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Past Tense

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She was always an active, headstrong child. She used to look back at her ancestors, and see that proud tradition her family had come from. They were a long line of warriors and heroes, and from the moment she saw them her eyes and heart were filled with stars. Her mother was the greatest hero of all. Her mother was one of the best people she ever knew.

Fareeha would go visit her at work, sometimes. Trips to the Overwatch Headquarters were the highlights of her childhood. She liked it all—even the plane rides to and from Switzerland. Her father always tried to get her seats on the wings, because she liked to watch the machines fly so much. The headquarters were the real treat though. Ana was always there to greet her family with a smile, and the buildings were dazzling to her young daughter. Fareeha thought it was a privilege to be able to walk among the world’s greatest heroes, and hear their stories. Her mother, however, always had a sad look in her eyes. Fareeha never understood why until much later in life.

As she grew, opportunities to visit became increasingly scarce. Fareeha’s life became busy, and in time she stopped visiting at all. The last time she ever saw her mother face to face was when Fareeha decided to go off to the military academy. Ana had been adamantly against it. They had fought over the dinner table; a match that had escalated further than any had before. When Fareeha went to bed that night, her voice was hoarse and there were hot, angry tears in her eyes. Ana left for headquarters the next day. Her daughter wasn’t there to send her off.

Years later, Ana Amari went missing in action. A few months after that, it was clear that she was not coming back. Fareeha Amari got a letter in the mail, and her world crumbled. Her mother had been officially declared dead.

Ana Amari was the second in command of Overwatch, the global peacekeeping organization that had saved the world. She had been part of the small team that founded it. When she died, the media crowded her family. Fareeha Amari spent that time in a numb daze. She threw herself into her work and thought of little else. Once someone made a comment about how Overwatch was a failure. Fareeha broke his nose and would have broken more too, if she hadn’t been stopped. That night she sat with her head in her hands. The air was thick and silent. A single thought looped through her head. She would be disappointed in me. Over and over. Over and over. And then it clicked. I am better than this.

Many years ago, Fareeha Amari learned to move on.

 


 

Several years after Overwatch had been disbanded and outlawed, Fareeha Amari was a decorated soldier and captain of one of Helix Security’s Raptora squadrons. She had honored her mother’s memory, but had still chosen her own life. In her time serving in the military, Fareeha had earned a nickname that traveled with her to Helix. Her teammates called her “Pharah.” Happiness. Kindness. Khalil, her old captain, once told her that apparently “Pharah” also meant something akin to “iron” in English. He said that it suited her. Fareeha Amari was a woman of kindness and iron.

When Overwatch fell, Helix Security International stepped up to take its place. It was charged with guarding former Overwatch outposts while the technology and information was cleaned out of them. It also had contracts to guard various quarantined “god programs,” which Overwatch had handled in the past. Helix Security even took control of Overwatch’s prisons. For Fareeha, it was the closest she could get to achieving her dream. Still, sometimes a bitter feeling would rise in her. Helix Security was Overwatch with its wings clipped. It was just a fraction of what Overwatch had been. She often thought that the world would be a better place, if Overwatch was never shut down.

 


 

Fareeha looked up through the myriad, shining streets and colorful signs of Numbani. She stood in front of the city’s museum complex—one of the largest in the world. Its buildings were made of cream colored stone and glass, rising into the air with a majesty and pride, as if they knew what they contained. Currently, the complex welcomed visitors with a special exhibit on Numbani’s latest pride and joy—Efi Oladele, creator of OR-15-A, or Orisa, the supposedly best security robot in the world. Orisa was actually active and somewhere on the Numabi streets at that very moment, but Fareeha hadn’t seen the omnic on her way here. Admittedly, she had been curious, but that was not what she had come here to see.

Set back a ways from the first and “main” building, there was another museum. It had arcing glass ceilings and a smooth, white interior, metal letters spelling a shining name under the hot sun. The Overwatch Museum, home to all the relics of Overwatch’s golden age. Fareeha cringed a little bit when she entered it. She actually hadn’t visited the place before now, and it was clear from the looks that the receptionist kept giving her that people knew. Fareeha reluctantly took off her sunglasses and clipped them to the neck of her shirt. Enough time had passed that people had mostly stopped treating her like some kind of morbid celebrity, but in a place like this, she was bound to get some unwanted attention.

The thought slipped easily from her mind though, as Fareeha explored the exhibits. She supposed she should have grieved, for what had been and was no longer, but Fareeha Amari couldn’t help but the bright, childish glee bubbling up in her at what she saw. The items, names, and stories were so familiar. They summoned up the warm golden times of her childhood, when she used to sit with these people and listen to them boast of their glory. There were replicas of armor and weapons, transcripts of mission reports, and whole rooms dedicated to Overwatch’s scientific studies. Fareeha had to resist the urge to press her face against the glass when she saw the replica of Reinhardt’s Crusader armor. The real thing, of course, was still in the possession of Reinhardt himself. Fareeha idly thought back to the poster she had of him when she was young. She didn’t quite know where it had gone. Maybe she needed to go dig through her old stuff once she got back…

Her musings were cut short in the following hall. Overwatch had been founded by a small team of six. Three of its original members were retired, but alive. The other three had died in combat. This hallway was dedicated to those fallen heroes. She hesitated at the entrance, her throat suddenly dry.

She looked around. She was alone in this section of the museum. She took a few steps forward, almost timidly. Then looked around again. Her breath caught.

A statue of Ana Amari stared down at Fareeha. Fareeha stared back for a long moment. Wordlessly, she closed her eyes, bowed her head, and quietly sunk into a thoughtful grief.

“She would have been proud of you, you know.” The quiet voice cut through the silence like a hot knife through butter. Fareeha looked sharply up at the woman that had suddenly appeared next to her. Her light blonde hair was swept up into a messy ponytail, a stark contrast with Fareeha’s neat, dark locks. She was familiar. Very familiar.