Associate Medical Researcher.
Angela read the words over and over in her head, dizzy with excitement. Her plane had three hours and twenty-nine minutes until landing.
Not that she was counting.
On the other end of the flight lay her official acceptance into Overwatch. She’d never dreamed of joining, not on her own. When the request came, from her hospital’s medical director no less, she stared awestruck at the invitation. Overwatch only recruited top talent. The organization was essentially a household name. The members, too, were like heroes from a storybook. Children knew Captain Ana Amari and Strike Commander Jack Morrison by name. Fond memories of children watching videos of the soldiers while in recovery crossed her mind.
To think, she’d actually be a part of them now.
Of course, Angela wouldn’t pick up a gun and fight on the front lines. She’d trained in emergency medicine and trauma surgery, but she stuck strong to her promise of ‘do no harm.’ Her role lay in research, alongside a team of some of the world’s best.
Angela pulled a thin holopad out from her bag, skimming over her notes for the seventh time. Or maybe it was the eighth.
Chief Medical Researcher and Lead Geneticist, Dr. Moira O’Deorain.
Angela remembered murmurings in her department two or so years ago over a controversial paper, something regarding microcellular regeneration. She’d ignored the chatter at the time, unconcerned with drama in academia. But the moment she read over her Overwatch invitation and caught sight of her new colleague, she dug into the past. Dr. O’Deorain’s research read like a symphony might sound. Angela remembered sitting on her couch late one night, lost in page after page on study notes and trial results. Never had a journal article intrigued her quite like Dr. O’Deorain’s.
Maybe she ruffled some feathers. Angela knew Overwatch only recruited the best. The research community may have had their reasons for criticizing Dr. O’Deorain’s work, but Overwatch recognized something they didn’t.
And whatever that something was, they saw in Angela, too.
“Doctor Ziegler?” A woman her senior, with sharp eyes and an easy smile, stood just outside of airport security. Angela immediately recognized her as Ana Amari. How could she not?
“C-Captain, it’s such a pleasure!” Angela stuck out her hand, surprised by Ana’s firm grip.
The pair took toward a waiting car, only brief words passed between them. Angela stayed quiet, nervous excitement leaving her body jittery and on edge. The driver sped off down the highway, weaving through traffic until Angela had completely lost track of how far they’d traveled.
“Once we get to the Watchpoint,” Ana said, startling Angela out of a haze. “We’ll get your intake processed. Nothing serious, just a brief medical screening, a few questions here and there.”
“I think I can handle that.” Angela laughed, easing the nerves in her gut.
“Soon enough, you’ll be the one processing intakes. Our current officer gets a bit, well, you’ll find out soon enough.”
What’s that supposed to mean?
After what felt like an hour, the car slowed to a halt in front of a helicopter pad. Angela tugged on the few luggage bags she’d brought along, slinging one along her shoulder and rolling the other behind her. Riding in helicopters was nothing new to her. She spent a year out of her medical fellowship as a flight surgeon, tending to wounded on the field. But this? The sheer excitement outweighed all the adrenaline she felt those years before.
“Just a short flight now. We’ll be there in no time.”
The Watchpoint loomed in the distance, surrounded by acres of wilderness. Angela marveled at the beauty of the Iberian sunset. She could definitely get used to the view along the coast. Even if she did have to live in a bunk and share a shower.
As the helicopter landed, a crowd of people gathered just outside the perimeter of the helipad. Angela gasped as a small round of applause greeted her. She did not expect such a welcome. The last time she’d heard applause was her graduation ceremony years ago. Were people happy about her arrival? Ana took just a moment to introduce her, allowing the crowd to express their joy at her arrival.
“We’ve heard wonderful things about you, Doctor Ziegler!”
“We look forward to working with you!”
“Welcome to Overwatch!”
“I...look forward to working with you all.” Angela’s cheeks burned from the compliments. They heard about her? She’d only published a handful of papers. There was one time she appeared on the news, discussing her research, but…
Ana’s voice cut through her brief confusion, refocusing her on the task of weaving through the small crowd. As she followed Ana, she caught a glint of something in the woman’s eyes. Something a little too knowing, a little too perceptive.
“Let’s get your room assigned, then we’ll get your intake done.”
“Understood!” Angela stood up just a little taller as she followed her new Captain.
“I take it this is the medical lab?” Angela asked, keeping just one step behind Ana. The Watchpoint must’ve been a constantly growing behemoth. Every time they turned a corner and Angela thought she knew the layout, something changed that sent her sense of direction in a tailspin. Maybe she should’ve left a trail back to her quarters. Regardless, they’d finally reached the area for intake processing - the last step before Angela could officially call herself a member.
“That’s correct.” Ana tapped her finger absentmindedly against her chin. “It’s awfully quiet down here. She must’ve driven everyone out for the day…”
Angela’s chest seized for a moment. Without thinking, she straightened the front of her shirt, hoping to iron out any stray wrinkles. She didn’t imagine meeting the Dr. O’Deorain on her first day. If only she had a moment to disappear into a bathroom and actually look presentable.
“Moira!” Ana called out. “Did you forget we have company today?”
“I’m working.” A gruff voice called out from the other side of the lab, dripping with annoyance.
“How about you come work over here and process your new colleague?”
“S-she does intake processing?” Angela whispered, her face flushing red in embarrassment.
“We’ve deployed most of our qualified people abroad. It’s good for operations, but it leaves us a little...short staffed back on base. That’s why we’re recruiting!” Ana beamed at the last comment.
“Get her sleeve rolled up,” the voice barked out. “I’ll be just a minute.”
“You heard her.” Ana pointed to Angela’s shirt. Without questioning, Angela rolled the fabric up to her bicep. The Captain lead her over to an examination table, then pulled a computer screen down near it. Angela’s stomach tightened, cold sweat beading on her palms. She hadn’t felt this nervous since her pre-med examinations.
Just relax, she pleaded with herself.
Easier said than done.
Angela managed to slow her breathing. For a moment. But just as she wiped the sweat from her palms, a woman rounded the corner.
Angela caught herself gawking, then quickly looked away. Dr. O’Deorain looked much different in person than photos gave her credit. Handsome, willowy features paired with a sleek, tailored labcoat - Angela turned again to meet her new colleague face to face. Even if she were attractive as hell, she’d need to get used to actually making eye contact with her.
“Nice to meet you. I’m Angela Zi-”
“Amari, you brought me a med student.”
“Don’t be daft, Moira. You read her qualifications.”
“She’s barely old enough to drink.”
“Stop being so harsh. She’ll be perfect.”
“I-I’m right here…” Angela dared to speak, anger welling up in her chest. Dr. O’Deorain had yet to meet her eyes, staring instead through her. At her words, though, their gazes connected. Angela swallowed, caught off guard by the difference in color. The photos had always been too small. She never knew Dr. O’Deorain had heterochromia.
“How observant,” Moira quipped. “I suppose we should get this over with.”
“It’s an honor to meet you, Doctor-”
“Spare me the unnecessary chatter. I need a past medical history, list of allergies and current medications.” Moira turned her attention to the computer’s holoscreen, her long fingers tapping in annoyance. Angela sighed, listing off what little she had to say.
“Fantastic. You’re the epitome of health, Doctor Ziegler.” Angela caught Ana rolling her eyes at Moira’s dry sarcasm. Maybe this was normal? Would she have to deal with this regularly?
“One more thing.” With deft precision, Moira grabbed an object from a nearby table and injected it into Angela’s arm without warning. The blonde yelped with surprise, nearly bouncing off the table.
“You cut people open and you’re going to tell me a needle makes you cry?” Moira narrowed her eyes, locking a safety cap over the syringe.
“You didn’t warn me! What was that, even?”
“Standard vaccinations. I asked you to roll your sleeve up. If we’re going to work together, you need to put two and two together, Doctor Ziegler.”
“What is wrong with her?” Angela whispered as Moira shuffled to the back of the lab. Ana took a step further, shrugging her shoulders.
“You get used to her.”
How am I supposed to get used to that?
Angela slept a meager four hours before her alarm dinged for her to awaken. The previous day weighed so heavily, her mind couldn’t relax. Her new colleague, her direct colleague, started off with zero respect for her. She’d met plenty of doctors just like Moira, egotistical and self absorbed. What she didn’t expect, however, was having to prove herself after years of already proving her talents.
Alright, Angela thought. Today is our first official day. I’ll make her respect me.
After a quick cup of coffee and a few bites of breakfast, Angela slipped into her new lab coat and made her way down to the medical lab. It took only three wrong turns to actually get into lab. She found the lab, of course, already occupied. Moira stood over a table of petri dishes, delicately measuring something into each of them.
“Good morning!” Angela beamed, determined to make the best of the situation.
“Will you always be this perky?” Moira didn’t bother to look up as Angela approached.
“Sorry...you understand how first day excitement is, don’t you?”
“...Right.” Angela shuffled on her feet awkwardly. This was going nowhere. “So...I’m reporting for duty.”
“You can report right over there.” Moira stopped her work long enough to point toward a desk on the far side of the room.
“You really don’t like that I’m here, do you?” Angela crossed her arms over her chest. Her brows knit in frustration as anger gripped at her. She didn’t leave her home and fly off on an adventure just for someone to belittle her as soon as she started. Moira let out a long, labored sigh before turning to face Angela.
“I don’t have anything against you personally,” she started, one delicate brow arching high on her forehead. “But I do wonder why Amari thought it best to send me a field medic.”
“I’m -!” Angela snapped her mouth shut, realizing her emotions were getting the best of her. Taking a moment to breathe, she held herself in restraint before continuing. “I’ve conducted research. I respect that I’m not as well versed as you, but-”
“I’ve read your dissertation.”
“You have?” Angela’s eyes widened in disbelief.
“It was interesting. You have excellent theory, but your application is naive. It means nothing if you never progress your findings.”
“The research ethics committee recommended I-”
“Again, your application is naive.” Moira pinched the bridge of her nose before turning back to her experiment. “Academia, emergency medicine — they operate under a different paradigm. You’ll find things flow more smoothly here.”
“I-I’m not sure I follow.”
“There are no committees dictating when we can and cannot progress.”
“So who holds Overwatch in check?” Angela asked, her voice tinged with worry. Moira slowly turned and held her gaze, an exasperated expression on her face.
“You have so much to learn.”