recording live, so no one would miss the final show for Synaesthesia Auditiva. Satya was lucky enough just to have gotten anywhere inside, close enough to see the stage but still too far to touch it.


Watching him express his feelings through his music to the crowds was surreal. The energy of the performance touched the hearts of everyone in the room, the beat thundering and uniting them as one. Eons of pure, hard work and dedication poured over the fans giving them motivation to fight on. The show was certainly the best finale the world had seen in some time, and when it was all over, she felt a little cold. The lights dimmed, and Lucio waved his goodbyes to the audience, thanking them for their support and love.

She was a little disappointed, hoping that by some fate, he’d see her in the swarm. Perhaps that was wishful thinking, but at least she had been able to see him perform. That much she was grateful for. As she turned to leave, a familiar child weaved through crowd to grab her sleeve. The little girl was the same one from the fire, her face still scarred from that day.

“Miss, are you lost? You’re supposed to come this way,” the child directed, pointing to a different direction than most people were going, blocked off by large men in black suits and sunglasses in front of velvet rope. Somewhere back there, Lucio was probably resting and being congratulated for a job well done or signing things for fans. Whatever it was that celebrities did.

“I am…?”

“You are Satya, aren’t you? I was told that if I saw you that I should bring you over,” she explained, taking her hand and leading her just as she had months ago. “I remember you, so I knew I’d be able to find you better than anyone else. C’mon, this way!”

A little surprised, she could do nothing more than to follow along, nodding to a bouncer that let the two into the back. Did this mean Lucio had seen her? Realistically, he hadn't and just made it a point that if anyone saw her, to bring her over to him. No matter what, it made her a bit happy that he’d even think to do so. The hallways never seemed to end, and she had to pinch her cheek just to make sure it wasn't a dream.

“He’ll be right out. I’m glad you could come by the way, I wanted to thank you for saving me last year. You really are a good person, just like he said,” she stated, skirting off before Satya could ask anything else. She didn't even get the child’s name, but seeing her in good spirits was all she needed.

Now alone, she stood outside of his dressing room, feeling like it was just yesterday that they had been chatting together in an old launderette. How times had changed. She wondered if it was really okay to be seeing him like this. She smoothed out her hair, suddenly conscious about if she was presentable enough.


“Satya?”

His voice startled her. She whirled around and saw him standing there with that same smile she had come to cherish, and her worries eased away. She had seen his face in magazines, posters, television, everywhere, and every time she felt a sense of joy, knowing he was still out there accomplishing every goal he set for himself. None of it was better than seeing him in person, of course.

He was quick to run up and pull her in for a hug, squeezing her tightly. “I knew you’d come one day,” he eagerly said before holding her at arms length. He looked down at what she was wearing.

“You kept the shirt.”

She sheepishly laughed. The shirt had seen better days, well worn and loved. “So I did, Lucio.”

“I always knew you looked great in green.”