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The Armourer and the Living Weapon

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"Akande has been moving between safehouses," Moira said, handing out her usual set of disposable PADDs inside the back of the cargo train heading west. "And tracking him had become... difficult. But one of his agents has seen the writing on the wall, and become one of my agents. She informs me that he arrived in London last night."

"London?" Lena asked, surprised. "...why?"

"Each hop has been large, and all landing points have been at least 2,000km from Oasis - but does his selection system matter? What matters is that we know where."

"Right." She looked at the map, as did Oilliphéist and Widowmaker.

"The site of one of my finest kills..." Widowmaker breathed. "And... the first place I felt something," she continued, gold eyes flashing to Tracer's copper.

"...you're kidding, mate," Tracer said, looking up to Moira. "Seriously?"

The doctor shrugged. "It was not my choice that he waltzed in to easy range. I presume Maximilian's contacts in the Underground were involved."

"Down in the Underground," Oilliphéist hummed to herself, pleasantly. "Guess y'won't need to memorise this map, either of you!"

"Nope," Lena said, flipping past it, to pages of data. "17th floor, hardened suite, one completely bulletproof window access, one internal door access, one panic room with one hidden escape route - I guess we'll be goin' in through there?"

"That is the plan." She checked the time. "We'll have a short layover in Glasgow in another ten minutes. Take advantage of it, if you need to; there are no stops on the high-speed rail south."

-----

"Winston," Athena chimed, over comms. "Lena's PADD is now on a nonstop high-speed express cargo rail line, to London."

A second change, he thought. Akande can't be in London, can he? Surely, not. A good place to intercept them, then. "Thank you, Athena. Inform Gibraltar, and see how close you can get us to their arrival point. We'll try to intercept them there."

"Acknowledged."

Fareeha looked to Morrison, who had brought up a map on his padd, found the location, and started setting out defensive positions. "Good," she said. "Let's get this figured out now."

"Stay on the ground, Ree," Angela reminded her. "This is not supposed to be a confrontation."

"Exactly," Winston agreed. "And if I can raise her, she's going to know we're there. The last thing we can afford now is to surprise her."

"Good call," Morrison replied, glancing up. "There've been too many of those already."

"Athena," he said, bringing up a full keyboard, "emergency text channel on Lena's PADD to this keyboard, please. No audio, no visual, unless she requests it."

"Acknowledged. Text switched to your keyboard."

WINSTON> Lena, this is Winston. You left your PADD on keepalive. I'm hoping that's on purpose. Please talk to me.

On a train speeding southbound from Glasgow, Lena Oxton felt her bag vibrate, the smallest amount. If she'd not been leaning on it, she'd've just thought it was part of the ride, but she was, and she knew it wasn't. Buggery hell, she thought. I didn't kill the battery.

She glanced at Widowmaker, and beyond her, at Oilliphéist, and shifted a little amongst the cargo, hiding a little more completely from Moira, deep in thought. She reached into her bag and dug around. "Anyone else want a snack?" she asked, turning to her lover, flicking her gaze up to Widowmaker's eyes, and down to the PADD, its message now visible through the top of the opened bag.

"No, thank you," said Moira, looking back down to her data. "Those protein bars of yours are terrible. I should find you a better substitute, later."

"I might have a bite of yours," her lover said, nodding, glancing down at the padd, and back up.

"Em?" she said, repeating the glance exchange.

"Not right now," Oilliphéist replied. "But don't let that stop you."

"I won't!" She pulled the padd out with the protein bar, the sound of movement lost in the noise of travel."

TRACER> fuck me

TRACER> it wasn't

She opened the wrapper, peeling it just past the end of the bar, and did not turn the PADD off.

TRACER> two minutes go

WINSTON> We've been tracking the PADD, we know you're headed towards London. I just want to talk when you get there. That's _all_.

TRACER> you're not separating us

WINSTON> No. We're not. I promise.

TRACER> who?

WINSTON> I wanted to come alone; Fareeha and Jack insisted on backup. It's me, Morrison, Fareeha, which means Angela too.

TRACER> doc doesn't touch any of us got it?

WINSTON> I understand. They'll stay far back. I'll be the one who meets you. You can bring Emily and Danielle, if you want, whatever makes you feel safe.

I haven't been back to London since, since... the Hoof and Haunch, she thought. Didn't go well that time... She glanced over to Oilliphéist. Or maybe... it kind of did.

TRACER> you, me, everybody else stays way back, i mean it. deal?

WINSTON> Deal.

TRACER> next contact after arrival. powering down.

Tracer shut down the PADD - this time, including the battery - and Widowmaker nodded. "A bite?"

"'Course, love," she said, offering Widowmaker the last piece, as she slipped the wrapper - and the PADD - back into her bag. "Always."

Back on the Sparrowhawk, Angela read the text, her lips sucked in. "She's so afraid of me, now," she breathed, as Fareeha squeezed her hand. "I, I, I don't know what else I could've done..."

"It's not your fault," Winston comforted, speaking quietly. "It's Moira's."

"The important thing is that she's willing to meet," Fareeha said, firmly.

"Agreed," Morrison said. "She didn't even insist on no backup. I think we can still reach her."

"I'm sure of it," said Winston, firmly. "I'm absolutely sure."

-----

"I have Morrison, at distance, confirmed," Widowmaker said over comms, voice impassive, from high atop a building overlooking the north entrance to the power plant. They'd gone ahead - in theory to do a preliminary survey of the facility in the early winter evening. Moira waited back at their improved base camp, nearer the strike site.

"I have Pharah and Mercy," Oilliphéist added. "Well back, as promised."

"Moving in," Tracer replied. "I see him - he's at a table outside Jamie's, just like he said."

It's just Winston, she thought, nerves jangling, as she walked quickly along the pedestrian-only street, foot traffic light, rain and a Thursday evening keeping the crowds mostly indoors. Just Winston.

"Hello, Lena," he said, as she sat at the table, opposite him. He looked at her again, seeing the second layer, black, under the tangerine. New armour, he thought. Looks like the same material as Widowmaker's. "Thank you for coming."

Lena smiled a little, and shrugged. "My team's listening in. I suppose yours is, too."

"Of course," he said, honestly. "That includes Hana, and everyone else back in Gibraltar. Does yours include Moira?"

"No," she said, also honestly. "We've got a plan, for after."

"Are you willing to share it?"

She heard no objection over comms. "Some of it. We're gonna finish this job. Stop the crisis. Then we're gonna... I have safehouses, Winston, left over from before. You know that. We're gonna retreat to one, as a group, just us. Let everybody calm down, sort themselves out, then once we think everyone's cooled off, we'll contact you. We'll bring in Ziegler and O'Deorain, figure out what's going on - and it'll be under our control this time." She paused. "Not theirs."

It's not a terrible plan, he thought to himself, with the right safeguards. "Have you ever considered that maybe O'Deorain is worse than Ogundimu? That she's the bigger threat?"

Lena snorted. "C'mon, luv. I've kinda got used to her - she's... a problem, a big one, but compared to another Omnic War? Get bent."

"Ogundimu is a real danger, I agree - obviously. But he's been imprisoned, successfully, before. He could be taken in again."

"Or, we can solve this right now."

"O'Deorain hasn't been," he said, pushing forward. "She's an official in government, with immunity. Have you discovered, yet, that Emily isn't even her niece? She just thinks she is - but she's convinced of it. Imagine what she could do with an entire nation."

"Seriously? Who told y'that?" she said, dubiousness in her voice and disbelief on her face.

"...Gabriel," he said, reluctantly, and Lena frowned.

"Him? Again?" she said, angrily. "Bugger him. And bugger you lot for believin' him." She pursed her lips. "Look. I'm not sayin' she's a charmer. I've got some idea what she's done. T'me. And yeh: I know. I've sussed it. She's ... done things t'me that she didn't talk about. But we're ready for that, now."

"Are you? Are you really?" He dragged one hand down his face. "Lena, please. Step back. Come home. Nobody will touch you."

"Heard that before," she said. "Well, that's a bit unfair, maybe. But I have. And we're not gettin' separated."

"You don't have to. It's an open offer this time. All three of you. As a group. We'll take you... anywhere you want. Give you a flyer. You can go to one of your safehouses. Your plan, just - sooner. Now."

Tracer shivered, and gasped a little uptake of breath, "Oh, Winston, that, that, maybe, we could..."

"Reaper is here," snapped Widowmaker, over comms.

"WHAT?!" Tracer shouted, angry.

"I have spotted him," the assassin continued. "100 metres northeast, not visible from your location."

"What? Lena, what." Winston said, alarmed. "What?!"

"You lied to me!" she shouted, jinking away, looking towards the northeast, pulling her pistols at her friend, nearby pedestrians confused by the flashes of light, then alarmed by the firearms, backing away.

"Lena, what's going on?!" he shouted, hands open, arms apart, unarmed.

"Winston," Morrison said over comms, "Get out of there. We're moving in."

"No, Jack, stand down!" Winston replied. "Everyone, stand down. Lena, please, what..."

"REAPER'S HERE!" she shouted, from behind pistol sights. "Stop lying! We've spotted him! We know!"

-----

Widowmaker, Oilliphéist, Tracer... no sign of Moira, though. Where the hell is she?, Reyes thought, scanning, straining to hear the conversation through his shotgun microphone, over the noise of the crowd and rain. Fuck. I need to get closer.

He ghosted through the mist to a secluded spot, watching, listening, picking up a little more, but still not enough.

What the...? Reyes blinked, as Tracer teleported away, shouting, from Winston. What just happened?

He heard her shout his name. Shit, he thought, how'd they make me...? Damn, damn, damn, I should've stayed further back... and he let himself disappear into smoke.

-----

"What?!" Winston exclaimed. "No! He's not... Hana, do you have him?"

"He's ghosted," Widowmaker voice came over comms. "I cannot see him like this, be ready..."

"I can," Tracer said, spotting the distinctive smoke trail that Reaper could become, at least, for a while, and she teleported towards the dodging stream.

"Pharah and Mercy are moving," Oilliphéist warned. "Morrison, too. Get out of there, luv... shit, Pharah up, Mercy attached... go, go, go..."

"Nuh-uh," Tracer said, "Target one acquired. We're finishing this early."

Oilliphéist nodded, from her position. Right, she thought, and lifted her rifle and aimed. Let's how well you fly without that staff of yours, she thought, firing, breaking it in half with one shot, and the beam failed, the angel no longer tied to her raptor, gliding downwards with her wings, still towards Lena and Winston, and Widowmaker took her first shot, damaging the Egyptian's jetpack, watching her fall, too, slowly, erratically, but survivably, as Lena had made her promise. Like mother, like daughter, she smirked, though you'll keep both eyes.

Tracer tracked the weaving smoke, running alongside it, bomb ready. "I don't know if you can hear me like this, but this is your fault. All of it, you smug bastard. C'mon!"

"Lena, STOP!" Winston shouted, bounding after her, down the short street, "Don't do it!"

Reaper ran out of time, condensing into human form, shotguns ready, and as Tracer threw her explosive, Winston leapt, to stop her, just moments too late, landing between her and Reyes, horror on his face as the bomb landed, attached to his fur, exploding, as Lena shrieked "NO!" and rewound, but uselessly, hopelessly, too late before she tried.

Reyes choked from shock, blood, and explosives residue, his breath lost, and he fired where Tracer had been, a moment before, uselessly. "YOU!" she screamed, unloading both sets of pistol rounds into where his heart should be. A single sniper round fired, and he, too, was down, dead, skull shattered.

"Winston, Winston, Winston, no, no, no!" Tracer cried, teleporting over to the very dead body of her very best friend. "No, no, no, this can't be right, this can't be, Mercy, Mercy, where are you, Mercy, anybody, I know, I know you're listening, where are you?" and she was there, hands scalded, shoving Tracer away, staff snapped, trying to jury-rig it back together, trying, and failing, to trigger her Caduceus staff's resurrection nanite swarm, and Lena jumped back at the sound of Morrison's rifle as he charged down a long street - "GET AWAY FROM HER!" - civilians screaming, running all directions away from the awful sound, tactical visor materialising, and then she was in the air, in the arms of her beloved Widowmaker, still screaming, "No!" and reaching back towards Winston, dead, in the rain, "No, no, no, no, no..."

"Stop fighting me, ma chérie," she said, "those are not kisses they are shooting. Let Mercy do whatever work she can, if she can. We still have one more target."

"One more, one more one more target," she gasped, "no, no... one? Two?"

"Akande," she spat, chaining away to another building, Oilliphéist pacing them to their left, on her own. "Do you want to make this disaster mean something, ma chérie? Then, together, we finish him."

Lena snarled, finding at least part of her self. "Akande." She tabbed her mission comms. "Moira, Tracer. We've been ambushed by Reaper. Target down, but - Ogundimu knows we're here." She didn't let go of the channel. "Unfortunately," she added, hesitantly, "...so does Overwatch."

"Understood," Moira's voice replied, after a moment. "And well done. I am en route. Moira out."